Monday, December 7, 2009

Retailers Get $1 Billion from V/MC Lawsuit this Week

Retailers to receive $1 billion from Visa/MasterCard lawsuit this week

This entry was posted in Public Policy

More than half a million retailers should begin receiving checks totaling over $1 billion this week as the result of a federal judge’s approval of an early payout of funds remaining from the 2003 settlement of a lawsuit brought by NRF and others against Visa and MasterCard’s debit card practices.

The funds will give many retailers struggling to make a profit during the current recession a welcome influx of cash at a time when slow sales and the ongoing credit crunch have left some short of operating cash needed to fully stock shelves and staff stores during the important holiday season.

The class-action lawsuit, brought by NRF and about 20 of the nation’s largest retailers in 1996, was settled in 2003 for $3.1 billion.

Visa and MasterCard were allowed to pay the damages on an installment plan scheduled to run through the end of 2012, and have paid about $1.85 billion so far. Most of the funds received have been distributed to merchants represented in the suit, but retailers had expected to wait almost three more years to receive the remainder.

Rather than continue to make yearly installments, Visa and MasterCard agreed this fall to pay $1.1 billion all at once. The agreement means retailers will receive slightly less than originally agreed on, but the money will come in time to help with the current economic situation.

U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson initially approved the plan on November 6, but distribution was delayed by a court challenge regarding interest payments.

The challenge was rejected, and Gleeson gave final approval last Wednesday. On Thursday of last week, Jeffrey Shinder, managing partner of the New York office of lead counsel Constantine Cannon, filed a letter with the court indicating that checks may be distributed as early as this week.

The payments will go to about 635,000 merchants, with each one’s share based on their volume of signature debit card transactions during the period covered by the lawsuit.

Retailers can see details about the distribution plan on the lawsuit website.

The lawsuit alleged that Visa and MasterCard’s “honor all cards” practice of requiring retailers who accept their credit cards to also accept their “Visa Check” and “Master Money” debit cards was a violation of federal anti-trust law. Merchants objected to the cards in part because the signature-based cards carry higher transaction fees than independent bank debit cards activated by a PIN number. In addition to the named plaintiffs, the lawsuit was a class action representing anyone who had accepted Visa or MasterCard debit cards from October 1992 through early 2003.

In addition to the $3 billion in damages, Visa and MasterCard agreed to no longer require merchants who accept their credit cards to accept their debit cards. Merchants were also allowed to choose whether to accept both signature and PIN debit, one or the other, or no debit cards at all.

The lawsuit was a major first step in retailers’ fight with Visa and MasterCard over card fees. NRF is currently pushing for passage of House and Senate legislation that would bring soaring credit card and signature debit card interchange fees under control. The amount of interchange collected from merchants and their customers has increased from $16 billion to $48 billion since 2001.

The article above is reprinted from the current issue of Washington Retail Insight, NRF’s weekly e-newsletter covering public policy issues affecting the retail industry.

MasterCard Launches Automatic Rebate Program for Small Businesses in the UK

From Commercial Payments International

In the UK, the new MasterCard Business Savings program automatically credits accounts with a rebate within days of spending at participating merchants. No promotion codes or coupons are necessary once cards are enrolled. All business cards are eligible, and accounts can be managed online, providing easy access to rebate information and locations of merchants participating in the program.

Partners included in the launch of the program include Avis, Barceló Hotels, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft adCenter, Microsoft Store, Monster and Winweb. The merchant offers are longstanding and, in most cases, the automatic rebate is available regardless of the channel used to make the purchase. All suppliers participating in the program allow cardholders to benefit from the automatic rebate in addition to any separate offers available to them.

This new program is similar to MasterCard Easy Savings, available in the US since 2007, which offers small businesses automatic rebates on products and services from 20 leading national merchants.

