At the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival held March 7 to 16 in Austin, Texas, the American Express Co. unveiled several new technology initiatives designed to promote financial inclusion for unbanked consumers in the United States. The initiatives include a program to fund startups working on financial inclusion products, the establishment of a Financial Innovation Lab, and sponsorship of a documentary that spotlights how technology and new thinking can help the unbanked join the financial mainstream.
Atlanta-based bitcoin transaction processor BitPay Inc. reported it has approved over 26,000 merchants to accept bitcoin payments via BitPay's platform. BitPay also noted it has released bitcoin payment protocol support, an application protocol interface called Bitcore, as well as expanded its operations into Argentina.
San Francisco-based CrossCoin Ventures unveiled its digital currency accelerator program for startups.
The program is designed to provide financial startups with funding, mentoring, office space, training and direct access to investors. CrossCoin said it is focused on creating a "financial ecosystem that will make exchanging any unit of value for another unit of value as easy as sending an email or loading a web page."
Green Dot Corp., the largest U.S. prepaid card provider, became a 2014 Paybefore Awards winner in four categories for its prepaid debit card products and award-winning mobile bank account app, GoBank.
Green Dot won in the Consumer Champion, The Better Way, The Gotta-Have Mobile App and Paybefore Genius Award categories.
Payments industry veterans Cynthia Bailey and Steve White founded a new consultancy, The Idea People LLC. The company will offer a full range of client services, but with a boutique, customized approach. "We saw a need for a firm that didn't try to impose a specific one-size fits all methodology upon our clients, but instead offers easily executable solutions that make an immediate business impact," White said. "Our goal is to make our client's work lives easier and more efficient." More information about the consultancy can be obtained at www.ideapeeps.com.
NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association added the Spotlight Speaker Series and an Executive Forum to the agenda for Payments 2014, which will take place April 6 to 9 in Orlando, Fla. The Spotlight Speaker Series will include talks on the Federal Reserve and the payments industry and what's next for person-to-person payments. The Executive Forum is an invitation-only event that will feature discussions on such topics as payments evolution and payment system improvements.
Gino Pereira, Chief Executive Officer of NXT-ID Inc., presented the Wocket at an all-day conference held March 11, 2014, at the New York Hilton Midtown. The Wocket is a next-generation "smart wallet" designed to replace all types of payment cards, as well as identity-related cards, such as medical and insurance cards, with no smart phone required. The Wocket comes in the form factor of a plastic card, where up to 20,000 records and up to 100 voice commands can be stored.
Atlanta-based Optimized Payments Consulting unveiled a free claim filing service for merchants who want to partake in the $7.25 billion settlement of the class-action lawsuit against Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide over allegedly illegal interchange fee practices.
OPC estimated that only 30 to 40 percent of merchants representing 55 to 65 percent of payment card volume are on track to file claims; OPC hopes to boost the number of participating merchants with its service.
Electronic payment provider Payoneer Inc. completed a Series D financing round of $25 million led by Susquehanna Growth Equity LLC. Payoneer intends to use the funding to accelerate its product road map, expand into new markets, and increase investments into sales and marketing.
Solpower Corp. rebranded itself as Bitcoin Collect Inc. The company, which operates a medical billing platform, said it made the change to align the company with its new role as a processor of bitcoin transactions for marijuana purchases. The new name is derived from the company's Medcare Collect platform.
ATM ISO Switch Commerce LLC moved to new headquarters in Irving, Texas. "As a result of our growth we've tripled our space," said Roy T. Rimmer Jr., Chief Executive Officer of Switch Commerce. "The new office is designed around our technology team with a focus on security and innovation in support of our future growth plans."
Hauppauge, N.Y.-based processor TransFirst LLC said it now offers its merchant clients SmartSAQ − ControlScan Inc.'s online service designed to simplify merchants' self assessment questionnaire (SAQ) obligations. Merchants fill out SAQs as part of the Payment Card industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) validation process.
VeriFone Inc. and Gemalto co-issued a flipbook, titled A Brand New Checkout Experience, that serves as a primer on Europay/MasterCard/Visa (EMV) -based payments. Among the topics addressed in the introductory guide are the differences between swiped payments (using mag stripe-enabled cards) and dipped or tapped cards (using EMV-enabled cards) and the security benefits of EMV. The flipbook is accessible via the EMV product page at www.verifone.com.
