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Anne Lindner

More Transaction Woes for E-Gaming

14 February 2002

An official with e-cash firm FirePay confirmed this week that users of the site will no longer be able to fund their accounts with credit from MasterCard.

The FirePay executive, who wished to remain anonymous, said MasterCard's action was entirely based on the ability of consumers to use e-cash to pay for Internet gambling.

"They want to be able to guarantee that they know when a transaction is being used at an Internet gaming site," the FirePay official said.

A public relations representative for MasterCard said the company's executives were off-site on Wednesday and therefore were not available for comment.

A representative for PayPal, the beleaguered e-cash service whose IPO was recently delayed by a patent infringement lawsuit filed by CertCo Inc., said users are still able to fund PayPal accounts with MasterCards. She said she was unable to comment about whether PayPal customers can use their e-cash for online gaming.

The FirePay official said that MasterCard was taken off the FirePay site at about 7 a.m. on Monday. The issue revolves around Internet gambling transactions not being coded properly, he said.

"It's a coding issue. All MasterCard, Visa, all these credit card companies want to make sure is that their issuing banks have the right information at the time that the charge is coming through their network," he said.

When users put money into their FirePay accounts, the site asks them if they intend to use the e-cash for Internet gambling. If the consumer says yes, FirePay will code the transaction with the 7995 merchant code for online gaming. The FirePay official said customers' honesty about using the funds for Internet gaming is a key issue, because it would be very difficult for FirePay to determine where a given user spends his or her e-cash.

"After, I guess, a long audit process there's a way," he said. "It is buried in our system. We respect the privacy of everybody else, so everything is compiled and hashed and coded in a way just like credit cards. We don't look at a credit card number."

The FirePay rep said he hopes Visa does not follow suit. Personal checks are still accepted by FirePay.

"At the end of the day it's becoming increasingly difficult for Internet gamblers to be able to deposit funds," the official said.

More Transaction Woes for E-Gaming is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner