Visa Lifts Currency Conversion Moratorium

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Merchant acquirers once again may offer retailers dynamic currency conversion on Visa Inc.’s network now that the card brand has ended a six-month moratorium on expanded use of such services.

With dynamic currency conversion, merchants may present transactions in cardholders’ native currencies once their cards are inserted in point-of-sale terminals. Cardholders pay a fee when converting transactions to their local currencies.

Dynamic currency conversion has been available for a few years, but Visa in April halted additional merchant participation because of a lack of a “consistent global practice” and a “growing number of consumer complaints.”

MasterCard Worldwide did not impose similar restrictions, according to Planet Payment Inc., a Long Beach, N.Y.-based multicurrency processing company.

Other companies offering the service include UK-based Travelex, Atlanta-based First Data Corp. and Elavon Inc., and Ireland-based Fintrax Group.

The complaints Visa received centered on enabling cardholder choice. “Based on Visa research, cardholders are often not allowed to choose whether or not to use merchants’ dynamic currency conversion services, nor are they informed of fees or commissions associated with these services,” a Visa spokesperson tells ISO&Agent Weekly.

In lifting the moratorium last week, Visa now requires merchants to disclose dynamic currency conversion rates and commissions and to offer cardholders a choice to use the service. “Although point-of-sale currency conversion is not a Visa service, Visa has established a global compliance program to ensure consumers are given proper choice and disclosure,” the spokesperson says.

The compliance program includes a registration and certification process, Planet Payment says.


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