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« December 1, 2002 - December 7, 2002 | Main | December 15, 2002 - December 21, 2002 »

December 14, 2002

Albany Times-Union: Colleges adopting a card for all reasons

Alan Wechsler reports on the University of Albany's deployment of a campus card system.
The smart card revolution is so popular that there's even a National Association of Campus Card Users. The Alabama-based group is holding a four-day conference in March in New Orleans with seminars like "Penn State ID+: What Worked, What Didn't" and "Banks Are Great! But I Wouldn't Want to Marry One ..."

Globe and Mail: How thieves took $2,000 from my bank account

Jane Armstrong writes about a skimming attack on her bank account.
Two weeks ago, I was robbed. Twice. The bandits struck while I was out of the country, visiting the Oregon Coast during American Thanksgiving. The first theft happened on a Friday afternoon, when I would have been climbing around a rock jetty at Rockaway Beach. The thieves got $1,000 in cash. The next day, while I lolled on a deck chair overlooking the Pacific Ocean, they stole another $1,000. They didn't break into my house or steal my purse. They ransacked a savings account using a counterfeit debit card. My own card was safely tucked in my wallet.
Here's another article from Canada on a credit card skimming ring that was recently broken up.

December 13, 2002 MasterCard tests high-tech payments

Alorie Gilbert reports on MasterCard's new PayPass proximity payments card.

Indianapolis Star: New card makes credit a present

Chris O'Malley writes about the surge in interest in gift cards.
"The proliferation of gift cards is tremendous," said Robert G. Markey Jr., vice president of consumer retail financial services at Bain & Co. in New York. Bain estimates that sales of gift cards -- proprietary store cards and Visa/MasterCard versions -- have grown from about $13 billion in 1998 to $38 billion in 2002, and "this may be on the low side," Markey said.

Charlotte Observer: BofA buys stake in Mexican bank

Bank of America is paying $1.6 billion in cash for a 24.9 percent stake of Mexico's third-largest bank, Grupo Financiero Santander Serfin.
U.S. banks have been scrambling to attract the $10 billion money-transfer market between the United States and Latin America, with commissions in excess of $1 billion. Funds being transferred to the region are expected reach $18 billion by 2003, according to a November report by the Pew Hispanic Center. Banks have captured less than 7 percent of the money-transfer market, which is dominated by First Data Corp.'s Western Union.

Contra Costa Times: The gift certificates that give forever

Michael Liedtke reports on the California state law the prohibits expiration dates on most gift certificates in California.
Since 1997, state law has prohibited expiration dates on most gift certificates in California. Still, many merchants keep adding warnings that threaten to wipe out the value if they're not used by a certain date. "Retailers are still out there trying to skin the public," said Myron "Mike" Klarfeld, a San Diego lawyer who helped write California's law against gift card expirations. The alleged violations have spurred a flurry of class-action lawsuits filed by Klarfeld and other lawyers who want the courts to ensure Californians can use gift certificates at their leisure. A lot of money is at stake, with the rise of prepaid debit cards turning gift certificates into increasingly popular items. Shoppers nationwide are expected to spend somewhere between $20 billion and $30 billion on gift certificates this year.

National Post: Can John Hunkin save CIBC?

Keith Kalawsky and Derek DeCloet report on the difficulties being experienced by CIBC.
One statistic illustrates why some investors have lost faith in Mr. Hunkin's executive team. When he became CEO, he set a goal to outperform all other major Canadian banks in total shareholder return. But CIBC has been left in the dust by three of its rivals: Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal. It has shrunk to smallest of the Big Five, with a $16-billion market capitalization.

December 12, 2002 Mondex Taiwan expands card's reach to Hi-Life

Cash is good but a smart card is better, e-wallet advocate Mondex Taiwan said yesterday. Mondex Taiwan, a subsidiary of MasterCard, announced that 600 Hi-Life convenience stores would be accepting its store value card starting next Tuesday. "You can purchase anything from newspapers to pientang (lunchboxes) using our Mondex card," said company spokesman Harrison Hou. "You don't have to worry about loose change and large bills anymore." Mondex's electronic cash program can store value for up to five currencies and is globally inter-operable, said Hou. In Taiwan, cardholders are allowed to store up to NT$10,000 in their e-wallets, he continued.

MasterCard: PayPass utilizes contactless card technology

MasterCard has announced PayPass, a new "contactless" card payment program that provides consumers with "a simpler way to pay." More info available at
MasterCard PayPass is an enhanced payment card that features a hidden embedded computer chip and antennae. A cardholder simply taps or waves his or her MasterCard PayPass card on a specially equipped merchant terminal. The card then transmits payment details wirelessly, eliminating the need for a cardholder to hand over his or her card for a merchant to swipe through a reader. Account details are communicated directly to the special terminals and are then processed through MasterCard's highly trusted acceptance network. Moments after a consumer taps the terminal with his or her PayPass card, they receive payment confirmation and are on their way. MasterCard PayPass is built around globally interoperable standards and relies on the ISO Telecommunications Standard #14443 to transmit Track 2 data via radio frequency. In North America, where the majority of transactions are authorized on-line, the payment application data is based on the magnetic stripe information. The card/terminal interaction is based the MasterCard Proximity Chip - Online Profile, which is a subset of EMV/ISO7816 commands.

