Thursday, August 13, 2009

Monnet Talks...Will it Walk the Walk?

European Debit Card Networks Aim At Visa, MasterCard - Articles - PaymentsSource

For the Love of Monnet

August 13, 2009

Source: ATM&Debit News

MasterCard Inc. and Visa Europe could face competition in the coming years from new European-centered payment card networks such as Payfair and Monnet. Belgian retailer Colruyt Group is planning to begin testing the Payfair debit card at about five stores in October, with a broader rollout expected in 2010.  "We have several million cards to be issued potentially," says Dominque Buysschaert, chief executive of European Payment Solutions, a Belgian transaction processor involved in the Payfair project.

The moves come as Europe is shifting to the Single Euro Payments Area, which offers a common electronic network that spans the Continent.  One of the proposed systems claims support from some of Europe's largest banks.  Deutsche Bank AG of Germany and the French banking companies Societe Generale and BNP Paribas are planning to roll out a card system called Monnet, which is named after a 20th-century French economist who was a key proponent of European unity.

"Monnet is an investment in innovation and in the independency of the European banks," Hermann-Josef Lamberti, Deutsche Bank chief operating officer, said last month at a conference of central bank executives in Frankfurt. In October, the banks expect to create a "project company" that would develop the framework for the Monnet system, he said.  Monnet is designed to compete against what a board member of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, earlier this summer called a "duopoly of the two international card companies."

Such views are hardly uncommon among European financial regulators, which have barred some cross-border transaction fees Visa and MasterCard impose, calling them and other card practices anticompetitive.

"A European network will go along with the political and economic agenda of the" European Union, says Adil Moussa, an analyst at Aite Group LLC. Part of the motivation behind these efforts is "nationalistic pride," but creating a euro-centric payment infrastructure would also create jobs and "retain some of the wealth" that otherwise would go to U.S. companies and shareholders, he says.

Continue Reading at ATM & Debit News (subscription required)

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Metra's New eCommerce and Mobile Platform

Acquity Group tapped for Metra's eCommerce and mobile platform

Chicago, August 12, 2009--Acquity Group  a leading services firm that focuses on digital solutions, announced today that it will work with Metra to launch a new, more customer-centric website on September 9, 2009. The site will enhance communication about Metra services and include needed eCommerce capabilities for online ticketing.

Metra, the Chicago metropolitan commuter rail service, recognized that consumer demand and evolving digital channels warranted improvements to its website that dated back to 1995. As part of the new digital strategy spearheaded by Acquity Group, customers will be able to purchase tickets online and have the capability to receive train service alerts directly to their mobile phones. All added features are geared toward enhancing the Metra experience.

"We felt this upgrade was critical to ensure Metra kept in line with its mission of providing our riders with fast and reliable information about schedules and fares," said Phil Pagano, Metra Executive Director. "From the hundreds of proposals we received for the new web strategy, Metra chose Acquity Group for its deep understanding of eCommerce and tactical way of doing business. We are excited to move forward to better serve the needs of our current and prospective riders."

Other users of the Metra website include contractors, suppliers, employee candidates, media and transit government agencies. Acquity Group will cater to each demographic to guarantee the Metra site is user-friendly and flexible.

"We are very pleased to be working with Metra on this important project," said Acquity Group CEO Chris Dalton. "Today's evolving business environment means it is imperative that companies develop a digital strategy that successfully allows customers to remain connected both online and via mobile devices. Our multi-disciplinary approach across award-winning interactive design, digital marketing and our OnDemand Managed Services, provides a holistic end-to-end solution that allows us to quickly act on evolving market demands."

Acquity Group already has an extensive background working with large brands not only in the transportation and services industry, but with a number of B2B and B2C organizations such as Kohl's, Sears, McDonald's, Hallmark, General Motors, United Airlines and Motorola.

The completed Metra eCommerce strategy is planned for public rollout September 9, 2009, and could impact more than 156,000 Metra riders per day.

About Metra

Metra provides commuter rail service between the downtown Chicago business district and 239 stations in Northeastern Illinois over 11 routes totaling nearly 500 route miles. Metra operates about 700 weekday trains, providing more than 300,000 passenger trips a day. For more information, visit .

