by Ty Hardison

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

Smarter Taxes


With tax day almost here, it seems appropriate to consider what the federal tax system is costing taxpayers in addition to the taxes themselves. 

Complying with the federal income tax code amounts to imposing a 22.2-cent tax-compliance surcharge for every dollar the income tax system collects.

Corporations with assets of $1 million or less (more than 90 percent of all corporations) paid a minimum of $382 in compliance costs for every $100 they paid in income taxes. 

A compliance burden of 6 billion hours per year represents a work force of over 2,884,000 people: Larger than the populations of Dallas (1,210,393), Detroit (900,198) and Washington, D.C. (553,523) combined; and more people than work in the auto, computer manufacturing, airline manufacturing and steel … more

Visa Payroll Debit Cards Speed Tax Refunds

Another big benefit of having your pay direct deposited onto a Visa payroll debit card is that you can use the same routing and account number to also file your tax return electronically and get your refund directly deposited to your pay card in weeks instead of months!

According the, you can get your refund faster by telling the IRS to direct deposit your federal income tax refund on up to three different accounts.  If you want the IRS to deposit your refund into just one account, use the direct deposit line on your tax form.  However you also have a choice to direct deposit your refund to more than one account.  With split refunds (use IRS’ Form 8888), you have a convenient option for managing your money.  For example, if you use two paycards within … more

Credit Scoring, not just for banks

Financial institutions use technology and credit scoring strategies to manage lending activity. Now businesses lending to their customers by extending trade credit are learning the value of adopting credit monitoring solutions as an integral part of account receivable best practices.

The credit health of customers is top of mind for many CFOs today. Slow pays, delinquencies and credit losses have a major impact on companies of all sizes but are particularly harmful to small businesses that, in the past, have not had affordable credit scoring and monitoring solutions available.

As businesses emerge from the recession and sales pick up, the best practice is to determine those buyers with a higher probability of payment before extending credit. Like banks, businesses need processes in … more

Which is better for Mobile merchants? Touch Tone vs. iPhone

We are often asked to suggest processing solutions for mobile merchants. Recently more and more of those conversations are focused on payment applications for the iPhone. Much of the buzz can be attributed to VeriFone’s recently launched PAYware Mobile iPhone application; the first payment app with a card reader available for the iPhone clearly distinguishes it from all others.

In our experience, we have found accepting card payments on a smart phone to work best in a sales environment where a single user will operate the device, one customer at a time. And the PAYware Mobile solution has received positive client feedback from our early adopters. The thing about early adopters is that they want the latest technology regardless. But for others, they want to analyze their options. … more