Payments

Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) - Frequently Asked Questions

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The odds are pretty good that the next credit card transaction your online store processes will be a Visa card. With over 335 million cards in circulation, accounting for more than half of all credit cards worldwide, Visa’s reach and influence cannot be overstated.

Download our New Visa Claims Resolution WhitepaperAs one of the biggest players in the card payments industry, Visa does not hesitate to throw its weight around when it feels the need to change industry practices to better suit its interests. When Visa issues a new mandate, banks and merchants have no choice but to pay attention and follow the new rules. It may feel at times that all these card network mandates add up to is more work and worry for merchants, but sometimes these mandates include very beneficial features for merchants.



What does Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) do?

One of the best things Visa has done for merchants in recent memory is the Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry system, or VMPI.
Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry offers merchants a chance to see and respond to cardholder questions about unrecognized transactions before they have a chance to become chargebacks.
With chargeback rates in ecommerce at record levels and banks making it easier than ever for cardholders to dispute their purchases, VMPI is a powerful tool for merchants who want to minimize chargebacks and hold on to their revenue.


How does Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) work?

Normally, when a cardholder calls their bank to report an unrecognized transaction, there are few barriers in place to stop their concerns from turning into a chargeback. Cardholders who speak with human customer service representatives at their bank may be asked questions or provided with prompts from their transaction history that may help them recall making a legitimate but unrecognized transaction, but it’s increasingly common for cardholders to make these reports through automated online systems.
Issuing banks can investigate these disputes through the Visa Resolve Online (VROL) program to get more information about the transaction through the Visa network.
New call-to-actionHowever, information received in this way does not in any way guarantee that the cardholder will recognize the transaction and withdraw their dispute.
When a dispute reaches VROL, Visa will check to see if the merchant involved has chosen to implement VMPI. If so, they will send an electronic message with information about the transaction to the merchant.
At that point, the merchant has the opportunity to identify the transaction and respond in real time with the data and documentation that would validate the legitimacy of the transaction.
Visa then shares that information with the issuing bank, who shares it in turn with the cardholder. Most of the time, the information provided by the merchant will be sufficient to jog their memory so that they remember making the transaction and choose not to pursue a chargeback. Merchants can provide product information, shipping and delivery confirmation, correspondence, signatures, and other documentary evidence—the same kind of evidence they’d use to fight an actual chargeback.
Even “friendly fraudsters” who knowingly dispute legitimate transactions will often back down in the face of incontrovertible evidence that they were well aware of the purchase they were making.
Best of all, even if the unrecognized transaction really wasn’t valid, the merchant doesn’t have to submit to the chargeback process. They can instead choose to refund the customer’s money as part of their VMPI response, effectively ending the dispute before it becomes a chargeback. For merchants who are in danger of exceeding their chargeback threshold (or who simply want to avoid costly chargeback fees), this is an important option to exercise.

Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry VMPI - How it works Diagram-2



What is Visa Resolve Online (VROL)?

Visa Resolve Online (VROL) is Visa's new portal for handling consumer disputes. Some of the features included are: transaction inquiries, dispute questionnaires, and financial processing.
  • Transaction inquiry helps you quickly retrieve transaction information.
  • Dispute questionnaires help you gather relevant information from cardholders.
  • Financial processing enables you to process financial transactions corresponding to chargebacks, representments, adjustments, and miscellaneous fees.
 


What notifications does Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) provide?

VMPI sends out two different types of alerts to merchants: Inquiry, where the issuer wants more information about a transaction that can potentially prevent a chargeback, and Notification, which indicates the action taken by the issuer or the action the issuer want the merchant to taken after the merchant sends the transaction data through VMPI:
  • Fraud
  • Dispute initiation
  • Stop payment
  • Exception file listing
It’s not at all uncommon for a transaction to receive multiple alerts. For instance, you might expect to see an inquiry followed by notifications for stop payment and deflected (Chargeback Stopped), all pertaining to a single transaction.
VMPI Alerts-2


How effective is Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI)?

When a VMPI inquiry alert is received, the merchant (or their facilitator) send information about the transaction to the issuing bank.
In many cases, this will resolve the matter and stop the chargeback.
We generally see reductions ranging from 14% to 30%, depending on the customer base and size of the merchant’s business.
As more issuers start using VMPI, the amount of chargebacks prevented should likewise increase.


Can VMPI prevent ALL my chargebacks?

Unfortunately, there is not a magic bullet for chargebacks. Based on our experience and having worked with thousands of merchants, we can confidently say "utilizing VMPI will greatly reduce your chargebacks but it will not eliminate them altogether." We encourage all eligible merchants to incorporate VMPI into their chargeback strategy.


Do I need Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI)?

Yes. Provided you have more than 50 chargebacks per month or if your chargeback ratio is higher than .5%.


How to Get Started With Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI)?