About Acquity Group

Acquity Group ( delivers award-winning, tailored solutions to elevate brands and businesses by maximizing the digital channel. Acquity Group's innovative strategy, marketing & design, IT planning, and commerce & content services are the cornerstone of effective digital communication for today's leading brands. Acquity Group is headquartered in Chicago and has offices in Irvine, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Overland Park, KS; Scottsdale, AZ; and Dallas, TX. To define a unique perspective for your business, contact Acquity Group at .

Source: Company press release. 

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HomeATM Blog Repost

OrderDynamics offers e-commerce alternative

Toronto, August 13, 2009--With 2 major payment providers going down within 4 weeks of each other (Authorize.NET July 3, 2009, and PayPal August 3, 2009), tens of thousands of online retailers and merchants that rely on these systems were effectively out of business during that time, unable to take orders, and losing revenue. OrderDynamics' retailers were largely unaffected by both of these outages thanks to its sophisticated multi-eStore eCommerce platform...
John B. Frank, Aug 2009
You should read the whole article at the PIN Payments Blog

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US Online Casino Accepts American Express

American Express now Accepted on US Online Casino

payment processes for American online gamblers generally restricted
these days, it’s a refreshing piece of news that greets US customers
that on certain sites they can now use American Express cards.

In the past American Express credit card users have been
either forced to use an alternative form of payment at most online
casinos, or simply sit out. Few sites actually accept American Express
as a means to deposit funds into an online casino account or withdraw

One of the most popular online casinos accepting US payments,
Rome Casino, has now announced that it is accepting American Express
credit card payments, along with the widely accepted Visa, Mastercard
and Discover cards.

The reaction of Rome Casino players was unanimous. "Although I have a
Visa card I prefer to use my American Express because of the free
miles," said one player, "so it's great that Rome Casino lets me make
deposits with Amex!"

Elavon and FNC Form Alliance

Elavon signs alliance agreement with FNC

Atlanta, August 13, 2009--Elavon, a wholly owned subsidiary of US Bancorp (NYSE: USB) and a leading global card acquirer, signed a three-year agreement with FNC Inc., a technology company offering tailored solutions for the real-estate and mortgage industry to streamline industry processes, regulations and compliance.

The agreement provides credit and debit processing services via a new dashboard functionality offered by FNC in support of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) – a regulatory requirement impacting the mortgage industry’s appraiser selection process. FNC’s Collateral Management System® and Collateral HQ™ technology platform provide real-estate and mortgage banking professionals with a single source for managing multiple vendor relationships throughout the entire lending process. Elavon’s solution enables FNC’s lender clients to deliver a credit/debit payment feature on their dashboard, enabling them to more efficiently collect and pay vendor fees.

“We have been extremely impressed with the speed, efficiency and innovation from Elavon,” said Jon Fisher, Director Strategic Projects at FNC Inc. “We believe Elavon’s processing services will be an effective solution for our lender clients.”

“Our relationship with FNC is a great example of how working together, adapting to a customer’s needs and offering innovative solutions can enable commerce,” said Mike Passilla, Executive Vice President of Global Business Development for Elavon. “We are happy to support FNC in their endeavor to supply flexible solutions to their customers.”

About Elavon: Elavon’s Global Acquiring Solutions organization is a part of U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB) and provides end-to-end payment processing services to more than one million merchants in North America and Europe. Elavon represents the former brands of NOVA Information Systems and its affiliates FHMS and euroConex. Visit Elavon online at .

About FNC Inc.: FNC pioneered real estate collateral information technology. Since 1999, FNC has offered solutions that automate appraisal ordering, tracking, documentation and review for lender compliance with OCC, OTS, Federal Reserve, FDIC, and other regulations. FNC’s lender clients have realized reduced costs and more efficient loan processing. With its collateral management platforms and collateral-focused data and analytics, FNC provides advanced insight into the property backing a loan from origination to capital markets. No one understands real estate collateral better than FNC. Visit FNC online at .

Source: Company press release.

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Fiserv Links e-Billing, e-Payments to Customer Loyalty

Brookfield, Wis., August 13, 2009--Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV), the leading global provider of financial services technology solutions, today announced a new study that confirms the positive impact of electronic billing and payment on customer satisfaction, retention and profitability. This comprehensive study is the first to quantify the impact of different billing and payment channels on an organization’s customer relationships and key business drivers.

Conducted by Aspen Marketing Services on behalf of Fiserv, the study evaluated data from 8 million Qwest Communications residential customers over an 18-month period, with analysis concluded in April 2009. The analysis found the most significant linkage between billing and business benefits among early tenure customers—those who had been customers for less than 28 months. For the full study methodology and findings, visit .

