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« July 15, 2007 - July 21, 2007 | Main | July 29, 2007 - August 4, 2007 »

July 28, 2007

A Look at Proposed Changes to Credit Card Regulations

Curtis Arnold writes for CardRatings.com about the Federal Reserve's proposal to amend Regulation Z (announced on May 23) to "improve the effectiveness of the disclosures consumers receive in connection with credit card accounts and other revolving credit plans by ensuring that information is provided in a timely manner and in a form that is readily understandable." The Fed is asking for public comments on the proposal - which must be received on or before October 12, 2007.

Slower than Cash - Among the Wild Animals

While on a recent family vacation, one of our visits was to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park just outside of Escondido, California. A wonderful experience indeed - except when it came to buying things. The card acceptance practices and technology at the Wild Animal Park could sure use some work.

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More Drumbeats About Overdraft Fees, Overdraft Loans

The press continues having a field day with the checking account overdraft fee/overdraft loan issue recently highlighted by the Center for Responsible Lending. In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Péralte C. Paul explores the issue - saying "for those who are checkbook challenged when it comes to balancing the all-too-important checking account, that $4 Starbucks latte can end up costing that much plus another $30 in overdraft charges if the funds to cover it are lacking."

Lessons of Google Checkout

Ehab Bandar writes on his Banking Unwired blog about Google Checkout - and how consumers might get confused. He believes that "the benefits of Google Checkout are only truly realized with an all or nothing approach."

What I Really Want in Mobile Banking Services

Morriss Partee of EverythingCU.com blogs about what he really wants in the way of mobile banking services: SMS-based query/retrieval of useful information including account balance, details within budgeting categories, etc.

China UnionPay Adds Merchants

From the Shanghai Daily comes this report on China UnionPay's efforts to expand merchant card acceptance in China. "With the growth, UnionPay has 616,700 merchants and nearly one million points of sale."

July 27, 2007

Citi, Obopay to Begin Pilot of Mobile Payment Service to Consumers

Citi has announced that it will begin piloting a new mobile peer to peer payment service with Obopay to select new and existing Citi customers as part of a limited consumer trial in Boston and Chicago.

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Capital One in Saving Zone Deal with Yahoo!

Capital One and Yahoo! Shopping have announced a partnership "creating the Capital One Saving Zone, a portal on Yahoo! Shopping that offers exclusive deals on select merchandise to Capital One cardholders. At the Saving Zone, Capital One cardholders can receive up to a 40 percent savings on already discounted items, as well as an additional 10 percent off everything they purchase on the site using their Capital One credit card."

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Online Resources to Acquire Internet Transaction Solutions

Online Resources Corporation has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Internet Transaction Solutions, a biller service provider (BSP) to receivables management companies and utilities.

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Headline News - July 28, 2007

Note: Throughout the day, as Payments News happens, this post is updated. For job opportunities available for payments professionals, visit PaymentsJobs.com. Employers looking to hire payments professionals can post their job openings there as well.

July 26, 2007

Financial Insights Payments Newsletter

The latest quarterly edition of the Payments Newsletter from Financial Insights (PDF) is now available. This edition looks at BerkShares, a local currency in western Massachusetts. "The main idea of BerkShares is to keep money in the local community by encouraging residents to spend with local businesses. The exchange rate on BerkShares results in an effective 10% discount on everything bought with the currency, but it may only be used at businesses that accept it."

MasterCard PayPass Pilot in Italy

MasterCard has announced the first MasterCard PayPass pilot programme in Italy, in partnership with Poste Italiane – business unit Banco Posta.

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A Look at American Express

This morning's Heard on the Street column by the Wall St. Journal's Robin Sidel reports on American Express - saying that some investers are concerned "that the company is increasing its exposure to consumers at a time when some of them may have trouble paying their bills."

First Data International to Acquire Check Forte in Brazil

First Data International has announced an agreement to acquire Check Forte, a Brazilian provider of data capture, switching and POS terminal management as well as network processing services to banks for bill payment transactions initiated at off-premises merchant locations.

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Headline News - July 26, 2007

Note: Throughout the day, as Payments News happens, this post is updated. For job opportunities available for payments professionals, visit PaymentsJobs.com. Employers looking to hire payments professionals can post their job openings there as well.

July 25, 2007

GE Money Launches My Earth Rewards

As anticipated earlier, GE Money has launched the Earth Rewards MasterCard - along with a new My Earth Rewards web site dedicated to this new "green" product. "Every time you use your Earth Rewards Card, a portion of your net purchases will go to offsetting the emissions created by your purchases and activities. For example, spending $25 contributes enough to offset the emissions associated with running a typical refrigerator for a month. Spending $500 offsets the emissions from driving almost 1,500 miles in an average car." The full press release is here.

