Kroger Details Its Fun-Filled Visa Negotiations

Have retailers suddenly started developing backbones, in terms of pushing back on payments companies? On Monday (June 27), Kroger sued Visa about how it was implementing EMV, in much the same way that Walmart and Home Depot have done. This follows Walmart kicking Visa out of Canada and a major German company rejecting PayPal after PayPal apologized and reinstated it. Did somebody spike the NRF water fountains with super-caffeine or something? Or have merchants decided that they can push back on payments giants with little risk of meaningful pain?

EMV rules seems to have been the PIN straw that broke the POS camel's back, as even Apple Pay has suffered performance degradations following EMV migrations. The big picture arguments about security—that it's blindingly obvious that PIN is far more secure than signature—are obscured by the reality that this is really a fight about interchange fees. And the EMV argument that the path to PIN must be glacially slow or else American consumers will freak out from the change, despite the fact that most are quite used to PINs from ATMs and debit cards, is frighteningly valid. And here it is in the land of EMV rules that grocery giant Kroger makes it stand.

Have retailers suddenly started developing backbones, in terms of pushing back on payments companies? On Monday (June 27), Kroger sued Visa about how it was implementing EMV, in much the same way that Walmart and Home Depot have done. This follows Walmart kicking Visa out of Canada and a major German company rejecting PayPal after PayPal apologized and reinstated it. Did somebody spike the NRF water fountains with super-caffeine or something? Or have merchants decided that they can push back on payments giants with little risk of meaningful pain?

For Brexit Payments, A Big PF Opportunity

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote in the U.K., some payments professionals were panicked given the huge number of European Union payments regulations at play. A U.K. that went its own way on payments—just as it did with monetary policy when it stuck with the Pound and never embraced the Euro—could cause confusion and other problems with cross-border transactions.

This issue is critical for payment facilitators for two reasons. First, one of the biggest values offered by PFs is that PFs offer a way for merchants to sidestep payments complexities. With all of this uncertainty throughout the European payments world, confusion could easily make merchants far more open to the idea of bringing in a PF, as a guard against having to deal with a wide range of potentially changing payments rules. Secondly, the other dominant value offered by PFs are services for merchants that go way beyond what is currently offered. Those services include a wide range of offerings, but ways to effortlessly manage cross-border payments in a post-EU payments world would certainly be among them.

In the aftermath of the Brexit vote in the U.K., some payments professionals were panicked given the huge number of European Union payments regulations at play. A U.K. that went its own way on payments—just as it did with monetary policy when it stuck with the Pound and never embraced the Euro—could cause confusion and other problems with cross-border transactions.

PayPal Reinstates German Company, Apologizes. Company: Thanks, But No Thanks

On Wednesday (June 22), a German company that had been cut off from payments from PayPal because of German privacy rules lashed back at PayPal. PayPal had backed down, apologized and reinstated the company, but the German firm said it was too angry with PayPal to necessarily return.

This started out as a tale of regulatory disclosures gone wacky and ended up as a story about companies deciding there is only so much payments guff they'll take before rebelling. That second tale started with Walmart's payments heresy move, as it stopped accepting Visa in Canada. The beginning of this tale happened last week, when PayPay insisted on information from the file-sharing company, Seafile, that the company couldn't provide due to German privacy rules.

On Wednesday (June 22), a German company that had been cut off from payments from PayPal because of German privacy rules lashed back at PayPal. PayPal had backed down, apologized and reinstated the company, but the German firm said it was too angry with PayPal to necessarily return.

Gaming Payments Gets Serious: Tencent Drops $8.6 Billion On Game Firm

Of all of the various payments hotspots that payment facilitators need to focus on, gaming—and all of its in-app potential—may be the one of the most lucrative. Witness Tencent Holdings Ltd., which this week confirmed plans to drop $8.6 billion to buy an 84 percent slice of the Finnish maker of the Clash Of Clans mobile game.

Games generate one payment for the initial purchase—which, for a popular game, is tantalizing enough on its own—and then a potentially unlimited number of follow-on purchases as players purchase new weapons or characters or cheats or various upgrades. Game companies are generally great at creating the games, but they need help facilitating effortless payments within those games. Enter PFs.

Of all of the various payments hotspots that payment facilitators need to focus on, gaming—and all of its in-app potential—may be the one of the most lucrative. Witness Tencent Holdings Ltd., which this week confirmed plans to drop $8.6 billion to buy an 84 percent slice of the Finnish maker of the Clash Of Clans mobile game.

Will Police Take Payments During Traffic Stops?

For the payments geeks among us, transaction processing can be arresting. But in a bizarre twist, some police are doing both: arresting and processing payments and doing them both in the middle of a traffic stop on the side of the road. Will the familiar flashing-red-light refrain soon be "License, registration and Visa card, please?" In Oklahoma City, the answer might be "yes."

This all comes from a bid request that started with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to a Fort Worth supplier named ERAD Group Inc., which specializes in payment offerings for law enforcement.

For the payments geeks among us, transaction processing can be arresting. But in a bizarre twist, some police are doing both: arresting and processing payments and doing them both in the middle of a traffic stop on the side of the road. Will the familiar flashing-red-light refrain soon be "License, registration and Visa card, please?" In Oklahoma City, the answer might be "yes."

BIN There, But Many Forgot To Done That

The BIN is such a critical part of transactions today that it's taken for granted. And even though it's been said ad nauseum for many years that we're running out of BIN numbers and that a new approach is needed. And ISO's imminent 8-digit BIN standard is intended to address the problem, but the deep integration of BIN means that the transition won't be easy.

Double Diamond President Todd Ablowitz is arguing that this could prove calamitous—necessary but calamitous. The potential damage could be severe, but relatively short-lived. It will be short-lived because updating systems will be relatively straight-forward. The disastrous part is he fears that a very large number of people won't initially realize how critical the BIN change is and then will get hit with oceans of declined transactions until they realize it's all about the BIN change. "People aren't taking actions because they don't realize how much this is actually a really big deal," Ablowitz said. "Because the BIN is used for so very much, if you don't have your BIN set properly, you're not going to know until it's too late."

The BIN is such a critical part of transactions today that it's taken for granted. And even though it's been said ad nauseum for many years that we're running out of BIN numbers and that a new approach is needed. And ISO's imminent 8-digit BIN standard is intended to address the problem, but the deep integration of BIN means that the transition won't be easy.

Alibaba-Backed PayTm Struggles With Global Payments. What Chance Do Others Have?

A brutal reminder of how convoluted and treacherous mobile cross-borders are today was shared by Paytm on Friday (June 10). That's when the Alibaba-backed wallet said that it can't be used for overseas payments based on current regulations, requiring instead that wallet users pay in Indian rupees.

Let's be clear. Paytm is no slouch among mobile wallets and it's backed by Alibaba—the multinational's multinational. If Paytm and its partners can't navigate payments from country to country, that's frightening. "While the mobile technology can create lower cost and friction free alternatives for cross border small value payments, the same is subject to licensing under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999). Any cross border payments services by the payments bank will be offered subject to FEMA authorizations and RBI approvals. As such, the current Paytm Wallet cannot be used for overseas payments," the Paytm statement said. "As per the existing authorization, the wallet can only be used in India and any impression that the existing Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) semi closed wallet can directly used offshore/for cross border transactions is unintentional."

A brutal reminder of how convoluted and treacherous mobile cross-borders are today was shared by Paytm on Friday (June 10). That's when the Alibaba-backed wallet said that it can't be used for overseas payments based on current regulations, requiring instead that wallet users pay in Indian rupees.

Square Finally Settles Its Ren Holding Lawsuit

After seven years of back-and-forth legal bickering and on the eve of a civil trial, Square on Friday (June 10) blinked and finally settled with Ren Holdings 3 and Robert Morley. The case was the quintessential Silicon Valley founder tiff, involving arguments over who really came up with the key parts of the idea that launched the now-powerful payment facilitator player. (Why do we never see pitched legal battles over who came up with the idea for companies that quickly fizzled and died? Just asking….)

The particular ideas that were mostly at issue were the patent for Square's payment card reader—seems that glass art business owner Jim McKelvey's name was left off, after he allegedly pointed out the payment flaw that was the essence of Square's raison d'etre—and other mobile payment approaches. The argument is that McKelvey came up with the idea and that he discussed it with Jack Dorsey—now the CEO of Square and, in his spare time, Twitter—and Morley. These arguments are classic Silicon Valley. Whose implementation idea is it? The person who noticed the problem and had a vague idea how to make it work, the more technical person who figured out a precise way to make it work, the specialist (in this case, payments expertise) who amended all of the above to work best with the rules and infrastructure of existing reality or the business person who figured out the way to let it generate revenue and profits? It's usually something close to a true collaboration—which makes splitting up the money later more challenging. Also, these interactions are rarely transcribed, beyond some e-mails and texts. If key meetings happened in person, egos and greed-fueled memories dominate. Hello, judge and jury.

After seven years of back-and-forth legal bickering and on the eve of a civil trial, Square on Friday (June 10) blinked and finally settled with Ren Holdings 3 and Robert Morley. The case was the quintessential Silicon Valley founder tiff, involving arguments over who really came up with the key parts of the idea that launched the now-powerful payment facilitator player. (Why do we never see pitched legal battles over who came up with the idea for companies that quickly fizzled and died? Just asking….)

CFBP Wants Payments Firms To Police Consumers

In a telling lawsuit, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday (June 6) sued processor Intercept Corp. and two of its executives for"enabling unauthorized and other illegal withdrawals from consumer accounts by their clients" and ne having "turned a blind eye to blatant warning signs of potential fraud or lawbreaking by its clients."

This move is interesting in that it places processors—and, presumably, others in the payments arena—in the role of quasi-law-enforcement. Is a mobile carrier to blame if customers use their phones to make obscene phonecalls, sell drugs or arrange murders? Is a hardware store to blame if someone buys a hammer and uses it to attack someone?

In a telling lawsuit, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday (June 6) sued processor Intercept Corp. and two of its executives for"enabling unauthorized and other illegal withdrawals from consumer accounts by their clients" and ne having "turned a blind eye to blatant warning signs of potential fraud or lawbreaking by its clients."

Feds Peer Into Payments Regulatory Crystal Ball—And Get Headaches

For whatever consolation it offers, the feds overseeing payments-related regulatory issues are as apprehensive as payment facilitators. As the payments world is undergoing massive change in new and different ways of handling payments—an area where PFs lead—Justice and Treasury top brass are struggling to figure out the right ways to execute oversight.

Indeed, there's even talk of adopting a European-like saferoom approach, where startups have a limited window to explore and innovate without worrying about regulators cracking down. It's a saferoom in the sense that no idea is too risky to not be explored, even for a limited period of time. In other words, regulators are toying with the idea of whether it's sometimes best to not regulate at all.

For whatever consolation it offers, the feds overseeing payments-related regulatory issues are as apprehensive as payment facilitators. As the payments world is undergoing massive change in new and different ways of handling payments—an area where PFs lead—Justice and Treasury top brass are struggling to figure out the right ways to execute oversight.

NRF Mounts An Impressive Takedown Of PCI

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has never been a huge fan of the PCI Security Council. But in a detailed note sent to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) late last month, NRF's lawyers crafted an impressive takedown of PCI, arguing that PCI represents a monopoly-like attempt by the card brands to control retailers.

The trigger for the FTC letter appears to be concerns that the FTC might incorporate PCI compliance with recommendations it is preparing—a move that would solidify and increase PCI's leverage and power. This is one of these arguments that is best articulated in the abstract. At the legal abstract hypothetical level, NRF makes an impressive-sounding case that PCI is indeed a powerplay by the cardbrands.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has never been a huge fan of the PCI Security Council. But in a detailed note sent to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) late last month, NRF's lawyers crafted an impressive takedown of PCI, arguing that PCI represents a monopoly-like attempt by the card brands to control retailers.

PFs May Not Know Mobile Wallet Users As Well As They Think

When the new Auriemma Consulting Group Mobile Pay Tracker report was released on Tuesday (May 31), it delivered some surprises. For example, most mobile wallet consumers do not have their favorite (aka most used) card as the default card in their mobile wallet. Even in April 2016, most mobile users (57 percent) don't have the technology to do almost any mobile payments. The report also detailed the higher incomes of iOS users compared with Android.

Even one of the non-surprising details of the report—that tech brands are more trusted than financial brands-is interesting in its scope, with "banks/financial institutions" getting roughly one-third of the trust points awarded to Apple and performing only slightly better when compared with Google and Samsung. (Note: The exact phrasing of the question is unclear. If the choice was literally "banks/financial institutions," that might not be fair to compare a nameless vertical against specific brands. Had they, however, compared Chase and Wells Fargo to Apple and Google, that would have been more, please forgive me, apples-to-apples.)

When the new Auriemma Consulting Group Mobile Pay Tracker report was released on Tuesday (May 31), it delivered some surprises. For example, most mobile wallet consumers do not have their favorite (aka most used) card as the default card in their mobile wallet. Even in April 2016, most mobile users (57 percent) don't have the technology to do almost any mobile payments. The report also detailed the higher incomes of iOS users compared with Android.

New Treasury Rules Mean Huge PF Changes

A new set of rules announced by the U.S. Treasury Department in May will force payment facilitators to reveal not only who owns a company, but also whoever controls and/or manages it. This will mean a lot more information will have to be revealed about charities, non-profits and other PF-friendly businesses. The new rules requires that each owner who has more than 25 percent of ownership must be identified, along with anyone who controls or manages the operations, whether or not they are an owner. On the plus side, these rules are not retroactive and won't even start kicking in until July 11, 2016, with required implementation not happening until May 11, 2018.

What are the key PF implications? "PFs that deal in small mom and pops will have no change when there is one owner and she/he is in control," said Deana Rich, head of Rich Consulting. "PFs will have a big change if there are two owners—such as a husband and wife each with 50 percent. In the past, only one was necessary. Now it will be two. But there's an added string. If their kid runs the business, now (the son/daughter) will be required to be IDed as well."

A new set of rules announced by the U.S. Treasury Department in May will force payment facilitators to reveal not only who owns a company, but also whoever controls and/or manages it. This will mean a lot more information will have to be revealed about charities, non-profits and other PF-friendly businesses.

A Scary Peek Into Square’s New Privacy Policy

Most privacy policies and terms of service—especially with payments companies—are indeed about privacy. The company's privacy, meaning that they want to keep their customers from knowing it to the extent possible. To that end, most are filled with legalese, are overly long and used the smallest and most difficult to read font as possible.

Square's may be no different in that regard, but on Tuesday (May 31), they announced a slightly different way to deliver it. It was a slight nod to transparency by making both the privacy policy and its terms of service somewhat shorter. No, it didn't surrender any protections. But it created several different versions of each document, crafted for its different kinds of customers. The theory is, in effect, why burden consumers with rules that only apply to merchants? So we decided to dig deep into what these new privacy policies said, Buyer beware.

Most privacy policies and terms of service—especially with payments companies—are indeed about privacy. The company's privacy, meaning that they want to keep their customers from knowing it to the extent possible. To that end, most are filled with legalese, are overly long and used the smallest and most difficult to read font as possible.

EMV Really Screwing Up Apple Pay

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when EMV data we receive. As more major retail chains fully accept EMV payments, Apple Pay is being dealt some serious experience setbacks, such as being asked twice for price verification and being asked for fingerprint biometric authentication and then, a few screens later, a signature. Neither of those steps were part of the Apple Pay process until merchants switched on EMV.

To be clear, those time-wasting moves are not part of the Apple Pay process at all, but are superimposed after the Apple Pay transaction is complete and customers think they are done. The reason this is now happening is due to very strict interpretations of EMV rules—and the fact that the nature of the payment mechanism (beyond that it's contactless) is not always communicated to the POS. Hence, it must assume the worst. When two retailers—Trader Joe's and Whole Foods--last week made the switch through upgraded Verifone POS terminals, customers used to speedy Apple Pay experiences were literally being called back to the checkout lane to complete the additional keystrokes. Before, once Apple Pay's screen said "done" and displayed an animated checkmark, they were free to leave. Not so in an EMV world.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when EMV data we receive. As more major retail chains fully accept EMV payments, Apple Pay is being dealt some serious experience setbacks, such as being asked twice for price verification and being asked for fingerprint biometric authentication and then, a few screens later, a signature. Neither of those steps were part of the Apple Pay process until merchants switched on EMV.

