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Thursday, January 18, 2018

NRF 2018 celebrates retail resurgence

T he National Retail Federation reported 37,500 attendees and 900 exhibitors from 96 countries attended its 107th annual convention and expo held Jan. 14 to16, 2018, at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Retail and payments leaders in attendance attributed the event's palpable celebratory spirit to record holiday spending, economic recovery and a post-EMV retail landscape.

"The dollar focus in the past three years emphasized security and EMV," said Jeff Wakefield, Vice President Americas Sales Enablement at Verifone. "Today we're discussing not just mobility, but 'I have this vision,' and 'how do I become more seamless in my store?'"

Wakefield said retailers of all sizes are reassessing POS environments, noting that if they have four cash registers on the front end, they're questioning if they need only two, or any at all. "Tire retailers are ripe for disruption," he added. "Why can't someone scan the tire and show customers available options on a tablet? Customers could comparison shop and slide or tap the tablet to complete the sale."

Old brands, new tricks

Ingenico Group executives have also observed a renewed focus on innovation and new ideas in 2018. Michel Leger, Executive Vice President of Innovation at Ingenico Group, sees consumers relying on multiple channels to complete purchases. A younger generation is driving this trend, he noted. "For them, the emphasis will need to be on how these channels connect to provide a seamless experience," he said. "This is in part due to the fact that this generation is digitally native and expects to be able to seamlessly shop how, when and where they want with instant gratification."

Ben Wagner, Director of Product, Solutions at Ingenico Group, North America, added, "EMV is behind us. Now we can focus on improving the retail experience, by working out the kinks and optimizing mobility." Wagner noted Ingenico and other leading device manufacturers are evolving beyond hardware offerings to subscription and app marketplace models.

In Sunday's opening session, James Curleigh, President of Global Brands and Executive Vice President at Levi Strauss & Co., biked down the center aisle of the Main Stage auditorium, blasting music and GPS navigation instructions from his connected denim jacket. His keynote address, "Learn from Levi's: How the 150-year-old Startup Continues to Transform Its Iconic Brand," included advice on how to turn obstacles into opportunities and actions into momentum.

Curleigh said Levi's culture has one foot rooted in heritage and one confident foot stepping forward to drive innovation. The company's objective is to create legitimate lifestyle solutions and become the most loved, most relevant lifestyle brand, again. As part of this effort, Levi's is modeling its supply chain after the mullet haircut, which he described as all business in the front, with the party in the back.

"We want the sophistication in the back," Curleigh added. "We began by making a men's purposeful work pant and will continue to leverage our icons, lean into innovation and be aspirational from our DNA to how we see the future."

'Retail is local'

Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon's transformational impact on the Walmart family of brands earned him the 2018 NRF Visionary award, the NRF stated. In an interview with NRF CEO Matthew R. Shay, McMillon recalled his company's efforts to support local communities during the Hurricane Katrina crisis. "You unleash your teams and worry about what it costs later," he said. But the period following the crisis became what he called his company's cultural transformation, when he asked, "What would it take for us to be that company all the time?"

He launched a series of initiatives designed to reduce the company's carbon footprint and expand corporate sustainability. In his travels to Walmart stores around the world, McMillon found commonality in terms of how technology is being implemented. He called China "off the charts," teaching Walmart more about technology adoption than any other market. "Retail is local," he said. "We empower people to run their businesses."

McMillon said he is committed to driving retail and manufacturing growth in the U.S. market. He recalled a discussion with a visiting executive who said the United States needs to be a country that makes things, not just sells things. This is the time to make that happen ‒ in a strong global economy with low gas prices, tax reform, optimism and record holiday spending, he added.

Jason's Deli confirms RAM-scraper attack
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I t was news no merchant wants to hear. Family-owned Jason's Deli, which operates 275 delis in 28 states, received notice on Dec. 22, 2017, that a large quantity of payment card information associated with the business was for sale on the Dark Web. Law enforcement, a threat response team and forensic experts began investigating immediately and recently reported a breach had, indeed, occurred. It began June 8, 2017, and jeopardized the credit card information of approximately 2 million Jason's Deli customers.

