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Article published in Issue Number: 061201


What are card Association rules about branding?

A couple of recent articles in The Green Sheet promoted the idea, concept and benefit of "branding" one's company name. Although I have long been an advocate of branding, the problem comes from regulations set forth by Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard Worldwide, as I'm being told.

I have not yet, to this point, seen these rules. But because of them, I have been instructed by my processor/ISO, through a general letter on its Web site, that I cannot have my own company name. I can only market through the name of my processor/ISO unless I pay fees to become an ISO registered with the card Associations. In addition, I could be subject to a large fine from Visa or MasterCard if I continue to use the name that I worked four years to brand.

I feel that it is very important for the MLS to show stability and consistency in marketing merchant services. Being required by the card Associations to change the name under which you market every time you change processors/ISOs is a mistake.

This situation does not promote the MLS's or the industry's image of stable, reliable people marketing processing services. It further erodes a merchant's comfort zone in dealing with our industry. It promotes comments such as, Who are you working for this week?

When I worked in the independent insurance industry, the agency's name never changed, but the lineup of insurance companies did. As they came and went, they were added and deleted from brochures and other agency materials. This is the way I think an independent MLS should work.

Could you please let me know what information is available and where I can go to get a definitive answer? It is very important to me and, I would think, every MLS working today. I have marketing materials that I need to produce, and this question must be resolved before I can proceed.

- Author asked to remain anonymous

Dear writer,

Your processor/ISO is correct. According to card Association rules, anyone promoting himself as a distinct business entity, offering services to merchants that include processing transactions made with Visa- and MasterCard-branded cards, must register with a member of the Associations to be a recognized provider. Ask your ISO/processor or its sponsor bank for an agent registration guide. For more information, read "Business names under scrutiny, The Green Sheet, June 13, 2005, issue 05:06:01.


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Article published in issue number 061201

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