In Pizza Hut Asian Restaurants, A MasterCard Robot Takes Orders And Payments—With An Attitude

An interesting MasterCard experiment is going on now at some Pizza Hut restaurants in Asia, where life-size robots take orders and process payments, with the intent of letting more store associates perform more involved customer tasks. (If you'll recall, that was the same argument made for early self-checkout systems.) But what makes this effort different is that these robots are designed to sense emotions and to react accordingly.

Beyond the obvious questions—such as "Is the world ready for empathetic creatures trying to sell you stuffed crust toasted s'mores cookie pizzas?"—there are the implications of emotion-detecting robots named Pepper. ("The name Pepper was chosen because it is a word that is easy to say and understand across many languages and cultures," MasterCard said.) In this deployment, they are named Pepper. The company making these robots, SoftBank Robotics, has created a series of videos depicting their potential. The main video (in Japanese) is worth watching, but be prepared for some serious weirding-out, if my teen daughter will permit me to use that phrase.

An interesting MasterCard experiment is going on now at some Pizza Hut restaurants in Asia, where life-size robots take orders and process payments, with the intent of letting more store associates perform more involved customer tasks. (If you'll recall, that was the same argument made for early self-checkout systems.) But what makes this effort different is that these robots are designed to sense emotions and to react accordingly.

Good Analytics Won’t Help If Your Data Sucks

At best, sophisticated analytics software can deliver good answers if the underlying data is accurate and—most critically—is the right data. For a lot of merchants, that is often not the case.

Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of payment facilitator BlueSnap, is proposing what he sees as a better way, at least for extracting useful answers from payments data. From his perspective, there are two big mistakes that merchants tend to do. First, they give far too much weight to pageviews and site visits from a region, assuming that a lot of activity translates into a lot of sales. And secondly, when those merchants do wisely opt to isolate sales from a region, they neglect to go back and adjust those figures to account for refunds and chargebacks.

At best, sophisticated analytics software can deliver good answers if the underlying data is accurate and—most critically—is the right data. For a lot of merchants, that is often not the case.

With A New Mission, Walmart Pay Goes Live In Arkansas, Texas

Now that Walmart no longer has to pretend to be support CurrentC—thanks to its effective demise, courtesy of MCX's concession to reality—the largest retail chain announced Monday (May 16) that it had rolled out Walmart Pay across 110 Walmart stores in Arkansas and 480 Walmart stores in Texas. Walmart Pay the concept was announced by the merchant back in December. Walmart Pay has been rolled out in a way very different than Walmart wanted to do a mobile payment, but it's a model that has been obviously shaped by Apple Pay.

Like Apple Pay, it supports "any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift card." But unlike Apple Pay, it works across iOS and Android devices. And unlike Apple Pay and every other NFC payment method, it can work on a far wider range of phones—especially older phones—that do not support NFC. All the phone needs is the ability to download an app and enough of a camera to scan a QR code. But Walmart Pay suffers a major weakness that Apple Pay doesn't. As long as the shopper is willing to use the default card in Apple Pay, all that the shopper need do is hold the phone right above the card reader. It doesn't need to be connected to any network, nor does the shopper have to launch an app, key in a password or manipulate the app in any way. Contrast that with Walmart Pay, which requires the shopper to find and then open the Walmart app, select Walmart Pay and then manually activate the camera and then scan a register QR code—which as many shoppers will confirm, isn't always that easy to do on the first or second attempt.

Now that Walmart no longer has to pretend to be support CurrentC—thanks to its effective demise, courtesy of MCX's concession to reality—the largest retail chain announced Monday (May 16) that it had rolled out Walmart Pay across 110 Walmart stores in Arkansas and 480 Walmart stores in Texas. Walmart Pay the concept was announced by the merchant back in December. Walmart Pay has been rolled out in a way very different than Walmart wanted to do a mobile payment, but it's a model that has been obviously shaped by Apple Pay.

MCX Concedes The Obvious: CurrentC Is Dead. Indeed, It Was Never Really Alive

When MCX on Monday (May 16) issued a statement that "MCX will postpone a nationwide rollout of its CurrentC application," it was akin to U.S. presidential candidates who suspend their campaigns. It's a polite way of saying "it's over" without having to say those words outloud.

But for many reasons, CurrentC never had much of a chance, having been created in the most merchant-centric (OK, I'll admit it: Walmart-centric) manner possible. It's creation was to give retailers a way to sharply cut back interchange fees and it was being pushed by a merchant who was already paying among the very lowest interchange fee percentages of anyone.

When MCX on Monday (May 16) issued a statement that "MCX will postpone a nationwide rollout of its CurrentC application," it was akin to U.S. presidential candidates who suspend their campaigns. It's a polite way of saying "it's over" without having to say those words outloud.

Chase Makes The Right Security Move After SWIFT Breaches

A report Tuesday (May 17) that J.P. Morgan Chase "has limited some employees’ access to the Swift global interbank messaging service amid questions about security breaches at a pair of Asian banks that used the funds-transfer platform" raises some concerns, but it appears to be just enforcing a stricter "need to know" and "need to access" approach from Chase.

Although there have been other reports raising the possibility of an earlier Swift attack—with a major Bangladesh bank—being an insider job, it could just as easily be an attack where the bank employees were victimized. Employees might have had their credentials stolen via keystroke-capturing malware or being tricked into visiting a credential-stealing site designed to look like Swift's access area.

A report Tuesday (May 17) that J.P. Morgan Chase "has limited some employees’ access to the Swift global interbank messaging service amid questions about security breaches at a pair of Asian banks that used the funds-transfer platform" raises some concerns, but it appears to be just enforcing a stricter "need to know" and "need to access" approach from Chase.

Wendy’s Admits Almost 350 Stores Hit In POS Attack

On Wednesday (May 11), Wendy's said that "fewer than 300 of approximately 5,500 franchised North America Wendy's restaurants" had malware in their POS systems and another "approximately 50 franchise restaurants are suspected of experiencing, or have been found to have, unrelated cybersecurity issues." This comes on the heels of a lawsuit that accused Wendy's of a wide range of IT security shortcomings.

In the new statement, Wendy's did not identify which POS was impacted, but it strongly implied that new Aloha POS systems—currently being installed throughout the company, with the stated goal of full deployment by "year-end 2016"—were not infected. Wendy's "has worked aggressively with its investigator to identify the source of the malware and quantify the extent of the malicious cyber-attacks, and has disabled and eradicated the malware in affected restaurants. The Company continues to work through a defined process with the payment card brands, its investigator and federal law enforcement authorities to complete the investigation," Wendy's said.

On Wednesday (May 11), Wendy's said that "fewer than 300 of approximately 5,500 franchised North America Wendy's restaurants" had malware in their POS systems and another "approximately 50 franchise restaurants are suspected of experiencing, or have been found to have, unrelated cybersecurity issues." This comes on the heels of a lawsuit that accused Wendy's of a wide range of IT security shortcomings.

Walmart’s Visa PIN Lawsuit Puts A “We Want Security” Face On A “We Want More Money” Argument

With their frequent lawsuits and counter-suits, Walmart and Visa is that always-quarreling couple that stays together for the sake of the kids. Only in this case, the kids are the piles of money each makes from the other. Alas, anything that forces the argument of PIN versus signature into the light is a good thing for payments and, by extension, payment facilitators.

Quick update on the latest example. On Tuesday (May 10), Walmart sued Visa, with the largest merchant saying that the largest card brand is forcing Walmart to accept signature on debit transactions when it would rather accept PIN. Walmart's argument is that PIN is more secure—which it is—and Walmart neglects to stress that Walmart can save money by processing PIN transactions elsewhere.

With their frequent lawsuits and counter-suits, Walmart and Visa is that always-quarreling couple that stays together for the sake of the kids. Only in this case, the kids are the piles of money each makes from the other. Alas, anything that forces the argument of PIN versus signature into the light is a good thing for payments and, by extension, payment facilitators.

In Australia, Apple Pay Boosts Credit Card, Deposit Account Applications

In Australia, the ANZ Banking Group found something strange happen after it started accepting Apple Pay. It experienced "a surge in applications for credit cards and deposit accounts" to such a degree that it "has forced the other major banks to re-enter negotiations" with Apple, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald. In other words, Australian shoppers found the idea of the NFC payment method so significant that they wanted to engage in non-Apple Pay-related banking functions.

"ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said at the bank's interim results last week that online credit card applications were up 20 per cent since the deal with Apple was announced on April 28," the story noted, adding that the figures "were the highest on record" and "more than double the average." Elliott was quoted as saying "that the higher level is continuing." This is consistent with much of what we've said about Apple Pay, that this huge a behavioral change needs to be a psychological shift. This will need to be a right-brain move—focused on emotions, intuition and imagination—rather than a left-brain (logic, analysis, linear) move. Bankers and payment professionals are notoriously left-brain people, while Apple is the quintessential right-brain company.

In Australia, the ANZ Banking Group found something strange happen after it started accepting Apple Pay. It experienced "a surge in applications for credit cards and deposit accounts" to such a degree that it "has forced the other major banks to re-enter negotiations" with Apple, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald. In other words, Australian shoppers found the idea of the NFC payment method so significant that they wanted to engage in non-Apple Pay-related banking functions.

FTC Investigating Venmo, Potentially Raising Compliance Interpretation Issues

Venmo has gotten into trouble—of the embarrassment sort—before with aggressive compliance efforts. That was specifically when it created a list of words that could delay transaction processing, such as the word Persian. And PayPal-owned Venmo was hardly alone, with Chase was caught doing similar word scans, as a man who had a dog named Dash discovered.

But the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has now launched a formal investigation into Venmo. With the FTC, phrasing is critical. An investigation is very different than an FTC study, such as the one the FTC launched to look into practices of the PCI Council. PayPal disclosed the investigation in an SEC filing last week. What exactly is being investigated?

Venmo has gotten into trouble—of the embarrassment sort—before with aggressive compliance efforts. That was specifically when it created a list of words that could delay transaction processing, such as the word Persian. And PayPal-owned Venmo was hardly alone, with Chase was caught doing similar word scans, as a man who had a dog named Dash discovered.

PCI Just Gave A Huge Gift To PFs

Merchants of all sizes love to hate PCI. In a perverse sense then, PCI can be a payment facilitator's best friend. The more complicated, difficult and agonizing PCI guidelines become, the more merchants—especially smaller ones—will find tremendous value in pawning off the PCI duties to someone else, especially someone else—such as a PF—that knows PCI and other compliance rules intimately.

It's for that reason that what the PCI Security Standards Council did last week is so important. Not only are they making the rules more demanding and complicated—a necessary move to boost the rules' security—but they are now applying the rules far more broadly, implicating executives who had never before had to directly deal with PCI. Put into corporate terms, it's one thing to infuriate a bunch of CIOs and CISOs, but it's quite a different thing to infuriate their CFO, COO and CEO bosses as well as their bosses, namely board members. And yet that's exactly what the council is doing.

Merchants of all sizes love to hate PCI. In a perverse sense then, PCI can be a payment facilitator's best friend. The more complicated, difficult and agonizing PCI guidelines become, the more merchants—especially smaller ones—will find tremendous value in pawning off the PCI duties to someone else, especially someone else—such as a PF—that knows PCI and other compliance rules intimately.

PayPal’s New Fraud Rules Are Key For PFs

PayPal announced Wednesday (May 4) a series of payments policy changes, including late-to-the-game restrictions on gift cards, a longtime favorite cyberthief tool. Given PayPal's massive marketshare, payment facilitators need to watch closely any policy changes the no-longer-Ebay-unit makes. In short, any fraud-related changes that PayPal makes gives political cover for any PF to mimic the move.

The biggest change is that PayPal is now excluding "items equivalent to cash, including gift cards" from its PayPal Seller Protection program. It made a similar change to its Purchase Protection program by "clarifying the exclusion for items equivalent to cash to now include stored value items such as gift cards and pre-paid cards." A few other items that will no longer be supported by purchase protection—at least as of June 25, when the new rules are scheduled to kick in—are payments on crowdfunding platforms, "gambling, gaming and/or any other activity with an entry fee and a prize" and "anything purchased from or an amount paid to a government agency."

PayPal announced Wednesday (May 4) a series of payments policy changes, including late-to-the-game restrictions on gift cards, a longtime favorite cyberthief tool. Given PayPal's massive marketshare, payment facilitators need to watch closely any policy changes the no-longer-Ebay-unit makes. In short, any fraud-related changes that PayPal makes gives political cover for any PF to mimic the move.

MasterCard Follows Visa To A More Comfortable EMV Experience

On Wednesday April 27, MasterCard unveiled its M/Chip Fast, which is an almost identical version of Visa's Quick Chip For EMV. Both approaches cut down on some authentication so that the EMV card can be removed a couple of seconds after the shopper dips it. And both Visa and MasterCard are only pushing it for retailers that have the greatest need for speed, which has the unfortunate result of guaranteeing vastly different EMV experiences as shoppers go from merchant to merchant.

In a GuestView this week, Mercator Advisory Group's Tim Sloane argued that by encouraging different kinds of EMV experiences, the card brands might be impeding the rapid adoption of EMV. In MasterCard's statement, the brand said it was important that it join Visa's effort and that EMV can only succeed through industry standardization. "MasterCard called for the industry to activate current action-oriented forums like the Payments Security Taskforce and the EMV Migration Forum to align behind a common approach to address perceptions of speed of a chip card transaction," the statement said, before quoting Ajay Bhalla, president of enterprise risk and security for MasterCard saying "Ultimately, we all want to deliver great experiences for consumers and merchants. That’s why we believe that M/Chip Fast or any similar product should be implemented in consultation with the industry. With that holistic view, interested merchants can easily integrate this with their current systems to provide both speed and security for all chip cards.”

On Wednesday April 27, MasterCard unveiled its M/Chip Fast, which is an almost identical version of Visa's Quick Chip For EMV. Both approaches cut down on some authentication so that the EMV card can be removed a couple of seconds after the shopper dips it. And both Visa and MasterCard are only pushing it for retailers that have the greatest need for speed, which has the unfortunate result of guaranteeing vastly different EMV experiences as shoppers go from merchant to merchant.

Stripe’s Hiring Experiment

It's well known that payment facilitators are toying with and improving payments mechanisms all over the world, but one PF—Stripe—is also getting rather creating about hiring the talent to make those new age payments happen.

In an experiment called Bring Your Own Team (and like any PF, it feels the need to generate an acronym. Hence: BYOT), the company has set up its HR job applications to allow one application to be linked with as many as five others. If the group passes initial inspection, they are given the same interview day/time. If the group crosses the HR hiring finish line, they will be asked to all start on the same day. In a blog post by Stripe engineering manager Avi Bryant, the rationale for the trial is made explicit. A key part of the magic of workgroups is getting groups that get along with each other and already work well together.

It's well known that payment facilitators are toying with and improving payments mechanisms all over the world, but one PF—Stripe—is also getting rather creating about hiring the talent to make those new age payments happen.

Visa’s Quick Chip EMV Move, Banking On Perception To Trump Reality

Using the Electronic Transaction Association’s TRANSACT 16 event as a backdrop, Visa on Tuesday (April 19) rolled out Quick Chip for EMV, which the leading card brand described in a news release as being "a technology enhancement that optimizes EMC chip processing and speeds up checkout times." Unfortunately, Quick Chip isn't a technology enhancement nor does it optimize chip processing and it certainly doesn't speed up checkout times. Other than that, the lead of Visa's news release got it right.

What Quick Chip, however, does do is potentially just as powerful an aid to EMV—or quite destructive to EMV adoption, depending on who is talking—as what Visa claims. All that it does is allow the shopper to remove the card from the card reader much more quickly than current deployments permit. Given that the reader's retention of the card until the full transaction is complete is behind a very high percentage of both merchant and consumer EMV complaints, this could be seen as a very good thing. Let's break this down. For almost all transactions, the Quick Chip change won't accelerate the total transaction time at all. The customer still needs to stand there until all products have scanned and the cashier has been given the final transaction approval. Therefore, from the merchant perspective of "how many shoppers can I push through the line in an hour?" this change is unlikely to help at all. But like so much of what happens in retail, reality never stands a chance against perception.

