United Airlines, Chase Card Services and Visa announced a multi-year extension of the United MileagePlus credit card program. The extension continues the more than 30-year relationship between the number one card issuer in the U.S., the U.S. airline with service to the most U.S. cities and most countries around the world and the world’s leader in digital payments.
The agreement, which extends into 2029, builds on one of the industry’s strongest co-brand card portfolios with seven consecutive quarters of double-digit year-over-year growth and a long history of providing cardmembers with extra benefits that reward people traveling United’s expansive global route network.
“United Airlines, Chase and Visa have a longstanding partnership that delivers top benefits to customers to help them get the most out of their travel, while returning robust value to our respective businesses,” said Luc Bondar, United’s vice president of Loyalty. “This extension strengthens ties with our partners at Chase and Visa and is expected to drive growth across our industry-leading credit card portfolio, enhance our cardholders travel experience and provide more opportunities to easily earn and redeem miles to travel United’s industry leading route network.”
“We’re pleased to extend our decades-long relationship with United and Visa in order to deliver even more value to our joint cardmembers,” said Ed Olebe, president of Chase Co-Brand Cards. “The program has deep cardmember loyalty and fantastic momentum, with exciting new offerings and experiences for our customers to look forward to in 2020 and beyond.”
The extended agreement will build on one of the world’s strongest co-brand card portfolios, with premium customers in premium markets. The portfolio of cards includes the new United Business Card, United Explorer Card, United Club Card, United Club Business Card and United TravelBank Card. Customers traveling with eligible MileagePlus credit cards have access to benefits that make traveling United’s leading route network better than ever including perks such as free checked bags, priority boarding and increased mileage earn on every day spending.
“Visa is proud to extend our partnership with United and Chase to bring best-in-class card benefits and travel experiences to cardholders,” said Kirk Stuart, senior vice president, head of North America Merchant at Visa. “We look forward to building on the program’s success to deliver more value, enhance cardholder engagement and create rewarding payment experiences.”
Earlier this year, United and Chase launched a new Business card and celebrated with the highest ever bonuses for all United co-brand cards for the first time ever. In 2018, United and Chase launched the award-winningUnited Explorer card, with even more best-in-class benefits including an up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check statement credit and 2X earn on hotel stays and restaurant purchases.
United also continues to invest in making MileagePlus the top loyalty program for its members. Last year the airline announced that MileagePlus miles never expire and announced a partnership with CLEAR to offer free and discounted memberships to MileagePlus members. United also introduced PlusPoints, a new industry-leading upgrade benefit for Premier members.
Visa Inc. reportedly is planning interchange rate changes that could raise merchants’ acceptance costs for card-not-present transactions but lower costs in some other categories, including purchases at big grocery-store chains.
Citing a Visa document circulating among the network’s client banks, the Bloomberg news service reported Tuesday that interchange for a $100 card-not-present purchase with a premium credit card could rise 4% to $2.60 from the current $2.50. The same purchase with a standard Visa credit card would increase nearly 5% to $1.99 from the current $1.90.
Report: Changes in Visa’s Interchange Rate Schedule Coming This Year – Digital Transactions
Interchange on a $50 premium card transaction at a high-volume supermarket, however, will drop 33%, to 77 cents from $1.15. (Visa’s current interchange schedule for high-volume supermarket transactions lists the fee for “traditional rewards” and certain other credit cards at 1.15% plus 5 cents per transaction.) Rates in some services categories, including education and real estate, also are expected to decline, the news service said.
Visa reportedly will roll out the new rates in April and October to give processors time to implement the changes, according to Bloomberg. Both Visa and Mastercard Inc. typically update their interchange rate schedules in April of each year and sometimes make further adjustments six months later.
Visa declined a Digital Transactions News request for comment. Apart from occasional minor adjustments, interchange rates—always a controversial topic among merchants, who ultimately bear the cost—have been stable since at least 2012, according to studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Since then, however, the use of higher-interchange premium cards has increased, and merchants are paying more in network fees.
“Let’s be blunt,” the Retail Industry Leaders Association trade group said in a Tuesday statement. “Visa teasing that rates will go down for ‘some’ is masking the true impetus for this plan—their aim is to hike rates on the vast majority of merchants.”
