Paymentech Adds UK Debit Card to Payment Options

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DALLAS - Bankcard transactions processor Paymentech has added the Switch brand debit card to its international payment options, adding 30 million potential buyers to its US-based direct marketing clients that operate in the UK.

Switch, the most frequently used debit card in the UK, is held by 70 percent of British consumers. It is the first debit card added to Paymentech's international payment options. The Dallas-based company also processes credit card transactions from American Express, Visa and Mastercard in British pounds, Canadian dollars, Dutch guilders, French francs, German marks and Irish punts through a partnership with InterStream, a division of National Westminster Bank PLC, London.

John Shirey, Paymentech's senior director of international and Internet processing, expects acceptance of Switch will increase market share for US direct marketers.

"The UK and Europe in general are way ahead of the United States in the use of debit cards for purchases," he said. "That population is very comfortable using [Switch]."

Orvis UK, Andover, Hampshire, the European division of fishing and outdoors retailer Orvis, Manchester, VT, has used Paymentech for a year. Controller Peter Radcliffe said Orvis would stand to lose 10 percent of its bankcard business without the acceptance of Switch.

"Something like 25 percent of UK business is done through Switch,'' Radcliffe said. "With a mail-order business, it's a pretty vital ingredient for us."

Paymentech's presence in Europe enables US merchants to minimize the risks of foreign exchange rates by charging cardholders in the local currency and paying them in that same currency. Merchants can then exchange funds into dollars when rates are favorable or use them for European payments.

"US merchants doing business in Europe have to use multiple payment vendors," Shirey said. "By using our network, they can eliminate that headache with one relationship and one technical system."

Shirey said the introduction of the euro will streamline the process and reduce costs even further by allowing merchants to maintain one bank account instead of separate ones for each currency.

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