Using the Electronic Transaction Association’s TRANSACT 16 event as a backdrop, Visa on Tuesday (April 19) rolled out Quick Chip for EMV, which the leading card brand described in a news release as being "a technology enhancement that optimizes EMC chip processing and speeds up checkout times." Unfortunately, Quick Chip isn't a technology enhancement nor does it optimize chip processing and it certainly doesn't speed up checkout times. Other than that, the lead of Visa's news release got it right.

Purchases Made Via Tablets Plunging

Tablets still play a large role in retail purchases, as they are the most popular device for sales associates to use to do product demonstrations and often to perform in-aisle checkout. But on the other end of the transaction—the end where shoppers use their own tablets to make e-commerce purchases—the tablet is surrendering many of the purchases it briefly stole from smartphones. That's according to research recently published from Bizrate Insights.

The iPad specifically has seen a sharp and continual drop in how many purchases it processes, Bizrate said, dropping from control of about 70 percent of such purchases in 2013's Q3 down to 36 percent in Q116. "The decrease in the percentage of online sales taking place on a tablet is the result of the increasing utility of smartphones (screen size, website optimization, and improved cell phone coverage), which are nearly always at hand," said Hayley Silver, a Bizrate VP.

Tablets still play a large role in retail purchases, as they are the most popular device for sales associates to use to do product demonstrations and often to perform in-aisle checkout. But on the other end of the transaction—the end where shoppers use their own tablets to make e-commerce purchases—the tablet is surrendering many of the purchases it briefly stole from smartphones. That's according to research recently published from Bizrate Insights.

PCI To Publish New Version April 28 With More Strict Authentication, Service Provider Rules

The PCI Security Council, which said in early March that its' new version (3.2) would be out sometime in April, is now saying that April 28 is the likely day and that the new rules would get stricter about authentication as well as service providers.

In a blog post Tuesday (April 19), PCI Chief Technology Officer Troy Leach said the new rules will add "multi-factor authentication as a requirement for any personnel with administrative access into the cardholder data environment, so that a password alone is not enough to verify the user’s identity and grant access to sensitive information, even if they are within a trusted network." Leach said this will require this additional authentication to employees who had before had to deal with it. "The most important point is that the change to the requirement is intended for all administrative access into the cardholder data environment, even from within a company’s own network. This applies to any administrator, whether it be a third party or internal, that has the ability to change systems and other credentials within that network to potentially compromise the security of the environment," Leach said.

The PCI Security Council, which said in early March that its' new version (3.2) would be out sometime in April, is now saying that April 28 is the likely day and that the new rules would get stricter about authentication as well as service providers.

NYC Subways To Go Mobile Payment—In 2022 (Or Maybe A Bit Later)

You can't fight City Hall, nor can you apparently accelerate it. But mobile payments progress is still mobile payments progress and the county's largest mass transit system on Wednesday (April 13) committed to moving to mobile payments for all mass transit activity. But New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) being the bureaucracy that it is, the RFP that it published Wednesday gives contractors "69 months" (five years and nine months) from the "Notice of Award date to substantial completion."

It's clearly not known how long it will be until that award date—which will follow a lengthy bid submission and evaluation process—but even if it happens this year, that still pushes the deployment to about 2022. Unless, of course, there are implementation delays. In New York City? What are the odds?

You can't fight City Hall, nor can you apparently accelerate it. But mobile payments progress is still mobile payments progress and the county's largest mass transit system on Wednesday (April 13) committed to moving to mobile payments for all mass transit activity. But New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) being the bureaucracy that it is, the RFP that it published Wednesday gives contractors "69 months" (five years and nine months) from the "Notice of Award date to substantial completion."

Uber Really Doesn’t Like Regulators

When Uber published on Tuesday (April 12) what it calls its "transparency report"—a compilation of information delivered to law enforcement and regulators last year—it took the opportunity to express its displeasure that it had to deliver all of those data-dumps.

"Regulators will always need some amount of data to be effective, just like law enforcement. But in many cases they send blanket requests without explaining why the information is needed, or how it will be used," said an Uber blog post. "And while this kind of trip data doesn’t include personal information, it can reveal patterns of behavior—and is more than regulators need to do their jobs. It’s why Uber frequently tries to narrow the scope of these demands, though our efforts are typically rebuffed."

When Uber published on Tuesday (April 12) what it calls its "transparency report"—a compilation of information delivered to law enforcement and regulators last year—it took the opportunity to express its displeasure that it had to deliver all of those data-dumps.

Yapstone’s Way Of Unlocking Payments For Renters Everywhere

Paying rent is one of the last—and largest—vestiges of paper-check-writing in the U.S. and it's also remarkably inefficient. Combine that with the fact that rent is often one of the largest monthly costs for the country's roughly 100 million tenants and it's easy to see why Yapstone has focused on rent payments as one of its most critical verticals.

"We want to focus on multi-billion-dollar opportunities," said Yapstone President David Weiss.It's also important to remember that paying that monthly rent bill is only one part of the tenant—and landlord—financial reality. By selling the service to both apartment dwellers and apartment managers, Yapstone has the perfect audience for a group of services that make the rental process easier and therefore more profitable. "We're offering a whole range of value-added services such as credit reporting, renters' insurance that follows that resident from unit to unit," Weiss said. "This is a powerful series of products that enable us to tap into a $400 billion to $500 billion market."

Paying rent is one of the last—and largest--vestiges of paper-check-writing in the U.S. and it's also remarkably inefficient. Combine that with the fact that rent is often one of the largest monthly costs for the country's roughly 100 million tenants and it's easy to see why Yapstone has focused on rent payments as one of its most critical verticals.

Chase’s Removal Of ATM Limits Is The Right Idea But For The Wrong Device

Moving more and increasingly complex payments capabilities to ATMs and away from bank branches is a good thing, as we've argued before with ATM ApplePay and with MasterCard's patent application to turn ATMs into full-fledged POS units. But there is a line where it doesn't make sense and JPMorgan Chase's current debate about removing per-day cash limits crosses that line.

First of all, unlike mobile devices, ATMs have a very physical limitation: Once the cash that some human loaded into the ATM runs out, the ATM loses much of its most-desired functionality. Sure, it can still accept deposits and reveal balances, but not that much more. To be candid, those particular services are much better handled by a mobile app. (Note: That is true up to the limit of mobile deposits which, I assure you, I'll get back to shortly.) The ATM's most powerful function is to dispense cash, as that is something mobile apps can't do. When the money is gone, the ATM becomes rather pointless.

Moving more and increasingly complex payments capabilities to ATMs and away from bank branches is a good thing, as we've argued before with ATM ApplePay and with MasterCard's patent application to turn ATMs into full-fledged POS units. But there is a line where it doesn't make sense and JPMorgan Chase's current debate about removing per-day cash limits crosses that line.

Banks Simply Can’t Handle Technology As Well As PFs

We have made the argument before that when it comes to mastering the technology required for next-generation payments, the structure of banks doesn't permit it and the attitude of bankers won't allow it. Seems that we're not alone. McKinsey & Company has now come to the identical conclusion.

In a fascinating report, McKinsey's argues that bank's technological intransigence—which creates the economic hole that payment facilitators are uniquely qualified to fill—dates back hundreds of years before credit cards. "Banking has historically been one of the business sectors most resistant to disruption by technology. Since the first mortgage was issued in England in the 11th century, banks have built robust businesses with multiple moats: ubiquitous distribution through branches; unique expertise such as credit underwriting underpinned by both data and judgment; even the special status of being regulated institutions that supply credit, the lifeblood of economic growth, and have sovereign insurance for their liabilities (deposits)," the McKinsey report said.

We have made the argument before that when it comes to mastering the technology required for next-generation payments, the structure of banks doesn't permit it and the attitude of bankers won't allow it. Seems that we're not alone. McKinsey & Company has now come to the identical conclusion.

Payment Regulatory Insanity Two: A Dog Named Dash

Two weeks ago, we told you the tale of PayPal's Venmo going overboard with compliance efforts, when it delayed any transaction that mentioned the word "Persian." Not wanting to be outdone by any PayPal division, Chase has decided to top Venmo in the craziness department. Chase's entry? It blocked the money transfer of a 55-year-old sufferer of muscular dystrophy, who was paying someone to walk his service dog and the dog's name is Dash. Seems that the bank saw Dash as code for Daesh, the Arabic term for the Islamic State aka ISIS.

A few initial takes. First, Daesh may sometimes be pronounced "dash" but it's never spelled that way. Secondly, really? If I pay someone to walk a dog named SPOT, it's probably not an acronym for Special People Overthrowing Turkey. And third, let's go again with "really?" But wait: this story gets even better with the details.

Two weeks ago, we told you the tale of PayPal's Venmo going overboard with compliance efforts, when it delayed any transaction that mentioned the word "Persian." Not wanting to be outdone by any PayPal division, Chase has decided to top Venmo in the craziness department. Chase's entry? It blocked the money transfer of a 55-year-old sufferer of muscular dystrophy, who was paying someone to walk his service dog and the dog's name is Dash. Seems that the bank saw Dash as code for Daesh, the Arabic term for the Islamic State aka ISIS.

When Payments Disruptions Hit Nashville, Things Are Looking Good

In the world of payments and transportation, the initial phrase of a disruptive technology is to eat away at the user base of traditional payment and transportation methods. But you know things are being really disrupted when those traditional forces embrace the disruption as a way to improve their offerings. In Nashville, Tennessee, that has now happened with Uber and Lyft. As those services disrupt and transform the very notion of urban transportation, mobile payments are going along for the ride—and it's a beautiful one-way trip.

These are the exact kinds of changes that payment facilitators will deliver. And as cities and their commuters rapidly move into next-generation payments, the demands will expand to all kinds of businesses—especially small merchants—who will now have a ready-made customer base itching for new payment methods, but with no way to deliver. Enter their regional PF. Transportation is arguably the most important sector to modernize because the repetition involved (a regular commuter can use such a service 10 times a week, with five roundtrips) is the best way to quickly get a population comfortable with new payment procedures.

In the world of payments and transportation, the initial phrase of a disruptive technology is to eat away at the user base of traditional payment and transportation methods. But you know things are being really disrupted when those traditional forces embrace the disruption as a way to improve their offerings. In Nashville, Tennessee, that has now happened with Uber and Lyft. As those services disrupt and transform the very notion of urban transportation, mobile payments are going along for the ride—and it's a beautiful one-way trip. These are the exact kinds of changes that payment facilitators will deliver.

Cyberthieves Use Far Better Security Than Do Banks. Aren’t You Embarrassed?

This shouldn't be the least bit surprising, but it's downright humiliating how bad our security habits are with our top financial institutions when you take a look at large criminal enterprises. If fraudsters and entry-level terrorists can be bothered to use robust authentication security, why can't the good guys?

"If you are a seller on Alphabay -- a darkweb site that sells 'drugs, stolen data and hacking tools,' you'll have to use two-factor authentication (based on PGP/GPG) for all your logins," said the depressing story in BoingBoing. "Alphabay requires you to use a unique seven-word phrase to recover passwords (as opposed to easily researched questions like high-school football team, mother's maiden name, etc), and says there is no way to recover a lost password without this phrase. Finally, Alphabay requires a four-digit PIN to transfer bitcoin to your personal wallet."

This shouldn't be the least bit surprising, but it's downright humiliating how bad our security habits are with our top financial institutions when you take a look at large criminal enterprises. If fraudsters and entry-level terrorists can be bothered to use robust authentication security, why can't the good guys?

MasterCard Uses Golf To Demo Virtual Reality

MasterCard, which has sometimes struggled with Internet-of-Things (IoT) efforts, used a golf tournament to (dear readers, please forgive me for what I am about to perpetrate) gulf the digital divide from putting green on a golf course's putting green. (Whatever you just said, I probably deserved it.)

In all fairness, MasterCard put on an impressive virtual reality demo at its sponsored Arnold Palmer Invitational. "While out on the course, golfers might simply tap their golf glove at the point-of-sale to buy refreshments from the beverage cart," said a MasterCard statement. "MasterCard is taking it a step further with a concept designed in collaboration with Wearality, an Orlando-based start-up that designs virtual reality glasses and wearables, to allow consumers to identify an item within the experience - such as a golf shirt - and buy it without leaving the virtual world." Let's put this into context.

MasterCard, which has sometimes struggled with Internet-of-Things (IoT) efforts, used a golf tournament to (dear readers, please forgive me for what I am about to perpetrate) gulf the digital divide from putting green on a golf course's putting green. (Whatever you just said, I probably deserved it.)

Alibaba-Backed Paytm Gets Into Movie Theater Tickets—But They Have Bigger Things In Mind

India payments powerhouse—and Alibaba-financed—Paytm has cut a deal with India's largest multiplex movie theater chain (PVR) to sell movie tickets in mobile and online. Why make the move now, with physical movie theaters a quickly dying industry? Those tickets will unleash a lot more one night at the cinema.

Why make a movie theater play now, when even the most aggressive movie industry defenders concede that the shared physical viewing of films will surrender to the better pricing and much stronger convenience of watching films at home or via mobile devices? It's a smart move. Once shoppers have completed the digital movie transition, mobile payment options will surround them, assuming they haven't already paid Amazon or Netflix directly. But by tying in physical movie payments with Paytm, they are making the mobile connection in a physical context. When those consumers make the inevitable move to a more digital experience, the account and the mindset will already be established. Better yet, Paytm will know the entertainment habits/choices made by those consumers, allowing for very effective marketing moves later.

India payments powerhouse—and Alibaba-financed—Paytm has cut a deal with India's largest multiplex movie theater chain (PVR) to sell movie tickets in mobile and online. Why make the move now, with physical movie theaters a quickly dying industry? Those tickets will unleash a lot more one night at the cinema.

Uber’s Deal With Green Dot Illustrates Payments Potential

When Uber and Green Dot last week rolled out Uber Checking By Go Bank, it offered little more than a slightly more convenient way for workers to get paid and to be paid more timely. In payments, though, it can be those little conveniences and small elements of automation that can build into a massive change. And who understands that digital disruption concept better than Uber—and payment facilitators.

The idea is straight-forward: When Uber drivers want to get paid for hours logged, use what Uber is calling Instant Pay. They can log in 24x7 and "cash out your earnings instantly and easily at any time, with no minimum deposit or transaction fees." The cash is loaded onto their Uber Debit Card. The near-term advantages are that workers control when they get paid—no more waiting until the company dictated date of, let's say, the 15th of each month—and the account can be isolated. That isolation means that they don't need to share sensitive bank account details with their employer if they don’t want to.

When Uber and Green Dot last week rolled out Uber Checking By Go Bank, it offered little more than a slightly more convenient way for workers to get paid and to be paid more timely. In payments, though, it can be those little conveniences and small elements of automation that can build into a massive change. And who understands that digital disruption concept better than Uber—and payment facilitators.

Class Action Merchant EMV Lawsuit Could Make The EMV Transition A Lot Messier

EMV has always delivered more than its fair share of headaches and surprises—and this week even has the MasterCard CEO doing some EMV griping of his own—but a class action lawsuit filed last week is raising yet another troubling EMV question. Is the liability shift appropriate if merchants have done everything in their power to embrace EMV? If backlogs from the card brands are why a merchant doesn't have an EMV greenlight, is it fair to punish them with the liability shift?

Like every payments issue, there are details to be dealt with. Did the merchant submit all paperwork in a reasonable timeframe? One can't file 10 minutes before the deadline and then blame the backlog for a lack of approval. Still, it's an interesting question. And the lawsuit from B&R Supermarkets and Grove Liquors goes further than saying that the backlog was unexpected or larger than expected. The filing accuses the card brands—and other payments players—of deliberately being slow, in an attempt to push off liability costs on as many merchants as possible, regardless of their EMV efforts.

EMV has always delivered more than its fair share of headaches and surprises—and this week even has the MasterCard CEO doing some EMV griping of his own—but a class action lawsuit filed last week is raising yet another troubling EMV question. Is the liability shift appropriate if merchants have done everything in their power to embrace EMV? If backlogs from the card brands are why a merchant doesn't have an EMV greenlight, is it fair to punish them with the liability shift?

