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December 31, 2008

Top 11 Payments News Stats, Stories, Categories of 2008

Payments News had a very busy year in 2008 - serving almost 3 million page views to over 600,000 unique visitors. Over the year, our daily email distribution grew by over 2,000 to 5,400 readers - adding 8 new subscribers on average every business day. Another 2,500 readers follow us daily via our RSS feed. And, several hundred readers have started following Payments News in real-time via our newly launched Payments News Twitter feed. Thanks very much for reading Payments News in 2008 - we're looking forward to an even more exciting 2009!

Looking back over the year, here are the top 11 most viewed individual news stories posted to Payments News this year:

  1. Citi Introduces Extra Cash - New Rewards Program (May 29, 2008)
  2. Bank of America, Wells Fargo Form Payment Processing Joint Venture (May 15, 2008)
  3. Secure Vault Payments - A Bank-Centric Alternative Payment System (August 15, 2008)
  4. JPMorgan Chase, First Data To End Chase Paymentech Joint Venture (May 27, 2008)
  5. PULSE Releases 2008 US Debit Issuer Study (April 29, 2008)
  6. H.R. 5546 - The Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008 (March 07, 2008)
  7. Finovate Startup - Best of Show Awards (April 29, 2008)
  8. L.L.Bean Chooses Barclays to Launch New L.L.Bean Visa Card (June 30, 2008)
  9. Citi to Raise Credit Card Interest Rates (November 15, 2008)
  10. PayPal Reports Online Consumer Shopping Trends (March 4, 2008)
  11. New Study Finds Declining Credit Card Use in US (July 30, 2008)

The top 11 most viewed categories/tags for 2008 were:

  1. Mobile Payments
  2. Chase Card Services
  3. Prepaid Cards
  4. Mobile Banking
  5. Citi Cards
  6. Money Transfer
  7. Contactless Payments
  8. Merchant Acquirers
  9. Near Field Communication (NFC)
  10. PayPal
  11. P2P - Person to Person Payments

Best wishes for a great 2009 from Payments News and Glenbrook Partners! Work smart!

Colleges, Universities and Credit Cards

In a new article in its on-going Debt Trap series titled "Unspoken Link Between Credit Cards and Colleges", Jonathan Glater writes for the New York Times about colleges and universities and their relationships with credit card issuers. Describing the relationship between Bank of America and Michigan State, Glater writes: "the more students who take the banks’ credit cards, the more money the university gets." He goes on to write that "the relationships are reminiscent of those uncovered two years ago between student loan companies and universities." Drops Bill Me Later Payment Option has announced that effective today Bill Me Later will no longer be accepted as a payment option on Bill Me Later was acquired earlier this year by eBay/PayPal. More details are available in the Amazon Seller Forum and in this article on AuctionBytes.

Headline News - December 31, 2008

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

December 30, 2008

A Look at Holiday Retail Shopping Patterns

Bill Tancer of Hitwise Intelligence writes about the holiday shopping season on the web just ended and how it compares to prior years. One finding of note is that "the household income demographic bin with the strongest decline when comparing December 2008 to December 2007 is the upper bracket of those households earning more than $150,000 per year."

See also TechCrunch's commentary. READ MORE »

Macy's Reports Debit Card Glitch on Saturday, Dec. 20

Pamela Yip writes for the Dallas Morning News that Macy's had a systems issue on Saturday, December 20th that "may have caused multiple debits to some customers' checking accounts."

Miscellaneous Year End Ramblings

It's almost the end of 2008 ("good riddens" comes to my mind!) - and we've been exploring a bit. Steve Rubel had a great blog post this morning about using Google's Insights for Search feature to read the "tea leaves" about trends in 2009. He calls it "the closest thing we have to a global time capsule."

One interesting result I found was looking at how PayPal has trended over the last four years - with over twice as much interest demonstrated in PayPal today vs. four years ago.

Another interesting result in the PayPal summary is the strong interest in the UK vs. the US, France and other markets around the world. The top PayPal search term is "PayPal UK" - wonder why that is?

