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December 23, 2009

Season's Greetings!

A good friend once told me: slow down, get into the moment, and hold them close. All of us at Glenbrook hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

The 2008 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has published The 2008 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice by Kevin Foster, Erik Meijer, Scott Schuh, and Michael A. Zabek.

From the abstract:

This paper presents the 2008 version of the Survey of Consumer Payment Choice (SCPC), a nationally representative survey developed by the Consumer Payments Research Center of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and implemented by the RAND Corporation with its American Life Panel. The survey fills a gap in knowledge about the role of consumers in the transformation of payments from paper to electronic by providing a broad‐based assessment of U.S. consumers’ adoption and use of nine payment instruments, including cash.

The average consumer has 5.1 of the nine instruments, and uses 4.2 in a typical month. Consumers make 53 percent of their monthly payments with a payment card (credit, debit, and prepaid). More consumers now have debit cards than credit cards, and consumers use debit cards more often than cash, credit cards, or checks individually. Cash, checks, and other paper instruments are still popular and account for 37 percent of consumer payments.

Most consumers have used newer electronic payments, such as online banking bill payment, but they account for only 10 percent of consumer payments. Security and ease of use are the characteristics of payment instruments that consumers rate as the most important.

Hot Topics in Payments for 2009 - Overdrafts, Interchange, Gift Cards

Google's Insights for Search provides some handy tools for exploring what topics folks have been searching for over time. For example, here's a graph of search activity over the last five years on the subject of overdraft fees. Needless to say, they become a very hot search term (and consumer issue) in 2009!

Here's a less dramatic example - this time for interchange fees.

Finally, one of my favorites - gift cards - look at this seasonality!

FDC Reports Mid-Dec 2009 Consumer Spending Data

First Data Corporation has released its First Data SpendTrend transaction data comparing Dec. 1 through Dec. 14, 2009 to the same period last year. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending using credit, signature debit, PIN debit and EBT cards at U.S. merchant locations.

FDC reports that overall transaction growth remained healthy at 7.9 percent, while the Midwest experienced the highest growth rate of 10.8 percent. Transaction growth for all regions was up from November. Data indicates that consumers continued to focus on value, leading to large transaction increases in petroleum (13.4 percent) and value retailers (14.9 percent). READ MORE »

A Look at Regional Differences in Consumer Payments in the UK

The UK Payments Council has created "an online, interactive map to demonstrate the varied payment attitudes, preferences and behaviours that can be seen in the different regions across the UK." READ MORE »

A Look at Charge Cards

In an article titled "Tamer Cards for Tougher Times", Mary Pilon writes for the Wall St. Journal about how charge cards are returning to consumers' wallets as card issuers adjust to tough economic times by reducing credit availability. Charge cards don't revolve - they must be paid off in full each month.

Headline News - December 23, 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.

December 22, 2009

Musings about Mobile Payments 2009 - Glenbrook Research Brief

GP-MusingsAboutMobilePayments2009-180px.jpgFor the last several months, Glenbrook’s Carol Coye Benson has been interviewing a number of companies involved in mobile payments in the U.S. and Canada. You’ll find all of the analyses she’s written following those interviews on The companies included are Billing Revolution, Blaze Mobile, Bling Nation, Boku, CashEdge, First Data Corp., mFoundry, mPayy, Obopay, Payfone, Zong, and Zoompass.

To make it easy to access all of Carol’s analyses in a form that you can download, print out and take with you, we’ve created a PDF version titled “Musings about Mobile Payments 2009” that includes each of Carol’s commentaries. You can download a free copy of the PDF from Happy holidays from all of us at Glenbrook!

The upcoming 2010 editions of our Glenbrook Payments Boot Camps include an expanded and updated focus on emerging payments – based on Carol's on-going mobile payments research, new options for online payment for digital content, and ACH-based payments across online and physical domains.

Equifax Finds U.S. Consumer Payment Trends Continue to Deteriorate

Consumer delinquency rates for bankcards, first mortgages and home equity lines of credit again rose month-to-month in November, according to Equifax's monthly Credit Trend Report.

Bankcard issuers continued a year-long trend of closing accounts and reducing credit lines. Card risk management programs have accelerated since July of 2008, reducing card credit lines by $803 billion and the number of accounts by 93 million. Delinquency rates for bankcards picked up notably since the end of 2008 in tandem with rising unemployment. The November 2009 60-days-past-due rate of 4.62 percent is almost a full percent higher than the November 2008 rate of 3.76 percent. However, the rate still remains below the peak of 4.79 percent in May 2009. READ MORE »

Headline News - December 22, 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.

December 21, 2009

Glenbrook Office Hours - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do you have questions, observations, or thoughts about payments? Give me (Scott Loftesness) a call this Wednesday.

