Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cyber Thieves Steal $3.8 Million from School District (Taxpayers)

Breaking News:  Information Week is reporting that $3.8 Million dollars was stolen from a School District (make that "taxpayers") in New York...

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and New York State Police are investigating an attempt last month to steal about $3.8 million from the Duanesburg Central School District in Schenectady County, New York.

Online thieves made a series of unauthorized funds transfers from the school district's NBT Bank account to an overseas bank between December 18 and 22, 2009.

The third transfer during this period was flagged as abnormal activity by the bank, which began blocking pending transactions after the school district confirmed the transfers had not been authorized.

Working with foreign banks, NBT Bank recovered about $2.5 million out of $3 million stolen during the four day period, but two previous unauthorized transactions were discovered.

"Thanks to NBT Bank's aggressive pursuit of the stolen funds, we are fortunate that the vast majority of the money has been recovered," wrote Superintendent Christine Crowley in a letter on Monday to district parents and community members. "However, $497,200 of Duanesburg taxpayers' money is still missing, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to recover the remaining funds."

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RegaloCard Secures $7 Million for Its Innovative Mobile Payments Service

RegaloCard’s Unique Business Model and Free and Instant Alternative to Expensive Money Transfer Services Continues to Gain Traction.

Miami, Florida,  - PIN Debit News Blog – RegaloCard,, an innovative mobile payments company that has developed a free and instant alternative to costly money transfers announced today that it had closed a $7 Million round of financing from Dublin Ventures and Kinsail Corporation.

Under stealth development since 2007, RegaloCard is a prepaid gift card that you can buy in the United States but whose PIN to redeem the gift card is delivered instantly via mobile technology to the person you choose in Latin America, to make purchases at leading local retailers. RegaloCard is fast and easy to use. Consumers merely choose the gift card they wish to send to their families from the leading brands in their home country, and provide the name and cellular number of the recipient. Using the latest mobile payment technology the recipient in Latin America instantly receives a RegaloCard PIN which they can use to make purchases at any of the retailers locations same as cash. The RegaloCard service works with all mobile handsets and all carriers worldwide and is delivered instantly 24 hours a day 365 days a year, so recipients no longer have to go the bank or only receive gifts from their family members during banking hours. RegaloCards are available from the best known retail brands in country allowing consumers to choose from brands they know and love and have grown up with in their home country.

RegaloCard has received strong reviews from consumers and distributors alike as RegaloCard offers many unique benefits: 1. the RegaloCard service is absolutely free, consumers purchase a RegaloCard for $100 and their family receives $100 no additional charges, commissions, or hidden costs; 2. the RegaloCard service is literally instantaneous, the friend or relative in Latin America receives their RegaloCard PIN instantly via SMS no need togo to the bank during bank hours or wait on lines, they just go directly to the retailer chosen and purchase what they need; 3. send as little as $10 dollars, something that was impossible before with traditional money transfer services due to high commission rates; 4. the person who sends the RegaloCard is assured that the money is spent on the things they want as they chose the retailer where the RegaloCard PIN can be redeemed; 5. RegaloCards are available from the best known retail brands from the immigrants home country, these are brands that the community knows and trusts and has grown up with from their home countries.

RegaloCard is currently available at test market locations in the US, and in the coming months will be available at thousands of retail locations across the country through a group of major US distributors which have agreed to distribute RegaloCard nationwide. RegaloCard, while initially focusing on the US Hispanic market, plans to expand the service to other regions in the near future that have a large number of immigrants residing in the US.

About RegaloCard: RegaloCard,, is an innovative mobile payments company that has developed a free and instant alternative to costly money transfer services. RegaloCard uses a proprietary mobile payment technology to allow immigrant groups to instantly send their relatives back home what they need absolutely free. RegaloCard is a prepaid gift card that immigrants can buy in the United States, but is delivered instantly to the person chosen in the immigrant’s home country, to make purchases at leading local retailers. The RegaloCard service works with any mobile phone and carrier worldwide and is the best way for immigrants to send their families the things they need. While initially focusing on the US Hispanic market, RegaloCard plans to expand the service to other regions that have a high level of immigrants residing in the US. For more information visit

About Dublin Ventures: Dublin Ventures, is an investment fund that specializes in investments in technology companies with high impact business models that focus on the US Hispanic and Latin American markets.

About Kinsail Corporation: Kinsail Corporation is a leading provider of information management and payment processing services to both government and commercial clients. Providing services in a pay-for-performance, software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, Kinsail offers clients a cost effective, robust, and customizable platform through which information can be collected and business rules applied in a dynamic and secure manner.

Press Contacts:


Sofia Alvarenga

Director of Media and Partner Relations


Tel. (718) 223-2961

What Did Your Decade Do for You (in Payments)? Exclusive Insight on the 12 Breakthroughs in Payments

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE) just published the decade’s 12 greatest developments in payments. Industry expert, David Evans began the countdown with “American Express Going Global” at #12 proceeding to “How the ACH System in the U.S. is Encouraging Electronic Payment Innovation” at #7 and finished off the decade with “MasterCard and Visa Going Public” holding strong at the #1 greatest breakthrough in payments.

