Looking back at 2007, here are the most read news stories posted to Payments News this year:
In an opinion piece titled "The gift card shuffle" in the Los Angeles Times, Megan Daum writes about the "retail phenomena" of gift cards - saying that her gift card buying "experience left me feeling empty and a bit ashamed. It's as though I had opted to take a class pass/fail, not because the material was difficult but because I was too lazy to study; the gift cards seemed like the ultimate cop-out."
37signal's Jason Fried writes about the process they use for handling credit cards for payment for their online services (including Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack, etc.). Fried writes: "So, credit card processing and set up and all that stuff is a real pain in the ass. It’s definitely intimidating to get started. The industry just feels dirty."
Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch writes about a patent application by Apple that "hints at a killer future feature that would let iPhone owners bypass long lines by placing orders at coffee shops and other retail outlets right from their phone." Over the years, there have been several "remote order and pay" initiatives - most recently including MyTango.com.
Online Resources Corp. has released results of a recent survey of U.S. households
and billers regarding the effect of the current mortgage crisis on bill payment and collection patterns. According to ORCC, the survey shows that fallout from the mortgage sector is spilling over into the broader economy, impacting companies across industries and their ability to collect payments.
APACS, the UK payments association, has just published a new report titled "Payment Myths" that it says "uncovers the facts behind payment trends in Britain." According to APACS, the booklet uses statistical evidence to help consumers better understand the payment options available to them and offers advice on the best ways to manage their finances; no matter what payment method they use. The report uses APACS statistics to show examples of the way we use cash, our susceptibility to fraud and the new demographic make up of online bankers – to name but a few.
A Japanese inventor, Shigeru Arisawa of Tokyo, was issued US patent 7,311,246 on Dec. 25 for a "method and system of transmitting electronic value information between terminals." The patent has been assigned to Sony Corporation.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Payments System Research Department has published a new Payment System Research Briefing by Terri Bradford titled "The Evolution of the ACH" . "This article ... summarizes the beginnings of the ACH, exciting changes underway today, and possible further changes in the future."
Adam J. Levitin, Associate Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, has published a new paper titled "All But Accurate: a Critique of the American Bankers Association's Study on Credit Card Regulation". From the abstract: "This review article takes issue with three of the main assertions of the American Bankers Association's Study on Credit Card Regulation."
Adam J. Levitin has a commentary published in today's Chicago Tribune titled "Complex Pricing of Credit Cards Should Be Simplified" in which he argues that the complicated pricing structure of credit cards makes it virtually impossible to determine the potential costs of carrying a balance. He believes that the complexity "helps explain the soaring growth of American credit card debt, now approaching $1 trillion." Levitin notes that while he qualifies "as a savvy and dedicated reader of financial contracts, but frequently I cannot calculate with certainty the costs of carrying a credit card balance, and my calls to card issuers' 800-number servicing lines have done nothing to clarify matters."
In a paper titled "Are Consumers Cashing Out?", Paul Bauer and Daniel Littman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examine consumer usage of cash for payments - "Two indirect methods of measuring cash usage suggest that people are indeed switching from cash to more electronic forms of payment, but the process is happening slowly. Innovations in electronic payments may be gradually eroding the advantages of using cash, but cash is still preferred for many transactions."
MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, a macro-economic report tracking retail sales nationally, has reported summary results for the 2007 Holiday shopping season concluding that, for the period between Black Friday and December 24, retail grew by a seasonally adjusted 3.6% over the same period in 2006.
In a press release yesterday, the National Retail Federation says it "has welcomed a ruling by the European Commission that hidden fees currently charged by MasterCard to process credit card transactions in Europe – similar to those that cost U.S. shoppers $40 billion annually – drive up costs for consumers in violation of EC rules and must be withdrawn within six months."
AP writers Rachel Konrad and Bob Porterfield write that "Americans are falling behind on their credit card payments at an alarming rate, sending delinquencies and defaults surging by double-digit percentages in the last year and prompting warnings of worse to come." Their story is based upon a review of the SEC filings of securitized credit card debt "representing about 325 million individual accounts."
According to Chase Paymentech, Americans rushed to the web on Tuesday, Dec. 18 to complete their 2007 online holiday shopping as Christmas delivery deadlines loomed, resulting in a single-day Chase Paymentech Pulse Index high of $169 million in sales and more than 3 million orders. This notable sales spike is more than 42 percent higher than Friday, December 15th, the peak Pulse Index shopping day in 2006.
Amazon.com has introduced another new web services offering - this one called DevPay. "This new service allows entrepreneurial developers to wrap their own business models around Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2, taking advantage of Amazon's existing customer base and billing infrastructure. With DevPay, developers can focus on being creative and innovative while dispatching the less-than-glamorous aspects of dealing with bank accounts, credit cards, and so forth to us."
Romina Abal of Edgar, Dunn & Company has published a new article titled "Rich Opportunity in the Unbanked Segment" . "New and unique data from the PaymentDynamicsSM 2007 Preferred Payments Study shows that the conven- tional wisdom regarding the unbanked is overly simplistic at best, and in many ways, simply inaccurate. For instance, many financial institutions may be sur- prised to learn that more than half of the unbanked have attended college, or that only a third of them are rated as having sub-prime credit scores."
TSYS has announced that China UnionPay Data Services Co., Ltd. (“CUP Data”), TSYS’ joint venture with China UnionPay (“CUP”), has successfully completed a bankcard conversion for Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (“SPDB”), one of the largest joint-stock commercial banks in China.
A coalition of U.S. merchants opposed to unfair credit card fees says it welcomed a ruling by the European Union (EU) Competition Commission that MasterCard’s credit card interchange fees for consumers must be cut across the 26 member nations of the European community.
Discover Financial Services has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2007 reporting that its U.S. Card managed loans reached $48.2 billion, up 5% from last year driven by a 6% increase in credit card sales volume. Discover says that its "U.S. Card credit quality remained strong, although delinquency rates increased from last quarter reflecting weakening in the U.S. economy. The fourth quarter managed credit card net charge-off rate was 3.84% and the 30+ days delinquency rate was 3.59%."
Universal Air Travel Plan (UATP) has announced "a partnership with HomeATM ePayment Solutions, a global online payment solution and web security engineering firm. The partnership will initially offer an alternative payment option to the global commercial airline community."