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« March 13, 2005 - March 19, 2005 | Main | March 27, 2005 - April 2, 2005 »

March 26, 2005

Follow the Vanishing Check

Jennifer Kingson writes for the New York Times about what's happening to checks in the US.

Checks are still used more often than either credit or debit cards, so it is too soon to write their obituary. But the declines reported recently by big banks - as much as 10 percent from a year ago - are so steep that checks over the next two decades are likely to become as prevalent as electric typewriters.

Credit Card Issuers Adjust

Jennifer Kingson writes for the New York Times about what banks are doing now that they're free to also participate in the American Express and Discover card networks, what American Express and Discover are doing to court them, and the potential impacts on cardholders and merchants.

As consumers migrate to cards from cash and checks, "the merchant is looking at the reality of every year paying more and more money for card payments, and it's untenable," Mr. Robertson said. "It's just going to lead to merchants going berserk."

March 24, 2005

A Model Regime of Privacy Protection

Daniel Solove of the George Washington University Law School and Chris Jay Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center have written a paper discussing an approach to privacy protection.

In the aftermath of the ChoicePoint debacle, both of us have been asked by Congressional legislative staffers, state legislative policymakers, journalists, academics, and others about what specifically should be done to better regulate information privacy. In response to these questions, we believe that it is imperative to have a discussion of concrete legislative solutions to privacy problems. What appears below is our attempt at such an endeavor.

New Privacy Safeguards

David Bank and Christopher Conkey report in the Wall St. Journal on the recent action by federal bank regulators telling banks they should notify customers of security breaches.

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March 23, 2005

Banks and Online Retailers Losing Customers

Kathy Chu reports of Dow Jones Newswires reports on a study by Financial Insights that assessed the impact that fears of identity theft are having on online consumer behaviors.

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Minimums Due on Credit Cards Are Increasing

Jane Kim reports for the Wall St. Journal on increases that credit card issues are making to the monthly minimum payment amounts due in response to federal regulatory pressures to do so.

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APACS Reports Bank Customers Becoming "Phishing Saavy"

Dan Ilett reports for ZDNet UK that APACS believes that online banking customers are waking up to the threats of online phishing attacks.

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More Debate about RFID Tag Security

Jacqueline Emigh reports for eWeek about recent activities looking by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and RSA Security examining RFID tag security -- and responses to their findings by Texas Instruments.

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Euronet Worldwide Acquires Three Prepaid Companies

Euronet Worldwide has announced that it has completed the acquisition of three new prepaid companies, one each in Spain (Telecarga), the UK (ATX Software) and the US (Dynamic Telecom).

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Federal Reserve Announces Guidance Re: Unauthorized Access to Customer Information

Following up on a posting by the OCC last Friday, today the Federal Reserve and other federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies announced publication of new guidance to financial institutions regarding procedures they should follow in addressing security breaches involving customer information.

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March 22, 2005

Opting in to Privacy Problems

Brian McWilliams, author of Spam Kings, writes for the O'Reilly Network about how list brokers are currently buying and selling private information on millions of people, including their home address, telephone number, date of birth, internet protocol (IP) address, and prescription history.

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Lowes Foods To Deploy BioPay's Biometric Payments

The Lincoln (NC) Tribune reports that Lowes Food will begin deploying BioPay's biometrics payment solution later this spring.

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ExpressPay from American Express Announces New Merchants

American Express has announced that Ritz Camera and Sheetz have signed on as the newest merchant partners in its ExpressPay contractless payments program.

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First Data, MasterCard Processing Payments for Burger King Canada

First Data has announced that it is processing MasterCard card processing and settlement for 123 corporate-owned Burger King restaurants throughout Canada.

"With First Data's payment processing services and the MasterCard QPS program, participating Burger King restaurants in Canada can provide guests with easier and faster service that allows them to purchase the food they love while reducing wait time," said Barbara Lee, CFO, Burger King Canada.

