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   First National Merchant Solutions recently launched an Internet-based payment gateway called PayFuse, which "fuses" the merchant Web site with the payment engine, enabling merchants to obtain real-time authorizations on credit card transactions in a secure environment.Within PayFuse, a fraud customization tool called FraudShield allows merchants to control the fraud management process. The merchant defines real-time transaction screening rules to detect fraud in each transaction.
   PayFuse determines whether a credit card number is valid or considered too risky, based on prior fraud attempts or chargeback records. When the customer clicks on the "buy" button, PayFuse accepts the transaction from the storefront via a secure SSL network connection.
   Ruth Ann Marshall, president, North America, MasterCard International, told attendees at the recent Card Forum and Expo that acceptance of credit cards grew 149 percent in the fast food segment in 2001, yet there is still room for growth.
   "While most people have a credit and/or debit card, they continue to choose cash when looking for a quick meal. Since old habits die hard, payment card companies must provide more personalized rewards and incentive programs by leveraging new technologies. One way to change consumer behavior is with transponder technology. No longer limited to gas and tolls, fast food establishments are now embracing this as an alternate payment solution," Marshall said.
   While there are a myriad of reasons for upgrading or replacing your current POS systems, by far the most important considerations should be enhancing the customer experience and capturing customer data. A POS system that incorporates both of these factors, will create a "win-win" situation for the customer and the retailer, according to the latest Retail Insight, from Lake West Group, a retail management firm.
   "As one of the only direct contact points between the retailer and the customer, a smooth POS transaction is essential," Retail Insight said. "While a fast and accurate transaction will enhance the shopping experience for the customer, it will also increase the number of people a retailer can check out. Whereas, long lines or a slow transaction could have an adverse effect, possibly tainting the entire shopping experience in the customer's mind."
   While offering a fast and accurate transaction to the customer is important, the POS system is also the most critical tool for customer transaction data capture, the publication added. With recent technological advancements, it is possible for retailers to gather salient, actionable customer data, without detracting from the checkout experience. Savvy retailers are able to plug this data into one of many readily available data mining or CRM packages, enabling them to monitor a customer's transaction history, shopping patterns, or overall customer trends.
   PayPal recently cleared more legal hurdles as New York state regulators ruled that it isn't operating as an illegal bank.
   After reviewing PayPal's business model, the New York Banking Department also encouraged PayPal to apply for a license to act as a money transfer agent in the state. The company said it would do so by the end of the month.
   The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has already issued an opinion that PayPal is not a bank, while regulators in California, Idaho and other states are still making that determination.
   Web-based pay and display terminals increased the city of Toronto's parking revenue by 60 percent since their installation in early 1999.
   The Schlumberger Sema solution enables the Toronto Parking Authority to track meter status, while utilizing the system's web-based communications capabilities to keep equipment operational and minimize the down time associated with maintenance.