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Wal-Mart.com launches online check acceptance

Last week Wal-Mart.com launched acceptance of checks as payments for online purchases using Certegy Check Services.

During checkout, you will be given the option to “Pay Online With a Check.” You will need your checkbook in front of you, as you will be asked to fill in your bank’s routing number, your checking account number, your driver’s license or ID card number and your date of birth. If you have any questions about how to find this information, please contact your bank or financial institution.

Certegy commented yesterday on their newest customer.

„We are delighted to have Walmart.com join Certegy‚s list of premier retail and e-commerce customers. Certegy‚s PayNet platform, designed specifically to manage consumer-not-present transactions, enables retailers to accept online and telephone order check payments from their customers at competitive rates,‰ said Jeff Carbiener, senior vice president and group executive, Certegy Check Services. „Electronic checks have become an important part of an online retailer‚s strategy to close more sales ˆ especially for consumers who prefer to pay by check,‰ continued Carbiener.

With electronic check acceptance on the Internet, merchants win through lower payment acceptance costs. Processors like Certegy win through new revenues. On the other hand, the credit/debit card issuing banks along with Visa and MasterCard lose the fees they would otherwise receive from the merchant discount on a credit card transaction. Especially for regular customers known to online merchants through established relationships (i.e., zero fraud risk), merchants getting them to switch their payment from credit/debit card to electronic check provides real economies.

What’s curious about all of this is how long it has taken online merchants to get on board. Telecheck (an FDC subsidiary) began offering a similar service to Internet merchants over three years ago. Achex, a startup subsequently acquired by FDC, was also exactly in this business but failed to get serious merchant acceptance. Now it appears that online merchants are finally taking this alternative seriously…but it’s literally taken years to happen!

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