Bluefin, a payment technology and PCI-validated encryption and tokenization services provider, joined a growing number of technology companies that have added payment processing to their product and service offerings. Following in the footsteps of NCR Corp., which acquired JetPay in October 2018, and Deluxe Corp., which added First American Payment System’s omnichannel payments platform in April 2021, Bluefin acquired TECS Payment Systems, a provider of omnichannel payment solutions.
Bluefin representatives positioned the TECS acquisition as a bid to drive secure commerce acceptance, whether transactions are done in-person, online, or via digital wallets or mobile apps, to ensure data privacy and security.
Citing data from Insider Intelligence and Fortune Business Insights, respectively, Bluefin projected the ecommerce channel alone will reach $6.169 trillion in 2023, practically doubling 2019 volumes of $3.351 trillion.
Zelle, the banking industry’s answer to Venmo, is under attack from fraudsters—and from lawmakers. A recent report released by Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., revealed that fraud on the person-to-person payment network is rampant and that most defrauded customers aren’t getting refunded by their banks.
That would seem to violate federal law and regulations, said Sen. Warren, who urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to beef-up its fraud rules. P2P payment networks have been growing aggressively since the start of the pandemic, as consumers shun ATMs and replace cash and checks with digital transfers, like Zelle. In 2021, Zelle saw 1.8 billion transactions totaling $490 billion, which was double pre-pandemic volume.
The CFPB oversees compliance with Regulation E (the federal rule set governing retail electronic funds transfers) by digital networks like Zelle and Venmo. According to Sen. Warren’s report, Facilitating fraud: How consumers defrauded on Zelle are left high and dry by the banks that created it, and reporting by the Wall Street Journal, the CFPB is preparing fresh guidance under Reg E that would put P2P networks and participating banks on the hook for all kinds of fraud.
Payments analysts have been generally supportive of a new set of open banking guidelines, published Oct. 27, 2022, by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB proposal highlights potential risks to open banking, particularly related to exposing personal financial data.
Chief among CFPB concerns is the notion that consumers deserve to access and control their financial data, including the right "to walk away from companies offering bad products and poor service and move towards companies competing for their business with alternate or innovative products and services."
CFPB Director Rohit Chopra encouraged payments industry stakeholders to participate in discussions and rulemaking, which he indicated will drive best practices and prevent open banking service providers from hoarding and harvesting data for their own use.
"The CFPB's personal financial data rights rulemaking has the potential to jumpstart competition, giving Americans new options for financial products," he said in a statement.
The consumer spending outlook is bright for the year-end holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday retail sales growth at between 6 and 8 percent during November and December, compared with the same two months of 2021.
Total spend in core retail environments will range between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion, NRF predicted in a Nov. 3, 2022, call with analysts and reporters. The numbers exclude restaurants, gasoline and auto sales.
"This holiday season cycle is anything but typical," said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "NRF's holiday forecasts take a number of factors into consideration, but the overall outlook is generally positive as consumer fundamentals continue to support economic activity."
The NRF's predictions are in line with findings of a consumer survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers. When core retail and restaurant spending are combined, total anticipated spending for the holiday season will reach $1.56 trillion, the ICSC reported.
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