The full list of the top 12 can be found here, is a joint venture between Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, and Market Platform Dynamics. It provides a platform for industry professionals to share content related to their latest company and product developments, to tap into the collective commentary and analysis from experts, bloggers and industry pundits, and to interact with industry thought leaders on topics of critical importance to the future of the sector.

For information on contact You can also follow on Twitter at and join the PYMNTS Linked In group.

About Market Platform Dynamics (MPD):

MPD is a management consulting firm that ignites catalyst businesses by leveraging new technologies, business models and pricing strategies. MPD has a wealth of experience within industries that are characterized by complex platform-centered ecosystems, including payments, mobile/telecoms, digital and advertising-supported media, and software-based businesses.

MPD works with both incumbents and new entrants, offering a unique lens into the dynamics that shape the competitive playing field. In addition to traditional consulting-based services, MPD’s Catalyst Ventures provides intellectual and human capital to new firms. MPD’s experts include economists, econometricians, product development specialists, and strategic marketers who apply cutting-edge business theory and statistical methods to the practical problems of building and growing a profitable catalyst business. MPD is headquartered in Cambridge, MA, and has offices in London and Hong Kong.

For more information visit

About Business Wire

Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway company, is utilized by tens of thousands of member companies and organizations worldwide to functionally enhance and communicate investor relations and public relations content to target audiences. As a recognized disclosure service in the United States, Canada and a dozen European countries, Business Wire facilitates the simultaneous flow of market-moving press releases from corporations to financial markets and their audiences, including regulatory authorities, media, investors, financial information systems and consumer news services. Business Wire also handles XBRL tagging, document formatting and regulatory filing into EDGAR, SEDAR, FSA and other systems.

Founded in 1961, Business Wire has dual headquarters in San Francisco and New York, with 30 bureaus in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Brussels, Tokyo, Toronto and Sydney and reciprocal offices throughout the world. Business Wire's patented NX data platform supports XML, XHTML and XBRL code that enhances news release interactivity, social media sharing and search engine optimization. More information about Business Wire and its services is located on its website at


Jonathan Summey, Senior Editor, 617-374-1336

EVP, New Media

Consumer Protection Coalition Commends New York Times for Exposing Visa Tricks

Story calls out Visa for using fees to dominate the market at the expense of merchants

Indianapolis, ?PRNewswire/ -- Robert Johnson, President of Consumers for Competitive Choice (C4CC), issued the following statement in response to Andrew Martin's front page story in today's New York Times titled, "The Card Game: How Visa, Using Card Fees, Dominates a Market:"

"I am pleased that the New York Times is drawing attention to the issues of debit card steering and interchange fees, or swipe fees -- two of the many methods that Visa has been using to line their pockets on the backs of small businesses and consumers for far too long. What this article makes abundantly clear is that the most important thing to card companies like Visa is their bottom line -- at any cost! Is there any other industry where we put up with practices like this?

"As the article points out, not only do signature debit purchases cost twice as much as PIN debit purchases for retailers, but PIN debit cards are less vulnerable to fraud making them a safer choice for card carrying customers. Yet Visa, MasterCard and others continue to steer customers toward signature debit purchases, even going so far as offering glittering prizes that customers only qualify for by making signature debit purchases. Why? I think that answer is clear ... because at the end of the day it means higher profits for big banks and Visa and MasterCard. It is truly disgusting.

"Small businesses have long been willing to pay their fair share with regard to interchange fees, but as the article makes clear, debit purchases were somewhat fee neutral until visa changed that in order to incentivize big banks to issue more credit cards. It is this greed that has led to an escalation of over 300% in interchange fees since 2001, resulting in interchange revenue that has increased to $45 billion today. These fees are excessive and reasonable reform is absolutely necessary.

"I hope that by highlighting these bad business practices, and the perverse form of competition that has been taking place in the credit card industry -- on the basis of raising prices as opposed to lowering them -- Congress will take swift and appropriate action, and immediately address interchange fees. Small businesses and consumers have been unfairly bearing the burden of the greed that has been prevalent in credit card companies for far too long."

For more information, visit the Credit Card Con website at


Epicor to Add Fingerprint Biometrics to Upcoming Retail Store POS Solution

DigitalPersona Announces Epicor to Add U.are.U Fingerprint Biometrics to Upcoming Retail Store POS Solution

Fingerprint Authentication to Aid Retailers in Combating Fraud and Shrink

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- DigitalPersona, Inc., a leader in fingerprint identity and authentication solutions, today announced that the company's U.are.U® fingerprint biometrics solution was selected by Epicor® Software Corporation (Nasdaq: EPIC), a leading provider of enterprise business software to midmarket and Global 1000 companies. Epicor plans to add "touch-and-go" identification to its upcoming Retail Store Point-of-Sale (POS) solution, using DigitalPersona's OneTouch® I.D. SDK. This Software Development Kit (SDK) will enable Epicor to provide retailers with fast fingerprint identification for manager authorization of transactions and staff time clock activities, reducing unauthorized overrides and "buddy punching." Epicor will be demonstrating its biometrically-enabled application in booth #2105 at the National Retail Federation tradeshow.

