OK, so you skipped the soggy barbecue and spent the holiday
weekend shopping, deftly wielding your plastic to get optimum
benefit from advertised Labor Day specials. Ever wonder how those
charge slips which you left with merchants from department stores
to restaurants get back to your account? And how do those
out-of-state charges find their way home to your monthly statement?
Unlike checks which have the Federal Reserve as a nationwide
clearing infrastructure, credit card transactions must use private
networks such as the one provided by Oklahoma City's United
BankCard Inc., 5700 N. Portland
The company is the largest Oklahoma-based issuer of credit
cards, with about 150,000. It offers such affinity or lifestyle
cards as its popular Oklahoma Heritage and a new Cherokee Nation
Visa. The cards donate a small fee for each transaction to an
affinity organization: the Oklahoma Heritage donates funds to a
roadside wildflower program for Oklahoma highways, and the Cherokee
cards donates to the tribe. United BankCard also works with 200
banks in the state to provide customers with national franchise
cards with local bank nameplates.
"The other side of the business is clearing for merchants'
credit card transactions," said George Carlton, president. "There
is no Federal Reserve or government-sponsored organization to route
credit card transactions like there is for checks. And we do it
About 10,000 merchants deposit work through the company,
representing an average of about 500,000 sales transactions per
month, he said.
"Banks are reluctant to become involved in the merchant side of
the business. A small bank in rural Oklahoma may have 30 merchants.
Credit cards are for strictly retail organizations. Those banks
cannot afford to have somebody learn all the technicalities of the
business. It's a game of numbers."
He said the processor of the transactions also has to be
available to handle special circumstances that could arise with a
retailer who is still at work at night or on a weekend.
"You cannot have that merchant stranded."
Consumer buying habits also drives usage of credit cards.
"Saturdays are big. Mondays are dead, and Tuesdays are the
March is low, but December is very large," he said.
United BankCard's merchant base "spans from merchants with two
transactions per month to department stores that handle them
electronically through their cash registers."
The evolution of such electronic technology has dramatically
changed the industry of processing credit card transactions.
"We are not even in the same business we were three years ago
because of the advent of an electronic network that didn't exist.
The rate of exchange simply didn't exist then."
The company has about 15 of its 54 employees dedicated to the
clearing side of the business, Carlton said. . .
Barry L. Anderson was appointed cashier of Farmers & Merchants
Bank of Crescent, replacing Lavone Phelan who retired Sept. 1 after
Anderson has seven years of banking experience and joined
Farmers & Merchants in 1987. …