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November 30, 2004

Pitfalls of Prepaid Cards

Deborah Thoren-Peden, a partner at law firm Pillsbury Winthrop, discusses some of the hidden legal risks associated with various forms of prepaid cards.

RFID Transactions

Jeff Staples reports in Contactless News on "A (Contactless) Day in the Life".

Monday Biggest Ecommerce Day

VeriSign reports that this year the Monday following Thanksgiving was a busier day for ecommerce retailers than the traditional Black Friday immediately following Thanksgiving.

"VeriSign's latest data indicates that the Monday following Thanksgiving has replaced Black Friday as the most popular shopping day online. In fact, this year the number of purchases made on Monday was 71 percent higher than Friday," said Trevor Healy, vice president, payment services,

Internet Retailing

Boston Globe columnist Stephen Syre looks at the Internet retailing phenomenon as it matures this year.

"I think we've all intuitively believed the multichannel guys were the ones who would win in the long run," says Ken Cassar, at Nielsen/NetRatings. "With the exception of eBay and Amazon, that's the case."

November 29, 2004

Small Business Financing: Credit Cards

The Wall St. Journal has a special section today on small business financing -- including a report on the use of credit cards.

"The issue is that almost all credit-card agreements have fine print with very sharp teeth," says Fred Wainwright, executive director of the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. "If you miss even one payment, the attractive terms can convert to over 20% annual interest rates and outrageously high penalty fees."

November 28, 2004

MasterCard Reports 9% Growth in Transactions Over Thanksgiving Weekend

MasterCard has announced that credit card authorization transactions over its BankNet network during the Thanksgiving weekend (through Saturday evening) totaled 64.2 million, an increase of 9.29% over the same period last year. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, MasterCard processed over 35.1 million transactions, a 10.1% growth over the 31.8 million authorization transactions it handled on the same day in 2003.

Separately, Bloomberg reports that the National Retail Federation claims that US retailers' sales during the four day Thanksgiving weekend totaled $22.8 billion.

Providian's Joe Saunders

Business Week's Justin Hibbard profiles the progress that card issuer Providian has made under CEO Joe Saunders over the last four years and speculates about the potential sale of the company to the likes of Barclays, JP Morgan Chase or Citigroup.

Another article in this week's Business Week looks at the pressures on big banks that may slow down banks' earnings growth.

Here's the Hook: Gifts for Online Bill Payers

Jennifer Alsever writes in the New York Times about Gifts for Online Bill Payers. More businesses are out to convert die-hard check writers to electronic billing by offering perks, lower interest rates or discounted prices.

Visa USA Reports Strong Growth in Sales

Visa USA has reported that sales volume on so-called Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally one of the busiest shopping days of the year, totaled more than $4.1 billion, up 15.5 percent compared to the same day last year. Ecommerce sales have grown at a 32 percent increase since November 1st this year as compared to last.


High Stakes Venture

Ross Wehner of the Denver Post profiles Andre Durand, CEO of Ping Identity.

November 26, 2004

UK to Overhaul Consumer Credit Rules

Bloomberg reports on comments made by Queen Elizabeth II in her annual speech to Parliament laying out the plans of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government. In her comments she indicated that the government is planning to reform consumer credit rules for the first time in 30 years.

The BBC has more on this story.

Fiserv Negotiating for Australia Check Processing Business

Fiserv has announced that it is in negotiations with three of Australia's largest banks -- Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation -- to manage the operations of a proposed check processing joint venture.

Discover Seeks A Rediscovery

Robin Sidel and Ann Davis report in the Wall St. Journal on what's ahead for Discover.

"Over the last couple of years, we focused on credit quality versus growth. Now we're focusing on both and continuing to invest in marketing to grow our portfolio," says Roger Hochschild, president and chief operating officer of Discover, which is based in Riverwoods, Ill.

Online Identity Theft: Many Medicines, No Cure

IDG's Paul Roberts surveys the technologies that aim to curb online identity theft.