The study also revealed that customers who receive paperless electronic bills at a company website or at a financial institution website, or who use recurring payments, are more profitable for the billing organization. Among early-tenure customers:

  • Electronic bill (e-bill) users are 12.5 percent less likely to
    leave, are 35 percent more likely to pay their bills on time, and
    purchase 20 percent more products than paper bill users.

  • Automatic, recurring payment users are 14 percent less likely to leave and 86 percent more likely to pay their bills on time.

  • Users who combine e-bill with recurring payment are more loyal and more profitable than other customer segments.

From a cost perspective, the study validates the importance of delivering e-bills not only via an organization’s own website, but also via financial institution sites, because where a bill is received impacts payment method. For example, among the customers studied:

  • 74 percent of customers who receive an
    e-bill at a bank site pay using a deduction from their bank account, a
    low-cost form of payment.

  • 40 percent of customers who receive bills at the company site pay using a card-funded payment, a higher cost method of payment.

Billing organizations can leverage the study findings to actively guide customers to high-benefit, low-cost billing and payment channels. Simple tactics are clearly outlined in the Bill Presentment and Payment whitepaper.

“This study clearly demonstrates that the benefits of viewing and paying bills online extend beyond cost reduction,” said Jardon Bouska, division president, Biller Solutions, Fiserv. “Billing and payment channels can be leveraged as valuable touch points that strengthen customer relationships and promote on-time payment. Fiserv is committed to working with industry leaders to not only provide consumers with the ability to receive and pay bills through a variety of channels, but also to help encourage customers to utilize preferred transaction methods such as recurring online payments and e-bills. These preferred methods have been shown to benefit both parties.”

Billing and Payments Industry Leadership

Fiserv is a leader in leveraging data analytics to promote the benefits of electronic billing and payment, as demonstrated by their participation in NACHA’s Council for Electronic Billing and Payments (CEBP) and the PayitGreen™ Alliance. This alliance promotes reducing paper use by encouraging customers to use electronic billing and automatic payments.

Fiserv is dedicated to educating consumers about how electronic billing and payment helps save time, money, the environment and secure one’s identity. To view a Fiserv consumer-education video, go to .

Fiserv offers a complete portfolio for optimizing bill pay touch points to maximize profitability, including electronic and paper bill production and distribution, on-demand and recurring bill payment (via agent, web, IVR and walk-in channels) as well as e-lockbox and remittance processing. Biller Solutions from Fiserv exemplifies Fiserv's Customer & Channel Management core competency by providing clients with technology products and payment options that can help deepen the customer relationship.

About Aspen

Founded in 1986, Aspen Marketing Services is the largest privately-held marketing services agency in the United States. Headquartered in West Chicago, IL, with offices in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York City, Phoenix, Morristown, NJ, Rosemont, IL, Chicago, San Diego, Tampa and Toronto, ON, Aspen Marketing offers an extensive array of integrated, best-in-class services including Direct Marketing, Consumer Promotions, Event Marketing, Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Hispanic Marketing and Advanced Analytics for clients such as General Motors, AT&T, ConAgra, Motorola, Georgia-Pacific, Allstate, Kraft Foods and JVC. For more information, visit .

About Fiserv

Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ:FISV) is the leading global provider of information management and electronic commerce systems for the financial services industry, driving innovation that transforms experiences for financial institutions and their customers. Ranked No. 1 on the FinTech 100 survey of top technology partners to the financial services industry, Fiserv celebrates its 25th year in 2009. For more information, visit .

Source: Company press release.

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Monitise Paynet Partner to Extend Reach

Monitise, Paynet partner to extend reach

London, August 13, 2009--Monitise, the world's leading mobile banking services provider, is extending its business further into Africa and the Middle East with a joint venture with Paynet, an electronics payment company.

The agreement, signed in principle, combines the strengths of Monitise and Paynet to give millions of people access to banking and financial services on their mobile phones.

It also helps cement Monitise's position as a worldwide leader in mobile money following a global deal with Visa Inc, the world's largest electronic payments network, in June.

The British company already works with some of the world's biggest banks and mobile operators to deliver an increasing range of services to their customers over their mobile phone.  Its agreement with Paynet, which has a well-established electronic payment network in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda that connects to 35 regional financial institutions, will allow Monitise to further expand its operations in Africa and the Middle East.

