Merchant-acquirers gathered for the midyear conference of the Electronic Transactions Association in Baltimore last week were cautioned that international electronic commerce -- while exciting and potentially lucrative -- also poses new types of challenges.

Companies that clear and process merchants' card transactions -- including banks and the independent sales organizations that act as their agents must be prepared for new and difficult issues: jurisdictional problems linked to offshore banking and gaming, higher risks of chargebacks, and cross-border inconsistencies in rules and enforcement.

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