Lafferty Group

The $10 Billion Endgame

What it means for the cards industry

Exclusive Lafferty Webinar








16 December 2009

15:00 – 16:00 GMT (London)
Olann Kerrison, Head of Analysis & Content, Lafferty Group, London

Duncan MacDonald, Former General Counsel for Cards Europe & North America, Citibank, New York

$197 (plus 15 percent VAT for UK residents) per participant                        

All webinar participants will receive a recording of the entire webinar

with optional download.

Having smouldered in the background for several years, the US merchant class action on credit card interchange is looming closer to its endgame. The action has already shaped the structure of the major international card networks, but how will this endgame play out and what does it mean for the cards industry, both in the US and beyond?

Fighting the litigation in front of a jury raises serious judicial risks, and also boosts the potential monetary penalty should the defence be unsuccessful. Settling the litigation may reduce judicial risk, but the cost of doing so has been estimated as high as $10 to $15 billion.

The most complex commercial settlement negotiation in US history – involving thousands of issuers, millions of merchants, hundreds of millions of cardholders and trillions of transactions – raises many fundamental questions. On 16 December 2009 (3pm London time/10am New York time), Lafferty Group will host a webinar to address these questions, and provide a forum for discussion. Duncan MacDonald, formerly general counsel for Citibank Cards in the US & Europe, will be on hand to provide his views on the litigation, how it will affect the industry, and also to answer attendees’ queries.


  • Background to the class action lawsuit

  • Judicial and legislative risks

  • Potential ramifications and timelines

  • How much will it cost?

  • What does it mean for the networks worldwide?


A fee of $197 (plus 15 percent VAT for UK residents) is payable for each webinar participant.

To register to attend, please fill out the ONLINE REGISTRATION FORM

Once you have registered you will receive a confirmation email outlining how to join the event.

An annual subscription to Lafferty Webinars is also available for only $997. This includes attendance to our monthly webinars, the complete recording and presentation slides post-event, plus access to the full archive of past webinars. To subscribe, please fill out the ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION FORM.

For assistance, please contact Mike Murphy:


Lafferty Group is dedicated to providing the highest standards of insight, objectivity and market intelligence to leaders in the worldwide retail banking, cards and personal financial services industry. From its origins in financial industry newsletters and conferences more than 25 years ago, Lafferty Group has continually evolved its service offerings to ensure that clients receive cutting-edge research and advice that enables them to better manage their business in an increasingly complex, competitive and fast-moving environment. The group's comprehensive service offer includes: Webinars, Conferences, Global Cards and Consumer Finance Research, Newsletters, Councils, Trade Association Management and Bespoke Research & Advisory Services.

RIM to Distribute Blackberry in China

Digital China, a Hong Kong-listed information technology company, is to distribute Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets, accelerating RIM's effort to expand into mainland China. Digital China, a Hong Kong-listed information technology company, is to distribute Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets, accelerating RIM's effort to expand into mainland China.

BEIJING -- Digital China, a Hong Kong-listed information technology company, is to distribute Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets, accelerating RIM's effort to expand into mainland China.

The agreement will "help RIM further expand its business in China" by giving it access to Digital China's national distribution network, the two companies said on Monday.

The BlackBerry phone and email device is still a relatively uncommon sight in China, in spite of being available for several years.

"Digital China's extensive knowledge and market presence will further expand the opportunity for RIM in China," Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of RIM, said in a statement sent to reporters.

Digital China is a unit of Legend Holdings, which is also the parent company of PC maker Lenovo.

China Telecom, one of the country's top three mobile carriers, said in June it had approached RIM about possibly offering the BlackBerry mobile service in China.

Executives from RIM and China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile carrier by subscribers, are due to hold a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday about plans to strengthen cooperation in China.

China Mobile has offered BlackBerry devices in China since 2006, but has not strongly promoted the service.

China's other major mobile carrier, Unicom, has also said in the past that it was in talks with RIM about offering the BlackBerry service.

