Thursday, January 14, 2010

Strong Holiday Sales Improve E-Commerce Outlook

US Holiday Season Retail E-Commerce, by Shopping Period, 2008 & 2009 (millions and % change)Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer Senior Analyst, provides his take comScore's US Online Holiday Sales...

comScore reports the final tally for 2009 US online holiday sales was up 4% over 2008, to $29.1 billion. In mid-November, eMarketer predicted 2009 US online holiday sales would grow a slightly higher 5.4% and total $30.0 billion.

This modest increase represents a vast improvement over the 5.7% decline recorded last year, when consumers and retailers were feeling the full impact of the recession.

More consumers opted to shop online on Black Friday instead of wading through crowded malls, as evidenced by the strong growth in e-commerce sales. Consumers felt more confident in their abilities to find good deals online, and several large, store-based retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target offered aggressive online promotions to capture consumer spending before it dried up, contributing to strong online sales.

Online sales surged on December 15 as last-minute shoppers made their final purchases and retailers’ deadlines for guaranteed free shipping approached. Online sales continued to be strong during the final week before Christmas as a weekend snowstorm hit the Eastern Seaboard and forced many shoppers to finish their holiday purchases online.

Top 10 US Holiday Season Retail E-Commerce Spending Days*, 2009 (millions)

This was the year that retailers made their Facebook and Twitter presence a noticeable part of their promotional marketing strategy. And consumers who have honed their online research skills during the recession went online more than ever to compare prices, download coupons and find special gifts. Visits to coupon sites showed strong growth in November.

Shoppers also turned to the mobile channel in the 2009 holiday season. eBay reported that the number of items purchased using its mobile app tripled over the same period in 2008.

Last year’s online holiday sales growth portends that brighter days are ahead. eMarketer predicts that e-commerce sales growth will accelerate in 2010, even though many consumers will continue to feel financial pain.

Keep up on the latest digital trends. Learn more about an eMarketer Total Access subscription, today.

Check out today’s other article, “Web is Bright Spot in Europe Travel Market.”

eBillme Expands Executive Team to Support Consumer and Bank Relationships

The Company Announces Three New Hires Following an Increased Demand for Cash Checkout by Consumers and Merchants over the Last Year

RYE BROOK, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--eBillme™, the most secure payment option online that enables consumers to pay with cash using online banking and walk-in locations, today announced the addition of new executive team members Robert MacColl, Vice President of Corporate Development; David Koch, Vice President of Business Development; and Eric Lituchy, Director of Consumer Marketing. These positions, all new to the company, will help eBillme increase visibility in the consumer and financial institution sector.

“Last year our company saw tremendous growth as consumer and retail sentiment towards cash payments rose,” says Marwan Forzley, President and CEO of eBillme. “We’re committed to delivering a secure debt-free shopping experience for eCommerce and each of these new team members will dramatically enhance our ability to do so. Robert, David, and Eric bring a wealth of knowledge and unique experience to our company and we are confident that they will help us take eBillme further into the consumer, merchant, and financial institution sectors.”

As the new Vice President of Corporate Development, Robert MacColl will lead eBillme’s corporate development efforts and play a critical role in strategy development and identifying new market opportunities for the company.

MacColl comes to eBillme with 10 years of payments experience at MasterCard, where he served as the Group Executive of Global Acquisitions and Development with global transaction responsibilities while overseeing competitive intelligence and research functions. Most recently, MacColl held the position of CFO for Towah Group, a European prepaid company, where he still serves as a board member.

In his role as Vice President of Business Development, David Koch brings expertise from his sales and marketing positions at MasterCard to help eBillme expand its relationships with financial institutions. Koch will oversee the recently launched eBillme Affinity and Revenue Sharing Program for banks, bill pay, prepaid card providers, and walk-in networks.

Prior to his work at MasterCard, Koch held positions at Argus Information and Advisory and led business development efforts for Promereo, a payments start-up. He served nine years in the U.S. Navy as a naval aviator. He holds an SB in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia.

Eric Lituchy brings a unique merchant perspective to the eBillme team as Director of Consumer Marketing. For nearly 15 years, Lituchy has generated revenue through successful online businesses as an executive leader and business owner. His eCommerce company,, was named an Internet Retailer Top 500 website from 2004-2007 and in 2008, earned recognition by Internet Retailer as a Top 100 website.

