Although the U.S. Department of Justice mentioned small-ticket and Internet purchases in a news release, Visa Inc.'s amended rule will contribute to growth of PIN-less debit for the payment of utility bills, such as electric, water and cellular telephone bills, says Steven Rathgaber, president and chief operating of NYCE Payments Network LLC. "PIN-less debit is one of our fastest-growing areas of transactions," Rathgaber says. "The merchant receives his money right away and pays a lower interchange." PIN-less debit transaction volume last year grew 40% from the previous year, according to TowerGroup, a research advisory company owned by MasterCard Worldwide. Visa grudgingly has accepted PIN-less debit payments since 2005, but the former card association hampered PIN-less debit growth with a series of rules that made billers reluctant to accept such payments, Tim Sloane, director of the Debit Advisory Service for Mercator Advisory Group, tells ATM&Debit News, a CardLine sister publication. Still, Sloane calls the Justice Department ruling a "large victory" for Visa because the San Francisco-based payments company no longer is under investigated.

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