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« September 17, 2006 - September 23, 2006 | Main | October 1, 2006 - October 7, 2006 »

September 30, 2006

Field Report: New Wells Fargo Imaging ATM's

A friend of Payments News files this field report: "I stopped at a Wells Fargo branch yesterday and got to use one of the new next-generation ATM machines. From a customer point of view, I thought they were switching from machines that required envelopes for deposits to machines that didn't. No big deal. Turns out these new machines are a lot more sophisticated than what I was anticipating."

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Credit Card Lending Slows In UK

Ashley Seager reports for The Guardian on new data from the Bank of England showing "a fall of £311m in credit card borrowing in August, the first fall since May 1994 and the biggest drop since records began in 1993. Credit card lending has slowed sharply this year but this is the first time it has actually fallen."

Retail Decisions Taken Private

According to a Reuters report, Retail Decisions Plc said yesterday it had agreed to a $314 million cash offer from RD Card Ltd, a private firm set up by Palamon Capital Partners.

Viewpoint: Paying (And Steering) Through The Finger

Philip Yam writes on the Scientific American blog about Pay by Touch - asking questions about whether fingerprints can be "spoofed", whether germs on the fingerprint reader might be a concern, and about privacy concerns. He concludes by discussing the economics of Pay by Touch's ACH-based payment system, noting that, according to a company rep he spoke with, "several Pay By Touch retailers have dropped credit transactions entirely for the cost savings."

Mercator Announces Survey of Prepaid Market

Mercator Advisory Group has announced the first of three reports of its 3rd Annual Survey of the Prepaid Market is now available. This report reveals that Open Networks, including American Express, Discover (Pulse), MasterCard, and Visa, all have established in-roads into a market segment once exclusively controlled by closed systems - In Store Gift Cards. The report notes that "the increasing adoption of the merchant retail locations as a place where consumers acquire their Open Prepaid Cards should be watched closely by financial institutions, since it creates an important new channel."

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September 29, 2006

BITS - Decade Of Difference

BITS has released a 10 year retrospective titled "Decade of Difference" that takes a look back at the contributions made since BITS was founded in 1996.

First Data Completes Western Union Spin-off

First Data Corp. today announced that it has completed the distribution of a tax-free special dividend to its shareholders consisting of approximately 765 million shares of common stock of The Western Union Company. First Data is distributing one share of common stock of Western Union for each share of First Data common stock to First Data shareholders as of September 22, 2006. As a result of that distribution, First Data will no longer own shares of Western Union, and Western Union will be an independent company. Western Union common stock has been authorized for listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and will trade under the symbol "WU."

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Center for Financial Services Innovation Innovators Roundtable

The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) has announced the inaugural members of its Innovators Roundtable: Citigroup, eFunds, Experian, H&R Block and Wells Fargo. According to the Center's Director, Jennifer Teacher, these companies were selected for their pioneering work in the underbanked market space, their national prominence, and the range of approaches and industry areas they represent.

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Shell Platinum MasterCard Triples Rebates For New Card Holders

Shell Oil Products US has announced it has re-introduced a credit card incentive and marketing campaign for the Shell Platinum MasterCard® from Citi Cards. Shell and Citibank will triple the rebates on Shell gasoline to 15 percent for new cardholders who apply for the card between Oct. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2006. That can mean a savings of 41 cents per gallon at $2.75 per gallon when using their Shell Platinum MasterCard from Citi Cards.

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Australia Revises Visa, MasterCard Interchange Fees Downward

The Reserve Bank of Australia has announced revisions to interchange fees to take effect November 1. The bank said that, using data supplied by issuers of credit cards and Visa and MasterCard, it has calculated that "the common benchmark to apply for the three years from 1 November 2006 is 0.50 per cent. This compares with the current average interchange fee in these schemes of a little under 0.55 per cent." For Visa Debit, "the Reserve Bank has calculated that the benchmark applying for the three years from 1 November 2006 is 12 cents. For a Visa Debit transaction of average size, the introduction of this Standard will result in a fall in the interchange fee from around 44 cents to under 12 cents." The bank has also suspended the "no surcharge" rule - allowing merchants to surcharge Visa Debit transactions if they so choose.

Update on ING Direct

ING Direct has been an amazing success story. Earlier this week, ING Group held an Investor Relations Symposium in London to review the performance of its various business units - including ING Direct. The presentation slides (PDF) are available online. ING Direct USA's CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann was recently profiled in US News & World Report. He's also one of the heroes of the new book Mavericks at Work by William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre.

Who's News - Payments Professionals Management Changes

We have received news of the following recent management changes:

Announce yourself! Have you recently taken on a new position in the payments industry? If you'd like to share the news with your colleagues, be sure to tell us about it.

September 28, 2006

PayPal Announces Settlement Agreements

PayPal has announced that it has signed a settlement agreement with 28 United States Attorneys General. In entering into this voluntary agreement, PayPal said that it will, among other things, shorten and streamline its user agreement and communicate more information relating to its protection programs. PayPal reports that it has already complied with many of the terms in the agreement.

