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April 19, 2008

Payments News - Weekly Wrap - April 19, 2008

Here's a review of this week's top stories on Payments News. If you missed it, last week's Weekly Wrap is here.

You can find all of our Weekly Wrap summaries in the Payments News Weekly Wrap Archive.

April 18, 2008

Alliance Data Terminates Merger Agreement with Blackstone Affiliates

Late today, Alliance Data Systems announced that it has terminated the May 17, 2007 merger agreement providing for the acquisition of Alliance Data by affiliates of The Blackstone Group. READ MORE »

A Glenbrook Field Report from This Week's ETA Annual Meeting and Expo

Glenbrook's Allen Weinberg was at this week's 2008 annual Electronic Transactions Association's Annual Meeting & Expo in Las Vegas. Allen has filed a field report from the Expo.

The Shrinking Business of Banking

Citigroup announced its first quarter financial results this morning - including plans to cut 9,000 more jobs on top of the 4,200 layoffs announced in January. ""It is clearly feasible for us to take 10, 15, 20 percent off our cost base, especially in information technology and operations," Citi CEO Vikram Pandit told the Financial Times. Citi also disclosed it had a $349 million pre-tax gain on Visa shares and a $161 million pre-tax gain on the sale of MasterCard shares during the quarter.

Headline News - April 18, 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.

Payments Professionals Management Changes

We have received news of the following recent management changes:

  • Roy Vella has been named Director of Mobile at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group leading RBS' global efforts in pursuit of opportunities at the intersection of mobile telephony and financial services. Vella spent the past five years with PayPal - most recently as PayPal's Head of Mobile Payments in Europe.

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.

April 17, 2008

Next Week's Digital Money Forum in London

[Glenbrook's Scott Loftesness writes...] At Dave Birch's invitation, I'll be heading to London on Monday for next week's 11th annual Digital Money Forum on Wed-Thu April 23-24 in London. I'll be participating on the "Meet the Bloggers" panel on Thursday along with fellow payments bloggers Chris Skinner, Aneace Haddad, Colin Henderson, and Dave Birch himself - moderated by Steve Bowbrick.

Should be fun! If you'll be attending the Forum, I look forward to seeing you there. If you'd like to meet up separately while I'm in London (Friday April 25 is open), just let me know.

Commercial Payments in Transition - A Conference in Your Pocket

We mentioned earlier this week that Forte Financial's Erin McCune was in Las Vegas this week - not for the ETA Expo but for the TAWPI Payments in Transition Conference. TAWPI = The Association for Work Process Improvements - "a professional membership association dedicated to providing education, advocacy and networking opportunities for practitioners and technology and service providers in payments automation, distributed capture, and imaging & forms processing."

Erin's done a superb job of blogging her notes from the conference sessions - and the association has done a great job as well of providing downloadable copies of the conference presentations!

Kroger Offers Incentives to Cash Stimulus Checks for Kroger Gift Cards

The Kroger Co. has announced that 'beginning May 2, 2008, customers can receive free groceries through a gift card program available exclusively in Kroger stores. The program allows Kroger customers to exchange their tax refund or economic stimulus checks for a Kroger gift card with an extra $30.00, $60.00 or $120.00 added to it. Gift card amounts correspond to the payment amounts outlined by the Internal Revenue Service for the federal economic stimulus program.' READ MORE »

Obopay Reportedly Gets $20 Million to Send Money via Mobiles

GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham writes that "Obopay has scored $20 million in additional funding, CEO Carol Realini told me this afternoon. She and other Obopay executives contributed to the round by wiring their investments to the company coffers by way of their Obopay accounts on their mobile phones." [Editor's note: We've not yet found an official press release from the company announcing the financing.]

FSTC's 2008 Annual Conference - June 17-19 - Sonoma County, CA

The Financial Services Technology Consortium's annual conference this year is being held June 17-19 at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Sonoma County, California. The theme of this year's conference is "On the Innovative Edge: Successful Strategies for Financial Services". The agenda with speaker details is available online along with registration. Note that Early Bird registrations are only available through tomorrow. After tomorrow, registration fees for the conference increase.

Update: The Early Bird registration rates are still available - through April 28.

Today's Hearing on The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights

The House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit is holding a hearing today on H.R. 5244, The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights. The prepared testimony of the witnesses is available on the Subcommittee's hearing page. Four consumers are testifying along with other financial services regulators (from the Federal Reserve, FDIC, OCC, and OTS), card industry executives (from Citi Cards, American Express, and Discover) and consumer groups (Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Action, and US PIRG).

Update: CNNMoney.com reports on the hearing and testimony by Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. Ron Wyden who both urged the House to take action on the legislation.

UK's Advanced Payment Solutions Moves Prepaid Portfolio to Metavante

Metavante has announced an agreement with Advanced Payment Solutions (APS), making it the payment processing house for the entire prepaid portfolio of APS, including the cashplus prepaid gold MasterCard, the Gap Year cashplus card and a range of other fully re-loadable prepaid MasterCard programmes. READ MORE »

Discover Debit Card Issuance Grows

PULSE and its parent company, Discover Financial Services, have announced the signing of agreements with seven additional financial institutions for the issuance of Discover Debit cards. READ MORE »

Australia - Payments Systems Review Conference Proceedings

The Reserve Bank of Australia has published the Proceedings from its Payments Systems Review Conference icon_PDF_small.gif held last November. 'The conference was designed to bring together a wide range of parties to discuss the reforms of recent years and how best to move forward. It was attended by around 90 invited participants, drawn from financial institutions, payment schemes, industry bodies, merchants, consultants, academia and public policy institutions.' The table of contents of the proceedings is here.