The combination of Monitise's world class mobile money services with Paynet's African payments experience will offer a compelling mobile banking solution to African and Middle Eastern financial institutions.  Uniquely among mobile banking services, Monitise also enables people without a bank account to use its services, as well as providing traditional mobile banking to those with accounts.

The technology turns mobile phones into 'mobile wallets' which can be loaded with money and used to pay bills, deposit and withdraw cash, and receive money transfers.  Services are expected to start early next year, enabling participating banks and mobile operators to offer banking and financial services to existing customers, as well as opening new markets.

Mobile phone penetration in East Africa is approximately 50 per cent and rapidly growing  Importantly, the technology works across all generations of mobile phone and has passed the strictest security standards demanded by financial institutions in the UK and the USA.  Bernard Matthewman, group managing director of Paynet, said: "There is a huge demand for secure, affordable and convenient banking and money services across Africa and the Middle East. 

"Monitise is a global leader in mobile money services. Its tried and trusted technology and know-how will sit perfectly with Paynet's existing networks to give people control of their money.  "Many banks and mobile operators in our region recognise the mobile money opportunity but are struggling to find appropriate solutions.  The Monitise approach of providing feature-rich mobile money services, as opposed to simply selling a licence, makes it very attractive and relevant to our market.

"This partnership will make a real difference to hundreds of millions of people, giving them greater access to their bank and helping new and existing businesses prosper."  Alastair Lukies, chief executive officer of Monitise plc, said: "Paynet and Monitise share the same vision of the social and economic benefits which mobile money can bring to developing countries.

"Paynet's established presence in East Africa and its expansion into the Middle East is a natural fit for our mobile money platform and its continued expansion into these territories with our partners around the region."  Mr Lukies added: "We firmly believe mobile money is most effective as an 'open ecosystem' where you can transact with anybody or any organisation, regardless of your bank or mobile operator.

"This principle underlies our success in the UK and the USA and is even more important in Africa and the Middle East."

Source: Company press release. 

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Australia Seeks Answers About Online-Payments Progress

August 12, 2009

Source: CardLine Global

Australian Payments Clearing Association says it will decide  later
this month whether the country's payments industry has made progress in
offering consumers more choices for online payments. The association,
which is owned by financial institutions and sets rules for clearing
and settlement of payments, hopes to release its final decision on 21
Aug., according to a statement this week from the group. The
association's actions follow a threat earlier this year from the
Reserve Bank of Australia, the country's central bank, that it might
use its regulatory powers to force more standardization and innovation
in the country's electronic-payments infrastructure (CardLine Global,
26 March). Australia's electronic-payment system "has essentially
remained unchanged since its establishment in the 1980s," Glenn
Stevens, the central bank's governor, said during a speech at the time.
"Left to their own devices, [payment] networks may stop short of an
efficient level of cooperation," Stevens said.  (Continue Reading)

Editor's Note:  Speaking of "left to their own devices"'s time to allow consumers to be left to theirs!

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Cardline: Issuers Scramble to Meet New Compliance Deadlines

Issuers 'Scramble' To Meet New Compliance Deadlines

Credit card issuers this year are spending tens of millions of dollars to reconfigure their information technology and other systems to comply with the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Accountability Act passed last May. Many also are racing to meet the act's first compliance deadline this month. Beginning Aug. 20, card issuers must have systems in place to notify cardholders at least 45 days in advance of any changes in account terms. The majority of the CARD Act's provisions go into effect next February, when issuers must ensure that their back-office systems support a variety of new parameters, including earlier statement-mailing deadlines and greater disclosure of account-payoff details and consumer opt-in choices for over-limit fees. Issuers also are more restricted concerning when they can raise cardholders' interest rates. "This process is a scramble for a lot of issuers, and while many will easily meet the first deadline, next year's deadlines pose much tougher challenges," Brian Shniderman, director with Deloitte Consulting LLP, tells CardLine sister publication Cards&Payments. "Issuers are weighing tough choices on how to set new policies and fees to be in accordance with the rules, while positioning themselves for future flexibility and profitability." Indeed, the logistics and challenges issuers face in coping with the new regulations are "breathtaking," Richard Fairbank, chairman and CEO of Capital One Financial Corp., told analysts in July during the issuer's second-quarter earnings conference call. Cap One will invest "tens of millions" of dollars and at least 200,000 hours of IT work in its compliance effort, Fairbank said. Besides changing card-statement designs and making numerous back-office changes to accommodate new account terms-notification and statement-mailing deadlines, compliance generally requires "massive changes in communications with customers," he said.

