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November 23, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Credit card transactions are to be considerably speeded up under an agreement between the Midland Bank and Compower of Cannock, Staffordshire. Under the terms of the contract the Midland will market Compower’s Mid-night Express electronic payment service to the retail sector. Typically a customer pays for goods using a valid credit card which is to be either Access or Visa initially. A shop assistant swipes the card through a point of sale device which reads it and produces a receipt. The customer then confirms the sale, ususally by signing the receipt, and the it is completed electronically, doing away with the traditional sales vouchers. With Mid-night Express all transactions are transferred to a mainframe between midnight and six in the morning where they are sorted into types of card. From there the information is sent to the credit card companies via the Bankers Automated Clearing Service. Compower, the UKP30m-a-year computer services arm of British Coal, has had Mid-night Express for around two years. It already has an installed user base of 1,000 Shell petrol stations up and down the country where it is used to sort information from automatic petrol pumps. The Midland is to set up a sales force of 12 people to market the service, the first in a range of electronic payment services it intends to introduce under the name Midland Transact. Compower’s one major competitor is the CentreFile arm of National Westminster Bank.

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