The Bloomberg report claims “Visa is planning the biggest changes to swipe fees in a decade.” Quoting from the Visa document, the report says “‘the U.S. credit interchange structure has been largely unchanged for the past 10 years. Based on the most recent review in the U.S., Visa is adjusting its default U.S. interchange rate structure to optimize acceptance and usage and reflect the current value of Visa products.’”
An analysis from New York City-based investment firm Keefe Bruyette & Woods says the coming Visa changes will likely affect small and mid-sized businesses more than big ones. Large national merchants with enough transaction clout can and do negotiate their own rates with the networks, whereas smaller retailers’ card costs are based on the official rate schedules. The networks charge interchange to merchant acquirers, who invariably pass the cost on to their merchants.
The KBW report by analyst Sanjay Sakhrani says Visa’s planned changes will help realign “some aspects of the company’s interchange structure between high-value card-not-present transactions and lower-value card transactions. Over time, we think the changes could help Visa volumes, as SMBs could be more inclined to accept card[s] with the lower rates.”
Sakhrani further said he expects Mastercard to follow suit “if it hasn’t done so already.” And for American Express Co., “we believe that the change is mildly positive as it strengthens [AmEx’s] argument that in many cases the rates on premium Visa (and Mastercard) credit cards are equal to or higher than the discount rate it charges merchants.”
The KBW report also says Visa’s move could be “transitory positive” for acquirers “as they are typically able to tack on additional fees when fee changes occur.”
Your days are numbered—by your credit score. Your credit score is something you can never get rid of. Once used for the purpose of obtaining credit cards, now your score can be used for determining interest rates for loans, for insurance premiums, employment and rentals. FICO or the Fair Isaac Corporation determines your credit score. This is the breakdown of how it’s handled:
35% = payment history.
30% = amounts owed.
15% = length of credit history.
10% = new credit.
10% = kinds of credit.
The range of FICO scores are 300 to 850. Most fall into the 650 and above range. Less than 20 percent fall into the poor credit scores range, the rest somewhere in the middle. The flailing economy caused creditors and banks to tighten the reigns on credit scores and who they will lend to—what used to be a good score, may now be quantified and qualified as a poorer score depending on the creditor’s determining factors. If you can pay down your debt, you are on the road to FICO recovery.
Pay Down Existing Credit Cards The jury’s out regarding the most effective way to pay down debt and up your credit score. You can “snowball” your debt by paying off the lowest balances first, then use that momentum to pay off your larger balance cards. You can pay off your high interest rate cards first or pay them all down just enough to up your score. This means that all cards must have a debt-to-limit ratio of no more than 30 percent. Then you have to keep it that way. For many, it’s a lifestyle adjustment and a difficult one.
Apply For A Secured Credit Card Secured credit cards are backed by a savings account which acts as collateral for your account. Your credit line usually equals the amount of money in that savings account. Some secured cards will offer special incentives such as credit lines 1.5 times or double the savings account. Beware that fees can be quite high and that you likely won’t have the same kind of benefits that a non-secured card issues.
Don’t Use The Whole Credit Line Keep your debt-to-credit line ratio under 30 percent. The more you inch toward your credit line, the less creditworthy you appear. Finance charges, late and over-the-limit and other account maintenance fees can bring you closer to your credit line or snag you over it. Keep your charges low by using cash or debit cards or by spreading your charges over another credit card or two.
Ask A Creditor For Forgiveness It never hurts to phone your creditor and ask for forgiveness for making a late payment or missing a payment. Many credit cards offer payment protection plans. Read the fine print to see if such a plan is right for you. Payment protection plans can offer one or more months payment forbearance or forgiveness, especially if you have recently changed jobs, had a baby or just need a month off from payment. But such plans come with monthly price tags, some quite high.
Don’t Bounce Checks Non-sufficient fund checks don’t generally show up on your credit report until they have gone through a legal process or judgment. If you bounce a check, you will be paying bounced check fees to all the parties involved, save yourself. This can be quite costly, especially if you are living paycheck to paycheck as most Americans are these days. This takes money away from other bills, household expenses, including food and rent. If checks are presented twice, often it’s twice the fees—and a downward spiral into indebtedness. Then you play catch-up and rarely does robbing Peter to pay Paul catch you up.
Pay Bills On Time Don’t be late on your bill payments—not once. Some creditors will report late payments before the customary 30 days. Most wait until you are 30 days late—or whatever mandates your creditor has in writing. When in doubt, call your creditor. Ask for a grace period; get everything in writing by snail mail or email. Verify that your creditor waits 30 days to report if you need extra time to pay. Just don’t miss a payment.
