Hold the Phone! GE'S Corporate Card Business Releases New Manual Authorization Feature

Online capability aims to reduce phone calls and support efforts associated with point-of-sale transaction declines

Online capability aims to reduce phone calls and support efforts associated with point-of-sale transaction declines

Salt Lake City, UT — January 4, 2006 — Cardholders and commercial card program administrators (PAs) could see added convenience, efficiency and control from a new feature released by GE's Corporate Payment Services unit, a manual authorization feature in NetService that leverages GE's pre-authorization technology and that could reduce phone calls cardholders and PAs make when dealing with transaction declines at the point of sale.

According to GE, most of the time there are good reasons for credit card declines at the point of sale: The cardholder's limit is exceeded, or the merchant category code is blocked. On the other hand, there's often a valid business reason why a particular transaction should be authorized.

Until now, the PA would have to request a manual authorization by calling the Corporate Payment Services support center. Support staff would provide an override code that the merchant would input by calling a toll-free number. Merchant employees often found this process time consuming and confusing.

Real-time Overrides

The new NetService functionality builds on GE's pre-authorization technology to provide the PA with the power and control to override declines in real-time. With the click of a mouse by the PA, the merchant obtains authorization by rerunning the charge. There is no need for a PA to call for an override request. Nor does the merchant have to call to input an authorization code.

"In the long run, we expect this new feature to cut the number of phone calls our customers make to deal with merchant declines by close to two-thirds," NetService product manager Kristen King-Ward said.

The online tool only overrides dollar and merchant code limits for the transaction at hand and does not affect the card's normal spending profile. The process also includes a control feature that insures the charge is not authorized for a higher dollar amount.

Real-world Test

Hurricane Katrina provided tough conditions to test the new corporate credit card technology. Several PAs indicated that their cardholders were being declined, and that merchants in the disaster areas refused to go through the typical phone-intensive override process. The capacity of regional phone systems was stretched too thin and time was of the essence.

"CPS was in the final stages of rolling out this new technology when Katrina struck," said King-Ward. "Responding to customer needs, we decided to implement key aspects of it early. Business cardholders in the disaster area were then able to make purchases with no additional phone calls required from merchants."

NetService is a Web self-service tool available to Corporate Payment Services cardholders and PAs 24 hours a day to view past statements, current transactions and make payments online, among other things.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Electronic invoice presentment and payment failed to meet its initial predictions. However, recent studies have uncovered a renaissance of interest in Web Invoicing & Electronic Payments solutions as organizations shift their emphasis toward cost containment and productivity enhancement. Read more in "The Analyst Corner: Payment," in the October/November 2005 issue of Supply and Demand Chain Executive.

— For more information on the current state of the payment solutions market, see the article "The Analyst Corner: Payment" in the December 2004/January 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Enabling the end-to-end purchase-to-pay process may seem daunting, but the benefits are hard to ignore. Read the best practices article "The Analyst Corner: Payment" by Christopher Sawchuk and Joseph B. Lancaster III of The Hackett Group, in the February/March 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— P-cards continue to advance, and e-payables solutions are making headway, but the convergence of the financial and physical supply chains is still a work in progress. Read more in "Enabling the Financial Supply and Demand Chain," in the April/May 2005 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.