Transact — It’s your money, do you know where it goes?

Last week Parking Today Media (JVH and Astrid) spent a couple of days at the Transact convention in Las Vegas. It’s an event about money, and how its transferred from one person to another, without using cash. To give you an idea some of the major exhibitors were Visa, Mastercard, Discover, First Data, TD Bank, and hundreds of companies, large and small, that provide the goods and services that enable us to pay by credit card.

Inserting your card at a restaurant may seem like an easy way to pay, but the process that goes on behind the scenes is anything but easy. A company provides the card reader, and perhaps a second provides the software for the reader. Then the data about you is transferred to a third party who then provides it to another company, who then asks your bank if you are ok.

If the answer goes back down the line to the card reader, and you get your printout. You OK, and then the request goes backup the line to the bank who transfers the money to the merchant’s bank through a like number of companies. OK, my explanation may be a little off, but you get the idea.

The speed and efficiency each of these companies bring to the party means less time you sit drumming your fingers waiting for that “OK”.

There were dozens of companies supplying the point of sale device, everything from a fancy cashier terminal to a card reader you can plug into your cell phone and use it at the farmer’s market, or in a valet or event parking operation.

I even saw a cash drawer that knew (by weight) just how much money was in it, and the number of bills and coins present. If someone took something out of the drawer, there was a record of it. I have no idea what it cost, but it might be worth the price.

There were companies that provided security software and audits to be sure your company meets the PCI requirements. They are authorized to give you a clean bill of security health or tell you what to do to clean up your act.

Most of these companies don’t sell to end users but provide services that link them with the financial institutions necessary. Maybe you should, however, at least be aware they exist. Ask your supplier who is providing the clearing services for you. If you go to Home Depot, the OK on your card comes back blazingly fast. At my local deli, not so much.

I sometimes wondered if you added up all the ‘finger tapping’ time wasted waiting for a transaction approval just how much time we would find. How many cars are queued up at the exit lane. There are many things that deal with speed, some if it is software, some hardware, and some just the fact that you wouldn’t pony up the bucks for the high-speed internet service required.

Transact may be a little specialized for many of us, but it does give you enough information to be able to ask important questions. It is your money flying around the ‘net, after all


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