Transaction processor Heartland Payment Systems Inc. has launched a prepaid-services program that enables merchants to offer customers prepaid calling services for wireless and long-distance minutes without the need for traditional plastic calling cards. Instead, customers receive personal identification numbers printed on receipts from point-of-sale terminals. Customers can redeem minutes by calling a toll-free number also printed on the receipt and entering the PIN. The program is ideal for merchants that lack sufficient space to display and store plastic cards, says Randy Harp, Heartland senior product sales strategy manager. Merchants can download the program software directly to their POS terminal. The ePin It program is compatible with VeriFone Holdings Inc.'s Vx500 series of terminals and its Omni 3740/3750 terminals. The program also operates on Radiant Systems Inc. POS systems. There are no consumer fees for prepaid minutes. Consumers can choose to purchase more than 110 offerings from most major wireless carriers.  The findings of several industry studies indicate prepaying for wireless and long-distance minutes is gaining in popularity, and Heartland believes its program is "a very simple way for the merchants to add to their bottom lines," Harp says. Merchants can "begin offering products that they might not be offering already and then do it from the same equipment that they're already using for processing payments." Euronet Worldwide Inc. offers a similar service in Europe, but not in the U.S.; Harp believes Heartland is the first processor to offer this service in this country. About 500 merchants have signed up for the program, including convenience stores, gas stations and dry cleaners, according to Harp.

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