Get A Collection Agency To Remove A Debt From Your Credit Report If You Pay Right Away Once a collection agency reports to one of the three credit bureaus, the data stays on your record for seven years—bankruptcies up to 10 years. The credit bureau will only list that the account has been paid. It will still show up as negative data until the seven years is up. Many people confuse this timeframe with the statute of limitations on unpaid credit accounts, which varies by state. Bottom line: the collection agency cannot remove the debt from your credit report.
Avoid Constantly Switching Employers Job-hopping may look like you are rising in the ranks on your resume—but not to a creditor. Your credit score may suffer a hit if you appear to be unstable in the job market. Creditors like to see routine: routine job habits, routine payment habits. Changing jobs to them usually means that you may be starting with a new budget to acclimate to the new income system. Five years is a stable appearance.
Avoid Constantly Changing Residences Just like avoiding job changes; you should avoid changing your address too often. Credit bureaus list address changes on your reports. Too many changes make you appear less creditworthy and unstable to potential creditors. The more years you appear to stay at one address, the more reliable you appear.
Review Your Credit Report Once A Year There are three credit bureaus that keep tabs on your credit usage. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion catalogue your credit history, payments made or not made, credit inquiries and legal issues regarding your credit. They do not determine your creditworthiness; your creditor does that. The credit bureaus simply record data as well as your FICO credit score. It’s in your best interest to review your credit report annually.
Black Friday is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and this year 151 million consumers got their Black Friday shopping groove on. This year, that groove was more online than at a physical store, but with all income groups spending at least 25 percent more this year than last. Millennials were the biggest spenders. That’s according to a hot-off-the-presses PYMNTS study of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers to find out what they bought, where they shopped and how they paid. Here’s what we learned.
What did you do the Friday after Thanksgiving? PYMNTS asked 2,000 consumers that very same question – and what they told us may surprise you.
Of course, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is known as “Black Friday” — the traditional start of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. Once upon a time, that meant shoppers lining up outside brick-and-mortar stores at 5 a.m. that day to be among the first to grab those infamous “doorbuster” deals — proudly proclaiming the accounts of their retail adventures at the holiday family gatherings to come — until the smartphone came along.
Today, instead of setting the alarm for 4 a.m. to get in line, consumers go online — popping open apps and letting their fingers and thumbs do the shopping.
This year was no exception.
What our 2,000 consumers told us is probably indicative of your behavior, too. Our findings suggest that not only is Black Friday increasingly digital, but that going digital has reshaped the holiday shopping experience in many unexpected ways.
For instance, 40 percent of U.S. consumers didn’t shop on Black Friday at all. Those who did shopped at physical stores less. And they did a lot of buying for themselves.
Black Friday shopping — in terms of the number of consumers who observed this holiday shopping ritual — is roughly the same as we saw last year. In 2019, 59.5 percent of U.S. consumers (151 million) bought at least one thing at a store the day after Thanksgiving, down ever so slightly from 61.8 percent (157 million) in 2018. Those who didn’t say they didn’t because of store crowding, that they did not need anything, could not afford it or they prefer to spend their time doing other things. Those who did went hunting for deals (more on that later).
In 2019, we saw consumers are trading standing in line at the physical store more for the ease and convenience of buying online. About one in five consumers (20.4 percent) who shopped on Black Friday only did so online, up 10 percent from 18.6 percent in 2018. One in five consumers (20.2 percent) only went to a physical store to shop on Black Friday in-store, compared to 25.6 percent a year before. That’s a decrease of 21 percent.
The Black Friday reality though is a little mix of both. The Black Friday shopper is an omnichannel shopper with 18.2 percent of shoppers buying online and in the store. That is up slightly from 2018, as a result of fewer people going to the physical store to shop.
We also observed that Black Friday shopping has also become less about shopping for others and more about shopping for “me.”
This year, more than 23.2 percent of consumers said that they spent more than 90 percent of their Black Friday shopping dollars on buying gifts for others, compared to 22.3 percent in 2018. Not quite a quarter — but close — of all Black Friday shoppers said that 90 percent or more of their purchases were for themselves.
