Podcast: A Sneak Peek at the Upcoming MAC Conference

In this week’s podcast, we’re talking with Vadeene Sisk, chair of the Education Committee and secretary for MAC. She shares her perspective on what the organization does and how it can help payment facilitators. She also lets listeners in on highlights from some of the organization’s recent educational activities, including a popular webinar on what to expect from a Trump administration.
In this week’s podcast, we’re talking with Vadeene Sisk, chair of the Education Committee and secretary for MAC. She shares her perspective on what the organization does and how it can help payment facilitators.</p><p>She also lets listeners in on highlights from some of the organization’s recent educational activities, including a popular webinar on what to expect from a Trump administration.

ETA Launches Committee for PFs, Acknowledging Tremendous Market Growth Potential

The Electronic Transactions Association is launching a new committee, pointing to the growing importance of PFs within today’s payments industry. Members of ETA’s Payment Facilitator Committee will address challenges and issues having to do with compliance, business and technology in the PF space.
The Electronic Transactions Association is launching a new committee, pointing to the growing importance of PFs within today’s payments industry.</p><p>Members of ETA’s Payment Facilitator Committee will address challenges and issues having to do with compliance, business and technology in the PF space.

Global News Roundup: Secure Payment by Live Chat and Best Practices for Merchant Onboarding

In a roundup of briefs from this week’s news, payment tech companies have been busy making deals and introducing new capabilities, India’s payments app is now available for more users, and Aite talks to acquirers about best practices for merchant onboarding.

Australian payment facilitator PromisePay has changed its name to Assembly. The company cited its evolution from an online payments provider to a company focused on customer experience, as the reason for the change.

In a roundup of briefs from this week’s news, payment tech companies have been busy making deals and introducing new capabilities, India’s payments app is now available for more users, and Aite talks to acquirers about best practices for merchant onboarding.

Podcast: Getting the Most Out of Underwriting Tools

In this week’s podcast, we talk to Marcus Smith, senior vice president of Risk Management for iPayment, a provider of payment solutions and processing services, about the tools used in underwriting submerchants.

Smith points out that while underwriting tools themselves are relatively simple, interpreting the results effectively requires some training.

In this week’s podcast, we talk to Marcus Smith, senior vice president of Risk Management for iPayment, a provider of payment solutions and processing services, about the tools used in underwriting submerchants. Smith points out that while underwriting tools themselves are relatively simple, interpreting the results effectively requires some training.

Pressure on CFPB Intensifies: What’s Next for the Agency?

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dealt a setback to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week when it denied motions to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of the agency. After the same panel ruled the agency's structure unconstitutional, the CFPB asked the entire court to rehear the case. But opponents of the CFPB aren’t waiting for that ruling to continue their assault.
A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dealt a setback to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week when it denied motions to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of the agency. After the same panel ruled the agency's structure unconstitutional, the CFPB asked the entire court to rehear the case. But opponents of the CFPB aren’t waiting for that ruling to continue their assault.

Proposed Cybersecurity Rule Hints at Priority for Regulators

Companies and organizations ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to banking technology provider Fiserv have submitted comments on a proposed rule from three federal agencies regarding enhanced cyber risk management standards. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) is directed at financial institutions and their service providers. The agencies said that they are considering enhanced standards to mitigate against the impact of technology failures and cyberattacks on one of those entities.

While any resulting rule is unlikely to apply to payment facilitators at this point, that doesn’t mean they should ignore it.

Companies and organizations ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to banking technology provider Fiserv have submitted comments on a proposed rule from three federal agencies regarding enhanced cyber risk management standards. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) is directed at financial institutions and their service providers. The agencies said that they are considering enhanced standards to mitigate against the impact of technology failures and cyberattacks on one of those entities. While any resulting rule is unlikely to apply to payment facilitators at this point, that doesn’t mean they should ignore it.

Worldwide Focus on Fintech Regulation Signals Opportunity for PFs

In the U.S., regulators, businesspeople and other groups are in the midst of a debate about how financial technology firms should be regulated. The OCC’s proposed special purpose national bank charter for fintech companies is one example; a white paper outlining policy objectives around the fintech sector issued by the Obama administration at the end of its term is another.

