Monday, September 15, 2008

Microsoft Makes Swift Move into Payments Arena

Microsoft Corp. today announced at Sibos 2008 that it is signing a global partnership agreement with the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions (SWIFT).

Microsoft said Monday that it will work to make its technology more compatible with the global, interbank payments network operated by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions (SWIFT).

The announcement signifies a new, higher level of close cooperation between the organizations, under which they will work together to deliver deep industry value and simplify SWIFTNet implementation for customers using Microsoft technology.

It is a mutual, commercially based agreement between the organizations and will open further opportunities for financial service providers and midsized to large corporations to quickly and easily connect to SWIFT.

"The dynamics of financial messaging are changing as institutions look toward technology as a competitive differentiator," said Amanda Westwood, global head of SWIFT's customer service division. "SWIFT customers demand flexible messaging platforms that are cost effective to implement and integrate with their existing systems. The continued work Microsoft does to support SWIFTNet integration and SWIFTSolutions partners goes even further toward helping expand these solutions for our customers both within organizations and across boundaries. We expect our global partnership to promote additional adoption of SWIFT connectivity and SWIFTSolutions in the future."

The development of a SWIFT partner ecosystem will be an important aspect of the global partnership. Microsoft is providing a solid and highly secure foundation on which an expanded set of trusted industry partners can build and implement solutions for SWIFT and deliver stronger solutions for customers. It will also increase the choices available to customers, enabling them to better compete through more flexible and scalable financial messaging solutions.

As a respected voice in the area of payments technology, and demonstrating its further commitment to both SWIFT and its international partner ecosystem, Microsoft has, for the fifth year running, achieved the SWIFTReady Financial EAI Label for 2008 for BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT, which will be included in Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009.

"We are constantly listening to our customers' feedback, and what we're hearing from the financial services marketplace today is that they are looking to Microsoft, as a respected leader in enabling payments solutions, to provide increased flexibility beyond core SWIFT offerings," said David Vander, worldwide managing director of Banking at Microsoft. "

With BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT we are enabling fast and easy system interoperability from bank systems to payments networks, thereby helping ensure that customers receive the best possible solution to their business issues, whatever their approach to payments may be. Microsoft continues to collaborate and invest in a trusted community of partners to develop an ecosystem of payments solutions.

A number of these partners are represented here at Sibos, including SWIFT, CashFac, DATALOG, Decillion, EastNets, Expertus, Fiserv NetEconomy, Nimbus, SAGA, SMA Financial, SunGard and XSP, all of which support the development of innovative, cost-effective, mission-critical solutions that will deliver deep industry value for customers and more effectively meet their payments needs globally."

Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009 with BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT will enable financial institutions to access a comprehensive set of SWIFT solutions and support for protocols, including adapters for SWIFTNet FileAct and InterAct, which provide connectivity between Microsoft BizTalk Server and the SWIFT secure IP network. It also includes business activity monitoring, providing operations managers and business analysts with enhanced visibility into transactions. As well, Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009 will offer extended support of ISO 20022 message repairs, from correcting simple FIN messages to addressing the needs of MX- and ISO 20022-based Extensible Markup Language (XML) messages.

"With more than 8,200 customers today, Microsoft BizTalk Server leads the markets as a solution for enterprise connectivity, enabling integration across our customers' diverse set of heterogeneous systems, line-of-business applications, mainframes and trading partners," said Robert Wahbe, corporate vice president of the Connected Systems Division at Microsoft. "The Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009 release further extends our commitment to ISO 20022 standards and will make it even easier for Microsoft and its partners to build solutions for SWIFT connectivity."

In September 2008, Microsoft also committed to help drive modeling into mainstream use and announced membership in the standards body Object Management Group (OMG). OMG's modeling standards include the Unified Modeling Language(TM) (UML(R)) and Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), and Microsoft will take an active role in numerous OMG working groups to help contribute to the open industry dialogue and assist with evolution of the standards to meet mainstream customer needs. This move is a continuation of the company's strong commitment to industry standards and will enable its financial services partners and customers over time to more easily support new industry transaction models.

About Microsoft in Financial Services

Microsoft's Financial Services Group helps financial firms leverage technology to amplify the impact their people can deliver to drive business success. We help our customers in banking, capital markets and securities, and insurance achieve four business outcomes: develop relationships, drive innovation, improve operations and build connections. To do this, we focus our products and technologies, and our work with leading solutions, services and hardware partners, on key areas where we believe we and our partners can deliver exceptional value. Those areas include advisor platforms, channel renewal, core banking, insurance value chain, investment management, risk management and compliance, and payments. For more information, visit .