About eBillme

eBillme™ is the most secure way to pay online and the only online payment solution that extends the convenience of online banking to the merchant’s checkout process. The service enhances security for online shoppers, and enables merchants to increase sales while reducing transaction costs. No financial data is exposed and the payment transaction is securely transferred from the customer’s bank to the retailer’s bank. Consumers can shop online, by catalog or through call centers, and pay for their purchases at their bank, credit union, or bill pay portal using the security and convenience of online banking or by paying the bill at over 75000 walk-in locations. For more information, please visit or eBillme’s Online Debt-Free Shopping Mall at

Newtek Business Services, Inc., Introduces NewtPay(TM) and NewtPay Pro(TM) for Online Ecommerce

Newtek Business Services, Inc., The Small Business Authority, Introduces NewtPay(TM) and NewtPay Pro(TM) for Online Ecommerce Business Operators

January 14, 2010: 09:01 AM ET

NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Newtek Business Services, Inc. (Nasdaq:NEWT), The Small Business Authority, has announced the introduction of its newest Ecommerce products, NewtPay(TM) and NewtPay Pro(TM), to streamline online operations for small businesses including start-ups.

In response to the needs of its small business customers, Newtek created NewtPay(TM) and NewtPay Pro(TM) to deliver a seamless, online Ecommerce solution by harnessing the knowledge and expertise of two of Newtek's primary small business services, Newtek Web Services and Newtek Merchant Processing,. Both products draw on the three core areas necessary for an effective Ecommerce product: * accelerated approval for merchant payment processing accounts;
  • 48 hour availability of funds from online transactions; and

  • a single telephone number to call for all facets of online storefront activity including website access, hosting, gateway, shopping cart and electronic payment processing.

"In handling online, electronic storefronts as well as the brick and mortar presence for tens of thousands of business owners over the past decade, we found that most customers had similar Ecommerce needs," commented Barry Sloane, CEO and Chairman of Newtek. "NewtPay(TM) and NewtPay Pro(TM) were developed with those client demands in mind, including increased security and compliance updates which incorporate the latest directives for data center protection and PCI Compliance."

NewtPay(TM) is primarily focused on the Website Designer and Developer community as well as business owners establishing their initial online e-commerce presence to provide a competitive solution to PayPal(TM), with superior pricing, customer funds availability and Newtek's standard, superior customer service. NewtPay Pro(TM) provides features and enhanced functionality to those businesses that currently have an online presence. Given that small business owners across the U.S continue to fight through a tough economy, Newtek is in the market everyday doing what it can to help businesses reduce costs, provide needed capital and solve their Ecommerce needs.

About Newtek Business Services, Inc.

Newtek Business Services, Inc. is a direct distributor of a wide range of business services and financial products to the small- and medium-sized business market under the Newtek(TM) brand. Since 1999, Newtek has helped small- and medium-sized business owners realize their potential by providing them with the essential tools needed to manage and grow their businesses and to compete effectively in today's marketplace. Newtek provides one or more of its services to over 100,000 business accounts and has positioned the Newtek(TM) brand as a one-stop-shop provider of such business services. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are over 29.6 million small businesses in the United States, which in total represent 99.7% of all employer firms.

Newtek's business service lines include: * Electronic Payment Processing: Ecommerce, Electronic solutions to accept non-cash payments, including credit and debit cards, check conversion, remote deposit capture, ACH processing, and

electronic gift and loyalty card programs.
  • Web Hosting: Full-service web host which offers Ecommerce solutions, shared and dedicated web hosting and related servicesincluding domain registration and online shopping cart tools.

  • Business Lending: Broad array of lending products including

  • SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loans.

  • Insurance Services: Commercial and personal lines of insurance, including health and employee benefits in all 50 states, working with over 40 insurance carriers.

  • Web Services: Customized web design and development services.

  • Data Backup, Storage and Retrieval: Fast, secure, off-site data backup, storage and retrieval designed to meet the specific regulatory and compliance needs of any business.

  • Accounts Receivable Financing: Receivable purchasing and financing services.

  • Payroll: Complete payroll management and processing services.

For more information, please visit CONTACT: Newtek Business Services, Inc.

