Much of the financial community was disrupted during Tuesdays terrorist attack in New York, but the firms that manage credit card transactions over the payment networks reported no difficulty.
First Datas ATM network operator, NYCE Corp., in which it has a majority ownership, is in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., but said its operations were not affected. We have implemented some heightened security, some standard practices, said spokesman Rodney Bell. He said the payment network had experienced nothing unusual.
TSYS, the Atlanta payment processor, reported that though its network worked without interruption, Tuesdays transaction volume was down from Monday and the previous Tuesday. Our analysis of the situation is that Americans were hovered around the television set instead of out shopping, said spokeswoman Danita Gibson-Lloyd. She said the processor could not easily evaluate how readily its New York clients were able to access the system through sometimes unreliable telephone lines.
The countrys largest credit card issuer association, Visa U.S.A., which operates payment card network VisaNet, closed its San Francisco headquarters Tuesday but had reopened them by Wednesday. Its New York office, which is a few miles from the World Trade Center, remained closed Wednesday. Employees at that office were primarily administrative, and their absence did not affect VisaNets operation.
VisaNets operational centers are in different parts of the country -- one in San Francisco and one in a Virginia location. Spokesman Joe Carberry said that merchants and cardholders should be able to use their credit cards, even in Manhattan, if they could get a working phone line. If there were any difficulties, it was due to the phone lines, he said. Visa has been working around the clock to make sure the network stays operational and do whatever we can to support banks and cardholders as we recover from this.
MasterCard Internationals Purchase, N.Y., offices are about 30 miles from the World Trade Center, and a spokeswoman said its payment authorization and clearing system continued to function normally. MasterCards network is operated primarily from its St. Louis offices, as well as other locations worldwide.
American Express Co., which has offices in the World Financial Center, across the street from the World Trade Center site, was among those companies whose New York headquarters were evacuated Tuesday. Amex did not have working telephones in its New York offices Wednesday.
Morgan Stanley had 3,500 people in the World Trade Center, and its credit card subsidiary, Discover Financial Services, headquartered in Riverwoods, Ill., is assisting with efforts to locate employees and answer customer questions. Discover operates several customer service call centers throughout the country for its credit card operation, and those operators have ceased usual activity -- such as outbound and service calls -- to answer calls to Morgan Stanleys toll-free employee number.
The call centers are using the number to collect information about employees status. The number, 888-883-4391, was been deluged with calls, said the spokeswoman, as people throughout the United States desperately tried to get information regarding the blasts. She said Discover is compiling information it receives and sending updates to Morgan Stanley officials hourly.
Discovers payment network has functioned without interruption, and extra security precautions are in effect, though the spokeswoman, citing company policy, would not elaborate.