August 30, 2004, 12:00 AM

First Data celebrates its first anniversary for alternative payments and are among the first wave of customers using First Data Encompass, a turnkey suite of alternative Internet payment offerings


Convinced that some Internet retailers do want to offer their customers an alternative to credit cards, First Data one year ago launched a turnkey suite of alternative Internet payment offerings.

Now, the largest processor of web retailing payments is reporting that a number of Internet merchants, including and, are among the first wave of customers using First Data Encompass.

First Data Encompass provides merchants a single platform to access authentication, authorization and settlement services for traditional Internet bank card transactions and alternative Internet payments, including Internet checks.

The new payments processing programs cover a wide variety of First Data payment options, including TeleCheck Internet Check Acceptance service, TeleCheck Checks by Phone, Verified by Visa, MasterCard Secure Code and Bill Me Later. First Data is providing merchants access to the new service through its LinkPoint and YourPay payment gateways and through various independent sales organizations.

"We are pleased with the progress," says Margaret Weichert, vice president of Internet services for First Data. "We have more retailers and travel sites coming up, so it`s been a good first year."

Though alternative payments are still a small market-more than 90% of online purchases are placed on a credit card-First Data, like its competitors, sees growth in the market for alternatives such as e-checks and web-based debit card options. E-checks have gained 7% of online payments and will account for 9% of online payments next year, says a payments industry report from researchers Celent Communications.

Weichert projects that First Data, through its own merchant account business and various processing relationships, processes about 75% of all Internet merchant payments.


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