Industry News

   Lloyd Constantine, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the Wal-Mart suit, recently issued an advisory to provide merchants with more details about their rights under the settlement.
   "The decision which each merchant can now make concerning whether to continue accepting Visa signature debit, MasterCard signature debit and Visa and MasterCard credit is an individual decision for each merchant," Constantine said. "As each merchant makes this independent and unilateral decision, it may take into consideration the fact that other merchants are also making similar decisions and factor in how its independent decision will affect other merchants and how their decisions will affect it.
   "A merchant's decision is not a one-time only choice," Constantine adds. "A merchant can decide to stop accepting or continue accepting one or both of the defendants' signature debit products at any time beginning now or later on; weeks, months or years from now. A merchant can also reverse that decision later on, depending upon pricing, quality issues and the response of the merchant's customers."
   Until December 31, 2006, all of the more than 200 million ATM/debit cards bearing the Visa or MasterCard logos will be physically rebranded with clear and conspicuous visual "debit" identifiers and will be given distinct electronic identities. By prominently placing the word "debit" on all of these cards, as Visa and MasterCard have agreed to do, many merchants will for the first time have an easy and foolproof way to visually tell the difference between debit cards and credit cards.
   By the same token, the requirement of giving each debit card a distinct electronic identity will allow merchants with point-of-sale card terminals to electronically distinguish debit transactions from credit transactions.
   Eighty percent of this visual and electronic rebranding must be accomplished by June 30, 2005 under the litigation settlement. All 100% must be accomplished by December 31, 2006.
   A merchant has the right to attempt to steer customers to a form of payment other than signature debit, such as PIN debit, check or cash. Second, the merchant can choose to stop accepting Visa and/or MasterCard signature debit altogether.
   "A merchant should also consider the price and quality of competing debit products," Constantine advised. "When considering quality, the merchant may compare the frequency of fraud occurring in signature debit transactions and PIN debit transactions. The merchant may also wish to compare the amount of time it takes to get its money in signature debit transactions and PIN debit transactions and to also compare the amount of time signature and PIN debit transactions take at the checkout counter.
   "The merchant may also consider the "holds" placed on shoppers' funds in certain signature debit transactions," Constantine adds, as well as how signature debit affects the incidence of bounced checks.
   In November 2003, Integrated Systems Development, Inc received a multi-million dollar investment infusion.
   Integrated System Development, Inc. (ISD), a provider of payment information management software, will use the significant capital infusion to further harness current company momentum in the retail sector and continue the expansion of sales, marketing and development efforts in new markets.
   Integrated Systems Development, Inc. (ISD), headquartered in Holland, MI, was founded in 1986 and has over 100 brand-name customers in more than 30,000 locations. ISD's Message Sentry´┐Ż suite of server applications processes millions of transactions each day and integrates with all major payment processing systems. ISD serves the retail, wholesale, manufacturing, non-profit, insurance, media/publishing and government industries.
   The investment was jointly led by Odin Capital Group and Prism Opportunity Fund and a third major Midwest venture capital company to fund expansion plans. The investment opportunity was sourced by Arbor Point Partners.
   "ISD has seen profitable double-digit growth year-over-year for the last 16 years," said Mark Finkel, General Partner, Prism Opportunity Fund. "We are excited by the opportunity to build on that strong foundation."
   Donna Walsh, a Partner with Odin Capital Group, who previously spent nine years with First Data Corporation, added, "We view ISD as the market leader in this space. This investment will bring ISD's proven technology, support and services to new markets desperately in need of centralized payment processing controls."
   ´┐ŻBritish Airways has selected CyberSource Corporation to be its payment service provider, supporting direct ticket sales made via British Airways' internet and telephone sales channels.
   Services contracted from CyberSource include credit and debit card authorization and settlement, payer authentication, and fraud screening. Phased deliveries began in December 2003, with all services scheduled to be up and running by April 2004.
   "We are gratified that our focus on international payment and risk management is achieving growing attention and success," said George Jathas, CyberSource's SVP Worldwide Sales. "British Airways is determined to create the fastest, most secure online payment capability in the world and we are delighted to play a role in that ambitious undertaking."
   Electronic Exchange Systems, a provider of merchant processing services, announced their November 2003 expansion of its operations with the opening of a sales and marketing headquarters in Atlanta.
   Electronic Exchange Systems is a national supplier of merchant transaction processing services. With a network of over 150 affiliated offices, EXS has grown substantially by providing solutions for small and large businesses, major and minor league sports stadiums, nationwide chain outlets, software providers, banks and associations. EXS has pioneered a standard of excellence in the industry by combining the technology of tomorrow with the service necessary for businesses today.
