February 09, 2005, 9:13 AM — If you've ever had a credit card purchase mysteriously rejected only to discover later that the bank thought you were a fraudulent user, you may appreciate an effort by MasterCard International Inc. to use SMS (short message service) to streamline the process of clearing up card-usage questions.
MasterCard has joined with mBlox Inc., a service provider of mobile messaging infrastructure, to add an SMS option to its Aristion fraud detection system and is making Aristion Communicator available to banks beginning Wednesday.
"It is an add-on module that will work as a turnkey or plug-and-play solution to easily give banks the ability to reach more customers rapidly and reliably at a lower cost," said Johan Gerber, associate vice president of MasterCard's risk products division. "Instead of every bank trying to do this on their own, this SMS option is ready to use and can be installed in about an hour."
MasterCard, in Purchase, New York, and mBlox, with primary locations in both London and San Francisco, are first rolling out Aristion Communicator in Europe due to the high use of mobile phones across the continent and in the U.K. One bank in the U.K. and another in Italy have expressed an interest in using the service, Gerber said, declining to name any customers.
The credit card company expects to make Aristion Communicator available in Asia and throughout the Americas by the end of the year, Gerber said.
SMS fraud alert systems are already being used in parts of Eastern Europe and in South Africa by individual banks, but MasterCard believes it is the first credit card company to offer an SMS fraud detection and alerting system on a worldwide basis. MasterCard has spent the last 12 months developing and testing the SMS service, Gerber said, but the company declined to provide any users outside of MasterCard to recount their experiences.
Banks must be MasterCard Aristion customers to add on the SMS option. Currently, 47 banks throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas use Aristion, Gerber said.
Banks that opt for Aristion Communicator will be charged an installation fee of between