Barry Sloane, Chairman and CEO


Western Union Commits $250,000 to Earthquake Relief Efforts in Haiti

No Fee Money Transfer Services to Haiti from the U.S., Canada and France

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--To help the victims of Haiti’s deadliest earthquake in more than 200 years, The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU), a leader in the money transfer segment of global payments, today announced a number of disaster relief efforts in support of Haiti, including: grants; consumer, Agent and employee donation programs; and a "No Transfer Fee" initiative when sending money to Haiti from the U.S., Canada and in France, in cooperation with our Agents.

“The hearts of all Western Union employees go out to everyone affected by this disaster, including to our colleagues with families and friends in Haiti.”

Through its corporate signature program, Our World, Our Family®, The Western Union Company will contribute $150,000 towards disaster relief efforts. The Western Union Foundation will donate an additional $100,000 to help provide basic human relief efforts such as food, safe drinking water, access to sanitation facilities, clothing and temporary shelter through Mercy Corps and Save the Children response teams actively working in Haiti.

Western Union, through its global foundation, has activated its Agent Gift Matching Program in support of Haiti, matching one-for-one Agent donations from around the world. Western Union also is encouraging employee donations to be made directly to the Western Union Foundation in support of the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. All employee donations will be matched one-to-one.

Additionally, The Western Union Company has set up a special account in the U.S. – MERCYCORPS, OR – benefitting Mercy Corps in support of disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Consumers in the U.S. can donate by sending a no fee money transfer directed to the Mercy Corps account, for up to $5,000 over the next 30 days by visiting a Western Union Agent location or online at

"The damages in Haiti are catastrophic, leaving the country in need of immediate support," said Stewart A. Stockdale, executive vice president and president, The Americas. "The hearts of all Western Union employees go out to everyone affected by this disaster, including to our colleagues with families and friends in Haiti."

Western Union also is launching a "No Transfer Fee" pricing action for any amount sent to Haiti from the United States, Canada and France. The "No Transfer Fee" initiative will run for a period of seven days, once service is reestablished throughout the country, when sending money to Haiti from the U.S., Canada and in France, in cooperation with our Agents.

Remittances will be vital in offering emergency support to families and friends. Western Union is actively working together with its Agents in Haiti and throughout the region to help facilitate the delivery of services in a fast, reliable and convenient manner during this time of need.

“Western Union is working closely with our dear friend Wyclef Jean and his charitable organization Yéle Haiti to help raise global awareness of post disaster relief efforts in Haiti,” concluded Stockdale.

Western Union, through its corporate signature program Our World, Our Family®, recently announced a $225,000 donation to Wyclef's charitable organization, Yéle Haiti, to support education projects in his native country of Haiti. A portion of the grant will be used to support rebuilding efforts, primarily in the areas of education and vocational training.

Western Union is committed to fostering hope in the developing world by creating a dialogue about issues that impact our consumers and our global community.

Western Union is not charging a transfer fee, however the conversion of currency may result in a foreign exchange gain. Western Union pays out in US dollars in Haiti.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta and Pago Facil branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, as well as send payments and purchase money orders. Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta operate through a combined network of more than 400,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories. In 2008, The Western Union Company completed 188 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $74 billion of principal between consumers, and 412 million consumer-to-business transactions. For more information, visit

About The Western Union Foundation

Through Western Union's Our World, Our Family(R) signature program, the Western Union Foundation supports initiatives to empower individuals, families and communities through access to better education and economic opportunity. Recognized by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy in 2009, the program is a five year, $50 million commitment reflecting the efforts made by Western Union employees, Agents, and partners around the world. Since its inception, the Western Union Foundation has awarded over $57 million in grants and disaster relief to over 1,900 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 100 countries. For more information, visit

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps helps people in the world's toughest places turn crises of natural disaster, poverty and conflict into opportunities for progress. Driven by local needs and market conditions, our programs provide communities with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Our worldwide team of 3,700 professionals is improving the lives of 16.7 million people in more than 40 countries. For more information, visit

About Save the Children

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 29 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. WU-G

MoneyGram Names Timothy C. Everett EVP and General Counsel

MoneyGram International Names Timothy C. Everett Executive Vice President and General Counsel

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MoneyGram International (NYSE:MGI), a global leader in the payment services industry, today announced that it has named Timothy C. Everett executive vice president and general counsel, reporting to Pamela H. Patsley, MoneyGram chairman and CEO.

