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« November 7, 2004 - November 13, 2004 | Main | November 21, 2004 - November 27, 2004 »

November 20, 2004

Soaring Interest Compounds Credit Card Pain

Patrick McGeehan reports in the New York Times on the impact that increasing credit card interest rates have on consumers.

To some cardholders and consumer advocates, credit card companies are acting like modern-day loan sharks, strong-arming their customers to pay more - with no legal limit on how much they can charge.

NTT DoCoMo and Payments

Barrons this weekend has a story about the turnaround at NTT DoCoMo (subscription reqd). Of particular note are the comments about DoCoMo's addition of FeliCa chip technology from Sony to several new DoCoMo phones. The article goes on to report on speculation by Merrill Lynch analyst Yasumasa Goda who thinks that DoCoMo may enter the consumer finance business directly by buying a credit-card company.

Explains Rob Marano, a telecom consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers: "Telcos have better relationships with customers than banks do. This is an established high-frequency, high-transaction relationship."

November 19, 2004

Companies Forced to Fight Phishing

Brian Krebs continues his series in the Washington Post about the impact that phishing attacks are having.

Phishing Story

The Motley Fool's Elizabeth Brokamp writes about her personal experience with a phishing attack.

A Barrier Against Identity Theft

An editorial in this morning's Atlanta Journal-Constitution comments on the upcoming availability of consumer credit reports as required by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA).

On Tuesday, the three major credit reporting companies — Experian, TransUnion and Atlanta-based Equifax — will announce the Web site that consumers will be able to use as of Dec. 1. Access to reports from all three companies will be possible from the single site. Consumers will be able to call up their reports online, so there will be no waiting for a copy in the mail.

November 18, 2004

RSA's Art Coviello on Two-Factor Authentication's Daniel Thomas interviews RSA Security CEO Art Coviello.

Devices such as SecureID have a lot of marketing potential. If you think about the credit card industry, first everyone wanted a credit card. Then they wanted a gold card and then a platinum one, but now there's a black card. The same thing can be done with two-factor devices.

America West Launches Airline Gift Card

America West has announced the America West gift card -- the first airline gift card. America West worked with Stored Value Systems to create and market the card.

Phishing Feeds Internet Black Markets

Washington Post writer Brian Krebs reports on the effects of phishing attacks in the first of a two-part series on phishing.

"Basically every piece of personal data about me had been compromised," Jackson said. "It's pretty simple to get another credit card number and [e-mail] address and switch banks, but what do you do when these guys know the stuff that doesn't change?"

November 17, 2004

Washington Mutual Holds Analysts Day

Washington Mutual held an Investor Day in New York City yesterday. The presentations are available online.

Six Types of Bill Payers - Payments Psychographics

Checkfree has released the results of a survey conducted by Lieberman Research that found that Americans fit into six categories when it comes to attitudes about paying their bills.


Bank of America: Aiming Higher

It's easy on the surface to see the benefits of a nationwide retail bank that offers consumers a consistent set of products and services. But as Mel Duvall writes in this Baseline article, digesting several decades of acquisitions is a tough problem for Bank of America to solve.

NatWest Phishing Attack

The BBC reports that a phishing attack against NatWest has resulted in the bank suspending some of its online banking functions.

November 16, 2004

Banks Fall Short at Guarding Identities

Jennifer Saranow reports in the Wall St. Journal on research by Javelin Strategy & Research that ranked 40 banks on their online identity theft prevention, detection and resolution services.

The study found that no major bank offers to send its customers alerts when there are changes to credit bureau information, and many don't offer e-mail alerts when unusual account activity occurs or when personal information on file at the bank -- such as a phone number, or personal identification number for a bank card -- has been changed.

Next Tuesday on PBS: Secret History of the Credit Card

Frontline and the New York Times have joined forces to examine the credit card industry in Secret History of the Credit Card to be aired Tuesday, November 23, at 9 PM on PBS.

