Maestro debit card services is a division of MasterCard that is licensed to financial institutions that issue debit cards. These debit services allow clients to make payments from their checking accounts or using pre-paid debit cards. Maestro cards use the MasterCard Maestro transaction network which is a payment system that communicates between merchants and financial institutions to authorize debit transactions. Cards that use Maestro debit card services can be used to make payments at merchant locations that subscribe to the Maestro network. The cards can also access a vast number of ATMs findable using the MasterCard ATM locator.
• Interchange fees
The costs charged for allowing Maestro card consumer debit transactions across European Economic Area country borders were limited by a December 2007 ruling by the European Commission per MasterCard’s 2011 Q1 Form 10-Q. However, in 2009 this ruling was bypassed with MasterCard’s compliance with the EU’s condition that MasterCard “create efficiencies that outweigh the restriction of competition.” For Maestro debit card transactions this fee is limited to .003 percent of the transaction cost.
• Wireless transactions
A unique feature of the Maestro debit card service network is that it includes the Maestro Paypass. This is allows Maestro Debit Card holders to simply tap their Maestro card instead of swiping and entering in a personal identification number. Only merchants with tap technology equipment are able to process debit card transactions in this way. As easy as the wireless tap payment method is for the Maestro card holders, it is limited to 10 pounds sterling and is only functional at merchants with tap technology equipment. This may protect against the wireless theft of account information or funds, but also limits the functionality of the technology.
• International use
The Maestro debit card service can be used in numerous countries and primarily serves the United Kingdom and European Economic Union countries including France, Germany and Italy. According to MasterCard, The Maestro debit card is accepted at over 960,000 locations within the U.K. Additionally, MasterCard claims there over 100 countries with Maestro card access in its 2011 Q1 Form 10-Q. This network integration assists with making payments while overseas and limits the need for cash. MasterCard’s quarterly report also claims these types of transactions are also more profitable for them as a corporation.
• Prepaid debit cards
In addition to account based debit cards, Maestro cards can also be acquired using a prepaid method. Prepaid Maestro cards do not require a credit check, but do require identification to be purchased; these cards are also re-loadable. According to Maestro card services, Maestro prepaid cards can be used at millions of retail locations worldwide and allow both internet transactions and internet access to card information via the Masestro debit card online services.
• Security features
Maesto debit cards issued by HSBC, NatWest and The Royal Bank of Scotland can be registered for a security protection feature called SecureCode. SecureCode protects transactions with an additional secret code. A transaction history is also recorded when transactions are made using these cards. Since debit card transactions are recorded on account statements, the identification of possible fraudulent transactions in real time and via historical records also facilitates the security of using the Maestro card.