But the U.S. is hardly the only place where the deliberation over just how to oversee this rising sector is taking place. Financial technology is on the minds of governments worldwide, which signals real opportunity for payment facilitators.

In the U.S., regulators, businesspeople and other groups are in the midst of a debate about how financial technology firms should be regulated. The OCC’s proposed special purpose national bank charter for fintech companies is one example; a white paper outlining policy objectives around the fintech sector issued by the Obama administration at the end of its term is another. But the U.S. is hardly the only place where the deliberation over just how to oversee this rising sector is taking place. Financial technology is on the minds of governments worldwide, which signals real opportunity for payment facilitators.

Western Union Settlement a Reminder for PFs: AML Responsibility Doesn’t End at Onboarding

In the announcement last week that Western Union had agreed to pay $586 million as part of a settlement with the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to resolve investigations into anti-money laundering and consumer fraud violations, authorities described the settlement as the “largest forfeiture ever imposed on a money services business.”

What should payment facilitators take away from this settlement?

In the announcement last week that Western Union had agreed to pay $586 million as part of a settlement with the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to resolve investigations into anti-money laundering and consumer fraud violations, authorities described the settlement as the “largest forfeiture ever imposed on a money services business.” What should payment facilitators take away from this settlement?

Fintech Groups Express Support for OCC Charter

The curtain closed this week on the comment period regarding the special purpose national bank charter the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) proposed for financial technology companies in December.

The Electronic Transactions Association and Financial Innovation Now were two of the organizations that submitted comments prior to Tuesday’s deadline. Both said they welcomed the discussion about devising a regulatory framework that can support innovation in financial technology while effectively protecting the financial services system and the consumers it serves.

The curtain closed this week on the comment period regarding the special purpose national bank charter the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) proposed for financial technology companies in December. The Electronic Transactions Association and Financial Innovation Now were two of the organizations that submitted comments prior to Tuesday’s deadline. Both said they welcomed the discussion about devising a regulatory framework that can support innovation in financial technology while effectively protecting the financial services system and the consumers it serves.

Opinion: States Have Potential to Transform the Regulatory Landscape for Payments

Policymakers in D.C. and across the country are looking at the modern payments industry with an eye towards regulating it, taxing it, or increasing their cost of doing business. Now is the time for industry officials to work with policymakers to shape good public policy.

One area state policymakers are examining is money transmitter laws. Regulations on money transmitters are changing rapidly and are changing how the payments industry operates.

Policymakers in D.C. and across the country are looking at the modern payments industry with an eye towards regulating it, taxing it, or increasing their cost of doing business. One area state policymakers are examining is money transmitter laws. Regulations on money transmitters are changing rapidly and are changing how the payments industry operates.

Plans to Scrap Obamacare Don’t Worry PF Softheon

As President Obama leaves office and Donald Trump prepares to take the reins, a Republican Congress has declared repealing Obamacare to be one of its top priorities. But what that will entail and what the resulting healthcare system will look like is anyone’s guess at this point.

With so much uncertainty in the health care market, you might expect Eugene Sayan, the CEO of PF Softheon, whose platforms are used by insurers and health plan exchanges to market products to and accept payments from consumers, to be worried. You would be wrong.

As President Obama leaves office and Donald Trump prepares to take the reins, a Republican Congress has declared repealing Obamacare to be one of its top priorities. But what that will entail and what the resulting healthcare system will look like is anyone’s guess at this point. With so much uncertainty in the health care market, you might expect Eugene Sayan, the CEO of PF Softheon, to be worried. You would be wrong.

Guest Post: Will Regulators Get Trumped?

The unexpected election of Donald Trump has left many wondering what the impact will be to the regulatory environment of the financial services industry. A Republican president and Congress will have the potential to alter that environment, but questions remain about how much and how soon. Marsha Jones, president of the Third Party Payment Processors Association, shares her organization's perspective.
The unexpected election of Donald Trump has left many wondering what the impact will be to the regulatory environment of the financial services industry. A Republican president and Congress will have the potential to alter that environment, but questions remain about how much and how soon. Marsha Jones, president of the Third Party Payment Processors Association, shares her organization's perspective.

