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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 26, 2010 • Issue 10:04:02


What makes a business card compliant?

Following are excerpts from a revealing discussion on GS Online's MLS Forum. It is about what should and should not be printed on the business cards of ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs).

  • recently attended a local networking group ... and there happened to be a woman there in the bankcard business. We exchanged cards, and hers said "Merchant Services Brokerage" below the name of the group.

    On the back of the card it mentions: credit card processing, check services, gift and loyalty, etc., but no mention of Visa or MasterCard. There is also no mention of a member bank anywhere on the card. Also, the Web site seems to be compliant by listing the sponsor bank.

    As an MLS or agent office, are you required to list your sponsor bank on your business card if you do not mention Visa or MasterCard? Thanks.

    - Mr. Bankcard

  • Yes, and unless you/your company is registered also, the name of the registered ISO/MSP.

    - MTY MSI

  • Are agent offices really being tracked down by Visa and MasterCard or their ISOs for not listing this info? What are the penalties? Some agent offices have several ISO relationships, and listing them all on one card would look a bit cluttered.

    - Mr. Bankcard

  • While it probably is a long shot to get fined by Visa/MasterCard for not compliantly disclosing on your business card, it is definitely worth mentioning that every ISO/MSP agreement I have read requires compliant disclosure on all marketing materials, which includes business cards, at the penalty of your entire residual stream for noncompliance. Noncompliance = breach of agreement. In my humble opinion, it's not worth the potential financial penalties to ignore something so simple.

    - MTY MSI

  • The way I understand the rules is that if you don't mention Visa/MasterCard, there are no rules. "Credit card processing" doesn't have to be Visa/MasterCard; it could be Sears, Target, Slick's Card Services or whatever. Yes, if she mentioned Visa/MasterCard, she would have to list the sponsor bank, but on the other hand, Visa/MasterCard does not have much, if any, of a police force that enforces the rules.

    - Slick Streetman

  • The best thing to do is get the details of what is and what is not compliant from your ISO/processor. Any legitimate ISO/processor will easily have the basic rules of the road. ... Most are very clear, but even if not, you can send them a copy of the business card, Web site, etc.; ask for approval; and keep it in your records. Since the card companies barely recognize us, one would think that the onus falls on the ISO/processor to make sure you are compliant.

    - Dee Malik

  • It is my understanding that you do not have to identify your processor or bank until you are discussing specific rates. You are not supposed to place the name or logos of the card brands on the business card or on any promotional items you create. You can put "merchant services," "merchant processing" or "credit card processing" on your cards, but you must identify your registered partner before you talk rates.

    - Bill Pirtle

  • It amazes me how often this topic comes up and still no one has the bottom line answer. ... [I]f you are even asking this question, then your ISO did not do a good job of providing the answer or did not know the answer. Also, the fact that Visa/MasterCard have not put out a definitive sheet on what the rules are and have not really done a very good job of enforcing it indicate just how unimportant it is to them. However, the good [sponsoring banks] do inform us of what the rules are, and we do have to abide by them.

    - Steve Norell

  • The way I understand this is that it is up to the sponsoring bank to require or not require the language of "ABC Co. is a registered ISO/MSP of XYZ Bank" on the ISO's business cards.

    - Fundingformerchants

  • I believe the case is that many MLSs have more than one ISO relationship, and many times it is difficult for them to determine the proper way to disclose their partnerships without having two, three or four different business cards and marketing pieces.

    - Mr. Bankcard

Do you know whether your marketing collateral is compliant? What does your sponsoring bank or your registered ISO say? You can find further insight on this topic in "Marketing in compliance," by Nancy Drexler, The Green Sheet, April 28, 2008, issue 08:04:02, and "Card Association compliance: A reality check," by Jared Isaacman, The Green Sheet, March 12, 2007, issue 07:03:01.

- Editor

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