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Breaking News articles for March 2014

Wal-Mart alleges Visa monopoly in suit

Monday, March 31, 2014

On March 25, 2014, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. filed a lawsuit against Visa Inc. in an Arkansas district court. The complaint alleges the card brand colluded with card issuing banks to fix the price of interchange and inflate other network fees merchants must pay to accept Visa-branded cards. The big-box retailer is seeking $5 billion from Visa for damages it allegedly suffered from Jan. 1, 2004, to Nov. 27, 2012, a period in which it paid over $350 billion in interchange fees. Wal-Mart leveled a host of charges against Visa in its lawsuit. The retailer claims Visa engaged in a conspiracy with big banks to illegally set interchange, and thereby violated the antitrust laws of the Sherman Act.

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CFPB details 'traps' in payday loan industry

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report on payday lending that reaffirmed previous research on the debt trap consumers often find themselves in when they take out payday loans. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said many borrowers end up "owing as much or more on their very last loan as the entire amount they had borrowed initially."

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Will Durbin ruling spur EMV transition?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

On March 21, 2014, a three judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out the previous ruling that ordered the Federal Reserve Board to reevaluate the way it implemented debit card regulations mandated by the Durbin Amendment to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The appeals court ruling is seen by industry experts as erasing regulatory uncertainty for a financial services industry grappling with the challenges of transitioning the entire payments infrastructure to the Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) chip card standard.

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CFPB field tests standardized disclosure boxes

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that it is developing new fee disclosure guidelines for the prepaid card industry. As part of a variety of new consumer protections the CFPB expects to enact, the bureau wants all prepaid card providers to follow the same guidelines when it comes to how they disclose fees and other program details to consumers.

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Google Wallet ditches secure element for HCE

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beginning April 14, 2014, Google Wallet will only offer mobile contactless payment functionality on the newest KitKat version of its Android operating system. Integrated into the upgraded OS is support for Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology, which allows tap-and-pay transactions to bypass the secure element inside near field communication (NFC)-enabled chips embedded within smartphones. Google's change in strategy means users of phones with previous Android operating systems are out of luck if they want to make mobile contactless transactions at the physical POS. But the development is significant because, by bypassing the secure element, which is "real estate" controlled by the mobile telecommunication firms, Google is not subject to the wireless carriers' rules for using the secure element.

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XP end times, tablet POS opportunity

Friday, March 21, 2014

As the April 8, 2014, end date approaches for Microsoft Corp. tech support for the Windows XP operating system, it can be seen as a reason to panic, or to prosper. XP-based ATMs, which dominate the market, as well as POS systems that run on XP, will undoubtedly experience problems when they become infected with malware and receive no patches from Microsoft to remedy the situation. But the deadline can also be seen as a selling opportunity focused on merchants ready to cut ties with legacy systems and adopt spiffy new tablet POSs.

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How to avoid prepaid mobile app 'bottlenecks'

Friday, March 21, 2014

According to new Mercator Advisory Group research, merchants can share in a huge prepaid mobile app opportunity, but only with careful planning and deployment of programs. But Mercator said "bottlenecks" to successful implementations result from lack of staffing to handle the volume of payments that flow through the mobile apps.

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CFPB reform bill passes House

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On Feb. 27, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. H.R. 3193, which passed with a 232 to 182 vote, is designed to change the structure of the CFPB in order to curtail what the bill's supporters say is the agency's potential for regulatory overreach.

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Campus card practices come under scrutiny

Monday, March 17, 2014

The politically nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released its report on the higher education prepaid debit card market. The GAO said that, as of July 2013, at least 852 schools, or 11 percent of 7,600 U.S. colleges and universities, offered campus debit and prepaid cards to its students. With a growing number of schools partnering with card providers for such programs, the GAO believes Congress should require campus card providers to publicly disclose their agreements with schools for public review. The GAO reported in College Debit Cards: Actions Needed to Address ATM Access, Student Choice, and Transparency that 80 percent of campus card agreements are for debit cards, with the remainder for prepaid cards.

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Contact Solutions touts its IVR 'colossus'

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Automated customer support specialist Contact Solutions Inc. issued a case study that affirms the value of interactive voice response (IVR) systems in satisfying cardholders and reducing overhead costs for prepaid card service providers. Contact Solutions illustrated its point by recounting how it helped a government agency streamline its customer service for a government benefit program that utilized general purpose reloadable prepaid cards.

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MasterCard, Visa form payment security group

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Responding to marketplace pressure in the aftermath of large-scale data breaches at Target Corp. and Neiman Marcus stores in recent months, a new cross-industry group has emerged that hopes to restore consumer, merchant and financial institution confidence in electronic payments. Spearheaded by Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide, the group is calling upon key stakeholders to help ensure payment system security moving forward.

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Blackhawk to be spun off from Safeway

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blackhawk Network, the Safeway Inc. subsidiary and gift card mall operator, said that the proposed merger between its grocery store chain parent and rival chain operator Albertsons LLC will not affect Blackhawk's operations. The gift card distributor said its operational independence from Safeway will result in business as usual after the merger is completed.

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Chicago's Ventra Card program back on track

Monday, March 10, 2014

The initial rollout of the Chicago Transit Authority's open and contactless fare payments system in late 2013 was rocky, but the CTA reported that changes it made to the program have dramatically improved its performance. The CTA said the customer service and transaction time issues that plagued the first few months of the program, and particularly the Ventra prepaid card component of the new service, were solved by upgrades and best practice implementations made by the CTA's fare payment vendor, Cubic Transportation Systems. Responding to customer service complaints and transaction snafus on the new readers installed by Cubic on buses and in train stations, the CTA stated in November 2013 that it had ordered Cubic to partner with customer service specialist Convergys Corp. and to also upgrade the readers.

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SEAA welcomes voice of payments

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Southeast Acquirers Association's annual conference slated for March 24 to 26, 2014, at the Omni CNN Center in Atlanta could break history on many levels. "This is the fastest that we've ever sold out our room block, which is amazing because usually when we go to Atlanta there are so many locals," said John McCormick, Vice President of General Credit Forms Inc. and founding member of the SEAA. "We're hoping that this is going to be the show that hits the 700 total participant mark for SEAA."

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Prepaid energy part of 'mega-trend'

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ecoalign LLC, a marketer focused on the intersection of ecology and commerce, reported that prepaid energy in the United States is poised for growth as younger consumers amenable to the prepaid option enter the financial mainstream. In an online survey of 1,001 consumers, 39 percent were interested in prepaid electricity, with younger adults, renters and males most open to the service.

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CFSI gives prepaid card industry an A-

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Center for Financial Services Innovation gave the prepaid card industry an A – in its first Prepaid Industry Scorecard report. CFSI based its evaluation of the industry on how well prepaid card companies adhered to the Chicago non-profit organization's Compass principles, which are basic guidelines for prepaid products, specifically general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards, that target unbanked or underbanked consumers.

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DOJ probes PNC's merchant services practices

Monday, March 3, 2014

PNC Financial Services Group Inc., a leading provider of merchant services and one of First Data Corp.'s top five alliance partners, revealed today that it has been subpoenaed by the Consumer Protection Bureau of the U.S. Department of Justice. The Bureau is "seeking information concerning the rate of return rate for certain merchant and payment processor customers" that have depository relationships with PNC, the company stated in its filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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