2017: The Year of Deregulation?

The president-elect spoke on the campaign trail about dismantling regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Act. So far, many of his appointees have been businessmen with anti-regulatory tendencies. The Republican Party has majorities in both the House and the Senate. Does this political climate mean payment facilitators should say good-bye to their compliance teams? Not so fast.
The president-elect spoke on the campaign trail about dismantling regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Act. So far, many of his appointees have been businessmen with anti-regulatory tendencies. The Republican Party has majorities in both the House and the Senate. Does this political climate mean payment facilitators should say good-bye to their compliance teams? Not so fast.

Money Transmitters Could Benefit from OCC Charter

Earlier this month, the OCC announced it would be accepting applications from financial technology companies for a new special purpose national bank charter.

The news is an acknowledgement that fintech firms are a rising segment of the economy and increasingly relied upon by consumers for financial services. But obtaining the charter will be costly and come with its own strict set of requirements. So what types of companies are likely to benefit from obtaining such a charter?

Earlier this month, the OCC announced it would be accepting applications from financial technology companies for a new special purpose national bank charter. The news is an acknowledgement that fintech firms are a rising segment of the economy and increasingly relied upon by consumers for financial services. But obtaining the charter will be costly and come with its own strict set of requirements. So what types of companies are likely to benefit from obtaining such a charter?

Podcast: Beneficial Ownership Defined And Analyzed

As Rich Consulting president Deana Rich explains in this week’s PaymentFacilitator.com podcast – a re-run from August 24 – the Treasury’s beneficial ownership rule announced in May will require banks to perform KYC on all owners with more than 25 percent ownership as well as the person that manages or runs the business, and banks will likely turn that extra work over to ISOs or PFs underwriting merchants or submerchants.
As Rich Consulting president Deana Rich explains in this week’s PaymentFacilitator.com podcast – a re-run from August 24 – the Treasury’s beneficial ownership rule announced in May will require banks to perform KYC on all owners with more than 25 percent ownership as well as the person that manages or runs the business, and banks will likely turn that extra work over to ISOs or PFs underwriting merchants or submerchants.

First Look at the OCC Special Purpose Charter: Good or Bad for Fintech Companies?

On Friday, the OCC announced it will begin accepting applications for special purpose national bank charters from financial technology firms. Reception of this news has been generally positive, with industry organizations such as the Electronic Transactions Association and American Bankers Association issuing statements in support of such a charter.

But the early take on the news from industry insiders indicates that it is a mixed bag for individual companies. Applying for the charter may be either a smart move or a bad idea, depending on who you are and why you want it.

On Friday, the OCC announced it will begin accepting applications for special purpose national bank charters from financial technology firms. Reception of this news has been generally positive, with industry organizations such as the Electronic Transactions Association and American Bankers Association issuing statements in support of such a charter. But the early take on the news from industry insiders indicates that it is a mixed bag for individual companies. Applying for the charter may be either a smart move or a bad idea, depending on who you are and why you want it.

Podcast: Underwriting Submerchants – How Responsible Are Acquirers?

Last week, we spoke with Deana Rich about the special considerations behind underwriting payment facilitators. This week we take our focus on underwriting in the payment facilitator space a step farther. We talk with Eric Haru, executive vice president, Risk and Compliance, for Merchant e-Solutions about underwriting submerchants.
Last week, we spoke with Deana Rich about the special considerations behind underwriting payment facilitators. This week we take our focus on underwriting in the payment facilitator space a step farther. We talk with Eric Haru, executive vice president, Risk and Compliance, for Merchant e-Solutions about underwriting submerchants.

It’s Facebook Official: Social Media Giant Receives Payments License for Europe

Facebook has received a license from the Central Bank of Ireland to serve as an electronic money institution in Europe.

The broad nature of Facebook’s existing user base – globally, the company has an average of 1.18 billion daily active users – may give it an advantage over any competitors looking to establish alternative payment schemes in Europe. But the fact that it is a social network first and a payment entity much later means the company needs to be very careful.

Facebook has received a license from the Central Bank of Ireland to serve as an electronic money institution in Europe.