MasterCard Draws Its Line In Silicon: MobileWallet Vendors, Go This Far And No Farther

Speaking at the Barclays Emerging Payments Forum on Tuesday (March 15), MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga told attendees that MasterCard has no problem with the many mobile wallets today, as long as they don't cross the line and try to change key parts of payments infrastructure.

Banga said that current mobile wallets are supporting MC's goal of converting cash and checks into digital transactions. As long as they keep doing that, Banga will be happy to play along. "I will support everything so long as it protects the ecosystem and does not damage the relationship between merchants, banks, these (mobile wallet) players and us. The moment it changes that and it starts playing with the data, then I’ve got a problem. If it's basically a passthrough and it's not affecting the ecosystem and it's actually attacking cash, I'm all for it. If you do things that make it complicated for the ecosystem to work cleanly, I'm not going to be supportive."

Speaking at the Barclays Emerging Payments Forum on Tuesday (March 15), MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga told attendees that MasterCard has no problem with the many mobile wallets today, as long as they don't cross the line and try to change key parts of payments infrastructure.

Venmo/PayPal Go Overboard On Compliance

If you’re trying to use Venmo to pay someone for sitting your Persian cat or for buying a used Persian rug, don’t actually use the word “Persian” or be prepared to wait longer. And you can thank a compliance program that is perhaps going a few steps too far.

Although opting—understandably—to be vague on specifics, the PayPal-owned Venmo responded to media reports that is has coded its systems to be on the lookout for certain words, including Persian. "There has been recent discussion around specific keywords associated with payments within Venmo that have caused us to pause the transaction and review. We understand the frustration this may cause," Venmo said on its blog.

If you’re trying to use Venmo to pay someone for sitting your Persian cat or for buying a used Persian rug, don’t actually use the word “Persian” or be prepared to wait longer. And you can thank a compliance program that is perhaps going a few steps too far.

With Better-Than-Expected Earnings From Square, Comes A Sharp Spike In Its Non-Payment Business

Square late on Wednesday (March 9) posted earnings that topped analyst estimates and briefly sent its stock soaring 3.7 percent in after-market trading. But of potentially greater interest to the payment facilitator community is that Square's non-payment revenue hit 15 percent, which is about triple what it was when Square launched its IPO.

In Q415, Square reported gross payment volume (GPV) soaring 47 percent—year over year—to $10.2 billion. The most surprising stat, though, was from Square's Software and Data Products group. In that same quarter, that software/data products revenue shot up 52 percent (compared with the prior quarter), to $22 million. "From payment processing to point of sale, hardware to software, business financing to payroll and more, we have built a cohesive commerce ecosystem that helps sellers start, run, and grow their businesses," Square said in an unattributed portion of its news release. "This makes us unique and stands in marked contrast to the rest of the industry, which forces sellers to laboriously piece together hardware, software, and payments services from many different vendors."

Square late on Wednesday (March 9) posted earnings that topped analyst estimates and briefly sent its stock soaring 3.7 percent in after-market trading. But of potentially greater interest to the payment facilitator community is that Square's non-payment revenue hit 15 percent, which is about triple what it was when Square launched its IPO.

FTC Launches PCI Probe. Ruh-Roh

On Monday (March 7), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a government investigation of PCI, zeroing in on potentially excessive charges, inconsistency in enforcement and rampant conflicts of interest. As famed QSA Scooby Doo would have said, "Ruh-roh."

None of this is news to the FTC and it's part of the reason for the investigation, which FTC is officially calling a study. "We have heard these issues," said David Lincicum, an FTC attorney in the division of privacy and identity protection, who is the lead attorney on the study and is also managing the study. "We go into this looking to get information, to get some details about what the interactions look like."

On Monday (March 7), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a government investigation of PCI, zeroing in on potentially excessive charges, inconsistency in enforcement and rampant conflicts of interest. As famed QSA Scooby Doo would have said, "Ruh-roh."

ExxonMobil Now Accepts ApplePay, But Rejects NFC. Bad Move

Wanting to avoid having to purchase and install NFC-friendly card readers at its stations, ExxonMobil has opted to use ApplePay but only as an in-app method, from within the petro company's own app. Although it might make short-term economic sense from ExxonMobil's perspective, it may be a big hit with over the long-term and it could damage some consumer perceptions of NFC payment convenience.

ApplePay has several solid user-experience advantages and cashiers at retailers that accept a lot of ApplePay transactions (think Whole Foods, TraderJoe's or McDonald's) typically find it the fastest payment experience. The service will be offered initially at 6,000 Exxon and Mobil gas stations in 46 states, with an additional 2,000 stores slated to join by this summer.

Wanting to avoid having to purchase and install NFC-friendly card readers at its stations, ExxonMobil has opted to use ApplePay but only as an in-app method, from within the petro company's own app. Although it might make short-term economic sense from ExxonMobil's perspective, it may be a big hit with over the long-term and it could damage some consumer perceptions of NFC payment convenience.

States Seek Reasonable-Sounding—But Logistically All-But-Impossible—Payment Rules

Some state legislatures are pushing some potential laws aimed at giving consumers—and their heirs—more control over their digital lives. But in doing so, some are preparing to impose rules on merchants that neither the merchant—nor the merchant's payment facilitator—are likely to be able to obey.

The thrust of the rules—under consideration in states such as Oregon and Connecticut—are honorable. They are intended to avoid the heart-wrenching stories of a parent or other next-of-kin unable to access a deceased loved one's e-mails or social media interactions. But the legislation goes beyond that in some cases, granting consumers much more control over their digital footprints. In Connecticut, for example, the bill "would allow consumers to ask stores you no longer do business with to delete your personal information so that your personal information would not be compromised in the event that the company is hacked," according to a report from NBC Connecticut. That's where things get dicey.

Some state legislatures are pushing some potential laws aimed at giving consumers—and their heirs—more control over their digital lives. But in doing so, some are preparing to impose rules on merchants that neither the merchant—nor the merchant's payment facilitator—are likely to be able to obey.

Payments Crime Of The Week: A New Twist On Quarterly Earnings

In a new twist on the concept of quarterly earnings, a Brink’s Company armored transport service money processing manager used his access to the Federal Reserve Coin Inventory to pocket some loose change. Specifically, he grabbed 784,000 quarters, worth $196,000. But how exactly did he take home 9,800 pounds of coinage? That's where this tale took a turn positively borrowed from Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

If you recall one of that film's most famous scenes, Indiana Jones opts to try steal the prized statue by fillings enough bags with sand to proximate the statue's weight. In this federal case, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office in the Northern District of Alabama, the accused filled bags of quarters with beads. To thwart such a ploy, the bags all had plastic windows. To thwart the attempt at thwarting, the accused, Stephen Lancaster Dennis, removed most of the quarters, but carefully left enough inside each bag to cover the small plastic window.

In a new twist on the concept of quarterly earnings, a Brink’s Company armored transport service money processing manager used his access to the Federal Reserve Coin Inventory to pocket some loose change. Specifically, he grabbed 784,000 quarters, worth $196,000. But how exactly did he take home 9,800 pounds of coinage? That's where this tale took a turn positively borrowed from Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Dwolla’s $100K CFPB Security Fine Wasn’t For What It Did As Much As What It Said

Dwolla got slapped down hard on Wednesday (March 2) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for a series of security violations. But due to a dearth of meaningful federal security laws, CFPB's $100K fine of Dwolla had to follow in the footsteps of fellow federal regulator Federal Trade Commission. They can't punish a company for what it did nearly as easily as they can punish it for not doing what it says.

That said, once Dwolla opened the door to federal investigators by boasting about its security on its Web site, every security violation discovered was fair game. Takeaway: In the same way that marketers of publicly-held companies were beaten down by senior staffers from investor relations to never say anything publicly without IR's blessing, payment facilitators today must reign in anything involving security that even smells a little of hype. See? Our mothers were right. Boasting can deliver real problems. Once those doors were opened, according to a federal consent order published on Wednesday, security violations aplenty were found.

Dwolla got slapped down hard on Wednesday (March 2) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for a series of security violations. But due to a dearth of meaningful federal security laws, CFPB's $100K fine of Dwolla had to follow in the footsteps of fellow federal regulator Federal Trade Commission. They can't punish a company for what it did nearly as easily as they can punish it for not doing what it says.

The Balance Move By Square Cash Could Push Square To Full Financial Services Status

When P2P app Square Cash announced a move to support cash balances a few days ago, it seemed a minor enough new capability. But as is true for so many things about Square, the fear is not what payment facilitator extraordinaire Square is today, but what Square will morph into tomorrow.

"There's not a major impact over the short term, but a very significant potential impact over the long term," said Rick Oglesby, senior analyst for Double Diamond Group. First, let's briefly look at what Square Cash added.

When P2P app Square Cash announced a move to support cash balances a few days ago, it seemed a minor enough new capability. But as is true for so many things about Square, the fear is not what payment facilitator extraordinaire Square is today, but what Square will morph into tomorrow.

New PCI Rules Won’t Be Out Until April

When the PCI Council last gave some hints as to what the upcoming PCI DSS 3.2 rules will (about two weeks ago, back on Feb. 17), it said the spec would be released "in the March/April timeframe." A council official on Wednesday (March 2) tweaked that guidance, ruling out March and saying that the council "anticipates an April release of the standard."

The timing of the new PCI rules (aka guidelines that really and truly do not like being ignored) is important as they are lengthy, complicated and merchants—especially smaller merchants—are going to expect PFs to know them intimately. Also, as PCI requirements get increasingly stringent and complex, the need for PFs to take over those duties will grow.

When the PCI Council last gave some hints as to what the upcoming PCI DSS 3.2 rules will (about two weeks ago, back on Feb. 17), it said the spec would be released "in the March/April timeframe." A council official on Wednesday (March 2) tweaked that guidance, ruling out March and saying that the council "anticipates an April release of the standard."

Atlanta Fed Folk Not Wildly Optimistic About Mobile Payments

Although people who work for various Fed chapters don't usually engage in blunt talks publicly, a bunch working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta released some intriguing 2016 predictions this week. Among them are dire expectations for mobile payments and ACH Same-Day plus a belief that EMV will drive down the number of U.S. ATMs.

To be clear, the Fed folk stressed that delaying the predictions until the year was almost one-sixth over was a deliberate choice: "By waiting a couple of months to release ours, we're hoping they will end up being more accurate than usual." They also stressed that these are not technically Fed predictions, as they come from one just group of Fed employees: members of the Retail Payments Risk Forum of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Although people who work for various Fed chapters don't usually engage in blunt talks publicly, a bunch working for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta released some intriguing 2016 predictions this week. Among them are dire expectations for mobile payments and ACH Same-Day plus a belief that EMV will drive down the number of U.S. ATMs.

Think You’re So Tough, Apple? Meet Bankers In China

Payments professionals who have lost battle after battle fighting with Apple Pay's people on getting reasonable fees know that Apple sees its lock on iPhones and iPads as a reason to not bother having to negotiate on rates. You want in? Pay up. Well, you can take some solace in Apple getting a taste of its own apple-flavored medicine.

Feeling a strong strategic need to get into the government-managed Chinese market, Apple found itself on the weaker end of negotiations with bankers. With government backing, there was little fear of being undercut by a rival bank. The result? This report from Caixin Online: "Apple will earn fees from Chinese banks when customers use its mobile payment service for purchases, but they will be about half of what the U.S. tech giant charges in the United States."

Payments professionals who have lost battle after battle fighting with Apple Pay's people on getting reasonable fees know that Apple sees its lock on iPhones and iPads as a reason to not bother having to negotiate on rates. You want in? Pay up. Well, you can take some solace in Apple getting a taste of its own apple-flavored medicine.

Skip Walmart Checkout Lines By Getting Vested

One Virginia Walmart shopper came up with a creative way to avoid the long, slow-moving lines at his local Walmart. Taking advantage of the store's apparent lack of employee authentication, he simply went to the store's stockroom and donned a Walmart employee vest.

After that, he casually and professionally grabbed a cart, loaded four flat-screen televisions onto said cart and simply pushed through out the back of the store, through an emergency exit. "They were (then) loaded into a waiting, full-size SUV,” said a local enforcement statement about the Jan. 14 incident at the Colonial Heights Walmart.

One Virginia Walmart shopper came up with a creative way to avoid the long, slow-moving lines at his local Walmart. Taking advantage of the store's apparent lack of employee authentication, he simply went to the store's stockroom and donned a Walmart employee vest.

A Shopper’s Checkout Friction Resistance Level Changes Hourly

The idea that shoppers abandon shopping carts when they run into checkout friction has been said so often that it is approaching cliché status. The truth is much more nuanced and complicated. The level of checkout-friction-resistance changes—for the identical consumer—repeatedly during the merchant interaction.

Let's consider that abandoned shopping cart consumer. They ran into some site stumbling block, got frustrated and bolted. Let's further assume that the shopper is somehow reeled back in, most likely with a friendly-phrased text message. Whatever level of resistance/tolerance that shopper had before they abandoned, it's now ten times more sensitive. A hassle that they would have tolerated before is now cause to run away—and they won't be coming back. But let's tweak that scenario slightly. This time, that same consumer runs into some friction, which is that a price seems too high or the choice of color/style is too limited. That shopper then does some Google searching, visits a bunch of other sites and ultimately comes to the conclusion that your offering's price/color/style is the best available. That consumer sheepishly comes back to complete the purchase. The situation is now flipped. That consumer's resistance to checkout friction is now dramatically lower, perhaps ten times lower. Having discovered that your deal is the best they'll get, they will put up with far more hurdles than they would have before they did that research.

The idea that shoppers abandon shopping carts when they run into checkout friction has been said so often that it is approaching cliché status. The truth is much more nuanced and complicated. The level of checkout-friction-resistance changes—for the identical consumer—repeatedly during the merchant interaction.

Why The ChasePay/Starbucks Deal Makes A Difference

When Chase revealed on Tuesday (Feb. 23) that it had cut a deal with Starbucks to incorporate ChasePay into the SBUX mobile app this year, it signaled that ChasePay needs to be taken seriously. More precisely, it means that the mocha-merchant mobile-powerbroker takes ChasePay seriously, which is perhaps the best endorsement it could get.

ChasePay's previous big deal was with MCX, which, to be fair, isn't exactly the endorsement you want in mobile payments to be taken seriously. But for those care about mobile money—and who in this space doesn't?—nobody disses Starbucks.

When Chase revealed on Tuesday (Feb. 23) that it had cut a deal with Starbucks to incorporate ChasePay into the SBUX mobile app this year, it signaled that ChasePay needs to be taken seriously. More precisely, it means that the mocha-merchant mobile-powerbroker takes ChasePay seriously, which is perhaps the best endorsement it could get.

To A PF, The World Of Parking Is Doing Anything But Standing Still

Pity the poor standalone parking meter, nestled between communities' sidewalks and streets. A dozen years ago, five million were scattered across the U.S.. Today, according to the International Parking Institute, no one even bothers to count them any more. New York City is preparing to abandon its 85,000 meters to a PF-fueled mobile system, joining Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh with similar plans.

The movement is hardly surprising. Many of those metal poles could only handle coins and retrofitting them for magstripe—let alone EMV or NFC—is expensive and short-sighted. To get much of the money from those poles requires a municipal employee/contractor to physically move from pole to pole. The system for fining those who disobey the parking rules is equally inefficient. Enter Jon Ziglar, the CEO of PF Parkmobile, whose company is behind many of those municipal parking meter obliteration efforts. His vision is far cleaner. A mobile app pays for the space and can even text a driver when the time is about to run out. But this gets better. Parkmobile is in pilots today with Ford and BMW to integrate the app directly into cars. Marry the efficiency of a mobile app with a smartcar that can park itself and parking takes on a delightfully 21st Century shine.

Pity the poor standalone parking meter, nestled between communities' sidewalks and streets. A dozen years ago, five million were scattered across the U.S.. Today, according to the International Parking Institute, no one even bothers to count them any more. New York City is preparing to abandon its 85,000 meters to a PF-fueled mobile system, joining Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh with similar plans.

PF Flint Mobile Shuts Down, Turns Business Over To Stripe

Payment facilitator Flint Mobile's payments business was effectively shuttered on Monday (Feb. 15), seemingly a victim of a payments player coming into an already-developed market too late and with insufficiently deep pockets. The beginning of the end happened on Feb. 5, when "Flint abruptly suspended all new signups and closed all card processing for current accounts. Users who tried to process cards were met with a message saying, 'You have exceeded your processing limits.'"