Criminals gained access by using RAM-scraping malware at POS terminals at some, but not all, Jason's Deli locations. RAM-scraper attacks take advantage of a vulnerability that occurs during processing at the POS terminal. POS terminals are mini computers with card readers. Thus, they typically have permanent storage in hard drives or flash memory, and temporary storage in random access memory (RAM).

Vigilance required

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS), devised to protect payment card data and the systems that process that information, is complex and difficult for many busy merchants to understand. For some time, the PCI DSS has explicitly required that merchants encrypt card data both residing on permanent storage and traversing their publicly accessible networks, but it has not mandated encryption for data in RAM, where it must be briefly decrypted for processing. That is where many fraudsters have accessed data from merchants who believed themselves to be PCI compliant.

As Jason's Deli and other merchants have learned, data security requires vigilance. Encryption is essential, but so is keeping unauthorized parties and their malware out of networks responsible for safeguarding personal data. Merchants are expected to keep abreast of ongoing and developing threats and employ network upgrades and software patches to address system vulnerabilities as needed.

Jason's Deli stated that the breach has now been contained and the malware disabled at all locations where it was discovered. Visit for further details. To help merchants with ongoing education on data security, acquaint them with the PCI Security Standards Council's website, .

NRF 2018 highlights retail transformation
Monday, January 15, 2018

T he National Retail Federation's 107th annual Convention and Expo opened Jan. 14, 2018, at Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. The NRF expects record attendance, with 35,000 registered attendees and 600 exhibitors from more than 3,500 companies and 90 countries. NRF executives held a pre-show press briefing in the Innovation Lab, a show within a show designed to highlight emerging technologies. In opening remarks, NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew R. Shay said retail transformation is good for companies, employees and customers.

"Retail is not dead," Shay said. "It is being reshaped in response to shifting customer expectations and buying behaviors." The Innovation Lab, begun last fall with, has been expanded into a more dynamic experience, Shay noted. The Retail 2020 section features 25 technologies shaping the new retail landscape, and an emerging technology showcase with hands-on demos of futuristic applications.

"So much is changing in retail, in the way we shop, explore and transact," added Jack Forestell, Global Head of Merchant and Acquirer Sales and Solutions at Visa Inc. "What's making it come to life is innovation." Forestell encouraged members of the media to tour both areas of the Innovation Lab and attend technology presentations at the Innovation Lab's Feature Stage.

Transforming the shopping journey

The Innovation Lab's two unique exhibit areas and sound stage will provide insights into retail-shaping technologies throughout the conference, NRF representatives stated. The Retail 2020 area is an interactive showcase featuring 25 exhibitors that are transforming each stage of the shopping journey, using augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, facial recognition, big data and robotics. NRF identified 5 unique stages of the shopping journey as: awareness, consideration, engagement, service and post-purchase.

The emerging technology section of the Innovation Lab is a more futuristic experience, NRF representatives stated. These exhibitors are early-stage innovators and some may not be here in five years, but this is where innovation happens, they said. Emerging Tech exhibitor Sam Vasisht, Chief Marketing Officer at, expects to grow and scale his tech company, after two his previous start-ups were acquired by Cisco and TiVo.

"Magia's Cognitive Selling platform powers Virtual Sales Assistants to engage, persuade and build trust with shoppers, by providing a human-like experience," he noted. "The AI uses psychology-based selling skills to help customers easily and confidently reach buying decisions."

'Retail is retail'

Shay described ecommerce and brick-and-mortar as complementary parts of the same industry, adding, "retail is retail." Consumers are increasingly shopping across all channels and expecting the same experience online and in stores, he said. Retail has always been about connecting with customers across all devices and channels. Referencing NRF data, Shay said consumers who shop online and in stores tend to spend more, and retailers are leveraging this trend by using all available tools, technology and resources at the intersection of the online and in-store experience.

Retailers are resilient and creative and constantly looking for new ways to connect with their customers, Shay noted. Retail is a high-growth sector with a strong future ahead. Retailers employ more than 13 million Americans and support 42 million jobs. Many of these new jobs are in corporate headquarters and distribution centers, and may not be reported by the current Bureau of Labor Statistics, but NRF is actively working to correct the record, he said.