Wesabe's Firefox Extension Automates Upload of Consumer's Bank Data

Wesabe has announced the release of an open-source Firefox extension that lets members automate the secure upload of bank data to their Wesabe account. After members "record" download sessions with their banks, the scripts auto-start and play to deliver updated transaction information to Wesabe.

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Visa Signature Partners with Zagat Survey

Visa USA has announced the "launch of an enhanced Visa Signature Dining Web site and a unique partnership with Zagat Survey, one of the most trusted resources for restaurant ratings and reviews. The new www.visa.com/signaturefood site was built to fulfill Visa Signature cardholders’ appetite for epicurean experiences and information, enabling them to view Zagat’s restaurant ratings and reviews; access unique experiences, such as wine tastings, cooking classes and private chef events; and make dining reservations through the Visa Signature Concierge."

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BanX Expands BanXcard Maestro Card Distribution

BanX has announced plans to increase nationwide efforts of the Company's BanXcard Maestro Card - say it is "a safe substitute for traditional checking accounts that allow users to load cash on BanXcards at thousands of card-loading retailers including convenience, grocery and department stores and gas-stations." BanX claims its fee structure is simpler and less expensive when compared to Wal-Mart's MoneyCard. BanX's card is issued by BankFirst.

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Another Look at the Costs of Payments

Dave Birch blogs about research done by the Swedish central bank looking into the costs of various forms of payments in that country. He goes on to discuss some recent McKinsey numbers saying "European banks lose a lot of money on the non-SEPA payment instruments (ie, cash and cheques), they make reasonable money on SEPA instruments and they make a lot of money on payment-related (rather than direct payment) revenues."

GE to Launch GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard

Claudia Deutsch writes for the New York Times about GE Money's expected launch today of the GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard - a card that "allows cardholders to forgo a 1 percent cash rebate on purchases and earmark that amount for projects that reduce greenhouse gases."

July 24, 2007

Get a Free Apple iPod nano for Opening a Checking Account

Jim Bruene blogs about Key Bank's new checking account promotion - "Open a Key Bank free checking account. Make two automated deposits of $100 or more and take home an Apple iPod nano worth $150." He notes that TD Canada Trust is doing something similar.

Going Green by Eliminating Paper

Javelin Strategy & Research has published a new report titled "2007 Online Banking and Bill Payment: Trends, Forecasts, and Strategies for Reinvigorating Growth and Adoption" that suggests that "consumers can financially do well by doing good, improving financial control while eliminating the paper bills, statements and checks that harm the environment through forest destruction, wastewater, fuel consumption, air pollution and landfill waste."

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Wells Fargo Mobile Banking

Wells Fargo has launched Wells Fargo Mobile - "a browser- based mobile banking solution, available to all of its customers nationwide. With this new service, Wells Fargo allows its customers to access their Wells Fargo financial relationship through a web browser on their mobile device." The bank is using a new URL: http://wf.com for access to the mobile service.

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CFSI Launches Catalyst Fund

The Center for Financial Services Innovation announced has announced the "CFSI Catalyst Fund, L.P., a private equity limited partnership created to cultivate new financial services companies and solutions focused on the underbanked."

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Small Firms Use Credit Cards for Capital

Arden Dale writes for the Wall St. Journal that "credit card use is soaring among small businesses. Many entrepreneurs find it's faster and simpler to sign up for a card than to apply for a bank loan." Or, because they can't qualify for a bank loan.

Credit Card Balance Transfers Slow

Consumers are maintaining their existing credit card relationships rather than rolling outstanding balances over to other cards, according to research recently conducted by Auriemma Consulting Group. The research found that "only 15% of credit card holders had transferred a balance in the past year, and 43% of those respondents said their last balance transfer was for an amount of $2,000 or less. Besides not carrying credit card balances in the first place--so not having anything to transfer--the most frequently cited reason respondents gave for not moving the amount they owed from one credit card to another was satisfaction with their current interest rate."

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Synovus to Consider TSYS Spinoff

In a press release, TSYS has acknowledged that "Synovus Financial Corp., which owns 80.8% of TSYS' outstanding stock, will ask its Board of Directors to consider whether to distribute its ownership interest in TSYS to Synovus' shareholders in a spin-off transaction."

American Express Reports Financial Results

Yesterday, American Express reported financial results for the second quarter 2007. Amex reported that spending on its cards increased 15 percent with more than two million new cards issued in the quarter, a 10 percent increase. Amex's average merchant discount rate was 2.57% - unchanged.

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