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February 28, 2007

Citi To Acquire Ecount

The New York Times reports that "Citigroup has agreed to buy Ecount, a privately held provider of prepaid cards, expanding its presence in the fastest-growing part of the payment industry, according to bank officials." According to the Times, the official announcement is expected to be made tomorrow.

Visa ReadyLink Prepaid Reload To Be Available At 7-Eleven Stores

Visa USA has announced an agreement with 7-Eleven to "introduce Visa ReadyLink, Visa's prepaid load network, to its U.S. convenience stores. 7-Eleven, the world's largest convenience store chain and one of the nation's largest independent gasoline retailers, will work with its Visa member acquiring financial institution to implement the service. This service will allow consumers to add funds to eligible Visa reloadable prepaid cards at the nearly 5,350 stores that 7-Eleven operates and franchises in the contiguous U.S."

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MasterCard's 10-K Annual Report

MasterCard's 10-K annual report for 2006 was filed today with the SEC and is available online. Included were various exhibits including updated Bylaws, as well as copies of amended business agreements with HSBC and Bank of America (both redacted to remove confidential financial information).

A Payment Solution That's Just Better

In a post titled "Pincer Movement" on the Digital Money Blog, Dave Birch writes about the recent story we posted here on Payments News earlier this week about NTT DoCoMo and McDonald's getting together for contactless mobile payments in Japan.

Dave asks "isn't this a nightmare come true for the payments guys in banks? The retailers and the mobile phone operators getting together to provide a new solution to a problem that is not central to either of them but as a byproduct of achieving some other goals -- perhaps customer intimacy or reduced churn -- and chips away at legacy payment systems provided by banks..."

PayPal Webinar on Alternative Payments

PayPal's Online Merchant Network is holding a webinar on March 7th beginning at 10 AM Pacific time on the topic of alternative payments. According to the announcement, "Jim Hunt, Director of Merchant Relations for PayPal, identifies the pros and cons of the available forms of alternative payment methods and what to consider when choosing which to implement. In addition, a panel of current mid-sized PayPal merchants will be available to give their perspective and answer questions."

Blackhawk Network Named Most Innovative Prepaid Product/Service

Prepaid Media has announced the winners of the 2007 Prepaid Card Awards - naming Blackhawk Network as the Most Innovative Product or Service. Other award winners include the Wal-Mart Prepaid Visa, Brinker International for its payroll card program, and the American Red Cross for its disaster relief card program.

PULSE Studies Debit Card Market

The PULSE EFT Association has announced results of its 2007 Debit Issuer Study - concluding that "U.S. debit card-issuing financial institutions experienced debit card transaction growth of 18 percent in 2006 and expect continued strong growth in 2007."

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Citi, Obopay to Pilot Mobile Person-to-Person Payment Service

Citi has announced an agreement with Obopay to pilot an "innovative, real-time Person-to-Person mobile payments service later this year. The service will be offered to new and existing Citi credit and debit card customers. Further details, including cities for the consumer pilot, are to be confirmed and announced at a later time."

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MasterCard Adjusts US Interchange Rates

Digital Transactions reports on changes MasterCard is making to its interchange rates effective April 1, 2007 - saying that "Internet retailers will see their acceptance costs decline for some MasterCard credit card transactions but rise for others." MasterCard's full interchange rate tables are available online.

An Update on Heartland's Merchant Bill of Rights

Heartland Payment Systems has announced that forty-six state associations now support its "Merchant Bill of Rights, a major initiative to help owners of small and mid-sized businesses manage the cost and complexity of credit and debit card acceptance."

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Elan, Sapphire Mobile Systems Partner For Mobile Banking and Payments

US Bank's Elan Financial Services has announced it has partnered with Sapphire Mobile Systems to conduct a mobile banking and payments pilot, integrating with the Phire Mobile Debit Network to provide customers with "highly secure, instant access to their PayCard accounts via any mobile handset."

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February 27, 2007

Stop & Shop Issues Statement

The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company issued a press release late today updating news of an earlier suspected security breach: "On Monday night, associates in our Coventry, Rhode Island, Stop & Shop noticed suspicious activity at the front of the store near our cash registers. Our associates called the Coventry Police, who responded immediately and arrested four individuals."

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Be Your Own Bank

Jessica Anderson writes for Kiplinger.com about being a person-to-person lender on Prosper.com - saying it "offers financial rewards with a dose of good karma."

Lloyds TSB To Begin Charging Annual Fees For Low Credit Card Usage

Bankrate.com reports on news out of the UK that Lloyds TSB plans to begin charging cardholders fees of £35 per year if they don't use their credit cards often enough. More details about the plan are available in this BBC story.

Aliaswire's Voice-Operated Bill Payment for Prepaid Debit Cards

Aliaswire has announced the general availability of PayVox, a "Voice-Activated Bill Payment solution that has been designed exclusively for the prepaid card industry. Using just a prepaid debit card, PayVox allows users to pay bills over the phone or the web in a manner previously only available to on-line banking bill-pay customers."

