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« December 8, 2002 - December 14, 2002 | Main | December 22, 2002 - December 28, 2002 »

December 21, 2002

News Observer: Simple. Too simple?

Dawn Wotapka reports on Speedpass.
Although radio-frequency identification, or RFID, systems are attractive to retailers looking for ways to track merchandise, provide a quicker transaction and offer new payment methods, they appear to be fizzling with consumers, at least locally. For two years, ExxonMobil's Speedpass, the nation's largest system, and other RFID programs have been available in the Triangle. Analysts say many consumers are unwilling to dangle something else with their keys and uninterested in adopting yet another way to pay -- especially one that doesn't feel secure. At the gas station, it's almost as fast and easy to swipe a credit card at the pump. Plus, not many consumers are even aware that the program exists.

Washington Post: Gift Cards - the perfect gift?

Libby Copeland writes about gift cards.
There's another way of looking at gift cards, though, and that's from the receiver's end: You get what you want. This can't be underestimated. Receiving a gift card can be a delightful relief. It does away with awkward, dishonest thank-yous (Just what I wanted! Tie-dye!), with wonderings (Is this what he thinks of me? Tie-dye?), with yet more picture frames and, God forbid, Christmas pins. The gift card confers freedom from others' assumptions and from their half-hearted, eleventh-hour, anything'll-do mall frenzies.

Business Standard (India): National debit card play to cut payouts to Visa, MasterCard

Banks in India are reportedly considering building their own national debit/ATM network to reduce the fees they pay to Visa and MasterCard.
Essentially this would mean replicating Master Card‚s Maestro and Visa Electron networks in the country by a third-party. The objective is to save on the transaction fee that is paid to these international credit card agencies and remitted outside the country.

Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Debit card crash leaves shoppers holding the bag

Consumers across Canada witnessed a major crash on the electronic funds highway during the shopping rush hour on Thursday. All point-of-sale or debit terminals and automated teller machines in Canada owned by Scotiabank were out of service during the busiest time of year for merchants as people tried to finish their Christmas shopping. Debit cards from Scotiabank weren't working either.

Milwaukee Business Journal: Fiserv beefs up

An interesting article about Fiserv's just closed acquisition of EDS' Consumer Network Services (ATM) business.
The company already provided electronic back-shop and data management support for 13,000 financial institutions and related clients in 60 countries. Prior to the purchase, Fiserv technology drove 5,000 ATMs. With EDS, Fiserv picked up service obligations for another 13,170 machines. Add to that Fiserv's existing point-of-sale and Internet transaction capabilities, and officials expect the company to process some 4 billion transactions annually through 18,170 ATMs and its other technology channels. "That puts us knocking on eFunds' door," said Fiserv spokesman Chuck Doherty. Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., eFunds is the country's second-largest ATM service provider, driving 21,000 machines. The largest service provider, Concord EFS Inc., Memphis, provides service to 56,000 ATMs.

December 19, 2002

Hal Varian: Online sales offer fresh look at economy

Hal Varian writes in this morning's New York Times about the importance of online sales as a source of economic data.
It is much easier to collect online prices than offline prices, and with a little bit of ingenuity, you can even harvest data about costs and sales volume, information that is awfully hard to come by in the real world. The economists Michael R. Baye and Patrick Scholten of Indiana University and John Morgan of the University of California at Berkeley have collected data from online price-comparison sites for over two years. They offer summaries of this information at Take a look, for example, at their measure of "Internet competitiveness," an aggregate statistic of various indicators of how competitive online prices are.

Boston Business Journal: Cell phones to enable vending food purchases

Mark Hollmer reports on HelloTech technologies.

Delaware Online: Buying a gift card? Watch the fine print

Jonathan Epstein reports on the rapidly growing gift card market.
While gift cards fill a need, shoppers who want to avoid unpleasant surprises should be aware of the fine print that accompanies them, especially cards issued by banks. The newer bank cards, still a small segment of the gift card market, levy hidden charges and limitations on use.

December 18, 2002

Globe and Mail: Big retailers bet on bank cards

Marina Strauss reports on how big retailers in Canada are relying heavily on bank cards for their profits.
At Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Co., which runs the Bay and Zellers, most operating profit -- 94 per cent of it -- came from card earnings last year, DBRS figures indicate. That's almost double the 44 per cent of HBC's total operating profit from card earnings in the previous year, DBRS said. Meanwhile, Sears Canada Inc. saw 57.5 per cent of its operating profit come from credit card earnings in 2001, up from 19.9 per cent a year earlier, DBRS said. At Toronto-based Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd., 26.4 per cent of its operating profit came from credit card earnings last year, up from 17.6 per cent in 2000.

West Australian: Credit card slug looming

Gay McNamara reports on the situation in Australia as merchants beginning January 1 are free to surcharge credit card transactions.
The Reserve Bank estimates the service fees on credit cards cost merchants about $1.5 billion a year, which is passed to consumers through higher prices. Small retailers are the hardest hit, paying an average 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent and some paying more than 4 per cent. But they were restricted from passing the cost to customers under credit card scheme rules.

December 15, 2002

Arizona Republic: Hypercom

Russ Wiles reports on Phoenix-based Hypercom.

BBC: A landmark for cyber shopping

The BBC's ecommerce reporter, John Moylan, reports on the 100% growth in online shopping in the UK, outpacing the US.


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