Consumer Payment Card News

Postage Stamps via Cirrus ATMs

MasterCard International announced it will begin upgrading the range of products and services offered through its MasterCard/Cirrus ATM Network. The first stage will begin in the second quarter when MasterCard will enable U.S. members to offer postage stamps through ATMs. MasterCard also indicated it will move shortly thereafter with members in other countries to expand the service globally. The MasterCard Debit Switch will begin certification testing for Cirrus issuers and acquirers for stamp transactions beginning June 1. While it is up to each member to decide whether or not to offer stamps, all Cirrus issuers will be required to certify that they can process stamps by Dec 31. MasterCard says it will expand ATM services over the next eighteen months to possibly include phone cards, travelers checks, coupons and transportation passes.


MasterCard International today unveiled a comprehensive strategy to redefine the range of products and services its cardholders will be able to access at automated teller machines (ATMs) worldwide.

Moving the familiar machines beyond cash withdrawals, MasterCard, which owns and operates the global MasterCard(R)/Cirrus(R) ATM Network, will make it possible for its Cirrus member financial institutions to offer postage stamps directly at the ATM, opening the door to a whole range of purchase transactions in the future. While a number of individual member banks have begun offering certain non-traditional services at their own ATMs, the MasterCard/Cirrus ATM Network, with its global reach, is uniquely able to provide the infrastructure necessary to deliver new products and services around the world. The MasterCard/Cirrus ATM Network is the world’s largest, with nearly 315,000 locations in nearly 100 countries and territories.

Coming in 1997

The first step in this new effort will occur in the second quarter of 1997, when MasterCard will enable its U.S. members to offer postage stamps for purchase at their ATMs through the MasterCard/Cirrus ATM Network. With this move, MasterCard will make it possible for more than 150 million Cirrus ATM cardholders around the world to use these ATMs not only for cash withdrawals, but also for stamp purchases. As a next step, MasterCard is prepared to work with its members in other countries to introduce stamps at ATMs and will pursue this initiative at their request.

The MasterCard Debit Switch (MDS) will begin certification testing for Cirrus issuers and acquirers offering stamp transactions beginning June 1, 1997. Each Cirrus acquiring member will decide individually whether to offer postage stamps at their ATMs. However, all Cirrus issuers will be required to certify by December 31, 1997 that they can process postage stamp purchase transactions via the MasterCard/Cirrus ATM Network.

Additional Purchase Items

Over the next eighteen months, MasterCard will enable its member institutions to support a broader range of purchase items at the ATM, and those under active consideration at this time include phone cards, travelers checks, coupons, and transportation passes. In most cases, adding these additional services will be a relatively straightforward matter, and the decision of which services to offer will be made by each member institution, based on such factors as the geographic location of the ATM, market size, and anticipated consumer demand for the services. As member banks expand their offerings at the ATM, MasterCard will continue to serve in its role as an umbrella organization to help set standards, and oversee the rules, policies and technical infrastructure for facilitating all new products and services.

“MasterCard is shaping the future of money by introducing new products and services at the ATM, the first of which is providing stamps to our cardholders,” said G. Henry Mundt III, executive vice president of Global Deposit Access, MasterCard International. “The success of this effort will rely upon the active participation of our membership, and they have made it clear that they want to expand their offerings at the ATM because consumers are demanding it. In this way, MasterCard is acting as the catalyst to help meet the changing needs of cardholders anytime, anywhere.”

Other Developments

The MasterCard/Cirrus ATM Network was the first to offer balance inquiry information worldwide, and it will build on this effort in 1997 by providing additional information to all its cardholders. “As consumers become increasingly accustomed to global travel, there’s no reason their bank accounts should not travel with them,” Mundt said. “We will make this possible by enabling cardholders to obtain a detailed record of all the transactions they have made over a period of time and get more information about the currencies they wish to transact in.” In addition, MasterCard recently adopted universal screen set standards which will provide a consistent set of instructions and responses to give all MasterCard/Cirrus ATM transactions the same look and feel worldwide.

MasterCard International, a payments company with one of the world’s most recognized brands, is dedicated to helping more than 23,000 financial institutions around the world offer consumers a variety of payment options. MasterCard remains focused on helping shape the future of money by expanding acceptance of its global brands (MasterCard(R), Maestro(R) and Cirrus(R), the world’s largest ATM network) and maintaining reliable, secure networks facilitating global value exchange.

MasterCard has nearly 380 million credit and debit cards that are accepted at more than 13 million acceptance locations worldwide. In 1996, gross dollar volume generated exceeded $550 billion. MasterCard can be reached through its World Wide Web site at .

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