Europay International has announced an alliance with Thomas Cook, adding Cook's travelers checks to its line of "pay before" products.
Thomas Cook Travelers Cheques had previously been aligned with Euro Travelers Cheque International, which has a multinational ownership much like that of Europay, MasterCard's European affiliate.
R. Bernard J. van Eldik, recently retired as chairman of Europay and soon to step down as chairman of Euro Travelers Cheque, was instrumental in linking the latter with Europay's other "Euro-products" - Eurocard/MasterCard, edc/Maestro, and Eurocheque.
Carrying the Thomas Cook, MasterCard, and ETCI logos since 1982, the Cook travelers check is No. 1 in the $10 billion European market, Europay said.
"The next stage of our development was to be linked with the European market leader in payment products," said Ulrich Zierke, chief executive officer of Thomas Cook, which is 90% controlled by Westdeutsche Landesbank of Germany.
Through its 1994 acquisition of Barclays Bank's Interpayment Services Ltd., the Thomas Cook travel company also became the world's largest Visa Travelers Cheque issuer.
Europay chief executive officer Ron H. Williams said that as a "pay before" product, the travelers check will complement a smart "electronic purse" card now under development.
Europay describes debit services like Maestro and Eurocheque as "pay now," credit or charge cards as "pay later."
The Belgium-based card association has been prodding the rest of MasterCard and the global credit card industry to adopt smart card technology. Its board officially committed to a systemwide conversion in late 1993, several months ahead of MasterCard International's.
In a sign of progress in its stored-value electronic purse effort, Europay recently announced an alliance with International Business Machines Corp. Europay plans to use IBM's iKP security protocol to accommodate small-value electronic purse payments over the Internet, starting with a pilot system next year.
The Europay-IBM program does not relate directly to the joint Internet security standardization effort that MasterCard and Visa International announced on June 23. Those associations are focusing on the security of credit card information transmitted over computer networks that were not originally designed for on-line electronic commerce.
Europay's is "a chip card implementation, particularly small-value electronic purse transactions," said MasterCard senior vice president Edward J. Hogan. "We hope and anticipate that they will accommodate our bank card standard."
Despite its higher-tech proclivities, Europay sees the travelers check as a competitive weapon.
"It remains a fundamental Europay approach to offer banks and their customers a segmented range of products that meet diverse market demands and suit their individual needs," Mr. Williams said. "As a highly popular means of payment for millions of Europeans traveling abroad, (the ETCI/Thomas Cook/MasterCard check) is a welcome addition to the Europay family of brands."