Card network Visa is teaming with eight North American banks to pilot an automated alerting system that will notify cardholders of transaction activity via SMS text message and e-mail.
PNC Bank, SunTrust Bank, US Bank, Wachovia, and Wells Fargo in the US, along with Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank Financial and Vancity in Canada, have agreed to initiate the programme.
The pilot, which will involve up to 2000 cardholders, will test the delivery of real-time notification alerts on card accounts. Participants will receive alerts via e-mail or text within seconds of their cards being used, rather than hours or days.
Visa says the notification service is based on its transaction authorisation system which is able to "analyse and conduct risk score transactions in-flight", says the card network. The system allows cardholders to set thresholds that will trigger a transaction alert.
Participants can choose to be alerted to a variety of types of card usage, including ATM withdrawals, international transactions, Internet or phone payments and transactions above specified amounts.
Visa says the 'early warning' service will enable cardholders to monitor transactions for irregular and suspicious activity. The service is also designed to help cardholders keep closer track of transactions and spending levels, says Visa.
"Information is power, especially when delivered in a timely manner," says Elizabeth Buse, global head of product at Visa Inc. "We are now empowering cardholders in this pilot with real-time transaction alerts. Participating Visa cardholders can typically receive alerts before they walk out of the store, rather than hours or even days later."
Visa says it began testing mobile notifications last year with an internal employee pilot.