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October 30, 2009

Starbucks Consolidates Card Programs

Starbucks has announced a new customer loyalty card program called My Starbucks Rewards, which will launch on Dec. 26, 2009 in all U.S. Starbucks stores. Consolidating its two current programs, Starbucks Card Rewards and Starbucks Gold card, the new program "delivers value with no annual fee, allows members to use one registered card (any Starbucks Card) and provides customized rewards that increase with frequency of use." READ MORE »

The Interchange Firebrand!

In an article in today's American Banker titled "Return of an Interchange Firebrand", Maria Aspan interviews Lloyd Constantine, the lead attorney who represented Wal-Mart and other merchants in the largest class action settlement in history involving debit card interchange fees.

Constantine's new book, Priceless: The Case that Brought Down the Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel, was recently published by Kaplan and has been on the must read list for payments geeks like ourselves!

Aspan writes that Constantine finds current interchange-related lawsuits to be "lawyer-driven cases" - while his wasn't. As for the current legislative efforts in Congress to reform interchange, Constantine says he thinks those efforts are "well founded."

CRL Supports Legislation to Reform Bank Overdraft Fees

Congressional proposals to rein in abusive overdraft practices are long overdue, Center for Responsible Lending executive Eric Halperin told the House Financial Services Committee today (full testimony). Halperin, who is director of CRL's Washington office, gave full support to legislation aimed at reforming bank overdraft programs, which cost consumers $23.7 billion last year and are among the most predatory lending products on the market.

"Charging people a $35 fee for a small, debit card transaction is unacceptable," said Halperin, director of CRL's Washington office. "It doesn't save them bounced check fees, it simply skims money from their account and puts them in a bind."

New European SEPA DIrect Debit Schemes Launch Nov 2

On November 2, the European Payments Council (EPC) launches the SEPA Core Direct Debit Scheme and the SEPA Business to Business Direct Debit Scheme. The SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) Schemes enable bank customers – for the first time ever - to make and receive direct debits within and across 32 European countries collectively known as the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). READ MORE »

Sears Adds Innovative Features for Sears Cardholders

Sears has announced new benefits and new features to provide more retail value to Sears card customers, including Credit Score Access (Sears is the first major retailer to offer its cardholders access to their credit score at no additional cost), Monthly Cardholder-only Sales and a new Sears Platinum MasterCard with a new Sears Choice Rewards program. READ MORE »

Google Checkout Eases Promotions Management for Merchants

Google Checkout has introduced a new feature that allows merchants based in the U.S. to create and to run their own Checkout promotions at any time. From the Google Checkout blog: "Starting today, you can sign in to your Checkout merchant account, go to the 'Tools' tab, and click the 'Promotions' link to create a Checkout promotion in less than a minute. You'll be able to specify the date and time you'd like the promotion to run, as well as choose from a variety of dollar-off discounts to offer your buyers."

October 29, 2009

Reminder: How to Read Payments News on Your iPhone

Are you as big a fan of Apple's iPhone (and iPod touch) as I am? If so, here's a reminder about an iPhone edition of Payments News that we've specially tailored for viewing on the iPhone. You can find it here:

Jack Henry to Acquire Pemco Technologies

Jack Henry & Associates has announced the acquisition of Washington-based Pemco Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of PEMCO Corporation and one of the nation's leading providers of payment processing solutions primarily for the credit union industry. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. READ MORE »

Paymetric Adds Execs - Nick Sommerio, Kevin Ferguson

Paymetric has announced that it has added Nick Sommerio, chief financial officer and Kevin Ferguson, senior vice president of business development, to the company`s executive management team. Sommerio joins from RBS WorldPay where he was chief financial officer for the past two years. Ferguson was most recently senior vice president and managing director of global field operations for SunGard Banks where he oversaw the product management and market strategy for the retail banking line of business.

More on Zong+

Zong has officially announced the launch Zong+, calling it "the first online mobile payment platform combining carrier billing with credit, debit and prepaid cards. Now, in addition to making online purchases through their cell phone bill, Zong customers will also be able to link any type of payment card to their Zong account through a one-time entry process and continue to purchase goods by simply entering their mobile number and confirming the security transaction code sent to their phone." READ MORE »

TNS Names John M. Perry as GM Americas

Payments industry veteran John M. Perry has joined Transaction Network Services Payments division as General Manager of the Americas. Perry`s role will focus on "driving the growth of TNS' payments business by exploring new market opportunities and developing the company's global customer base."