A visit to the site late on Wednesday (Feb. 17) by PaymentFacilitator.com found a seemingly active homepage, but clicking on the Sign Up Now button delivered the note "New signups suspended. We are currently transitioning to a new platform. We appreciate your patience." Alas, it seems that patience will serve no purpose. Although it appeared that company executives, between Feb. 5 and Feb. 17, were indeed trying to find a way to keep the business going, it didn't work out.

Payment facilitator Flint Mobile's payments business was effectively shuttered on Monday (Feb. 15), seemingly a victim of a payments player coming into an already-developed market too late and with insufficiently deep pockets. The beginning of the end happened on Feb. 5, when "Flint abruptly suspended all new signups and closed all card processing for current accounts. Users who tried to process cards were met with a message saying, 'You have exceeded your processing limits.'"

Javelin Report Finds What PFs Already Know: Faster Onboarding Is Critical

Onboarding speed isn't merely a consumer nice-to-have, according to a new Javelin study, but it has a concrete impact on whether customers engage at all and how many dollars they entrust.

"Banks and credit unions can boost the profitability of a new customer an estimated $212 a year with effective onboarding that emphasizes engagement," the report said. "Fully engaged customers are four times more likely than inactive customers to identify the new bank or credit union as their primary FI. Fully engaged customers not only 2.7 times more financial accounts than inactive customers at the new FI, but they also intend to open more accounts in the next 12 months." How much more? Three accounts versus an average of one-half of one account.

Onboarding speed isn't merely a consumer nice-to-have, according to a new Javelin study, but it has a concrete impact on whether customers engage at all and how many dollars they entrust.

We’re Not Playing Games. Actually, We Are. In-Game Payments Beget More In-Game Payments

An Israeli mobile game analytics firm has dived deeply into in-game payments and has issued a report on what makes pinball wizards pay.

The report from Soomla notes that average revenue per daily active user (ARPDAU) "is as low as 9¢, but it varies drastically across genres, with board and racing games averaging to 28-32¢. However, adventure, arcade, role playing and educational games generate less than 3¢ in ARPDAU."What is much more interesting is how rapidly users are willing to pay in a second game once they have paid in the first. Logically, that makes sense, in that someone who has already shown a willingness to buy will probably buy again. But what is unexpected is how rapidly those figures are climbing.

An Israeli mobile game analytics firm has dived deeply into in-game payments and has issued a report on what makes pinball wizards pay.

PCI Council’s New EMV Payment Token Rules Are Worth Reading Closely

The PCI Council in late December rolled out its security rules for token service providers for EMV payment tokens, which overwhelmingly deals with mobile transactions. Today, the card brands handle the vast majority of tokens issued, but the council expects that to sharply change now that EMVCo has released the specification. Given the importance of tokens to payment facilitators, it's worth a read.

One of the fun things that this document does, in pure PCI Council fashion, is deliver more acronyms. Yes, these are brand acronyms. (No, no need to thank them.) One is TDE, for Token Data Environment. An important term—not an acronym yet, sadly—is Payment Token Data, which has a very specific definition: "Covers a number of discrete data elements, including the Payment Token and related data as defined in the EMV Payment Tokenisation Specification Technical Framework, which include the Payment Token Expiry Date, Payment Token Requestor ID, Payment Token Assurance Level and Payment Token Assurance Data."

The PCI Council in late December rolled out its security rules for token service providers for EMV payment tokens, which overwhelmingly deals with mobile transactions. Today, the card brands handle the vast majority of tokens issued, but the council expects that to sharply change now that EMVCo has released the specification. Given the importance of tokens to payment facilitators, it's worth a read.

Reading The SEC Filing Tea Leaves: What To Make Of New Visa/Square And Amex/Costco Details?

As a business reporter, nothing is more relaxing than sitting back with a pile of freshly-filed SEC documents and digging in. But two different filings this week—related to Visa/Square and Amex/Costco—may have raised a lot more questions than they answered.

Let's set aside the numbers for the moment. Visa has a slice of Square and has had it for years, as the cardbrand has previously disclosed. There was never a need to disclose the exact size of Visa's investment or the equity stake because Square was privately held at the time of the investment and it certainly wasn't material to Visa. That forces the question: Why disclose the numbers now?

As a business reporter, nothing is more relaxing than sitting back with a pile of freshly-filed SEC documents and digging in. But two different filings this week—related to Visa/Square and Amex/Costco—may have raised a lot more questions than they answered.

Costco Learning An Expensive Lesson About The Cost Of Switching Cards

Intrigued by how Costco is discovering the many expensive complexities in transitioning from store-branded card to another.

Costco has said that it needs more time than originally announced to make its move from Amex to Citigroup Visas. It had initially announced an April 1 cutoff date but the retailer now says it will be closer to "the middle of summer."

Intrigued by how Costco is discovering the many expensive complexities in transitioning from store-branded card to another.

Visa Offering More Goodies For PF Merchant Magicians

When Visa on Tuesday (Feb. 9) officially rolled out its Visa Consumer Transaction Controls program, it provided puzzle pieces that payment facilitators are much better positioned to use than others in the payments arena.

What the program does is it allows account holders "to set simple, convenient, and effective spending controls, receive transaction alerts, or even temporarily suspend their accounts using a simple on/off feature," Visa said. "Spending controls can be applied to different transaction types, date ranges, or overall card spending to offer consumers visibility and control over their money. Alerts can be sent by text, mobile app, or email in when transactions take place." The magic is that these are capabilities that Visa will support, but others will have to put the programming effort into integrating these apps, mobile devices and anything else. The apps that PF merchants will be using can leverage these or not. Few merchants will see much reason to put in the development talent to make them happen as they don't directly boost sales. That's where PF magic comes in.

When Visa on Tuesday (Feb. 9) officially rolled out its Visa Consumer Transaction Controls program, it provided puzzle pieces that payment facilitators are much better positioned to use than others in the payments arena.

The Perception Game: A Non-Security Glitch Makes Consumers Worried About Security

Mobile payments are still young enough that consumers are still making up their hands with how safe and secure they are. Remember that this is a classic perception vs. reality situation. It doesn't matter that mobile payments are in reality far more secure than many credit cards today. Think about a non-EMV Visa credit using signature compared with Apple Pay's biometric authentication and secure element and we're talking Bambi Vs. Godzilla. But anything new and different feels less secure.

Another important factor in the security perception game, though, is robustness and uptime. If the experience feels solid and trustworthy, those attributes will also color the perception of security. And that's why this past week is troubling.

Mobile payments are still young enough that consumers are still making up their hands with how safe and secure they are. Remember that this is a classic perception vs. reality situation. It doesn't matter that mobile payments are in reality far more secure than many credit cards today. Think about a non-EMV Visa credit using signature compared with Apple Pay's biometric authentication and secure element and we're talking Bambi Vs. Godzilla. But anything new and different feels less secure. Another important factor in the security perception game, though, is robustness and uptime. If the experience feels solid and trustworthy, those attributes will also color the perception of security. And that's why this past week is troubling.

The Bank ATM Deals With ApplePay Promise What NFC Needs: Normalcy

When the news hit recently that Bank of America and Wells Fargo were preparing to integrate Apple Pay into their ATMs—on top of an existing deal with Android Pay—it promised a healthy dose of what NFC wallets need more than anything else right now: Normalcy.

At a practical level, the banks can position this as little more than an attempt to eventually phase out the plastic ATM card, not to mention then greenbacks they represent—which, of course, is true. But payment facilitators and others are relying on mobile wallets becoming more than a novelty for the geekiest of shoppers at a handful of the most tech-friendly retailers. For them, the ATM move has delightful potential.

When the news hit recently that Bank of America and Wells Fargo were preparing to integrate Apple Pay into their ATMs—on top of an existing deal with Android Pay—it promised a healthy dose of what NFC wallets need more than anything else right now: Normalcy.

Will New Congressional Money Laundering Bill Make A Difference?

A pair of congressional bills were introduced on Wednesday (Feb. 3) with the stated goal of trying to make money laundering slightly more difficult. The tact of the bills simultaneously introduced in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate? To force people filing papers of incorporation to disclose all beneficial owners—and to hand over U.S. passport or state driver's license numbers for all of those beneficial owners.

"Criminals are taking advantage of state laws by establishing firms – often without a physical presence or business activity – to access our banking system," Rep. Peter King said. "This simple requirement would enable law enforcement to stop money from flowing across our borders to terrorist organizations." Well, not quite. There is no money allocated in the bill to provide investigative funds to authenticate the submissions. If the intent is to launder criminal—even terrorist—financing, then making up bogus names of the owners and giving them fake passport or driver's license numbers is not especially burdensome. According to one Capitol Hill staffer familiar with the legislation—and who insisted on anonymity—the online application process does not seek a picture of the passport or the driver's license, but merely a number. Although those numbers are easy to verify, it's unlikely many states would bother unless they had a reason to do so. And it's the money launderer's job to make sure that the state clerks are given no such reason.

A pair of congressional bills were introduced on Wednesday (Feb. 3) with the stated goal of trying to make money laundering slightly more difficult. The tact of the bills simultaneously introduced in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate? To force people filing papers of incorporation to disclose all beneficial owners—and to hand over U.S. passport or state driver's license numbers for all of those beneficial owners.

The PF Space In Mexico: Salary Debit Cards The Key To The Future

The Mexican payment space is growing rapidly, but it's a country where cash still accounts for some 85 percent of all transactions. It's communities are cursed with large pockets of extreme poverty and banks are viewed with high suspicion.

Although, at a glance, this land seems an ill fit for payment facilitators to flourish, it's a market ripe for growth. And it's businesses that are overwhelmingly paying employees with debit cards that could be the key. "In Mexico, cash is still king, by far," said Ignacio Hidalgo, the director of consulting for a Mexican PF called Marketing Ideas and Technology (MIT, pronounced mēt). Hidalgo said the current environment is simply far more conducive to cash than payment cards or mobile money.

The Mexican payment space is growing rapidly, but it's a country where cash still accounts for some 85 percent of all transactions. It's communities are cursed with large pockets of extreme poverty and banks are viewed with high suspicion.

Visa Adds New Level 4 PCI Requirement, As The PF Attractiveness Gets A Lot Stronger

In a late holiday gift for PFs everywhere, Visa has upped the requirements for PCI Level 4 (small businesses) merchants. Specifically, as the end of January 2017, those small merchants "must use only Payment Card Industry (PCI)-certified Qualified Integrators and Reseller (QIR) professionals for point-of-sale (POS) application and terminal installation and integration."

Although few would argue that using trained and approved vendors to do any POS work is not a good idea, merchants are already feeling that the burdens of getting and staying PCI compliant are too high. Given a PF's willingness to take on all of the PCI aggravation, that offer just got more attractive to Level 4s.

In a late holiday gift for PFs everywhere, Visa has upped the requirements for PCI Level 4 (small businesses) merchants. Specifically, as the end of January 2017, those small merchants "must use only Payment Card Industry (PCI)-certified Qualified Integrators and Reseller (QIR) professionals for point-of-sale (POS) application and terminal installation and integration."

Event-Booker Placefull Converts To PF, Creates A Sizable Profit Event

One of the key advantages to being a payment facilitator is that it is the desired brand of the merchant that appears on the customer's statement. That certainly delivers the expected marketing boost (brand reinforcement) for the merchant, but event-booking PF Placefull is fond of that brand appearance for a very different reason: far fewer chargebacks.

"We have always wanted the merchant brand to have the most presence. One of the things we didn't like with a Paypal or Stripe experience—other than it's not a pretty-looking site—is that we never wanted to have a broken experience," said Placefull CEO Ryan Hamlin. "Now it’s ABC Bowling that will appear on the bill statement. The amount of disputes and, frankly, fraud was much higher before because people would see something on their statement and would call and dispute it."

One of the key advantages to being a payment facilitator is that it is the desired brand of the merchant that appears on the customer's statement. That certainly delivers the expected marketing boost (brand reinforcement) for the merchant, but event-booking PF Placefull is fond of that brand appearance for a very different reason: far fewer chargebacks.

Ford’s Mobile Wallet TipToes Into IoT Payments

When Ford rolled out its mobile wallet this month, it took to heart the concept of contextual payments, focusing on paying for parking from within the vehicle as well as leasing alternative vehicles. But it's view of mobile was using a smartphone, rather than making the payments automobile-embedded. Although iPhones may weigh much less than two tons, few Apple Pay transactions will work at 80 MPH.

"FordPass, part of Ford’s transformation into an auto and mobility company, aims to do for car owners what iTunes did for music fans," Ford said. "Launching in April, FordPass reimagines the relationship between automaker and consumer. Membership is free—whether you own a Ford vehicle or not—by registering online." *Sigh* It's not a good sign for business when Visa talks about integrating payments in cars and Ford thinks it can accomplish anything with a mobile app on someone else's hardware. It owns the cars and that's where its customers are. Why not place the payments apparatus right there in the car's dashboard, in a place where rivals can't reach?

When Ford rolled out its mobile wallet this month, it took to heart the concept of contextual payments, focusing on paying for parking from within the vehicle as well as leasing alternative vehicles. But it's view of mobile was using a smartphone, rather than making the payments automobile-embedded. Although iPhones may weigh much less than two tons, few Apple Pay transactions will work at 80 MPH.

Sports Event PF Running Between Processors

Payment Facilitator RunSignup.com is all about trying to take the complexities out of managing running events. It's service and products include means to track times, tracker runners during events, assist with registration and creating customized sites. Making races easy is one thing. Making payments easy is, well, a much more uphill rocky path.

When the company started in 2009, they solely used Braintree to process transactions. As of March 2015, they added Vantiv and it's that Vantiv relationship that turns them into a traditional PF, said RunSignup.com CFO Kevin Harris. The company finds the terms and capabilities of Vantiv more to its liking—referring to its customers, Harris said "We'd like to funnel them all through Vantiv, candidly"—but there's a reason it needs to continue to offer both.

Payment Facilitator RunSignup.com is all about trying to take the complexities out of managing running events. It's service and products include means to track times, tracker runners during events, assist with registration and creating customized sites. Making races easy is one thing. Making payments easy is, well, a much more uphill rocky path.

Can Starbucks Pull A Payments Pied Piper With Musical Mobile Money?

Starbucks is working with Spotify on a music deal, one where Starbucks customers will be able to easily download songs from the Starbucks playlist. Here's the hook: It's a backdoor route to more mobile payments.

Before you dismiss this as too bizarre to have any payments impact, music has had some surprising influences on retail purchases. To be precise, it's not the music itself as much as allowing the shopper to be in control of the music.

Starbucks is working with Spotify on a music deal, one where Starbucks customers will be able to easily download songs from the Starbucks playlist. Here's the hook: It's a backdoor route to more mobile payments.

Carrier Billing’s New Friends May Prove To Be PF Good Fortune

Carrier billing is hardly a new concept, but some coverage has focused on renewed carrier billing efforts from the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google. Part of the reason that carrier billing has not, thus far, gone very far is that most consumers trust their carriers less than a convicted child molester politician. But carrier trust and likability aside, carrier billing has—on paper—a lot going for it. And payment facilitators are uniquely positioned to benefit from this move.

Carrier billing sidesteps some security concerns because the payment details reside with a company that already has them. Although that's certainly not risk-free, it's a zero increase in risk. More precisely, it's less risky than turning over payment credentials to an unknown merchant for a one-time transaction, especially if it's a faceless e-commerce site. From the merchant's perspective, there is the potential for much lower fees as interchange—in the traditional sense—is gone, especially if the consumer pays that carrier bill via check or, much more likely, ACH.

Carrier billing is hardly a new concept, but some coverage has focused on renewed carrier billing efforts from the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google. Part of the reason that carrier billing has not, thus far, gone very far is that most consumers trust their carriers less than a convicted child molester politician. But carrier trust and likability aside, carrier billing has—on paper—a lot going for it. And payment facilitators are uniquely positioned to benefit from this move.

