December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Make way for lower credit card costs

In another effort to reduce the risk merchants take to accept online transactions, Visa U.S.A. will test a program called iVerified by Visa that authenticates online shoppers. Speaking at the Smart Card Forum’s annual meeting in San Francisco in September, Visa said it will pilot the payer authentication service for six months beginning in early 2001 before determining if passwords reduce fraud and chargebacks from online transactions. Consumers will receive a password to use with their card numbers when shopping online. So far, four undisclosed merchants have signed on, although Visa expects to have up to six more.

The Foster City, Calif.-based card association, which also has Visa-branded chip cards being issued by Fleet Bank, Providian and First USA that may use similar authentication plans, says it may not discuss a change in online interchange until 2002, depending on test results. Visa U.S.A. is running TV ads promoting its chip card platform and features the three bank issuers on its web site. Interchange rates are 1.8% plus 10 cents per transaction for online merchants, compared with 1.38% plus 5 cents for offline retailers.

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