Prior to joining TNS, Mr Perry was Executive Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Ruesch International. He brings more than 20 years experience in the financial services and payments industries to TNS and has also spent time in executive positions at First Data, Elavon, Visa and Wells Fargo. READ MORE »

First Data's STAR Network Launches Prepaid Reloads

STAR_Reload_Icon_Color.jpgFirst Data has announced that its STAR Network is the first electronic funds transfer network to launch load and reload support for STAR-branded general purpose prepaid cards. Using patent pending technology, the STAR Network has completed the infrastructure to enable load and reload functionality at participating ATM and POS locations. The expanded transaction set includes activation, load/reload and split tender purchases – with PIN-security and the associated reduction in fraud built in. The new STAR RELOAD service icon denoting load/reload card capabilities will be displayed with the STAR brand on participating cards, merchant point-of-sale and ATM locations. READ MORE »

A Look at Amazon's PayPhrase

russ.jpgOver on our sister site, Glenbrook's Russ Jones takes a look at Amazon's just introduced PayPhrase checkout feature.

Jones writes:

I’ve long argued with Glenbrook colleagues that payment cards today are too spend-centric and too easily abused. Maybe the banking industry could learn something from Amazon about both convenience and security."

Amazon Payments Introduces PayPhrase Payment Shortcut Option

AmazonPayments_logo-140px.jpgAmazon Payments has announced Amazon PayPhrase, an easy-to-remember shortcut for consumers paying on and other websites. "With Amazon PayPhrase, online shoppers simply choose their own customized phrase — such as “Knick Knack,” “Home Sweet Home,” or “Jake’s Allowance” — and then enter that phrase along with a PIN to quickly preview their order and complete their purchase. PayPhrase allows customers to checkout across the web with their preferred payment and shipping methods stored at, but without having to share sensitive payment information with multiple websites."

All websites accepting Checkout by Amazon, including DKNY, Jockey, Patagonia,, J&R Electronics, and Car Toys, will be offering PayPhrase as a checkout option. customers can create their PayPhrase and start using it today by visiting An introductory video is available that explains the service. READ MORE »

Zong Introduces Zong+ Allowing Billing to Payment Cards

Zong_logo-140px.jpgTechCrunch reports on the introduction of Zong+, an extension to its original model of billing small purchases to your cell phone account that adds the ability to make purchases from a payment card account linked to your mobile number by Zong.

Zong+ allows consumers to make larger transactions -over $9.99. Merchants/publishers will benefit from lower fees and more timely settlement on Zong+ transactions because the mobile operator isn't getting a piece of the transaction amounts. Consumers benefit from being able to use their existing payment cards and while earning rewards, etc.

October 28, 2009

Pew Report Finds Deceptive Credit Card Practices Remain Widespread

Pew_Credit_Cards_Oct09_Final-140px.jpgOne hundred percent of credit cards offered online by the leading bank card issuers continue to include practices that will be outlawed once legislation passed in May takes effect next year, according to a new report by the Pew Health Group’s Safe Credit Cards Project titled "Still Waiting: ‘Unfair or Deceptive’ Credit Card Practices Continue as Americans Wait for New Reforms to Take Effect".

The report also found that advertised credit card interest rates rose an average of 20 percent in the first two quarters of 2009, even as banks’ cost of lending declined. With the Federal Reserve currently developing rules to ensure penalty charges are “reasonable and proportional” as required under the Credit CARD Act, the report also includes policy recommendations for regulators. READ MORE »

Obopay Introduces Mobile Payments for Online Games, Digital Goods

obopay-logo.pngObopay has announced its entrance into the online games market with the immediate availability of a mobile payment solution. With Obopay's mobile payment service, consumers can "mobilize" their credit or debit card by linking it to their mobile phone number, making it convenient to quickly purchase goods online. READ MORE »

A New eCommerce Solution: Right Click by Visa

Among many other topics on yesterday's earnings conference call, Visa Inc. CEO Joseph W. Saunders spoke briefly about a new ecommerce solution being developed by Visa. He said Right Click by Visa was "an online shopping tool targeted to consumers that assists online shoppers." Saunders went on to say that it "assists online shoppers by offering the ability to browse multiple merchants and select items consumers are interested in looking at in one central location, making comparison shopping easier."

