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Visa Issues Statement on Suspended ePassporte Accounts

Visa says network access only is blocked; cardholders can access account funds through St. Kitts bank or ePassporte

Visa Issues Statement on Suspended ePassporte Accounts

SANTA MONICA, Calif.—Visa has issued a statement regarding the suspension late last week of the ePassporte Visa program operated through St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Ltd., according to Brian Krebs, who operates the KrebsonSecurity.com blog.

Krebs reported receiving the announcement at about 10 a.m. PT. It read:

“At the request of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank (SKNA), on September 2, 2010, Visa blocked network access for prepaid cards issued by SKNA and operated by ePassporte.com to address certain program deficiencies. ePassporte.com is a third-party agent that works with SKNA.

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“It is important to note that impacted SKNA prepaid cardholders are still able to access their funds through SKNA or SKNA’s agent, ePassporte.com. For more information cardholders should contact SKNA or ePassporte.com.

“Visa is committed to maintaining the integrity of its global payment network and routinely conducts due diligence to ensure Visa prepaid programs adhere to the company’s stringent program requirements and controls.”

The Visa announcement seems to say that all SKNA-ePassporte Visa funds are available to account holders, and not just those in the ePassporte e-Wallet program, as was communicated by ePassporte CEO Chris Mallick late Thursday in his only statement thus far on the situation.

Mallick said at the time:

“Dear ePassporte Account Holders,

“Please be advised that, at 12:00 PM PDT today, September 2, 2010, we were notified that effective immediately, Visa International has suspended our banking partner’s (St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank) ePassporte Visa program. The ePassporte e-Wallet program continues to be up and running, except funds cannot be transferred between your Visa Account and your e-Wallet. At this time ePassporte can no longer issue Visa Cards, and the ability for our Account Holders to make point of sale purchases and withdraw funds from ATMs has also been suspended.

“At this time we do not know why this drastic action was taken by Visa. To us, it is unconscionable that such action would be taken without the opportunity for ePassporte to fully understand Visa’s reasons and to be able to take all steps necessary to keep our program running the way it has so successfully done for over 7 years. But that is what Visa has done.

“As soon as we have more information we will be in contact with you.

“In the meantime please be assured that your funds are safe.

“We are very sorry for the short notice and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. The ePassporte team is working diligently to rectify this situation.

“We kindly ask you to bear with us while we work through this issue.

“Please feel free to contact us via the message center or at our call center, should you have any questions, comments or concerns.

“Thank You,

Christopher Mallick.”

Another possible discrepancy between the Visa and Mallick announcements has to do with which entity initiated the suspension of ePassporte Visa. Mallick said, somewhat vaguely, “we were notified that effective immediately, Visa International has suspended our banking partner’s (St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank) ePassporte Visa program,” while Visa states, more clearly, At the request of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank (SKNA), on September 2, 2010, Visa blocked network access for prepaid cards issued by SKNA and operated by ePassporte.com to address certain program deficiencies.”

Also, in response to a query Friday from AVN, an ePassporte spokesperson said, “It’s an issue with Visa, not with our bank. All of our functions outside of Visa are working perfectly," which seems to conflict with Visa’s assertion today that the action was taken “to address certain program deficiencies.”

Hopefully, for the many account holders who are having diffculty accessing funds in their ePassporte accounts, the suspension and these apparent discrepancies will be cleared up shortly.

In response to a call by AVN this morning, the ePassporte spokesperson said CEO Chris Mallick was in meetings all day long, and that a comment by the company might be made later Tuesday. Several calls to officers at the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Tuesday went directly to voicemail and messages left have yet to be returned.

Check back for updates as this story unfolds.






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