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Innovate Now: STAR Network Ups the Debit Ante Post-Durbin (MAG Quarterly- Volume Three, Issue Three)

By Angela Burker, Vice President, First Data

September 3, 2015

In the decades between the proliferation of debit cards and the passage of the Durbin Amendment in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, retailers and business-owners – no matter their size – only had two routing options when it came to signature debit transactions (those that don’t require a PIN) at the point of sale (POS) or card-not-present transactions: Visa and MasterCard.

However, in the post-Durbin payments world, that’s all rapidly changing, and merchants have more choices than ever. These choices have created competition among Visa, MasterCard and the regional networks for the signature and PINless portions of the $4.2 billion debit industry. Industry experts predict increasing popularity among merchants – physical as well as online – for PINless and signature transactions, according to Digital Transactions, due to their inherently low risk and increased risk-mitigation technologies.

First Data’s STAR® Network, the largest independent debit network, exemplifies this competition. Aligning itself with the industry’s evolution, STAR was among the first to support advanced payment technology such as Apple Pay and Android Pay, as well as EMV® or chip cards, the new standard in card-present security. STAR’s Biller-Direct payment option has supported a signature solution for online, automatic bill-pay for the last decade. The network also introduced PINless payments in late 2013 for select low-ticket markets.

Now, the network is taking innovation at the POS further, expanding beyond biller-direct and select low-ticket markets to capture all transactions from all markets – physical and online.

While regional debit networks scramble to provide a small piece of the signature puzzle –  focusing on PINless or providing solutions for processing within their existing infrastructure for online single message options – STAR developed Access, which gives all retailers, in all segments and all environments, a viable option for signature transactions, regardless of the dollar amount or card verification method (CVM). STAR will now be able to accept transactions in which there is no CVM, PIN or signature, while the new dual message environment STAR provides for signature debit transactions will align closer with how merchants process today. And STAR is not only enabling the transactions; it’s growing its network offerings and services for issuers, acquirers and merchants – ensuring consumers and merchants experience seamless service.

With Access, STAR now is a viable option on a consumer’s card, competing directly Visa or MasterCard for all PINless and signature debit transactions at all U.S. merchant locations.

Benefits of signature transactions for merchants are obvious: There’s no need to add PIN pads to support the technology; and seamless acceptance allows them to process more transaction volume. Now, all a merchant has to do is pick the right network. And they have some prime choices.

So whether a merchant chooses the STAR Network, one of the global brands or a regional debit network, it remains clear that Durbin and innovative technologies have shaken up the debit industry for issuers, acquirers, merchants and consumers alike.

To learn more STAR, visit

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