EMV Cuts Fraud in Malaysia

Surin Murugiah reports for Malaysia's TheEdgeDaily.com on the decline in fraudulent card transactions following the migration to EMV-compliant smart cards in that market.

The migration to Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV)-compliant smart credit cards have reduced fraudulent transactions by more than 90% as at the end of last year, said MasterCard International vice president & senior country manager for Malaysia and Brunei, Jim Cheah.

“These are actually savings derived by member banks which can be utilised for better services to consumers,” he said, adding that cloning of EMV cards had not been detected since implementation globally.

Debit Card Usage Jumps

Mary-Beth McLaughlin reports on debit card usage for the Toledo Blade.

Use of debit cards, including automated-teller machine withdrawals, has grown 24 percent a year between 2000 and 2003. By comparison, credit card use was up less than 7 percent from 2000 to 2003, a Federal Reserve report shows. Use of checks shrank during that period by 4 percent.

March 21, 2005

Update on Visa Asia/Pacific and China

The Asian Banker reports on Visa's activities in its Asia/Pacific region.

“The big prize for China is to try to work with China Union Pay and the banks there to modernize the domestic structure,” says Keeley, “which we’ve been very supportive of. We’ve been working with China Union Pay very positively, and with the PBoC, to make sure that the China market is developed with international standards, which they’ve been very keen to do.”

“I’m sure that there will be speed bumps along the road,” adds Keeley when talking about the growth expected in China, and he highlights the importance of moving carefully in China is to ensure issuers have good risk management practices, responsible lending, good credit underwriting, and “all the basics of good banking – know your customer, understanding how to best advance credit, good collections policy, responsible lending…”

Focus on the Theft, Not the Identity

Hiawatha Bray writes in the Boston Globe about identity theft - and how attempting to protect personal information may not be the complete answer. He suggests a financial industry parallel to the "do not call" idea -- "do not issue."

These systems are far from perfect; credit card companies still lose millions to fraud. But confirming transactions is far easier than confirming identities. So Congress should take a look at a promising proposal called ''do-not-issue." Modeled after the ''do-not-call" list that has helped stamp out the curse of telemarketing, do-not-issue would let people block credit-reporting agencies from issuing credit reports without permission.

Phishing: The New Face of Fraud

Melissa Allison reports in a major article in the Seattle Times about phishing attacks.

"Most banks spend more on washing windows than on money lost to phishing," said Jim Bruene, editor of the Online Banking Report, a Seattle-based newsletter. "But it is a huge issue in consumer confidence and the ability of a bank to market online and deal with a customer on the Internet."

Taking the Mystery Out Of Your FICO Score

Fair Isaac and Your Credit Card Companies have issued a press release with recommendations as to what consumers can do to improve their FICO scores.

March 20, 2005

Federal Regulators Issue Standards for Customer Notice Following Security Breaches

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, along with the other bank and thrift regulatory agencies, has issued guidance describing response programs, including customer notice, for security breaches (PDF) that involve unauthorized access to customer information.

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Military Combating Payday Lenders

Anita Powell of the Cox News Service writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer about initiatives to help troops avoid compounding their debt.

Since last year, officials with Army Emergency Relief, a private nonprofit organization, have been working on a new national program called Commanders Referral that will debut at Fort Hood this year. The program, which offers soldiers two no-interest $500 loans a year, is an attempt to undercut the aggressive payday-loan business, military officials said.

MasterCard Logo Will Change Things for Diners Club Users

Ed Perkins writes in the San Jose Mercury News about changes resulting from the addition of the MasterCard logo to Diners Club cards.

f you have a Diners Club card, you will shortly receive a new card with a MasterCard logo by the traditional Diners Club mark -- along with some new fine print. Overall, the new move has both pluses and minuses.

Get Rid of Your Green AmEx Card

Aleksandra Todoro writes for SmartMoney.com about why the American Express "Green Card" isn't a very good deal because of its high fees as compared to comparable cards.

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