We see some interesting differences by shopping channel too. Slightly more than half (56 percent) of shoppers in the store spent more than 40 percent on “gifts” for themselves this year (compared to 48.2 percent in 2018), while 59 percent of Black Friday online shoppers spent more than 40 percent of their budgets on gifts for others in 2019.
All Consumers Spent More On Black Friday In 2019, But Millennials Spent The Most
Consumers across every income bracket increased their Black Friday spending by 34.1 percent between 2018 and 2019, on average. The largest increase in spending was among those earning more than $100,000 in annual income, who spent $143.70 more than last year. Black Friday shoppers earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year spent $80.40 more than last year, and those earning less than $50,000 spent $47.10 more than last year, on average.
As a percent of their income, though, the percent of the increase in spending across each of these income brackets was similar. Consumers who earned less than $50,000 per year spent 25.9 percent more in 2019 than in 2018, while those who made between $50,000 and $100,000 per year spent 25.5 percent more. Consumers who earned more than $100,000 in annual income were the outliers here, having spent 34.1 percent more on Black Friday than they did last year.
This year, millennials were the big Black Friday spenders, shelling out an average of $509.50 on Black Friday purchases this year, compared to an average of just $382.40 in 2018. More millennials in the workforce mean more millennials with money to spend on holiday presents (as well as for themselves).
Bridge millennials, those between 30 and 40 years of age who “bridge” the age gap between Generation X and millennials, spent big, too, shelling out an average $479.40 on Black Friday this year — the second-highest average of any age group.
Both millennials and bridge millennials prefer to buy gifts for others online, with 48 percent and 54.1 percent of their Black Friday spend for holiday gifts happening online and not in physical stores.
Deals Drive Black Friday Shoppers To The Physical Store – But Not As Much As They Used To
Not surprisingly, given Black Friday’s roots in physical retail, retailers have trained shoppers that Black Friday is “deal day” and to expect those big “doorbuster” savings in their stores. And that is what still drives many shoppers to the physical store on that day. This year, 53 percent of consumers who bought at least one item in-store said that they did it to get access to those special deals.
But the percent of Black Friday shoppers who do that is down from last year when 59.1 percent of Black Friday shoppers said they specifically went to the physical store to get a deal.
Ease and convenience, which drives so much of the consumer’s online shopping experience every other day of the year, also seems to be driving the behaviors now of Black Friday shoppers. Deals are still key, but convenience trumps the deal for most – and mostly because consumers can now get many of the same great deals online. Sixty-five (65) percent of Black Friday shoppers who bought at least one thing online, did so at least in part because it was easy and convenient. In-store deal hunters, apparently show an abundance of patience, spending as many as 8 hours or more tracking them down.
Buying Clothes Topped The Black Friday Shopping List Again In 2019
Black Friday spending in both 2018 and 2019 was primarily driven by purchases of clothing and accessories, with a sharp increase in the number of consumers making those purchases online. Even though just as many Black Friday shoppers who bought clothes bought them in the physical store this year (57.3 percent in 2019, 57.8 percent in 2018), nearly as many made those purchases online. In 2019, 56 percent of Black Friday shoppers who bought clothes did so online, up from 49.7 percent in 2018.
Electronics came in second place again this year, but with a shift to online purchasing as well. Only 44.6 percent of respondents who shopped on Black Friday this year bought electronics in-store, down from 48.3 percent who did so last year. We found that 51.6 percent of respondents who shopped on Black Friday this past weekend bought electronic goods online, up from 47.4 percent who did so last year.
Credit cards, debit cards and cash – in that order – were what Black Friday shoppers used to pay for their purchases. And shoppers used them mostly at Amazon and Walmart.
Credit cards, debit cards and cash were kings on Black Friday as more than 50 percent of all Black Friday shoppers chose credit when checking out at the physical store or online. As seen in Figure 8, 49.3 percent of brick-and-mortar shoppers and 54.3 percent of online shoppers used credit cards to pay for what they bought in 2019, with 42 percent and 36 percent of Black Friday shoppers opting for debit cards in-store and online, respectively.
PayPal saw a big uptick online by Black Friday shoppers, with roughly a quarter of all Black Friday online shoppers using it to make a purchase. So did Amazon Pay, not surprisingly since nearly three-quarters of Black Friday shoppers in our study reported making at least one Black Friday purchase at Amazon using their buy button.