Scott - Version 2.jpgI'll be holding office hours again this Wednesday, December 23, from 10:30 AM Pacific through the end of the day. You can reach me at +1.650.469.3421. I look forward to talking to you!

By the way, I'm currently doing research into payment methods for online and mobile games - if you're working in that area, I'd love to hear from you!

If I'm unable to take your call, I'll try to return your call - subject to my availability. If you'd rather email (preferred outside of office hours), you can always reach me at:

Do you have Glenbrook on your side?

Virtual Gift Cards Now Available Blackhawk Network's

Just in time for the holidays, Blackhawk Network, the largest provider of third-party gift cards in the United States and Canada, has launched a new virtual gift card program, E-Gift Cards - now available on its redesigned online store, Consumers can now benefit from being able to purchase gift cards online anywhere, anytime and having them delivered via email. Recipients can redeem their gifts online directly at the retailer’s web site or by printing them out for in-store redemption. READ MORE »

American Express OPEN Launches AcceptPay

American Express OPEN has announced the launch of AcceptPay - calling it "an online invoicing and payment solution that can help business owners improve cash flow at a time when customers are taking a longer time to pay." In a press release, Amex said it partnered with PaySimple to design AcceptPay, working with business owners to create product features and integrated feedback from product test groups. READ MORE »

A Look Back and Forward at Prepaid Cards

In an article titled "Prepaid vs. Checking: Fairer Fight?", Maria Aspan writes for the American Banker about the state of the prepaid card business in the US - and how the upcoming checking account overdraft fee reforms could affect the prepaid card industry.

Glenbrook Webinar: Mobile Commerce for eCommerce Merchants - Jan 14

The second webinar in Track 2 - Essentials of eCommerce Payments Management - of our Payments Essentials Webinar Series will be held on January 14th, 10:30-11:30 PST on the topic: Mobile Commerce for eCommerce Merchants.

Mobile Commerce is big today and expected to grow dramatically in 2010. eBay claims the value of goods sold this year through the eBay iPhone app alone could exceed $400 million. What does this mean for the traditional eCommerce merchant? How significant are the opportunities - and how should these be realized? Join Glenbrook as we explore mobile retailing, mobile checkout, and mobile payments.

This webinar will be presented by Glenbrook's Russ Jones and Jay DeWitt. Registration for this webinar is now open ($249 fee).

Glenbrook Payments Boot Camps - 1Q 2010 Registrations Now Open

Registration is now open for Glenbrook Payments Boot Camps being held in the first quarter of 2010:

The 2010 edition of the Glenbrook Payments Boot Camp has an expanded and updated focus on emerging payments – including mobile payments, online payment for digital content, and ACH-based payments across online and physical domains. Questions? Email us at:

BNY Mellon Treasury Services Adds MasterCard Payment Gateway

BNY Mellon Treasury Services and MasterCard have announced that BNY Mellon will be integrating the MasterCard Payment Gateway into its suite of payment solutions for corporate clients. According to BNY Mellon, "complementing the ACH, wire transfer and check payment services already available from BNY Mellon, the MasterCard Payment Gateway will allow BNY Mellon clients to take advantage of the speed, cost efficiency, security and disbursements management benefits of electronic B-to-B card payments as part of a comprehensive array of payment alternatives." READ MORE »

December 20, 2009

Pros and Cons of Debit Cards

In an article titled "Debit-card use grows, but risks still an issue", Chuck Strickler writes for The Columbus Dispatch about debit cards - how they help consumers stay in control but also how they're different than credit cards.

In an article titled "One debit-card overdraft can trigger an avalanche", Los Angeles Times personal finance columnist Kathy Kristof writes about how one overdraft was turned into four overdraft fees when one consumer's bank (Chase) reordered the payments posting to her checking account. Kristof goes on to note that Chase has announced it plans to eliminate that practice "in the first few months of 2010".

A Look at Credit Card Issuer Rate Changes

In an article titled "Credit-card firms rush to get users on variable rates before rules changes" in the Denver Post, David Migoya writes about how some credit card issuers are "changing user terms — particularly interest rates — in part to bypass restrictive federal rules set to take effect in February."

Citing recent research by the Center for Responsible Lending, Migoya notes that "the most prevalent move is flipping consumers from fixed-rate cards to a variable rate tied to an already-low — but likely to increase — prime rate, the interest rate banks charge their best customers."

Nokia, Yu and Obopay Partner for yuCash in Kenya

In an article titled "Nokia, Yu and Obopay join region’s cash transfer market", Michael Duma writes for The East African that "Obopay has partnered with Kenya’s fourth mobile network, Essar Telecom Kenya (ETK) and mobile handset maker Nokia, to launch a money transfer services called yuCash — to be carried out under the Obopay platform."


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