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July 03, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

To all of our friends and readers in the United States, best wishes for a wonderful 4th of July holiday weekend. We hope you share special times with family and friends, enjoy the outdoors (but not the mosquitos), and perhaps a hometown parade and a bit of BBQ too! If need some more payments-related commentary while we're off celebrating, be sure to check out of Other Payments and Banking Blogs page! We'll be back here on Monday morning to recover!

A Primer on Smart Cards

In his column this week titled "A Primer on Smart Cards", David Pogue writes for the New York Times about smart cards - saying that "smart cards have always fascinated me, especially when I read about their potential for streamlining small cashless purchases." Pogue interviews Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.

Web Browser Insecurity and Online Banking

Bruce Schneier this morning linked to a new paper titled "Understanding the Web browser threat: Examination of vulnerable Web browser populations and the insecurity iceberg" by researchers from Google Switzerland and IBM Internet Security Systems. The conclusion of the article, based upon an extensive analysis of Google log data, is that 637 million users globally (45.2% of the total) "were not using the most secure web browser version".

Bankers with online banking web sites will find this paper of interest. It might trigger some thoughts with respect to steps an online bank might take based upon examining the online banking user's browser version and, if seriously old and exposed, to suggest that to the user that they really need to upgrade to avoid potential vulnerabilities.

For example, 37signals, a provider of online project management and collaboration tools, announced today that it would no longer support users running Internet Explorer 6 and below starting next month. They did it because of browser/design compatibility issues but PayPal's recently made comments about taking similar steps because of security vulnerabilities in older browsers.

Bill Me Later Now Available on

Last December, Bill Me Later announced that would be accepting Bill Me Later payments and that Amazon had made an equity investment in the company. now is accepting Bill Me Later - details here. is also now a featured store on the Bill Me Later home page - ironically, right next to its bookstore rival

Capital One's Decoupled Debit MasterCard Spotted in the Wild

Morriss Partee, CEO of, blogs on the Payment Industry Insider blog about an email he recently received from Capital One offering him "big rewards for his debit purchases - without changing banks." Partee writes: "No longer a regional effort tied to rewards at a supermarket chain, they now (presumably) have gone national, and have tied it to their own reward program. On top of that, they are charging the consumer $19.95 per year for the service."

You can read more about Capital One's Debit MasterCard at the Capital One web site. A comprehensive FAQ on the product is available. Rewards are only earned on signature-based (not PIN-based) purchases. Note that the new debit card is also "paperless" - a paper statement of account activity is only available upon request each month and has a $3.00 fee.

eBay Cancels Plans to Go PayPal-Only in Australia

Ina Steiner writes for AuctionBytes that eBay has cancelled plans to go to a PayPal-only marketplace in Australia following an inquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that would have likely resulted in a ruling preventing eBay from doing so.

eBay Australia continues to require that all sellers offer PayPal for payment - but it won't be requiring removal of other payment methods. In a statement to the eBay community, eBay said "eBay regrets any uncertainty that this process has caused among the Community and believe that today’s decision will remove further doubt."

France: Pegasus Contracts with Gemalto for NFC Mobile Payments

Gemalto has announced that five banks in France are currently using its Allynis service as part of the "Payez Mobile" trial for contactless mobile payment: BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole-LCL, Crédit Mutuel-CIC, Caisse d’Epargne and La Banque Postale Groups.

According to Gemalto, "the Pegasus group, which consists of seven major banks and four mobile operators in France, launched the program in November 2007 with 1,000 user clients and 200 merchants in Caen and Strasbourg. The renewal of the Gemalto service contract until the end of 2008 reasserts its recognition as a trusted third party among the various parties involved in the mobile NFC ecosystem." READ MORE »

Payments Professionals Management Changes

We have received news of the following recent management changes:

  • NetSpend has announced several senior management appointments including Frank Cotroneo as chief operating officer responsible for NetSpend's operations, finance and accounting, and business information, Anh Vazquez executive vice president responsible for NetSpend's online channel, and Tom Cregan as executive vice president and general manager, responsible for NetSpend's check cashing, payday loan, and general retail channels.

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.


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