Alt credit providers, including PayPal Credit, Affirm, Afterpay, Sezzle and Klarna were among the options that a few Black Friday shoppers said they used at least once, as well.
Consumers also reported using credit cards less often online this year as they did last year. We attribute at least part of that reported shift to be the result of an increase in the use of online wallets like PayPal and the other “Pays” that have registered credit card credentials available to enable their purchases.
Even millennials used credit cards to pay for their purchases, with 49.2 percent reporting that credit cards were how they paid for their online Black Friday purchases and 46.5 percent saying they paid using credit cards for in-store purchases. Millennials also reported using debit (41.1 percent online and 45.2 percent in store) as well as alt payments providers, including the Pays and alt credit platforms. Bridge millennial payments preferences reflect nearly identical payments preferences.
As mentioned, Amazon topped the list of all Black Friday shopping destinations, with 73 percent of Black Friday shoppers making at least one purchase there. A distant second is Walmart with 38 percent and large national chains such as Macys and Nordstrom, with roughly 28 percent of Black Friday shoppers making a purchase those stores.
Black Friday Is Just The Beginning, And Not The End, Of The Consumer’s Holiday Shopping
As you no doubt noticed, the consumer’s inbox was flooded with Black Friday deals long before Black Friday. Pre-Black Friday deals and VIP access to Black Friday specials have made Black Friday a multi-day shopping event that bleeds into Cyber Monday and the mad rush to the holiday finish line.
It’s a good thing.
Eighty-two percent of the consumers in our survey plan to finish purchasing holiday gifts after Black Friday, with 6 percent saying they will not be done until after Christmas. As long as retailers continue to deck the halls with deals, consumers, it seems, will continue to let their fingers and thumbs do the shopping.
No one wants to turn down a sale because they can’t accept the offered payment method. That’s why credit card processors exist in the first place—because businesses need to accept credit cards to compete in the modern marketplace.
But in an increasingly mobile society, only accepting payments by POS or desktop payment integration may be costing merchants valuable business. Portable, app-linked card readers, which enable mobile payments for small businesses, are steadily gaining popularity. They give merchants the ability to take payments on the go, whether they’re at a trade show, on a jobsite, or operating a pop-up shop.
These hand-held devices not only allow merchants to close more deals, they also enhance a business’ sense of professionalism and deliver a more seamless payment experience for the customer. Without certain key features, however, mobile payment options can feel like more trouble than they’re worth. We’ve made a list of what to look for when you want to start accepting mobile payments for small businesses.
1. Accounting software integration
If your mobile card reader doesn’t connect to your accounting or ERP software, you’ll have to manually reconcile any mobile payments you take. That can seem like a massive step backward if you’re currently using a desktop payment integration that automatically posts payments to your invoices. You might be able to accept payments faster with a mobile device, but your accounts receivable and general ledger won’t update accordingly.
To circumvent the time-consuming task of manual reconciliation, you need a mobile app or reader that can integrate with your accounting or ERP software to sync your payments back to your accounts receivable and general ledger.
2. Multi-layer security
For many businesses, the chief concern when it comes to implementing new payment acceptance methods is security. Taking credit card payments in the field can seem riskier than in-store or online transactions. Many mobile payment apps employ the same security measures as desktop payment integrations, however, and mobile EMV readers are just as safe as the physical terminals used in brick-and-mortar store locations. Mobile payment options are considerably less risky than cash acceptance or credit card imprinting in terms of loss and theft.
For peace of mind and PCI compliance, find a mobile solution that keeps data secure with tokenization, encryption, and TLS 1.2 compliance. Whether you’re looking for an app or a card reader, you don’t have to sacrifice data protection for convenience. Plus, tokenization allows you to store an encoded version of your customer’s credit card number, so you can conduct future transactions with repeat customers by tapping a few buttons without having to enter their card number again.
3. Inventory and customer information access
Some mobile payment apps go beyond payment acceptance and allow you to access and update your inventory and your customers’ information while you’re out in the field. With this functionality, you don’t have to try to remember the parts you used on a job until you return to the office, and you won’t unexpectedly find a product out of stock. You’ll also be able to view and edit your customers’ information for easy communication and verification.
4. Dependable support
Implementing a mobile payment option might sound time-consuming, but a good support team will provide free training and walk you through installation and setup so that you’ll be ready to accept mobile payments in no time. Plus, they’ll be readily available to help you sort out any technical difficulties that may arise.
