The first week of December shows a lot more international payments activity, with this week's news spotlighting shifts in Australia, China, the Netherlands, Africa and Germany.

When Apple Pay was launched in Australia last month, the fact that only Amex cards were supported was unusual. (And statements from MasterCard that cash in Australia is losing to mobile and contactless raised more questions than they answered.) But some of the explanations for that situation are now becoming clear.

The first week of December shows a lot more international payments activity, with this week's news spotlighting shifts in Australia, China, the Netherlands, Africa and Germany.
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.
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?
When Square's IPO launches Thursday (Nov. 19) morning, it will start off seeking $9/share, which values the company at $2.66 billion, half of where it had valued a year ago. Even its IPO prospectus had estimated a range of $11-$13. Square is arguably the industry's best-known payment facilitator.

"It’s a signal that Square will face a challenge when it finally goes public," noted TechCrunch. "Square’s pricing — below its previous valuation — is one of many instances of valuations being written down among late-stage startups." Fair or not—FYI, it's not—Square is facing Wall Street analysts who need to pigeonhole Square direct competitors. But the Square business model, size and customer based is sufficiently unusual that there really are no like-for-like rivals.<

When Square's IPO launches Thursday (Nov. 19) morning, it will start off seeking $9/share, which values the company at $2.66 billion, half of where it had valued a year ago. Even its IPO prospectus had estimated a range of $11-$13. Square is arguably the industry's best-known payment facilitator.
The global payments space was brimming with activity this week, as next month's holidays loom ever closer.

Three major Thailand mobile operators—Advanced Info Service (AIS), Total Access Communication (DTAC) and True Move—have struck a deal that is supposed to allow consumers to easily transfer money amongst the group starting Dec. 1. All users need do is key in the receiver's mobile number. No bank account details needed.

The global payments space was brimming with activity this week, as next month's holidays loom ever closer.
In observation of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, PaymentFacilitator.com will not publish the week of Nov. 23, either on our sites or in our weekly newsletter.

We will be back the first week of December with all of the news that PFs need, along with a few extra goodies as we unveil some new editorial features and prepare to launch our podcast series.

In observation of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, PaymentFacilitator.com will not publish the week of Nov. 23, either on our sites or in our weekly newsletter. We will be back the first week of December with all of the news that PFs need, along with a few extra goodies as we unveil some new editorial features and prepare to launch our podcast series.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Payments developments around the globe has mobile commerce taking off across southeast Asia, card swipe fees and surcharges on the hotseat in Australia and New Zealand, foreign card players are facing an easier than expected time entering Chinese marketplaces while PayTM is pushing hard for its Payment Bank in India.
Payments developments around the globe has mobile commerce taking off across southeast Asia, card swipe fees and surcharges on the hotseat in Australia and New Zealand, foreign card players are facing an easier than expected time entering Chinese marketplaces while PayTM is pushing hard for its Payment Bank in India.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.

If you’re still not convinced of the power of the PF model, prepare to be so. Square, perhaps the leading payment facilitator, with 2 million active customers, has finally made it’s financials public via its S-1 filing, and its losses are staggering.

How could this company have attracted private valuations in excess of US$6 billion? Simple: by being a great company with a great plan in an emerging market. Despite being on target to accumulate half a billion in losses in a four-year period, it is a robust business, with solid management on the brink of profitability. Its losses do not result from negative business factors, but rather because management is so excited by its opportunities that it is taking a Amazon-esque approach, forgoing short-term profits to invest in its many future opportunities. One should view the magnitude of the losses not as a negative, but rather as indicative of the magnitude of the opportunity.

If you’re still not convinced of the power of the PF model, prepare to be so. Square, perhaps the leading payment facilitator, with 2 million active customers, has finally made it’s financials public via its S-1 filing, and its losses are staggering.
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.

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."

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.