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Breaking News articles for December 2015

Countdown for charitable giving

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Emails circulating in the final hours of 2015 remind business owners and consumers that donations made right up until midnight Dec. 31, 2015, will be eligible for a tax benefit. Many include a payment donation cart directly below the solicitation. "Together we can make a major impact on ending childhood hunger this holiday season by raising enough for 10 million more meals by 12/31," reads a message from No Kid Hungry that includes a Donate to End Hunger button. "Every dollar you give to No Kid Hungry provides 10 meals for children in need. Your donation is fully tax deductible and will help connect vulnerable kids across the country with nutritious meals."

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Digital tech ignites holiday spend

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Consumer spending analyses from the National Retail Federation and MasterCard Worldwide have confirmed the generally bullish forecasts for the 2015 retail holiday season. A report issued Dec. 28, 2015, by MasterCard SpendingPulse found a 7.9 percent increase in payment card, cash and check activity and 20 percent increase in e-commerce spending between Black Friday and Christmas Eve compared with the same period in 2014. The National Retail Federation expects overall gift card spending to reach $26 billion during the holiday season. The NRF Holiday Consumer Spending Survey found that six out of 10 of the 7,276 consumers polled between Oct. 5 and Oct. 13, 2015, would prefer to receive gift cards, "making this the ninth year in a row that gift cards have topped the list of most requested gift items." The survey further noted that sales, discounts and quality of merchandise were top concerns for holiday shoppers.

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High fees, high penalties at Higher One

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Haven, Conn.-based Higher One Inc. is under scrutiny by two federal agencies for questionable practices related to its student debit card program. Three students founded the firm in 2000 in an effort to improve the financial aid process. "That single purpose has evolved into a comprehensive collection of products and services that aim to improve the lives and promote the success of more than 11 million students across the country," the company stated, further noting that its business was built on "integrity, teamwork, creativity, transparency, value and service." These core values appear to be at odds with findings by the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Both agencies have accused Higher One of failing to disclose pricing on its website and associated materials, which resulted in many students overpaying to access their bank accounts or use Higher One debit cards, the agencies stated.

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China UnionPay expands mPOS options

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Strategic initiatives at China UnionPay are expanding mobile POS (mPOS) options for cardholders at home and abroad. Developments include the launch of QuickPass mobile payments scheme and strategic partnerships with leading mPOS providers worldwide. UnionPay anticipates its array of payment-enabling technologies will increase the company’s worldwide cardholder base and advance secure payment technologies. In a recent public statement, Chai Hongfeng, China UnionPay Executive Vice President, said the company is committed to “providing secure, convenient mobile payment experiences for its hundreds of millions of cardholders.”

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Bright future predicted for Global, Heartland

Friday, December 18, 2015

Atlanta-based Global Payments Inc. disclosed Dec. 15, 2015, that it plans to acquire Heartland Payment Systems Inc., confirming rumors that had been circulating for days in the payments community. Senior executives from both companies hailed the merger as a defining moment in payments history and a major leap forward for the two leading industry brands. “This partnership with Heartland marks a major milestone for our company, significantly enhancing our direct presence in our largest market and transforming Global Payments into the leading provider of integrated payments technology in the world,” said Jeffrey Sloan, Global’s Chief Executive Officer.

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FIs gain time in Home Depot settlement dispute

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A two-hour hearing held Dec. 14, 2015, in Atlanta was the latest in a series of developments stemming from the 2014 data security breach at Home Depot Inc. that affected as many as 56 million store customers. The Atlanta-based retailer had reached an agreement in November with MasterCard Worldwide and subsequently notified potentially affected financial institutions of settlement terms. However, many of the recipients were observing the Thanksgiving holiday when the notices were mailed; they had little time to react or review the agreement with legal counsel when they returned to their offices.

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Mobile tech drives global holiday spend

Monday, December 14, 2015

Early retail reports from the holiday shopping season have shown increased ecommerce activity around the globe. Consumers in the United States and China have been the most active shoppers, purchasing low-price, high-quality U.S. merchandise, analysts have stated. Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist at the National Retail Federation, saw a resurgence in consumer confidence in November and expects the trend to continue into New Years Day. "Consumers right now are getting great value for significantly less this holiday season given the deflationary environment that continues to impact overall trends in spending," he said.

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Walmart Pay launches in select stores

Friday, December 11, 2015

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. launched Walmart Pay on Dec. 10, 2015, in select stores in Bentonville, Ark., where the company is headquartered. Nationwide rollout is expected to be completed during the first half of 2016. Prior to the launch, 21 million customers were already active users of the retail chain's existing mobile app. With the addition of Walmart Pay, mobile payment access will now extend across iOS and Android devices; with acceptance of all major credit, debit, prepaid and Wal-Mart gift cards; and to all in-store checkout lanes.

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Target to pay $39 million to MasterCard issuers

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Target Corp. reached an agreement with MasterCard Worldwide issuers on Dec. 2, 2015. The Minneapolis-based retailer will award as much as $39 million to U.S. MasterCard issuing banks adversely affected by the massive data breach Target experienced in December 2013. This offer exceeds a previous offer of $19 million to MasterCard issuers disclosed in April 2015. Eligible issuers had until May 20, 2015 to respond to individual settlement offers.

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In remembrance of Michael Brewer

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The payments industry is mourning the loss of Michael A. Brewer, who passed away Nov. 20, 2015. After graduating from Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif., with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1985, Brewer went on to become the founding principal of the Law Offices of Michael A. Brewer APC in 2011, operating offices in Los Angeles and Irvine, Calif. In his work as a civil and trial lawyer, Brewer represented a broad spectrum of clients in business, commercial, credit card, retail, manufacturing and developing industries in California and Asia.

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FTC ends telemarketers' remotely created payments

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Federal Trade Commission amended the federal Telemarking Sales Rule to explicitly ban telemarketers from using remotely created checks (RCCs) and remotely created payment orders (RCPOs), as well as prepaid card cash reload mechanisms, like MoneyPak. The amendments, which take effect early in 2016, are directed at criminals who use these and similarly untraceable payment methods when scamming consumers, according to the FTC. "Con artists like payments that are tough to trace and hard for people to reverse," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The FTC's new telemarketing rules ban payment methods that scammers like, but honest telemarketers don't use."

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Security a top concern for holiday shoppers, retailers

Friday, December 4, 2015

The National Retail Federation and security analysts are urging merchants and consumers to remain vigilant during the high-peak shopping season, noting that high-volume sales may provide additional opportunities for cybercriminals to attack vulnerable POS infrastructures. Among the chief concerns is the notion that retailers that have upgraded Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) payment systems have solved the security issue. EMV is a good start but far from a silver bullet, some analysts have noted. "EMV technology ensures that the physical card being presented for payment isn't a fraudulent card, so EMV in and of itself is not a security technology," said Steve Robb, Senior Vice President for ControlScan Inc., a provider of managed security and compliance services.

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Black Friday lives on amid expanding alternatives

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

As business analysts review 2015 Black Friday and Cyber Monday statistics, many have observed the former day-long events have become online, week-long, and season-long promotions. Incentives that begin before Black Friday and Cyber Monday and continue far into the holiday season have diluted impact without adding revenue, some analysts say. "I thought opening on Thanksgiving was a fad that would go away, but there was strong growth on Thanksgiving Day," said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, a data analytics platform. Total spend in 2015 between Thanksgiving and Black Friday reached $12.3 billion, with almost $2 billion on Thanksgiving Day alone, according to the company’s post-holiday shopping report.

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