Saying It With Plastic

Monica Soto Ouchi reports in the Seattle Times on the expected growth in gift card giving this holiday season.

Jon Ortiz reports on the same story in this morning's Sacramento Bee.

November 25, 2004

Entrust IdentityGuard

Entrust has introduced IdentityGuard, a very lightweight (paper based) approach to two factor user authentication.

With Entrust IdentityGuard, users continue to employ their current user name and password, but are also provided with a second physical form of authentication based on an assortment of characters in a row/column format printed on a card. A user must successfully complete a coordinate challenge to demonstrate that they are in possession of the appropriate card.

More Secret History of the Credit Card

PBS' Frontline aired its show Secret History of the Credit Card earlier this week. The Frontline web site has additional resources on the topic including a transcript of the show.

November 23, 2004

Financial Access for Immigrants

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has just posted a series of talks from a national conference held earlier this year focusing on immigrant access to financial markets and services.

Implementing Contactless Payment

The November issue of the Smart Card Talk newsletter from the Smart Card Alliance has an article for merchants on implementing contactless payment.


Visa Intl Projects $150 Billion in 2004 Ecommerce Sales

Visa International has announced that it expects 2004 global ecommerce sales volume to exceed US$150 billion by the end of 2004, a 56 percent increase over the US$96 billion in sales volume last year.


MasterCard Predicts Best Times To Shop

Using transaction data from prior years, MasterCard recommends shopping on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays this holiday season.

"The common myth among Americans is that 'Black Friday,' which is what the industry calls the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest shopping day of the season," explains Manchisi. "However, as busy as Black Friday can be, there are other very busy times in the month of December. Typically, at MasterCard, we have processed nearly 33 million transactions on each of the two Saturdays before Christmas -- almost a million more than on the day after Thanksgiving."

Wright Express Files To Go Public

Fleet card provider Wright Express has announced it has filed to go public in a spinout from parent Cendant Corporation. The company filed an S-1 Registration Statement yesterday with the SEC.

November 22, 2004

Anti-Phishing Working Group October Report

The Anti-Phishing Working Group has announced the availability of its October report (PDF). The report indicates that phishers are increasingly using compromised broadband-connected PC's to host phishing sites.

Separately, an article in reports that UK banks are looking at trials of web browser toolbars designed to counter phishing.

Also, MailFrontier has an online quiz you can take to test how good you are at identifying phishing emails.

Gift Card Fees

Linda Lipp writes in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel about gift card fees -- saying "don't get blitzed by gift card fees this year."

The December issue of Consumer Reports Money Advisor newsletter warns that the built-in fees on some cards can eat up most, if not all, of a card’s value, however.

Retiring MasterCard IT Chief Talks About Challenges

ComputerWorld's Lucas Mearian interviews Jerry McElhatton, retiring head of MasterCard's global technology and operations.

Jack Cash

Fast food retailer Jack in the Box has announced the introduction of Jack Cash, its new reloadable stored value card program.


Third Quarter Ecommerce Sales

The US Department of Commerce on Friday published its estimate of US retail ecommerce sales for the third quarter of 2004. Ecommerce sales in the quarter were estimated to be $17.6 billion, an increase of 21.5 percent over the same quarter in 2003. Total retail sales increased 6.2 percent to a total of $916.5 billion in the quarter. Ecommerce in the third quarter represented 1.8% of total retail sales. The Department's figures do not include travel, financial services or event ticket sales.

Note that the Department's estimate does not include eBay's gross merchandise volume which was $8.3 billion in the third quarter. If eBay's GMV was included, ecommerce would represent 2.2% of total retail sales.

Federal Reserve Reports on PIN Debit Fees

The Federal Reserve has issued a report to Congress on the disclosure of point-of-sale debit fees (PDF).


Phishing Expeditions

IBM executive Sean Rush writes about phishing in a op-ed piece for the Boston globe.


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