by Ty Hardison

Special PCI Alert

A Special PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) Alert for Vantage clients.

This week the number of reported solicitations by phone and fax to our merchant community, especially medical, dental and veterinary practices, has spiked.

The common scare tactic involves being subject to fines if immediate action is not taken. Merchants are told that they have no option but to follow the instructions provided, which typically involves providing contact information, setting an appointment, or paying a fee.

Many of the tactics used will try to make it sound as if they are calling on behalf of your service provider. Please be aware that these solicitations are NOT endorsed by Vantage. We do NOT release any information to any 3rd party.

The PCI scare game has also become … more

Visa Easy Payment Service Goes Into Effect

Effective October 17, 2010, Visa Easy Payment Service will provide a better framework for conducting certain low value transactions less than $25 without cardholder verification or the issuance of a transaction receipt (unless requested by the cardholder). Drawing on the best features of each of the current programs and research, the Visa Easy Payment Service provides a broadened and consistent base for low value and everyday spend expansion.  Visa Easy Payment Service transaction rules will apply to all card technologies including magnetic stripe, EMV chip and Proximity Payment (contactless chip) transactions.  In addition, Visa Easy Payment Service will generally replace existing program rules, creating a consistent set of Visa International operating regulations. Redundant … more

New Health Care Reform impacts both IIAS and IIAS Exempt Merchants

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and/or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) cards can only be used at drug stores or pharmacies that have implemented an IIAS system.  The IRS requires merchants selling health care eligible products to support an Inventory Information Approval System (IIAS).  

The Special Interest Group for IIAS Standardization (SIGIS) association is composed of a broad range of participants who manages an IIAS for the IRS requirements.  MasterCard and Visa requires merchant registration upon successful IIAS implementation.

On March 23, 2010 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively "the Act") were signed into law by President Obama. The Act includes a number of … more

Merchant Alert: Debit Interchange Regulation continues move forward

Update:   It's Official.  The financial regulatory overhaul bill finally became law when President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Interchange regulation makes the cut as the House and Senate reconciled their differences on Senator Durbin’s amendment to the proposed Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. The proposed Interchange amendment compromise must still survive a bipartisan conference committee.

If the bill is passed, the Federal Reserve Board would gain the authority to establish rules and regulations related to the Interchange fees that issuers could earn with respect to debit card transactions. The Federal Reserve would have nine months to set Interchange fees and one would expect that they … more

Durbin's Interchange gets more complicated

Senator Durbin's original Interchange amendment, inserted into the financial reform bill working its way through Congress now, would limit the amount of debit-card Interchange fees that Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. charge banks to what's considered "reasonable and proportional" to the processing costs involved. These Interchange fees are then passed on to merchants when they accept card payments. But as Durbin learns more about the payment system intricacies, his Interchange plan is developing on the fly and becoming more complicated.

Durbin now wants to keep Interchange 'as is' for debit cards used by the government by carving out an exemption to his own amendment. As reported in Digital Transactions, Durbin said he would write language to exempt transactions on "government cards so … more

Why Visa and MasterCard Should Voluntarily Lower Interchange

Lately I’ve read many articles about Contactless and Near Field Communication (NFC) payments, the prospects for merchant and consumer adoption, bridge technologies and market trials. Contactless payments, which feature speed, convenience, security and more functionality that leverages the mobile network, can outperform legacy mag-stripe payment technology. NFC promises smart phones as payment devices, which in turn promise to change consumer expectations about buying everything from mass transit, fast food and concert tickets, to the retail brands themselves.

At the same time, U.S. cardholders increasingly find it difficult to use mag-stripe cards outside the U.S.  As we discussed here, the U.S. EMV strategy hinges on contactless / NFC adoption.  Some believe EMV 2.0 in … more

Vantage provides wireless card processing at the Taste of Alpharetta

ToA_booth Steve Duby and Christina Pietro at the 2010 Taste of Alpharetta

Last week was the 20th Annual Taste of Alpharetta outdoor street festival.   The Taste of Alpharetta is the largest “Taste of” festival in the South with over 60 restaurants sampling delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts, plus a chef’s competition, cooking demonstrations and a Culinary Arts & Music Stage.

While admission, parking and shuttles are free, participating restaurants charge $1-3 per food sample.  For the 3rd consecutive year, Vantage set up a wireless payment card system for the City of Alpharetta to quickly handle food ticketing for 57,400 foodies and festival-goers in five hours. 

We set up two VeriFone Vx510IP terminals connected to a Verizon wireless router to … more

Senate Adopts Amendment to Regulate Interchange; What should merchants do now?

The Interchange amendment to the financial reform bill, sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), was adopted Thursday night.  The measure gives the Federal Reserve authority to regulate Interchange fees, using a "reasonable and proportional" standard.   The amendment also allows merchants to discount lower costs payment options and allows minimum card purchases.  Once the Senate passes the financial reform measure, it will have to be reconciled with a House version that does not include the Interchange provision.

What does this mean for U.S. merchants?  First, take a look at your most recent April merchant statement.  If you are not on a direct Interchange pass through pricing plan already then you need to take action.   Open your browser and … more

Should you consider a B2B Client Loyalty strategy?

Studies show that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.  Loyal customers are more profitable, spending more and costing less to serve.   Loyal customers also provide authentic word-of-mouth referrals and serve as trustworthy advocates of a company’s brand.  No wonder consumer-driven businesses have embraced loyalty programs.  From travel and entertainment to gas and groceries, businesses have enrolled the average household in over 14 loyalty programs.  Customers enroll and participate because in addition to getting what they want, they are recognized for their value and contributions to the company.

But what if you provide business-to-business (B2B) goods or services - is establishing and maintaining loyalty … more

Digital currency: trends, innovation and regulation

Discussion on Digital Money  

The shift from paper base to digital currency has been quietly transformative.   A panel of financial experts discuss digital currency, trends, innovation and regulatory policies to consider and avoid.  

To start, digital money trends show favorable growth.  Between 2003 and 2008, card-based transactions grew by 13% worldwide.  And government use is part of this growth.  For example, the U.S. federal government is using purchasing cards for procurement to save $1.7 billion a year according to a GAO study.  Beyond cards, consumers have embraced new technologies that facilitate convenient and secure electronic payments across a wide range of platforms.

While banks are regulated, what about a host of non-bank participants who provide … more