Podcast: Underwriting Payment Facilitators Demystified

This week we’re talking with Rich Consulting president and compliance expert Deana Rich about underwriting payment facilitators. How is it different from underwriting other entities, and what are some of the special considerations?

Acquirers who are thinking about entering a relationship with a payment facilitator need to fully understand the risks and how to control them before making the commitment, Rich said.

This week we’re talking with Rich Consulting president and compliance expert Deana Rich about underwriting payment facilitators. How is it different from underwriting other entities, and what are some of the special considerations?

PSD2 Creates Opportunity for New Wave of European PFs

Europe is undergoing a step change in banking and payment services, leveraging open API technology and new regulatory frameworks to make a historically cumbersome industry more competitive, secure and customer-friendly.

The goal? “Customer first” digital banking and Europe-wide faster payments to drive innovation and increase cross-border trade in a European B2C e-commerce market worth over 425 billion euros.

Europe is undergoing a step change in banking and payment services, leveraging open API technology and new regulatory frameworks to make a historically cumbersome industry more competitive, secure and customer-friendly. The goal? “Customer first” digital banking and Europe-wide faster payments to drive innovation and increase cross-border trade in a European B2C e-commerce market worth over 425 billion euros.

News Roundup: PayPal’s New App, Uber’s Day in Court

In this week’s news roundup, PayPal introduces a new app for business owners, Uber goes to court, and Adobe tracks Black Friday online sales.
In this week’s news roundup, PayPal introduces a new app for business owners, Uber goes to court, and Adobe tracks Black Friday online sales.

Payment Facilitators and Risk: How the Market Views Submerchants

There is plenty of evidence that the payment facilitator market will grow significantly over the next few years. There are multiple drivers for this growth, including the belief that the increased complexity of compliance/security requirements for merchants will generate more interest in this payments model.

Although there is general agreement that the growth potential is large, there is a divergent set of opinions on how risky the model is, and how risk needs to be approached.

There is plenty of evidence that the payment facilitator market will grow significantly over the next few years. There are multiple drivers for this growth, including the belief that the increased complexity of compliance/security requirements for merchants will generate more interest in this payments model. Although there is general agreement that the growth potential is large, there is a divergent set of opinions on how risky the model is, and how risk needs to be approached.

4 Things PFs Need to Know About Anti-Money Laundering

Government regulations laid out by the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act require businesses to follow certain practices to avoid facilitating criminal activity, even inadvertently. Together, these regulations form the backbone of anti-money laundering efforts in the U.S.

These government regulations are supported by card brand rules that provide direction on payment facilitators’ specific roles and responsibilities. This is an area that can be daunting to many new and even seasoned payment facilitators.

Dr. Heather Mark, Ph.D., director of compliance for ProPay, shared four critical AML practices the payment facilitators she meets do not always fully understand.

Dr. Heather Mark, Ph.D., director of compliance for ProPay, shares four critical AML practices the payment facilitators she meets do not always fully understand.

Digital Wallets: A Deep Dive into the New CFPB Rule

Buried within the 1,689-page Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) “final rule,” or Prepaid Access Rule, are provisos that pertain to digital wallets. In a previous article, I shared the basic outlines of the rule itself and how it relates to digital payments. But how worried should payment facilitators who operate a digital wallet be?
Buried within the 1,689-page Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) “final rule,” or Prepaid Access Rule, are provisos that pertain to digital wallets. In a previous article, I shared the basic outlines of the rule itself and how it relates to digital payments. But how worried should payment facilitators who operate a digital wallet be?

Podcast: What Should Payment Facilitators Know About Money Transmitters?

In this week’s podcast, we talk to attorney Theo Monroe about money service businesses, also known as money transmitters. He says that payment businesses can sometimes engage in activities that qualify as money transmission activities under federal or state law – possibly without realizing it.

Federal and state authorities view money transmitters differently, which means that payment facilitators must understand and navigate varying regulations to make sure they are operating within the law, he says.

In this week’s podcast, we talk to attorney Theo Monroe about money service businesses, also known as money transmitters.

Healthcare PF InstaMed Connects Payers, Providers and Patients

Healthcare in the U.S. is a complicated mix of people and organizations both large and small. Patients navigate through small practices and large healthcare systems as well as individual and employer-provided insurance. Further adding to the complications are very specific regulations protecting patient data and the need to protect the patients’ payment information.

