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信用卡支付缘何成为比特币交易的“烫手山芋”?

信用卡支付能够让比特币交易更加便捷,但是却也让比特币交易所和客户面临不小的困扰。比如因为担心有人利用信用卡退单拒付实施信用卡欺诈,加拿大比特币交易所Virtex很早之前就出台规定,交易所不支持信用卡交易。

通常情况下,信用卡客户只需向发卡行申请交易逆转,就可以完成信用卡退单拒付。客户会提出各种各样的合理原因,比如说卖方未能按承诺发货、提供服务,或产品、服务不合意,有些时候也可能是信用卡被盗或者未经持有人许可发生盗刷事件。

然而,有时候信用卡持有人会故意申请退单,来实施诈骗。这实际就是现在虚拟币交易中"重复付款"的早先版本,而这种情况在网上交易十分常见,尤其是对于那些要处理大量跨国交易的大公司而言。

退单拒付让他损失惨重

一个名叫Joey Rich的比特币卖家就在这个问题上吃了大亏。2010年,当比特币交易所BuyBitcoins.com遭遇一系列被盗信用卡退单拒付事件之后,Rich的9000美元初期投资都化为了泡影。他认为,正是不法分子利用被盗信用卡的收益和退单拒付相结合,盗走了他的所有资金。

Rich说:"除了要收回之前支付的钱款之外,信用卡发卡机构还会就退单拒付的情况收取25至35美元的警告费用。我为这些警告支付的费用着实不菲,尤其是那些原本只有5到10美元的交易也要被罚,更是让我觉得心疼。当时我的银行账户出现了赤字,所以我还需要支付透支费,所有这一切最终导致了我的投资失败。"

除了在利益方面蒙受损失,个人信用卡积分记录也会受到影响。过多的退单拒付造成个人信用污点越来越大,最终,账户被终止,Rich被列入黑名单。

Rich承认:"那时候我并不了解信用卡的使用条例,也不知道原来信用卡支付可以撤销。"而且更糟糕的是,由于程序故障,系统最初并未将9000美元资金打入他的账户。但是7000美元的退款交易等费用照旧从账户中扣除,继而账户赤字,导致需要交纳更多透支费。

Rich花了一年时间才解决了问题,带着最后仅剩的一点资金抽身离开了。在他积极寻找信用卡支付解决方案的同时,他关闭了上文所述的那个比特币交易平台。

2012年,Rich的网站重新"开张"并且增加了许多新的身份验证机制,例如,用户需要上传驾照扫描件,登陆Facebook账户,并需要在浏览器上用HTML5进行定位(Rich认为该定位方法比IP地址定位方法更加精确)。

这些工序完成后,卖家将获得信用分数,这样可以确定用户的申请是否成功受理。此次,Rich选择使用另一种信用卡处理程序。

他说:"这些身份验证要求好处良多。2013年5月,我的销售额就达到了4.5万美元。但是,大约有4500美元的退单,导致了账户终止。"

退单拒付隐患多

显然对于商家而言,信用卡处理流程只是看似简单。但是庞大的客户群体以及便捷的收益方式让交易所还是难挡诱惑。

比如,CEX. io的首席信息官Jeffrey Smith就表示,公司十分欢迎客户用信用卡进行比特币交易。

他认为:"信用卡交易快速,是目前为止最受欢迎的支付方式。为了迎合主流市场,交易所必须要将信用卡支付存取服务纳入未来的发展计划中。"

据Smith估测,对于1000美元以内的交易而言,使用信用卡交易所需支付的费用都应该是可以接受的。而其他情况下,也许其他一些机制可能更有利。电子银行适用于大笔资金转账,但是需要等待10天才能到账,所以对于短期投资而言就不大合适了。

Smith的公司目前在信用卡退单拒付上尚未遭受损失,因为其公司仅选择同那些提供3D验证的信用卡或借记卡供应商合作,3D验证可以降低公司承担信用卡退单拒付的风险。

通常所说的3D验证指的就是Visa认证服务和万事达卡的安全校验码,除了需要获取商家的许可,还需要通过发卡机构的身份认证。

还有别的解决方法吗?