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Visa USA Updates Progress On Small Ticket Payments

Visa USA has announced that leading U.S. merchants continue to adopt the Visa No Signature Required Program, which waives the signature requirement for qualifying Visa transactions less than $25 across 17 merchant categories using existing magnetic stripe POS card acceptance terminals. The program, launched in April 2006, is designed to accelerate Visa acceptance and card usage at traditionally cash-intensive merchants. According to Visa, 7-Eleven, Inc., Clearview Cinemas, Dairy Queen, Domino’s Pizza, and Sonic Drive-In are among the newest merchants now participating in the program. Visa estimates indicate that by the end of 2006 as much as 27 percent of all Visa transactions may qualify for Visa's No Signature Required Program.

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Visa Named "World's Leading Credit Card"

Visa International has announced that, "for the ninth consecutive year, the World Travel Awards, the prestigious awards ceremony that acknowledges significant achievements in all areas of the travel and tourism industry, has named Visa the "World's Leading Credit Card."

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Who's News - Payments Professionals Management Changes

We have received news of the following recent management changes:

  • Ronald V. Congemi, senior vice president of strategic industry relationships for First Data Corp., has been elected chairman of the board of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.
  • Lisa Pollina has been named Global Financial Institutions Executive in Bank of America's Global Treasury Services business.
Announce yourself! Have you recently taken on a new position in the payments industry? If you'd like to share the news with your colleagues, be sure to tell us about it.

September 27, 2006

TSYS Signs First Card Issuer in Japan

TSYS has announced it will be supporting a new co-branded Visa offered by Toyota Finance and Nikko Cordial Securities in Japan.

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Best Buy Revamps Loyalty Program, New Rewards MasterCard

Best Buy has announced enhancements to its customer loyalty program, Reward Zone, including the launch of the Best Buy Reward Zone program MasterCard card, issued by HSBC. The Reward Zone program will now allow customers to choose between two levels of rewards.

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Visa Announces Technology Milestones

Visa has announced the completion of major technology milestones, chief among them the company's completion of a five-year initiative to completely re-engineer its global authorization engine, the Visa Integrated Payment platform. According to Visa, the result is "a state-of-the-art, modular processing platform that is highly scalable, flexible and secure, and combines unsurpassed global reach with the processing power to support Visa's future growth and product innovation."

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Visa Exceeds US$315 Billion in Global Commercial Volume

Visa International has announced that the value of all purchases and cash withdrawals made with Visa Commercial payment solutions worldwide reached US$317 billion for the four quarters ended June 30, 2006, growing 24 percent year over year.

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NTT DoCoMo, JR East, JCB and BitWallet to Use Same POS Reader

East Japan Railway Company (JR East), NTT DoCoMo, JCB and bitWallet have announced that they have agreed to share a common platform to enable their e-payment brands - Suica, iD, QUICPay and Edy - to share the same point-of-sale reader/writer device and data center. The system is expected to begin commercial operation with the Suica and iD brands in January 2007, with QUICPay and Edy to be added subsequently.

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September 26, 2006

Australia - Payment Systems Evolution: Where to From Here?

Philip Lowe, Assistant Governor (Financial System) of the Reserve Bank of Australia has given a presentation to the Australian Bankers' Association and the Australian Payments Clearing Association Forum titled "Payment Systems Evolution: Where to From Here?" (PDF). A background paper titled Payment Systems Developments and Architecture: Some Background (PDF) is also available. The presentation and background paper examine two related issues: whether the development of payment products in Australia has been keeping pace with that abroad and on the implications of a number of Australia's payment systems being based on bilateral technical and business linkages vs. a more centralized approach.

Prepaid Cards In Europe

TowerGroup has announced a new research report titled "Prepaid Cards: A Critical Market Foundation of Europe's SEPA Plans" that concludes that a sharp rise in the deployment of prepaid products over the next 10 years will be key to supporting bank profitability. However, TowerGroup also "believes that European banks success will be elusive as long as the use of cash remains high - underscoring the need for a true debit-based alternative that does not include identity recognition as part of the electronic payment."

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Washington DC Area Supermarket Launches Mobile Rewards From MobileLime

MobileLime has announced that Chevy Chase Supermarket is the first merchant in the Washington DC metro area to offer its patrons rewards and instant savings linked to their cell phone with Mobile Rewards from MobileLime.

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ValueVision Media, GE Retail Consumer Finance Launch ShopNBC MasterCard

ShopNBC and GE Retail Consumer Finance have announced they have entered into an exclusive multi-year agreement to launch a new ShopNBC branded MasterCard as well as an improved ShopNBC private label credit card.

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TSYS Acquiring Solutions To Support Discover Acceptance

TSYS Acquiring Solutions has announced plans to integrate Discover Network card acceptance into its offering for merchant acquirers and independent sales organizations (ISOs) - offering merchants consolidated servicing, statementing and settlement.

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Mobile Marketing Association Creates m-Commerce Committee

The Mobile Marketing Association has announced that it has launched an m-Commerce Committee to develop best practices, standards and other guidelines for mobile-commerce initiatives. The committee will serve as a consortium between wireless carriers and key players in the m-commerce ecosystem, including brands, retailers and media. The committee's goal is to create a framework that provides consumers with a simple, consistent, user-friendly m-commerce experience across the industry.

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Network Branded Prepaid Card Association Reports 28 Members

The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA), a non-profit, inter-industry trade association created to advance the success of network branded prepaid cards, has launched its first membership year with twenty-eight members, all leaders in the prepaid card industry. The NBPCA has developed a three-year business plan with specific deliverables for each year, the goal being to materially enhance the business environment for network branded prepaid cards.

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