Magazine article American Banker

MasterCard Enlists Retailers to Boost Debit-Card Launch

Magazine article American Banker

MasterCard Enlists Retailers to Boost Debit-Card Launch

Article excerpt

By YVETTED. KANTROW

NEW YORK -- Hoping to avoid some of the mistakes of their predecessors, sponsors of the Maestro debit card network have enlisted major retailers to advise them on the system.

The fledgling electronic network, which is owned by MasterCard International, has created a Merchant Advisory Council composed of 15 prominent retailers.

They include representatives from the supermarket, fast food, convenience store, and gasoline businesses - industries where the primary forms of payment are cash and checks.

Summer Launch Expected

Maestro, which expects to go live this summer, is envisioned as a nationwide system that will allow consumers to make purchases with their ATM cards.

The merchant council is expected to be formally announced today in a marketing move aimed in pan at Visa U.S.A., MasterCard's major bank card competitor.

Visa is currently promoting Interlink, a big point-of-sale transaction system it bought from four California banks in 1990. The Interlink system is expected to expand from a regional to a national system this summer.

Maestro is billing the merchant council as "the first of its kind" for a national on-line debit card system.

Previous attempts to launch national point-of-sale systems have been stalled because of poor participation by retailers, who disagreed with bankers over pricing and operating rules.

Items on the Agenda

"All of our research and statistics indicate to us that success of on-line debit, or any form of payment, is dependent upon the merchant's support and understanding of that product," said Arthur D. Kranzley, president and chief executive officer of Maestro U.S.A. "it seemed obvious that we had to get their input because we don't understand their business like they

The council, whose first meeting is set for June 29, will focus on issues relating to the marketing and promotion of debit cards, employee education, and technical requirements of the Maestro system, Mr. …

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