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Visa Expands Participation In ReadyLink Prepaid Load Network

Visa USA has announced that nearly twenty issuers, partners, processors and acquiring financial institutions have agreed to implement Visa ReadyLink, Visa’s prepaid load network service. Visa recently announced an agreement with Blackhawk Network’s alliance partner stores, making Safeway the first in Blackhawk Network’s alliance of 60,000 stores in North America to implement Visa ReadyLink.

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Trust in Online Finance - Creating Safe and Trusted Online Offerings

The European Financial Management & Marketing Association has announced a conference titled "Trust in Online Finance - Creating Safe and Trusted Online Offerings" to be held in Brussels on Thursday-Friday, April 26-27.

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Report: Bank of America Achieves Highest Adoption of Online Bill Pay

comScore Networks has released the results of a study analyzing usage of online bill payment services at leading banks - "defined as paying a bill online from a checking, savings, or money market account using the functionality in the bill pay portion of the bank's Web site and where the recipient of the money is not the bank itself. According to the study, among those consumers who had one or more checking, savings, or money market accounts and who used online bank bill pay during the quarter with a leading financial institution Bank of America achieved 65 percent penetration in Q4 2006. Wells Fargo ranked second in penetration of online bill payers, with a level of 18 percent, followed by Chase and Wachovia (each achieved 13 percent penetration)."

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Update on Bank of America's 2007 Investor Conference

Bank of America is webcasting the second day of its annual investor conference today. Yesterday's webcast is also available for viewing online.

A presentation by Barbara Desoer, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, titled "Payments: The Opportunity" is particularly of interest to payments professionals - she notes that "payments drive more revenue for banks than any other business." Additional presentations from the conference are available online.

Glenbrook Payments Boot Camps Update

Glenbrook's next Payments Boot Camp, scheduled for Atlanta, Georgia on March 13 and 14, has only a few open seats remaining. Carol Coye Benson and Scott Loftesness will be teaching this session. If you're interested in attending this boot camp in Atlanta, please be sure to register now as we're just about sold out.

Glenbrook's Merchants Payments Boot Camp, specifically tailored for retailers, ecommerce merchants, etc. is being held March 21 and 22 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Allen Weinberg, Russ Jones and Jay DeWitt will be teaching this session. Registration is available online.

For answers to any questions about Glenbrook's Payments Boot Camps, you can contact us at bootcamp@glenbrook.com.

New Book For PayPal Developers

Damon Williams has posted about his new book for PayPal developers titled "Pro PayPal E-Commerce." Williams says he's "pulled together just about all of the different options that PayPal offers to web developers, and included lots of sample code and best practices for developing your website or application."

You'll find more books specially selected for payments professionals at the Payments News Store.

Capital One's New No Hassle Cash Rewards Card

Capital One has announced the No Hassle Cash Rewards credit card that "offers (one percent) cash back on purchases without the complicated requirements, confusing language and frustrating expiration periods of other cash back rewards programs."

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A Look at Mobile Banking & Payments 2.0

NetBanker's Jim Bruene has announced the publication of new research titled "Mobile Banking & Payments 2.0" - saying that "after three months of looking at mobile banking, talking to more players, and trying to develop a reasonable forecast, we have tempered our initial enthusiasm a bit. While we remain optimistic that the mobile channel will someday eclipse desktop online banking ... in North America mobile banking is NOT a new channel, but rather an extension of existing sales and service channels." The report is available for $495 or included with a subscription to Online Banking Report.

February 26, 2007

Transforming U.S. Retail Payments

The Federal Reserve System’s Payments System Policy Advisory Committee has published a summary of results from a forum on "Transforming U.S. Retail Payments" that was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on November 2, 2006 to discuss payments system developments and barriers to innovation with the payments industry and relevant payments system participants. "During the forum, industry experts representing depository institutions, payment processors, and nonfinancial corporations provided a variety of perspectives on strategic issues and opportunities associated with the changing U.S. retail payments system."

FSTC Annual Conference & Mobile Payments Workshop

The Financial Services Technology Consortium (FSTC) has announced its annual conference and general meeting will be held in Dallas on May 16-17. On May 15, the FSTC will he holding a Mobile Payments Workshop - also in Dallas.

A Look At DirectHuntington

Over on The Bankwatch blog, Colin Henderson takes a look at Huntington Bank's new DirectHuntington high rate online savings account initiative. Huntington announced DirectHuntington earlier today - offering a 5.3% APY.

Comdata Surveys Consumers About Gift Card Malls

According to Comdata, "gift cards make holiday shopping quick, while gift card malls make it painless." A recent survey by the company shows consumers hit gift card malls in a big way this past holiday season. Results of a national web survey of adults conducted in February revealed that 22 percent of adults purchased cards at a gift card mall this year, up from 14 percent in 2006.

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Retail Expansion Network Launches PaidByCash eCommerce Service

Retail Expansion Network has announced PaidByCash - described as "a new coast-to-coast cash network that allows any online retailer and any online shopper to complete a cash transaction over the Internet. PaidByCash is a Virtual MasterCard product accepted by nearly every online retailer. With a nationwide network of 60,000 neighborhood retail outlets where consumers can convert cash into an online payment instrument, PaidByCash has opened a new market for the national online retail economy."

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