其它方法的安全系数可能相对较低。一位不愿意透露姓名的交易所CEO称,至少对于他的客户群体来说不接受信用卡的交易是可行的。

他表示:"如果你只利用SWIFT进行电子转账,最大的优势之一就是交易不可逆。这也是我们目前的做法。所以,我们无需担心遭遇信用卡诈骗。这对于以B2B为主要业务模式的交易所尤其具有吸引力。"

有了前车之鉴,Rich现在选择用PayPal进行比特币交易。客户通过PayPal平台付款,然后就会收到Rich寄出的比特币礼品卡(其实就是一封包含相关收付信息的email)。

Rich表示:"我保留了身份验证的方法,但重要性并没有以前那么高了。因为我通过寄送真实卡片的方法保证了交易的安全性。我现在大概的月均销售额为3000美元,到目前为止尚未遭遇信用卡退单拒付而带来的经济损失。但是,我也会遇到极少情况的退款,比如说交易可疑,或者是按照地址寄出后得不到回应。"

自2014年8月开始,Rich就通过BitcoinGiftCard.org网站开设寄送服务。不过PayPal服务需要收取4%的服务费,要价可比信用卡机构高,这让他郁闷不已。

风险转移有新招

Brawker网站在应对信用卡欺诈方面想出了一个新招数--让传统的电子商务卖方来应对。数月前,Cyril Houri创立了该网站,网站为想买比特币的人们和想要在网上用比特币购买东西的人们提供了联系平台。

比如说,Bob想在亚马逊网站上用比特币购买200美元的DVD播放器。他就可以在Brawker上发布消息。此时,Alice想买价值200美元的比特币,她就可以投标。竞标成功后,Alice就可以用货币购买Bob需要的产品,在证明产品成功购买后,Bob继而将比特币寄送给Alice。

也就是,网站的运营模式为,以在线销售的产品为媒介,买卖双方进行订单互换。

该模式的优势在于电子商务提供商负责处理退单拒付的问题。如果Alice决定申请DVD播放器退款,这也只是亚马逊需要处理的问题(可以是百思买、约翰路易斯等线上卖家)。

Houri的公司甚至没有任何卖家的信用卡账户记录。只有一个银行账户用于支付费用,仅此而已。

他表示:"电子商务平台可以给你带来诸多好处。网上购物发货速度比传统汇款更快速,这样能让交易十分便捷。"

当然这种模式也有不便之处。比如Alice可以向Bob,或者其他任何人那里直接购买相应价值的比特币。但是,很难达到正好符合她想购买比特币的数量。

Houri表示,"在传统交易所,商品可进行互换。但是,我们的目标商品则是实物。一端可以是任何一个人想买的任何一个东西,另一端则是购买商品,并得到等值比特币的买方。"

而且,Brawker也在探索更加安全可靠的用户认证系统。毕竟,所有网上交易都存在其风险。尽力将风险降至最低,对买卖双方皆有利。

用信用卡购买比特币自有其优势,但是也存在其弊端。重要的是看企业家们如何抉择。要知道,互联网创新无处不在。

未央研究 编译

One of the biggest problems for bitcoin exchanges and their customers is often making the exchange quick and easy. Exchanges like Canadian firm Virtex made the decision a long time ago not to accept credit cards. Their biggest concern? Fraud, in the form of chargebacks.

In a credit card chargeback, a credit-card paying customer asks the issuing bank (the bank that gave them the card) to reverse a transaction made with a merchant.

This can happen for a variety of legitimate reasons. A merchant may not have delivered the promised goods or service, or it may have been faulty. In some cases, a card may have been stolen and used without the owner’s consent.Sometimes, however, the owner of the card perpetrates their own fraud, by trying to reverse a legitimate financial transaction. It’s effectively a pre-blockchain version of double spending. This can happen a lot on the Internet, where companies are dealing with large numbers of unknown customers half a world away.

Chargeback target

This happened to Joey Rich, who found himself at the wrong end of a steep learning curve in 2010.

Having purchased some coins, he began selling them at a profit. He lost his initial investment of $9,000, though, after his bitcoin exchange, BuyBitcoins.com, suffered a series of chargebacks from stolen credit cards.

He explained that a combination of lost credit card revenues and chargeback fees led to a loss of his funds.

Rich said:

“For chargebacks, credit card companies charge fees of $25 to $35 in addition to the reversal of the original payment as a deterrent. So I also got hit with a huge number of those $35 fees, which is especially painful on orders of $5 to $10. As my my bank account went into the red, I started getting hit with overdraft fees as well, so it was quite a fiasco.”

Aside from the lost revenues, one of the nasty side effects of chargebacks is that credit card processors keep score. Too many chargebacks raises flags against your account. Eventually, his account was terminated, and Rich was added to a blacklist.

“I didn't really know anything about credit card processing back then, and didn't understand how reversible those payments are,” he admitted.

To make matters worse, he explained that the credit card processor hadn’t deposited the original $9,000 into his account in the first place, due to an administrative error. That didn’t stop them withdrawing $7,000 in chargeback transactions and fees, though, putting him in deficit and incurring even more charges in the form of overdraft fees.

It took him a year to sort it out and limp away with some money. In the interim, he had closed the exchange down while he figured out a way to handle credit cards more effectively.

In 2012, Rich reopened the site, this time with identity verification features, including options for users to upload a scan of their driver's license, to log in with their Facebook account, and to be geolocated using HTML5 in the browser (which he claimed is far better than geolocation by IP address).

