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March 31, 2004

MasterCard's Jerry McElhatton

Tony Kontzer profiles MasterCard's Jerry McElhatton in Information Week.

March 30, 2004

Credit Card Fees Rising Faster

Ruth Simon reports in the Wall St. Journal on an industry trend towards more aggressive credit card fee increases (subscription required) by US card issuers.

New York City Cabs to Take Cards

Michael Luo reports in the New York Times on a significant fare increase coming for taxi-riding New Yorkers -- along with a plan for all New York City cabs to accept credit and debit cards by November 2005.

Problems with Digital Signatures

Jon Udell examines some issues associated with forging emails with digital signatures. The use of digital signatures on emails from trusted parties has been proposed as an anti-phishing countermeasure.

Visa USA Debit Payment Expectations

Ivan Schneider reports in Bank Systems & Technology that Visa USA expects debit card transactions are going to represent 15 percent of all consumer payments in the US by 2007.

Whither mCommerce?

Kevin Laws shares his perspective on what's happened to mCommerce in the US.
The US carriers have tried to control mobile services and mobile commerce, and all they have succeeded in doing is killing it. The barriers to providing applications are so high that the content is just uninteresting and expensive.

European Banks Sit on Cash

This morning's Wall St. Journal Heard on the Street column (subscription required) reports on the large piles of cash held by major European banks and speculates that many of them will use the cash to make acquisitions.
Although share buybacks and dividend increases are a possibility, many predict a rush of deal-making over the coming year, as banks seek ways to boost earnings and help them compete against larger rivals. This could involve anything from small "bolt-on" acquisitions to bigger and riskier ones, with some banks even contemplating large, cross-border European deals.

MasterCard Files Proxy Statement

MasterCard has filed its annual proxy statement with the SEC. Included in the statement is information about the directors of MasterCard as well as 2003 compensation details for the top five most highly compensated MasterCard executives.

American Express to Issue Cards in China

Jennifer Bayot reports in the New York Times on American Express' plans to issue cards in China.
Unlike previous credit cards issued in China by foreign banks, the American Express and Citibank cards allow payment not only in dollars but also in Chinese currency. That makes the cards viable for ordinary consumers.

More on the story in this press release from American Express.

March 29, 2004

ePSO's Payments and Settlements News

A new edition of Payments and Settlements News has been posted by the ePayments Systems Observatory at the European Central Bank.

Do You Use Autoresponse?

Read Jeremy Wagstaff's post on the perils of autoresponse when you're away from your email -- and you might think twice about whether you want to continue to use it.

Anatomy of a Phishing Trojan

Jeremy Wagstaff blogs about Daniel McNamara's Code Fish site and his analysis of a new phishing trojan.
Phishing emails don't need to be sophisticated to lure the unwary. Indeed, there's some evidence those behind the more convincing looking emails masquerading as bank emails are also behind a spate of key-logging trojans, which use basic methods to fool the recipient into making them active.

Gone Phishing

Kelly Mills reports in The Australian on phishing attacks in Australia.

Credit Card Receipts

Lisa Haarlander reports in the Buffalo News on a recent theft of credit card receipts from a local retailer.

March 28, 2004

Remittances to Latin America Booming

Forbes carries a Reuters story about the record $38 billion in remittances sent home to families last year by Latin American and Caribbean families working abroad.
The average cost of sending 200 dollars from the United States to Latin America was 7.9 percent, the IADB study showed. Ecuador was the cheapest at 5.4 percent and Cuba the most expensive, at 12.1 percent. Even though the cost is half of what it was five years ago, officials say it must be cut more.

March 27, 2004

Bank One a Bigger 'Phish' Target

Mark Skertic reports in the Chicago Tribune on recent phishing attacks against Bank One customers.

March 26, 2004

Generation Debt

Tina Tran reports on on student credit card indebtedness.


Researchers at Stanford University have developed SpoofGuard, a browser-based toolbar to prevent successful phishing attacks.
SpoofGuard is a browser plug in that is compatible with Microsoft Internet Explore. SpoofGuard places a traffic light in your browser toolbar that turns from green to yellow to red as you navigate to a spoof site. If you try to enter sensitive information into a form from a spoof site, SpoofGuard will save your data and warn you. SpoofGuard warnings occur when alarm indicators reach a level that depends on parameters that are set by the user.

A white paper describing SpoofGuard is available for download.

Another Stanford effort is targeted at user tendencies to use a common password across multiple sites. Web Password Hashing provides a client side solution to hashing the user's password with the domain name of the web site to create a unique password specific to that site. A PowerPoint presentation on this technique is available for download.

Healthcare Debit Card Spending Expected to Triple carries a Dow Jones news story on the rapid growth expected this year in spending on prepaid healthcare cards.

Costly Credit Card Tricks

Stephanie AuWerter writes in SmartMoney about credit card debt and current card issuer practices with respect to fees, adjusting interest rates, etc.
Does it seem as if you can trigger those penalties just by breathing these days? You aren't far off: Over the past few years, credit-card companies have become increasingly dependent on the fees they charge users. In 2001, fee income represented 28% of credit-card companies' total income, according to Over the past five years, this figure has increased by 172%.

US-CERT Alerts

The US National Cyber Alert System (US-CERT) is making its alerts available both by email and RSS subscriptions.

March 25, 2004

Phishing for Identity Information

Lisa Valentine reports in CIO Today on the phishing problem.

McDonald's Announces Alliances with MasterCard and Visa USA

McDonald's has announced an alliance with MasterCard and another alliance with Visa USA to bring cashless payment options to McDonald's restaurants in the US.

OTS Issues CEO Letter on Phishing Attacks

The US Department of the Treasury's Office of Thrift Supervision recently sent out a letter to CEO's (PDF) of supervised institutions highlighting the risks of phishing attacks and e-mail scams.
A rapidly growing form of Internet fraud is a practice known as “phishing.” This fraud can lead to financial loss, identity theft, and loss of customer confidence in your institution. The purpose of this memorandum is to familiarize you with the characteristics of phishing, and to encourage you to implement safeguards that will reduce the likelihood of your institution’s customers becoming victims of this fraud.

Credit Counselers Under Scrutiny

Jennifer Bayot reports in the New York Times on abuses by credit counseling agencies. The Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations yesterday released a report (PDF) on the subject. READ MORE »


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