Eric Lai writes for ComputerWorld about the state of mobile commerce in the US - and, in particular, the tentativeness of banks in supporting mobile-based initiatives. He asks whether they're ceding the market to third parties like PayPal Mobile - citing Christophe Uzureau, an analyst at Gartner who says "PayPal is more agile than banks. Banks have to rethink their processes and act now."
Home Depot has announced the launch of its first co-branded consumer and business rewards credit cards - The Home Depot Rewards MasterCard and The Home Depot Business Rewards MasterCard - both issued by Citi Cards.
Visa Asia Pacific has released new information that shows international travelers to and within the region spent a total of US$6.8 billion on their Visa cards during the first quarter of 2006 - 13 percent more than the same period a year ago. According to Visa, the increase in spending can be attributed not only to more arrivals but also to an increase in the issuance of Visa cards across the region. In Visa's Asia Pacific region, there were 287 million Visa cards in circulation in the first quarter of 2006, an increase of 17 percent over the year before.
John Blau writes for PC Advisor that "train passengers in Germany can now purchase tickets with Internet-enabled mobile phones through the travel portal of the railway company Deutsche Bahn and receive a ticket in the form of a bar code sent via MMS that conductors scan to confirm the ticket."
Mike Reagan, Managing Principal of Carreker’s Global Payments Consulting, has published an opinion piece (PDF) about what he calls "All-Consumer Check Conversion (ACC): the automatic conversion of any consumer-written check to ACH at the earliest point possible." Reagan says "The key variable is the willingness of the banking industry to move in a direction that looks at checks not by the way they are processed but by the value they deliver. It is not a question of championing one payments silo over the other, but advancing the electronification agenda in the manner that delivers to customers and derives for banks the best "win-win"
In the UK, The Logic Group is surveying retailers regarding their views and awareness of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Bill Brohaugh of Colloquy writes for DMNews.com about the benefits of letting customers decide what loyalty options make the most sense for them. He mentions Turkey's Garanti Bank and its Flexi card that allows customers to "select from numerous options covering interest rates, reward percentages, fees and so on. For example, choose a higher interest rate for unpaid balances and offset it with a higher reward return percentage on purchases." Brohaugh concludes that "Garanti’s offer of multiple additional reward opportunities amounts to customer self-segmentation."
Hilary Osborne reports for the UK's Guardian Unlimited that "new borrowing on credit cards fell to an all-time low in July as consumers continued to rein in their exposure to unsecured debt." A press release by the British Bankers' Association (BBA) said "new borrowing on credit cards totalled £7,083mn in July, the lowest July figure since 2002. With repayments exceeding spending and after seasonal adjustment, net lending contracted by £348mn, continuing the recent subdued picture of demand."
We have received news of the following recent management changes:
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has published "Investing In Payment Innovations: Risks And Rewards" (PDF) by Carrie Jankowski and Tiffany White. From the abstract: "Advances in technology have helped usher in new payment mechanisms catered to current demographic and cross-border demands. Yet these payment innovations also pose increasingly complex security challenges worldwide. Participants at a recent Chicago Fed conference discussed the implications of these developments for the payments industry." The agenda, selected speeches and presentations from the May 2006 conference are also available online.
Dallas-based Whitson Wells Promotional Marketing Group has started marketing some unique gift card packaging solutions for retailers - with "TeeBuck" T-shirts that have been compressed into the shape of a wine bottle, golf ball, paint brush, coffee cup, etc. to accompany a gift card.
The American Bankers Association has announced the results of a new survey finding that, by a ratio of 6-to-1, consumers trust banks more than other institutions when it comes to their personal records.
The Aite Group has announced a new report titled "Online Banking: Moving Toward a New Paradigm" that surveys 21 of the top 50 US banks and forecasts that, by 2010, 13 percent of new checking accounts in the US will be opened via the online channel. According to the report, the top performer among the banks surveyed says they are currently sourcing about 20 percent of new checking accounts online with the next highest performer currently sourcing 13 percent.
Michael Fitzgerald writes for Technology Review about near field communication (NFC) technology and how NFC can enable mobile phones to become like mobile wallets - with the added ability to swap addresses and share photos between two NFC-equipped phones (or other devices). Industry forecasters predict that by 2010 half of all new mobile phones will be NFC-equipped.
Visa USA has announced that Visa volume on purchases less than $25 in targeted small ticket segments totaled $27.3 billion in the first six months of the year, an increase of 17 percent over the same period in 2005, indicating that Visa cards are increasingly being used instead of cash and checks for everyday purchases less than $25.
Entropia Universe, a fast growing virtual world utilizing a real cash economy, has announced "the launch of a new monetary deposit platform designed by Paysafecard.com, Europe's first prepaid card for online payments."
eMarketer takes a look at the relatively low rate of mobile Internet usage in the US - as compared to other regions. "According to a new report from Telephia, 34.6 million US mobile phone subscribers accessed the Internet from a wireless device in June 2006. With eMarketer estimating the US mobile phone population at approximately 213 million in 2006, that equates to only 16% of mobile phone subscribers." What are the implications for mobile commerce generally? eMarketer has also recently published a report on Mobile Payments in Japan.
PULSE EFT Association LP and LINK Interchange Network Ltd., the operator of the UK Cash Machine Network, have announced a reciprocal agreement that will allow the 4,200 financial institution participants in the PULSE ATM/debit network to offer their cardholders access to all but a handful of the more than 58,000 cash machines across the United Kingdom and allow LINK to offer its 38 participating financial institution members access to an additional 250,000 PULSE cash machines in the United States.
As mentioned yesterday, West Coast Bank is now offering its banking customers the Coinstar line of gift card, prepaid wireless, cash card, and phone card products. According to a press release issued this afternoon, included in the products being offered are gift cards from food, entertainment and retail businesses including Chili's, Borders, Starbucks, Circuit City, AMC Theatres, KB Toys, and Timberland along with Green Dot prepaid debit cards.
Visa USA has announced that Visa TravelMoney cards will now be available in more than 1,550 Safeway store locations nationwide, including participating Safeway, Carrs, Dominick's, Genuardi's, Pak 'n Save, Pavilions, Randalls, Vons, and Tom Thumb stores. NetSpend will market the reloadable prepaid travel cards and process transactions for the issuer, Inter National Bank.
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services has announced results of a recent survey of financial organizations in which eighty percent of financial organizations responding said their organization currently offers Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or plans to do so in the next year.
TowerGroup has announced new research examining the US merchant acquiring business - concluding that further concentration of the large merchant acquirers in the United States is unlikely and that growth opportunities are likely to come from competition either between U.S. acquirers or with those outside the United States.
Cara Nissman writes for Bankrate.com about how more colleges and universities are deciding that it's just too expensive for them to accept credit cards for tuition payments. We reported earlier this month on a move by Brigham Young University to push its students to using echecks for tuition payments.
Arcot Systems has announced that All Points Capital, a subsidiary of North Fork Bank, has chosen the Arcot's WebFort multi-factor authentication solution for authenticating financial institution customers into its online transaction portal. The ability to also use Arcot's solution for secure digital signing of electronic documents was an important factor in All Points' decision.