Laser (debit card)
Laser is the primary
debit cardsystem used in Ireland.
Laser was launched in 1996 and currently has around 2.5 million customers. Seven Irish financial institutions are partners in the Laser card system:
Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, EBS Building Society, First Active, National Irish Bank, Permanent TSBand Ulster Bank. Halifax, on the other hand, issues the Visa Debitcard, and is the only bank to do so in the Republic of Ireland.
Laser is primarily an electronic
point of saledebit card, but can also be used by telephoneand internet. There is no maximum limit on a Chip and Pintransaction, and a EUR 1,500 maximum limit on all other transactions. [ [http://www.lasercard.ie/faq.asp?id=83#q51 Laser Card Services Ltd] ] Laser also offers a "cashback" option similar to many other cards. Laser is the only non-cash payment method accepted by some discount stores in Ireland, including Aldiand Lidl.
Laser cards are not widely acceptable for online purchases made on sites operated outside of Ireland. For example, at present it is still not possible to use Laser with the Irish iTunes Music store (although it can be used to purchase hardware there). Also,
Ryanairdoes not accept Laser payments at all. The reluctance of businesses to accept Laser as a payment medium is due to credit card companies' monopolising of plastic payment methods. The credit card companies have squeezed businesses in order to prevent them accepting Laser as payment for goods. This is potentially detrimental to consumers as they would have to pay higher interest rates for using their credit card to purchase goods (unless they pay the credit card balance at the end of each month). Laser interest rates may be lower than credit card rates.
Since 2005, Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland account holders are receiving co-branded Laser/Maestro card. Since October 2006, Ulster Bank and its sister company First Active, have been issuing Laser cards co-branded with Maestro. These are
Chip and PINcards with both Laser and Maestro functions. Within Ireland, they function primarily as Laser cards, outside they function as Maestro cards, although with patchy acceptance. All other Laser partners are to issue Chip and PINcards, and this will allow them to co-brand with other debit cardbrands.
Laser cards are prefixed with either "6304", "6706", "6771" or "6709", and may be between 16 and 19 characters in length.
List of Irish companies
* [http://www.lasercard.ie Official site]
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