Bank of America Uses Lehmann to Get Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Bank of America Buys Merrill Lynch Creating Unique Financial Services Firm
Combines leading global wealth management, capital markets and advisory company with largest consumer and corporate bank in U.S.

Related: Paulson Statement on SEC and Federal Reserve Actions Surrounding Lehman Brothers

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Bank of America Corporation today announced it has agreed to acquire Merrill Lynch & Co.,Inc. in a $50 billion all-stock transaction that creates a companyunrivalled in its breadth of financial services and global reach.

"Acquiring one of the premier wealth management, capital markets, and advisory companies is a great opportunity for our shareholders," Bank of America Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ken Lewis said. "Together, our companies are more valuable because of the synergies in our businesses."

"Merrill Lynch is a great global franchise and I look forward to working with Ken Lewis and our senior management teams to create what will be the leading financial institution in the world with the combination of these two firms," said John Thain, chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch.

Under terms of the transaction, Bank of America would exchange .8595 shares of Bank of America common stock for each Merrill Lynch common share. The price is 1.8 times stated tangible book value.

Bank of America expects to achieve $7 billion in pre-tax expense savings, fully realized by 2012. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings by 2010.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2009. It has been approved by directors of both companies and is subject to shareholder votes at both companies and standard regulatory approvals.

Under the agreement, three directors of Merrill Lynch will join the Bank of America Board of Directors. The combined company would have leadership positions in retail brokerage and wealth management. By adding Merrill Lynch's more than 16,000
financial advisers, Bank of America would have the largest brokerage in the world with more than 20,000 advisers and $2.5 trillion in client assets.

The combination brings global scale in investment management, including an approximately 50 percent ownership in BlackRock, which has $1.4 trillion in assets under management. Bank of America has $589 billion in assets under management.

Adding Merrill Lynch both enhances current strengths at Bank of America and creates new ones, particularly outside of the United States. Merrill Lynch adds strengths in global debt underwriting, global equities and global merger and acquisition advice.

After the acquisition, Bank of America would be the number one underwriter of global high yield debt, the third largest underwriter of global equity and the ninth largest adviser on global mergers and acquisitions based on pro forma first half of 2008 results.

Bank of America was advised by J.C. Flowers & Co. LLC, Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller and Bank of America Securities. It was represented by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Merrill Lynch was represented by Shearman & Sterling.

Source: Press Release

National Study on Teens Reshaping Wireless World

CTIA - The Wireless Association
National Study Reveals How Teens are Shaping & Reshaping Their Wireless World. Study Sheds New Light On Teens’ Cell Phone Habits, Expectations & Dream Phone Wishes

Washington, DC – A generation widely defined by mobility, today's teenagers are now making demands of their mobile devices and, in doing so, redefining what mobility will be in the future, according to a national survey, “Teenagers: A Generation Unplugged,” released today by CTIA – The Wireless Association® in conjunction with Harris Interactive.

As the wireless industry celebrates the upcoming 25th anniversary of the first commercial cell phone call (October 13, 1983), this in-depth online study of more than 2,000 teenagers around the nation sheds new light on how today’s teens feel about wireless products and services, how they are using them today and most importantly, how they would like to use them in the future. A growing wireless segment, teens view their cell phones as more than just an accessory.

“A quarter of a century of wireless innovation, new products and customized features has transformed our everyday lives,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO, CTIA – The Wireless Association®. “Teens are a pivotal segment of wireless users. As the first generation born into a wireless society, how they use their cell phones and what they expect of these devices in the future will drive the next wave of innovation in our industry.”

Impact on Teen Life

According to the Harris Interactive study, second to clothing, teens say a cell phone tells the most about a person’s social status or popularity, outranking jewelry, watches and shoes. The study also found that cell phones are fast becoming a social necessity among teens. A majority (57 percent) view their cell phone as the key to their social life.

With nearly four out of every five teens (17 million) carrying a wireless device (a 40 percent increase since 2004), it’s not surprising that six in ten teens (57 percent) credit mobility for improving their quality of life. Over half of the respondents (52 percent) agree the cell phone has become a new form of entertainment and one-third of teens currently play games on their phone. On a more serious note, 80 percent of teens surveyed said their cell phone provided a sense of security while on the go, confirming the cell phone has become their mobile safety net when needing a ride (79 percent), getting important information (51 percent), or just helping out someone in trouble (35 percent).

