Star launches check debit verification service


Star Systems® (STAR®), a Concord EFS, Inc. company, today announced the launch of STAR CHEK Direct, STAR's direct check debit and verification service.

Financial institutions, bill payment processors and check acceptance companies are on-board to use STAR CHEK Direct to streamline administration, reduce fraud losses and processing costs, speed funds availability, and generate income.

STAR CHEK Direct is the only service in the industry that offers standalone funds availability verification direct to the consumer's financial institution DDA account, as well as real-time check debit.

"Given that half of adult consumers in the U.S., and 50% of active ATM/debit card users still write checks at the point-of-sale, it was inevitable that check debit would join PIN-secured debit as a risk management tool for core deposits - both draw funds directly from the DDA account," said Ronald V. Congemi, president of STAR. "The advances we've made in check electronification mean that the future for the paper check is a more secure transaction, because the check can be a truly electronic transaction."

"We sought out STAR's service because we wanted to work with a check electronification expert," said Charlie Pedersen, Executive Vice President, Union Bank of California. "STAR has a great track record of leadership and innovation in this area. And given that our accountholders still write more than 12 million checks every month, STAR CHEK Direct is an especially valuable program for us. In addition to the customer service and fraud prevention benefits, it converts paper and ACH transactions into revenue-earning check debits."

"STAR's check debit and direct-to-account verification services are truly innovative examples of leveraging the existing payments infrastructure for the betterment of all participants," said Carl Mazzola, president, TeleCheck. "Our participation is a reflection of our continuing commitment to be at the forefront of innovating payment options on behalf of financial institutions and retailers alike."

"The features offered with STAR CHEK Direct, especially real-time funds verification, are very important to our business," said Jeff Thorness, chief executive officer of ACH Direct. "STAR's relationships across the industry -- with financial institutions, processors, retailers, acquirers, and check acceptance companies - was another big draw. Being able to work well with all participants in the payments marketplace means that STAR can facilitate broader participation in more transactions, and in turn grow sales and revenue."

"Close to fifteen years ago, we recognized some important things about checks: they're costly and time-consuming to process, they're very fraud- prone, and consumers like them," Congemi continued. "The implications of these facts for payments system participants were enormous. So we established a goal to maximize the benefits of checks - and minimize their risks and costs - by making them as 'electronic' as possible. From developing the core technology and processing the first real-time electronic check debit, to processing the first real-time positive-file check verification at retail and the first imaged check at the ATM, STAR is proud of our leadership in check electronification at every step in its development."

"STAR and BillMatrix have worked together for nearly a decade providing electronic payments in alternative channels such as telephone and the Internet," said Scott Walker, president and CEO of BillMatrix. "Bringing STAR CHEK Direct to bill payments is a breakthrough that will expand the secure, real-time options for billers and consumers alike." In 2003, STAR bill payment transactions via telephone and Internet grew 256%, and the number of billers accepting STAR grew by 30%.

STAR CHEK Direct is available for both retail POS transactions and telephone and Internet bill payments, with future deployment planned for financial institution teller windows and ATMs. EFSNet, Concord's leading edge Internet connection for payment processing, is an optional connection for STAR CHEK Direct users. EFSNet will allow smaller retailers, many of whom do not have leased line access or desire faster than dial-up transaction speeds, to participate. EFSNet is already in use by many of the nation's leading retailers.

STAR CHEK's three flexible service options include:
  • Real-time funds availability verification against the consumer's DDA account, indicating whether the account is open and has sufficient funds -- available only with STAR CHEK Direct
  • Real-time POS debit from the DDA account, assuring no NSF returns
  • Verification against National Shared Databases(SM) of more than 200 million DDA accounts, confirming that the account is open and in good standing. STAR began providing real-time account verification in 2000.

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