30 October 2003 | Liam O'Brien
Purchasing cards are set to be used more widely and for higher-value purchases following a launch by MasterCard and Burns e-Commerce Solutions.
The two companies have jointly developed technology that enables card issuers to produce line-by-line detail of card transactions, regardless of whether the merchant has point-of-sale technology linked to back-office systems.
Until now, detailed card statements listing all goods purchased within a transaction have been possible only where the merchant has invested in such technology, known as "level three".
The new system, called MasterCard e-P3, gets around this by linking the supplier's back-office systems to the card issuer's systems through Burns's Business Exchange Service beX. It connects purchase orders and invoices with card transactions and will be available to MasterCard business users from December.
David Foster, chief executive of Burns, said: "What is unique about this is that the merchant does not have to have level-three data terminals integrated with its back office.
"So MasterCard's statements will have details of individual goods purchased rather than summary information, whether the purchase is made at a large company with level three or at a much smaller operation without level three."
Foster believes that because information on statements will be much more complete and robust, the business cards will be used for higher values and for more transactions.
Philip Philliou, vice-president for e-business and emerging technologies at MasterCard International, said: "This will deliver a proven buyer-centric, VAT-compliant solution that streamlines processes and enhances controls."
Other benefits claimed are the option to defer settlement, a cut of up to 40 per cent in the cost of invoice processing, higher discounts owing to faster electronic approval processes, improved cash management, and an ability to analyse overall spend and procurement trends.
The technology incorporates the 32,000 users of Burns' beX system across Europe, which processes about five million transactions worth E8 billion each year, and the MasterCard Global Data Repository.