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August 29, 2003

Visa POS Check Service

Lin Fellerman writes in the Green Sheet about Visa's POS Check Service.

August 28, 2003

US Bank slashes debit card reward

Kathy Chu reports on US Bank's move to pare back its offline Visa debit card reward program.
Pat Wesner, an executive vice president at U.S. Bank, the nation's fifth-largest Visa debit issuer, said the reason for the move is twofold. The shift in the "underlying revenue opportunity" to the bank as a result of the recent settlement between credit-card companies and merchants is partly driving this, she said. Increased costs related to "tracking and monitoring" customers who switch among the bank's four debit-rewards programs are also a factor, she said.

Wachovia selects Visa USA and NYCE

Wachovia announced today that it has selected Visa DPS to handle its offline debit card processing and NYCE to handle its ATM volume.
"Customer convenience and shareholder value were the main criteria in making our network decisions," McGee said. "We believe the choice of Visa, Interlink and NYCE will help Wachovia develop an integrated strategy for ATM and debit transactions that, over time, will result in a win-win-win for customers, merchants and our company."

Effective management of payments

Edgar Dunn's Bob White and Nick Kennett discuss the global trends in payments and how they might affect a financial institution's strategies for managing payments.

August 21, 2003

Tampa unplugs biometric facial recognition software

Thomas Krause reports in The Tampa Tribune on the city police department's decision to eliminate its high profile use of facial recognition software.
The Tampa Police Department has eliminated the facial-recognition software hooked up to cameras scanning crowds in Ybor City - after two years, zero arrests and zero positive identifications.

MasterCard's plan for growth

Eileen Alt Powell of the Associated Press interviews Ruth Ann Marshall, president of MasterCard International's North American division.
Q. MasterCard is No. 1 in credit cards, but still No. 2 in overall transactions to Visa. What are you doing to increase market share? A. Our share is growing overall at the expense of all the competitors in this space. Our goal is to become the global payments leader. I look at it like the three legs of a stool: First, working with the banks, we want to be -- and I believe we are today -- the best business partner, the most flexible business partner that thinks in terms of solutions to enhance the profitability of that bank. Second, we work with key merchants in key categories to put together preference campaigns, where they will pull or prompt from MasterCard over other forms of payments. ... The third leg of the stool is the consumers, and that's the `priceless' part.

August 16, 2003

Counterfeit card gangs on the rise

Melbourne's The Age reports on the rise in card counterfeiting in Australia.
Criminal gangs bugging automatic teller machines and counterfeiting credit cards are ripping off more than $300 million a year from the Australian public - and the grab is growing, crime experts say.

August 14, 2003

California Financial Privacy Update

Christian Berthelsen reports this morning on possible agreement between financial industry and consumer interests regarding financial privacy legislation pending in California.
Consumer advocates and sources in the financial services industry said Wednesday they had struck a deal that could pave the way for passage of a landmark financial privacy bill as early as Monday. Lawmakers will be under the gun. The proposed initiative has qualified to appear on the March 2004 ballot, but proponents must decide by Tuesday whether to withdraw the measure.
Use this Google News Search to keep up to the minute on news related to this topic.

August 12, 2003

Global Payments enters money transfer business via acquisition

Merchant payment processor Global Payments announced this morning that it is entering the consumer money transfer business via the acquisition of DolEx Money Express, the fourth largest money transfer player in the U.S. to Latin America corridor. Global Payments is paying $200 MM to acquire this business which last year had revenues of about $70 MM.
"This expansion of our payment processing model is consistent with our strategy to acquire companies in profitable, high growth sectors of the payments industry that have strong competitive advantages, revenue growth and earnings accretion," said Paul R. Garcia, chairman, president and CEO of Global Payments. "I welcome a seasoned and talented DolEx management team, who are dedicated to the long-term success of their company. This transaction will unite the expertise and strengths of two great organizations," continued Garcia.

Yodlee takes on Checkfree with new approach to bill management

This morning Yodlee announced BillDirect, a new service that combines its bill presentment capabilities with biller direct bill payment.
"When customers can quickly see and pay all their bills on their bank's website, online banking will become much more useful - and popular. But right now, not enough bills are available in one place and the services are generally too costly," said Bill Harris, former CEO of Intuit and Yodlee Board Member. "Yodlee's revolutionary new approach to bill presentment promises to change all that. It's just what the online banking industry needs for continued growth and better retention."

August 11, 2003

Visa USA Pursues Direct Connectivity to Merchants

Visa USA announced this morning that it has established a new department headed by Paul Musser intended to facilitate direct merchant connectivity to VisaNet.
"Merchants are constantly looking for affordable ways to improve their customers' buying experience at the point of sale," says Musser. "Direct Exchange enables merchants to securely and reliably increase throughput at the checkout counter using a direct connection to VisaNet. It can also decrease operating costs for merchants by improving processing efficiencies."

Web services benefit Wells Fargo

Tom Smith reports on Wells Fargo's implementation of WebMethods Integration Platform for its commercial banking Payment Manager services.

Bankers can't jump

Katherine Burger compares today with her earlier involvement with the banking industry over ten years ago.
That leaves culture, which remains by far the biggest obstacle to the ability to sell, much less cross-sell, financial products and services in banking organizations. ... It remains to be seen whether the statement "Bankers can't sell" is an immutable fact of life or a concept whose time has not yet come.

