Visa launches partial authorisation and balance return for pre-paid cards

Source: Visa

Visa Europe, Europe's leading payments technology company, today announced the launch of Partial Authorisation and Balance Return, the Prepaid card market's first services to help consumers manage their Visa Prepaid card accounts, while reducing the likelihood of 'insufficient funds' declines for acquirers and merchants.

Given that prepaid card products such as Visa Prepaid are typically linked to finite funds, cardholders need to keep a close watch on their spending. Partial Authorisation means consumers can use all of the funds available on their card in combination with another payment method for purchase amounts that are greater than the available card balance, while Balance Return ensures cardholders are made aware of their remaining card balance through a printed reminder on sales receipts after each transaction.

There are 20 million Visa Prepaid cards in circulation in Europe and Visa Europe is continually seeking ways to help its members reduce instances of insufficient funds declines. These new services will benefit issuers, acquirers and merchants by reducing administration time and offering enhanced customer service.

Fiona Duncan, Head of Prepaid for Visa Europe said: "Visa Prepaid cards are a proven way to help consumers manage their money. Partial Authorisation and Balance Return mark our latest service improvements to reassure consumers that they can unlock the full value of their Prepaid account while helping them track their remaining balance. Ultimately, these services make it easier for issuers, acquirers and merchants to accept Visa Prepaid cards as partial or full payment for goods and services."

Both services are immediately available to Visa Europe members and their acquiring partners following successful trials in Poland and Italy. Citi Handlowy, the first Visa Europe Prepaid issuer to implement and successfully carry out live transactions, as well as two acquirers: Bank BPH with Polskie ePłatności and First Data Polska trialled both services in Poland with merchant Levis/Lee Cooper and BOMI (the services will be rolled out, successively, at other retailers belonging to the chains serviced by these two acquirers). In Italy, Unicard, in cooperation with First Data Italia and terminal vendor NCR, trialled both services at a CCoop location as the acquirer and also on prepaid cards issued by Unicard and Unipol Bank. The largest Visa Europe Prepaid issuer, Poste Italiane, has also implemented Partial Authorisation for their Visa Postepay cards and are preparing to trial it.

The Visa Prepaid Partial Authorisation and Balance Return services use existing transaction message formats. Extra information is included in both the authorisation request and response, meaning that the costs of implementing the services are limited to IT host modifications and certification. The services use existing Point of Sale equipment and changes are limited to software and IT protocols, rather than hardware. Issuers can activate the services on prepaid cards already in market, meaning there are no card re-issuance costs. 

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