   The Petroleum Marketers Association of America, representing approximately 8,000 independent petroleum marketers nationwide, renewed its endorsement of Dallas-based payment processor Paymentech as the organization's preferred payment processor.
   Under the agreement, PMAA members combine their collective transactions to gain higher overall volume and qualify for a lower rate.
   In addition to the competitive processing rates, PMAA Vice President Holly Tuminello said that Paymentech's dedication of a full-time PMAA account representative has made the program a success.
   The processing agreement is an extension of a strategic effort Paymentech launched two years ago to provide specialized solutions and technology to the petroleum industry. The PMAA program offers rates that reduce the marketers' processing expense as much as 30% and possibly more in certain cases.
   First Atlantic Commerce now offers a unique, end-to-end Bermuda ebusiness solution for Internet companies expanding beyond their domestic borders. 'Virtual Corporations' can be provisioned through a Private Act of Parliament granted in 1999 to FAC and their processing partner.
   Virtual Corporations are specifically designed for Internet companies to leverage the benefits of a well-regulated international jurisdiction, along with the sophisticated, multicurrency, tax-advantaged, e-payment solutions provided by FAC:
  • Enhance your ebusiness with more competitive pricing by leveraging a zero sales tax jurisdiction;
  • Enter new consumer markets by offering customers their choice of card payment currency;
  • Select your choice of settlement currency to leverage new foreign exchange markets;
  • Take advantage of multiple offshore locations to meet your corporate and tax planning objectives;
  • Solutions for Retail, Subscription, (non-adult) Internet merchants, Call Centers, Property Management Companies, B2B marketing companies and many others!
   EBay Inc., its PayPal money transfer service, and Bank One Corp. recently agreed to settle two patent infringement lawsuits, eBay and PayPal.
   Terms of the agreement were confidential. Bank One Delaware N.A. had sued PayPal, the largest U.S. online payments service, on Sept. 6 in federal district court in Delaware. PayPal filed a separate lawsuit against Bank One in the same court on Sept. 29.
   Wells Fargo & Co will use Visa USA's Interlink as the bank's preferred PIN-based point-of-sale network. The San Francisco-based bank also announced that it will add Visa's Plus ATM network as an ATM network trademark.
   Wells, the nation's second-largest debit card issuer, currently uses Star, which is owned by Concord EFS Inc., as a PIN-based trademark. Wells also uses MasterCard International's Cirrus ATM network logo on its debit cards, but the bank said it will drop the network. Wells, however, did not mention dropping Star in favor of Interlink.
   eFunds Corporation recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of Oasis Technology, LTD., a private payment software company for $28 million.
   The Oasis acquisition will provide eFunds an immediate entry into new markets with an open solution platform. It will expand eFunds' domestic and international customer base, providing them with immediate access to payment products that complement its current offerings.
   Lipman has opened a Canadian office in Mississauga, Ontario. Lipman Canada will be responsible for the sale and distribution of Lipman's full line of transaction solution products marketed under the NURIT brand name.
   "We believe that Lipman is uniquely suited for this particular market" said Mony Zenou, President and CEO of Lipman USA. "Recent deregulations in the Canadian banking industry have caused major card processing organizations, both north and south of the border to reposition themselves as truly, North American providers. Lipman is poised to capitalize on its existing relationships with those organizations to bring our high-quality, secure POS products into the Canadian market," he added.
   Zenou went on to say, "This deregulation also provides an enhanced opportunity for Independent Sales Organizations (ISO's) to market card payment services and devices. Lipman is the clear choice of ISO's south of the border in the U.S. and we believe this will help us leverage our existing business relationships into this new wide-open North American playing field."
   Intell-A-Check Corp. recently began offering a NACHA-compliant e-mail confirmation notice solution for telephone based electronic ACH payments.
   This service enables the payment processing industry to reduce costs and processing time by taking advantage of e-mail confirmation of electronic payments.
   Vital Processing Services recently gave class A certification to the Lipman USA Inc., NURIT 3020.
   With the approval of the NURIT 3020, the full suite of current Lipman POS terminals, including the NURIT 2085, NURIT 3010 and the NURIT 8000 are now approved to process transactions on Vital's platform.
   "The NURIT 3020 is one of our most exciting products," said Lipman USA president Mony Zenou. "It is small, it's affordable and it's highly customizable. As a strategic business partner, we look forward to working with Vital to bring successful POS solutions to the market."
   Sable POS recently launched the Smart Transaction Systems gift card program as the latest enhancement to the popular, hospitality POS system.
   Merchants can activate and redeem gift cards directly through the Sable POS terminals. This reduces the costs and theft exposures of a paper-based gift certificate program and allows the merchants more flexibility in tracking gift certificate transactions. The Sable program offers a full range of gift card management functions and reports to integrate with smart transaction systems' e-commerce capabilities.
