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October 10, 2009

Merchants Fight Interchange "Swipe" Fees

In an article titled "Merchants fight for lower credit-card swipe fees", Aldo Svaldi writes for the Denver Post about merchants "revolting against the credit- and debit-card providers their customers rely on to pay them."
"We are under pressure to be as efficient as we can be to keep our prices down," said Bill Cook, owner of Howard Lorton Galleries in Denver. "The credit-card industry doesn't appear that way. They appear to have a cartel."

October 09, 2009

US Banks - No Shame?

In his weekly column titled "Have Banks No Shame?" in Saturday's New York Times Business section, Joe Nocera writes about the the establishment of a new consumer financial protection agency.

Nocera writes: "The real reason current regulators don’t pay more attention to consumer problems is not that they are evil (well, mostly they’re not), but that they have another mission that takes priority. They are charged with insuring the safety and soundness of the banking system."

He concludes: "The sooner we can pass the thing, the better."

Visa Launches "Reputation Campaign" in Nation's Capital

In an article titled "Visa Plasters D.C. with Ads as Debate Heats Up", Maria Aspan writes for the American Banker about Visa's new "reputation campaign" launched earlier this week in Washington, DC intended to "highlight the benefits of plastic over checks and cash."

EPC Responds to Pending Interchange Legislation

The Electronic Payments Coalition has commented on the legislation pending in the US House that would impose new limits on interchange fees and practices.

"H.R. 2382 is one of the most egregious assaults on consumer protection that this country has seen in some time. Disguised as a measure to allow for cash discounts - something that is already allowed by federal law and by all card network contracts - the bill would instead open up the door for bait-and-switch advertising schemes, charging additional checkout fees at the register, and discrimination against certain card holders. The bill is chock full of provisions that mean one thing: consumers will pay more so merchants can pay less. Bottom line - retailers don't want to pay their fair share for a service that brings them more sales and higher profits - and want their customers to pick up the tab instead." READ MORE »

Citi Finds Small Businesses Not Joining Social Media Conversation

A new Citibank / GfK Roper survey has found that few small business owners and managers are joining the consumer trend towards increasingly using social networking websites and services. According to the survey of 500 small business executives across the United States, 76 percent have not found social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be helpful in generating business leads or for expanding their business during the last year, while 86 percent say they have not used social networking sites to get business advice or information. READ MORE »

Headline News - October 9, 2009

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.

October 08, 2009

Economist: Two Sides to the Interchange Fee Debate

In an article titled "Two sides to every story", this week's Economist takes a look at the raging debate in the US over credit card interchange fees - noting that "the tentative evidence from Australia is that caps on interchange fees for retailers have not been offset by any gain in the form of lower consumer prices."

US Credit Card Issuers Take Another Hit in Congress

In an article titled "In House, a Bid to Hasten a Credit Card Law", Reuters (via the New York Times) reports that Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services believes that "recent actions by credit card issuers prove that lawmakers should move up the date of new restrictions on interest rates and fees." Frank's committee held a hearing on the matter earlier today in Washington - along with a look at credit card interchange fees.

House Committee on Financial Services Hearing on Interchange Fees

The House Committee on FInancial Services is holding a hearing today on interchange fees - and, specifically, H.R. 2382, the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2009. The website has been updated with today's witnesses and, where available, their prepared testimony.

First Data, PayPal Enable STAR Debit Cards for PayPal Funding

First Data has announced an agreement with PayPal that allows debit cardholders in First Data’s STAR Network to quickly link their STAR debit card to a PayPal account online. First Data says its STAR Network is "the first electronic funds transfer network to offer this innovative service to its member financial institutions." READ MORE »

A Look at Same Day ACH

Over on, Glenbrook's Carol Coye Benson writes about the Same Day ACH session at this week's Association for Finance Professionals conference in San Francisco.

Carol writes: "The same day ACH proposal has most typically been talked about as a service which will apply to check conversion transactions – to enable electronics to clear as fast as paper would (don’t you love that). But I had not realized before that the Fed is also talking about this applying to WEB transactions. This would mean all those alternative-payment schemes for eCommerce could clear faster than card transactions!" Click to read more!

Citibank Launches Citi Mobile En Espanol

Citi_logo-140px.jpgCitibank has launched Citi Mobile en Espanol to enable customers who prefer to bank in Spanish to do so from their smartphones. According to Citi, "the Spanish-language service lets customers manage their accounts, pay bills, locate Citibank branches and more - all from the convenience of their cell phones. Citibank is the first major U.S. bank to offer mobile banking in Spanish." READ MORE »

2009 Gift Card Trend Report from Archstone Consulting

Archstone Consulting has announced the results of its 2009 Gift Card Trend Report examining the performance of the gift card market, consumer and retailer trends, and government action.

"Gift cards are still the gift of choice among consumers, but gift card purchases reflect the challenging economic times; values per card are down, and the focus (similar to last year) is on the pragmatic not frivolous," commented Dave Sievers, Principal and the Consumer Products and Retail Practice lead at Archstone Consulting. READ MORE »

Fed Reports 13 Percent Decline in Revolving Consumer Credit

FederalReserve-130px.jpgThe latest Federal Reserve G.19 Consumer Credit report is out for the month of August 2009 showing that consumer credit outstanding overall decreased at an annual rate of 5-3/4 percent in August 2009. Revolving credit outstanding decreased at an annual rate of 13 percent, and nonrevolving credit decreased at an annual rate of 1-1/2 percent. The rate of decline in revolving consumer credit is the steepest reported in several years.