© Thomson Reuters 2009

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Baidu Adds Phone Card Charging to Online Payment Platform

China Mobile LimitedImage via Wikipedia

This from The

Baidu adds new features to its online payment platform Monday 7 December 2009 | 09:59 AM CET

Chinese search engine Baidu's payment platform Baifubao has added phone card charging and payment functions, reports.

As a result of the new initiative, customers can charge their Baidu online payment accounts via China Mobile's EasyOwn or China Unicom's One-Card Charge phone balance recharge cards. After buying the phone recharge cards, customers can enter the card numbers and PIN to charge their Baifubao account balance, or use the cards as a direct payment method for Baidu's YouA B2C and C2C e-commerce platform, according to the same source.

The Baidu-branded online payment service Baidubao was created to allow customers to pay for their online purchases on the e-commerce platform Baidu Youa by using their Visa and China Unionpay-branded cards.

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Citi Ends Three Year Mobile Money Test with Obopay

Citi no longer partners with Obopay and Firethorn for mobile paymentsAccording to the Ecommerce Journal, Citi has announced the end of its three year mobile money test with Obopay and also plans to abandon the relationship with with m-banking supplier Firethorn.

The US largest bank has heavily financed mobile banking and payments in recent years partnering with mFoundry and contactless specialist Vivotech as well as Obopay and Firethorn.

Citi, which has also invested in Obopay, says the test has now ended and the results are being evaluated.

Citi also plans to discontinue any partnership with Firethorn. The two partnered last year to provide the bank's credit card customers with access to real-time account information via their handsets.

More Info:

ATM Fraud: New Skimming Scheme Spreads

MD, IL, GA Banks, Customers Targeted by Fraudsters

Three ATM skimming operations in Maryland, Illinois and Georgia have netted thieves more than $120,000, according to law enforcement agencies investigating the crimes. These discoveries follow several recent incidents of ATM skimming in other states

Maryland State Police report that an ATM skimmer was placed on a Bank of America ATM in Eldersburg, MD, and that possibly $30,000 was taken last week. Police have removed the skimmer, but say there could be more. State police have reported other incidents at various other banks in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Two men reportedly were photographed installing the skimming device, which collected card information from customers.

Read Entire Article

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Eight Web Threat Predictions for 2010

As stated earlier, Smartphones are predicted to be the next playground for hackers.  Here's the rest of that list and a press release from  Websense:

Websense, Inc. (NASDAQ: WBSN), released its list of security predictions and trends anticipated for 2010. Researchers in the Websense® Security Labs™ have identified emerging security exploits and trends anticipated to increase during the next 12 months. The emerging trends and predictions show an overall blending of security threats across multiple attack vectors for the purpose of roping computers into bot networks and stealing valuable confidential information. Researchers believe that hackers will look to compromise new platforms such as smartphones and take advantage of the popularity of Windows 7. They are also expected to compromise the integrity of search engine results and use legitimate advertisements to spread their malicious content.

“Threats on the Web continue to parallel Internet users’ Web use patterns,” said Dan Hubbard, chief technology officer, Websense. “As audiences are moving quickly into the social Web, so are attacks. Additionally, as emerging operating systems and platforms like Macs and mobile devices become more popular, they are more targeted. At the same time, malicious attackers are increasing the number of traditional attacks on PCs, with quickly changing tactics and new twists on old exploits.”

In 2010, Websense Security Labs anticipates the emergence and growth of the following trends:

1. Web 2.0 attacks will increase in sophistication and prevalence.

2. Botnet gangs will fight turf wars.

3. Email gains traction again as a top vector for malicious attacks.

4. Targeted attacks on Microsoft properties, including Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8.

5. Don’t trust your search results.

6. Smartphones are hackers’ next playground.

At the end of 2009 Websense Security Labs documented four iPhone exploits in a span of a few weeks—representing the first major attacks on the iPhone platform and the first iPhone data-stealing malware with bot functionality. Smartphones such as the iPhone and Android, which are used increasingly for business purposes, are essentially miniature personal computers and in 2010 will face the same types of attacks that target traditional computing. Additionally, poor security of applications on smartphones can put users’ and organizations’ data at risk. With a rapidly growing user base, business adoption and increasing use for conducting financial transactions with these devices, hackers will begin more dedicated targeting of smartphones in 2010.