“I am very pleased to welcome Tim to MoneyGram. He is highly regarded in the legal community and his experience in large, multi-national corporations will be invaluable to MoneyGram as we continue to accelerate our growth and gain market share,” said Patsley.

Everett brings to MoneyGram more than 20 years of leadership experience in litigation, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, regulatory compliance, securities laws and government relations.

He most recently served as vice president and secretary for Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Dallas, Texas. Prior to that, Everett was an associate with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P.

Everett holds a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law and a B.B.A. also from the University of Texas at Austin. Everett is a member of the Texas State Bar and a certified public accountant.

About MoneyGram International

MoneyGram International offers more control and more choices to people separated from family and friends by distance or those with limited bank relationships to meet their financial needs. A leading global money transfer company, MoneyGram International helps consumers send money around the world with funds arriving at available agent locations in as little as 10 minutes. Its global network is comprised of 186,000 agent locations in 190 countries and territories. MoneyGram's convenient and reliable network includes retailers, international post offices and financial institutions. To learn more about money transfer at an agent location please visit or find us on Facebook.

U.S. Bank Helps FlexPerks Visa Customers Offset New Airline Baggage Fees

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--U.S. Bank will increase the allowance it provides to FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card customers for airline fees in response to recent announcements that some airlines are raising baggage fees again.

Beginning January 20, when FlexPerks Travel Rewards cardholders redeem FlexPoints for an airline award ticket they will also get a $25 allowance for that trip to help pay for baggage, in-flight food and drink or other airline fees. The innovative benefit, which was previously set at $20, was designed to enhance the overall award travel experience and help drive home the notion that free award travel should actually be free.

U.S. Bank introduced FlexPerks in mid-2009 and in December was named the “Best Credit Card if You Want Travel Perks” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. FlexPerks enables customers to quickly earn points toward free flights – which can be redeemed with as few as 20,000 FlexPointsSM for airline tickets valued up to $400 on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates, capacity controls or e-ticket booking fees. Cardholders earn one FlexPoint for each dollar spent, simply by using their FlexPerks Travel Rewards card. Double FlexPoints are earned automatically for gas, groceries or airline purchases – whichever is highest for the customer during the month.

U.S. Bank Retail Payment Solutions (RPS) is one of the nation’s leading providers of payment processing, issuing and advisory services. RPS offers credit, debit, and prepaid payment solutions to consumers and small businesses through U.S. Bank and in partnership with financial institutions, businesses, governments and employers.

About U.S. Bancorp

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $265 billion in assets as of September 30, 2009, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the 6th largest commercial bank in the United States. The company operates 3,002 banking offices in 25 states and 5,170 ATMs and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at

Visa Deal Pushes Heartland Breach Settlement Costs (So Far) To $65 Million's Fred J.  Aun published an article this morning talking about Heartlands recent settlement with Visa.  Heartland Payment Systems had previously settled a card holder class action suit and reached an agreement with American Express for $3.6 million. As the breach related settlement tab climbs towards the $70 million mark,  he is quick to point out that MasterCard, Discover and others have yet to settle.

A settlement with Visa announced Friday (Jan. 8) will require Heartland Payment Systems (HPS) to pay $59.2 million to compensate Visa card issuers for costs they incurred due to Heartland’s massive 2007 data breach. The Visa settlement follows two other recent agreements, one with American Express and another with a group of breach-affected cardholders, and it will bring Heartland’s breach-related settlement compensation tab to about $65 million.  But the bleeding won’t stop there. HPS has yet to reach agreements with Discover, Mastercard or others...
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Card Fraud in the United States: The Case for Encryption

A New Report From Aite Group
Card Fraud in the United States: The Case for Encryption
The card industry should focus on encryption technologies, cutting off the source of card data for criminal networks.

A new report from Aite Group, LLC provides directional guidance on the most effective forms of card fraud management for the United States today. Based on interviews with more than 30 fraud management professionals worldwide, the report provides an overview of the U.S. card fraud landscape. It examines available fraud prevention solutions and proffers an in-depth analysis of implementation cost and anticipated success rate.

Card fraud costs the U.S. card payments industry an estimated US$8.6 billion per year. Though it comprises only 0.4% of the US$2.1 trillion in total yearly U.S. card volume, this area remains troubling for the industry. Fighting card fraud effectively involves triage and telepathy - picking appropriate battles to fight while anticipating fraudsters' next steps based on the rapidly evolving technological landscape. Card technologies in the United States are unlikely to be universally upgraded anytime soon due to prohibitively high implementation costs and the loss of signature interchange. Given the relative speed and cost efficiency for deployment, the most practical method of mitigating card fraud today would be based around end-to-end encryption.

