MasterCard International has signed an exclusive agreement with Harmonic Systems Inc. of Minneapolis to sell electronic payment and data communication services to retail merchants.

The service is a so-called virtual private network, which will let merchants complete point of sale transactions in as few as five seconds, a speed normally possible only with private networks.

Cutting Costs

The service is designed to help merchants in cutting their data communication costs by a third to a half, Harmonic Systems president Barrs Lewis said in a prepared statement.

The virtual private network will be marked by a MasterCard unit called the Automated Point-of-Sale Program, known as MAPP.

"This agreement leverages our expertise in point of sale processing and the expertise of Harmonics in retail automation," said Heidi Goff, a senior vice president for the automated point of sale program.

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