HP pounces on prepaid card processing

PCI-compliant card processing services garner interest from at least one bank

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has targeted the prepaid debit card market, launching processing services which it has claimed are safer than existing practices.

The new processing services provide inventory management, a customer portal so that card users can track their spending, and a client portal allowing card holder transactions to be monitored.

The new services, which comply with the PCI DSS (Data Security Standard) regulations introduced in September 2010, have already snared at least one of the big four banks and negotiations are continuing with other major players in the financial sector.

According to HP, the prepaid card sector has grown at 14 per cent over the past year compared to credit cards, which only grew seven per cent.

HP director of secured and unsecured lending, Dee McGrath, said that the economic downturn and online security concerns had lead to the growth and HP's entry into the market.

“Users find the prepaid cards useful as they can control how much money they load onto the card for online transactions so cyber criminals can’t run up limits on it,” she said.

Both Visa and MasterCard require level one merchants - companies that process over six million credit card transactions annually - to engage a qualified security assessor to prepare an annual report on these transactions in a bid to stop credit card fraud.

“We went through a huge program of work two and a half years ago to put our utility for card issuing through the PCI compliance process,” McGrath said.

One Australian bank, which she would not name due to a confidentiality agreement, had signed up this week to use the processing services. Another bank is set to come on board with HP in the next six to nine months.

She said financial organisations can install and use the card services themselves, or can chose to have this delivered as a hosted service from HP.

McGrath said she was following developments in countries such as Japan where smartphones are already used to make payments using near field communications (NFC) technology.

Similar wireless communications are being trialled locally between ANZ and Visa over the next month, while current rumours speculate the next generation of Apple's iPhone will include the capability.

“We’ve got a mobility strategy around our payments so it’s something that we continue to drive and look into," McGrath said. "We will participate in some proof of trails and concepts over the next 12 months but I don’t think the killer application is out there yet."

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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Tags HPprepaid cardsecurityHewlett-Packard (HP)

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