"Criminals need access to deep seams of card data," says Nick Holland, senior analyst with Aite Group and author of this report. "Cutting off the supply of data via a national-level deployment of end-to-end encryption would significantly reduce counterfeit and lost and stolen card fraud."

This 45-page Impact Report contains 25 figures. Clients of Aite Group's Retail Banking service can download the report by clicking on the icon to the right.

Related Aite Group Research:

PIN Debit Growth Continues to Outperform Signature Debit

December Transaction Growth was Healthy

Consumers Shifted More Purchases to PIN Debit During the Holidays. PIN debit transaction growth continued to outperform, with growth of 12.5% in December. PIN debit and EBT growth remained healthy

  • PIN Debit transactions increased to 12.5% in December.

  • Credit & Signature Debit transaction growth increased to 4.6%.

  • However, this was a decline from November’s rate of 5.8% as consumers used more PIN Debit.

  • EBT transaction growth remained high at 37.0%. High unemployment continued to fuel government disbursements.

  • Note: In June 2009, the government mandated the use of EBT cards for all U.S. SNAP/Food Stamp Program benefits.

Transaction Growth Increased to 8.0% in December. Healthy transaction growth in November continued in December.

Value Merchants Continued to Excel. Value Merchants experienced 14.1% transaction growth in December while most industries also posted gains.

Average Tickets Down Slightly Year-over-Year But Up Compared to November. Most industries experienced slight declines in average tickets compared to December 2008. However average tickets increased compared to November 2009 due in part to Value Merchants and Grocery Merchants.

Gemalto Corrects Payment Card Breakdown in Germany

Gemalto Provides Secure Corrective Procedure to Its Banking Customers in Germany


Following its statement of January 6, 2010 related to the German payment cards, Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 - GTO), the world leader in digital security, confirms that it has provided a secure procedure to its customers in Germany to address the situation. The secure solution was timely verified and approved by the German banking authorities on January 7 as keeping the concerned EC cards and credit cards fully compliant with the German card banking system.

Olivier Piou, Gemalto CEO added: “This is a regrettable incident, and we are doing everything in our power to support our banking customers in resuming full normal operations. We worked with them hand-in-hand to create a strong secure software solution that enables our customers to resolve the problem of the concerned cards without reissuing these cards. All along we kept at heart to consistently maintain a high level of security for our customers and the German cardholders.”

Pursuant to IAS 37, Gemalto will book a special provision to cover the potential consequences related to this event. This exceptional charge, of an amount estimated in the range of 6 to 10 million euros, will be booked as part of 2009 results, modifying accordingly Gemalto’s expectation of around 180 million euros adjusted EBIT for the year by the same amount.

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

Ukash Now Available in France

London, Jan. 13, 2010 -- Ukash, the world's fastest-expanding prepaid-cash issuing estate, continues its international expansion in 2010 with the announcement that the company's e-cash vouchers are now available directly nationwide to consumers in France for the first time, through a partnership with major issuing network la SAF.

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Consumers can now purchase Ukash vouchers to shop safely online from 15,000 point of sale terminals operated by la SAF and its subsidiaries, found mostly in tobacconists and newsagents across the country.

A paper voucher will be issued at point of purchase with a code that is redeemable at any site where Ukash is accepted and can be combined, split or converted; a convenient way for consumers to shop online across websites from different countries.

Ukash has been operating successfully in France for some time and vouchers have been available via the prepaid Toneo card and online through a secure bank transfer (by visiting since mid-2009. Consumers can still obtain Ukash through Toneo and online but can now also get Ukash directly in 15,000 outlets. Globally, Ukash is available at more than 300,000 physical issuing points and spans 29 countries.

Mark Chirnside, Chief Executive Officer, Ukash, said: "Since Ukash first launched in France, it has proven to be a very popular payment method, and our new partnership with la SAF is evidence of the rising consumer need in the country to spend cash online. Now consumers can purchase Ukash conveniently from physical locations across the country, allowing more people to benefit from the simplicity and privacy of shopping online with cash."

Source: Company press release.

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