From texting to talking and logging on to social networking sites, teens carry cell phones to have access to friends, family and current events. Ironically, while only one in five (18 percent) teens care to pinpoint the location of their family and friends via their cell phone, 36 percent hate the idea of a cell phone feature allowing others to know their exact location.

Texting Replacing Talking

Another significant trend confirmed by the study is that texting is indeed replacing talking among teens. Teens admitted spending nearly an equal amount of time talking as they do texting each month. The feature is so important to them that if texting was no longer an option, 47 percent of teens say their social life would end or be worsened – especially among females (54 percent compared to 40 percent of males).

Teens say texting has critical advantages because it offers more options, including multitasking, speed, the option to avoid verbal communication, and because it is fun – in that order. With more than 1 billion text messages sent each day, it is no surprise that 42 percent of teens say they can even text blindfolded, the study revealed.

“Teens have created a new form of communication. We call it texting, but in essence it is a reflection of how teens want to communicate to match their lifestyles. It is all about multitasking, speed, privacy and control,” said Joseph Porus, Vice President & Chief Architect, Technology Group, Harris Interactive. “Teens in this study are crying for personalization and control of exactly what a wireless device or plan can do for them.”

Reshaping the Future

The Harris Interactive study provided a futuristic snapshot as to what teens would like to change about wireless services and devices. They want cell phones that break boundaries and are personalized to fit their lifestyle. Topping their wireless wish list are phones that:

* Guarantee secured data access to the user only (80 percent)
* Provide accessibility to personal health records (66 percent)
* Present opportunities to be educated anywhere in the world (66 percent)
* Bring users closer to global issues impacting teens’ world (63 percent)

“Teens expect mobile technology to change the social fabric of their world and they have laid the future at the feet of this technology like no other,” said Porus. “To our knowledge, no other industry carries these hopes; while teens are interested in cars and music and movies, it is mobility that will change their future!”

While there is no crystal ball to show what phones of the future will look like, the study found that teens are excited and open-minded about the wireless possibilities. The survey found that teens’ ideal future mobile device would feature five applications – phone, MP3 player, GPS, laptop computer and video player – and the following desired features:

* Shock and water proof (81 percent)
* Endless power (80 percent)
* Privacy screen (58 percent)
* Flexible material and folds into different shapes and sizes (39 percent)
* Artificial intelligence – ask it questions and it gives answers (38 percent)

“In the future, mobility for teens means mobile banking, mobile voting, location based services, personal entertainment – the sky is the limit for how mobile our lifestyles can be,” commented Largent. “We’ve certainly come a long way in 25 years and expect teens to be a growth driver for the industry and have a major impact on the wireless landscape for years to come.”

Additional Information, Press Contacts
To review selected research slides from the Harris Interactive study, entitled:
Teenagers: A Generation Unplugged, please visit:

To watch video clips, listen to a podcast or review a summary of the Harris Interactive study, please click here.

For additional information regarding the full survey results contact Jeanette Casselano (CTIA) at (202) 828-8833, or Carly Lejnieks (Harris Interactive) at (585) 727 7176,

Russian Hack Creates "Rush On" Changing PIN's in Dubai

City of Abu DhabiCity of Abu Dhabi
Khaleej Times Online - Rush to Change PINs as ATM Fraud Sinks in
Dubai — Some banks in the UAE have slashed the daily cash withdrawal limit of ATM users by almost half after hackers, who police said were from Russia and Ukraine, used counterfeit bank and credit cards to steal funds from customer accounts.

Some banks even blocked international use of ATM cards as a preventive measure while HSBC Bank temporarily reduced the daily withdrawal limit to Dh6,000 for premier card members and Dh4,000 for others as part of measures to contain the damage.

As thousands of customers thronged ATM machines to change their card PINs (personal identification number) over the past three days, most banks in the UAE said they would continue the state of alert against the fraud, but refused to disclose the size of the money stolen or how many accounts were skimmed.

An initial investigation by banks indicated that cash machines were rigged with devices that stole customers’ PINs as they made withdrawals. Jonathan Campbell James, regional head of security and fraud risk, HSBC Middle East, said his bank did not implement a general blocking of overseas transactions as its customers expected to have access to their accounts wherever they travel.“But when we detect a series of fraudulent transactions coming from a particular geography, we may temporarily restrict access,” he said in a statement emailed to Khaleej Times.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Major-General Khamis Matar Al Mazeina, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said the hackers are from Russia

and Ukraine. Banking sources, however, said the hackers were part of an international network, with most of the fraudulent transactions originating from more than 20 countries outside the UAE.

