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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Square, Visa, B&N in the news

It's been a busy week in payments so far. Here are three news items that caught the attention of industry watchers:

Square heads north

Alternative payment solutions provider Square Inc. released its free mobile card reader and POS system in Canada Oct. 24, 2012. This is the first time the company has made its payment options available outside of the United States. The company is currently handling more than $8 billion in annualized payments.

Among the products Square is offering to Canadian merchants is Square Register, a free POS system that accepts payments, tracks inventory and monitors daily reports. Square Register can also be used to support customized loyalty and rewards programs.

Scharf named Visa CEO

Visa Inc. named the former Chief Executive Officer of Retail Financial Services for JPMorgan Chase & Co., Charles W. Scharf, to succeed Joseph W. Saunders as Visa's Chief Executive Officer. The appointment is effective Nov. 1, 2012.

Scharf, a former Visa director, is leaving One Equity Partners, where he has been Managing Director since 2011, to take the Visa job. Saunders will continue to serve as Visa Executive Chairman until his retirement in 2013, at which time the board will appoint a new nonexecutive independent chairperson. The board will also expand from 10 to 11 members when Scharf joins Visa.

Barnes & Noble breached

Barnes & Noble Inc., the largest book retailer in the United States with 689 stores in 50 states, discovered that a criminal alteration of its PIN pad devices allowed thieves to steal customer PINs along with credit and debit card information in 63 of its stores. The discovery of the sophisticated cyber theft caused the book retailer to temporarily discontinue PIN pad use in all of its locations on Sept. 14, 2012, while it validated the security of all its PIN pad devices. The company reported the criminal attack to the public on Oct. 24, 2012.

An internal investigation found that fewer than 1 percent of B&N's PIN pads were altered. The retailer concluded the PIN pad tampering "was a sophisticated criminal effort to steal credit card information, debit card information, and debit card PIN numbers from customers." B&N said the thieves accomplished the data theft by planting recording devices or "bugs" in the PIN pad devices.

The bookseller determined its customer database is secure. It also found that transactions in its college bookstores, on its NOOK tablet and on its mobile app were not affected. The company is cooperating with law enforcement authorities. It is also contacting banks, card companies and issuers to determine which B&N customer accounts were compromised.

B&N is urging debit card users to change PIN numbers. Credit and debit card users are advised to review their accounts and notify their banks if they find any unauthorized transactions. end of article

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