October 27, 2009

Glenbrook Payments Boot Camps - 2009, 2010 Classes Now Open

Glenbrook's Carol Coye Benson writes:

Our revised and updated Payments Boot Camp curriculum has an extensive focus on what's happening in mobile payments as well as the new debit, ACH and prepaid products, opportunities and challenges. We've also added new coverage of the emerging arena of social payments.

Stay current! Sign up now for an upcoming session of our Payments Boot Camp:

New! Are you an Accredited ACH Professional? Glenbrook’s Payments Boot Camps are now accredited for over 15 hours of AAP continuing education credits.

See our Payments Education website for details and online registration, or contact Glenbrook Partner Carol Coye Benson with questions.

A Look at BarclayCard US

In an article titled "Barclaycard U.S. Taking Baby Steps into Public Eye" in today's American Banker, Maria Aspan writes about BarclayCard's US unit - and how it's trying to make US consumers aware of its name "in a really subtle way".

Visa Inc. Announces Financial Results for Fiscal Fourth Quarter 2009

Visa Inc. has announced financial results for the fiscal fourth quarter and full year of 2009 ending September 30. Visa's payments volume growth through June 30, 2009 was a negative 2% over the prior year at $687 billion. Total volume, on a nominal basis and inclusive of cash volume, was $1.1 trillion, a 3% decline over the prior year. Total cards carrying the Visa brands rose 5% worldwide over the prior year to over 1.7 billion. Total processed transactions, representing transactions processed by VisaNet for the three months ending September 30, 2009, totaled 10.5 billion, a 9% increase over the prior year. Visa also announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a $1 billion share repurchase plan.

A presentation on Visa's financial results is available online.

Chase Paymentech, VeriFone, Semtek Partner on End-to-End Encryption

Chase Paymentech has announced a joint initiative with VeriFone and Semtek to provide end-to-end encryption technologies for merchants to combat threats to security. The companies said they "will work together to market and distribute VeriFone’s VeriShield Protect solution to the Chase Paymentech base of retail merchants. The end-to-end encryption solution is designed to help merchants reduce the costs to comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements and associated security risk by protecting card information from the point of swipe to the Chase Paymentech authorization host." READ MORE »

A Look at Canada's Debit Card Market

In an article titled "Credit card giants create debit havoc", Dana Flavelle and Rita Trichur write for the Toronto Star about small merchant reactions to the introduction of Visa and MasterCard debit products into Canada.

October 26, 2009

What Happened at WaMu?

Yesterday and today, the Seattle Times ran a two part series about its former home town bank Washington Mutual titled "Reckless Strategies Doomed WaMu". In a word (actually two words!), it was the: Option ARM.

Consumer Survey Finds Misunderstandings About Gift Cards

A consumer survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and undertaken by the Opinion Research Corporation earlier this month revealed widespread misunderstanding of general purpose gift cards. According to the CFA, "only 33 percent of a representative sample of 1004 adult Americans know how much these cards cost to purchase, and only 54 percent are aware that “six to twelve months after purchase, some of these gift cards charge a monthly fee.” READ MORE »

A Look at Consumer Retail Payment Behavior In Germany

Earlier this year, the Bundesbank published its findings regarding the payment behavior of consumers for retail purchases in Germany.

From the press release: "The majority of those surveyed stated that how they chose to pay was determined by the amount of cash they had available to them and the amount to be paid. Measured by the value of the transactions, cash accounts for a share of 57.9%, girocards for 25.5% and credit cards for 3.6% of all purchases. In terms of the number of transactions, cash accounts for a share of 82.5%, with girocards and credit cards accounting for 11.9% and 1.4% respectively. This is due to the fact that mainly small and medium-sized payment amounts are paid in cash."

The full study is available for download here.


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