As a payment facilitator, InstaMed strives to connect those disparate parts through a single network. The company claims to connect more than two-thirds of the healthcare market and process tens of billions of dollars a year in healthcare payments.

Healthcare in the U.S. is a complicated mix of people and organizations both large and small. Patients navigate through small practices and large healthcare systems as well as individual and employer-provided insurance. Further adding to the complications are very specific regulations protecting patient data and the need to protect the patients’ payment information.

Podcast: Comprehensive Resources for PFs in New Guidelines from ETA

In this week’s PaymentFacilitator.com podcast, we talk to Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association. On Thursday (Oct. 20), the organization is releasing its new payment facilitator guidelines at its 2016 Strategic Leadership Forum in Palm Beach, Fla.

The document is intended to serve as a toolkit for best practices related to fraud detection and prevention, Oxman said.

In this week’s PaymentFacilitator.com podcast, we talk to Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association. On Thursday (Oct. 20), the organization is releasing its new payment facilitator guidelines at its 2016 Strategic Leadership Forum in Palm Beach, Fla.

The Latest Fraud Panacea: 3D Secure 2.0! Well, We’ll See

The line between fraud prevention and bad customer experience continues to be a tightrope the payments industry has to walk. While the correct balance hasn’t yet been struck, industry watchers are bracing for another attempt when EMVCo releases 3DSecure 2.0 later this year.

EMVCo, a technical body overseen by its six member organizations – American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard, UnionPay, and Visa – is currently collecting industry feedback on a draft version of the revised specification, with the final version expected to be released this year. But will it be an improvement? And what should payment facilitators be watching for?

The line between fraud prevention and bad customer experience continues to be a tightrope the payments industry has to walk. While the correct balance hasn’t yet been struck, industry watchers are bracing for another attempt when EMVCo releases 3DSecure 2.0 later this year.

Podcast: Mastering Compliance for PFs

Innovation and compliance are two terms that are not often heard together. But as Heather Mark, director of compliance at ProPay explains, payment facilitators bring a unique perspective to bear on the traditional payments industry. This can sometimes make things interesting, even for seasoned compliance professionals.
Innovation and compliance are two terms that are not often heard together. But as Heather Mark, director of compliance at ProPay explains, payment facilitators bring a unique perspective to bear on the traditional payments industry.

Despite PF Advantage on New Mastercard Merchant Fee, Some PFs Preach Caution

In the payments world, few things are as confusing or as controversial as network fees. The economics of a transaction routed over Visa or Mastercard rails could amount to a college-level course.

Rates for interchange, the amounts that the networks collect from retailers on behalf of card issuers, are often on merchants’ minds as they look for the most economical transaction routing options. But in recent years, the fees that the networks keep for themselves have generated plenty of ink.

In the payments world, few things are as confusing or as controversial as network fees. The economics of a transaction routed over Visa or Mastercard rails could amount to a college-level course.

ETA Has PFs’ Backs, Supporting Bill to Ease Regulation for Fintech Startups

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) introduced a bill last week (Sept. 22) designed to help encourage financial technology innovation in the U.S.

We’ll be watching debate over this bill as it progresses, but we hope it opens up a dialogue about the best way to balance the need for regulatory oversight to protect consumers with the need to develop new products and services that meet rapidly changing demands.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) introduced a bill last week (Sept. 22) designed to help encourage financial technology innovation in the U.S.

New CFPB Lawsuit Reminds PFs: Use Frictionless Underwriting for High-Risk Merchants at Your Peril

Last week (Sept.23), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit against a credit repair company called Prime Marketing Holdings.

In a press release announcing the complaint, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, “We are taking action against Prime Marketing Holdings for luring consumers with misleading claims about its ability to repair credit files and then charging illegal fees.” This case is a reminder to PFs that, when you’re dealing with merchants in high-risk categories, frictionless onboarding is not the way to go.

Last week (Sept.23), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit against a credit repair company called Prime Marketing Holdings. This case is a reminder to PFs that, when you’re dealing with merchants in high-risk categories, frictionless onboarding is not the way to go.