Wiesbaden, Germany-based prepaid card provider Peaches AG released its prelado app for smartphones operating on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone 8 operating system. The new app allows Windows Phone 8 users a way to top up prepaid mobile accounts and view balances.
The Payments Council, the United Kingdom's payments industry governing body, dubbed its forthcoming mobile payments service Paym (pronounced "Pay Em"). The service allows consumers to make purchases with mobile phone numbers alone. The Payments Council said Paym will launch officially in April 2014.
Newport Beach, Calif.-based Qliktag Software Inc. released its in-store mobile merchandising platform, which is designed to enable brands and retailers to engage with customers in-store as they shop. Smartphone users access Qliktag-enabled promotions and product information via standard bar codes, quick response codes, near field communication, Bluetooth or iBeacon technology.
Cyber security solution provider StrikeForce Technologies Inc. said the presentation of its patented GuardedID Anti-Keylogging Technology was a hit at the RSA Security Conference held Feb. 24 to 28, 2014, in San Francisco. "Based on the level of interest from resellers, consultants, corporate customers and OEM [original equipment manufacturer] partners that we talked to, this was our best show ever," said StrikeForce CEO Mark L. Kay.
Payment gateway operator 2Checkout.com Inc. said it now offers e-commerce merchants the ability to apply for merchant accounts and be underwritten and approved instantly. "No other bank or payments processor enables a merchant to start selling as quickly," the processor said.
A Mercator Advisory Group research note, Alibaba/Alipay: An Emerging Technology Review from a U.S. and Global Perspective, analyzes the online marketplace and omni-commerce entities' influence in China. The report also provides an in-depth review of Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd.'s operational metrics, product features and marketing strategies; a description of Alipay Wallet; and Alipay's plans for entry into the United States and other markets.
Forrester Research Inc.'s Bitcoin: Some Parts Brilliant, Some Parts Sure to Bomb clarifies several key facts surrounding Bitcoin, as banks, government entities and merchants struggle to understand its value and potential impacts on retail and the payments landscape overall. Formatted as a question and answer document, the report is available for purchase at www.forrester.com.
A Yankee Group report, US Mobile Wallet Roundup: Gauging the Future Potential of Today's Solutions, ranks Google Wallet, Isis, LevelUp, Loop, MCX, PayPal and Square based on the strength of their consumer value propositions, as well as their ability to deliver on them. The report also outlines five best practices to help vendors succeed in the crowded mobile wallet marketplace.
Why banks should offer mobile banking to small businesses, a 22-page Impact Note prepared by Aite Group LLC and sponsored by Bottomline Technologies, presents a case for mobile banking. In it, researchers determined that moving beyond the fee-based revenue generated by mobile banking, financial institutions may also benefit from cross-selling opportunities associated with mobile banking services and capabilities.
Club management software developer and payment processor ABC Financial Services Inc. partnered with Lead Dolphin, a company that offers member acquisition, lead management, and marketing and retention strategies for the health and wellness industry. Jointly the companies plan to release a fully integrated member acquisition, engagement, billing and retention solution that will better serve fitness industry clients.
Cardfree, in collaboration with Mercury Payment Systems, will begin offering a bundled suite that combines Mercury's payment processing and merchant acquiring services with Cardfree's mobile commerce and loyalty solutions. The bundled offering will be made available to merchants served by both companies.
EON Payment Solutions, a division of ABC Financial Services, entered a strategic alliance with rental payment hub SendRentNow to deliver recurring billing and payment as options to the customers of SendRentNow's property management clients who choose to integrate the EonPay application program interface as a white-labeled platform.
Ingenico and Samsung entered a joint agreement to develop an end-to-end mobile payment solution that will integrate Samsung's mobile and tablet devices with Ingenico's merchant mobile platform and card readers. "This global scale alliance represents a significant milestone, as two industry leaders combine to bring the best of the mobile and payment worlds," said Philippe Lazare, President and CEO of Ingenico.