How Obamacare Ushered In PF-Friendly Payments

Payment facilitator Softheon is an old hand at handling healthcare insurance matters, "dating back to the Romneycare days," said Softheon CEO Eugene Sayan. But Softheon these days—contrary to the PF reputation of focusing only on small businesses—works with the biggest of the U.S. insurance companies, processing a healthy percentage of Obamacare health plans, along with quite a few state plans.

What makes Softheon's move especially interesting is that it was able to position a new system for payments on top of a new system for insurance. "We took payment reform and piggybacked it onto healthcare reform," Sayan said. The twist is that when Softheon started with healthcare insurance, payments had almost universally been done by check, with a smattering of direct withdrawals. Using payment cards for insurance premiums was unheard of then. Thanks to Softheon and others, that's no longer true.

Payment facilitator Softheon is an old hand at handling healthcare insurance matters, "dating back to the Romneycare days," said Softheon CEO Eugene Sayan. But Softheon these days—contrary to the PF reputation of focusing only on small businesses—works with the biggest of the U.S. insurance companies, processing a healthy percentage of Obamacare health plans, along with quite a few state plans.

Small Biz Mobile Weakness Is PF Strength

Forget online banking, from old-fashioned desktops and tablets. New stats show that transactions and financial interactions from mobile-only banking alone last year surpassed those done in physical branches, according to figures published Tuesday (Jan. 12) by Javelin Strategy and Research.

But as much as this reaffirms conventional wisdom that mobile is taking over almost all forms of payments, it’s far from universal. This banking mobile embrace is distinctly not happening with smaller community banks as they mirror the same mobile problems that are plaguing small businesses in just about every other vertical. And therein lies the PF opportunity.

Forget online banking, from old-fashioned desktops and tablets. New stats show that transactions and financial interactions from mobile-only banking alone last year surpassed those done in physical branches, according to figures published Tuesday (Jan. 12) by Javelin Strategy and Research. But as much as this reaffirms conventional wisdom that mobile is taking over almost all forms of payments, it’s far from universal. This banking mobile embrace is distinctly not happening with smaller community banks as they mirror the same mobile problems that are plaguing small businesses in just about every other vertical. And therein lies the PF opportunity.

MasterCard’s Payments-Integrated Fridge Leaves Futurists Cold

When MasterCard used the Consumer Electronic Show on Tuesday (Jan. 5) to unveil its Groceries By MasterCard program, it was an all-too-common payments trend: the introduction of an interesting product with long-term potential, but with the initial version being so limited as to be almost pointless.

The idea behind the Groceries introduction is compelling. The concept is that the card brand would integrate payments deep within Samsung’s new Family Hub refrigerator, a first-class example of the Internet Of Things becoming reality. That is until you start asking questions.

When MasterCard used the Consumer Electronic Show on Tuesday (Jan. 5) to unveil its Groceries By MasterCard program, it was an all-too-common payments trend: the introduction of an interesting product with long-term potential, but with the initial version being so limited as to be almost pointless.

With Lyft Investment, Is GM Getting Out Of The Car Business Or Are Cars Getting Out Of The GM Business?

When Lyft announced on Monday (Jan. 4) that it had just closed a $1 billion round of funding—which included $500 million from General Motors—it struck some as puzzling. Why would an automaker like GM want a big chunk of a car-on-demand service? Did Toyota ever make a huge strategic invest in Yellow Cab? The answer lies in huge imminent changes within the car industry, as it inches its way from a product business to a service business.

The other half-billion came from more traditional investors, with the Kingdom Holding Company dropping $100 million (bringing Kingdom's total Lyft investment to $250 million) and the rest coming from Janus Capital Management, Rakuten, Didi Kuaidi and Alibaba. This all brings Lyft's current valuation to about $5.5 billion. But where's the strategic link between a car-maker and a ride-sharer? That's where things get interesting.

When Lyft announced on Monday (Jan. 4) that it had just closed a $1 billion round of funding—which included $500 million from General Motors—it struck some as puzzling. Why would an automaker like GM want a big chunk of a car-on-demand service? Did Toyota ever make a huge strategic invest in Yellow Cab? The answer lies in huge imminent changes within the car industry, as it inches its way from a product business to a service business.

Apple Envisions P2P In Every Possible Way

With Apple's P2P rollout and partnerships getting closer, it's not surprising that Apple was granted a Patent for the approach last month. But what was not expected was how inclusive and extensive Cupertino envisions P2P being, with the capability integrated into almost every iPhone function.

"It’s clear that Apple is planning to provide an OS-wide payments integration that provides merchants with marketing benefits such as the ability to promote certain deals directly into the OS, such as geo-location based promotions into Maps, or via e-mails or instant messages, all with the ability to compete purchase/pre-order with one click based on Apple Pay enrollment and identity information stored on the device," said Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst with payments consulting firm Double Diamond Group, Oglesby argues that this is the logical next move for Apple, as Apple Pay moves into its second-year year with growing market maturity and acceptance.

With Apple's P2P rollout and partnerships getting closer, it's not surprising that Apple was granted a Patent for the approach last month. But what was not expected was how inclusive and extensive Cupertino envisions P2P being, with the capability integrated into almost every iPhone function.

Just What The Payments Industry Needs: The Mike Tyson Digital Wallet

When Bitcoin Direct on Monday (Jan. 4) unveiled the Mike Tyson Digital Wallet, it was asking for trouble. You know it's a bad sign when your marketing move is so awful that Time Magazine can't resist making fun of it.

The point of a celebrity endorsement is that the celebrity's brand has some positive attributes—bravery, intelligence, beauty, talent—that a company wants attributed to its brand. What exactly was the positive association Bitcoin Direct had in mind? How would this make consumers more comfortable using Bitcoin? In the world of payments marketing, this is arguably the most "what were these people smoking?" move since Softcard—known then as ISIS (which itself was an interesting bit of name association)—hired a sleight-of-hand artist to demonstrate its mobile wallet at the South by Southwest conference in Austin back in 2012.

When Bitcoin Direct on Monday (Jan. 4) unveiled the Mike Tyson Digital Wallet, it was asking for trouble. You know it's a bad sign when your marketing move is so awful that Time Magazine can't resist making fun of it.

Is TargetPay/WalmartPay A Return To Payments Yesteryear?

When word came out last month that Target was preparing its own mobile wallet app called TargetPay, which followed Walmart's confirmed Walmartpay, which itself followed the announcement of ChasePay, it started to feel as though the payments world was de-evolving into an earlier era.

In the days before Visa and MasterCard came to dominance, almost every major retailer had their own payment card (the Macy's card, the Bloomingdale's card). From a customer experience perspective, it became clear that allowing shoppers to pay for everything with just one or two cards would much more effectively encourage plastic purchases. Fast-forward now to mobile payments in 2016. We are now seeing two distinct camps: the one-for-all-and-all-for-one camp featuring Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal and potentially even MCX's CurrentC; and the one-for-one group with WalmartPay, TargetPay and Starbucks. (To be precise, Starbucks is a footnote here, given its use of ApplePay.)

When word came out last month that Target was preparing its own mobile wallet app called TargetPay, which followed Walmart's confirmed Walmartpay, which itself followed the announcement of ChasePay, it started to feel as though the payments world was de-evolving into an earlier era.

Walmart Pay: For The Retailer Who’s Given Up Trying To Get His Way

When Walmart last week introduced Walmart Pay, it was shown to be a simple app that would accept "any major payment type" but it would only work at Walmart. In short, it was the last thing that interchange-fee-hating Walmart wanted to do, especially in the mobile world. MCX's original vision, a merchant utopia where transactions were done in the non-interchange grab-the-money-directly-from-the-shopper's-bank-account universe and one app was used at thousands of different merchant stores, was Walmart's dream.

Mike Cook is the Walmart Senior VP/Assistant Treasurer who initiated the idea of MCX and pushed it so aggressively that many involved—and especially those who chose to not be involved—said the name virtually stood for Mike Cook Exchange. When Walmart Pay was announced, it was Cook whose name was on a statement issued to the media. Said Cook: "We remain committed to MCX, and recently launched acceptance of CurrentC in all of our locations in the Columbus market. We view Walmart Pay and CurrentC as complementary mobile payments solutions, and expect the two to build off each other’s success." Walmart expects "the two to build off each other's success"? If Walmart had even the slightest confidence that MCX and CurrentC were going to enjoy even a modicum of success, Walmart Pay wouldn't have been rolled out. It's true they will support both—there's not a lot of reason to not do so—but Walmart Pay is everything Walmart didn't want to do.

When Walmart last week introduced Walmart Pay, it was shown to be a simple app that would accept "any major payment type" but it would only work at Walmart. In short, it was the last thing that interchange-fee-hating Walmart wanted to do, especially in the mobile world. MCX's original vision, a merchant utopia where transactions were done in the non-interchange grab-the-money-directly-from-the-shopper's-bank-account universe and one app was used at thousands of different merchant stores, was Walmart's dream.

Washington State’s Disappearing New Money Transmitter Rules

On Monday (Dec. 14), the Washington state Department of Financial Institutions said that it was about to change the ways payment processors can get waivers from money transmission licensing requirements. The changes were to kick in Jan. 1. But by Wednesday (Dec. 16), the page with the announcement had vanished, instead displaying a "page not found" error. A search on the state DFI site still returns the page during a search. (Guys, if you’re going to hide a page, don't forget to clear cache and remove it from site search results. Geez, do we have to tell you everything about hiding stuff from the public?) Fortunately, we copied the text of the page before it disappeared.

Giving processors a mechanism to not being considered a money transmitter is ostensibly a good thing. But like everything else that touches state and federal regulatory efforts, few good things ship without booby-traps. Deana Rich, president of Rich Consulting and also Partner/Director of Strategy for PaymentFacilitator.com, said the risk is not mostly with the state issuing the rules—Washington state in this case—but with other states and how they may choose to interpret that waiver request. "If you say to one state 'I want to be exempt from your rules,' other states might say, 'Hmmmm. Why did you say this to Washington? I'm going to look at you much more carefully now,'" Rich said.

On Monday (Dec. 14), the Washington state Department of Financial Institutions said that it was about to change the ways payment processors can get waivers from money transmission licensing requirements. The changes were to kick in Jan. 1. But by Wednesday (Dec. 16), the page with the announcement had vanished, instead displaying a "page not found" error. A search on the state DFI site still returns the page during a search. (Guys, if you’re going to hide a page, don't forget to clear cache and remove it from site search results. Geez, do we have to tell you everything about hiding stuff from the public?) Fortunately, we copied the text of the page before it disappeared.

‘Twas Two Months After Liability Shift And At Every Store, Not A Merchant Was Dipping, Not Even A.C. Moore

It's one of the payments industry's worst-kept secrets that EMV merchant acceptance has been nothing shy of dreadful and the reasons for that are many. But an intriguing survey by the independent ConsumerWorld has put some numbers and quite a few names on the naughty/nice list of EMV supporters. It seems that a liability shift these days can only get a cardbrand so far.

In exploring almost 50 of the largest national and regional retail brands between Dec. 1 and Dec. 5, ConsumerWorld found that although almost all had installed EMV-friendly terminals (RadioShack was the only holdout), 75 percent of them had not yet been activated.

It's one of the payments industry's worst-kept secrets that EMV merchant acceptance has been nothing shy of dreadful and the reasons for that are many. But an intriguing survey by the independent ConsumerWorld has put some numbers and quite a few names on the naughty/nice list of EMV supporters. It seems that a liability shift these days can only get a cardbrand so far.

Deloitte: Ignorance Isn’t Bliss. It’s Killing Mobile Payments

On Wednesday (Dec. 9), Deloitte released a major mobile report and concluded that mobile payments is suffering from a payments industry self-inflicted wound: an almost criminal lack of shopper and store associate education about mobile payments.

This is one of those good news/bad news situations. The good news is if the payments industry leaders act smart, this problem can not only be solved, but reversed. Consumer and store employee education will sharply boost mobile payments usage—and that will on top of a continual influx of new mobile shoppers as more people upgrade to NFC-friendly smartphones. The bad news is—when was the last time you saw a lot of payments industry leaders acting smart?

On Wednesday (Dec. 9), Deloitte released a major mobile report and concluded that mobile payments is suffering from a payments industry self-inflicted wound: an almost criminal lack of shopper and store associate education about mobile payments.

Gift Cards Are Soaring. Keep Gifting, But For Heavens Sake, Stop Carding

A report released Tuesday (Dec. 8) projected U.S. gift card spend will hit $130 billion in 2015, an increase of more than six percent compared with last year. The stats from the ninth annual CEB TowerGroup report were hardly surprising, so why note it? Is it time the industry seriously considering changing the name of gift cards?

The stored value mechanisms are increasingly likely to be digital. And unlike their payment card counterparts—which even in Apple Pay appear as pictures of their plastic rectangular historical selves—the so-called giftcards are running away from their plastic ancestry. And run quickly they should. The next step will be P2P transactions, with a parent or a friend zapping someone $100 that can only be spent at Walgreens. Shortly after that, the gift transaction might be limited to not a specific store, but to a product category. Why? Let's say a parent is sending money to a college-attending offspring and wants the money going to grocery fruits and vegetables and not beer and music.

A report released Tuesday (Dec. 8) projected U.S. gift card spend will hit $130 billion in 2015, an increase of more than six percent compared with last year. The stats from the ninth annual CEB TowerGroup report were hardly surprising, so why note it? Is it time the industry seriously considering changing the name of gift cards?

Payment Card Attorney Encourages Credit Unions To Reject Home Depot Data Breach Settlement

In a conference call on Monday (Dec. 7) organized by MasterCard, credit unions and other financial institutions were encouraged to reject data breach settlement offers from Home Depot, arguing that the offers are too vague.

In a blog post from the Credit Union National Association that described that conference call, Joseph Guglielmo, lead counsel for financial institutions in the case, was quoted as making the key presentation. "Until Home Depot discloses all of the facts relating to its agreement with MasterCard, we recommend that financial institutions reject any settlement that requires them to release their claims in court and does not offer a significant reimbursement for their losses, beyond what they’re already entitled to,” Guglielmo was quoted as saying.

In a conference call on Monday (Dec. 7) organized by MasterCard, credit unions and other financial institutions were encouraged to reject data breach settlement offers from Home Depot, arguing that the offers are too vague.

SamsungPay Admits It Won’t Deliver Wearable Payments Until Next Year

Just what the world of mobile payments needs to boost consumer confidence: Missed delivery deadlines. In a Tweet reply to a consumer, SamsungMobile US has confirmed that SamsungPay didn't make its November '15 promised U.S. payment support for the wearable GearS2 smartwatch. The Tweet apologized for the delay—without explaining its cause—and promised that SamsungPay will happen "in 2016. Stay tuned for more information."

This is especially problematic given that Samsung pushed the payments capabilities as it sold those watches. The fallout from this delay doesn't only hurt Samsung. When an industry segment is as young as mobile payments, we can't afford these kinds of delays. Why is it so damaging? Mobile payments demand a change in behavior, which is hard enough on its own. But what happens when those watch owners get frustrated by their inability to make payments? It will feed their fears that mobile payments really doesn't work and that it's too risky an experiment with which to entrust their hard-earned money.

Just what the world of mobile payments needs to boost consumer confidence: Missed delivery deadlines. In a Tweet reply to a consumer, SamsungMobile US has confirmed that SamsungPay didn't make its November '15 promised U.S. payment support for the wearable GearS2 smartwatch. The Tweet apologized for the delay—without explaining its cause—and promised that SamsungPay will happen "in 2016. Stay tuned for more information."

RentMoola Deal Signals Major Upheaval In The Rental World

In the world of payment facilitators, it's hard to envision a segment more in need of payments updates than apartment rentals—one of the last nature preserves for the American Check. A deal announced on Tuesday (Dec. 1) between RentMoola and MasterCard is a very optimistic sign.

The deal itself is simple, but the potential implications are anything but. The deal positions MasterCard as RentMoola's preferred payment brand in the U.S. and Canada, which that tenants and condo owners get an unspecified preferred rate "as well as (again, unspecified) rewards with exclusive offers." This arrangement will include MasterPass "in early 2016," which presumably means any time before July. Replacing checks with payment cards is a step in the right direction, but where rental payments can really shake things up is when the process bypasses the landlord.