Look for a mobile payment solution backed by an in-house support team that’s located in the United States and available 24/7.
5. Flat rate fees
The most significant differentiator among mobile payment solutions, after integration and data sync capability, is cost. Several providers offer free swipe readers and apps, but their processing fees are often higher than their competitors’, and they may charge an additional monthly service fee. Some providers only integrate with one accounting or ERP platform. Others charge higher rates for keyed-in transactions than they do for swiped transactions.
To ensure that your mobile payment solution is as cost-effective as possible, your best option is to find a payment integration that offers a mobile POS or app for no additional charge. Your mobile payments will sync back to your accounting or ERP software, and your processing rate will remain the same whether you’re accepting payments online, over the phone, or in person.
The answer is yes
If you’re asking yourself whether accepting mobile payments for small businesses is a worthwhile endeavor, it’s definitely time for you to dive in. Use these tips to find a mobile payment acceptance method that will boost your sales without setting you back with manual invoice reconciliation or increasing your processing fees. Accepting payments on the go doesn’t have to be complicated!
With the advent of technology, the younger generations and their methods of choice are certainly forcing countless industries to evolve with the times. The massive industry of payment processing is no exception.
Paper money is almost eliminated already, but with the increased usage of mobile payment apps and other credit card alternatives, it seems like “plastic” spending is also dying. So, how do these trends relate to Millennials and Gen-Z consumers?
The Growing Use of Mobile Payments
According to a study held by Payments Industry Intelligence, In 2017, it was estimated that over 87 million people were already signed up to and set up for Apple Pay alone. Another 34 million use Samsung Pay. Of course, China’s own mobile payment apps have all domestic competitors beat with nearly 1 billion users across their two major services known as WeChat Pay and Alipay.
Among these early adopters of mobile pay technology, the majority fall into the 18-34 age bracket. In fact, almost “half of the smartphone users in this demographic have a mobile wallet” as stated by Payments Industry Intelligence. Nearly a third of them say they’re interested in mobile payment technology.
The Mercator Advisory Group’s CustomerMonitor Survey Series looked at usage among millennials specifically and found that as many as 70% of them use their mobile phones to pay for goods and services. Of them, 40% use mobile payment apps like Apple Pay or the growing option, Google Pay.
With these numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that the market value for mobile payment technology is rapidly rising. According to Zion Market Research, “the global mobile payment technology market was valued at around $123.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach approximately $3,371.6 billion by 2024.”
How Merchants Are Responding
With many mobile apps meaning reduced processing fees over credit card payments, merchants have been quick to jump on board. That’s no surprise considering that Bloomberg reported credit card swipes cost merchants over $90 billion in fees annually.
Bloomberg.com writes, “While shoppers have largely shunned mobile payments offered by third-party providers like Apple Inc., retailers are trying to persuade customers to embrace the technology by dangling discounts and other perks.” The merchants they speak of include Walmart and Starbucks, both of whom have worked mobile pay into their loyalty programs.
In all, more than 1 million merchants already accept Apple Pay, including gas stations and restaurants according to a study by MacRumors.com. At the start of the year, it was announced that over 65% of retailers in the United States were accepting it as a payment method.
Meanwhile, Google Pay isn’t far behind. At launch in 2015, over 700,000 merchants reportedly accepted Google Pay with seven out of ten Android devices being payment ready.
As of today, adoption of mobile payment technology is growing–especially among Millennials and Gen-Z consumers–but it still has major adoption ahead if it’s going to see the success that it has in other countries, like China.”
The card networks’ crackdown on negative-option billing and subscriptions with free trials is continuing, with stricter policies from Visa Inc. set to take effect April 18.
The updated Visa rules will follow by a year tightened rules from Mastercard Inc. on negative-option billers. These are billers who, after getting a consumer to sign up for a trial subscription for a product, automatically charge the customer’s card on file after the trial ends or until the consumer cancels. Mastercard’s rule change requires merchants to gain cardholder approval at the end of the trial before they start billing. Merchants also must send the cardholder, either by email or text message, the transaction amount, payment date, and merchant name along with clear instructions on how to cancel.