ProfitStars, a division of Jack Henry & Associates Inc., teamed with OnDeck Capital Inc., a technology-powered small business lender, in offering an affordable loan alternative to help finance businesses through the ProfitStars Lending Network, a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Preferred Service Provider program, the company stated.
Tablet-based POS systems developer Revel Systems aligned with Index, a developer of customer relationship software to enrich the POS experience. Their objective is to add personalized recommendation and service options as a value-added service to merchants interested in enhancing the customer experience to leverage sales, Revel reported.
Cork, Ireland-based startup Trustev partnered with San Mateo, Calif.-based Datameer to establish a new standard for e-commerce fraud analytics. Under the agreement, Trustev will provide real-time online identify verification of consumers based on dynamic behavioral, transactional and social data. Datameer's self-service big data tool, built on the Hadoop open-source framework, will provide data analytics.
VeriFone Mobile Money and Teasy International Co. Ltd, a Nigeria-based mobile payment provider, joined forces to expand mobile money services in that nation by integrating mobile wallet, banking and telecommunication provider networks with POS systems using VeriFone contactless POS devices. VeriFone Mobile Money is a joint venture between VeriFone Inc. and Mobilis Networks Ltd. focused on driving mobile payments globally.
WorldPay partnered with e-document services firm Anachron BV, in delivery of a paperless billing solution that combines Anachron's electronic invoicing platform with WorldPay's real-time, online global payments. "The Anachron/WorldPay integration offers a powerful solution to merchants looking to grow and expand globally," said Kevin Dallas, Chief Product & Marketing Officer, E-Commerce at WorldPay.
ISO and ATM provider CORD Financial Services acquired the ATM portfolio of Com-Tech Resources Inc., adding ATM placements in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana to its national ATM equipment and service network. This marks the eighth acquisition for CORD since opening in 2001.
Global Payments Inc. paid $420 million in the cash purchase of Payment Processing Inc., also known as PayPros. This is expected to add 58,000 small and midsize merchants from PayPros' network of enterprise software partners in markets complementary to the vertical markets served by Accelerated Payment Technologies Inc., which has been a Global Payments company since 2012.
Jack Henry & Associates Inc. completed acquisition of Banno for an undisclosed sum. JHA will integrate the Banno digital engagement platform with its technology and electronic payment solutions targeting financial service organization clients. Under terms of the agreement, Banno will continue to operate at its facilities in the Iowa cities of Cedar Falls and Des Moines.
Vantiv Inc. acquired the merchant services portfolio of The Washington Trust Co., a subsidiary of Washington Trust Bancorp Inc., and also extended its long-term partnership with the Rhode Island bank, which was founded in 1800 and is the nation's oldest operating community bank. Washington Trust realized a pre-tax gain of $6.3 million in the deal and will have an opportunity to continue earning referral revenue income for the 10-year period beginning March 1, 2014.
Leaf is bolstering its executive team with the addition of Chief Operating Officer, Sarah McCrary; Vice President of Finance, Chad Kelly; and Vice President of Engineering, Dan Smith. In addition, the company moved to a new 15,000 square foot office in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., to support its expansion and the development and sales of its commerce platform for small business.
Scott Sandlin, former Head of Financing, Protection and Home Services of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is now President of mobile payment services provider Mozido. At Wal-Mart, Sandlin created new businesses that include SamsClub.com and Walmart Financial Services.
"Scott's results-oriented approach and ability to think strategically will play a key role in extending Mozido's track record of innovation, while helping us grow profitability," stated Ric Duques, Chairman of Mozido's board and former CEO of First Data Corp.
Carl J. Williams is the new CEO of Planet Payment Inc. A company board member, Williams will continue as Planet Payment President, a position he has filled since November 2013.
The company's former CEO, Philip Beck, continues to serve as Chairman of Planet Payment's board. Cameron McColl, a Planet Payment Director, said the company looks forward to Beck's continuing guidance and believes Williams will help the company execute its strategic plan to take Planet Payment to the next phase of growth.
Jack Henry & Associates reported that Tony Wormington will retire as the company's President, effective June 30, 2014. David Foss, President of JHA's ProfitStars division, will take over as President on July 1. Foss, who joined the company in 1999 through an acquisition, stated, "I look forward to building on the foundation set by Tony and others as we write the next chapter in the JHA story."
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