"Cash register shrink plagues retailers around the world and can eat up almost six percent of total annual revenue," said Duncan Taylor, Director of Product Management, Store Solutions for Epicor. "U.are.U fingerprint biometrics from DigitalPersona was an obvious solution to this problem. Our customers recognize that fingerprint biometrics is a proven way of reducing both transaction time and fraud within their organizations, and can quickly complement a retailer's efforts to comply with security requirements around user authentication."

Many of the world's leading retailers use Epicor Retail solutions and services to become more profitable, productive and competitive. Delivering comprehensive retail management solutions to enterprises in all tiers--from regional chains to multichannel global brands--Epicor Retail Store software solutions offer robust retail POS and in-store systems. These POS solutions perform functions from returns and merchandise credits, to credit/debit card handling and manager dashboards. The integration of fingerprint identification into the upcoming Epicor Retail Store POS solution will enable retailers to increase accountability and decrease fraud, providing a quick return on investment.

"Retailers worldwide are in need of solutions that not only provide security, but positively impact their bottom line," said Jim Fulton, vice president of marketing at DigitalPersona. "DigitalPersona's U.are.U solutions provide a natural interface to security, increasing accountability within the organization and decreasing costs associated with the deployment and management of PINs, passwords or swipe cards."

DigitalPersona fingerprint authentication SDKs provide developers with a fast and easy way to make their applications identity-aware. This enables applications to rapidly identify employees, resulting in reduced fraud and improving the bottom line. For additional information on DigitalPersona products, please visit:

About DigitalPersona

DigitalPersona, Inc. is the leading provider of fingerprint authentication products for point-of-sale and embedded solution developers, enterprises and consumers. The company offers software and hardware that protects people and businesses by enabling them to control their digital identities. For end users, DigitalPersona provides strong identity protection that's uniquely easy to use; the company's business solutions help organizations address growing security, compliance and loss prevention demands. DigitalPersona's award-winning technology has been used worldwide by over 95 million people, and its solutions are offered by market-leading manufacturers such as HP, Dell, IBM and NCR. For more information contact DigitalPersona, Inc. at +1 650.474.4000, or visit

© 2010 DigitalPersona, Inc. All rights reserved. DigitalPersona, OneTouch and U.are.U are trademarks of DigitalPersona, Inc. registered in the United States and other countries. Epicor is a registered trademark of Epicor Software Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

SOURCE DigitalPersona, Inc.

Smart Card Alliance 2010 Payments Summit

Convergence of Banking, Retail, Transportation and Mobile Payments the Focus of the Smart Card Alliance 2010 Payments Summit

PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ -Payments Industry News Blog- January 6, 2010) - The accelerating widespread acceptance, usage and application of contactless and NFC mobile payments in transit and retail will be the focus of the Smart Card Alliance 3rd Annual Payments Summit. The event is being held February 23rd - 25th, 2010 at the Marriott City Center Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Payments Summit brings together members of the Smart Card Alliance's Contactless and Mobile Payments Council and its Transportation Council. This includes representatives from transportation authorities, issuing banks and payment brands, retailers, mobile technology suppliers, chip and card manufacturers, terminal manufacturers, payments processors, and transit and payment systems integrators.

"With transit and retail markets both involved in successful open bank card projects involving contactless, mobile and NFC payment technologies, this unique Summit provides an intimate forum for an interactive exchange among all stakeholders to meet and discuss their experiences, as well as network with different industry representatives about the opportunities and obstacles for convergence that lie ahead," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance.

Speakers from U.S. and international card issuers, transport operators, mobile operators, and campus integrators have been invited to update attendees on implementations of advanced credit, debit, prepaid, and stored value payment systems used by millions of consumers. The Summit will include sessions on exciting new trends and projects within a broad range of topics, including: current U.S. and international transit programs, contactless payments, NFC/mobile payments technology, prepaid cards, payments industry fraud, EMV, and payments security technologies. In addition to sessions for both the transit and retail industry representatives, time is set aside in the agenda for separate breakout sessions focused on topics relevant to each market and for discussions about emerging developments.

The two-day Summit concludes with a free optional third day half-day tour of the Utah Transit Authority's contactless fare payment system -- the first commercial contactless open bank card roll-out for transit in the United States.

As part of its new Leadership, Education and Advancement Program (LEAP) program aimed at individual professional development and training, the Smart Card Alliance will also offer the second Certified Smart Card Industry Professional (CSCIP) Certification exam at the conclusion of the Summit conference portion of the event on February 24th. The Alliance is offering a full-day CSCIP Exam Preparation Course on Monday, February 22nd. Information on CSCIP requirements, training modules, exam registration and fees can be found on the Smart Card Alliance LEAP Web site.

More information and registration information on the Payments Summit is available on the Smart Card Alliance Web site,

About the Smart Card Alliance

The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology.

Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit


Deb Montner

Montner & Associates


Source: Company Press Release 

Ingenico Appoints Vice President of Security Solutions for North America


ATLANTA, GA- Payments Industry News Blog - Ingenico, the leading provider of payment solutions, announces today the appointment of Deborah Dixson as Senior Vice President of Security Solutions for the North American Region. She will report to Christopher Justice, President, North America.

In this new position, Dixson is responsible for driving Ingenico's security solutions and PCI-data security compliance architecture for retail and banking clients.

"Security has always been and remains Ingenico's core consideration. It underpins everything we do from our payment terminal design process to our managed service offerings," Justice said. "Deborah brings rich experience to Ingenico's security solutions strategy and an unparalleled depth of knowledge to support our customers' PCI data security compliance efforts."

"I am delighted to join and lead Ingenico's dedicated security team to help our customers protect their brand by safeguarding cardholder data through the entire transaction processing chain," said Dixson. "Never before has security been at the forefront of open discussions among retailers and processors as it is today. Our customers are bombarded with a multitude of security products; I am excited about the opportunity to bring Ingenico's security solutions to help our customers sort through the confusion and build their PCI data security compliance environment."

Dixson, a University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate, joins Ingenico from Best Buy where she was most recently the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and led the 11th largest retailer in the world to PCI-Compliance. She represented Best Buy on the CIO council for the National Retail Federation as well as the PCI Security Standards Council. She co-founded the Twin Cities Chief Security Officer Summit.

About Ingenico (ING) Ingenico (Euronext: FR0000125346 - ING) is a leading provider of payment solutions, with over 15 million terminals deployed in more than 125 countries. Its 2,850 employees worldwide support retailers, banks and service providers to optimize and secure their electronic payments solutions, develop their offer of services and increase their point of sales revenue. Ingenico generated pro-forma revenue of USD 1.2 billion in 2008. Ingenico is ISO-9001 certified. More information on

Source: Company Press Release

Silver Tail Wins "Best of Show" at Finovate 2009

Launch of Mitigation Product Lauded by Financial Institutions

PALO ALTO, CA--(Marketwire - January 5, 2010) - Today Silver Tail Systems announced it has been selected "Best of Show" at this year's Finovate conference. Finovate, held in New York City, showcases the best new financial and banking technology innovations. "Best of Show" was chosen from 32 presenting companies by the more than 300 attendees including financial services firms, analysts, and press.

Laura Mather, PhD, Silver Tail's Founder and VP of Product Marketing, demonstrated Silver Tail's new product Mitigation stopping online criminals perpetrating a Man in the Browser attack in real-time with zero impact to legitimate users.

"We are thrilled to be recognized by the experts at the Finovate conference for the amazing products that our team has built and to have this endorsement," said Dr. Mather. "This award for Silver Tail illustrates the challenges financial institutions face in fighting online criminals."

Silver Tail also won "Best of Show" at the April 2009 FinovateStartUp conference, was number two in Bank Technology News' "Top Ten Companies to Watch," was named to Bank Technology News' "Future Now" list, and was chosen at a top innovator at the SC Magazine Innovators Throwdown.

"This award from Finovate provides further endorsement of our technical solutions and clearly shows a new path forward for financial services," said Mike Eynon, Silver Tail's President and CTO. "It is possible to put an end to expensive after-the-fact investigations, that allow customers to be victimized by Zeus and other Man in the Browser banking Trojans, and ineffective risk management solutions based on insufficient real-time threat visibility. This win has already motivated many in financial services to partner with us to address these issues."

About Silver Tail Systems

Silver Tail Systems provides next generation fraud prevention to protect against business logic abuse -- a rising threat costing financial institutions hundreds of millions of dollars and significant loss of trust. Silver Tail products use real-time behavior analysis to detect and alert on known threats and new behaviors like Man in the Browser and Zeus, then enable the business to disrupt these attacks in real-time. Founded by fraud prevention experts from eBay and PayPal, Silver Tail significantly reduces online fraud losses, protects your institution and increases customer trust.


Silver Tail Systems


First Hope Bank Selects Jack Henry Banking(TM) to Provide Enterprise-Wide Automation

Image representing Jack Henry & Associates as ...

$400 Million Bank Implements the SilverLake System(R) In-House

MONETT, Mo., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. (Nasdaq: JKHY), a leading provider of integrated technology solutions and data processing services for financial institutions, today announced that First Hope Bank has selected Jack Henry Banking's SilverLake System to provide enterprise-wide automation. This New Jersey-based bank, which has more than $400 million in assets, has completed the in-house installation of SilverLake.

According to Norman Beatty, chairman, CEO, and president of First Hope Bank, "After using our current in-house system for about 20 years we made the strategic decision to move to a more feature-rich core solution that will enable us to improve enterprise-wide operations and efficiency. Our evaluation process fully convinced us that SilverLake is the system most compatible with our operating requirements and business strategy. Our decision to establish a long-term technology partnership with Jack Henry Banking was primarily based on our common service cultures, its proven change management process, SilverLake's functionality and extensive customization capabilities, and the solid integration of key complementary products and services. The satisfaction level among recently converted and long-time users validated our decision and further convinced us that SilverLake is the system that will support our evolving requirements. We are excited about our move to SilverLake and about the ability to drive our financial products and services with this sophisticated technology platform."