Note: The Green Sheet Inc. is closed for the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Mon. Jan. 15, 2018.

ETA selects 2018 Young Payments Professionals Scholars, readies podcast
Friday, January 12, 2018

T he Electronic Transactions Association, a global trade association representing more than 500 payments and technology companies, selected 10 participants for its 2018 ETA Young Payments Professionals Scholar Program.

The ETA devised the program, which is supported by ETA member Discover Financial Services, to help young professionals in the payments industry grow, connect with a class of scholars and meet respected leaders from influential companies. The program's goal is to encourage leadership within the organization itself, as well as the industry at large.

"We are proud to support the success of the payments technology industry's next generation of leaders," said ETA CEO Jason Oxman. "By recognizing and investing in these diverse and talented young professionals at ETA member companies, we believe the entire payments ecosystem stands to gain." The ETA stated the 2018 YPP scholars, who represent finance, payments, and technology enterprises from across ETA's membership, will be matched with industry mentors for the duration of the program. The 2018 scholars include:

As part of the program, YPP Scholars will receive complimentary registration, lodging and travel registration to TRANSACT, as well as complimentary registration to ETA's Strategic Leadership Forum, TRANSACT Tech Events and for the ETA CPP Certification exam, the ETA noted.

In addition, the ETA is launching a podcast Jan. 17, 2018. Twice a month, Oxman will be joined by the association's Vice President of Industry Affairs, Amy Zirkle, and Seneior Vice President of Government Affairs, Scott Talbott to discuss "the people, places and things that make our industry creative and cutting-edge," the ETA stated. For more information and to listen to Oxman introduce the podcast, visit .

Western Union forfeits $60 million to NYDFS
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

F ollowing an investigation by the New York Department of Financial Services set forth in Western Union Co.'s January 2017 deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the U.S. Department of Justice, its Western Union Financial Services Inc. subsidiary agreed to a consent order with NYDFS on Jan. 4, 2018. In the DPA, the company acknowledged deficiencies in its money services compliance programs from 2004 to 2012.

Under terms of the consent order, WUFSI agreed to pay $60 million to NYDFS to resolve violations of New York law arising out of facts set forth in the DPA. In its original agreement with the Justice Department, Western Union admitted to criminal violations including willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud.

The NYDFS consent order specifically acknowledged that since 2012, Western Union had undertaken agreed-upon remedial measures and implemented compliance enhancements. Western Union said it now spends $200 million per year on compliance measures, which has resulted in a 60 percent reduction in fraud over the past six years.

"We share the New York Department of Financial Services' goal of protecting consumers and the integrity of our global money transfer network," stated Western Union. "We have acknowledged that certain conduct in the 2004 to 2012 period fell short of that goal, but we have made substantial improvements since then as part of our commitment to continually enhance our compliance programs."

History of lax procedures

In January 2017, Western Union Co. agreed to forfeit $586 million to compensate individuals impacted and entered into agreements with the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorneys' Offices of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Southern District of Florida.

"Western Union's failure to comply with anti-money laundering laws provided fraudsters and other criminals with a means to transfer criminal proceeds and victimize innocent people," stated Acting U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen in January 2017. "Western Union has agreed to forfeit $586 million, the largest forfeiture ever imposed on a money services business, and has agreed to take specific steps to ensure that it complies with the law in the future."

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the criminal fraud investigation and the FTC the civil fraud investigation. "Since 2001 our office, in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, has charged and convicted 26 Western Union Agents in the United States and Canada who conspired with international fraudsters to defraud tens of thousands of U.S. residents via various forms of mass marketing schemes," said U.S. Attorney Bruce B. Brandler of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Referencing a direct link to New York, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California said a Western Union agent prosecuted by her office pleaded guilty to federal charges of structuring transactions – illegal conduct the company knew about for at least five years.

"Western Union documents indicate that its employees fought to keep this agent – as well as several other high-volume independent agents in New York City – working for Western Union because of the high volume of their activity," Decker said.

Consumers who may have lost money to scammers that accepted Western Union payments between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017, may be eligible for compensation. For information, visit . Claims must be submitted no later than Feb. 12, 2018.

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