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JETS, Scotia settle Visa card dispute. ScotiaCard reverts to debit transactions only

Published:Friday | October 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Edmundo Jenez, general manager of JETS Limited. File Photos
Scotiabank senior legal counsel and company secretary, Julie Thompson-James.
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Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

THE COURT case linked to Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica (BNS) Limited's co-branded Visa debit card has been withdrawn by the bank following what appears to be concessions to JETS Limited.

"The matter was resolved out of court," confirmed Edmundo Jenez, general manager of JETS Limited, the company that operates the MultiLink network on behalf of Jamaica's banks.

"Principally, it was agreed that all domestically procured credit cards will be processed through JETS," said Jenez.

The agreement was reached in July, and the Supreme Court formally advised in September.

BNS turned to the court in 2012 after it was accused of breaching the shareholder agreement for the MultiLink network of which the bank is part-owner.

BNS, a subsidiary of Scotia Group Jamaica, wanted to ignore a provision in the agreement, which stipulated that members are restricted from participating in any competing banking network, and asked the court to weigh in.

One year before, in 2011, BNS began replacing its old card with the co-branded ScotiaCard Visa Debit, in partnership with Visa Inc. The American card company required that the transactions be cleared through its system, and not through JETS' network, to which JETS objected.

The card allows Scotiabank customers to do transactions inside and outside of Jamaica and via the Internet.

The Visa transactions, whether processed as a debit or credit payment, were settled days later, whereas regular MultiLink debit transactions register immediately on a customer's account.

Scotiabank had promoted the card for credit transactions, but merchants often gave cardholders the option of debit or credit.

JETS, which was represented by attorney Dr Lloyd Barnett, argued in court that BNS had breached the shareholder agreement by issuing cards that used the Visa system.

BNS, represented by lead attorney Michael Hylton, QC, asked the court for a declaration that the clause was unenforceable.

Sandra Minott-Phillips, QC, represented the other owners of MultiLink, which at the time of the court case's filing included National Commercial Bank Jamaica, RBC Royal Bank Jamaica, Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, FirstCaribbean International Bank Jamaica, Victoria Mutual Building Society and Jamaica National Building Society.

Jenez said that under the settlement, ScotiaCard will continue to facilitate international transactions.

Scotiabank Jamaica said the card, which previously could be processed as a credit card, would now qualify for debit transactions only. And it can still be used to shop and pay for other transactions online.

"Based on the settlement with JETS, Scotiabank will now process all of its Visa debit card transactions through JETS instead of the Visa platform," said the bank's senior legal counsel and company secretary, Julie Thompson-James.

"Customers doing a transaction using their Visa debit card will now revert to swiping their card and pinning their code under the new agreement, rather than swiping and signing which was the previous practice," Thompson-James said.

The bank adds that payments for purchases will again show up immediately on customers' accounts.

Merchants will be charged a flat fee for point-of-sales transactions.

"This will be one of the major benefits to merchants as they will experience a reduction in their Visa debit card acceptance cost," the bank said.

Jenez declined comment on whether the settlement involved compensation, saying the details were confidential.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com