Unregistered Third Party Regpack’s Exposure Of 324,000 Transactions Proves A Cautionary Tale For PFs

A July exposure of transaction records from 899 submerchants serviced by payment facilitator BlueSnap highlights an important lesson for PFs.

In addition to making sure their own houses are in order, they bear responsibility for their submerchants and service providers as well. PFs who control all aspects of the card entry, where it’s impossible for a transaction to enter outside of their interface, may be able to certify compliance on behalf of all their submerchants. However, if any submerchant or service providers could conceivably get access to card data, the PF must ensure they are certified and registered. BlueSnap had to learn that the hard way.

A July exposure of transaction records from 899 submerchants serviced by payment facilitator BlueSnap highlights an important lesson for PFs.

Strong Authentication? Unanimous, But Many Say EU Proposed Rules Risk Sacrificing Innovation And Growth

As the European Union nears the creation of new rules on payments providers for consumer authentication, many question their utility.

The European Banking Authority's proposed rules say that service providers have to choose two of three verification methods: knowledge (such as a password), possession (a card, phone or wearable) and/or inherence (fingerprints, voice or iris scan, for example).

As the European Union nears the creation of new rules on payments providers for consumer authentication, many question their utility.

Tipalti Acts Like A PF In More Ways Than Taking Payments

Tipalti does a lot of things a PF does, except take credit card payments. The B2B accounts payable software service accepts six payment methods and does pre-payment checks against AML and OFAC lists and enables global payments, herding 26,000 payments rules and 120 currencies while streamlining supplier onboarding and providing everything but tax returns to its clients.

Tipalti just got $14 million in funding and chief marketing officer Rob Israch says accepting card payments is most likely in its future. It's another example of a perfect candidate to become a PF, but Israch says because it uses so many partners to do what it does, when it offers card payments to suppliers, freelancers, etc., the facilitation would most likely be outsourced. The company helps pay approximately 750,000 suppliers and remits $2 billion annually.

Tipalti does a lot of things a PF does, except take credit card payments.
The B2B accounts payable software service accepts six payment methods and does pre-payment checks against AML and OFAC lists and enables global payments, herding 26,000 payments rules and 120 currencies while streamlining supplier onboarding and providing everything but tax returns to its clients.

Podcast: MAC Regional Meeting Brings Together Hundreds Of Years Of Experience

In Dallas Sep. 27 the Merchant Acquirers Committee (MAC) hosts its Midwestern Regional Training meeting, one of its three regional gatherings packed with presentations and networking. Non MAC members are welcome to the all-day event that features seven sessions on topics presented by company executives from Visa, Mastercard, Rich Consulting, Mitigator, Kount, and Aperia.

Jim Bibles, vice president and chief compliance officer at Aperia and a MAC director, said in this week's paymentfacilitator.com podcast that the day is capped by a roundtable moderated by himself and Rich Consulting president Deana Rich. They enable the audience to ask questions that most times are answered by someone in the room, either a moderator or audience member.

In Dallas Sep. 27 the Merchant Acquirers Committee (MAC) hosts its Midwestern Regional Training meeting, one of its three regional gatherings packed with presentations and networking. Non MAC members are welcome to the all-day event that features seven sessions on topics presented by company executives from Visa, Mastercard, Rich Consulting, Mitigator, Kount, and Aperia.

Guest Post: Britannia Waives The Rules As Brexit Makes Waves For PFs

Three months have passed since the referendum on June 23rd that set course for the UK, the EU’s second largest economy, to leave the European Union. Yet there is still considerable uncertainty on how this event will impact the payments industry and payment facilitators.

In this article, we look at the key considerations for U.S. PFs with an existing UK presence or those looking to set up a EU company to expand into European markets.

Three months have passed since the referendum on June 23rd that set course for the UK, the EU’s second largest economy, to leave the European Union. Yet there is still considerable uncertainty on how this event will impact the payments industry and payment facilitators.

Banks’ Consumer Misdeeds May Spell Concern For Small Merchants

Google "Wells Fargo scandal" and you get a choice of three: 2016, 2015, 2013, all of which may effect how SMBs view banks.

