Online merchants still unsure about 3D Secure

Never mind the digital switchover; there’s another tech-related
deadline approaching, and it affects all online merchants
accepting payments by Maestro.

Also known as Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode, 3D
Secure requires shoppers to register their credit cards and
create a password to use when paying online. The goal is to
reduce card-not-present (CNP) fraud and related chargebacks.

So far the use of 3D Secure is not mandatory. But for those who
pay with or accept payment by MasterCard’s Maestro debit card,
this is set to change. “Any ecommerce retailer who is not
currently using SecureCode to authenticate Maestro ecommerce
transactions must do so by the end of June 2009,”
MasterCard said in a statement issued to Catalogue e-business.
“If they do not, MasterCard will ensure card acquirers take
appropriate action to address, which may result in the removal of
a merchant’s ability to accept Maestro ecommerce

Deadline? What deadline?

Unusually there has been very little online chatter surrounding
this deadline. Perhaps online merchants feel that this
deadline-like the original June 2007 one-will come and go without
MasterCard enforcing it.

Several of the smaller merchants Catalogue e-business
spoke to were unaware of the deadline. MasterCard contends that
it has notified all card issuers of the date, but apparently not
all of them are passing the news on to their merchant clients.

Graham Winn, owner of greetings mailer Flowercard, says that
neither his payment solutions provider nor his bank notified him
of the impending deadline. “The whole communication for
this has been nonexistent and handled terribly by all
parties,” he says.

Of course, plenty of retailers have already implemented 3D
Secure. Shop Direct, for example, introduced 3D Secure on its
sites, which include Littlewoods Direct, Great Universal, and
Empire, more than a year ago. Argos,, Comet, Game, Tesco
Direct, and Topshop are amongst the merchants that have also
already gone live with it.

Multititle cataloguer N Brown Group will begin rolling out 3D
Secure early next month on “a small number of our websites
so that we can assess the impact with our customers,” says
chief executive Alan White. “All being well, 3D Secure will
be rolled out to all our websites in time for the

Others are proceeding with similar caution. Although it is
technically ready to implement 3D Secure, Hotel Chocolat has not
yet done so, due to concerns “about it reducing the
conversion rate,” says managing director Angus Thirlwell.

Apparel merchant Lands’ End is also hesitant to go live with 3D
Secure because of worries about its effect on sales.
“Implementing this change is proven to increase checkout
attrition,” says managing director Tim Curtis. “Not
only will it affect the customer experience adversely, but online
retailers will face either increased costs and/or reduced
revenue, which is unhelpful in the current climate.” Lands’
End will not introduce 3D Secure in time for the deadline.

Mark Ashley Miller, founder of gifts cataloguer The Present
Finder, is ignoring the deadline as well: “We’ll carry on
taking Maestro payments until we’re forced into adding an extra
barrier to our payment system.” Ashley Miller says that
because his business incurs a negligible amount of chargebacks,
this extra layer is effectively redundant. He believes that
shoppers are generally happy to buy from reputable and reliable
websites without the need for obstructions like 3D Secure.

The bank that cried wolf

Whether any fines will be levied against The Present Finder or
any other Maestro-accepting merchant that hasn’t implemented 3D
Secure by 1st July remains to be seen. Ashley Miller, citing the
previous “final deadline”, isn’t overly concerned.

Factor in today’s general mistrust of banks as well and the fact
that MasterCard has done little to make consumers aware of 3D
Secure, and it’s not surprising that many merchants are lax about
compliance, says James Roper, chief executive of ecommerce trade
group IMRG.

But Roper believes that anything that makes shopping online more
secure can only be a good thing and that eventually 3D Secure
will become an accepted element of shopping online, much as chip
and PIN has become a routine element of shopping on the high


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