In the world of payment facilitators, it's hard to envision a segment more in need of payments updates than apartment rentals—one of the last nature preserves for the American Check. A deal announced on Tuesday (Dec. 1) between RentMoola and MasterCard is a very optimistic sign.

Amex Quietly Shuts Down Its Small Biz Saturday Credit Offers

For the last five years, American Express has championed its Small Business Saturday campaign the day after Black Friday, an attempt to get shoppers to refocus their attention on small local businesses. But this year, it quietly dropped a credit it gave to shoppers who participated (the amounts varied, but it was $30 last year).

Amex confirmed that it halted the incentives and said that it had replaced the cash with other program elements. Amex spokesperson Sravanthi Agrawal listed some of what they are doing instead of issuing the credits. The small business initiative is a very good idea, but when trying to persuade shoppers to change their retail habits, there is little—nay, there is nothing—more effective than a direct cash credit. No number of Neighborhood Campion programs or community events is going to be nearly as persuasive as a $30 credit going directly to the shopper.

For the last five years, American Express has championed its Small Business Saturday campaign the day after Black Friday, an attempt to get shoppers to refocus their attention on small local businesses. But this year, it quietly dropped a credit it gave to shoppers who participated (the amounts varied, but it was $30 last year).

Payment Patent Potpourri: PayPal and MasterCard Get Creative On Authentication, Plus Can Thunder Predict Transactions?

The U.S. Patent Office has been busy approving some wacky payment ideas and we're going to periodically tell you about some of our favorites. The winners this week are two unrelated ideas on mobile-based authentication from PayPal and MasterCard—including the length of a shopper's finger, how they walk and bits of their voice conversations—plus a MasterCard idea on exploring weather-to-purchase correlations on an individualized basis.

This Patent, issued on Tuesday (Dec. 1), is based on the length of a consumer's finger in a secondary fashion. What it actually does is ask the user to create a specific drawing, a task that will be done in a unique way by consumers because of their hand designs and other factors.

The U.S. Patent Office has been busy approving some wacky payment ideas and we're going to periodically tell you about some of our favorites. The winners this week are two unrelated ideas on mobile-based authentication from PayPal and MasterCard—including the length of a shopper's finger, how they walk and bits of their voice conversations—plus a MasterCard idea on exploring weather-to-purchase correlations on an individualized basis.

MasterCard Survey Finds That Australians Prefer NFC Over Cash. But That’s Not The Whole Story

In a survey that MasterCard commissioned in Australia, most participants said that they preferred contactless payments compared with cash. But the fineprint tells a different—and more perplexing—story. The card brand said the survey audience was "1,005 Australians aged between 18-64 years old, who have a credit or debit card." Nothing about them having an NFC-friendly smartphone, which is an important detail when gauging the interest and acceptance of contactless payments.

Of those surveyed, only 64 percent said they preferred contactless to cash, which means 36 percent still preferred cash. (See why it's critical to know if they even have the ability to do mobile payments?) Even worse, it wasn't a reference to all cash payments, but it was limited to "small transactions under a $100 instead of entering their PIN," MasterCard said. That raises the question of what would happen to that 64 percent stat when it tops $100 and PIN-entry becomes an issue? Does paper money regain its favored spot in Australian consumer wallets?

In a survey that MasterCard commissioned in Australia, most participants said that they preferred contactless payments compared with cash. But the fineprint tells a different—and more perplexing—story.

Use Apple Pay, Get Free Rides On The London Underground

The only viable long-term way to get shoppers to change their preferred payments method is to give them a reason to do so. Whether that's a discount for using NFC rather than plastic or greenbacks, coupons/discounts that are only available using a specific payment method or some other perk, consumers need to get something concrete. This is the bulk of the message that MCX is screaming. Someone at Apple is paying attention.

With its U.K. rollout, MasterCard announced free Apple Pay travel days until the end of the year, but only on Mondays. Technically, the fares aren't free but riders will have those fares reimbursed. "Customers can travel on Tube, buses, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London," said a MasterCard statement. "From a standing start to today, over 220 million journeys have been made using contactless bank cards and devices with over one million contactless journeys made every day. Currently, contactless journeys made across all modes make up nearly 25 percent of pay as you go journeys." More to the point, though, those contactless payments have generated non-travel contactless payments.

The only viable long-term way to get shoppers to change their preferred payments method is to give them a reason to do so. Whether that's a discount for using NFC rather than plastic or greenbacks, coupons/discounts that are only available using a specific payment method or some other perk, consumers need to get something concrete. This is the bulk of the message that MCX is screaming. Someone at Apple is paying attention.

Court Of Appeals Speaks Up For The Payments Industry

When the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday (Nov. 30) slapped down the Cook County sheriff for trying to cut off payments on behalf of Backpage.com, the appellate court in effect set new rules for payment processors and card brands. The panel didn't voice an objection to Visa and MasterCard opting to cut off Backpage, but merely to a law enforcement agent trying to persuade—bully?—those businesses.

In short, the panel stood up for the payments industry and ordered that Sherriff Thomas J. Dart not "coerce or threaten credit card companies, processors, financial institutions, or other third parties with sanctions intended to ban credit card or other financial services from being provided to Backpage.com."

When the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday (Nov. 30) slapped down the Cook County sheriff for trying to cut off payments on behalf of Backpage.com, the appellate court in effect set new rules for payment processors and card brands. The panel didn't voice an objection to Visa and MasterCard opting to cut off Backpage, but merely to a law enforcement agent trying to persuade—bully?—those businesses.

WeChat Cuts Global Money Transfer Deal With Western Union

In a deal that could make Tencent-owned social media platform WeChat into a serious payments player, WeChat announced Tuesday (Nov. 17) a deal with Western Union that allows WeChat's U.S. users to send money cross-border to 200 countries and territories, all while riding Western Union's rails.

With conflicting laws, industry regulations and security concerns, simplified global money transfers has been a top PF priority. "Consumers are able to fund the money transfer utilizing a debit card, credit card or bank account and easily direct the funds to a Western Union retail agent location around the world, and to a mobile wallet or bank account where available," said a joint statement from WeChat and Western Union. "WeChat together with its sister product Weixin in China had over 650 million of monthly active user accounts at end of September 2015."

In a deal that could make Tencent-owned social media platform WeChat into a serious payments player, WeChat announced Tuesday (Nov. 17) a deal with Western Union that allows WeChat's U.S. users to send money cross-border to 200 countries and territories, all while riding Western Union's rails.

MasterCard Thinks It Can Standardize Mobile Loyalty. And It Might Be Right

For mobile payments to move into the massive adoption phase, some version of loyalty/couponing will be essential. Otherwise, once the novelty wears off, there are simply no sustainable reasons for shoppers to stick with mobile. But with every mobile player preparing to somehow push loyalty, the chance of having conflicting incompatible technology is all-but-certain. Can MasterCard change that?

On Tuesday (Nov. 17), the number two card brand introduced a loyalty middleware specification that it hopes will be adopted widely enough to give mobile loyalty a chance to grow seamlessly. Given that few if any mobile payment schemes will be offered without support for at least one issuer's MasterCard, the card brand seems a sufficiently politically neutral player to sidestep the usual vendor resistance. In MasterCard's statement, the brand said it's proposed specification "enables mobile applications to offer a seamless connection between payment, promotions and loyalty redemption. It enables consumers to select their loyalty card, the coupons/promotions they want to redeem, and make a payment in a single or double tap at a contactless terminal."

For mobile payments to move into the massive adoption phase, some version of loyalty/couponing will be essential. Otherwise, once the novelty wears off, there are simply no sustainable reasons for shoppers to stick with mobile. But with every mobile player preparing to somehow push loyalty, the chance of having conflicting incompatible technology is all-but-certain. Can MasterCard change that?

Transit Mobile Payment Is A PF Dream Come True

On Monday (Nov. 16), San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee officially brought his city's public transit system into the mobile payment era, following similar moves by cities across the globe. Just last month, the totality of London's black cabs said that they will accept mobile payment.

These efforts are crucial for the payment facilitator community as nowhere is the need for the speed and convenience of mobile payments more needed than in urban public transit. Of potentially greater significance are the huge volumes of consumers that are using such systems—and the extreme tendency of such communities to get comfort from what other travelers are doing. In short, successful transportation trials have a far greater chance of meaningfully moving the acceptance needle than almost any other vertical. As much as coffee shops may gravitate to every kind of mobile payment imaginable, they simply don't have the volume—nor the copycat psychology—that comes with the transportation territory.

On Monday (Nov. 16), San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee officially brought his city's public transit system into the mobile payment era, following similar moves by cities across the globe. Just last month, the totality of London's black cabs said that they will accept mobile payment. These efforts are crucial for the payment facilitator community as nowhere is the need for the speed and convenience of mobile payments more needed than in urban public transit.

NYC Mobile Banking Study: Underbanked Much More Likely To Accept Texts

A new mobile banking analysis just published by New York City government officials found that underbanked consumers were more likely to use text or e-mail alerts as well as engage in more frequent money transfers. But those underbanked were also the most concerned about financial data privacy.

"The unbanked were more likely to share their mobile phones than the banked and underbanked. The way in which respondents reported paying for their mobile phones also differed across banking status: the banked were much more likely than the underbanked and unbanked to report having a monthly contract for their phone, while the unbanked and the underbanked reported using prepaid cell phones at much greater rates than the banked," the report said. "Banked smartphone users were more likely to have iPhones, while underbanked and unbanked smartphone users were more likely to have Android phones."

A new mobile banking analysis just published by New York City government officials found that underbanked consumers were more likely to use text or e-mail alerts as well as engage in more frequent money transfers. But those underbanked were also the most concerned about financial data privacy.

New York Payments Regulators Want New Third-Party Security Rules

One of the nation's most influential state regulators on Monday (Nov. 9) proposed a series of new security requirements aimed at third-party companies involved in payments. But the letter from Anthony Albanese, the acting superintendent of the New York Department Of Financial Services, could have a chilling effect in PF development efforts, cracking down at potentially the worst time for payments startups.

The letter spoke of "the financial industry’s reliance on third-party service providers for critical banking and insurance functions as a continuing challenge" and such third-party services "often have access to sensitive data and to a financial institution’s information technology systems, providing a potential point of entry for hackers. A company may have the most sophisticated cyber security protections in the industry, but if its third-party service providers have weak systems or controls, those protections will be ineffective."

One of the nation's most influential state regulators on Monday (Nov. 9) proposed a series of new security requirements aimed at third-party companies involved in payments. But the letter from Anthony Albanese, the acting superintendent of the New York Department Of Financial Services, could have a chilling effect in PF development efforts, cracking down at potentially the worst time for payments startups.

Wall Street Loves Comparisons, Which Is Why Square Is Driving It Crazy

As PF extraordinaire Square begins its IPO perp walk (aka roadshow), it is seeing consumer media criticism (such as this piece from USA Today) that its numbers are not as strong as so-called contemporaries. The problem is Square's business model and execution approach is truly different, so much so that there are hardly any comparably-sized companies that are apples-to-apples comparisons—and certainly none that are already publicly-held.This concern is oft-cited by startups who claim to have no competitors, but with Square, the differences are much more significant.

Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst with payments consulting firm Double Diamond Group and a longtime tracker of Square, said he was concerned about the influence exerted by comparisons like the ones USA Today made."This article keeps talking about tech companies and, if that’s the benchmark, then it probably isn’t that pretty. But if the benchmark is payments companies, Square is very pretty," Oglesby said. "This is not a Facebook or a Twitter, but relative to the competitors listed in the article—which aren’t really even competitors—I’ll take Square."

As PF extraordinaire Square begins its IPO perp walk (aka roadshow), it is seeing consumer media criticism (such as this piece from USA Today) that its numbers are not as strong as so-called contemporaries. The problem is Square's business model and execution approach is truly different, so much so that there are hardly any comparably-sized companies that are apples-to-apples comparisons—and certainly none that are already publicly-held.

Apple Wants Into P2P Payments, Talking With Chase, CapOne, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp

In an attempt to control as much consumer payments as possible, Apple is in negotiations with J.P. Morgan Chase, Capital One, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp to launch a bank-account-based P2P payments service, according to a Wednesday report in The Wall Street Journal. If successful, it's value would be huge to Apple, but not on a per-transaction fee basis. The goldmine would be the data, the equivalent of knowing every check, money transfer and payment card transaction made by millions of its customers.

Beyond the privacy implications of a consumer goods company having so much consumer personal data—on top of whatever health data is being gathered through Apple's Health app—there are also security concerns. The more avenues of access that exist into a bank account, the more chances there are for a glitch to withdraw more than expected or for the ultra-sensitive bank account routing numbers to leak where a cyberthief could see it.

In an attempt to control as much consumer payments as possible, Apple is in negotiations with J.P. Morgan Chase, Capital One, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp to launch a bank-account-based P2P payments service, according to a Wednesday report in The Wall Street Journal. If successful, it's value would be huge to Apple, but not on a per-transaction fee basis. The goldmine would be the data, the equivalent of knowing every check, money transfer and payment card transaction made by millions of its customers.

MC Makes Its Zero Liability Worldwide, In A Move That Visa Can’t Yet Match

MasterCard on Wednesday (Nov. 11) globalized its zero liability policy, in effect delivering the kind of consistent worldwide shopper protection that Visa can not yet offer. But it will take MasterCard—which has been working on the policy change for a year—until as late June 30, 2016, to support all regions, giving Visa time to react.

This competitive differentiator is because MasterCard is one global organization, whereas Visa's country operations are separated, a move that Visa last week started to address with its proposed reunification of Visa and Visa Europe.

MasterCard on Wednesday (Nov. 11) globalized its zero liability policy, in effect delivering the kind of consistent worldwide shopper protection that Visa can not yet offer. But it will take MasterCard—which has been working on the policy change for a year—until as late June 30, 2016, to support all regions, giving Visa time to react.

Home Depot Payment Card Fraud Via HR Records

In a big company, when it's suspected that someone is misusing company data to steal money from other employees, the first call is supposed to be to human resources. But what if the fraud is being perpetrated by a couple of HR staffers? That's what happened at Home Depot.

The two Home Depot HR people, Paulette Shorter and Lakisha Grimes, were sentenced to two years and one day in federal prison. According to the feds, the HR staffers used Home Depot personnel files to extract names, social security numbers and birthdates to apply online for Capital One payment cards. They used the names and data not only of Home Depot employees, but of job applicants, too.

In a big company, when it's suspected that someone is misusing company data to steal money from other employees, the first call is supposed to be to human resources. But what if the fraud is being perpetrated by a couple of HR staffers? That's what happened at Home Depot.

Visa: Huge Changes For Payments In IoT, Where Context Is King

The imminent Internet of Things (IoT) world—where every watch, car, thermostat, refrigerator, shopping cart and television talk with each other, and everything else—could have a huge impact on PF payments. But, as Jonathan Vaux, Visa's innovation director, recently said, it's really all about context.

Current payment methods (payment cards, whether still in plastic or in a mobile device, cash and even checks) are all about paying for anything anywhere. That's certainly fine and will always be needed—Vaux goes out of his way to defend cash, which he correctly argues isn't going away anytime soon—but there is a huge allure for shoppers to make purchases they are in-context.

The imminent Internet of Things (IoT) world—where every watch, car, thermostat, refrigerator, shopping cart and television talk with each other, and everything else—could have a huge impact on PF payments. But, as Jonathan Vaux, Visa's innovation director, recently said, it's really all about context.

Why Home Improvement Chains Make The Most Natural PFs

One of the most natural places for a payment facilitator is within a do-it-yourself home improvement chain. The chains already attract plumbers, electricians, masons and every other kind of contractor, almost all of whom have to sell their services—in effect, reselling that chain's products in something akin to a value-added reseller (VAR)—to consumers. Most importantly, those consumers want convenient ways to pay, which is rarely something contractors offer—but the home improvement chains but are interacting with does.

Home Depot is already toying with this model, but a recent announcement from Lowe's makes this PF model almost irresistible.

One of the most natural places for a payment facilitator is within a do-it-yourself home improvement chain. The chains already attract plumbers, electricians, masons and every other kind of contractor, almost all of whom have to sell their services—in effect, reselling that chain's products in something akin to a value-added reseller (VAR)—to consumers. Most importantly, those consumers want convenient ways to pay, which is rarely something contractors offer—but the home improvement chains but are interacting with does.