7. Why corrupt a banner ad serve, when you can buy malvertising space?

8. 2010 will prove once and for all that Macs are not immune to exploits.

Hackers have noticed Apple’s rapid growth in market share in both the consumer and corporate segments. There exists additional risk for Mac users because many assume Macs are immune to security threats and therefore employ less security measures and patches, so attackers have additional incentive to go after the OS X platform. During 2009, Apple released six large security updates for Macs showing the potential for attacks. In 2010, there will be even more security updates as hackers ramp up attacks targeting the platform. There is also the potential for the first drive-by malware created to target Apple’s Safari browser.

Smartphones are Hackers’ Next Playground.

Websense released the Top 10 Threats to Security on the Web for 2010.  In honor of the recent hype given to Jack Dorsey's Square, and the lack of coverage regarding it's security, (i.e. is it going to go through PCI Certification Process, What's the encryption process?) I thought I'd feature one of the Top 10.  I'll provide the full list later today (by 11:30 am my time) so check back if your curious... 

At the end of 2009 Websense Security Labs documented four iPhone exploits in a span of a few weeks—representing the first major attacks on the iPhone platform and the first iPhone data-stealing malware with bot functionality.

  • Smartphones such as the iPhone and Android, which are used increasingly for business purposes, are essentially miniature personal computers and in 2010 will face the same types of attacks that target traditional computing.

  • Additionally, poor security of applications on smartphones can put users’ and organizations’ data at risk.

  • With a rapidly growing user base, business adoption and increasing use for conducting financial transactions with these devices, hackers will begin more dedicated targeting of smartphones in 2010.

Cardlytics Enables Targeted Promo Offers to Thru Online Banking Statements

Merchant Offers Delivered Directly to Consumers via Online Banking

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cardlytics announced today the expansion of its transactional marketing platform for national, local and online retailers.

Cardlytics’ patent-pending platform enables retailers to deliver targeted promotional offers to consumers through their online banking statements. These offers are delivered as cash or other reward incentives, which are earned once the consumer makes a qualifying purchase with a debit or credit card, whether in-store or online. Consumers do not need to print or carry coupons or certificates in order to redeem the offers. With its unique tracking capabilities, Cardlytics is the first platform to target and track both offline and online consumer redemptions via digitally targeted ads.

Cardlytics provides retail merchants with a highly targeted, “market of one” approach. This new form of transactional marketing aligns banks and retail merchants by enabling consumer purchase data to be used for targeting merchants’ customers – or their competitors’ customers – with relevant offers. Merchant offers can segment any combination of targeting parameters, including merchants where a consumer shops, where the consumer lives, as well as transaction amounts – a level of precision that does not currently exist in any other marketing channel. Offers are then delivered to consumers through their online bank account, with no data ever leaving the financial institution, thus protecting customer privacy and anonymity.

Fulfillment of an offer occurs when a user activates each ad in their online statement, and then subsequently uses his or her associated debit or credit card. Qualifying transactions are instantly confirmed in the consumers’ online banking statement. Throughout the process, Cardlytics accurately tracks the online and offline performance of the offers.

“Marketing practices are evolving more quickly than ever given today’s changing technologies and increasingly savvy audiences,” said Hans Theisen, chief revenue officer and co-founder of Cardlytics. “The ability to present offers based on actual purchase data within online banking finally provides retailers direct access to the largest, most untapped and precisely targeted digital audiences available. Better positioned than online banners, and more efficient than coupons, the customer and revenue growth potential from this revolutionary platform is enormous.”

