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« November 12, 2006 - November 18, 2006 | Main | November 26, 2006 - December 2, 2006 »

November 25, 2006

Gift Cards - The Gift That Keeps On Taking

Ron Lieber writes for the Wall St. Journal about gift cards - and some of the problems (including various fees) associated with open loop gift cards in particular. An attached chart lists the attributes of over 50 different gift cards - both open loop and retailer-issued, closed loop cards. Interestingly, most retailer-issued cards no longer have maintenance or inactivity fees associated with them.

November 24, 2006

Visa USA Reports 11.1% Third-Quarter Growth In Sales Volume

Visa USA has announced that US sales volume on Visa-branded credit, debit, prepaid and commercial cards increased 11.1 percent over the same period last year to $350.3 billion during the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2006.

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A Magical Season For Gift Cards

Erica Sagon writes for The Arizona Republic that "gift cards are shedding their reputation as impersonal presents given by lazy shoppers in buyers' eyes, at least, with the help of some clever marketing techniques that make a gift card seem more exciting than a piece of plastic."

Contactless Roll-Out In the UK

Dave Birch reports on news that "Visa's UK Board of Directors has announced the nationwide roll out of contactless payment cards across the UK, starting in London, by the end of 2007."

November 23, 2006

Reuters: MasterCard Rebuked At EU Closed Hearing

Reuters is reporting that "MasterCard drew a rebuke at a closed European Commission antitrust hearing last week after claiming incorrectly that Britain had dropped an investigation into its fees."

EMV Beyond Payments: The Bonus Card Case Study

Mercator Advisory Group has released a new report, "EMV Beyond Payments: The Bonus Card Case Study". Mercator says "loyalty on EMV is frequently quoted as the magic application for profiting from EMV The liability shift was still many years away when Garanti Bank started its EMV migration project in November of 2000, shortly after its launch of a Bonus Program in April of the same year. Over the past six years Bonus Card program became a huge success for the Garanti Bank and carried it to a leadership position in the Turkish card market. From 2000 to 2005, Garanti Bank gained over 6% market share on the acquiring side and more than 14% on the issuing side."

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November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is our favorite holiday of the year - Thanksgiving Day - here in the US. We've got a lot to be thankful for this year. Our best wishes to you for a wonderful holiday with your family and loved ones.

The Market For Open-Network Transit Solutions

Mercator Advisory Group has published a new report titled "A True Test For Contactless Payments: The Market For Open-Network Transit Solutions" that "identifies the potential market size for transit payments in the US and looks internationally at the deployment of closed loop contactless cards. The report explores the potential market across different modes of transportation and the benefits of integrating open payment solutions into presently closed loop transit payment systems. The report considers the challenges to integrating closed transit systems."

A Look at Wesabe - Social Smarts For Spending, Saving Money

PodTech has posted a great LunchMeet video interviewing Jason Knight and Marc Hedlund, the two founders of Berkeley, CA-based Wesabe, a new web site focused on personal financial management. A core idea behind Wesabe is the great notion that where you spend money represents an implicit recommendation by you of a merchant - sort of like how Google interprets links to a web site as representing a recommendation of that web site. The video includes a demo that shows how Wesabe works to bring together recommendations and experiences to help you better manage your money. Think of Quicken enhanced with the spending experiences of lots of your neighbors. What might be even more interesting would be to get below the level of the "purchase at a merchant" data itself - into the shopping cart and then mining that data for product specific recommendations.

An All-Purpose Payments Strategy Template

James Van Dyke of Javelin Strategy and Research blogs about his hectic week on the road last week - and about the launch of a new "all-purpose template for developing payments strategies". Javelin subscribers can request a copy of the template and the banker’s payments strategy slide deck.

Another Look At Stronger Authentication For Online Banking

Sarah Scalet reports for CSO Magazine about the steps banks are taking to implement stronger authentication in response to FFIEC guidelines for year-end compliance. Included in the article is a useful chart - titled "Beyond the PIN" - of many of the stronger authentication techniques.

Coinstar Signs UK Retailer WHSmith For Gift Card Mall

Coinstar has announced that its subsidiary Coinstar Limited has signed U.K. retailer WHSmith to its Gift Card Mall program - the first major retailer in the United Kingdom to deliver a Gift Card Mall program.

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FDIC Quarterly Banking Profile

The FDIC has just published its latest Quarterly Banking Profile with lots of statistics on the overall health of the US banking system.

USA Today: American Express vs. MasterCard

Matt Kranz, USA Today's financial markets reporter, compares the stocks of American Express vs. MasterCard (which closed over $100 yesterday!). Bottom line: he's concerned about MasterCard's current PE ratio and its limited history as a public company.

Financial Institutions Urged To Look Beyond FFIEC Rules

Jaikumar Vijayan writes for Computerworld that some industry experts are recommending that financial institutions do more than just comply with the FFIEC guideliness regarding stronger authentication of online banking customers.