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OrderDynamics Offers eCommerce Alternative

OrderDynamics offers e-commerce alternative

Toronto, August 13, 2009--With 2 major payment providers going down within 4 weeks of each other (Authorize.NET July 3, 2009, and PayPal August 3, 2009), tens of thousands of online retailers and merchants that rely on these systems were effectively out of business during that time, unable to take orders, and losing revenue. OrderDynamics' retailers were largely unaffected by both of these outages thanks to its sophisticated multi-eStore eCommerce platform.

Failures like this are considered unacceptable to executives, although they are an unfortunate reality of doing business online. The successful online retailer must be aware of these risks and seek out methods to mitigate the impact caused by these types of failures. One way of mitigating the impact of a payment provider failure is through an on-demand eCommerce platform with an integrated Order Management System (OMS).

The OrderDynamics Order Management Systems (OMS) is software that facilitates the capture and processing of website orders for high volume retailers that use their on-demand eCommerce platform. The OMS, built-in to OrderDynamics, is an end-to-end system which is fundamentally linked into all areas of the eCommerce platform, such as eMail Marketing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Fulfillment and Inventory Control, Front-End Presentation, and Merchandising Rules. This is what enables OrderDynamics to protect merchants from costly Payment Brand failures, and other external system outages.

OrderDynamics eliminates order errors by capturing all order information without being dependent on third party systems, like payment processors. This ensures a smooth shopping experience and no interruptions to backend operations. OrderDynamics takes this a step further by automatically creating a Customer Service record (ticket) for any abandoned PayPal or Google Checkout orders so retailers can proactively follow-up with these shoppers and convert the sale. This process can be tailored with automated emails to the shopper inviting them back to the website to complete their purchase, with an optional incentive to return.

About OrderDynamics Corporation: OrderDynamics Corporation is a privately owned company that provides turn-key eCommerce solutions to businesses looking to grow their online sales solutions. The success of OrderDynamics is highly attributed to its on-demand eCommerce technology and Dynamic Merchandising concepts which provide superior control and help drive revenue. The OrderDynamics solution is designed for online merchants and services different business such as retail, manufacturing, business-to-business, complex online retail, and more. OrderDynamics officially launched its On-Demand eCommerce Solution in 2006 after 2 years of research and development.

Source: Company press release.

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E-Voting Allows Hackers to Switch Votes

E-Voting Machine Hack Steals Votes University researchers fool an e-voting machine into swapping votes from one candidate to another

Aug 12, 2009 | 04:27 PM By Kelly Jackson Higgins


Electronic voting machine security suffered another blow as researchers this week showed how they were able to hack a machine and steal votes.

A team of computer scientists from University of California-San Diego, the University of Michigan, and Princeton University used an attack based on "return-oriented programming" to turn a Sequoia AVC Advantage e-voting machine against itself and shift votes from one candidate to another.

Return-oriented programming basically takes snippets of code from the application and totally reassembles it into something with no resemblance to the program -- akin to selecting words or phrases from a story and putting them together into a different paragraph that means something completely different, says Hovav Shacham, a professor of computer science at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering and one of the lead researchers in the hack. UCSD had previously shown how the technique could work on desktop machines.

The attack doesn't require any new code, either: "The attacker reuses short snippets of the existing system and recombines them in such a way that the computation they perform is exactly the computation he wants to carry out," he says.

Editor's Note:  Seems to me that E-Voting and biometrics are an ideal fit...enter Microsoft and UPEK's Worldwide Biometric Challenge!   I told Pay By Touch that they should've explored that niche, even reserved but they went with Healthcare...

Continue Dark Reading

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Worldwide Biometric Challenge

UPEK and Microsoft launched the Worldwide Biometric Challenge, a developer contest for biometric applications on Windows 7, the first Windows operating system with native support for fingerprint biometric authentication.

The contest encourages software developers to utilize the Windows
Biometric Framework (WBF) to build applications that make use of
notebook computers with integrated fingerprint sensors as well as USB peripheral fingerprint readers.

