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March 31, 2008

Citi Card, Firethorn Partner for Mobile Account Access

Citi Cards and Firethorn Holdings, a Qualcomm company, have announced a 'strategic relationship to enable Citi credit cardmembers to easily and securely access real-time account information anytime, anywhere on their wireless handsets. The new service is expected to be available to Citi credit card customers across the U.S. by the third quarter this year.'

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Enabling Online Scheduling for Service Providers

In an article titled 'Making Appointments for Doctor or Dinner', Bob Tedeschi writes for his weekly E-Commerce Report in the New York Times about new services that enable small businesses and service providers to allow customers to schedule their services online. HourTown, one of the new breed of online calendar services that Tedeschi discusses in his article, was started by a good friend of ours, Ryan Donahue.

US Blueprint for a Modernized Regulatory Structure

Students of the US regulatory structure as it relates to financial services will find the Department of the Treasury's just released Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Structure of interest. The document contains the history of the current regime along with recommendations for a wide ranging set of changes to better accommodate the current realities and future prospects. The Blueprint was introduced earlier today in a speech by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr.

First Annapolis Navigator - March Issue

The March 2008 edition of the First Annapolis Navigator is now available. This month's feature article is 'Acquirer Portfolio Mix and Growth Performance in a Recession.' Other articles include: 'Leaving a Paper Trail – The Changing Landscape in Commercial Payments', 'Movement from Mobile Banking Towards Mobile Payments', and 'Spain: European Banks Make In-Roads with Credit Cards'. You must register with First Annapolis to request the Navigator.

CompUSA Now Accepting PayPal for eCommerce Payments

CompUSA has announced that it is now accepting PayPal as a way to pay for purchases made on the CompUSA.com website. "CompUSA is the latest in the Systemax family of brands to offer PayPal. PayPal is currently accepted in North America at TigerDirect.com, TigerDirect.ca and now CompUSA." More from Mary Anne Gillespie on The PayPal Blog.

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Sending Remittances from Prepaid Mobile Phones

Sara Silver reports for the Wall St. Journal on plans by Western Union, RadioShack, and Affinity Mobile's Trumpet Mobile to introduce a new service that 'lets people send money through their cellphones.' Silver says that 'to use the service, people will have to go to one of RadioShack's more than 4,000 stores and sign up for a Trumpet pre-paid phone - a cellphone where customers pay in advance for minutes to be used over a fixed period of time. Customers can then load up to $200 onto their phones for transfer via Western Union's network either within the U.S. or internationally.' Earlier this month, Kimberly Johnson reported on Affinity Mobile for the Denver Post.

Vast Majority of Americans Feel Safe Online

Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they feel safe online despite the rising tide of spyware, phishing and other badware threatening Internet users, according to a new poll sponsored by StopBadware.org, a consumer protection initiative aimed at combating dangerous software.

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MIT Media Lab, Bank of America Announce Center for Future Banking

The MIT Media Laboratory and Bank of America have announced 'the creation of the Center for Future Banking, a five-year collaboration to which Bank of America has committed $3-5 million annually. The new research center, which will be located at the Media Lab on the MIT campus, will serve as an innovation engine that will seek to transform the ways banking will be conducted in a world of rapidly changing social, economic, and information landscapes.'

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Bank of America Introduces MLB Banking for Baseball Fans

Bank of America has announced the availability of MLB banking - described as 'an exclusive new suite of personal banking products for fans of all 30 Major League Baseball Clubs. MLB banking is the only nationwide portfolio of Club-specific checks, MasterCard check cards and credit cards that are complemented by special rewards for fans of America's National Pastime.'

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Shell's Gasoline Card Loyalty Program

In a press release this morning, Shell said 'don't be surprised if you see drivers smiling as they fill up at Shell-branded gasoline stations this summer. They'll likely be taking advantage of an "Earn 25 Cents per Gallon" second quarter promotion designed to reward new Shell Gasoline Card consumer account holders for their gasoline purchases.'

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Vindicia Focuses on Reducing False Positives in Online Fraud

Vindicia, has announced that it has added a fraud screening module to its integrated billing and fraud management offerings, Vindicia CashBox and Vindicia ChargeGuard, that 'enables online merchants to adopt sophisticated commerce models to build revenue, and optimize their false positive and customer acquisition rates while continuing to prudently manage occurrences of true fraud.'

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Citi Names Terri Dial to Lead Strategy, US Consumer Banking

Vikram Pandit, Citi's Chief Executive Officer, has announced what Citi is calling 'a comprehensive reorganization of Citi's structure to achieve greater client focus and connectivity, global product excellence, and clear accountability.' Citi has reorganized its consumer group into two global businesses – Consumer Banking and Global Cards. Teresa A. 'Terri' Dial has been named Global Head of Consumer Strategy and CEO of Consumer Banking in North America. Citi has also consolidated its United States and international credit card businesses into a single global business led by Steven Freiberg, CEO of Global Cards.

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New Learnings About NFC

Dave Birch writes on the Digital Money Forum blog about what he's learning about business cases for NFC. Dave says that "retail e-payment strategy is, in the long run, mobile payment strategy which is, in the short run, contactless payment strategy."

Bankruptcy Laws and Entrepreneurship

The New Yorker's regular financial columnist, James Surowiecki, writes this week about the US bankruptcy laws - suggesting that the changes to US consumer bankruptcy law made in 2005 'ended up making the economy less dynamic and less flexible.' Surowiecki mentions a recent paper icon_PDF_small.gif by John Armour and Douglas Cumming that 'found a close correlation between the nature of a country’s bankruptcy laws and its rate of self-employment.'