Mark Standfield, president of Midigator LLC, an American Fork, Utah-based firm that works with merchants and merchant acquirers to prevent and mitigate chargebacks, tells Digital Transactions News that Visa’s upcoming changes are largely similar to Mastercard’s, though there are some differences. Visa’s rule will cover physical and digital goods sold through subscriptions, whereas Mastercard’s covers only physical goods, he says.
“The biggest difference that we saw is that Visa included digital merchants, not just physical merchants,” Standfield says.
Visa posted a notice about its planned changes on a Web site it maintains for merchants. The post notes Visa has had rules to regulate negative-option and subscription merchants since 2011. The notice identifies several “pain points” in promotions and introductory offers, including cardholder complaints and confusion when customers forget or did not understand that they had signed up for a subscription, the lack of a mechanism to distinguish transactions involving promotional or trial offers from any other subscription, and a lack of card-issuer clarity on available dispute rights.
“To enable greater customer recognition, easier cancellation, and clearer dispute rights, Visa is updating its rules related to transactions at merchants that offer free trials or introductory offers as part of an ongoing subscription service,” the post says. It later adds that “upon further review of its existing rules, Visa recognizes that free trials or introductory offers that roll into ongoing subscriptions or recurring charges can lead to problems for cardholders and clients, including multimillion-dollar operational cost increases due to high call-center volumes, customer complaints, write-offs and card closures/re-issuances.”
A Visa spokesperson declined to comment for this story.
Despite a card-network crackdown on subscription billers about a decade ago, problems have persisted and led to enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general. That’s put more pressure on acquirers and the networks, according to Standfield. “When events like that occur it triggers an escalated response by the brands,” he says.
Alpharetta, Ga.-based acquirer Priority Technology Holdings Inc. earlier this year said it had closed 1,200 merchant accounts in order to comply with the new Mastercard rule. The processor’s problems came to light mainly because Priority is a publicly traded company; Standfield says other acquirers have encountered similar issues. “Due to their private status they largely stay off the radar,” he says.
The number of locations that accept EMV cards in the United States increased from 3.1 million to 3.7 million during the first six months of 2019, according to an infographic recently released from Visa. In total, some eight in ten storefronts now accept chip cards, an increase of 12 percent since December 2018.
Banks issuing Visa cards put 10 million EMV-enabled cards in the hands of American consumers between December and June 2019, Visa said. That brings the total number of chip cards in circulation to 521.7 million in the U.S., or 72 percent of total Visa credit and debit cards.
Overall U.S. payment volume is overwhelmingly spent on EMV cards; 99 percent of overall volume in June 2019 occurred on EMV cards.
Unsurprisingly, counterfeit fraud losses continue to drop. According to Visa, fraud losses have dropped 87 percent since September 2015 for merchants who have completed the chip upgrade, and 62 percent for all U.S. merchants. Card-present fraud overall has declined 40 percent, Visa said.
MC (DRI) Is a dispute process
that was put in place on 12th April 2019. The system is to enhance
the capability to prevent invalid disputes from entering the MasterCard
Network. Those disputes deemed valid by MC will allow for the Issuer to file a
dispute on behalf of their cardholder. A
merchant may contest a chargeback via a 2nd presentment or accept
the dispute. All cases that receive a response will be assessed a MC
association system fee of $3.00 per case. The fee will commence on any August 2019 case.
VISA ALLOCATION: FRAUD AND AUTHORZATION DATA DISPUTES
VISA VCR Allocation is a dispute
process that was put in place on 15th April 2018. VISA reviews data
and documentation submitted by an issuer for dispute. Based on the data, VISA
can assign liability to the merchant or reject the issuer’s claim. If a
merchant is assessed liability, the merchant may respond to the dispute via a
pre-arbitration or accept the case. All disputes must be responded to
regardless if the reply is an acceptance or a rebuttal with the intent to
contest. Any case that does not receive
a response will have an $0.85 cent fee applied.
VISA COLLABORATION: CONSUMER AND PROCESSING ERROR
VISA VCR Collaboration is a
dispute process that was put in place on 15th April 2018. This
system is similar to the dispute process that was in place prior to VCR. The issuer
files a dispute on behalf of their cardholder through VISA system to the Acquirer,
and the dispute is passed onto the intended merchant. A merchant may contest the dispute via a
re-presentment or accept it. All disputes must be responded to regardless if
the reply is an acceptance or a rebuttal with the intent to contest. Any case that does not receive a response
will have an $0.85 cent fee applied.