August 08, 2003

The Value in Stored Value

Lauri Geisen has an excellent article on stored value cards in the current issue of Banking Strategies magazine.
There are several ways that banks can make money from stored-value cards. With the consumer cards, there is first the upfront fee, typically a couple of dollars per card above the value retained. Then, with re-loadable cards, there is usually a flat fee charged each time the card is loaded. Additionally, card issuers receive interchange fees when a card is used to make a purchase.

August 06, 2003

Risk management principles for electronic banking

The Bank for International Settlements has published a new guide (PDF) for bankers in managing the risks associated with electronic banking activities.
Based on these conclusions, the Committee considers that while existing risk management principles remain applicable to e-banking activities, such principles must be tailored, adapted and, in some cases, expanded to address the specific risk management challenges created by the characteristics of e-banking activities. To this end, the Committee believes that it is incumbent upon the Boards of Directors and banks' senior management to take steps to ensure that their institutions have reviewed and modified where necessary their existing risk management policies and processes to cover their current or planned e-banking activities. The Committee also believes that the integration of e-banking applications with legacy systems implies an integrated risk management approach for all banking activities of a banking institution.
Interesting. I'm trying to recall approximately when the first online banking activities began in the United States. Prior to the Internet, there were proprietary dial-up based packages offered by several of the major banks. After Netscape launched its browser and server products, banks like Wells Fargo launched their online banking services. Seems like that must have been in the '96-'97 timeframe, about six years ago. Regulators eventually catch up with technology's evolution -- this BIS recommendation to board members and senior bank management being an excellent example.

NACHA to test model for universal electronic bill distribution

NACHA announced this morning that it will conduct a pilot of the Electronic Billing Information Delivery Service (EBIDS).
Under the EBIDS model, a billing company would originate a zero-dollar ACH transaction that contains a summary of a consumer's billing information in an attached addenda record, and enter the transaction into the ACH Network through its corporate bank. The consumer's financial institution would receive the transaction via the ACH Network, and present the billing information at its Internet banking web site. The consumer would enter the Internet banking web site, using the financial institution's existing logon procedure, and view the bill and authorize payment. The consumer's financial institution would then send an ACH credit back to the biller's bank, along with remittance information.
The Western Payments Alliance is hosting a teleseminar on EBIDS on September 4th.

August 05, 2003

Encryption mandate puts strain on financial IT

Lucas Mearian and Patrick Thibodeau report in this week's ComputerWorld on the costs the financial industry is going to have to bear as a result of mandates to upgrade the existing encryption infrastructure to triple-DES compliance.
Led by Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard, the major electronic funds companies began seeking an industry conversion to Triple DES several years ago. But with the deadlines looming, banks and retailers are only beginning to deal with the costly conversion, and they're now calling for deadline extensions. Many of the nation's 360,000 ATMs will have to be replaced to comply, as will some back-end systems. Many applications will have to be rewritten to handle Triple DES.
A Bay Area-based company, iS3, is addressing this market opportunity head on with their Secure OMS product suite designed to assist financial institutions in managing the complex environment of key distribution/update in a 3DES world. They also recently announced a strategic partnership relationship with Visa International.

Constantine and Partners updates merchant settlement information

Constantine and Partners, the law firm representing merchants in the Visa Check / MasterCard MasterMoney litigation, has updated some information about the merchant settlement including the implementation last Friday of reduced interchange fees on Visa and MasterCard signature debit transactions.

Bev Wells named President, CEO of Vital Processing Services

Vital Processing Services, a joint venture of TSYS and Visa USA, announced today that formed Wachovia card executive Beverly Wells has been named president and CEO replacing Jonathan Palmer.
Wells, who has extensive financial and payments-related experience, retired from Wachovia Corporation in 2002 after 26 years of service. Most recently, she served as executive vice president for Wachovia's Retail Division including bankcard services and the acquiring business from the outsourced processing relationship as well as the acquirer back-office support function. In addition, Wells led Wachovia's $7.8 billion dollar credit card operation.

Wendy's to accept credit, debit cards

The Columbus Business Journal reports on Wendy's plan to accept credit and debit cards at 3,000 of its restaurants by November.
Wendy's began experimenting with its EPay system last November at 10 restaurants in Central Ohio. The test was broadened to Seattle, Raleigh, N.C., Boston and Charleston, W.Va., and now about 1,000 Wendy's restaurants take the cards. The trial indicated that letting consumers use their cards at Wendy's makes sense financially and operationally for the Dublin-based company, said Bob Bertini, a spokesman for the hamburger chain.

August 04, 2003

At Starbucks, the future is in plastic

Rob Howe reports in Business 2.0 (subscription required) on Starbucks' success with its gift card program.
"We ask ourselves, As we get big, how do we stay small?" says Anne Saunders, a company vice president and head of Starbucks Interactive, the group that manages the card and the chain's wireless hotspot network. "Our baristas know the customers. The card allows the company to finally know them."

Retailer Cards in the UK

The UK Parliament's Treasury Select Committee explores the profitability of UK retailer store cards. The discussion kicks off with a basic question:
Q410 Chairman: Okay. Why should a well-informed consumer be advised to use one of your store cards charging interest of up to 30 per cent?
More than you ever wanted to know? I was prompted to uncover this interesting bit of testimony by an article in the Economist (subscription required) on payment card fraud losses in the UK. Turns out there were two other transcripts also available on the Committee's list of recent of "uncorrected evidence". Some fascinating reading here for folks like me who enjoy studying payment systems!


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