Tony Wormington, president of Jack Henry & Associates, said, "A fundamental tenet of our success is the ability to provide the business tools banks need to attract and support today's convenience-driven consumers, to continually improve bank performance, and to successfully compete in today's dynamic business environment. We are confident that SilverLake provides the functionality and flexibility that First Hope Bank expects to gain with a new core system, and we welcome the addition of this bank to our client roster."

In addition to SilverLake, First Hope Bank initially implemented an array of Jack Henry Banking's complementary solutions including StreamLine Platform Automation® - Deposits, Vertex Teller Automation System(TM), NetTeller Online Banking(TM), NetTeller Cash Management(TM), NetTeller Bill Pay electronic bill payment solution, Opening Act online account opening solution, DirectLine(TM) OFX Internet banking solution for PC-based financial management systems, goDough® mobile banking solution, InTouch Voice Response® telephone banking solution, Cognos 8 BI(TM) business intelligence and enterprise reporting solution, Remote Deposit Capture, Dep@sit(TM) micro business capture solution, 4|sight(TM) Item Imaging, components of the modular Synergy(TM) Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, the Yellow Hammer(TM) fraud detection and prevention solution suite, and the jXchange(TM) utility for open connectivity between core, complementary, and third-party products.

About First Hope Bank

For nearly a century, First Hope Bank has provided financial services to its customers and community. It prides itself on successfully combining the "hometown" customer orientation of a community bank with progressive products and services focused on the needs of individuals and businesses. At First Hope Bank, the words "World-class service, close to home," are more than just a slogan. It is the motto the bank's associates strive to fulfill each day, to help them meet their financial hopes and dreams, whether they are achieved through complex commercial loans, flexible personal accounts, home loans, trusts, investments or any of its full array of financial institutions services. Additional information is available at

About Jack Henry Banking

Jack Henry Banking, a division of Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., is a leading provider of integrated computer systems for banks ranging from de novo to mid-tier institutions. Jack Henry Banking currently serves approximately 1,500 banks as a single source for integrated, enterprise-wide automation and as a single point of contact and support. Additional information is available at

UK SMEs Head Towards the Cloud in 2010

CBR's Steve Evans cites new research showing Small, Medium Businesses in the UK have their heads in the clouds...

UK SMEs head to the cloud in 2010

But security and reliability still an issue

New research has revealed that just over half of UK SMEs expect to be using cloud computing by the end of the year.

The study, conducted by business ISP Easynet Connect, found that just over 50% of the respondents said that they planned to embrace cloud computing this year, up from 22% who responded in the same way when asked in October 2008. Long term on-demand computing is also set to increase, with 73% claiming they will adopt cloud computing within five years, up from 47% at the end of 2008.

The number of SMEs that have ruled out cloud computing has dropped from 53% in 2008 to 27% in 2009.

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PCI DSS v1.2: Best Practices and Useful Tips

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According to the Privacy Rights Clearing House, since January 2005 there have been over 340 million records containing personally identifiable information (PII) involved in data breaches in the United States.

While there are multiple regulatory compliance standards, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) addresses a sector with the greatest number of records involved in data breaches.

View this webcast to discover:

  • Key differences between PCI DSS version 1.1 and 1.2

  • Best practices for ensuring compliance

  • Tips and suggestions on ensuring compliance against malicious software (malware)


Jeff Debrosse

Sr. Research Director of ESET

Jeff Debrosse is the Research Director for ESET, LLC, a global provider of security software. His background ranges from embedded system design and development, where he holds a patent, to critical infrastructure security solutions and strategies. He uses his broad industry knowledge to provide a well-rounded perspective on the topics he researches. His topical analysis examines the evolution of malware and cybercrime.

Discover U.S. Spending Monitor Drops 3.3. Points in December

Discover® U.S. Spending MonitorSM Drops 3.3 Points in December, as Consumers Anticipate Spending Less after the Holidays

Middle-Income Consumers Give Holiday Retail Sales a Boost by Spending More Than Anticipated

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Discover U.S. Spending Monitor fell 3.3 points in December to 83.0 (based out of 100). The decline was primarily driven by a big decrease in post- holiday spending intentions from consumers. While the decrease in spending intentions was anticipated, consumers showed little improvement in economic confidence in December and they grew slightly more pessimistic about their finances. These contributing factors leave the Monitor’s index standing at a nine-month low.

Overall, 57 percent of consumers rated the economy as poor, a 2-point improvement from November. Forty-eight percent of consumers felt economic conditions were getting worse, 1 point better than November. The number of consumers rating their finances as poor went up a point to 26 percent. Half of consumers now think their finances are getting worse.