Can Candor And A Payments Card Launch Co-Exist?

Even in payments, a little candor can go a long way, especially in public CEO statements about issuing a new kind of payments card. This comes from a British company called Mondo, which is about generate MasterCard Prepaid Debit cards issued by Wirecard Card Solutions, which is a payment facilitator as well as being a prepaid issuer.

Still, it's not often that a payments CEO pledges that customers will have headaches—and yet Mondo CEO Tom Blomfield did just that when introducing the Alpha version of his card.

Even in payments, a little candor can go a long way, especially in public CEO statements about issuing a new kind of payments card. This comes from a British company called Mondo, which is about generate MasterCard Prepaid Debit cards issued by Wirecard Card Solutions, which is a payment facilitator as well as being a prepaid issuer.

Amazon Shuts Down Local Register, Having Never Really Loved It Anyway

For the world's largest e-commerce company, Amazon certainly had a busy payments week this week, from opening a physical bookstore integrating online capabilities to pushing its Amazon button for third-party mobile apps. But it's most PF noteworthy move this week was Amazon's choice to give up on Local Register.

Local Register was a payments processing effort that focused on the exact kind of smaller merchant that has gravitated to Square. And Amazon's initial promotional pricing was set lower than Square, on the rationale that price is everything for a small merchant. Apparently not.

For the world's largest e-commerce company, Amazon certainly had a busy payments week this week, from opening a physical bookstore integrating online capabilities to pushing its Amazon button for third-party mobile apps. But it's most PF noteworthy move this week was Amazon's choice to give up on Local Register.

The Reunification of Visa/Visa Europe Could Be Good News For PFs And Compliance

When Visa announced Monday (Nov. 2) that it was dropping $23.3 billion to reunite with Visa Europe after the pair functioned as independent companies for eight years, it had a great deal of significance to the PF community. Given the extreme difference in rules between the U.S. payments standards and the European Union, it has been challenging for Visa to deliver global consistency, especially with compliance.

Payment facilitators, for example, can become payment service providers "without the help of a bank, something that cannot happen here" in the U.S., said Deana Rich, president of Rich Consulting and also Partner/Director of Strategy for PaymentFacilitator.com. "Also, EU can be a little more lax on some compliance issues. So, once the dust settles, it will be easier for Visa to level set the Core Rules playing field. Visa often has different rules for different regions, but the EU is drastically different in places. Visa may now be able to tighten up a few things in the EU. Or, maybe, just maybe, learn from the EU and loosen a few things up here (in the U.S.). I believe the former is much more likely."

When Visa announced Monday (Nov. 2) that it was dropping $23.3 billion to reunite with Visa Europe after the pair functioned as independent companies for eight years, it had a great deal of significance to the PF community. Given the extreme difference in rules between the U.S. payments standards and the European Union, it has been challenging for Visa to deliver global consistency, especially with compliance.

Wall Street Vs. Silicon Valley: There’s A New PF Lobbyist In Town

In a payment facilitator-focused fight that could be painted as Wall Street lobbyists against Silicon Valley lobbyists, a tech group—consisting of Amazon, Apple, Google, Intuit and PayPal—has created a payments lobbying group solely designed to counter the influence of traditional financial players, including Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Chase and Citibank. The group announced its formation on Tuesday (Nov. 3).

The new group calls itself Financial Innovation Now (FIN) and argues that it wants to persuade politicians to go a different route. Complicating matters is the diversity of the FIN group. The concerns of Amazon, Apple and Google, for example, are aligned, in that they are major financial players in retail, hardware, mobile and search engines that are exploring payments initiatives, initiatives that are likely to remain secondary to their primary revenue lines. But PayPal and Intuit are much more closely involved in financial services, with PayPal being every bit as much of a pure payments player as Visa.

In a payment facilitator-focused fight that could be painted as Wall Street lobbyists against Silicon Valley lobbyists, a tech group—consisting of Amazon, Apple, Google, Intuit and PayPal—has created a payments lobbying group solely designed to counter the influence of traditional financial players, including Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Chase and Citibank. The group announced its formation on Tuesday (Nov. 3).

Google Slaps Symantec Around For Certificate Blunders. But Shouldn’t Payment Certificates Mean Something

Google has taken the unusual action of taking to task Symantec for supposedly sloppy enforcement of its digital certificates. What is payments-relevant here is that digital certificates—even when executed perfectly—do not deliver to shoppers the security assurances that most shoppers assume.

What the payments space needs are true e-commerce certificates, that actually represent security assurances for the site, not merely that the company is truly behind that domain. A cyberthief trying to rip shoppers off would also take the effort to properly register his domain.

Google has taken the unusual action of taking to task Symantec for supposedly sloppy enforcement of its digital certificates. What is payments-relevant here is that digital certificates—even when executed perfectly—do not deliver to shoppers the security assurances that most shoppers assume.

Global Roundup: Why Don’t Egyptians Like Mobile Payments?

In this week's wrap of global payments developments, we have payment stats from Egypt that are more lack-of-payment stats, U.K. payments security testing, a Swedish payments spin-off and a new mobile bill pay push in Australia.
In this week's wrap of global payments developments, we have payment stats from Egypt that are more lack-of-payment stats, U.K. payments security testing, a Swedish payments spin-off and a new mobile bill pay push in Australia.

MCX Finally Gets Its Interchange Break—After Chase Hands It To Them

When JPMorgan Chase on Monday (Oct. 26) promised new mobile capabilities for its online Chase Pay program next summer, it chose to take a decidedly retailer-oriented approach. With the lures of lower interchange fees plus all of the fraud cost protections of the EMV liability shift without having to accept EMV, Chase has given retailers concrete reasons to push Chase Pay over other payment methods.

The Chase announcement named MCX (and specifically members Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Shell) as premier partner. Interestingly, the interchange reduction effort that caused MCX to form years ago but had been all but abandoned by the group recently is the centerpiece of Chase's 2016 plans. What MCX couldn't get on their own was handed to them by Chase.

When JPMorgan Chase on Monday (Oct. 26) promised new mobile capabilities for its online Chase Pay program next summer, it chose to take a decidedly retailer-oriented approach. With the lures of lower interchange fees plus all of the fraud cost protections of the EMV liability shift without having to accept EMV, Chase has given retailers concrete reasons to push Chase Pay over other payment methods.

The Chase announcement named MCX (and specifically members Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Shell) as premier partner. Interestingly, the interchange reduction effort that caused MCX to form years ago but had been all but abandoned by the group recently is the centerpiece of Chase's 2016 plans. What MCX couldn't get on their own was handed to them by Chase.

Welcome To Your New Home For Payment Facilitator News You Can Use

Welcome to PaymentFacilitator.com, your home for an independent and analytical take on the payments issues of concern for the PF community. For our take on the major changes impacting payment facilitators and why this editorial community is needed right now, please drop by our About Us page.

It seems, though, this Letter From The Editor is best used to not promise what we'll deliver in the near future, but to tell you what we are delivering to you right now and why those pieces have the information that you're simply not going to find elsewhere today, especially from the various payments media.

Welcome to PaymentFacilitator.com, your home for an independent and analytical take on the payments issues of concern for the PF community. For our take on the major changes impacting payment facilitators and why this editorial community is needed right now, please drop by our About Us page.

It seems, though, this Letter From The Editor is best used to not promise what we'll deliver in the near future, but to tell you what we are delivering to you right now and why those pieces have the information that you're simply not going to find elsewhere today, especially from the various payments media.

The Implications Of Soaring Mobile Biometric Authentication Stats

Noticed an interesting stat hit the wires on Tuesday (Oct. 27) from Juniper Research. Juniper reported "that the increased rollout of contactless payment services using fingerprint scanners will push the number of biometrically authenticated transactions to nearly 5bn by 2019, up from less than 130 million this year."

Going from 130 million to almost 5 billion in four years is an impressive path—if the numbers are to be believed—but the changes to consumer behavior is potentially even more dramatic. Juniper limited its projection to biometrically authenticated transactions. The reality is that as consumers get comfortable with mobile biometrics, those fingerprint scans will authenticate consumers as they walk into banks, doctor’s offices, gyms and when they open secure apps. In the same way that fingerprint scans on iOS and Android devices are making consumers comfortable with all manner of biometric authentication, those devices and associated behaviors are also going to open the door to biometric authentication in areas well beyond mobile devices. Indeed, they could open the doors to, well, opening doors.

Noticed an interesting stat hit the wires on Tuesday (Oct. 27) from Juniper Research. Juniper reported "that the increased rollout of contactless payment services using fingerprint scanners will push the number of biometrically authenticated transactions to nearly 5bn by 2019, up from less than 130 million this year."

Going from 130 million to almost 5 billion in four years is an impressive path—if the numbers are to be believed—but the changes to consumer behavior is potentially even more dramatic. Juniper limited its projection to biometrically authenticated transactions. The reality is that as consumers get comfortable with mobile biometrics, those fingerprint scans will authenticate consumers as they walk into banks, doctor’s offices, gyms and when they open secure apps. In the same way that fingerprint scans on iOS and Android devices are making consumers comfortable with all manner of biometric authentication, those devices and associated behaviors are also going to open the door to biometric authentication in areas well beyond mobile devices. Indeed, they could open the doors to, well, opening doors.

The Non-Intuitive World Of Authentication And Social Media

A cyberthief walks into a bank branch, fully prepared to impersonate his intended high-net-worth victim. Not only is he equipped with fake IDs in the victim's name, lots of personal information courtesy of social and search engine research, but the thief has even taken the precaution of breaking into his victim's social accounts and replacing his thief-like face for the victim's on the victim's own social sites. If anyone tries to check on the Facebook or LinkedIn site of the victim, the thief's face would be confirmed.

The banker in this case sits beneath a tiny video camera, one that is aimed at the seat where customers sit and specifically the facial area of those customers. Controls of the banker-facing screen allow the image to be precisely aimed for customers of varying heights. And while the banker is pitching her safe-deposit boxes and other bank services, software does a quick check on the thief's face. Sure enough, it matches the social media images—but the software notes that those images were all recently changed. The software's database maintains a record of the last 10 images of everyone it can find—and that history of images foiled our thief's efforts.

A cyberthief walks into a bank branch, fully prepared to impersonate his intended high-net-worth victim. Not only is he equipped with fake IDs in the victim's name, lots of personal information courtesy of social and search engine research, but the thief has even taken the precaution of breaking into his victim's social accounts and replacing his thief-like face for the victim's on the victim's own social sites. If anyone tries to check on the Facebook or LinkedIn site of the victim, the thief's face would be confirmed.

The banker in this case sits beneath a tiny video camera, one that is aimed at the seat where customers sit and specifically the facial area of those customers. Controls of the banker-facing screen allow the image to be precisely aimed for customers of varying heights. And while the banker is pitching her safe-deposit boxes and other bank services, software does a quick check on the thief's face. Sure enough, it matches the social media images—but the software notes that those images were all recently changed. The software's database maintains a record of the last 10 images of everyone it can find—and that history of images foiled our thief's efforts.

Why Did Most Merchants Miss The EMV Deadline? Many Reasons, But Complexity Is The Top

With the liability shift and October already here, where are all the EMV-compliant merchants? Many are still waiting for software updates. And why is that, given how many years everyone has known about the October 2015 cutover? Seems that the U.S. payments processing space is a lot more complicated than even the payment itself realized, according to Randy Vanderhoof, who, as executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, is the industry's chief EMV cheerleader.

Vanderhoof concedes that most U.S. merchants—60-65 percent, he said—are not EMV compliant today and he blames that on several factors, but payments complexity—and good old-fashioned procrastination—are at the top of his list. "The U.S. market is the most complex payments processing market in the world because we have multiple parties involved in managing the retail POS systems and multiple parties engaged in the processing and acquiring of payment transactions," Vanderhoof said. "In other countries, other markets, the major banks who were then issuers were also the acquirers so they owned the terminals in those merchant locations. They invested in the cards and the terminals and their own banking acquiring network. In the U.S., financial institutions are separated from the merchants and acquirers. This means that there needs to be independent investments and alignments."

With the liability shift and October already here, where are all the EMV-compliant merchants? Many are still waiting for software updates. And why is that, given how many years everyone has known about the October 2015 cutover? Seems that the U.S. payments processing space is a lot more complicated than even the payment itself realized, according to Randy Vanderhoof, who, as executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, is the industry's chief EMV cheerleader.

Vanderhoof concedes that most U.S. merchants—60-65 percent, he said—are not EMV compliant today and he blames that on several factors, but payments complexity—and good old-fashioned procrastination—are at the top of his list. "The U.S. market is the most complex payments processing market in the world because we have multiple parties involved in managing the retail POS systems and multiple parties engaged in the processing and acquiring of payment transactions," Vanderhoof said. "In other countries, other markets, the major banks who were then issuers were also the acquirers so they owned the terminals in those merchant locations. They invested in the cards and the terminals and their own banking acquiring network. In the U.S., financial institutions are separated from the merchants and acquirers. This means that there needs to be independent investments and alignments."

Apple Pay Penetration Stats: The Less We Know, The Better It Is

Although there is no question today that mobile payments are increasing, to what degree is challenging. This confusion was magnified this month when Bloomberg quoted the Aite Group as saying that ApplePay accounts for one percent of all U.S. retail transactions.

Aite denies ever having said that—the analyst said that he said that it was much lower than one percent—and indeed Aite says that Apple Pay represents a tiny fraction of one percent of current U.S. retail sales. IDC estimates that Apple Pay today accounts for about one-tenth of one percent of all retail in-store transactions in the U.S., while Javelin puts that figure at about half—roughly one-twentieth of one percent. When moving from Apple Pay to Google Pay, the estimated slices get even thinner. Crone Consulting president Richard Crone sees Google Pay representing about one-third of Apple Pay transactions. IDC analyst James Wester put Google Pay's figures in an even more vague area: "Google Pay is so small to be incalculable. I can't even estimate what it is because it is so small," he said.

Although there is no question today that mobile payments are increasing, to what degree is challenging. This confusion was magnified this month when Bloomberg quoted the Aite Group as saying that ApplePay accounts for one percent of all U.S. retail transactions.

Aite denies ever having said that—the analyst said that he said that it was much lower than one percent—and indeed Aite says that Apple Pay represents a tiny fraction of one percent of current U.S. retail sales. IDC estimates that Apple Pay today accounts for about one-tenth of one percent of all retail in-store transactions in the U.S., while Javelin puts that figure at about half—roughly one-twentieth of one percent. When moving from Apple Pay to Google Pay, the estimated slices get even thinner. Crone Consulting president Richard Crone sees Google Pay representing about one-third of Apple Pay transactions. IDC analyst James Wester put Google Pay's figures in an even more vague area: "Google Pay is so small to be incalculable. I can't even estimate what it is because it is so small," he said.

Some Interesting Odds And Ends From Money2020 Announcements

At any industry event such as Money2020, companies try and roll out new offerings—even if what they have to say isn't that new or interesting. But in reviewing the self-perpetuating avalanche of accolades, found a few interesting tidbits with that Monday dateline.

New stats from eMarketer: In 2015, mobile payments will total $8.71 billion in the US, with users spending an average of nearly $376 annually using their mobile phone as a payment method. By 2016, total mobile payment transactions will reach $27.05 billion, with users spending an average of $721.47 annually. Total mobile payment sales will rise faster than average spending per user in 2016 because of the growth in the number of overall users of the technology. Mozido confirmed a gateway platform that is optimized for trade between the U.S. and China. Less significantly, the company also announced the availability of it HCE product.

At any industry event such as Money2020, companies try and roll out new offerings—even if what they have to say isn't that new or interesting. But in reviewing the self-perpetuating avalanche of accolades, found a few interesting tidbits with that Monday dateline.

New stats from eMarketer: In 2015, mobile payments will total $8.71 billion in the US, with users spending an average of nearly $376 annually using their mobile phone as a payment method. By 2016, total mobile payment transactions will reach $27.05 billion, with users spending an average of $721.47 annually. Total mobile payment sales will rise faster than average spending per user in 2016 because of the growth in the number of overall users of the technology. Mozido confirmed a gateway platform that is optimized for trade between the U.S. and China. Less significantly, the company also announced the availability of it HCE product.