According to Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, the credit card companies are misleading consumers and making up their own rules. "These guys have figured out the best way to compete is to put a smiley face in your commercials, a low introductory rate, and hire a team of MBAs to lay traps in the fine print," Warren tells FRONTLINE.

Wells Fargo Enables Online Customer-to-Customer Money Transfers

Wells Fargo has announced the introduction of a new account-to-account money transfer service for its customers.

Currently, Wells Fargo is one of relatively few large financial institutions offering a service that can move funds between consumer accounts in real-time. This new capability represents a giant step toward reducing the number of paper checks exchanged between individuals, saving customers the time they would have otherwise spent visiting a store or ATM.

Wells Fargo's new service was developed in direct response to input from customers on their money transfer needs. The bank's research showed that a very significant portion of its customer base moves money between account holders. Close to half the people surveyed by Wells Fargo indicated a strong interest in the new money transfer service.

Bill Gates: Passwords Obsolete

ZDNet UK reports on a speech by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in Copenhagen where he commented on the weakness of passwords.

"Unfortunately with the type of critical information on these systems, we aren't going to be able to rely on passwords. Moving to biometric and smart cards is a wave that is coming and we see our leading customers doing this."

New Surge in Phishing Attacks

Cyota reports its anti-phishing command center is seeing a surge in new phishing attacks against financial institutions not previously targeted.


eFunds Partners with WildCard Systems for Stored Value

eFunds has announced that it is partnering with WildCard Systems to deliver a single source for both EFT and stored value processing capabilities.


November 15, 2004

Discover Acquires PULSE EFT Network

Discover Financial Services has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the PULSE EFT Association for a purchase price of $311 million.


American Express Sues Visa, MasterCard, Banks

American Express today filed a lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard and eight major bank members of the card associations including J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Capital One, U.S. Bancorp, Household Bank, Wells Fargo, Providian National Bank and USAA Federal Savings Bank.

Amex's complaint is available for downloading online (PDF).

American Express to File Private Litigation Against Visa and MasterCard

American Express has announced its intention to file private litigation against Visa and MasterCard. Amex says David Boies, founding partner of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, will serve as American Express' lead outside counsel in the matter. A teleconference to provide more details will take place at 11 AM EST this morning.


US Bank to Sell Prepaid Wireless Minutes at ATMs

US Bank has announced an arrangement with Boston Communications Group to offer prepaid wireless top-up at US Bank's nearly 4,000 ATMs.


Smart Card Adoption Accelerates

Frost and Sullivan has completed a new analysis of the world smart card market.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, World Banking (Financial and Loyalty) Smart Card Market, reveals that revenues in this market totaled $453.3 million in 2003 and are projected to reach $1196.3 million in 2008.

Using Your Cellphone as Your Wallet

Gregory Lamb writes in the Christian Science Monitor about using mobile phones as wallets for commerce.

The idea of using mobile phones as vehicles for commerce has been around for years. But this year it finally seems to be getting some traction as major players agree on standards.

Australia: New MasterCard PrePaid Cards from Emerchants

The Melbourne Herald Sun reports on a new MasterCard prepaid card program being launched by technology company Emerchants.

Technology firm Emerchants has arisen as one of the first non-bank financial service providers able to use Mastercard's Maestro and Cirrus brands for the stored value cards, which are expected to grow in popularity as a cost-saving alternative to credit cards.

Smart Card Technology Battle in Korea

The Korea Herald reports on the battle between Visa and MasterCard with respect to the smart card technologies for use in Korea.

Chang said MasterCard's smart-card operating system, MULTOS, better serves the main purposes of a smart card, such as better security, compared to the JAVA platform adopted by Visa.

Shoppers Urged: Pay Cash

Madhusmita Bora reports in the Indianapolis Star on shoppers being warned not to increase their credit card debt.

"Credit-card burdens and delinquency in credit-card payments are at an all-time high," said Niranjan Pati, business school dean at Indiana University Kokomo. "Card purchases should be the last resort at the time of shopping for the holidays. Follow the time-honored adage, 'Cut your coat according to your cloth.' "


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