Successful completion of all these tasks contributed to a trust score, which would help to decide whether a user’s order was processed or not.

At this point, Rich was using a different credit card processor.

He said:

“Those identity verification requirements helped me to do much better, and I reached about $45,000 in sales in the month of May 2013. However, about $4,500 of those were charged back, resulting in the termination of that account.”

The chargeback minefield

Clearly, credit card processing for merchants is harder than it looks. The rewards are ease and convenience, though, and depending on the customer demographic, are simply too tempting for some exchanges to resist.

CEX.io will happily take your credit card payments in exchange for bitcoin, confirms CIO Jeffrey Smith.

“Credit card transactions are the fastest and most popular mean of payment. In order to go mainstream, an exchange has to have a credit or debit card deposit/withdraw option, among other payment methods,” he said.

The processing fees for credit cards makes them financially suitable for transactions up to $1,000, Smith indicated. After that, other mechanisms may be preferable. Wire bank transfers are good for larger amounts, but the process may take up to 10 days, he said, making it less than ideal for shorter-term investments.

Smith claims that the firm has lost no money at all on chargebacks. “We avoid chargebacks by working only with the credit or debit card providers who use 3D Secure. This layer of security enables us to reduce risks of chargebacks,” he explained.

3D Secure, which readers may know as ‘ erified by Visa' or MasterCard SecureCode, requires a form of identification by the issuer, in addition to the merchant.

Alternative methods

Others are less trusting. One exchange CEO, who preferred not to be named, said that his demographic made it acceptable not to accept credit cards.

“When you’re dealing solely with SWIFT wire transfers, as we do right now, one of the biggest benefits is that they’re irreversible. Fraud isn’t one of our worries. Something like that is more attractive to a more B2B business-focused exchange like us.”

Burned by his credit card experiences, Rich now has another method of taking payments for bitcoin: PayPal. Customers paying via that service are now sent ‘bitcoin gift cards’, which are effectively paper wallets that he sends out by mail.

He said:

“I left the identity verification features in, but made them less important, since security lies mainly in physical delivery of the cards. I have been accepting an average of around $3,000 in sales per month, and have not lost any money to chargebacks yet. However, I refund quite a few payments that either look suspicious or are delivered to an address where they are never redeemed.”

Rich delivers the service, started in August 2014, through his BitcoinGiftCard.org site. The PayPal service costs about 4% in fees, which is "irritating", he said, as it’s higher than those asked by the credit card companies.

Passing on the risk

Another site, Brawker, has an ingenious solution for avoiding chargeback fraud: let conventional ecommerce players deal with it. Cyril Houri, who founded the site a few months ago, explained that it matches people wanting to buy bitcoin with those wanting to spend their bitcoin through non-bitcoin merchants online (see CoinDesk's review of the service here).

If Bob wants to buy a $200 DVD player from Amazon, but wants to pay for it in bitcoin, then he can publish that fact on Brawker. If Alice wants to buy $200-worth of bitcoin, she can bid for that order. If her bid is accepted, she then buys the goods in fiat currency, giving Bob’s address. Bob then sends the bitcoin to Alice after she sends him proof of purchase.

It’s effectively an exchange order book built atop online sales of other products.

The upside of this model is that the ecommerce provider handles any chargeback issues. If Alice decides to declare a chargeback on the DVD player, that’ll be Amazon’s problem (or Best Buy’s, or John Lewis’s, or whichever merchant is being used).

Houri’s company doesn’t even have a credit card merchant account. It has a bank account to pay expenses, but that’s it.

“You have the benefit of using the ecommerce infrastructure,” he said, arguing that the delivery of physical goods via ecommerce is often faster online than sending money via traditional methods. “Being able to piggyback on that makes it as convenient as possible.”

There is some inconvenience, though. Alice can only buy bitcoins in the quantity that Bob – or anyone else on the other side of the order book – wants to spend them. That makes it hard to buy exactly the number of bitcoins that she wants.

Houri said:

“With traditional exchanges, the commodity at the other end is fungible. In our case the commodity is a physical good. It’s someone who wanted to buy a hat, and in the other end it’s someone that is prepared to buy that hat’s value in bitcoin.”

Even Brawker is exploring stronger client verification, though. After all, any form of taking Internet payments is an exercise in risk. The more than you can decrease the risk, the better.

Credit cards may have their advantages when it comes to bitcoin purchases, but they also have their drawbacks. What’s interesting is how entrepreneurs try to route their way around them. On the Internet, it’s innovation that abhors a vacuum.


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评论

  • AgentZero在 2015/02/05 22:59回复

    我还是先把英文版看一遍吧

    • M
      MorlinP在 2015/02/06 11:39回复

      @AgentZero: 抓住野生六七两一只……汉语版的较之于英文原版可能有一些表述上的差异,但是差别不会太大。又不是严谨的学术论文,没必要一定要看原版。

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