Here's one for Twitter - showing how interest in Twitter has grown like a weed during 2008.

Using the Google Insights for Search tool, you can search for and compare multiple terms - for example, here's PayPal vs. MasterCard - showing search interest in MasterCard remaining flat while PayPal's grew steadily. Curiously, if you look at the top searches related to MasterCard, the top result is "mastercard visa".

Give Google Insights for Search a try using your favorite payments-related phrase. If you find more interesting results, please share them in the comments here!

Headline News - December 30, 2008

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

December 29, 2008

A Look at Credit Card Issuer Cuts in Credit Lines

In an article titled "Credit Line Cuts Could Boomerang", Maria Aspan writes for the American Banker about the various actions now being taken by credit card issuers to reign in credit risk "could soon start causing their customers to do something many homeowners did this year: walk away from their obligations." Aspan cites former credit card industry executives who say that cards with little or no purchasing power left (because of credit line cuts) rank low in terms of consumer's propensity to pay.

Economic Confidence Improves Among Small Business Owners

After falling to its lowest measurement ever in November, economic confidence among small business owners rose slightly in December. The Discover Small Business Watch rose to 72.8 in December, up 5.3 points from November. The index was buoyed by increased optimism that their own business prospects are improving and an indication that more will increase spending on business development in the next six months. READ MORE »

Headline News - December 29, 2008

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

December 27, 2008

A Look at US Credit Card Issuers

In an article titled "Beware the House of Cards" (subs. reqd.), Sandra Ward writes for this week's Barrons about the challenges facing US credit card issuers as "more and more consumers are falling behind on their monthly card payments." In particular, she discusses credit card securitization and "excess spreads", a measure of the profitability of a securitized trust's profitability, noting that "if the excess spread dips to zero, the credit-card issuer must pay off the bondholders and bring the trusts' assets back onto its balance sheet." [Editor's note: See the FDIC's Credit Card Securitization Manual to earn more about credit card securitization.]

New York Times Editorial - Curbing Credit Card Predators

Today's New York Times includes an editorial titled "Curbing Credit Card Predators" discussing the recent actions announced by federal regulators regarding credit card issuer practices and suggesting that more legislative action in needed in Congress to "to get fair, clear credit card rules that allow [Americans[ to make informed spending decisions." The editorial suggests that waiting for the implementation date of 2010 is too long and that Congress should make the changes and other reforms effective immediately.

December 26, 2008

Obopay Supports Enhanced User Interface for iPhone Users

Obopay has enhanced their web site's support of iPhone users - now delivering a nice, iPhone-saavy user interface when the Obopay web site is visited using the iPhone's Safari browser. READ MORE »

On the Brighter Side - Says Best Ever Holiday Season has announced that its "2008 holiday season finished as its best ever, with over 6.3 million items ordered worldwide on the peak day, Dec. 15, which is a record-breaking 72.9 items per second." "We are extremely grateful to our customers," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of "We wish everyone happy holidays and the very best for the coming year."

For some comparisons to Amazon's prior years' results, see this TechCrunch post: At Least Amazon Had a Good Christmas. READ MORE »

More from the MasterCard SpendingPulse 2008 Holiday Wrap-Up

MasterCard Advisors has released more SpendingPulse details on the 2008 holiday shopping season (November 1 - December 24, 2008). READ MORE »

December 25, 2008

A Major Contraction in US Consumer Spending

In Friday's edition, the Wall St. Journal reports that "Retail Sales Plummet" - citing data from MasterCard's SpendingPulse unit which reported that "total retail sales, excluding automobiles, fell over the year-earlier period by 5.5% in November and 8% in December through Christmas Eve." Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors, said "there has been a major contraction in consumer spending."

December 24, 2008

A Look at the Black Market World of Stolen Credit Cards

In an article titled "One Hacker's Audacious Plan to Rule the Black Market in Stolen Credit Cards", Kevin Poulsen writes for the January 2009 issue of Wired about the black market world of stolen credit card data. "According to court documents, he picked his targets from the FDIC's Web site, choosing small regional banks and credit unions that couldn't afford top-notch security and pulling down virgin card numbers."

