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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.

December 22, 2008

Consumer Groups React to Fed's New Overdraft Fee Proposals

The Center for Responsible Lending has put out a press release noting that Federal banking regulators last week "withdrew proposed rules that would have largely failed to protect consumers from astronomically high-cost, unsolicited overdraft loans. The Fed then immediately issued a new proposal containing two alternative approaches. The impact the new proposal will have on abusive fees depends primarily on which approach the Fed ultimately chooses." READ MORE »

Holiday E-Commerce Sales Tapering Off

Chase Paymentech's 2008 Pulse Index of online shopping activity shows that last Tuesday, December 16, was an all-time high record number of transactions. Since Tuesday, sales have tapered off, falling even below last year's and 2006's volumes on both Saturday and Sunday. The average ticket amount remains about 10 percent below last year's levels.

Visa Survey Finds Most Americans Save Monthly for Major Expenses

Visa has released results from a new consumer survey finding that "saving for emergencies and a rainy day (30 percent) topped the list of what Americans set aside money for, followed by retirement (20 percent) and education (10 percent). Overall, sixty-six percent of Americans surveyed said they set aside some amount every month for major expenses." READ MORE »

Payvision Partners With Moneybookers

Payvision, an international payment solutions provider for the card-not-present marketplace, has announced it has formed a strategic alliance with Moneybookers, Ltd. Moneybookers offers over 50 domestic payment options in over 200 countries and customer service in 12 languages. This new mutual relationship will enhance Payvision’s already extensive offering with Moneybookers’ alternative payment solutions. READ MORE »

Federal Financial Regulators Issue Revised Identity Theft Brochure

The US federal bank, credit union, and thrift regulatory agencies have announced publication of a revised identity theft brochure titled You Have the Power to Stop Identity Theft icon_PDF_small.gif to assist consumers in preventing and resolving identity theft. The updated brochure focuses primarily on Internet "phishing" by describing how phishing works, offering ways to protect against identity theft, and detailing steps to follow for victims of identity theft. The brochure includes contact information for three major credit bureaus, where to report suspicious e-mails, and where to access additional information.

Monitise, Natwest Launch Mobile Money Transfers

Monitise and NatWest have announced a commission-free international mobile phone payment transfer service between the bank's customers’ current accounts in the UK and their PKO BP accounts in Poland. READ MORE »

Take Away My Credit Cards?

Bankrate has released the findings of a new poll which found that "40% of US consumers say they would not be upset if their credit lines disappeared. In fact, of the respondents who have credit cards, nearly one-third (32 percent) say they will probably charge less in 2009. A much smaller group (only 5 percent) responded that they would be devastated with the loss of access to their credit cards." READ MORE »

December 21, 2008

Australia: Distra and NAB enter into a Strategic Alliance

Australian payments technology provider Distra has announced it has "entered into a strategic alliance with National Australia Bank (NAB) to develop and promote a range of new payments products and services. NAB, a licensee of Distra’s payments switching application since June 2007, will invest an undisclosed amount to take a minority stake in Distra." READ MORE »


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