The US Visa Bulletin covers issues that may arise as the result of potential economic legislation changes. These laws will impact on business and travel but largely affect US Visa Holders. The US Visa Bulletin discusses the various issues that may affect US Holders with regard to the Business and Travel Americas region.
US Visa Holders must obtain a Business and Travel America Visa if they wish to apply for a US Visa. If a person holds a certain Visa, they are required by law to have an active Visa account with the Visa organization. Failure to do so means the Visa account holder will be considered a low-risk customer and their Visa will not be approved. Holders can lose their standing as well as their benefits if they fail to follow the law.
There are a number of issues that impact US Visa Holders. First, US Visa issuers must notify the US Department of State of any change in address. They must also advise the Visa office in any other country of any change in location. In addition, US Visa issuers must inform the US Department of Finance about any proposed change to the financial instruments used to compute for credit risk and any proposed changes to the rules for managing principal and interest. Lastly, US Visa issuers must inform the Bank for International Settlements that they plan to issue a new credit card. Failure to do so would subject the bank to FX penalties.
The US Visa bulletin also discusses various aspects of debit cards. The main concern is the potential misuse of prepaid Visa cards by people who may not have legal authority to use a debit Visa card. For example, someone who does not have the authority to access money from an ATM may use a prepaid Visa card to make purchases at a restaurant. Likewise, someone who does not have the authority to access money from a bank account or to withdraw cash from ATMs may use a prepaid Visa card to make online purchases. Both of these scenarios present obvious threats to the security of Visa debit cards and to the economic stability of the card issuer, and the issues are being discussed in this Visa bulletin.
One way that Visa is trying to prevent misuse of prepaid Visa cards is to implement “PIN” technology on all of their merchant accounts. A PIN is a five-digit code that a customer can enter to prove that they are authorized to make the purchase. If a cardholder receives a withdrawal from an ATM and they know the PIN, the transaction cannot be completed and money will be refunded to the cardholder.
Another way that Visa is attempting to stem the misuse of prepaid Visa cards is by educating cardholders and financial institutions about the risk of holding money in an ATM account when the account is only one or two months old. Specifically, the issuer is encouraging cardholders to withdraw money from an ATM on an occasional basis and to use it before the period expires. While most observers believe that this strategy will not work very long, it does show that Visa is not backing down in terms of its stance against money laundering and financial fraud. Visa is also trying to tighten the no-ISA rule so that only true and legitimate businesses can operate out of the cardholder's account.
There was an advisory published in the US Visa Bulletin on March 4th regarding how the no-ISA rule might affect foreign businesses that hold Visa debit cards. According to the advisory, financial institutions must apply for an exception from Visa to process credit card transactions for their customers. Financial institutions are typically considered the good faith authority of Visa and they are expected to have followed the stipulated procedures and guidelines for years. They are not, however, expected to be in continuous compliance with the terms of the Visa Cardholder Agreement even after they become aware of a violation of the agreement. In many ways, this seems like a rather tall order for Visa to impose upon financial institutions. This will, of course, increase the cost of doing business for financial institutions because it increases their risk from Visa cardholders who only take money out of their ATM accounts once a month.
For any cardholder to be able to use their Visa debit card overseas, there needs to be some kind of exception from Visa. If you are in doubt as to whether a particular bank or financial institution is following the letter of the Visa Cardholder Agreement, do not use your card, or do not use it in any way that shows you are a victim. Take action now before the situation gets out of hand.
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