The public didn’t hold banks in high esteem to say the least after the high risk mortgage crisis of 2008 led to government bailouts, but the blatant practice and prolific number of fake accounts created between 2011 and 2015 shocked even the most jaded and cynical observers. Coincidentally, or not, Wells Fargo's stock doubled in the same time period. Wells Fargo of course is just the latest big bank to run afoul of regulators; HSBC drew charges of foreign exchange trade violations a week before the Wells Fargo scandal broke.

Google "Wells Fargo scandal" and you get a choice of three: 2016, 2015, 2013, all of which may effect how SMBs view banks.

Innovation In ID Technology Speeds KYC In India

Indian payment facilitator Paytm will be onboarding customers for its payments bank with eKYC enabled by India's voluntary national identification program, Aadhaar.

As of Sep. 5, 2016, 87 percent of India's 1.2 billion people had registered for the unique 12-digit number. To register, residents have to bring three forms of identification (proof of identity, proof of address, proof of birthdate) to an enrollment center, where their fingerprints and irises will be scanned.

Indian payment facilitator Paytm will be onboarding customers for its payments bank with eKYC enabled by India's voluntary national identification program, Aadhaar.

When Treasury Speaks, PFs Should Listen

The U.S. Treasury clarified its anti money laundering regulations regarding foreign correspondent banks Aug. 30 and the attention it got was a reminder how weighty the Treasury's words are to those in the payments world. Any time the Treasury speaks about AML PFs should listen, says Deana Rich, president of Rich Consulting.

Rich, a compliance expert, says KYC and AML and transaction monitoring are all practices that the technology companies who become payment facilitators are not used to overseeing, so attention to detail is highly recommended.

The U.S. Treasury clarified its anti money laundering regulations regarding foreign correspondent banks Aug. 30 and the attention it got was a reminder how weighty the Treasury's words are to those in the payments world. Any time the Treasury speaks about AML PFs should listen, says Deana Rich, president of Rich Consulting.

Podcast: Beneficial Ownership Defined And Analyzed

As Rich Consulting president Deana Rich explains in this week's paymentfacilitator.com podcast, the Treasury’s beneficial ownership rule announced in May will require banks to perform KYC on all owners with more than 25 percent ownership as well as the person that manages or runs the business, and banks will likely turn that extra work over to ISOs or PFs underwriting merchants or submerchants.

There are different impacts to banks and their PF partners based on the size and ownership/operation structure of the merchant. The largest category of submerchants are sole proprietors or owned by one person, who also runs the business. All PFs are performing KYC on these owners and therefore there is no change to this category.

As Rich Consulting president Deana Rich explains in this week's paymentfacilitator.com podcast, the Treasury’s beneficial ownership rule announced in May will require banks to perform KYC on all owners with more than 25 percent ownership as well as the person that manages or runs the business, and banks will likely turn that extra work over to ISOs or PFs underwriting merchants or submerchants.

If Chargebacks And False Declines Are The Problem, PFs Are A Solution

Chargebacks and false declines present many problems to merchants and issuers alike but where there's complications, there's payment facilitator opportunity, says one risk management expert.

"Whereas merchants may not be familiar with all aspects of payment processing and risk management controls, payment facilitators provide affordable accessibility to systems, knowledge and focused expertise that may otherwise be unattainable," says Marcus Smith, the senior vice president of risk management for processor iPayment Inc. "Due to scale and buying power, payment facilitators can also allow merchants to benefit from their data acquisition, proprietary and third party technology and other value added service that meet the needs of their aggregate clientele. Ultimately, payment facilitators can eliminate various administrative costs and distractions allowing merchants to place their money, time and attention on managing and growing their business."

Chargebacks and false declines present many problems to merchants and issuers alike but where there's complications, there's payment facilitator opportunity, says one risk management expert.

Podcast: A PF Platform Is Born

The payment facilitator model is exploding because of the vast number of small to medium sized merchants who like their lives uncluttered by multiple partners trying to help them run their business, including those that enable them to accept electronic payments. They want the simplicity of valuable services as well as payment ability, and not from two vendors.

