Acculynk Inc.'s chief executive, Ashish Bahl, spent much of last year introducing his company's PaySecure Internet PIN-debit system to merchants, processors and debit networks.

This year, his goal is to boost merchant acceptance and make more debit cards compatible with the service.

Two deals announced last week are putting Acculynk, of Atlanta, on track to meet that goal.

Merchant e-Solutions Inc., a Redwood City, Calif., payment processor, has agreed to offer PaySecure as a payment acceptance option to its merchant clients.

Acculynk's system enables consumers to use PIN-debit cards to make purchases online; the software generates a virtual PIN pad on a shopper's computer screen, and they enter their PIN by clicking on the numbers. The payment technology must be integrated into merchants' online checkout systems

Fewer than 25 of Merchant e-Solutions' clients are using PaySecure now. Several of the processor's clients last year were involved in a PaySecure pilot test, including, an authorized reseller for online retailers, and, which sells gourmet jelly beans, according to the processor's general manager, Kevin Gallagher.

Acculynk also said last week that Spirit Airlines Inc. of Miramar, Fla., is planning to add the PaySecure system to its online checkout process.

Bahl said the Merchant e-Solutions pact also includes an Internet retailer that produces $100 million in annual sales, though he could not name it for a few weeks. Acculynk also expects to announce a third airline client then. Last year, AirTran Airways became the first air carrier to offer PaySecure.

"You're going to see larger, more recognizable brands start to accept PaySecure this year," Bahl said.

Merchants are eager to accept PIN-debit transactions online to reduce their processing costs. While Bahl would not disclose the exact interchange rates the networks apply to PaySecure transactions, he said the rates are lower than card-not-present signature debit.

Card-not-present signature debit rates set by Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. typically range from 1.64% to 2.2% depending on the type of transaction, according to Acculynk.

"The final price to the merchant for PaySecure is typically 20% to 40% lower than what they would pay for card-not-present signature debit," according to Danielle Duclos, Acculynk's director of marketing. "The interchange that the issuer gets in that final price is set by" debit networks.

While the debit networks declined to disclose their exact interchange rates, "it is priced high enough to make PaySecure attractive to issuers," Duclos said.

"So far the response has been great, and it is getting better each month as adoption continues to grow," Gallagher said. Merchants "are seeing lower processing costs, less charge-backs and some incremental business."

Acculynk expects to add more eligible debit cards near the end of March, Bahl said, after the debit networks operated by Alaska Option, Credit Union 24 and Shazam are expected to move out of a pilot test and begin offering PaySecure more widely.

Last year, Fiserv Inc.'s Accel/Exchange became the first debit network to offer PaySecure. Only 3 million debit cards were eligible for PaySecure before the Accel/Exchange rollout, according to Bahl.

"Now we have somewhere between 13.5 million and 20 million cards" that can be used to make PaySecure payments, he said.

Fidelity National Information Services Inc.'s NYCE and Discover Financial Services' Pulse debit networks are also testing the PaySecure system.

Pulse is currently evaluating the test results and expects to begin offering the payment system across its entire network in the near future.

Acculynk hopes to have 60 million eligible debit cards by the end of the year, Bahl said. But it will have to accomplish that without some of the bigger networks, including Visa's Interlink. "We had some early dialogue with them, but they are such a proponent of signature debit," Bahl said. "They would like to see us go away."

(Visa representatives did not respond to requests for comment.)

Acculynk also plans to get involved in the kiosk space and is in discussions with two leading manufacturers to deploy machines that support PaySecure payments, Bahl said. Companies such as wireless phone providers that have payment kiosks at retail locations can save on interchange fees because transactions would be processed at cheaper PIN-debit rates.

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