December 11, 2002

Australian IT: Iris scans for ATM card security

Caitlin Fitzsimmons reports on the application of iris scan biometric technology to ATM authentication.
VeriSign managing director Gregg Rowley says the security of the personal identification number (PIN) is also questionable. He says banks will move to smart cards over the next few years and biometrics will be the next step after that. "Biometrics - such as a fingerprint scan or iris or retina scan - will replace the PIN," Rowley says. "Most insecure is a magnetic stripe with a PIN, more secure is a smart card with a PIN and even more secure is a smart card with biometrics." Rowley says the iris scan is the best option because people will not want a laser beamed into their eyes for the retina scan, while a fingerprint reader will wear out and become dirty.

Electronic Business: TI's RFID Technology makes wireless watch tick

Mark Long reports on TI's involvement in creating the Timex-built wireless wrist-watches for the ExxonMobil Speedpass Network.
When Speedpass-enabled customers arrive a the McDonald's drive-thru window, they simply order their food from the menu board, drive on to the payment window and wave their RFID-equipped wristwatches or key chains at the Speedpass reader. The reader/antenna then passes that information onto the appropriate value added network to verify the customer's profile and credit information. Upon authentication, the Golden Arches light up to indicate that the tag is read. The system then automatically bills purchases to the credit/check card of the customer's choice, prints a receipt, and the customer is on his way. There are no extra fees when using this method of payment.

El Paso Times: Money transfers to Mexico

Diana Washington Valdez writes about the volume of money transfer from the US to Mexico.
Despite the sluggish U.S. economy, the amount of money Mexican immigrants sent to relatives back home is expected to reach a record $13 billion this year, according to a Pew Hispanic Center and Inter-American Development Bank report. The massive flow of U.S. money to all Latin American countries shows no sign of slowing down and is projected to reach more than $18 billion by the end of 2005.

December 10, 2002

Glenbrook Flash Newsletter

The latest edition of the Glenbrook Flash newsletter is now available on the Glenbrook Partners site. Online subscriptions are also available. Choosing a POS system

John Burtzloff from CardService International shares his recommendations on choosing a point of sale system.

Concord EFS: Selected by McDonald's

Concord EFS has announced that it has been selected by McDonald's to provide card-based payment processing in the US.

December 09, 2002

West Australian: Banks to set up fraud taskforce

The Australian Bankers Association is setting up a task force to address fraud including ATM and credit card skimming.

Seattle Times: Jolly holiday for shoppers buying online

Paul Andrews reports on the surge in online commerce this holiday season.
Shoppers this season are suffering from "Sunday-afternoon fatigue," Davis said. They fight the crowds during the day at the mall and then, once Johnny and Sue are in bed, go online to purchase the items they were too impatient to stand in line for. Then there's the "Monday-morning spike," Davis said. Shoppers come to work with gift lists in hand and take advantage of high-speed connections to do their ordering. These suggest a couple of trends. First, it seems obvious shoppers are using the mall to kick the tires. They still want to see and feel the items they're purchasing, but they don't actually buy at the store. But shoppers don't want to "stand in line" online either. Broadband is an obvious incentive, as the "Monday-morning spike" indicates. What does all this say about the future of retail? One might conclude online may supplant the need for physical outlets.
I can relate completely. We went to one of the local malls on Saturday afternoon. What a mistake that was. I came home and immediately went back to Amazon to pick up a few items! I saw a related story last week in the Wall St. Journal which discussed the potential security risks associated with bomb threats at retail stores (such as Ikea experienced last week in Denmark).
The Sept. 11 attacks put the threat of domestic terrorism on everyone's radar screen. But Wednesday's events highlighted the particular vulnerability of shopping places as so-called soft targets for terrorists. "Retailers are the low-hanging fruit for someone who wants to get themselves into the headlines," said George Wallace, chief executive of Management Horizons Europe Ltd., a retailing consulting firm in London. "These are public places with high numbers of traffic, they're easy to get into, and it's a quick and easy headline."
Any more of that kind of nonsense and shopping online will really surge!


Peppercoin is an "amazing new, low-cost electronic payment system for processing micropayments."
In the summer of 2002, a group of experienced Internet business and technology professionals established the management team of Peppercoin to lead the commercialization efforts of the core Peppercoin technologies and execute the company's business plan. The Company also raised its first round of outside equity financing from an esteemed group of institutional and individual investors. Peppercoin is a privately-held company, based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

December 08, 2002

Salt Lake Tribune: Gift cards convenience for shoppers

Sherri Goodman reports on the success merchants are having with gift cards.
Electronic gift cards and gift certificates are projected to be the third most purchased item by holiday shoppers, according to a November survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF). Clothing ranked No. 1, followed by books, DVDs and compact discs at No. 2 in the nationwide poll of 8,569 consumers. John Bechard, president and chief executive of Salt Lake City-based Gift Check Solutions, agrees -- and has the numbers to back it up. The company, which specialized in gift certificates when it incorporated in 1998, has steadily shifted its focus from paper to plastic over the past two years. In 2000, 95 percent of Gift Check Solutions' business was in certificates and only 5 percent in plastic. In 2001, the business was split evenly between paper and plastic. This year Bechard estimates 90 percent of his clients want gift cards.


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