Payments Professionals Management Changes

We have received news of the following recent management changes:

  • Pam Patsley has joined Advent International as a Boston-based operating partner, focused on opportunities in the financial services, payments and transaction processing sectors. Patsley spent the past seven years with First Data Corp., most recently as president of first Data International.
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.

April 16, 2008

PayPal's First Quarter 2008 Financial Results

eBay reported first quarter 2008 financial results earlier today - saying that 'PayPal had a strong quarter with $582 million in net revenue, an increase of 32% year-over-year. Net total payment volume (TPV) for the quarter was $14.42 billion, an increase of 34% year-over-year. Growth in global active accounts increased to 60.2 million, representing 17% year-over-year growth.' READ MORE »

A Look at PRBC

In an article titled The Credit Rating in Your Shoe Box, Ben Levisohn and Brian Burnsed write for Business Week about Pay Rent, Build Credit (PRBC). "They've captured the attention of lenders right now who want growth in new markets [like the unbanked]," says Michael Turner of Political & Economic Research Council (PERC), a public policy group.

Debix Expands National Identity Protection Network

Debix has announced the national launch of the expanded Debix Identity Protection Network. Debix says its network is 'the first and only identity protection solution that is with you during an attack and proactively stops identity theft at the moment it is attempted.' READ MORE »

Signs of a Dead Mobile Web?

Our friend Tim Oren sends us off to read Jeff Nolan's post asking whether the mobile web is dead? Jeff writes: 'Stop the insanity! The mass market does not use the mobile web as a regular mode of interacting with the bigger web!' Read the comments to his post as well.

Tim also points us to Russell Beattie's lament from earlier this week about his startup, Mowser, shutting down. Russell writes: 'The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. The problem is that these billions of users *haven't* gotten on the Internet, and they won't until the experience is better and access to the web is barrier-free - and that means better devices and "full browsers".'

What's a mobile banker to think of all this?

Consumers Want Banks to Decline Debit Card Overdrafts

The Center for Responsible Lending has published results from a survey titled 'Consumers Want Informed Choice on Overdraft Fees and Banking Options' icon_PDF_small.gif conducted by Opinion Research Corporation that found 'respondents overwhelmingly prefer that debit card purchases be declined at the checkout if these would otherwise result in an overdraft fee.' READ MORE »

Banking on Barney Frank, Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights

Stephanie Mencimer writes for Mother Jones magazine about Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank who is also chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

The Committee's Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit is holding a hearing tomorrow continuing its review of H.R. 5244, “The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights: Providing New Protections for Consumers", introduced by Subcommittee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Mahoney of New York. Today's hearing was preceded by an initial hearing on the bill held on March 13. READ MORE »

AAA Announces Enhanced Prepaid Card Program With Visa

AAA has announced it has enhanced its prepaid card products using Visa Inc. and MetaBank as key program partners. The new AAA Visa TravelMoney card and Visa Gift card are now available at participating AAA locations across the country. READ MORE »

First Data Introduces FD50 POS Terminal

First Data Corp. has announced the introduction of the First Data FD50 - calling it 'an affordable point-of-sale terminal featuring solid design and construction, easy operation and state-of-the-art security.' READ MORE »

Merchant Link Sees Continued Growth of TransactionVault

Merchant Link has announced that it has seen a significant increase in the adoption of its credit card payments security product, TransactionVault, by quick service, casual and table service restaurant organizations nationwide, including Perkin's, Zaxby's, Famous Dave's, La Madeline, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. READ MORE »

Orbiscom Promotes Single Use Card Number Offering

In a press release, Orbiscom has announced that 'millions of consumers are taking control over risks from identity theft and online fraud with a free security service from Orbiscom. The service is available from credit card and online payment issuers and generates disposable numbers linked to a real account that can only be used within constraints specified by the card holder. As a result, merchants and unauthorized persons are prevented from seeing direct financial details in transactions that do not require the physical card, like online or by phone.' READ MORE »

JPMorgan Chase Reports 1Q2008 Financial Results

JPMorgan Chase reported first quarter 2008 financial results this morning - its Card Services unit reported net income of $609 million, a decline of $156 million, or 20%, from the prior year. READ MORE »

UK's First Prepaid Debit Card With Built-In Proof-of-Age

UreLife has announced 'the UK's first ever prepaid card to incorporate Government-approved proof-of-age verification.' By combining a prepaid Visa debit card with a colour photograph and PASS (Proof of Age Standards Scheme) accredited proof-of-age hologram, the card provides a new way for parents and retailers, and for the first time online retailers, to stop underage spending on age-restricted goods. READ MORE »

AdvanceMe Establishes Merchant Portfolio Valuation Service

AdvanceMe has announced the creation of a Portfolio Valuation Services Unit, designed to assist banks and other financial institutions in gauging the market value of recently acquired or prospective Merchant Cash Advance portfolios. READ MORE »

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