About Cardlytics

Through a highly relevant, "market-of-one" approach, Cardlytics unites banks and merchants to provide rich rewards to customers based on their individual purchase behavior. Its technology tracks consumers’ actual purchases, providing the first digital channel that can guarantee offline sales and help consumers realize savings of hundreds of dollars per year on the products they purchase every day. The rewards improve consumers’ banking behavior by increasing usage, reducing attrition and strengthening engagement with online banking. Cardlytics’ multi-channel approach includes online banking, SMS, e-mail, mobile, online-mall and social networks. For more information about Cardlytics, visit

Sapient and Geezeo Partner to Deliver Next-Generation Online Banking Solutions

Not a badly needed security enhancement, but instead, social media enhancement..  That said...

Here's a quote from an article on CNN today...(read the article)

There are many ways someone's identity can be stolen. Much of it now occurs online. A person's identity can be stolen from a social media site, through online banking or after they have clicked on a deceptive e-mail.

Partnership Enables Retail Financial Services Firms to Combine Best-of-Breed Personal Finance Tools with Digital Marketing Expertise to Redefine Community Banking

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sapient (NASDAQ: SAPE) and Geezeo, a diversified Internet banking provider, today announced that the two companies are partnering to help retail financial organizations enhance their digital offerings to build and foster a stronger community in today’s multi-channel world. The partnership combines Geezeo’s best-of-breed banking products for personal financial management and social media with Sapient’s expertise in creating and implementing multi-channel digital marketing and commerce solutions that deliver immersive, profitable customer experiences.

“We are excited to bring something truly unique to the market that will help to deepen customer relationships and scale to attract many new ones,” said Alex Sion, vice president of digital strategy, Financial Services for Sapient. “Small to medium-sized financial institutions have, for the first time, an opportunity to leverage the latest interactive technologies and digital marketing channels to not only compete with but leapfrog larger competitors.”

"Social media should be integrated into financial institutions’ websites and online banking platforms - not treated in a silo," said Shawn Ward, Geezeo CEO. "By joining forces with Sapient, we can help these firms to leverage a rich data environment to build relevant online dialog with their customers which is, quite frankly, a necessity as banks and credit unions work to rebuild trust with the American consumer.”

Clients of the partnership will have access to an affordable and sophisticated end-to-end marketing platform that evaluates a customer’s activity history, profile information, personal financial management goals, and social network activities to provide personalized, value-added messaging that can be delivered across multiple channels, including online and mobile. Additionally, the marketing platform allows firms to place and serve ads, generate emails and alerts, and monitor and measure the effectiveness of each customer interaction – without requiring additional in-house marketing or digital expertise.

“Geezeo’s personal financial management solution provides our members with the convenience of account aggregation,” said Margaret Wold, vice president of marketing at Stanford Federal Credit Union. “I am really excited about the data we’ll be able to leverage as we look to enhance our member experience.”

Sapient has partnered with several regional banks on their digital initiatives, including KeyBank, Union Bank, and Webster Bank.

About Sapient Interactive

Sapient Interactive, a division of Sapient’s Brand Experience business, is the largest independent interactive marketing services firm in the world. Through combining strategy, creative and technology, the firm creates immersive multi-channel brand experiences that result in more profitable customer relationships and revenue growth for clients, including Celebrity Cruises, Honda Jet, Sony Electronics, Travelers, and Times Online. Headquartered in Boston, Sapient Interactive has operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For more information, go to

About Geezeo

Founded in 2006, Geezeo offers Internet banking solutions including personal financial management (PFM), online community trust-based marketing, account access and bill payment. Geezeo’s unique platforms help financial institutions develop online customer dialog while generating growth through customer acquisition and increased wallet share. For more information on the privately held company, visit

Sapient is a registered service mark of Sapient Corporation.

