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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 28, 2009 • Issue 09:12:02

Fees you can't ignore

By Ken Musante
Moneris Solutions

During periods of economic turmoil, serving nontraditional merchants can be a way to diversify your residual base. Understanding the associated fees and registration requirements will help you maintain this client base.

So, heads up! Effective Jan. 1, 2010, Visa Inc. is modifying the High Risk Telemarketing Merchant (HRTM) registration program fee schedule for both high-risk merchants and sponsored high-risk merchants.

Doubling Visa's fees

Visa classifies high-risk merchants by the following merchant category codes (MCCs): MCC 5962, Direct Marketing, Travel-related arrangement services; MCC 5966, Direct Marketing, Outbound telemarketing; and MCC 5967, Direct Marketing, Inbound teleservices.

High-risk sponsored merchants fall under the HRTM program, as they may process for activity that would otherwise fall under one of the preceding MCCs.

Traditionally, Visa has charged an initial registration fee of $500, along with an annual registration fee of $250. However, any HRTM program merchant registered on or after Jan. 1, 2010, will have an annual registration fee of $500, an increase of 100 percent.

Thousands to MasterCard

MasterCard Worldwide, too, has a registration program and associated fee schedule, although the listing of merchants is different than Visa's. MasterCard requires the following merchant types or entities to be registered: telecom merchants, MCCs 4813, 4814, 4816 and 5967; electronic commerce and adult content merchants, MCCs 5967, 7273 and 7841; non-face-to-face gambling merchants, MCC 7995; non-face-to-face prescription drug merchants, MCC 5122 and MCC 5912; and non-face-to-face tobacco product merchants, MCC 5993.

MasterCard's initial fee is $1,000; its annual renewal fee is also $1,000. Additionally, MasterCard requires the following merchant categories and entities to be registered, but there is no fee for doing so: merchants reported under the Excessive Chargeback Program and merchants required to implement the MasterCard Site Data Protection Program. However, MasterCard may assess fines for merchants in these registration programs for noncompliance.

Both Visa and MasterCard have programs and fee schedules for registering third parties like ISOs and processors (such as First Data Corp. and Global Payments Inc.). That type of registration has been addressed in in prior articles.

Sockin' it to Visa's TPAs

Visa, on the other hand, requires registration of third-party agents (TPAs), which are entities that store, process or transmit account information on behalf of acquirers or merchants. Examples include gateways, shopping carts, integrated POS systems and hosting companies.

TPAs must pay an initial registration fee of $5,000 plus a $2,500 annual renewal fee. Said fees are only required from the first acquirer that registers the TPA. Regardless, this is far in excess of MasterCard's program, which does not require any payment for an equivalent entity.

Both Visa and MasterCard have significant fines and penalties for noncompliance. ISOs and acquirers would do well to respect the registration process. Further, by notifying merchants of these changes sooner rather than later, you will be better positioned to avert the consequences of unwelcome surprises. end of article

Ken Musante is Executive Vice President and Chief Sales Officer of Moneris Solutions. Contact him by e-mail at ken.musante@moneris.com or by phone at 707-269-3200.

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