U.S. Holiday E-Commerce Spending Off To Strong Start, Up 23%

comScore Networks has released the first in a series of reports that measure consumers' online non-travel (retail) spending during the 2006 holiday season, which began November 1, 2006. During the first 19 days of November this year, total online retail spending reached $6.35 billion, marking a 23-percent increase versus the corresponding days in 2005.

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The Three Ps Help Holiday Shoppers Protect Identity

Retailers and charities aren't the only ones expecting to benefit from the upcoming holiday shopping season.
With the average shopper expected to spend nearly $800 this year on holiday merchandise, according to the National Retail Federation, thieves are also looking to cash in on the season. Besides stealing money and objects, identity theft is gaining popularity among criminals.

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Retail Theft Increases for First Time in Four Years

ADT reports that the holidays mean more shopping, and more shopping means more concerns for retailers about shoplifting. This year, retailers have added reason for concern -- for the first time in four years the rate of retail loss has increased, according to a new University of Florida retail study.

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November 21, 2006

Contactless Payment Comes to Cell Phones

Kate Norton reports for Business Week Europe on contactless forms of mobile commerce around the world. "Consultancy Strategy Analytics, in Milton Keynes, England, forecasts that mobile-phone-based contactless payments will account for more than $36 billion in consumer spending by 2011, up from $900 million now. The bulk of that should be in Asia."

A Look At Wal-Mart's ILC Plans

In two commentary articles yesterday and today, the Motley Fool's Emil Lee has been exploring Wal-Mart's banking plans - its request to form an industrial loan corporation in Utah. In the second article, he challenges the banking industry - most of whom are opposing Wal-Mart's plans - saying that if banks "can't fend off a company that makes its living selling underwear and soap at cheap prices, then perhaps those banks aren't providing customers with enough value."

Visa USA Surveys Holiday Spending Plans

Visa USA reports on a holiday spending survey that concludes "men actually report spending more on gifts and entertaining over the holiday season" - with men saying they plan to spend an average of $1,288 for the holidays which is over a hundred dollars more than women who report spending $1,186.

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BBC: Mobiles Hope To Be 'Smart Wallet'

The BBC reports on how mobile operators are working to make mobile phones equipped with NFC become smart wallets. "A mobile equipped with NFC technology could, for example, buy a concert ticket over the phone which would then hold those details, together with the details of the phone user, on the tag inside the handset."

How To Pay For A Fruit Juice - With Your Mobile Phone

Esther Dyson posts a photo of a fruit juice vending machine in Poland that accepts mobile payments provided by MPay. She describes the process - including how the system responds with an offer for a quick discount on chips from the other vending machine to your left.

Holiday Gift Spending Expected to be Down Slightly from Last Year

According to The Conference Board, U.S. households are expected to spend an average of $449 on gifts during the holiday season, down moderately from last year's estimate of $466.

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Google Checkout To Launch Holiday Site On Cyber Monday

Google Checkout has announced that it will be launching a holiday site on Monday, November 27, 2006. According to a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Google Checkout, 40% of employed U.S. adults say they'll be doing at least some of their online holiday shopping from work this year, with 1 in 4 of those shoppers logging on to track down that perfect gift on Monday, November 27. (57% plan to shop during coffee and lunch breaks, while 34% will wait until the end of the workday.)

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Boston Community Change Card Provides Local Rewards

Boston Main Streets, a public-private initiative established by the City of Boston, has announced a new card-based social commerce initiative designed to reward customers and the community when consumers shop at participating local Boston merchants.

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New Paper: Attacking Bank Card PINs

Bruce Schneier blogs about a recent paper by Omer Berkman and Odelia Moshe Ostrovsky titled "The Unbearable Lightness of PIN Cracking" (PDF) saying "basically, the paper describes an inherent flaw with the way ATM PINs are encrypted and transmitted on the international financial networks, making them vulnerable to attack from malicious insiders in a bank."

U.S. Bank to Launch Contactless Credit Card Pilot in Denver

US Bank has announced that it is beginning a pilot of contactless cards in Denver - saying that "a group of U.S. Bank customers in the Denver area will soon be able to use a new “contactless” feature with their U.S. Bank Visa Credit Cards that allows them to quickly pay for purchases by holding their card in very close proximity to a secure reader at checkout instead of swiping it or handing it to a cashier."

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Bank of America Shows Shoppers How to 'Lose Wait' This Holiday Season

According to a new survey conducted by Braun Research and Bank of America, consumers spend an average of four hours and 35 minutes shopping at retail stores during the holiday season. Nearly one-third (one
hour and 22 minutes) of that time is reportedly spent waiting in checkout lines. One way to "lose wait" this year is to shop online. Another way is to bank online. In fact, nine out of ten (88%) Internet bankers surveyed said doing so helps them save time during the holidays.

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