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February 28, 2005

FinCen Releases 2006-2008 Strategic Plan

The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has released its 2006-2008 Strategic Plan (PDF).

$24 Billion in Credit Card Fees

Selena Maranjain writes for the Motley Fool about the $24 billion spent on credit card fees in 2004, up 18 percent from 2003 according to

Perhaps the most un-Foolish fee I've heard of is the "no-balance fee," where some cards are charging a small fee if you pay off your bill in full -- which is what you should be doing!

VeriSign Releases Internet Security Intelligence Briefing Update

VeriSign has released the fifth edition of the VeriSign Internet Security Intelligence Briefing reporting that Internet commerce last year grew 88 percent by dollar volume and 39 percent by transaction volume.

February 26, 2005

Speed the Wireless Payment

Susan Kuchinskas reports for on Visa USA's announcement of Visa Contactless and the implications for RFID-based consumer payments.

"Credit card issuers will be the initial dominant wave of providing electronic credit cards for digital commerce," said Jorge Fernandes, chairman of ViVOtech. "In a second wave, a lot of retailers will leverage this technology to create a closer relationship with consumers. Digital credit cards will let consumes identify themselves to merchants and let merchants communicate with them."

Slashdot also picks up a discussion about Visa's announcement.

February 25, 2005

Bank of America Confirms Lost Data Tapes

Bank of America has issued a press release confirming that "a small number of computer data tapes were lost during shipment to a backup data center. The missing tapes contained U.S. federal government charge card program customer and account information."

"We deeply regret this unfortunate incident,” said Barbara Desoer, Global Technology, Service & Fulfillment executive for Bank of America. “The privacy of customer information receives the highest priority at Bank of America, and we take our responsibilities for safeguarding it very seriously.”

Bank of America Reports Possible Credit Card Breach

Timothy Burger reports on about Bank of America today warning the holders of at least 1.2 million of its federal employee credit card accounts of a potential security breach that may have left their account information exposed.

MasterCard Says Chip Solutions Ready for Implementation in Canada

MasterCard has announced that its chip card solutions are ready for implementation in the Canadian market. But it's not clear when actual chip card deployment might begin.


February 24, 2005

Visa USA Launches Contactless Payment Platform

Visa USA has announced that it has completed the development of its contactless payment platform and is ready to begin deployment in the US market.

"After successful trials in several regions of the world, we feel we have the right solution and this is the right time for Visa to make contactless technology available in the U.S. market," said Elizabeth Buse, executive vice president, product development and management, Visa USA.  "We want to make sure our Members and merchants have the ability to offer current innovations to their customers, if they choose to do so."

Smaller Banks New Targets for Phishing Attacks

The Anti-Phishing Working Group is reporting that phishing attacks against smaller financial institutions are escalating.

"Overall, the survey and recent field reports tell us that phishers are using advanced crimeware to commandeer larger arrays of Internet technologies and at the same time using them to attack smaller institutions than have been targeted," said APWG Chairman David Jevans.

Jevans added, "It could mean the counter-phishing systems that big banks have deployed are effective and the phishers are moving onto softer targets. It could mean the phishers have enough resources to target institutions in which the probabilities of getting a hit on a broad spam-based attack is relatively low."

Cash Losing Its Cachet?

Evan Schuman writes in eWeek about the expansion of RFID-based contactless payments. [Tnx: Eric Meyerson]

Credit card companies, through consumer promotions and lower fees for retailers, have been whittling away at the last few cash-friendly refuges. And as though George Washington needed even more disrespect to be heaped upon his picture on the one-dollar-bill, contactless payment systems are now helping to take the green out of greenbacks.

Australia Payment Card Interchange Fees

Stephen Bartholomeusz writes in Melbourne's The Age about the Reserve Bank of Australia's actions regarding interchange fees.

The Reserve Bank's painful and painstaking attempts to reform interchange fees for electronic payments is inching towards its logical conclusion. Within two years it is probable that the fees banks and retailers pay themselves for credit card, Eftpos and other electronic transactions will be abolished.

That isn't quite what the RBA said yesterday when it issued draft standards for Eftpos and Visa debit card transactions under which fees would be slashed. It is, however, clearly the direction in which the RBA is heading, and it will inform its planned review of all card systems in 2007.

The Reserve Bank issued a press release yesterday on the subject including draft standards for the EFTPOS and Visa Debit systems.

In the Bank's opinion, the current levels of these fees are not conducive to the efficiency of the Australian payments system. In reaching this opinion, the Bank has considered not just the EFTPOS and Visa Debit systems, but also their interaction with other payment systems, including credit cards. It has also considered how the overall payments system is likely to evolve over time if the current incentives facing merchants, financial institutions and cardholders are left unchanged.

The RBA also announced it is seeking input on how to address the problem of credit card schemes with higher interchange fees being more attractive to issuers and asks whether essentially the same interchange fee should therefore be applied to all schemes.

First Data Increases Dividend, Expands Stock Buyback

First Data Corp. announced this morning that it was increasing the dividend paid on its common stock as well as increasing the stock buyback authorization by $2 billion.

