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ARLINGTON, Va. – It may take a while to happen, but soon credit union credit card and debit card holders who view their accounts online will be able to see their card transactions in the same day they make them. A Visa spokesman confirmed that the San Francisco-based card association has begun moving toward what it hopes will be real-time processing of both its credit card and debit card charges. Currently, according to Ralph Colvano, a Vice President with the card processor Certegy, Visa makes up one “giant” file each night which it distributes to all the card processors which contains all that day’s or weekend’s charges. MasterCard, by contrast, makes up five such files. From the processor the charges go to the card issuing institution. However, Visa has already begun implementing some real-time processing and already that allows Certegy to pass real-time charges onto credit union card issuers which are able to accept them in real-time, he explained. The net effect will probably not have any impact on credit unions at all, but may change the experience of a credit union member who can begin to see their credit card and signature debit transactions show up in their accounts as fast as they see their ATM transactions, Colvano explained. Currently it can take up to two or three days, or even longer, for a transaction made on a credit card or debit card in which the cardholder validates the transaction with their signature to show up in a credit union member’s account. Real-time processing will speed that up significantly and may lead to less fraud as more credit union cardholders will be able to detect fraudulent transactions much more quickly, Colvano said. “Certainly we would need some time to make the technical changes necessary to handle more real-time processing,” Colvano said. “And we would continue to support batch processing for the issuers that wanted keep using that approach, but overall I don’t anticipate it will mean any problems for us.” Merry Pateuk, spokeswoman for PSCU Financial Services, the processing cooperative for over 500 credit unions that process using the First Data Corporation platform, seconded Colvano’s assessment. “I really don’t think it will have an impact on our credit unions at all,” Pateuk said. “It will be up to First Data to handle the processing issues.” The push to start moving to real-time processing has been a theoretical goal for many years, according to industry sources, but the Visa spokesman confirmed that it has been the growing number of debit transactions and the increased popularity of card transactions generally that has driven the most recent push. The spokesman acknowledged that if Visa succeeds in moving to real-time processing, there will likely be pressure brought to bear on more card issuers, including credit unions, to have infrastructure in place that allows their cardholders to view their accounts in real-time. -

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