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« December 21, 2003 - December 27, 2003 | Main | January 4, 2004 - January 10, 2004 »

January 02, 2004

PayPal Europe to Launch Soon

Reuters is reporting this morning that PayPal Europe is expected to launch soon.
Online auctioneer eBay Inc. began alerting customers this week it would launch a European business unit for its PayPal service, aiming to boost an overseas operation crucial to the firm's top-line growth. Over the past few days, the Silicon Valley-based firm has been notifying customers of its online payment service, via email, that it was setting up PayPal Europe Ltd., a firm based in the United Kingdom with a customer service centre in Dublin.

Credit Card Fees

Nicole Maestri reports on Reuters about increases in the fees US credit card issuers are getting.
Consumers are expected to pay $43.1 billion in late fees, over-the-limit fees, finance charges and other fees on their credit cards this year, up from $39.6 billion last year. That figure is set to rise again in 2004, according to R.K. Hammer Investment Bankers, which follows the credit-card industry. "You've got more fees, charged to more people, triggered more quickly than ever before," said Robert Hammer, chairman and chief executive officer of R.K. Hammer.

Credit Cards in China

Reuters reports this morning on the entry of two major banks into the credit card market in China.
U.S. giant Citibank and HSBC Holdings Plc, the world's two biggest banks by market value, have become the first foreign lenders to get their feet in the door of China's credit card industry. Offering technical and management expertise to their local partners, who have won approval to issue credit cards to Chinese customers, both banks can begin to make their mark on a highly lucrative but largely closed business in China. Still, analysts said on Friday the road remained long, since China was not committed to opening its retail banking sector until 2007 under pledges made on joining the World Trade Organization.

December 31, 2003

Micropayments - A Trend to Watch in 2004

Ryan Naraine reports on trends to watch in 2004 from the editors of and JupiterMedia -- including micropayments.

December 30, 2003

Visa's Peak Holiday Processing Volumes

InformationWeek reports on the planning that went into preparing Visa's VisaNet systems for handling peak holiday season volumes.
The company, which Monday reported a sharp increase in holiday-related shopping transactions, spent much of the year preparing its mainframe to handle a peak rate of 5,200 VisaNet transaction messages per second. Visa said Tuesday that the system reached its peak on Christmas Eve at 5,119 transaction messages a second.

Challenges for Prince at Citigroup

The Economist reports on what's ahead for new Citigroup CEO Charles Prince.

Star Raises PIN-Debit Interchange Fees

The American Banker reported yesterday (subscription required) that Concord EFS' Star network is raising interchange fees on PIN debit card transactions effective February 1st.

With the recent settlement of the anti-trust lawsuit against First Data and Concord EFS, Star will be competing in the marketplace with rival network NYCE, among others, for bank issuance of PIN debit cards. Increased interchange is one mechanism to motivate bank issuers to either stay with or join Star. Of course, it's the card accepting merchants that pay the price as the interchange increases come out of their bottom line.

Sun CTO Forecasts Micropayment Growth

Sun Microsystems CTO Greg Papadopoulos forecasts growth in micropayments on the Internet.
Micropayments could also hasten the arrival of Web services that interact with one another -- say, a calendar, map and traffic-monitoring service working together to automatically guide you to your next appointment via the shortest or least congested route -- with each collecting a small per-use fee.

Micropayments, along with marked improvements in network-identity management (a federated system that could make single sign-on a reality in 2004), mean that IT managers need to be thinking about new kinds of services their companies will be able to profit from, using all the latest advances.

Visa USA Details Holiday Spending

Visa USA has reported on the growth in US spending on Visa credit and debit cards over this holiday season.
Visa spending in the retail segment(1) topped $43.2 billion during the four weeks preceding December 28, a 10.3 percent increase over the same period of 2002. Visa debit cards (which include check cards and prepaid cards) showed the strongest year over year increase, growing 16.7 percent to $16.1 billion. None-the-less, the bulk of Visa spending on retail this holiday season was charged to credit cards for a total of $27.1 billion.

The first day of the traditional holiday season, Black Friday (November 28), was Visa's biggest retail day, with nearly $2 billion spent at retailers. However, December 20 sales came in a close second, accounting for over $1.9 billion in retail spending.

This holiday season, the highest grossing retail sectors for Visa cards have been Department Stores, Apparel, and Mail and Phone Order sales, for a total of over $10 billion from November 28 to December 28. Spending in the Specialty Retail and Hobby category grew the most among retail sectors, with dollar volume increasing 13.5 percent from 2002.

December 29, 2003

Big Gains for Internet Retailers

Bob Tedeschi reports in today's New York Times about the success online retailers have had this holiday season.
As of Dec. 26, year-to-date sales - excluding travel and auctions - reached $51.51 billion, up roughly 22 percent from $42.37 billion in the same period a year earlier. Those numbers could change slightly, ComScore said, as holiday returns are settled. And unlike most merchants, ComScore records revenues from gift certificates when the certificates are bought, not when they are redeemed.

Visa USA reported similarly positive results last week. Visa, which says its credit and debit cards are used in about half of all Internet transactions, said nontravel online retail sales from Nov. 17 to Dec. 25 increased 45 percent over the same period last year, to $4.9 billion. As of Dec. 25, year-to-date sales had jumped 37 percent, to $28.4 billion.

Phishing Attacks Soar

Gregg Keizer reports on on the growth in phishing attacks -- rogue emails sent out that attempt to get consumers to provide account details and passwords by impersonating financial institutions.
In the past two weeks alone, an estimated 60 million phishing e-mails have been sent to users, said Tumbleweed Communications, an anti-spam and secure messaging vendor that compiled the numbers from Because the phishing messages often look remarkably official, down to logos and professionally designed forms for entering credit card information, an average of 5 percent of those who receive them respond.

Actually, we've heard anecdotally of even higher response rates to these unfortunate emails. Founded by Tumbleweed, the industry has recently established the Anti-Phishing Working Group to help deal with the threats from phishing attacks.


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