Source: Press Release 

American Express Online Username Password Banking

American Express Online Banking

It's SO-SO (Same Old-Same Old)

American Express (AMEX) Online Banking lets you manage your money safely and easily. You can check transactions, balances and transfer money in and out of your account anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You’ll enjoy competitive prices, no cost, and superior customer service when you need it. Save both with AMEX Online Banking. AMEX Online Banking is easy and safe way to the top of your accounts at your convenience AMEX.

AMEX Online Services

AMEX Online Services is a safe, easy way for you to your American Express account to manage. It is called AMEX Online Services, and it is designed to give you quick, secure access to your billing information wherever you are, anytime you want. AMEX Online Services is free, easy to set; you can save time and help cut down on paperwork. Online Services puts you firmly in control of your finances, so you:

  • View your current balance

  • Get Online-Only Statements

  • Register for SMS and e-mail alerts

  • Manage your Membership Rewards account

  • Update your contact details

Banking online with AMEX Online Banking is easy. This tip bellow will help you understand the ins and outs of AMEX online banking to:

  • Register and access your accounts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • View your portfolio

  • View Your Account Activity

  • Transfer funds to and from your AMEX Business Investment Savings Account

To access your online accounts AMEX, you must:

  • Call 1-888-461-2639 to register the accounts you want to open. An AMEX Online Banking representative will set your PIN. Provide your Customer Information Number will enable you to access your accounts online. You do this only once. A Customer Information Number is provided to you when you a Financial Services client and allows us to identify you.

  • Go online to your new username and password. You can do this on a web page of the American Express Financial Services site.

  • Select I am a new user click Continue.

  • Decide on a username and password. If you already have a username and password Card Account Management (My Account) or Membership Rewards service, you can use the same ID and password for American Express Online Banking.

  • If you are a new user name and password, just follow these guidelines. You will be prompted to enter your password twice for verification. Then click Continue. If a customer all the other user ID, you will be asked to make another one.

  • Then confirm your username and password. Write them down and keep them handy in a safe location.

Once you have a username and password:  (ouch)

  • Enter your AMEX account number and PIN. Your PIN is the same 4-digit number that you created for the Amex access to the banking system. If you forget this information, for safety reasons you should call 1-888-461-2639 and speak to an Amex Banking Associate.

  • Click Continue to access Online Banking AMEX. Within this protected area, you will be able to your portfolio, view account activity and make a transfer.

AMEX My Portfolio

AMEX My Portfolio gives you an overview of all your accounts quickly and easily. You can see both your available balances, and your account balances.

If there is money to be held in your account, please keep in mind that there is a difference between your balance and your balance will be available. All transfers completed are reflected in the balances and all current transfers are usually displayed by the next business day.

For more detailed information about your account history, simply click on a particular account. This brings you to your Account Activity page.

AMEX Account Activity

You can find detailed explanation on the activity of your mouse click. Of interest to the transferred funds, makes it quick and easy to scan through your most recent transactions.

To view your account details:

  • Select an account from the drop-down box. Your account balances and available will be clearly displayed.

  • Customize your search by transaction date, using the Search by Date Range function. You can view transactions for the last 90 days.

  • Click Search to your query to complete. The bottom half of the screen displays your transactions. If no date range is selected, the screen automatically displays data for the last 30 days or 50 transactions, whichever comes first.

Transfer Funds with AMEX Online Banking

With AMEX Online Banking, the transfer of funds between accounts safe and secure. AMEX You can easily move money from one account to another, plus funds to be transferred to and from your linked chequing accounts with other financial institutions.

To make a transfer:

  • Select Create a transfer from the left navigation on every page within the Online Banking web AMEX.

  • Select the account you want to transfer money.

  • Select the account you want to make money.

  • Enter the amount you want to transfer.

  • Click Continue. Go to the next step, confirm your transfer.

For security reasons it is important that you always sign your AMEX Online Banking session. You can do this by simply clicking on the Logout button at the top right of your screen. Once you log out, you automatically to a page where you no longer in a safe environment. If you have to log in again, you can do so by accessing the / online banking.

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