On Thursday and Friday of last week, the credit card processing system for American Express - which handles the Westfield gift cards - got so overloaded that processings were delayed, Putman said. The Westfield cards are valid at any Westfield mall store that accepts American Express. The system should work better in the coming days, he said.Separately, here's another gift card story from the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The largest sales day occurred on Monday, December 9, with 1.7 million units ordered, or 20 items per second worldwide. The second largest sales day, with 1.6 million units ordered, occurred on Wednesday, December 11, just a day before the holiday ordering deadline for Free Super Saver Shipping on Thursday, December 12.
The idea that even Wal-Mart, the biggest success story in retailing in recent years, was struggling was taken as a sign of wider problems. "This confirms our previous thoughts that holiday sales could be the worst in a decade," Deborah Weinswig, a retail analyst for Salomon Smith Barney, wrote in a note to investors after the Wal-Mart announcement.Separately, a study released today by ForeSee Results shows that although more than half of online holiday shoppers were highly satisfied with their online experience this year, the still nascent e-retail industry earned an overall score of 69 out of a possible 100 points (or a grade of "C"), a strong message from consumers that retailers need to do more to keep them coming back.
Banks make four times as much money with signature-based credit purchases, according to some reports. Retailers prefer the debit PIN purchases because they are less costly for them. In essence, merchants pay as much as 3 percent of the total transaction amount on a signature-based purchase, while they are charged no more than 25 cents for a PIN-based transaction regardless of the amount.
"Retailers are itching to see what happens with all the gift certificates out there," said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of consumer research firm America's Research Group. "There are literally billions of dollars at stake." Just how many billions is unclear. Many retailers declined to discuss numbers. But consulting firm Bain & Co. estimates that sales of gift cards could hit a record $38 billion for the year, up 15 to 20 percent from 2001.
MasterCard says it has made a major breakthrough in the battle against counterfeting of credit cards. Its new technology ˜ dubbed Magneprint ˜ will help tackle global losses of $4 billion annually thanks to counterfeit credit cards.
The Legislature passed the law last year, and it was scheduled to take effect on July 1. Led by the American Bankers Association and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, card issuers sued on May 24. In an order on June 28, Damrell temporarily put enforcement on hold. The statute required two messages be displayed on the first page of a cardholder's statement, unless the issuer required a minimum payment of at least 10 percent of the balance or did not impose finance charges. The first message would have warned that minimum payments increase interest and the time it takes to retire a debt. There were two options for a second message. One would have provided examples for three balance amounts at the interest rate and minimum payment applicable to the account. Additionally, a toll-free number would have been listed for cardholders wanting more personalized information. The second option was to provide the cardholder with written, "customized" information regarding interest and duration of debt. Along with that would have been a referral to a credit counseling service or the number for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Florida and Florida State play out their rivalry on the football field. Ford and General Motors compete for buyers both online and in showrooms across the country. And MasterCard-Visa? Their B vs. B tussle is being played out on the cutting edge of high-tech.
"The problem started a couple of weeks ago, but we've been suffering of late due to the increase in customer volumes," said a visibly annoyed Grant Murie who manages the Santa Ana Spur at the V&A Waterfront. "At peak trading times, the Standard Bank system can't process any transactions. Bank officials said a statement on the matter would be issued later on Tuesday.
Alaskans appear to be ahead of the curve when it comes to using online bill payment. Debbie Sakamoto, public relations officer for Key Bank in Portland, Ore., said Alaskans led the national average for bill pay usage by 22 percent.Brrr. Who wants to walk to the mailbox when it's so cold outside?
According to Raj Kushwaha, managing director and CTO of eONE Global, "The planned combination of BillingZone's services and First Data's existing paper document and check handling capabilities would create the most comprehensive offering available to large companies for automating both paper and electronic financial supply chain transactions. First Data is a leader in e-commerce and payment services - its existing infrastructure routes and settles billions of transactions every year." "The BillingZone acquisition brings together the market leading customers and channels of BillingZone with the scale and processing infrastructure of our parent company, First Data," Kushwaha added.
Making this move now positions Washington Mutual to confront such industry issues as:Speaking of WAMU, they're saving the day for Seattle landlords as they've become the biggest corporate user of office space in Seattle.
- escalating unit costs of processing paper checks;
- the shift to electronic transactions such as electronic bill presentation and payment;
- and the impact of the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, pending legislation to enhance the efficiency of the check system by allowing digital images in truncation, which can eliminate the need for a paper trail in check processing.
Clearly, deflation would have significant adverse effects on the banking industry, depending on its severity and duration. Past episodes of asset and goods price deflation often coincided with banking crises, particularly when the banking sector was already in a weakened financial position. Given the current income and balance sheet strength of the U.S. banking industry, short and mild deflation is likely to have a limited adverse impact. However, prolonged deflation would present more serious challenges to the industry by eroding the collateral value of assets and increasing the real debt burden of borrowers. Deflation could also lead to a decline in nominal income for households and businesses, reducing their ability to repay outstanding debts. In combination, these developments likely would lead to significant credit quality deterioration, while an increase in real interest rates would weaken loan demand. Despite these dangers, there are good reasons to think that serious deflation is unlikely to occur in the United States. One reason is a well-capitalized banking sector with relatively low levels of nonperforming loans. Another is the fact that policymakers appear to be alert to the dangers of deflation and determined to take steps to prevent it from taking hold. Finally, it appears that modern financial instruments and risk management tools contribute to the financial flexibility of households and businesses, reducing the potential for a widespread liquidity crisis. One example is the use of credit derivatives by commercial lenders to off-load credit risk. Another is the benefits of loan prepayment options that allow households and businesses to reduce their interest expenses by refinancing at lower interest rates. Together, these factors limit the possibility of a prolonged deflation that could seriously harm the banking industry.
Last year, card issuers mailed out 5.1 billion offers, but consumers responded to only 0.6 percent of the letters. Competition for new customers has intensified as the industry has consolidated; the top five banks hold more than half of the $635 billion in outstanding loans. The competition and lower interest rates also pressure issuers' profit margins, and banks are battling higher credit losses from record bankruptcies. That's where affinity and co-branded credit cards have helped. Such cards are designed to give consumers an incentive beyond low interest rates and fees to get and use new cards. Banks like such programs because consumers who use an affinity or co-branded card spend at least 30 percent more on it than on a regular classic, gold or platinum card. They are also more likely to pay off their bills.
The quick-service industry, which includes restaurants that sell hamburgers, chicken, sandwiches, pizza, doughnuts, ice cream, yogurt, tacos and other prepared food items, reported sales of $113.5 billion in 2001, according to Morgan Keegan & Co, an investment firm in Memphis, Tenn. But only 2.8 percent to 3 percent of quick-service businesses report any card-based transactions, according to a Visa study released last month. That compares with 35 percent to 40 percent card use by consumers in other industries. Credit-card issuers and transaction service operators are pushing fast-food chains to accept plastic because doing so is expected to boost sales to higher levels. Fast-food chains also would have less cash to manage and keep on site, thereby reducing the chance for error and theft, experts said. The Visa study found that consumers spend 30 percent to 50 percent more when they use credit cards rather than cash.
Whatever the final numbers show, no one disagrees that people are now doing significant amounts of holiday shopping online. Mr. Schehr estimated that of the $800 the average Web shopper would spend on holiday purchases this holiday season, $235 would be spent online.
Q. How's business for Internet retailers? A. It's shaping up to be a very strong season for online retail. Back before the season began, we predicted approximately $14 billion in nontravel sales for the fourth quarter, which would give us growth in the order of 30 percent over last season, and we're on a path to hit that.