An Italian bank with a regional presence in Canada is working with a processing technology provider to help its clients swipe through more card payments.

Banca Intesa, S.p.A., based in Milan, is one of the largest banks in Europe. Its Canadian division, IntesaBci Canada, has 12 branches but services a number of Canadian merchants, retailers and commercial enterprises. The bank announced an agreement Thursday with Global Payments Inc., based in Atlanta, to offer those clients swipe card technology.

Global Payments is just one of the steps between a customer’s credit card and his card statement a month later. Its third-party technology and processing pipeline is the link between a vendor that accepts the payment and the credit card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard. The transaction is then routed to the issuing bank, which approves the transaction by checking the purchaser’s credit standing. The vendor sees the result of the transaction on the hardware supplied by Global Payments.

The advantage, explains Intesa’s vice-president of retail and commercial banking Tony Gulotta, is that vendors will be able to process credit and debit transactions through the same bank that holds their accounts.

“”This will allow those customers to get a better offering both from ourselves, but also from Intesa, because those funds will flow right back into their accounts,”” added James Hicks, vice-president of product development and marketing with Global Payments Canada. “”It makes it easier for the merchants to handle the funds and get a unified offering.””

“”It will add to our suite of services we can offer to potential clients,”” said Gulotta, “”and it’s an opportunity, because if we don’t offer that service we may be excluded by some clients in terms of thinking of us as their bank.””

The opportunity to sell credit and debit card services is bigger than most people think, added Gulotta. Many major food chains like Tim Horton’s or Burger King only provide the ability to pay for food with swipe technology in a limited number of locations.

Once credit card technology goes wireless, the opportunity for banks like Intesa will increase. “”McDonald’s has it in select locations. I suspect that as this technology goes wireless . . . it will be more rampant, because you’ll be able to put it (in) the drive-through,”” said Gulotta.

Hicks agreed that the wireless market could represent a boon for all aspects of the financial services industry, but it’s as much a matter of changing the habits of the buying public as it is technology. “”Not a lot of people think of pulling out their card in those situations,”” he said. “”There’s a lot of talk about wireless and a lot of it has its niches (but) at least right now it’s probably an early adopter thing.””

Retailers are ready to embrac

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