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Breaking News articles for February 2008

Interchange act coming back stronger

Friday, February 29, 2008

They're angry, they're organized and they're being heard. No, it's not some hardscrabble, anti-this-or-that protesters. It's a group of merchants who have come together through such organizations as the Merchant Payments Coalition, National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the National Retail Federation. They want interchange reform – yesterday. And the U.S. Congress is bowing to the pressure. U.S. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, planned to introduce the Credit Card Fair Fee Act the week of Feb. 25, 2008. The bill will ostensibly provide a mechanism by which merchants can negotiate interchange fees with MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Inc.

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The ABCs of payments

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TDG-Phenix Inc., a payments and treasury services and consulting firm headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn., is offering a new online course called Introduction to Payments. The three-part series will begin March 13, 2008. Each session will be 90 minutes long. The series employs the firm's e-learning system and consists of weekly webinars, quizzes, discussion forums and assignments. Larry DePalma, President of TDG-P, said the course will provide students a solid foundation of business-to-business, consumer-to-business and peer-to-peer payment options – from automated clearing house to card-based payments to real-time systems.

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Visa shoots for largest U.S. IPO ever

Monday, February 25, 2008

In a Feb. 25, 2008, filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Visa Inc. set forth plans to make an initial public offering of 406 million shares of class A common stock. Proposed at a maximum price per share of $42, San Francisco-based Visa could raise as much as $17 billion, making it the largest IPO in U.S. history. Add to that an additional bump of 40.6 million that underwriting banks such as JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup are given as an option to sell, and Visa may see a windfall of close to $18.8 billion, far surpassing the $10.6 billion amassed by AT&T Wireless when it went public in April 2000.

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Mobile moves up payments line

Monday, February 25, 2008

Plastic cards are starting to lose their grip on the payments world. According to Juniper Research LLC, mobile phone users will reach over 612 million and generate more than $587 billion financial transactions in 2011, with mobile payments generating $22 billion of that amount. The report, released in January 2008, found that mobile phones have extreme potential as financial services tools. "A combination of increased user demand and a desire from all sections of the … ecosystem to deliver intelligent applications and services has created an atmosphere that is both creative and pragmatic," said Alan Good, the report's author.

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Vermont interchange bill a cry for help

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A bill introduced into the Vermont House of Representatives in January 2008, H.600, would force hard copy disclosure to Vermont merchants of the interchange fees set by Visa Inc., MasterCard Worldwide and other credit card companies. Authored by Reps. Michael John Obuchowski, D-Windham, and Warren F. Kitzmiller, D-Washington, H.600 requires card Associations to furnish "a complete paper copy of the [interchange] rules referenced in the contract, either individually or through an acquiring bank."

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Jazz up your game at SEAA

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If you are in the electronics payments industry and would like to sell to, learn from or network with the feet on the street, the Southeast Acquirers Association aims to help you do that and more at its annual meeting. The two-day conference will be held March 24 to 26, 2008, at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans. The goal of this year's event is three-fold: to address hot topics causing anxiety and ire within the industry, help some Katrina victims and have fun.

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State bill clarifies breach obligations

Friday, February 15, 2008

California merchants and their ISOs must adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. But they may soon have to contend with Senate Bill 364 as well. On Jan. 31, 2008, with a 30 to 7 vote on the floor of the California State Senate in favor of SB 364, the state moved closer to strengthening its data breach notification law. It defines what information merchants must make publicly available if consumers' personal data are compromised in a breach.

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Turbulent negotiations for Hypercom, Ingenico

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In an exchange of publicly disclosed letters, Phoenix-based Hypercom Corp. and Ingenico, headquartered in Neuilly sur Seine, France, are maneuvering over a possible merger. The rival POS equipment manufacturers are titans, ranking just behind industry leader VeriFone. On Feb. 5, 2008, Philippe Lazare, Ingenico's Chief Executive Officer, sent a letter to Hypercom's board of directors, offering to acquire Hypercom for $6.25 per share in cash, reportedly worth approximately $332 million in total. But the offer was conditional on Hypercom's abandonment of its attempt to acquire POS terminal maker Thales e-Transactions S.A., a subsidiary of French aerospace and information technology giant Thales.

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RevolutionCard, Fifth Third stir the processing pot

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

RevolutionCard, launched by Revolution Money in September 2007, recently signed its first merchant-processing agreement with Fifth Third Processing Solutions. The RevolutionCard, a PIN-based interchange-free card, can now be accepted by Fifth Third Processing Solutions' merchant customers across the United States through Fifth Third's Jeanie network. "Fifth Third is particularly relevant to us now for two reasons," said Jason Hogg, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Revolution Money. "First, they are a very innovative organization. And they provide us the foundation to rapidly increase our merchant base and to work with other acquirers and large independent retailers."

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Comerica tapped for prepaid benefits

Monday, February 11, 2008

Comerica Bank, a Dallas-based Fortune 500 financial services company and subsidiary of Comerica Inc., has been selected by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Financial Management Service (FMS) to be the financial agent in the implementation of the Direct Express Card program for electronic prepaid Social Security payments. On Jan. 4, 2008, the FMS stated it had chosen Comerica from a pool of 15 financial institutions; Comerica was picked partly due to its experience as a prepaid card issuer for state government benefit programs.

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On track with a new SAQ

Friday, February 8, 2008

The payments industry's increasing, and necessary, focus on data security has caused significant grumbling about the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS), but a new set of questionnaires for merchants to use with PCI self-assessments could alleviate some of the irritation. The PCI Security Standards Council (SSC), which is charged with managing the PCI DSS, PCI PIN Entry Device Security Requirements and the Payment Application (PA) DSS, has updated its Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ).

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Payments in podcast

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

TDG-Phenix Inc., a Brentwood, Tenn., services and consulting firm focused on banking, treasury management and payment processing, had its podcast picked up by the world's No. 1 online music store. Apple Inc.'s iTunes, which boasts thousands of free audio and video podcasts, now offers the firm's free podcast at http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/view Podcast?id=272307914 . Podcasts are media files distributed over the Internet, using syndicated feeds. They are suitable for playback on portable media players and personal computers.

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Health care: When will payments stake its claim?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Like prospectors mining their claims, payments industry professionals know gold awaits in the health care sector; they just don't know when they're going to strike it rich. Boston-based research and consulting firm Celent LLC estimated consumers spent a whopping $250 billion on out-of-pocket health care costs in 2007; $242 billion of that was paid for with traditional payment methods: checks, cash, and credit and debit cards. The remaining $8 billion was accounted for by health care cards – flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) – tied to either employer-funded accounts or demand deposit accounts (DDA) such as savings or checking accounts. Celent predicts that if only 10% of that $242 billion migrates to electronic health care payments, with an assumed average interchange rate of 1.5% per transaction, the payments industry can expect to reap $363 million annually, not including processing fees, finance charges and other revenue streams.

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It's a woman's world, too

Friday, February 1, 2008

Women represent 46% of today's workforce, but in the 50 largest banks, less than 13% of executive positions are held by women. Thirty percent of those banks have no female executives. But Women Networking in Electronic Transactions (W.net), a Web site dedicated to females in the electronic payments industry, intends to change that. At the current growth rate, it will take 70 years for women to reach parity with men on Fortune 500 executive boards. According to Victoria Tobin, Managing Director of W.net, Catalyst Inc. described the movement of women in Fortune 500 positions as "glacial."

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