If nothing else, the whole wikileaks-drivel story illustrates how many questionable characters get a hold of your credit card number -- and who knows what else -- when you "buy" over the Internet. According to The Canadian Press/Associated Press, an Icelandic company called Datacell plans to sue Mastercard (MA) and Visa (V) because they are no longer letting you charge a donation to wikileaks.org. Datacell got its cease and desist from a Danish company called Teller.
Who are these guys? According to their web sites, Datacell is a subsidiary of an Icelandic cell phone company that operates in Iceland and Switzerland. Datacell itself is a hosting company whose claim to fame before it jumped on the wikileaks bandwagon was "clean, green IT" because its datacenter in Iceland ran with power from a hot spring or some such blah blah blah. Apparently if you donate to wikileaks, the good guys at Datacell take a cut off the top, hence Mastercard and Visa are "hurting" Datacell "in high figures." (Sorry about that. Something must have got lost in the translation from Icelandic to English.) What a threat!
Teller is now called Nets, but I guess no one told the Icelanders. According to a September 2010 press release Nets is
"a new payment group, ... the result of a merger between Norwegian Nordito AS and Teller. Nordito AS, the parent company of BBS and Teller, the holding company of the Danish entity, PBS, are united within payment cards, payment solutions and the exchange of payment information through Nets."
Apparently Teller is a subcontractor to Visa and/or Mastercard and/or both. According to the CP/AP story, someone from Teller is going to Iceland to do "due diligence." What the due diligence is about is unclear but talk about drawing the short straw... a week in Iceland in December.
So long before your debit gets into the Oracle (ORCL) or SAP or Lawson (LAWS) or Infor ERP software at your ecommerce supplier, if you use a financial services firm such as Visa and/or Mastercard to pay for your online purchase, you might really be using those guys in Iceland and Switzerland... the ones out there standing on the glacier by the volcano.
(As an aside, I think "Paul Murphy" of zdNET is on to something with his conjecture on the physical security aspects of the wikileaks-drivel story. Match his analysis of IBM zOS and Oracle/Sun Solaris security features up with some of the spy-thriller theorists that are blogging and you begin to believe the idea that this particular wikileaks leak was all orchestrated by U.S. intelligence to officially out the Saudi position on Iran, China's support of North Korea selling nuclear material, Gordon Brown's personality quirks, and so forth. As noted in my earlier blog post, the wikileaks appear to be all old news. I have yet to see anything that is really new in what I've read of the millions of pages now "leaked.")
-- Dennis Byron
(no financial interest in companies mentioned).