First Data Offers Card-Network Backup

First Data Resources Inc. has introduced an automated credit card authorization service said to offer reliable backup to merchants when their primary point-of-sale networks fails.

First Data, a unit of American Express Co., is the largest third-party processor of card transactions.

In the past, when electronic networks failed, many retailers relied on backup services that employed human operators to provide authorization for credit card purchases.

Keypad Inquiries, Recorded Responses

First Data's new service, called Premiere, uses recorded voices to answer authorization requests made through the merchant's telephone keypad. Merchants would key in account numbers and other transaction data.

The system's capacity - over 10,000 calls at the same time - permits it to handle the volume generated when a point-of-sale network goes down, the company said.

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