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May 03, 2003

Debit card deal may be no boon for consumers

Arik Hesseldahl in Forbes reports on the $3 billion settlements announced earlier this week in the debit card/retailer litigation.
"One of the predictions from this settlement has been that there will be lower costs for consumers," Paur says. "Such reports of consumer savings may be delusional. I think it's very possible that many institutions are likely to impose new fees associated with the cards either in the form of an annual fee or some other transaction fee. If the merchant savings aren't passed on, we could wind up with a situation where consumers are actually paying more than they did before."

NCR claims patent on signature capture

In early April, NCR announced it had received a patent on electronic signature capture technology.
U.S. Patent No. 6,539,363, "Write Input Transaction Apparatus and Method," encompasses the concept of a digitizer which is adapted to receive and electronically capture a customer‚s signature in the course of a transaction, allowing the captured signature to be electronically stored along with information pertaining to the transaction. With such a device, the retailer no longer has to store and maintain a paper record of the transaction. "We‚re pleased that the U.S. Patent Office has confirmed NCR as the original inventor of electronic signature capture, a technology that is a significant part of our daily lives," said Pete Bartolotta, vice president, Point-of-Service Solutions, for NCR. "In addition to helping busy consumers complete their transactions more quickly, electronic signature capture terminals provide significant savings to businesses."

Associated Bank adopts 'voice print' technology

An article in the Milwaukee Business Journal reports on Associated Bank adopting voice print authentication for use with its customers. They're using technology from Authentify to implement the service.

A Smart Card Day in Paris

Susannah Patton writes about a typical French consumer's day -- and associated smart card interactions.
The following is a look at how smart cards pervade a Parisian's life, using a fictional character named Isabelle who works as a computer programmer in the modern suburb known as La Defense and lives with her husband, 3-year-old daughter and seven smart card applications.
Aren't they wonderful?

iPayment IPO upcoming next week

CBS MarketWatch reports on the upcoming initial public offering by iPayment.

Western Union cranks up branding effort

According to a press release, Western Union is launching a new global branding and advertising campaign.
At the heart of the campaign is Western Union's new tagline, "Uniting People with Possibilities." The launch of the new global advertising campaign is a symbolic first step in a worldwide initiative to increase awareness and expand Western Union's brand equity beyond that of a money transfer leader.

Forbes: Visa's Porn Crackdown

Seth Lubove reports on the effects of some recent association rule changes on some merchant processors including InterCept who acquired iBill (Internet Billing Co.) last year.
InterCept's stock collapsed to a recent $4 from as high as $34 last year, after the revelation that iBill lost as much as 20% of its processing business due to the new Visa rules driving away porn sites. Insult to injury, MasterCard recently declared that iBill was in "noncompliance" with the credit-card association's chargeback rules, resulting in an assessment of almost $6 million.

May 02, 2003

PayPal Developers Conference

PayPal is holding a Developers Conference next Thursday and Friday in San Francisco.

April 30, 2003

New York Times: Visa USA to pay retailers $2 billion and cut fees

Jennifer Bayot reports tonight in the New York Times on Visa USA's settlement of the class action lawsuit brought by retailers concerning Visa debit cards.
Under the outline of the settlement, Visa will pay $2 billion to retailers and will reduce the fees it charges merchants on some debit card purchases, according to a person close to the retailers' legal team. MasterCard, under its settlement, agreed to pay $1 billion and also agreed to cut its fees, according to the person close to the retailers. Both will pay $25 million of the settlements immediately.
The Wall St. Journal is also covering this story tonight. Visa USA's press release is available online.
"As it has in the past, the 'Honor All Cards' policy remains a core principle of the Visa payment system. By agreeing to modify the policy, Visa preserves the essential benefits and features that our system has provided to consumers and merchants for more than 35 years. With this business dispute behind us, Visa will redouble our efforts to innovate on behalf of cardholders and merchants and to vigorously compete in the marketplace. "Beginning January 2004, merchants will decide whether they want to continue to accept Visa's popular debit products. Just as it is clear today with the familiar Visa blue, white and gold logo, it will be clear in the future to consumers where they can use their Visa cards. We are confident merchants will continue to accept the popular debit card providing customers with the widest array of payment options, and we are pleased that our cardholders will continue to enjoy all the benefits and features Visa cards offer. "This agreement allows Visa to do all it can to preserve consumer choice at the checkout counter, while minimizing confusion. "Visa will now do what it does best: lead the market in developing the products and services that consumers, merchants and Member banks value. Today, more than 60 percent of U.S. consumer payments are made with cash or checks, and Visa is focused on competing vigorously to capture an even greater share of the $4.8 trillion in annual spending that now goes to cash and checks. "Visa remains the market leader in debit with more than 120 million Visa check cardholders making more than 25 million transactions a day in more than 5 million locations in the U.S."
Also tonight, counsel for the merchants in this case released their own press release announcing a press conference to be held tomorrow morning at 10 AM EDT.
"MasterCard and Visa have now agreed to settle the case with the merchants," said Lloyd Constantine of the New York firm Constantine & Partners. "The world of debit is about to change for the better, for merchants and for consumers. Five million merchants will now get relief from excess fees that were forced down their throats by MasterCard and Visa. Competition will be restored to the debit card market and off-line signature debit transaction fees will drop. Consumers will continue to have the choice to use debit cards that are competitively priced. Billions of dollars in excess costs to merchants will be eliminated during the coming years and that should mean lower prices for consumers."

April 28, 2003

WSJ: Retailers win $1 Billion accord through MasterCard settlement

Jathon Sapsford and Kara Scannell report in the Wall St. Journal on MasterCard's settlement of the merchant's debit card lawsuit.
While terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, people familiar with the matter confirmed that it involved damages of about $1 billion. It isn't clear whether the settlement will be paid completely in cash. It also leaves Visa, the other large credit-card brand jointly owned by member banks, alone to face the retailers at trial in New York federal court.

AP: MasterCard settles debit card suit

The Associated Press reported this morning that MasterCard has agreed to a last minute settlement with retailers in the debit card lawsuit scheduled to go to trial this morning.
The surprise announcement by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson left Visa USA as the only remaining defendant in the closely watched lawsuit. Gleeson gave no details of what he called the "11th-hour settlement," saying only: "The case is settled as to MasterCard." He ordered MasterCard, as well as Wal-Mart and other plaintiffs in the suit not to speak publicly about the settlement. "I don't want this jury pool tainted by that," the judge said, before he began questioning potential jurors for what was left of the suit. Opening arguments were expected later Monday in Brooklyn federal court.

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