October 07, 2009

PayPal, Green Dot Partner for Cash Loading to PayPal Accounts

Green Dot and PayPal have announced an agreement that will allow U.S. consumers to load money directly to their PayPal accounts using Green Dot’s MoneyPak. This will enable people to shop anywhere PayPal is accepted without the need for a bank account or credit card. READ MORE »

Intuit Introduces TurboTax for Online Banking

intuit_logo-140px.jpgIntuit has announced TurboTax for Online Banking, "a new offering designed to help financial institutions bring more value to customers – and increase deposits – by turning their online banking site into a valuable tax resource." Available for Digital Insight financial institutions to offer in the upcoming tax season, TurboTax for Online Banking won a Best of Show award at Finovate 2009, a conference showcasing the best new innovations in financial and banking technology. READ MORE »

An Untapped Market for Mobile Banking Among Offline Consumers

A survey commissioned by VeriSign's Messaging and Mobile Media Division (in collaboration with Fiserv and M-Com) of more than 500 U.S. mobile phone users finds that financial institutions should mine the untapped market of offline-banking consumers as a potential target audience for mobile banking and payment services.

According to the survey, sixty percent of consumers not currently using online banking would be interested in using at least one mobile banking service if it was offered during a typical month. The survey also shows that non-online-banking consumers are heavy users of traditional bank channels: nearly two-thirds reported contacting their financial institution once a week or more through one or more bank channels such as contact centers and interactive voice response systems. These are among the most costly customer service channels. READ MORE »

UK Online Banking Fraud Losses Spike Up 55%

Today's UK card fraud report was surprisingly positive - with card fraud losses down 23% for the first half of 2009 vs. 2008. However, there was much worse news with respect to online banking fraud - which spiked up 55% in the same period. READ MORE »

A Look at Consumers Shifting from Credit Cards to Debit Cards

In an article titled "For Gun-Shy Consumers, Debit Is Replacing Credit", Nancy Trejos writes for the Washington Post about how the recession has cooled consumers on credit cards while they are increasingly using their debit cards to make purchases.

New York Times Editorial: Bleeding Holders of Debit Cards Dry

A strongly worded New York Times editorial today titled "Bleeding Holders of Debit Cards Dry" notes that several banks last month announced changes to their overdraft policies - but says those changes aren't enough. Citing yesterday's report from the Center for Responsible Lending that estimated that "banks and credit unions raked in nearly $24 billion in overdraft income in 2008" and noting that "American families now spend more on overdraft fees every year than on books, breakfast cereal or fresh vegetables and only slightly less than they spend on major appliances," the editorial advocates stronger Congressional action.

CFSI Meeting Today Explores Consumer Credit and Industry Needs

The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) has announced that it will welcome more than 30 senior executives from a broad cross-sector of the financial industry in Chicago today for a joint meeting of its Innovators and Responsible Credit Roundtables. The gathering seeks to provide insight and actionable ideas for companies, advance their individual efforts in developing new projects and business models, and identify opportunities for industry-wide action. READ MORE »

Discover U.S. Spending Monitor Up 2 Points in September

Discover_logo-140px.jpgThe Discover U.S. Spending Monitor rose for the second straight month, climbing 2 points in September to 89 (based out of 100). The rise in the Monitor’s index is mostly attributed to improved economic sentiment in September. In all, 33 percent of U.S. consumers feel economic conditions are improving, a Monitor high and 2-point increase from August. In September, consumers felt a little better about their personal finances as well. Thirty-three percent rated their finances as good, or excellent, the highest in four months and up a point from August. READ MORE »

October 06, 2009

UK Card Fraud Losses Decline 23% in First Half of 2009

Financial Fraud Action UK, the voice of the industry in the UK for financial fraud matters, (previously known as APACS) has published the latest payment industry fraud losses for the first half of 2009, in conjunction with The UK Cards Association and the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company.

By fraud category, here are the results:

  • Card not present - £134m (down 18% vs first half 2008)
  • Counterfeit cards - £46.3m (down 48%)
  • Lost or stolen cards - £25.1m (down 6%)
  • Card ID theft - £23.9m (up 23%)
  • Card lost in post - £3.5m (down 33%)
  • Total - £232.8m (down 23%)

The fraud to turnover rate on debit and credit cards amounted to 0.1 per cent in the first half of the year – reflecting the fact that around a tenth of a penny is lost to fraud in every £1 spent on cards. READ MORE »

House Committee Holds Interchange Fee Hearing This Thursday

US-CapitolBuilding.jpgThe US House Committee on Financial Services has scheduled a hearing this Thursday on two pieces of legislation: H.R. 2382, the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2009 and H.R. 3639, the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009. HR 2382 would prohibit interchange differentials between premium and non-premium payment cards, merchant display of prices, etc.

Overdraft Fees Up 35% in Two Years

The Center for Responsible Lending has published a new study finding that US banks and credit unions collected nearly $24 billion in overdraft fees last year, an increase of 35 percent from two years earlier. READ MORE »

Hess to Accept MasterCard PayPass Contactless Cards

MasterCard Worldwide has announced that independent gasoline-convenience store retailer Hess will accept MasterCard PayPass at more than 870 company-operated Hess and Hess Express locations along the eastern United States. In addition to traditional magnetic-stripe payment cards, Hess will accept MasterCard PayPass at check-out counters at these locations by early 2010. READ MORE »

Headline News - October 6, 2009

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.

October 05, 2009

A Look at Prepaid Cards

In an article titled "Prepaid, but Not Prepared for Debit Card Fees" in Tuesday's New York Times, Andrew Martin takes a look at the prepaid card industry - noting that "the reloadable cards [are] among the consumer banking industry’s fastest-growing products. But their convenience comes with a catch: fees, often hidden in the fine print."


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