First Data Corp. issued its October 2011 SpendTrend analysis tracking monthly consumer credit, signature debit, PIN debit, electronic benefit card and check use in the United States. The study showed transactions for the month grew to the highest level in eight months, a trend that could extend into the holiday season.
"Consumers continued to spend in October," stated Silvio Tavares, Senior Vice President and Division Manager of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions, which publishes SpendTrend. "Both transaction growth and credit card spending were up significantly, indicating consumers are increasingly disposed to spending heading into the crucial holiday season."
Dollar volume growth held steady in October at 9.4 percent, compared with 9.5 percent in September. Transactions grew by 7.5 percent in October 2011 - the highest monthly gain since February 2011. The survey showed dollar volume growth for the month reached a 13-month high for food and beverage stores at 9.3 percent.
Inflation pushed average ticket growth up 2.3 percent for the second consecutive month. The average ticket price slowed in growth 1.8 percent in October as gas prices fell from their summer peak, down from 2.2 percent reported the previous month. On average, merchants saved 20 cents per transaction following the Oct. 1, 2011, implementation of the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
Vantiv LLC (formerly Fifth Third Processing Solutions LLC), owned by Fifth Third Bancorp and buyout firm Advent International Corp., filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering (IPO) of its common stock. The company said it hopes to raise $100 million in Class A common shares.
The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2011 that an IPO could value the company at as much as $4.6 billion and projected the IPO could raise between $750 million and $1 billion in funding. The offering will be by prospectus, which can be obtained from J.P. Morgan Securities, Morgan Stanley & Co. and Credit Suisse Securities (USA).
In a recent post on the Atlanta Federal Reserve website, Jennifer Windh, AFR Retail Payments Risk Forum Payments Risk Analyst, said the Verizon 2011 Payment Card Industry Compliance Report supports the conclusion that compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) "is effective at preventing breaches." She additionally said the report validates the observation that "the most compliant organizations are the least likely to be breached."
The second annual Verizon report, released at the end of September 2011, analyzes data gathered from more than 100 Verizon PCI DSS qualified security assessments. The analysis includes data from companies in the United States, Europe and Asia and builds on information in the 2010 compliance report.
"At first glance, the report's findings seem discouraging because only 21 percent of organizations are found to be fully compliant at the beginning of the audit," Windh wrote. "However, the researchers assessed each organization's compliance across each [PCI DSS] requirement, and found that a further 37 percent were compliant across 90 to 99 percent of requirements."
Square Inc. revealed Sir Richard Branson, the owner of the Virgin Group Ltd. and ranked the fourth wealthiest man in the United Kingdom, invested in Square's payment technology. "Square is an incredible technology that inspires and empowers everyone to be an entrepreneur," Branson stated in a press release. Square has attracted a number of high-profile investors and partners including Visa Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Square reportedly has over 800,000 card readers in use and has processed more than $2 billion in payments since releasing its card reader in 2010. Square's dongle card readers are available only in the United States, but the company said it plans to launch them in other countries in 2012.
In other news, Square released the Square Card Case, a new Apple Inc. iOS 5-based technology that uses "geofencing" near field communication (NFC) to communicate with merchant POS systems. Whenever an activated smart phone device enters a Square-enabled merchant location, the merchant's screen will present the name and photo of the user, which the user verifies prior to completing the transaction.
Irvine, Calif.-based secure identity solution firm HID Global Corp. and international consumer electronics manufacturer Sony Corp. developed a contactless smart card reader platform that employs embedded secure access control capabilities and NFC in laptops and other mobile devices. The new technology was introduced at the CARTES & Identification 2011 conference hosted in Paris in November 2011.
The new platform stores cryptographic keys that secure the authenticity and integrity of user credentials. It also supports numerous mobile applications that allow such conveniences as physical access control and identity assurance as well as transit-fare, POS collection and loyalty programs.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch is expanding its line of EuroPay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) chip and PIN technology to corporate cards for U.S. international travelers. EMV cards store personal information on an encrypted chip. EMV is considered more secure than the traditional magnetic swipe cards commonly used in the United States.
