What is Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry Program (VMPI)?
The Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry program, also known as VMPI, was introduced by Visa in 2017.
Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) enables Visa merchants to respond to card holder transactions that are not recognized, and other potential disputes, by providing relevant order information in close to real-time to the issuing banks.
Ready to find out more about VMPI? This comprehensive guide should help.
What is the purpose of VMPI?
In 2015, Visa identified over 2.6 million chargebacks that were initiated because cardholders did not recognize the transactions. This is an increase of over 13% from the prior year. In addition, 20% of all chargebacks were tied to purchases of digital goods, which includes electronic downloads of movies, music and phone application purchases.
As the number of transactions related to digital goods continues to increase, so does the potential for an increased number of disputes. Managing the dispute and trying to resolve it has been expensive for the issuers, merchants, and the card networks as well.
Hence VMPI was introduced to the Card-not-Present community, with the sole goal to connect issuers and merchants and reduce disputes that aren't really disputes.
What is the VMPI Process?
The process allows merchants to seamlessly share information through VROL to the issuing banks, and involves the following steps:
- Cardholder contacts their issuing bank about a transaction they may dispute. Issuer retrieves transaction information from Visa Resolution Online (VROL)
- Visa identifies if the merchant participates in Visa Merchant Purchase Inquiry (VMPI) program
- Visa engine sends a notification to the merchant requesting for information pertaining to the transaction in dispute
- Merchant identifies transaction and pulls key data elements such as order information, tracking information, refund information, etc.
- Merchant responds through VROL in near-real-time to the issuer
- Visa shares enhanced data with issuer, who then uses the data with the cardholder
Can VMPI Prevent Chargebacks Completely?
The sole purpose of VMPI is to provide more visibility to issuing banks pertaining to the card holder transaction.
Even if the merchant provides the transaction data to the issuing bank, there is no guarantee that it can prevent a chargeback.
The issuer might convey the purchase information to the card holder and the card holder might still deny the transaction and opt for a chargeback. We can anticipate a reduction in chargebacks to a certain degree, but it cannot eliminate them completely.
Can VMPI Reduce the Need for Prevention Alerts?
The Prevention Alert Networks do not have coverage from all issuing banks. Hence, they are not able to intercept all the chargebacks. This is one of the drawbacks of prevention alerts. The advantage of prevention alerts, however, is that the merchant has the flexibility to issue a refund and prevent a dispute from happening in the first place.
In contrast, VMPI does not provide the flexibility to issue refunds to the alert notifications received from the issuing bank. It ONLY acts as an engine to provide transaction visibility.
Hence, merchants with high chargeback thresholds might still use Prevention Alerts along with VMPI.
It is too early to see how many VMPI notifications overlap with Prevention Alerts. When it comes to a point that VMPI becomes more effective in preventing chargebacks, the need for Prevention Alerts may decrease. But this might take 1 - 2 years since Visa will be making changes to VMPI based on merchants' feedback and might introduce a module for merchants to issue refunds in the VMPI engine as well
Pros & Cons of Using VMPI
- Ability to provide more visibility to issuing banks on customer transaction data
- Prevent chargebacks to a certain degree
- Prevent retrieval request chargebacks
- Reduce customers trying to make fake fraud claim chargebacks
- Reduce unknown transaction claims
- Provide more visibility to issuing banks on customer transaction data
- Cost of using PCI Certified CRM (to enroll in VMPI)
The Unknowns in VMPI
VMPI was introduced by Visa in Hong Kong and New Zealand in April 2017 and it was found that VMPI reduced chargeback dispute rates by 14%. Visa is planning on introducing VMPI as a pilot program in US this year. It was said that Visa is currently testing VMPI success rates with large retail merchants in the US.
As stated before, issuing banks will have more visibility of card holder purchase information, other than just the transaction data. But Visa has not mandated the use of the VMPI program to the issuing banks.
The success of this program purely depends on the usability of the VMPI engine by the issuing banks.
It is too early to predict the chargeback prevention rate using VMPI since there hasn’t been official word on the chargeback deflection rate.
Merchants often worry if VMPI will have a negative impact on their business by exposing their customer data to Visa. It is our understanding that Visa acts as an engine to facilitate the data transfer between the merchant and issuing bank. Visa will not be involved in reviewing the transaction related data unless the transaction is claimed fraud by the card holder.
Who is VMPI for?
VMPI must be used by any merchant processing credit cards on a card-not-present (CNP) environment. VMPI can certainly be beneficial for these types of merchants:
- Health & Beauty
- Digital Goods
- Digital Services
- Any merchant facing a chargeback rate over 0.75%
How Do Merchants Sign Up for VMPI?
Signing up and enrolling for VMPI can be a 5-step process. The steps include:
Merchant must complete the Visa Questionnaire Form which must include merchant’s business name, address and merchant identification number (Merchant ID)
Merchant must provide CAID (Cardholder Acceptance Identification Number) issued by Visa. This ID can be obtained from your payment processor
Merchant must provide acquirer’s BIN (Bank Identification Number). This BIN can be obtained from your payment processor as well
VMPI facilitator will connect Merchant's CRM to the VMPI engine after the merchant is approved by Visa
A test will be performed by Visa to check the connectivity and data transfer before the merchant account goes live
Merchants can sign up for VMPI directly with Visa or enroll with an Authorized VMPI Facilitator.
If you would like more information on VMPI and the recent Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) policy updates, download the 7-Part Definitive Guide to Visa's New Dispute Process.