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« December 29, 2002 - January 4, 2003 | Main | January 12, 2003 - January 18, 2003 »

January 11, 2003

Sify: Sam Pitroda to develop e-money for India

WorldTel Chief Sam Pitroda today said he will soon help enable Indians to use their mobile sim-cards as credit cards. In an informal chat with Minister of State for communication and IT, Sumitra Mahajan, the WorldTel chief said the various MTNL and BSNL outlets can be used as hubs for the total financial activities.

January 10, 2003

Kansas City Star: MasterCard relocating back-up processing center from New York to KC

Kevin Collison reports on MasterCard's move of its backup processing center from New York to Kansas City.
Artie Ahrens, senior vice president of computer and network services for MasterCard, said the facility will serve as a backup for the company's main processing center in St. Louis. "What we've always been concerned about was the distance from St. Louis to the Long Island backup site," Ahrens said. "The Sept. 11 event showed us if we had to get there, it would have been difficult." MasterCard officials decided they wanted to build a new backup center within a four- to six-hour drive of St. Louis.

Washington Post: Credit card firms face tighter rules

Albert Crenshaw reports on tighter standards issued by Federal banking regulators on Wednesday including new guidelines on minimum payments.
"We saw slippage in banking practice," and the new standards are meant to "kind of pull it back into more the middle of the road," said Barbara Grunkemeyer, acting deputy comptroller of the currency for credit risk.
The press release and guidelines document are available on the Federal Reserve web site.

January 09, 2003

Visa, MasterCard join forces in Wal-Mart suit

Philip Klein reports on the class action antitrust lawsuit brought by Wal-Mart and other retailers.
A New York judge on Friday will hear summary judgment arguments in a class-action antitrust suit brought by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and 4 million other retailers. The suit argues that the credit card companies leveraged their market power to promote their own systems in the growing debit card market, charging higher fees that were passed on to consumers.

InterCept updates financial guidance

Due to problems in its iBill merchant processing division, InterCept announced that its 2002 earnings per share will come in below earlier expectations and also withdrew previously issued guidance for 2003.
Reduced revenues in our merchant area resulted primarily from the iBill operations, which experienced a large loss of merchant customers following the implementation of a new credit card association rule in mid- November. A number of iBill's web merchants declined to pay a registration fee mandated by the new rule, resulting not only in reduced revenues from our portion of the registration fee but also lost transaction processing fees from the departed merchants. Moreover, iBill incurred costs to transfer its transaction processing from our subsidiary, EPX, to a third party processor.

Concord EFS to acquire Credit Union 24 Network

Concord EFS announced today that it had signed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire the Credit Union 24 Network.
"The Credit Union 24(R) Network is a strong franchise that has grown by focusing on meeting the unique needs of credit unions," said Edward A. Labry III, Concord president and CEO-elect. "We believe that the combination of Concord's processing engine and STAR's national connectivity with the Credit Union 24(R) Network's strong brand and segment expertise will create a powerful platform for a dedicated credit union network."

January 08, 2003

CNET: RFID rolls in retail

CNET reports that Gilette, Procter & Gamble, Wal-Mart and Tesco are planning to install "smart shelves" that enable inventory management by reading RFID tags of items on the shelves.
While the technology has appeared in other applications, such as cattle tracking, the tests appear to be the first by major retailers on such a large scale. If they prove successful at cutting costs, the trials could spur further adoption of the fledging technology, which has raised privacy concerns. Wal-Mart plans to carefully examine the technology's potential to help it become more efficient while keeping shelves well-stocked.
Gillette also announced earlier this week that it plans to purchase 500 million RFID tags to embed in its product packaging.

January 07, 2003

Financial Times: Wal-Mart to offer financial services

Neil Buckley reports on Wal-Mart's plans to provide financial services.
"I think financial services is an opportunity," Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's chief executive, said. "I'd like to do it more along the Wal-Mart way than other people's. "Rather than pricing off the market and [saying] if the market's at a 70 per cent margin, we could be at 50 per cent and make a lot of money and still be cheaper, I'd rather say, what is a fair return on doing that?"

January 06, 2003

New York Times: The Internet is a place for gifts

Bob Tedeschi reports in this morning's New York Times that "the Internet continues to be more of a gift-buying medium than an everyday shopping vehicle." Among other things, the selection of goods available is so much better.
While the idea that the Internet offers greater selection than offline stores seems self-evident by now, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor of management at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been able to quantify the phenomenon. For example, Professor Brynjolfsson said the number of book titles available at Amazon.com was more than 23 times greater than the number at a typical Barnes & Noble superstore, and 57 times greater than the number of books available at a typical independent bookstore.
It's not just that -- I did all my shopping on Amazon this season after spending an afternoon trying to park and shop at one of the huge local malls two weeks before Christmas. What a disaster that was.

Oakland (MI) Press: Debit or Credit?

Marsha Stopa reports on the debit vs. credit card at POS debate.
"The whole thing is very disturbing because Visa and MasterCard are owned by banks," said Scott Horsburgh, chief investment officer with investment manager Seger-Elvekrog Inc. in Bloomfield Hills. Horsburgh's stock research specialty for many years has been the electronic payments industry. "Consumers would settle this in a second if they knew all the facts. The consumer is the one who pays or gives up rights," Horsburgh said. "Let people make their own decision. This is a consumer issue and the consumer doesn't know that."

Slashdot: A viable system for micropayments

The topic of micropayments springs up again on Slashdot. Separately, Reuters reports on survey conducted by Jupiter Research that said Internet users' reluctance to pay for online content, ranging from music downloads to news articles, dropped from 47% in 2001 to 41% last year. Not exactly what I'd call an upsurge in interest!

Charter One Bank - FYI Alerts for Totally eChecking

Cleveland-based Charter One Bank has one of the most comprehensive alert services that I've seen. Check it out using the link in the right sidebar on this page.

Consumers spent $13.7 billion online during holiday season

According to the eSpending Report from Goldman Sachs, Harris Interactive, and Nielsen/NetRatings, online spending during the eight week period from November 2 to December 27 jumped more than 24 percent year-over-year to $13.7 billion, up from $11 billion spent in 2001. Including travel, online spending grew nearly 22 percent to $15.7 billion.
The top two fastest growing categories for the season were toys and video games and consumer electronics, with shoppers increasing spending for both categories by more than 72 percent. With nearly $2 billion in sales, consumer electronics claimed the No. 4 ranking among shopping categories, while toys and games posted online spending of more than $1.8 billion.
Playing with the numbers, this survey estimated $3.1 billion in book sales during this eight week period. If I'm doing the math correctly (assuming an average book costs $25), that's on average about 25.7 books being sold every second during that eight week period. Earlier, Amazon reported that on its peak day (December 9th) it processed orders for 20 items/second (all items, not just books).

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