Miami-based CenPOS recently launched a free CenPOS mobile application for Android-powered smart phone users through the Android Market. The app converts mobile devices into secure credit card terminals that can accept swiped, hand-keyed or tokenized credit card transactions processed over the CenPOS payment acceptance platform.
Charge Anywhere LLC, a secure mobile payment and gateway solutions provider, made its payment application available for download on all Research in Motion BlackBerry 7 OS devices.
The app turns a mobile device into a secure POS terminal that can process cash, check and credit card transactions and redeem gift cards and loyalty offers. Charge Anywhere can also be used with iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile, Oracle Java and Qualcomm Inc. Brew platforms.
First Data's binding corporate rules for data privacy were authorized by the United Kingdom Information Commissioner's Office. The rules have now been approved by data protection authorities in 18 European Union member states.
As the 11th company to earn Information Commissioner Office approval, First Data becomes one of the few companies in the world to have completed the global data privacy practices process.
Heartland Payment Systems Inc. reported its restaurant and lodging merchants have saved $7,017,876 in debit interchange fees since the implementation of the Durbin Amendment on Oct. 1, which cut debit interchange fees by half. According to HPS, its restaurant merchants saved $6,171,195 and lodging merchants saved $846,681 as a result of fee reductions.
Payment processing solutions and merchant account services provider Merchant Warehouse said 80 of its employees and independent sales agents will enroll in the Electronic Transactions Association's Certified Payment Professional certification program. The ETA's goal is to certify 300 agents in this first year of the program. The exams are given at more than 400 locations throughout North America.
Mopay Inc., a division of the German company MindMatics AG and provider of payment solutions for online merchants, upgraded its mobile payment platform to support HTML5 services and games. The upgrade will allow mopay customers to take advantage of the platform's cross-platform billing, media and gaming potential. The upgrade will also permit mopay to offer solutions across multiple devices, platforms and carriers in more than 80 countries.
EMV card issuer, mobile/NFC provider and EMV training and consultancy company SmartSoft changed its name to Cardtek Inc. The new name is an umbrella for the company's SmartGroup comprised of SmartSoft, CordisNetwork, CredoWork and PhayMobile units. The company reportedly is reorganizing to focus on cross-border payment technology.
3 Point Alliance, parent company to lockbox remittance payment processor 3 Point Payment Processing, agreed to team with the Transactis software-as-a-service platform to offer an integrated receivables solution with electronic presentment and payment options. Transactis will provide 3 Point Alliance with a platform tailored for 3 Point's business-to-business and business-to-consumer billers.
Automated credit card processing is available to customers of AccountMate Software Corp. and Accelerated Payment Technologies Inc. AccountMate's ERP software now integrates with Accelerated Payment Technologies' X-Charge Payment Processing services targeting small and midsized businesses. The joint solution reportedly meets or exceeds the PCI DSS and will accelerate customer payments in real-time.
London-based companies Aconite Technology Ltd., a smart card software solutions, security and consulting service, and payment products and services provider Alaric Systems Ltd. formed a partnership that will focus on intelligent fraud management for EMV card transactions.
The companies plan to integrate Alaric's Fractals and Aconite Risk Status Translator to create a total fraud-prevention, detection and management solution.
AT&T Inc. agreed to market Intuit Inc.'s GoPayment software application and card reader. The GoPayment reader is reportedly free upon GoPayment account activation. The reader, which attaches to a smart phone audio jack, will be available through AT&T call centers. The GoPayment service costs merchants 2.7 percent of each transaction, or the merchant can opt to pay a monthly fee.
