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MasterCard moves on cyber thieves with Maestro system

By Venkat Raman

Friday 29th August 2003

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Rogue merchants are restraining the growth of online commerce on a global scale but a new product claims to drive cyber thieves out of the internet, offering guaranteed safety and security to users.

MasterCard International business and technology integration vice-president Mark Patrick said the growth of e-commerce has fallen short of estimates.

"Hackers and rouge merchants have created a feeling of insecurity and uncertainty among merchants offering online goods and services while cardholders are not sure of receiving value for the money paid through internet transactions, " he said.

"Banks and financial institutions on the other hand are not ready to accept transactions beyond their natural boundaries but we believe there is a solution to the problem."

Online frauds accounted for $US811 million or 10% of the total online credit sales of $81.7 billion last year, leading me rchants to insist on effective and efficient ways of receiving and processing payments. Banks and financial institutions issuing and managing credit cards hesitated to certify payments without proper verification of the authenticity of traders. The internet offered speed but not security, he said.

"Lack of a foolproof mechanism to authenticate the buyer and the seller forms the crux of the problem, leaving both frustrated. Chargeback disputes are also on the rise, with mounting costs of dealing with such issues. In the process, consumer confidence has taken a nose- dive," Mr Patrick said.

The fear of fraud had so far restricted online transactions to the national level but the MasterCard internet gateway service (Migs), a low-cost, high-function payment service leveraged existing and new transaction processing connectivity to the MasterCard global network, he claimed.

Migs is a complete payment solution that enabled merchants to offer peace of mind to online shoppers while avoiding the cost of developing their own payment gateways.

Migs is a quick and easy solution that has the global recognition and support of MasterCard. E-commerce, including online shopping and B2B payments, is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years and the new facility offered significant cost savings and substantially reduced risks associated with the internet, Mr Patrick said.

At the heart of the system is the "universal payment client," a web-based payment solution that enables secure e-payments for all applications, payment types, industries and markets. The system also supports the multi-currency environment and easily integrates into current card payments processing operations.

Eftpos New Zealand, the country's largest electronic payment-processing company, warned a few weeks ago of an international scam involving fraudulently obtained credit card numbers supplied to merchants online. The merchants reportedly suffered huge losses since the transactions had to be reversed following customer complaints.

"Eftpos NZ recommends that all merchants who accept payment where the credit card is not present implement safe practices. We encourage all merchants who accept transactions where the card is not present to request an authorisation," the company said in a statement.

"While authorisation does not guarantee the payment (as the merchant cannot verify that the bona fide cardholder has authorised the transaction), it will verify the validity of the card, the availability of funds and alert to the fraudulent use of lost or stolen cards."

MasterCard will soon launch Maestro, an online debit solution with added security and safety worldwide. "It is a global version of Eftpos, providing the same level of simplicity, convenience and security as using Maestro in the real world.

"Customers would be able to shop online using their own funds, through the Maestro. Customers can control their own accounts," Mr Patrick said.

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