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« August 7, 2005 - August 13, 2005 | Main | August 21, 2005 - August 27, 2005 »

August 20, 2005

Opinion: Australian Credit Card Reform

Terry McCrann writes for The Advertiser about the changes in the Australian credit card market resulting from changes imposed by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

For the first time in this three-decade history of credit cards in Australia, people are finally getting a real choice – the option of paying specifically for the services they want from a card, and paying only for the service they want. And also getting the price of the "credit" in a card - the interest rate - set competitively in the market. That's to say, lower, much lower.

Debtors in Rush to Bankruptcy as Change Nears

Timothy Egan reports for the New York Times about the upcoming changes in the US bankruptcy law that takes effect in October and the effects it is having on bankruptcy filings in advance of the changes.

August 19, 2005

Online Payment Firms Target China

Rebecca Buckman reports for the Wall St. Journal on the online payment firms targeting the market opportunity in China.

The growth of online-payment services -- which let people buy things on the Web through online accounts electronically linked to their bank accounts or credit cards -- is considered crucial to promoting electronic commerce in China, which has been slow to develop despite the emergence of a tech-savvy middle class.

August 18, 2005

Call For Participation: An Online Mobile Payments Workshop

At Glenbrook, we're considering kicking off an online workshop focusing on mobile payments that would run for several weeks this fall.

The basic idea is that we'd convene a online discussion group of interested participants where the only requirement for participating is that you agree to make a positive contribution to the discussion. Depending upon the size of the group, we might try augmenting it with a couple of teleconferences and web presentations along the way -- particularly if some of the participants would want to present their thoughts in that kind of forum.

If you think mobile payments are the "next big thing" and would be interested in participating, please email me and tell me more about your interest and why you'd like to participate. I'll get back to you re: details of participating as we get the workshop organized.

August 17, 2005

Morgan Stanley Decides To Keep Discover

Morgan Stanley announced this afternoon that it has decided to retain its Discover Financial Services unit, reversing a previous decision made a few months ago by the company's former CEO.

The company's new CEO, John Mack, said "having looked closely at the Discover business the Board and I are convinced that Discover is not only a strong business, but also an attractive asset for Morgan Stanley. It is a unique, successful franchise with growth opportunities that gives Morgan Stanley a consistent stream of stable, high-quality earnings and substantial cash flow, diversifies the Company's earnings and broadens our scale and capital base."

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Amazon.com Settles Patent Lawsuits

China Martens reports for the IDG News Service that Amazon.com will pay $40 million to Soverain Software "to settle two lawsuits alleging patent infringement."

TowerGroup: New Data on Impact of Phishing on ATM and Debit Point-of-Sale

TowerGroup has announced new research examining the impact that phishing attacks may be having on fraud perpetrated at ATMs and debit POS locations that concludes that losses from fraud due to phishing runs about $81 million annually in the US.

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Peppercoin Secures $8 Million in Venture Funding

Peppercoin has announced that it has secured $8 million in additional funding from venture capital firm Wall Street Technology Partners and previous investor Pod Holding. Peppercoin also announced that Mark Friedman has been named president and chief executive officer.

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A Profile of China's 99Bill

alarm:clock profiles China's 99Bill.

Focused on eCommerce in China, 99Bill offers an email and mobile phone number-based online payment platform.

August 16, 2005

Wachovia Directs Online Customers to Communicate Through Secure Message Center

Wachovia announced today that it has begun notifying online customers that it will only communicate account information to them through its Secure Message Center.

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Accelitec Announces PayPilot RFID Payment System

Accelitec has introduced PayPilot, a suite of RFID-based payment solutions to automate and enable faster, more secure and convenient payment methods, including Automated Clearing House (ACH), credit and prepay.

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Cyota Reports eVision Cuts Online Fraud By 80 Percent

Cyota has announced that its eVision risk management system has reduced incidents of online fraud by up to 80 percent at five top banks in the US and UK during its first 12 months of production.

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August 15, 2005

NTT DoCoMo Tries Expansion Into Credit Cards

Ginny Parker Woods reports for Tuesday's edition of the Wall St. Journal on NTT DoCoMo's mobile payments initiatives and its latest plan to evolve into "something like a bank" by embedding a DoCoMo credit card in its mobile phones.