U.S. Dataworks Inc.'s PayItFast will be installed in all 32 Cabela's Inc. retail stores to promote the acceptance of Cabela's CLUB Visa card. The program is designed to accelerate payment acceptance by consolidating customer walk-in payments with all other Cabela's CLUB Visa card payments, and thus avoid posting delays to cardholder accounts, U.S. Dataworks said.
Instant card issuance solutions provider CIM USA Inc. and Cardtek Inc. (formerly SmartSoft) formed a strategic partnership to provide end-to-end, EMV-based payment solutions to U.S. financial card issuers and bureaus. The partnership supports the transition to EMV- and NFC-based payment technologies in the U.S. market.
Intel Corp. and MasterCard Worldwide signed a multiyear joint agreement to enhance security and consumer payments in online shopping. The collaboration is expected to deliver more options for checkout in online purchases for customers using Intel's Ultrabook devices and other Intel-based personal computers.
The partnership will also allow the two companies to enhance new payment technologies, including MasterCard PayPass and Intel Identity Protection Technology (IPT). Intel's IPT provides secure authentication and hardware-based protection for consumers, who will be able to pay for online purchases by tapping their PayPass-enabled card, tag or smart phone on an Intel Ultrabook device, sources reported.
New England's People's United Bank plans to deploy the Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS) Mobile Financial Services platform. PUB said it will use the platform to support a new mobile banking channel, which is being added to its current delivery channels for retail customers.
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union partnered with card issuer Elan Financial Services to offer PFCU Visa credit cards with reward options for consumers and businesses.
TASQ Technology Inc., a subsidiary of First Data, agreed to distribute and resell Key Innovations Ltd.'s KSD9000 multimedia payment terminal. The KSD9000 provides interactive, high-quality audio/video promotions at the point of payment. Merchants can upload media content to individual terminals and regional or global network terminals.
Processing services provider TransFirst LLC formed a strategic alliance with information technology company Planet Group Inc. to build a back-end processing system. The alliance will reportedly combine components of TransFirst's OnTrack management system with elements of Planet Group's Acquire 360 software. The venture is expected to produce a more flexible system for pricing, reporting, customization and statement production along with other advantages.
Financial institution payment solutions provider Clear2Pay NV/SA signed an agreement to acquire the U.K.'s Level Four Software Holdings Ltd., a company that develops and tests automated solutions for ATM networks.
Earlier in 2011, Clear2Pay purchased the U.S. payment testing firm Lexcel Solutions Inc. The acquisitions will enable Clear2Pay to help banks and processors target investments in payment networks at significant customer locations.
VeriFone Inc. signed an agreement with Nordic Capital Fund V to acquire Nordic's Swedish payment and processing services provider Point Transaction Systems AB. Point is reportedly northern Europe's largest payment processor. VeriFone said it will extend Point to create the world's largest infrastructure for rapid deployment of alternative payments. VeriFone paid $880 million for Point.
In other company news, VeriFone acquired mobile retail solutions provider Global Bay Mobile Technologies. According to VeriFone, the acquisition will enhance the company's presence in the mobile devices market. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Western Union Holdings Inc. acquired Travelex Global Business Payments Inc., reportedly making the combined company the leading nonbank provider of cross-border business payments. Western Union said it will integrate Travelex Global Business Payments into its Business Solutions division headquartered in London.
Mary Di Vincenzo was appointed the new Vice President Operations and Client Services North America in YESPay's Toronto office. Di Vincenzo, who has more than 20 years' experience in the financial, retail, payments and technology industries, will facilitate expansion of the company's payment services in the Canadian and U.S. markets.
Carlee Hudachko is the new Vice President of Client Services and Inside Sales at Brentwood, Tenn.-based FrontStream Payments Inc. Hudachko will be in charge of client services, inside sales and ISO and agent support. Hudachko formerly managed several of the company's support and sales initiatives.
Linda Zukauckas joined American Express Co. as an Executive Vice President and Corporate Controller. Zukauckas previously served as Managing Director of Corporate Strategy for Ally Financial Inc.
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