The assignee for this patent, patent number 8645265, is
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "It is increasingly common that consumers pay for many of their expenses using credit cards, bankcards or like instruments rather than using cash or checks. Consumers do this because they find it more convenient that sending cash or checks. Using credit cards in this fashion is also desirable because the consumer can borrow using his/her credit card when personal funds are low, and also because an itemized list of payments is generated each month.
"Some clubs, merchants or service providers may require fixed payments on a periodic basis, such as weekly, monthly, semi-annually, and so forth. In the case of a club, such as a health club, a consumer may be required to send dues each month. Using a credit card, the consumer may send in a payment slip each month with the credit card number, expiration date and a signature authorizing the charge to the consumer's credit card. Or the consumer may call the club's place of business to give like information verbally over the phone. Or the consumer may contact the club to give like information using a home computer accessing the Internet.
"In each case the consumer is relieved of the inconvenience of sending cash, checks or the equivalent. Yet in each case the consumer still must initiate the transaction each month by mail, telephone or computer. For the customer associated with a number of clubs requiring periodic payments, this may involve a significant number of transactions for the consumer to initiate each week or month. Moreover, since payment due dates may differ for each club, the consumer cannot make the overall task more efficient by doing all the payments at once unless he/she is willing to pay some bills early or some bills late. Thus, this approach to paying bills using a credit instrument has significant shortcomings for the consumer.
"From the perspective of the club, processing credit card information is advantageous since processing tends to be easier than for checks. However, there are still significant shortfalls. The club must await the submission of payment from the consumer for each cycle. Sometimes consumers will be late in contacting the club to submit their credit card information. Sometimes communication lapses will result in incorrect information being submitted to the club, such as when the consumer fills in the wrong credit card information or a customer service representative misunderstands information given over the telephone.
"And even when no such difficulties arise, the club still must initiate the transaction with the card provider by submitting a separate charge for each consumer on each payment cycle. For a club having hundreds or thousands of members, this may entail the initiation of hundreds or thousands of charges at different times. This is a significant disadvantage because of the time and costs imposed on the club. Additionally, charges may be imposed on the club and/or the card provider when an interchange processor is contacted for each transaction initiated by the club. Additionally, there may be communications difficulties in contacting a card provider bank or interchange to submit the charge, such as when a direct-dial connection fails or an Internet or like computer network connection fails.
"Sometimes a consumer will give a club permission to bill his/her credit card on an ongoing basis so that the consumer does not have to initiate payment each cycle. While this may lighten the burden on the consumer somewhat, it does not eliminate the burden on the club, which still must submit a charge to the consumer's credit card each cycle. Moreover, the consumer must still engage in an initial transaction with each club, merchant or service provider, to grant this authorization to bill the consumer's credit card on a periodic basis. For the consumer wishing to give such authorization to multiple clubs, merchants or service providers, a series of separate transactions must be undertaken. This is a significant shortcoming.
"Other problems and drawbacks also exist."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "For these and like reasons, what is desired is a system and method of providing a credit card system that is associated with a series of clubs, merchants, service providers or the like so that a fully automated payment of dues or fees can be effectuated with minimal transactions.
"Accordingly, it is one object of the present invention to overcome one or more of the aforementioned and other limitations of existing systems and methods for payment of fees or dues using a credit instrument.
"It is another object of the invention to provide a credit instrument that is pre-associated with a series of clubs, merchants or service providers so that a cardholder can authorize automated payment for multiple business concerns in a single transaction with the card provider.
"It is another object of the invention to provide such a credit instrument where the information for multiple business concerns is stored at a credit system processor so that the creation of automated payment agreements for a consumer for a plurality of such business concerns is easily effectuated.
"It is another object of the invention to provide a credit instrument application system where an applicant is solicited to join clubs and set up automated payment agreements at the same time the application is being processed so that a competitive marketing advantage is conferred on the associated business concerns.
"It is another object of the invention to provide such a credit instrument associated with a series of business concerns such that a competitive advantage is conferred on the associated business concerns because the cardholder is encouraged to maintain the accounts therewith.
"It is another object of the invention to provide such a credit instrument associated with a series of business concerns that provides a competitive advantage for the card provider by maximizing revenue and creating barriers to exit for both the associated business concerns and the cardholders.
"To achieve these and other objects of the present invention, and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described, an embodiment of the present invention comprises an apparatus and method for a card that allows a cardholder to set up auto-charge payment of dues and fees to a series of clubs, merchants or service providers. The card also may be used for other transactions that accept credit cards. The system includes a database containing information of the associated clubs, merchants and service providers, so that applicants and cardholders can easily configure auto-charging for multiple business concerns in one sitting. The system may then process auto-charge transactions in an automated fashion without requiring a cardholder to submit payment authorization or the business concern to submit a charge for each periodic payment. Inconvenience and administrative costs to the cardholder and the business concerns are greatly reduced. The system and method provide a competitive advantage to the associated business concerns to secure the initial account and then to retain it. The system and method encourages card loyalty of both the card members and the business concerns to the card provider.
"The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute part of this specification, illustrate several embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. It will become apparent from the drawings and detailed description that other objects, advantages and benefits of the invention also exist.
"Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description that follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the system and methods, particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings."
For more information, see this patent: Boyle, Kevin; Maistre, Marty. System and Method for Card Processing with Automated Payment of Club, Merchant, and Service Provider Fees. U.S. Patent Number 8645265, filed
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