Visa Account Updater and MasterCard Automatic Billing Updater:
What they are, how they work, and why to use them.
Visa Account Updater (VAU) and MasterCard Automatic Billing Updater are programs developed by the card associations that enable the exchange of updated account information electronically among participating issuers, acquirers, and merchants that process recurring billing for subscription sales, online memberships, web continuity programs, health club memberships, utility payments and account-on-file transactions such as preferred customer travel and entertainment programs. Participating issuers, acquirers, and merchants are able to obtain seamless updates of “card on file” account information.
In the Visa Account Updater program, issuers provide Visa with changes to account numbers and expiration dates resulting from product upgrades, acquisitions and mergers, account closures, and MasterCard-to-Visa portfolio conversions. Merchants submit inquiries via their acquirers regarding accounts with which they have ongoing relationships, and responses are returned from Visa through the acquirers and back to the merchants. Merchants are then able to update their customer databases with the correct account information prior to authorizing transactions. Potential declines are avoided, authorizations are limited to one per transaction, and the merchant avoids increased customer service costs and potential interruptions in service resulting from the need to contact the cardholder to obtain updated account information.
In the MasterCard Automatic Billing Updater program participating issuers submit MasterCard account changes to the Automatic Billing Updater database. Registered merchants can submit account number queries to their acquirers, who then pass them onto the Automatic Billing Updater database. Account queries are matched to issuer submissions and the matches are returned to the acquirers, who in turn forward the matches to the specific merchants. Merchants can then update their billing files with the changed account information. Merchants avoid declines, decrease processing costs, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce customer turnover. MasterCard Automatic Billing Updater supports account changes for portfolio sales, portfolio flips, expiration date changes, card upgrades, re-issued cards, and lost or stolen cards.
Visa Account Updater and MasterCard Automatic Billing Updater simplify and secure recurring billing and account-on-file transactions and ensure uninterrupted service for cardholders and uninterrupted payments for merchants. Authorization approvals are increased while decreasing declines and the customer service costs associated with contacting cardholders to obtain updated information due to an interruption of the payment relationship. Uninterrupted payment results in increased sales and revenue flows and higher customer retention rates.