   Gift cards have become an important part of day-to-day business for all segments of the restaurant industry, including family owned restaurants, coffee shops and chain restaurants. Many restaurants use the cards as much more than a replacement for paper gift certificates. Restaurants are now using the technology for applications ranging from employee and student meal plans to promotional and fundraising tools.
   David Owen, principal, U.S. Financial Services for Booz Allen Hamilton, estimates that more that 20 million U.S. households are already using RF-based payment systems, of which 75% are RF toll transponders and the rest RF payment fobs.
   Owen cited statistics showing that U.S. credit card industry charge volume growth rates slowed to 11.6% during 1996 to 2001, down from 15.9% in the prior five-year period. Similarly, new accounts are harder to get, with response rates to card industry mailings falling to 0.5% from 3.0% in the last ten years. At the same time, 65% of the $6.7 trillion in U.S. consumer payments are still made by check or cash, and sizable cash and transaction intensive merchant segments still exist. As financial services providers look for additional growth, they have found that RF-based payment enables them to extend current card platforms into these still available segments.
   "The beauty of RFID is that there is a value proposition that goes all the way around the circle between consumers, merchants and issuers," Owen explained. "The form factor resonates with consumers because it is fun -- consumers like the 'wave.'" Owen also reported that merchants see tangible benefits such as reduced operating costs, incremental revenue and better information capture and issuers get the opportunity to acquire new customers with a differentiated product and drive new revenues.
   The European Union Commission has instructed Mastercard Inc. to lower fees that it charges retailers.
   The Commission said the fees are "not transparent" and "extremely high." Eurocommerce, a group representing nearly 5 million European retailers and wholesalers ranging from corner shops to superstores complained to Brussels in 1997 about fees charged by Mastercard and its rival Visa International.
   Moneris Solutions Corp. is acquiring Ernex Marketing Technologies from RBC Financial Group for an undisclosed amount.
   Ernex provides privately branded loyalty programs, stored-value gift cards and real-time electronic marketing solutions for merchants. The company also works with brand name clients across North America implementing multi-merchant loyalty programs, reward fulfillment services and loyalty database hosting services.
   Under Moneris ownership, Ernex will continue to offer its electronic marketing solutions to businesses in a variety of industries in North America.
   Vital Processing Services recently Class A approved its retail and restaurant application for credit, debit and POS Check Service acceptance on Hypercom Corporation's T7Plus card payment terminal.
   Payment Data Systems, Inc. recently made its credit card gateway service available to all billers and merchants.
   The gateway service enables a biller or merchant to securely connect through Payment Data Systems, Inc. to all credit card processors without having to create and manage direct connections to them individually.
   Specifically, the option allows a biller or merchant to process a credit card directly from any computer that is connected to the Internet or directly from their e-commerce site and provides the ultimate in flexibility and efficiency of processing and cost control. Additional enhanced services as part of the Gateway offering include the availability of fraud protection and risk management tools. Included with every gateway is a virtual terminal, HTML connect, API connect, auto generation of web pay buttons, order management system, customized email delivery for both the customer and the merchant and a free shopping cart.
   Hypercom Corp. recently introduced new transaction software for existing single or multi-application configurations on card payment terminals.
   Called HyperWare 08A, the software gives retailers the ability to use a single terminal to quickly leverage electronic gift, cash and promotion/loyalty cards, prepaid, payroll or government check cashing, age and/or ID verification and an array of other services and applications that can quickly help build the bottom-line.
   HyperWare makes it possible for one card payment terminal to handle up to 16 different merchant accounts simultaneously, split dial up to eight different application hosts such as stored value, gift and loyalty with 16 supported card types - and do all of that and more at transmission speeds of up to 56 kbps.
   The downloadable software requires no new operating and terminal management systems, existing application modifications, hardware and software compatibility testing or burdensome staff training.
   BioPay LLC and Answers, Etc. have teamed up to enable more than 4,000 Answers, Etc. customers to subscribe to BioPay's database of negative information, including information on people who have passed fraudulent checks.
   The agreement also enables BioPay's biometric technology to be offered to existing and new Answers, Etc. customers, giving businesses access to the nation's electronic commercial biometric database. The integration was expected to be completed before the start of 2004.
   With this agreement, any Answers, Etc. customer using BioPay's Paycheck Secure can obtain real-time, negative check transaction information from BioPay's Indivio database. So a BioPay merchant at one location will be immediately alerted to a fraudulent check from any other BioPay merchant in the country. This enables the clerk to decline the transaction, saving money that may have otherwise been lost on a fraudulent transaction.