First Data Corp. is promoting Dynamic Currency Conversion on two fronts, hoping to place the service with large and small North American retailers.

The Atlanta-based transaction processor is working with AJB Software Design Inc. to get the message out to big retail chains, but it will rely on ISOs to help push the service to small merchants.

International travelers may use the service to make purchases with cards in their native currencies and thus avoid the confusion of converting to an unfamiliar monetary system, T. Michael Black Jr. First Data vice president of international currency solutions, tells ISO&Agent Weekly.

Because the service makes nearly instantaneous transactions, it hedges against exchange-rate fluctuation, Black says.

Toronto-based AJB has offered the service for a “couple of years” to several customers, says Pat Polillo, the company’s vice president of sales. AJB announced April 19 to all of its 140 Tier 1 large retailing chains that the service is among those it provides.

First data is urging ISOs and sales agents to tout the service to small merchants, especially those in markets that attract tourists from abroad.

The service, which works in stores and online, got its start with First Data and a partner company in Ireland in 1996, Black says.

When a customer or merchant swipes or keys in card data, the service recognizes the card as foreign. If the software supports the currencies involved in the transaction, the customer gets the option to choose the currency and receives details on conversion rates and fees, Black says.

Without the service, consumers may not know exactly how much they are paying until they receive their credit card statements, he says.

Merchants receive reports that include data on how many transactions were eligible for the service and how many customers chose to use it, Black notes.

Consumers using the service pay fees about equal to the fees usually imposed by card issuers and acquiring banks, but First Data shifts those profits to the ISOs and merchants, Black says. Fees typically total 2% to 4% of the sale, he notes.

“[The Service] provides an important value-added service and ancillary revenue stream for merchant service providers in tourist and corporate travel destinations,” David Fish, senior analyst, at Maynard, Mass.-based Mercator Advisory Group Inc., said in a First Data press release.

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