Visa Shortens Maximum Length for Names – What Does the Trend Mean to Our Network?

ATTENTION ONLINE AND SELF-PROCESSING CREDIT UNIONS: An announcement was recently sent to clients using Jack Henry Associates (JHA) for their debit/credit card processing regarding Visa and MasterCard and their plans to shorten their cardholder name fields. But the writing is probably on the wall for your vendors too. As explained, we’re designing a technique to trim names to fit within the new Visa maximum of 21 characters. Stay tuned for more details coming next spring.

This project brings up a larger issue about your membership data. Over the years we’ve received dozens of Idea Forms asking us to expand CU*BASE fields for things like member first name, last name, and street address. But what if the rest of the world starts moving in the opposite direction? Visa now allows only 21 characters embossed on cards – and you thought 30 characters was too short! So how do we reconcile these two trends?

With the ink barely dry on FEP, we’ve already launched the design phase of our next major file expansion, dubbed “M-Up.” In the simplest terms, where FEP was about accounts, M-Up is about people. Where FEP was about balances and transactions, M-Up is about what we know about members and managing their relationships with the credit union.

So our design will need to balance the concerns of credit unions that don’t want to be embarrassed when they communicate with their members against the boundaries placed on us by the rest of the world.

For now our plan is to expand names and other fields but restrict the places where the full-length data would be used. So if member names appear in, say, 500 places now, perhaps 5% or 10% of those might be updated to show the full-length name. The remaining hundreds of reports, screens, forms, and yes, even some correspondence might need to stay within boundaries that might be outside of our control.

To learn more about our design work for the M-Up project, keep an eye on the Kitchen starting in 2015.