Despite concern over the economy and their finances, consumers did not cut back on holiday spending as much as they anticipated, a welcome sign for retailers. The Monitor’s findings were reflected in the National Retail Federation’s report showing an increase in holiday sales from last year. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, 64 percent of consumers said they planned on spending less on gifts. But when asked after Christmas if they spent more or less on gifts this year, only 51 percent said they spent less.

Middle-Income Consumers Show Biggest Increase in Actual Versus Planned Holiday Spending

A big driver in the increase in holiday sales may have come from middle-income consumers ($40k-$75k). Heading into Christmas, only 6 percent of middle-income consumers planned on spending more on holiday gifts. But after Christmas, 18 percent said they actually spent more, a 12-point increase. Twenty-two percent of upper-income consumers ($75k or more) spent more on gifts, a 9-point increase, and only 11 percent of lower-income consumers (under $40k) spent more on gifts, a 1-point decrease between anticipated and actual holiday spending.

“Concern over the economy and personal finances did not appear to dampen consumers’ holiday spirit,” said Julie Loeger, senior vice president of brand and product management for Discover. “They gave retailers a much needed boost in December, which hopefully will make January a little easier to bear, since consumers usually reduce their spending after the holidays.”

December’s Monitor showed consumers were planning to do just that, with only 20 percent expecting to spend more in the month ahead, the same number reported in December 2008. A majority of consumers also plan to cut discretionary spending in all categories surveyed by the Monitor, a trend that hasn’t changed since September. There was a 2-point increase to 10 percent in the number of consumers planning to save and invest more.

Monitor-Low 43% Have Money Left Over After Paying Monthly Bills

While a lift in holiday sales was good news for retailers, a record number of consumers found little to cheer about when paying the monthly bills. Only 43 percent, a Monitor-low, expected to have money left over after paying the monthly bills. This is the second time in three months the Monitor has broken a new low in this category, breaking October’s previous low of 44 percent.

Middle-income consumers were the biggest contributors to the decline. Only 44 percent of them planned on having money left over, 15 points lower than in November. Lower-income consumers showed only a 1-point decline and upper-income consumers showed a 3-point decline.

Furthermore, 26 percent of those consumers who do have money left over said they would have less money left over than the previous month, a 12-month high.

Middle-Income Consumers See Little Change in the Economy, Grow More Concerned Over Finances

Fifty-six percent of middle-income consumers rated the economy as poor in December, unchanged from November. Lower and upper-income consumers rating the economy as poor actually dropped 2 and 3 points respectively.

Middle-income consumers also viewed their finances differently from lower and upper-income consumers. Forty-four percent felt their finances were getting worse, a 6-point increase from November. Lower-income consumers feeling their finances were getting worse actually dropped 2 points to 58 percent and 35 percent of upper-income consumers felt their finances were deteriorating, unchanged from November.

“Budgets for many consumers are tight, especially during the holidays,” said Loeger. “With middle-income consumers increasing their spending the most during the holidays, it is no surprise that they expect to have less money left over and are growing more concerned about their finances.”

For more Discover U.S. Spending Monitor survey data, charts and information, please visit

About Discover U.S. Spending Monitor

The Discover® U.S. Spending MonitorSM is a monthly index of consumer spending intentions and capacity that is based on interviews with a random sample of 8,200 U.S. adults conducted at a rate of 275 per night. In addition to spending, the survey asks consumers their opinions on the U.S. economy and their personal finances. The Monitor began in May 2007 with a base index of 100. Surveys are conducted by Rasmussen Reports, an independent survey research firm (

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a leading credit card issuer and electronic payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers student and personal loans, as well as savings products such as certificates of deposit and money market accounts. Its payments businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit

Online Holiday Sales Chart

Chart of the Week: Online Holiday Sales Rose 5 Percent in 2009 - Practical E-Commerce

U.S. consumers spent $27 billion online during the 2009 holiday shopping season from November 1 to December 24, 2009, up 5 percent from the same 2008 period. “Following last year’s disappointing performance when sales fell by 3 percent, the ecommerce sector saw a positive 2009 holiday shopping season with sales up by 5 percent,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni, whose company tracks Internet trends, including ecommerce sales. “Online sales growth this year was driven by a continued increase in the number of people buying online, but consumers’ economic challenges resulted in a slight decline versus last year in the amount spent per buyer. The season featured a strong start as a result of early retailer promotions and a very strong ...

Chart: 2009 Holiday Ecommerce Sales Up 5 Percent

2009 Holiday Ecommerce Sales Up 5 Percent
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Gemalto on the Payment Card Breakdown in Germany

Last night I posted that the Financial Times was reporting that  30 Million German Debit and Credit Cards "stopped working"...

Germany’s savings bank association admitted on Tuesday that a “belated year 2000 problem” had affected more than 20m of 45m debit cards issued by the public-sector.  Customers have reported being unable to use the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs or make payments in shops. Many have also been unable to use their cards in shops or cash machines outside Germany.  This morning, Gemalto, a major card supplier to Germany issued this press release:

http://www.gemalto.comAMSTERDAM--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Regulatory News:

“We are fully focused on minimizing the inconvenience for the cardholders. As a partner, we will of course meet our contractual obligations, and continue to support our clients. We trust that we will promptly deploy a solution with our German customers to return to full normal operation.”