“There are tens of millions of laptops with fingerprint sensors in use.
Today the applications running on those notebooks are limited in their
ability to access the fingerprint capability,” commented Brian DeGonia,
senior manager, product marketing at UPEK, Inc. “Windows 7 will bridge
the gap by making it much easier for the large and diverse Microsoft
developer community to develop innovative software that utilizes the
fingerprint capability in new ways.”

Submissions to the Worldwide Biometric Challenge will be judged for
their innovativeness, usefulness, usability and utilization of the WBF.
Submissions are due November 9, 2009 and winners will be announced
November 16, 2009. The winner and runners-up will receive prizes and
have their applications featured on the UPEK website.

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A Mobile Retail Quagmire: The Checkout

Evan Schuman writes a story for his StorefrontBacktalk about mobile payment checkout. He provides four choices, all of which "have serious drawbacks..."

A Mobile Retail Quagmire: The Checkout

Written by Evan Schuman and Fred J. Aun

August 13th, 2009

will kill a potential Mobile Commerce customer’s enthusiasm faster than
an onerous checkout process. But retailers have to balance security
versus convenience in a way that is radically different from E-Commerce.

Going through the ritual of filling out shipping and payment forms on a regular E-Commerce site is annoying enough, but being forced to do that same dance on a mobile device can be downright cruel. But a true M-Commerce site must allow visitors to not only find products with their mobile devices but to also buy them.

Related Story: U.S. Retailers Tip-Toe Through Mobile Commerce Minefields

There are primarily four ways for a retailer to handle mobile transactions:  (Editor's Note: There's another way)

  • Force consumers to type in full payment card numbers, card verification value (CVV) [to be precise, the CVV-2 for Visa, the CID for American Express and CVC2 for MasterCard] and their full address for each and every time they checkout.   (Editor's Note:  Ouch!)

  • Allow for that data to be stored on the mobile device, presumably encrypted. (Ouch!)

  • Allow for that data to be stored on the retailer’s server, typically requiring a password and some other authentication. (Ouch!)

  • Use a third-party financial service to store that data and make it available to participating retailers. (that's the best of the four...)

All of these approaches have severe drawbacks. Forcing consumers to type their data into their phone with each and every purchase session is the safest route, but is also highly impractical. It’s most likely to send transactions to a rival site that is more considerate of a user’s time.

(Editor's Note: I'd like to hear someone logically explain to me how that is safe...let alone "safest? Presumably he is saying that of the four choices, it's the safest, but that does NOT make it safe)

There is one more option. Have the customer "swipe their card" ONE-TIME (and enter PIN if it's PIN Debit Card) into a PCI 2.x certified device, whereby it is instantaneously encrypted, send the encrypted data to a secure HSM which then stores the card holder data for future purchases. They can enable as many cards as they wish for their mobile e-wallet and when they are done, they can pass along our device to a friend or a family member to allow them to do the same. (click picture above right to enlarge)

Continue Reading at StorefrontBacktalk

Learn more about HomeATM's Mobile Checkout Solution: (click to enlarge) or go to web page here

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UnionPay Cards Accepted by UK ATM Network

UK ATM Network Accepts Unionpay Cards

Source: CardLine Global

Link, a United Kingdom-based ATM network, on Wednesday began to support cash withdrawals initiated with China UnionPay credit and debit cards. Link's network includes 64,000 ATMs. "There were hundreds of transactions even within the first hours of the connection going live," a Link spokesperson told CardLine Global Wednesday. UnionPay, an electronic-payment network backed by the Chinese government, lately has mounted a international-expansion campaign to make itself into one of the world's leading card brands. "A number of overseas card issuers in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere have been interested in access to the Link network because of the unique reach this provides in the UK," the spokesperson says. "China UnionPay is naturally one of these partners as it has fast become an important international card scheme. Some banks outside of China have issued or are planning to issue UnionPay cards. None of the member financial institutions of the UK Cards Association, which represents major banks, issues UnionPay cards, a spokesperson for the group tells CardLine Global. An estimated 141,000 Chinese tourists visited the UK in 2007 and spent at least 181 million pounds (US$299.1 million or 210.2 million euros), according to the country's Office of National Statistics. At least 100,000 Chinese students also study in the UK. "We expect transactions to grow steadily along with the number of Chinese visits, with particularly large numbers of Chinese expected at the 2012 London Olympics," the Link spokesperson says. Financial institutions have issued more than 1.8 billion cards carrying the UnionPay brand, the card organization says.

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