SAN FRANCISCO -- Visa U.S.A. said it has begun offering Virtual Private Line, a high-speed telecommunications service that reduces card authorization time over the public telephone network to about six seconds from 25 to 30 seconds.

The service results from an agreement among Visa, CompuServe Serve Inc., the regional Bell operating companies, and local telephone carriers. New York Telephone was the first local carrier to provide the Visa service.

Through Digital Data over Voice or Integrated Services Digital Network technologies, merchants are able to simultaneously handle conversations and payment transactions over a single telephone line. Previously, they would have to pay for two separate lines, or switch between voice and data usage on one line.

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