Recent publications report that some German payment cardholders were unable to conduct transactions after the turn of the New Year. Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 - GTO), as a major supplier to German banks, has been working with its customers on investigating and fixing the situation since first informed on Sunday afternoon. Gemalto and the German banks are actively developing together a corrective process that avoids the replacement of the affected cards in Germany. At this stage, according to ZKA (Zentraler Kreditausschuss – the German Central Credit Committee), acceptance of the concerned cards by the ATM (Automated Teller Machines) and point of sales terminals is widely re-established in the country. Gemalto payment cards issued for other countries are not affected.

Olivier Piou, Chief Executive Officer, added: “We are fully focused on minimizing the inconvenience for the cardholders. As a partner, we will of course meet our contractual obligations, and continue to support our clients. We trust that we will promptly deploy a solution with our German customers to return to full normal operation.”

About Gemalto

Gemalto (Euronext NL 0000400653 GTO) is the world leader in digital security with 2008 annual revenues of €1.68 billion, and 10,000 employees operating out of 75 offices, research and service centers in 40 countries.

Gemalto is at the heart of our evolving digital society. The freedom to communicate, travel, shop, bank, entertain, and work—anytime, anywhere—has become an integral part of what people want and expect, in ways that are convenient, enjoyable and secure.

Gemalto delivers on the growing demands of billions of people worldwide for mobile connectivity, identity and data protection, credit card safety, health and transportation services, e-government and national security. We do this by supplying to governments, wireless operators, banks and enterprises a wide range of secure personal devices, such as subscriber identification modules (SIM), Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) in mobile phones, smart banking cards, smart card access badges, electronic passports, and USB tokens for online identity protection. To complete the solution we also provide software, systems and services to help our customers achieve their goals.

As the use of Gemalto’s software and secure devices increases with the number of people interacting in the digital and wireless world, the company is poised to thrive over the coming years.

For more information please visit

ICICI Bank and First Data Enter Merchant Acquiring Alliance

ICICI Merchant Services Combines Established Merchant Base with Global Acquiring Expertise

Related: First Data Buys ICICI Merchant Services

MUMBAI, India--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, and First Data, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment services, have formed a merchant acquiring alliance named ICICI Merchant Services, which has acquired ICICI Bank’s merchant acquiring portfolio. The transaction was completed on December 22, 2009. The venture brings together one of India’s largest merchant portfolios, representing approximately 30 percent of the current Indian acquiring market, and a leading acquirer and payment services provider with global expertise.

ICICI Merchant Services, which is owned 81 percent by First Data and 19 percent by ICICI Bank, will build on the bank’s existing acquiring portfolio of approximately 150,000 merchants. Over time, ICICI Merchant Services expects to deliver an enhanced suite of card acquiring services to these and to new merchants. ICICI Bank will continue to act as a settlement banker for the merchants.

ICICI Bank is India’s second largest bank with more than 1,500 branches across the country. First Data, a KKR-portfolio company, provides payment processing services for 5.3 million merchant locations globally and serves customers in 36 countries around the world. First Data’s services include offering merchants the ability to view their payment transactions securely via the Internet while benefiting from loyalty, prepaid and market-leading, e-commerce solutions based on advanced processing technologies.

“We continue to work towards optimising and improving the efficiencies of our business, to meet customer needs effectively and increase service quality,” said Sandeep Bakhshi, deputy managing director of ICICI Bank. “By partnering with a leading global player like First Data, we are able to expand our service offering to our merchant customers.”

“India is a strategic market for First Data,” said David Yates, president of First Data’s international business. “This new alliance gives us the scale and presence that we can build from, with a highly regarded partner. We hope our alliance will make a positive contribution to the Indian economy, partnering with ICICI Bank to provide specialised, world-class merchant acquiring services to the market.“

Both ICICI Bank and First Data will be represented on the board of directors of ICICI Merchant Services. Day-to-day operations will be coordinated by First Data.

About ICICI Bank:

ICICI Bank Ltd (NYSE: IBN) is India's largest private sector bank and the second largest bank in the country with consolidated total assets of about US$102 billion as of September 30, 2009. The ICICI Group has leadership positions across the financial services sector, including insurance, securities brokerage, asset management and private equity.

About First Data

First Data, a KKR-portfolio company, powers the global economy by making it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services using virtually any form of electronic payment. Whether the choice of payment is a gift card, a credit or debit card or a check, First Data securely processes the transaction and harnesses the power of the data to deliver intelligence and insight for millions of merchant locations and thousands of card issuers in 36 countries. For more information, visit

About KKR

Founded in 1976 by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, KKR is a leading global alternative asset manager with $54.8 billion in assets under management, over 600 people and 14 offices around the world as of September 30, 2009. KKR manages assets through a variety of investment funds and accounts covering multiple asset classes. KKR seeks to create value by bringing operational expertise to its portfolio companies and through active oversight and monitoring of its investments. KKR complements its investment expertise and strengthens interactions with investors through its client relationships and capital markets platforms. KKR is publicly traded through KKR & Co. (Guernsey) L.P. (Euronext Amsterdam: KKR). For additional information, please visit KKR's website at

2009 CSI Computer Crime and Security Survey

Key Findings

This year’s survey results are based on the responses of 443 information security and information technology professionals in United States corporations, government agencies, financial institutions, educational institutions, medical institutions and other organizations. Their responses cover the security incidents they experienced and security measures they practiced from the period of July 2008 to June 2009. This is the 14th annual edition of the CSI Computer Crime and Security Survey, making it the longest-running project of its kind in the security industry.