Al Mazeina said the police were trying to find out the methods used by the gang to steal from bank accounts. “We want to find out whether the breach occurred when customers used their cards to buy on-line or when they used their cards within the UAE and certain other countries.”

He said police still did not have any clue about the number of people and banks hit by the fraud or the total amount stolen by the gang.

“We are in touch with credit card companies, banks and fraud victims although we have not received any complaint so far.” He said the police would meet concerned authorities to probe into the matter and find measures to protect credit card users.

Banks said only ATM debit cards have been counterfeited. “The attack is more sophisticated than that are 
routinely experienced, and has come from multiple countries,” Campbell James said.

Most banks continued to encourage customers to change their PIN numbers. “Because a large number of customers have already done so, a significant number of attempts by fraudsters to steal from customers’ accounts have been frustrated,” the bank official said. “HSBC and several banks in the UAE have identified fraud that appears to result from the compromise of ATM information from another bank.

This information has been used to produce counterfeit cards that have been used internationally.”

The bank official said if a customer’s card had been copied and used to steal money, the bank would contact the customer, advise them what had been done, organise a refund and issue a new card free of charge.

“Our special accelerated procedure for refunding UAE customers affected by this particular fraudulent attack is working well. A substantial number of customers have already received their refunds and the process of issuing free replacements for cards which have been compromised is on track.”

HSBC, Citibank, Lloyds TSB, 
National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Emirates NBD have cautioned customers to be extra vigilant when using ATMs by protecting their PIN numbers and contacting the relevant bank should anything appear unusual at an ATM machine

UK's B2C e-Commerce Strong in Weak Economy

According to "Evidence of an economic slowdown is mounting in the UK. But so far e-commerce seems relatively immune to the downturn." They go on to say:

"This year UK business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sales (including digital downloads and tickets for travel and events) will total £59.8 billion ($116.6 billion), up more than 28% since 2007."

"Due to competitive prices, easy product comparisons, fuel savings and other convenience factors that encourage consumers to shop online," says Karin von Abrams, senior analyst at eMarketer and author of the new report, UK B2C E-Commerce: Continued Growth in Tricky Times, "we expect that online sales will continue to rise steadily during the next four years."

eMarketer predicts that online sales will hit £94.2 billion ($169.6 billion) by 2012, although the annual growth rate will drop below 10%."In fact, the number of new buyers each year will hover at about 1.3 million through 2010 and decline gradually from 2011," says Ms. von Abrams.

"But the most-important driver of sales growth will be increased spending by existing online buyers, as more goods and services become available and e-commerce becomes an essential activity for many."

Petroleum Retailers Talk PCI at NACS

Gilbarco's McDowell Speaks About PCI Compliance at the Petroleum Equipment Institute

Last update: 12:10 p.m. EDT Sept. 12, 2008
GREENSBORO, N.C., Sep 12, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Scott McDowell, marketing manager for North American payment products at Gilbarco Veeder-Root, will speak at the Petroleum Equipment Institute's general session on Monday, October 6 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The panel discussion entitled "Preparing your company and customers for PCI compliance" outlines the actions that petroleum retailers, convenience store operators, and equipment distributors must take to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). These standards are designed to protect consumer card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) data in debit transactions at the gas pump and inside the convenience store.
McDowell will present the technology options for fuel dispenser upgrades, in keeping with Gilbarco's expertise in this area.
The Petroleum Equipment Institute is a trade association whose members manufacture, distribute and service petroleum marketing and liquid handling equipment. Founded in 1951, PEI represents over 1600 member companies located in all 50 states and in 80 countries.
Gilbarco Veeder-Root is the leading supplier of gas pumps, payment systems, point of sale systems, and other equipment and services to the retail petroleum market. Gilbarco Veeder-Root also hosts the only interactive educational website about payment security, called
Gilbarco Veeder-Root is a participating organization of the PCI Security Standards Council. The PCI Security Standards Council is an open global forum for the ongoing development, enhancement, storage, dissemination and implementation of security standards for account data protection.
The PEI conference is held in conjunction with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) trade show. Gilbarco will be exhibiting at the NACS show, October 4-7 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
About Gilbarco Veeder-Root
Gilbarco Veeder-Root and Gasboy are leading suppliers of outdoor payment systems, integrated fuel control, site management, and support services for petroleum marketers and commercial fueling enterprises worldwide. ( 

For more information visit To learn more about PCI compliance, visit
SOURCE: Gilbarco Veeder-Root

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