January 12, 2006, 12:00 AM

MasterCard cuts interchange rates up to 16% for retailers using SecureCode

Online merchants adopting the MasterCard SecureCode cardholder authentication program will be eligible for reductions of up to 16% in their interchange rates, MasterCard said today.

Online merchants adopting the MasterCard SecureCode cardholder authentication program will be eligible for reductions of up to 16% in their interchange rates, comparable to the lower rates charged for face-to-face transactions.

Online merchants adopting SecureCode could see their credit card interchange rates drop by as much as 32 basis points, depending on the type, size and location of merchant, a spokesman says. SecureCode requires a cardholder to enter a password when making a credit card purchase online.

MasterCard has had little success in persuading merchants and cardholders to sign up for the SecureCode cardholder authentication program. Merchants have been reluctant to sign up for SecureCode and Visa’s Verified by Visa program because only a fraction of the issuers’ cardholder bases are enrolled-about 5 million Visa cardholders and 11.8 million MasterCard cardholders.

Visa last year began offering zero liability on Verified by Visa transactions and a 5-basis-point reduction in the interchange rate to encourage merchants to adopt its Verified by Visa cardholder authentication program.

In addition to reducing interchange rates for SecureCode, MasterCard has compiled a list of companies that will give online merchants’ free network vulnerability scans. Network scans are one in a series of steps required by MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover for compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Online merchants must comply with the standard or risk losing their right to accept credit cards for payment.

The free scans are designed to encourage more merchants and processors to embrace the standards of PCI, the spokesman says. “A lot of times people don’t know how to get started so we’re making it as easy as we can to get people focused in on it,” he says. “It’s really to show people how to take the first steps.”

Companies providing the free scans include AmbironTrustWave, Cybertrust, One-Sec, Qualys and SecurityMetrics. They can be accessed through links on MasterCard’s new merchant web site-www.mastercardsecurity.com. The site also features detailed, up-to-date information about security resources.

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