So far, DoCoMo has sold some five million FeliCa wallet phones, but it's too soon to say whether the idea will take off since many users aren't taking advantage of the new features. Mr. Natsuno says that once people are hooked on the convenience of making small payments with the electronic cash stored in their phones, they'll naturally want to make bigger purchases using credit.

Meijer Stores and GE Consumer Finance Introduce MasterCard PayPass Card

Meijer Stores and GE Consumer Finance have announced that Meijer is the first super center chain in the US to accept MasterCard PayPass as a contactless payment option at its stores and gas pumps.

Meijer is also introducing a PayPass-enabled Platinum MasterCard issued by GE Consumer Finance. The card combines the features and benefits of the Meijer private label store card with the worldwide acceptance of a MasterCard card and the added functionality of PayPass contactless 'tap and go' payments. The card has all the privileges of an in-store card, including access to exclusive sales, promotions and loyalty rewards, plus all the benefits of a traditional bankcard -- worldwide acceptance, competitive APRs and rewards on out-of-store spending.

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Smartpay Announces Strategic Financing

SmartPay Jieyin Ltd., a provider of payment services in China, has announced the
completion of a strategic round of equity financing with RRE Ventures.

smartpay-logo.jpgCommenting on the investment at a demonstration of SmartPay's services in Beijing, Greg Shen, SmartPay's CEO, said, ''I am extremely pleased that RRE has decided to invest in SmartPay as we continue to rapidly deploy our mobile payment services in China and build on our leadership position. RRE's expertise in the wireless and payments space is truly unique, and its network of connections should prove valuable in this rapid stage of SmartPay's evolution.

Jim Robinson IV, RRE Ventures founder and general partner, added, "We are excited about SmartPay and the prospects for building an innovative payments business in China. SmartPay has built up an early leadership position based upon its close interaction with Chinese banks and its unique mobile payment services. This provides a strong platform for future growth, and an opportunity to leverage numerous synergies with RRE's network of relationships and portfolio companies." Robinson will join SmartPay's Board of Directors effective immediately.

August 14, 2005

What's in Capital One's Wallet?

Terence O'Hara reports for the Washington Post on Capital One's strategy.

The leaders in any business make their moves before they have to, from a position of strength," Fairbank, Capitol One's chairman and chief executive, said in an interview Friday.

"I guess my definition of bad leadership is when one is making moves when others are making you do it. That's why we made the decision years ago. When [stand-alone] credit card companies were a wildly successful business model, we made a conscious choice to be more than a credit card company."

Just Saying No To Providian/WaMu Deal

Gretchen Morgenson reports for the New York Times on the decision by some large shareholders of Providian to vote against the proposed acquisition by Washington Mutual because the deal price is too low.

Let's hope that other investors, large and small, join in to reject the deal. After all, because the premium in the takeover is so small, Providian shareholders have little downside if it fails. The upsides, meanwhile, are evident: a possibly higher price for the company from another bidder or a rising stock price based on the company's improving fundamentals.

Alibaba Relied On Seraphim For Its Sale To Yahoo

Tim LeeMaster reports for The Standard from Hong Kong on Alibaba's use of a small Hong Kong-based merchant bank, Seraphim Capital, for negotiating its recent deal with Yahoo!

John Chi, one of Seraphim's founders, says his firm's approach is inherently different from the fee-driven, deal-based model that he said dominates the modern investment banking industry.

"We think more like a stakeholder,'' said Chi, who along with partner Casper Huang gets paid for his services with warrants and free equity, not fees.

Minimum Payments On Credit Cards Going Up

Eileen Alt Powell reports for the AP on increases in the minimum payment amounts due on credit cards.

The changes being phased in this year are the result of a directive issued by federal banking regulators, including the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in 2003.

Barbara Grunkemeyer, deputy comptroller for credit risk, said the regulators were concerned that when the minimums were set too low, consumers' payments were barely covering the interest and fees on the cards and not making a dent on the principal amount that was owed.

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