Increasingly blurred territorial lines in the debit card business are bumping up competition among payment networks — and experts fear this could soon slash interchange income for credit union debit card issuers.

At issue is a crossover occurring among debit payment networks no longer content to stay in their lanes. Typically, most debit purchases occur either as PIN transactions, in which members enter a PIN number into a terminal, or as signature transactions, where users authorize the transaction with their signatures instead. Though many debit payment networks largely used to process either PIN or signature transactions — not both — these days, some networks such as First Data’s Star, for example, which is traditionally known for processing PIN debit transactions, have swerved into signature transactions. Likewise, networks traditionally known for processing signature debit transactions are targeting PIN transactions.

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Tina Orem


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