  • Average losses due to security incidents are down this year (from $289,000 per respondent to $234,244 per respondent), though they are still above 2005 and 2006 figures.

  • One-third of respondents’ organizations were fraudulently represented as the sender of a phishing message.

  • Respondents reported big jumps in incidence of financial fraud (19.5 percent, over 12 percent last year); malware infection (64.3 percent over 50 percent last year); denials of service (29.2 percent, over 21 percent last year), password sniffing (17.3 percent, over 9 percent last year); and Web site defacement (13.5 percent over 6 percent last year). Respondents reported

  • significant dips in wireless exploits (7.6 percent, down from 14 percent in 2008), and instant messaging abuse (7.6 percent, down from 21 percent).

  • Financial fraud continues to consistently be a highly expensive attack, averaging almost $450,000 in losses, per organization that suffered fraud. However, this year, isolated incidents pushed financial fraud down to number three on the most-expensive incident list, behind wireless exploits ($770,000) and theft of personally identifiable or personal health information through all causes other than mobile device theft ($710,000).

  • When asked what actions were taken following a security incident, 22 percent of respondents stated that they notified individuals whose personal information was breached and 17 percent stated that they provided new security services to users or customers (i.e. credit monitoring, issuing new credentials).

  • Twenty-five percent of respondents felt that over 60 percent of their financial losses were due to non-malicious actions by insiders.

  • Most respondents felt their investment in end-user security awareness training was inadequate, but (somewhat surprisingly) they felt their investments in other components of their security program were adequate.

  • Respondents reported a notable reduction in the amount of security functions outsourced. This year 71 percent of respondents stated that they do not outsource any security functions at all; last year only 59 percent of respondents made this statement.

  • Respondents are satisfied, but not overjoyed with security technology. Use of almost all security technologies increased; the largest increases were in anti-spyware software and encryption of data at rest (in storage).

  • When asked what security solutions ranked highest on their wishlists, many respondents named tools that would improve their visibility—better log management, security information and event management, security data visualization, security dashboards and the like.

  • Respondents reported a big increase in the use of Return on Investment (ROI) as a security metric—67.8 percent this year, over 44 percent last year. On the other hand they reported sharp declines in the use of Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR).

  • Despite the fact that only 7.7 percent of respondents categorized their organizations as being in the “health services” industry, 57.1 percent of respondents said their organization had to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). More respondents said that HIPAA applied to their organization than any other law or industry regulation.

  • Respondents generally said that regulatory compliance efforts have had a positive effect on their organization’s security programs.

Free Javelin Webinar: 10 Trends that Will Shape Banking, Payments & Security

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Javelin Complimentary Webinar: 10 Trends that Will Shape Banking, Payments and Security in 2010

Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Time: 10:00AM PST/ 1:00PM EST


Beth Robertson, Director of Payments Research

Mark Schwanhausser, Senior Analyst, Multichannel Financial Services

Robert Vamosi, Analyst, Security, Risk & Fraud

Tom Wills, Senior Analyst, Security, Risk & Fraud

James Van Dyke, President and Founder


Facing limited budgets, increased regulation and higher fraud incidence, banks must prioritize scarce investment funds to seize key opportunities in the mobile channel, social media, P2P, reworked offerings for consumers and merchants, data breaches and PCI compliance, and even new solutions for ATMs, PIN and real-time systems. Capturing consumer trust is more important than ever as consumers say their trust in financial institutions has worsened over the past twelve months by a ratio of nine-to-one, according to a nationally-representative November, 2009 online survey of 3,294 individuals.

This webinar addresses changes and impacts of new regulations and technologies, cloud applications, P2P growth, and emerging security threats. These trends are based on the company’s seventh year of quantitative research and surveys of over 500,000 global consumers, business bankers, vendors, and merchants.

Javelin’s senior analysts weigh in on the top 10 trends that will shape banking, payments and security in 2010:

  • Regulators force bankers to rethink essential customer value

  • Financial systems open up to more third parties

  • Tough times call for new methods of prioritizing investments

  • P2P to get a growth boost as more individuals transact with one another

  • Merchants continue to call for more power, pressuring payments’ providers

  • Cloud computing will reinvigorate interest in federated identity solutions

  • Mobile banking will drive interest in underlying real-time banking systems

  • Data breaches and PCI will drive costs of security higher

  • ATM and PIN threats will continue – how must security specialists respond?

  • Social webs fall into a security stranglehold

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