There are two ways for merchants to begin using VMPI. You can either sign up directly with Visa, or you can sign up with a VMPI Authorized Facilitator like Chargeback Gurus.
The primary advantage of using a facilitator is that you’ll get up and running with VMPI much faster. The wait time with Visa and the process involved to get approved from Visa is usually longer and businesses prefer to work with a facilitator rather than workign with Visa.
Aside from getting you started faster and enabling you to start using VMPI right away, another benefit of using a facilitator is that they can make integrations with your existing systems much easier and provide you analytics to better evaluate the success of VMPI program.

What is a certified VMPI Facilitator?

VMPI-Authorized-FacilitatorVisa has authorized companies like Chargeback Gurus to onboard businesses for VMPI service since Visa is unable to onboard all merchants due to their resource limitation. VMPI is not a simple "plug and play" application.
Responses to VMPI requests must be lightning fast (35 milliseconds to be precise) and can only be provided through real-time integration.
In many cases, cost-effective implementation would not be possible for a merchant. Because of this, Visa certifies facilitators to help integrate merchants into the system.


How long does it take to get started with Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI)?

With a facilitator’s assistance, it can take up to two weeks to go live with VMPI.
  1. Gathering Visa Card Acceptor ID and Acquirer Bin Info:  1 – 3 Business Days
  2. Data Integration with Chargeback Gurus:  1 – 3 Weeks
  3. Visa Acceptance Time Frame:  1 – 2 Weeks
  4. Go-Love Testing:  1 – 2 Business Days


What do I need to get started with Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI)?

You will need to provide your Card Acceptor ID as well as your acquirer’s Bank Identification Number. The facilitator will also need you to upload all of your order and transaction information to a secure server every day, either via SFTP or with API integration.
These daily uploads should include the following information for each purchase.
The more information provided, the better—thorough, detailed information helps the issuing banks make the right decision. 
*There may be variances depending on the industry you’re in:
  • Cardholder name
  • Order date
  • Billing address
  • Shipping address
  • Product or service purchased
  • Delivery status
  • Tracking number
  • Refund status and information


What can a certified Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) Facilitator offer me?

When your VMPI processes are handled by a facilitator, the time it takes to approve your merchant account with Visa, active your VMPI program and system integration processes are greatly reduced. Be sure your facilitator provides in-depth reports to track the VMPI alerts and its effectiveness.
In order to help our clients monitor the VMPI effectiveness, Chargeback Gurus provides a dashboard for alert monitoring, which shows the number of alerts issued by Visa, how many were prevented from becoming chargebacks, and how many did, in fact, become chargebacks.

 



How much does a certified Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) Facilitator cost?

The cost of VMPI facilitation will vary depending on the volume of transactions—the higher the volume, the lower the cost per transaction.
The cost of VMPI alerts can range from $5.00/Alert to $10.00/Alert.
 Schedule a meeting and consult a Subject Matter Expert from the Gurus team to learn more. 


How can I make the best use of Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI)?

To use VMPI optimally, it’s important to take advantage of its automated features. VMPI can integrate with your customer relationship management system and other databases, allowing it to automatically pull relevant information as soon as VROL contacts the merchant.
You don’t want to treat VMPI as a set-it-and-forget-it solution, however. With revenue and chargebacks on the line, VMPI should be carefully monitored by actual humans in order to ensure that all inquiries are addressed swiftly and appropriately.
Merchants should also take advantage of the information and opportunities afforded them by VMPI. Every communication you receive is a learning experience and a chance to avoid future disputes.
For example, you may find that customers are confused by the name your business appears under on their credit card statement. It’s not uncommon for a merchant to incorporate under one name, do business under a different name, and for customers to see the first name (which they don’t recognize) on their credit card statement because the merchant never updated that information. This is an easy thing to fix!
If you get a VMPI query from a known customer you have dealt with in the past—who can be reasonably expected to remember the purchase they made—you may have a friendly fraudster on your hands. It may be prudent to block that customer from purchasing from you in the future, and cancel any outstanding or recurring orders they may have placed.


Conclusion

Visa really has given merchants a beneficial tool with VMPI, which has the potential to save considerable amounts of money for merchants who deal with a high volume of disputes and chargebacks. VMPI creates a space and opportunity for merchants to respond to disputes before they become chargebacks, allowing them to avoid fees, correct fixable problems, and defend against fraudsters who dispute charges under false premises.

For merchants who really want to improve and optimize their business operations, VMPI provides useful information about customer behavior and attitudes, and can highlight potential problems with the merchant’s procedures. Merchants who are willing to apply the right analytics to the data they can glean from VMPI will find that there is much to be learned from customers who try to dispute their charges.

VMPI is a vital part of a merchant’s overall chargeback defense strategy and Chargeback Gurus is a certified VMPI Facilitator. So if VMPI seems like too much work to take on—yet another always-on communications channel for the harried small business operator to monitor and address—remember that you can Get Started with VMPI through Chargeback Gurus at any time. 

Download the Definitive Guide to Visa's New Dispute Process