July 13, 2001

A new, integrated global payment processing platform being rolled out by MasterCard International will give 20,000 member banks greaterflexibility when it comes to everything from settlement times to rolling out new programs.

For banks, the new system means they can allow business decisions to "drive the goals of their operations as opposed to technology," said Joan Kelly, vice president of systems development at Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard. "We're eliminating technology barriers that limit business opportunities."

The platform will make it easier for member banks to work with large retail clients and roll out nationwide loyalty or warranty programs. It will allow members to establish a relationship with each other through a better exchange of data.

The system will provide more convenient settlement times for banks outside of North America. Instead of settling once a day as they do now, banks will be able to settle at a time appropriate for them, based on local business needs such as time zones and local holidays.

"The new platform will help our members break through international processing barriers that previously created expensive business challenges and even prevented entry into some markets," said Rob Reeg, senior vice president of systems development at MasterCard. So far, 33 financial institutions have agreed to migrate to the new system earlier than planned.

The new system will also make it easier for banks to buy or sell their MasterCard portfolios, especially in instances where only part of the portfolio is sold. That's because it allows more detailed information to be maintained, making it easier to stratify cardholders. It will eliminate duplication of processing and the need to reissue cards after a sale.

The platform, a mix of client-server and mainframe technology, supports a variety of systems, noted Kelly.

The conversion to the new system, which will take two years to complete, began with an update to MasterCard's virtual private network (VPN), including the replacement of 600 interface processors around the world. That cut processing time almost in half, saving 47.7 years of processing time.


2001 CMP Media LLC. 7/1/01, Issue # 3807, page 20.