New Visa USA ATM Interchange Fees

Ann All reports in ATM on Visa USA's decision to create two categories of ATM interchange.

Visa made the change after determining that there were "significant differences in ATM portfolios, in terms of cost, security and cardholder value," said Stacy Pinkerd, senior vice president of Visa's Consumer Debit Products.

Chase Execs Upbeat About Card Division

Ted Griffith reports for about yesterday's investor briefing by executives of JP Morgan Chase's credit card unit.


February 23, 2005

Chase Card Services Investor Presentation

JP Morgan Chase is holding an investor presentation today beginning at 1 PM EST. The presentation slides (PDF) are available online.


Transfirst and Ingenico Partner on Prepaid and Stored Value

Ingenico and Transfirst have announced they are partnering on a prepaid and stored value program to be launched by New York Community Bank.

The prepaid and stored value services program, available through TRANSFIRST's and Ingenico's partnership, will enable New York Community Bank to offer its customers credit card cash advance, prepaid long distance and prepaid wireless services, as well as Visa branded gift cards and MasterCard branded stored value debit cards.


Charged Up

US News & World Report briefly profiles Visa USA CEO Carl Pascarella.

The reason for the growth, Pascarella says, is choice. No matter how consumers want to pay--even possibly using their cellphones or personal digital assistants in the future--Visa is striving to offer a convenient option.

February 22, 2005

For Some, No Purchase Is Too Small For Plastic

Dina ElBoghdady writes in the Washington Post about the use of card payments for low value purchases.

JP Morgan Chase to Move Much of Debit Card Business to Visa

Robin Sidel reports in the Wall St. Journal that JP Morgan Chase will move much of its fast-growing debit card business to the Visa brand.

The decision solidifies Visa USA Inc.'s existing dominant relationship with J.P. Morgan, which is now the nation's largest issuer of credit cards. It also is significant because much of the card industry's growth is expected to come from debit cards.

MasterCard, MBNA, Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens Deploy MasterCard PayPass

MasterCard has announced it is working with MBNA, the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens Football Clubs to incorporate MasterCard PayPass contactless payment technology into the MBNA Seahawks and MBNA Ravens Extra Points credit card programs. Both Qwest Field and M&T Bank Stadium will accept MasterCard PayPass cards at the point-of-sale, beginning with the 2005 football season.


Debt Collectors: Portfolio Recovery Associates

Investors Business Daily takes a look at Portfolio Recovery Associations, one of the publicly traded debt collection companies.


RFID Contactless Payments

ABI Research has announced the availability of a new study of RFID contactless payments.

JP Morgan Chase to Continue Visa, MasterCard Relationships

JP Morgan Chase has announced that it will continue to issue credit, debit,and commercial cards through both Visa USA and MasterCard International. JPMorgan Chase said it will also retain its positions on Visa U.S.A.'s board consistent with association rules that prohibit dual board representation.

Tomorrow at 1 PM EST William Campbell, Chase Card Services' Chairman, and Richard Srednicki, Card Services' CEO, will be presenting a webcast update on Chase's Card Services business.

Update: An Associated Press story includes some additional commentary on the Chase announcement.


SVPCO National Check Exchange Launched

SVPCO Check Services has announced the launch of SVPCO National Check Exchange, a new national check clearing service that "provides participating institutions with the ability to exchange checks across regions more efficiently, following a universal set of rules."


SunTrust Merchant Services Signs Up With Peppercoin

Peppercoin has announced an agreement with SunTrust Merchant Services to offer Peppercoin's small paymnet processing system to its merchants.


One in Ten Brits Have PayPal Account

Robin Langford reports in Netimperative on PayPal's growth in the UK to 6.3 million accounts.

The company launched its UK-site in 2003 and became regulated as an Electronic Money Issuer by the FSA in February 2004. In 2004 it introduced an ACH-in system, enabling customers to fund PayPal transactions directly from their bank accounts.

Wal-Mart's Plastic Push

Richard Wilner reports in the New York Post on Wal-Mart's financial services focus including its recently announced deal to issue a Wal-Mart Discover card.

The country's No. 1 retailer is expected to roll out its much-anticipated Wal-Mart Discover card today — complete with a 3-cent per gallon discount at company gas stations and interest rates as low as 9.87 percent.

Separately, Wal-Mart issued a press release announcing the launch of the new card.

"Wal-Mart Discover is designed especially for credit card customers who want to save money. It has great features like cash back, gasoline discounts and low rates," Jane Thompson, president of Wal-Mart Financial Services, said.

"Our focus to date has been on basic money services for those without credit cards and checking accounts," she continued. "These basic services are saving our customers $2 million a week. The new Wal-Mart Discover shows our commitment to widen our services to help all our customers save money and improve their lives."

February 21, 2005

TSYS to Provide Gift Cards for Leading Dutch Retailer

TSYS has announced that it has implemented a gift card program for Hunkemoller, a specialty retailer in the Netherlands with outlets in several other European countries.



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