|by Jason Steele|
Earlier this week, I reported on actions that Visa was taking to crack down on scams. At that time, I mentioned that it was not clear if the new Visa would targeted only towards online transaction, or if they would affect other traditional scams like the one I reported about.
Speaking With Visa
Earlier today, I had a friendly conversation with a representative of Visa. I applauded Visa for taking this action, but I wanted to know if it’s scope was limited to online transactions. He assured me that the changes addressed in the press release encompass all transactions, both online and offline. The common sense solution to the problem is simple, customer accounts cannot be charged by a third party unless the customer enters all the account information for each transaction. While such “sharing” of information was not previously permitted by Visa’s merchant agreement, it still occurred. As I discovered in my series, this practice is seemingly prohibited by Mastercard and Amex as well, yet it has been occurring unabated for years.
Why Is Visa Doing This?
They actually admitted that this move was entirely in response to the pressure put on them by my series. Just kidding. Actually, Visa is trying to position itself among the major credit card processors as the most reliable and trustworthy of the three majors. I strongly feel that this move is a very positive step for Visa, one that I hope Mastercard and Amex move quickly to match. You can read here about some of the other steps Visa is taking in regards to security.
How To Pick A Card Processor
Many banks allow you to apply for a particular card with your choice of Visa, Mastercard, and sometimes even American Express. Typically, customers really only consider the policy of the bank issuing the card, and are not terribly concerned with the card processor. The most common consideration when choosing a card processor, is their merchant network. In the United States, it seems like about 10% of merchants that take Visa or Mastercard don’t take Amex. In my experience, companies that do not take American Express are typically smaller companies that cite Amex’s high merchant fees. Conversely, I also shop at Costco, a store that only accepts Amex.
In the past, I have distinguished Visa from Mastercard by their greater acceptance overseas as well as from reports of somewhat superior rental car coverage than Mastercard. Now, Visa is trying to position themselves above their competitors by offering greater security protections. As a consumer advocate, I strongly support this move and until Amex and Mastercard step up to the plate on this issue, I would strongly recommend that people choose to apply for a Visa when they have a choice.