Chockstone's New Card Loyalty Identification Program for Merchants

Chockstone has announced SingleSwipe, calling it 'a new identification program that allows credit and debit card companies and merchants to tie merchant loyalty programs to a customer's existing credit or debit card.'

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American Express Discontinues Express Pay Contactless Keyfob

Robin Sidel reports for the Wall St. Journal on American Express' plans to discontinue its 'Express Pay' contactless keyfob. An Amex spokesman says that they've found their customers prefer to use contactless in the traditional card form factor, not in a keyfob.

Payments Professionals Management Changes

We have received news of the following recent management changes:

  • Sara Petty has been named vice president of strategic development and Donna Rehtmeyer has been named director of new client partnerships - both at The Members Group. Petty previously was vice president with Bank of the West and First Data Resources where she led portfolio management of Bank of the West's debit and credit card products. Rehtmeyer brings more than 20 years of client relations experience to TMG, having served with leading organizations such as Bellevue University, The Omaha World Herald and First Data Resources.
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. Are you looking for a new payments-related job? Or are you needing to find someone great? Checkout the Payments Jobs job board.

March 30, 2008

WSJ: More on Hannaford's Payment Card Data Breach

In an article titled 'Data Theft Carried Out On Network Thought Secure', Joseph Pereira writes for the Wall St. Journal about the recently reported payment card data breach at the Hannaford Bros. and Sweetbay grocery chains.

US Interchange Fees - A Look at Kendall v. Visa U.S.A.

On the Credit Slips blog, Adam Levitin reacts to yesterday's Wall St. Journal editorial about the Credit Card Fair Fee Act. His stepping off point is the editorial's reference to the recent US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit court decision in the Kendall v. Visa U.S.A. litigation icon_PDF_small.gif. Levitin concludes: "Like with WSJ, I’m all for a market solution to excessively high interchange fees. But I’m doubtful that the market will solve the problem if left solely to its own devices. Court or legislative intervention is necessary."

March 29, 2008

FinovateStartup - April 29 - San Francisco

Jim Bruene has announced the final starting lineup of 40 financial technology startups for the upcoming FinovateStartup conference to be held on April 29 in San Francisco. If you register by Monday, March 31, you can save $100. We'll be attending FinovateStartup ourselves and look forward to seeing you there!

Barron's Looks at Fiserv

In an article titled 'Fiserv Is Largely Immune To Banking's Plagues', Jack Willoughby writes for Barron's this weekend that Fiserv may be among the 'companies whose earnings are likely to rise this year.'

The Hannaford Bros. Payment Card Data Breach

In an article titled 'Advanced tactic targeted grocer', Ross Kerber writes for the Boston Globe about how the data breach disclosed earlier this month by Hannaford Bros. Co. actually occurred. In a letter to Massachusetts officials, the company reported that malware had been installed on servers in each of its 300 stores. "The malware intercepted the "track 2" data stored on the magnetic stripe of payment cards as customers used them at the checkout counter." Hannaford had been certified as PCI compliant in late February. In 2005, Hannaford was featured for its migration to a Linux-based in-store POS environment.

Credit Card Wars - The Credit Card Fair Fee Act & Plastic Card Tricks

The Wall St. Journal has an editorial this morning about the Credit Card Fair Fee Act introduced by House Democrat John Conyers of Michigan and Republican Chris Cannon of Utah. 'The Conyers-Cannon bill requires that any credit card company with more than 20% of the credit and debit market -- Visa has about 50% and MasterCard 25% -- negotiate for 90 days with a coalition of retailers on a mutually acceptable fee. (The retailers would gain an antitrust exemption for these deliberations.) If the parties can't agree, a three-person panel of "electronic payment judges" will "determine rates and terms" which shall be binding. That sounds like a price-control regime.'

Separately, today's New York Times editorial page had an editorial titled 'Plastic Card Tricks' saying that 'Washington needs to change the way these companies [credit card issuers] do business to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.' Further: 'Congress needs to address numerous unfair practices, including interest rates that skyrocket for no apparent reason and due dates that suddenly shift — forward — so that an unwary consumer pays late.'

March 28, 2008

US Treasury's Blueprint for Financial Regulatory Reform

Edmund L. Andrews reports for the New York Times on plans by the US Treasury Department to announce a 'Blueprint for Financial Regulatory Reform' (see executive summary) on Monday. According to the Times, Treasury will propose 'that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send SWAT teams into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system.'

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A Personal Credit Card Dispute Experience

Over on the Credit Slips blog, Adam Levitin writes about his own recent experience attempting to dispute a charge on his credit card resulting from a merchant error.

Customer Relationship Snapshot: Credit Card Providers

Forrester has published a new report titled 'Customer Relationship Snapshot: Credit Card Providers' by Bruce D. Temkin based on a survey of nearly 5,000 US consumers.

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Headline News - March 28, 2008

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.

March 27, 2008

TJX Agrees to Settle FTC Charges

The Federal Trade Commission has announced that TJX has agreed to settle charges that it engaged in practices that, taken together, failed to provide reasonable and appropriate security for sensitive consumer information. The settlements will require that TJX implement comprehensive information security programs and obtain audits by independent third-party security professionals every other year for 20 years. Full details available here.

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Obopay Partners with YES BANK in India for Money Transfer

Obopay has announced the launch of its instant money transfer service in India through an alliance between wholly-owned subsidiary Obopay India and YES BANK, an Indian private sector bank.

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