CardPartner Helps Small Groups Launch Affinity Card Programs

CardPartner, a New York-based company that works with nonprofits and other groups to offer branded Visa credit cards, has announced 12 new affinity credit card programs this week. This is in addition to more than 100 launched in the last nine months for nonprofits as diverse as Gilda’s Club New York City and Guide Dogs for the Blind. READ MORE »

Get Ready for the Day After Christmas

It's not Christmas yet - but major retailers have begun announcing big promotions for their day after Christmas sales. Sears has announced it is cutting prices storewide -- even on big ticket items like electronics.

Kenya Banks vs. M-PESA

James Mbugua reports for the Nairobi Star that "four big local banks [in Kenya[ have formed an "ad hoc committee" to try and get M-PESA stopped." M-PESA, a mobile payments service offered by Safaricom, has been very successful - "The problem for the banks seems to be the extraordinary popularity of M-PESA. Launched in March 2007, it now has over 5,000,000 registered users and almost 5,000 registered outlets." [Editor's note: Hat tip to Dave Birch!]

Headline News - December 24, 2008

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

December 23, 2008

RBS WorldPay Announces Compromise of Data Security

In a press release titled "RBS WorldPay Announces Compromise of Data Security and Outlines Steps to Mitigate Risk", RBS WorldPay (formerly RBS Lynk), the U.S. payment processing arm of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, announced that its computer system had been improperly accessed by an unauthorized party in early November.

According to more information provided on the RBS Worldpay web site, "the issue affected pre-paid cardholders and other individuals. Approximately 100 payroll cards have been used in a fraudulent manner and those cards have been de-activated. Our internal security professionals and outside experts are working with federal and state law enforcement authorities in an investigation of this event."

Morgan Stanley and Discover

The New York Times' Dealbook takes a look at the dispute and litigation currently underway between Morgan Stanley and its former subsidiary Discover Financial Services. At issue is how the recent settlements with Visa and MasterCard are to be split between the two firms.

New Amazon Payments Blog

[Update: Amazon Payments is also active on Twitter.]'s Payments Team has launched a new blog - the Amazon Payments Blog. Baris Cetinok of the team writes "Our team will post here on this blog on a regular basis – our goal is to share with you the latest news, thoughts, ideas, and inspirations about Amazon Payments. ... We will share stories of consumers, merchants, and developers using Amazon Payments to pay or to get paid." [Editor's note: We've just added the Amazon Payments Blog to our list of other banking and payments-related blogs.]

American Express to Participate in US Treasury TARP Program

American Express has announced that "the United States Department of Treasury has provided preliminary approval for the company to participate in the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program Capital Purchase Program. American Express expects to issue and sell to the Treasury preferred stock of approximately $3.39 billion and warrants to purchase shares of common stock for up to 15% of that amount." In November, American Express was approved as a bank holding company by the Federal Reserve.

Legislative Responses to Data Breaches, Information Security Failures

The Payment Cards Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has published a new discussion paper titled "Legislative Responses to Data Breaches and Information Security Failures" icon_PDF_small.gif by Philip Keitel. READ MORE »

The Effects of Restricting Consumer Credit Access

The Payment Cards Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has published a new paper titled "Restricting Consumer Credit Access: Household Survey Evidence on Effects Around the Oregon Rate Cap" icon_PDF_small.gif by Jonathan Zinman of Dartmouth College. READ MORE »

More on Chase Paymentech's Cyber Holiday Pulse Index

With holiday shipping deadlines now history for most e-commerce retailers, the Chase Paymentech Cyber Holiday Pulse Index continues to show an increase from last year. The Index, an annual measurement of online shopping activity during the holiday season, tracks e-commerce spending activity across a sample of 25 of the leading online merchants as listed by Internet Retailer. The measurement indicates both sales volume and transaction count for online purchases crossing Chase Paymentech’s global processing platforms. READ MORE »

Headline News - December 23, 2008

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


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