But becoming a payment facilitator is no picnic; who's there to help potential payment facilitators who are hesitant to take on the maze of underwriting, compliance, fraud risk, and monitoring despite the growing evidence that market share and revenue can be gained?

The payment facilitator model is exploding because of the vast number of small to medium sized merchants who like their lives uncluttered by multiple partners trying to help them run their business, including those that enable them to accept electronic payments. They want the simplicity of valuable services as well as payment ability, and not from two vendors.

EMV Roundup: Security Flaw? Mobile Device Approval And Requirements Update

There was a host of stories last week on the occasion of the 10-month anniversary of the Oct. 15, 2015 EMV migration date. While there have been extensions to the date of transfer of liability from issuers to non-EMV enabled merchants, apparently the story writers couldn’t wait for the more traditional annual lookback. Major data thus far: the U.S. is the only region in the world where chip card usage is lower than chip card deployment and adoption, and is last by far of the globe's six regions in both deployment and use.

Some real developments around EMV took place this past week though, as the pursuit of a more robust infrastructure and consumer acceptance continues:

There was a host of stories last week on the occasion of the 10-month anniversary of the Oct. 15, 2015 EMV migration date. While there have been extensions to the date of transfer of liability from issuers to non-EMV enabled merchants, apparently the story writers couldn’t wait for the more traditional annual lookback. Major data thus far: the U.S. is the only region in the world where chip card usage is lower than chip card deployment and adoption, and is last by far of the globe's six regions in both deployment and use.

Podcast: Transaction Laundering — How Not To Get Taken To The Cleaners

One of the cyberthief's favorite tactics these days is transaction laundering, where the bad guy takes their bad transactions—usually for drugs, gambling, counterfeit goods or human trafficking—and runs them through seemingly good web sites, ones ostensibly trying to sell innocuous products.

There are things that a payment facilitator can do to thwart such efforts and that is the focus of this week's podcast, a re-run from March 30, featuring Deana Rich, president of Rich Consulting.

One of the cyberthief's favorite tactics these days is transaction laundering, where the bad guy takes their bad transactions—usually for drugs, gambling, counterfeit goods or human trafficking—and runs them through seemingly good web sites, ones ostensibly trying to sell innocuous products.

Take A Deep Breath PFs, Beneficial Ownership Rule Is Not So Bad

First things first: In our opinion, the Treasury's May 11 FinCEN rules are going to impact ISOs and Payment Facilitators alike, in that banks are going to make them follow these new rules.

Although the rule does not speak to ISOs or PFs underwriting merchants or submerchants, we fully believe if you are required to do KYC now -- and ISOs and PFs are required to do KYC now -- they will be required to do the increased KYC under the new rules.

First things first: In our opinion, the Treasury's May 11 FinCEN rules are going to impact ISOs and Payment Facilitators alike, in that banks are going to make them follow these new rules.

India’s Razorpay Onboards A Month Faster Than Rivals

Onboarding merchants in less than a week, nearly a month quicker than what the CEO says is the industry standard, Indian payment facilitator Razorpay has used that impressive stat to sign up more than 8,000 Indian merchants, including mom-and-pops and global chains such as Papa John’s. Not bad for a company that wasn’t even a Mastercard payment facilitator until last year.

A member of Mastercard's Start Path program since 2015, Razorpay is precisely how the card brand envisions signing 40 million merchants by 2020. The challenges are as plentiful as the opportunities.

Onboarding merchants in less than a week, nearly a month quicker than what the CEO says is the industry standard, Indian payment facilitator Razorpay has used that impressive stat to sign up more than 8,000 Indian merchants, including mom-and-pops and global chains such as Papa John’s. Not bad for a company that wasn’t even a Mastercard payment facilitator until last year.

Non-Profit PFs Won’t Like This – Facebook, The Latest PF, Is Going To Take Your Share

Facebook is charging back into the payments space but this time charging hard -- taking 5% on every donation it processes through its recently launched non-profit features, announced to page administrators Tuesday. Facebook introduced a Donate button for 19 select non-profits in 2013, but didn't charge a fee, instead sending 100 percent of donations to the charity. The social media giant says of each donation made through Donate buttons that keep donors on a non-profit's page:

"We’re committed to building products that make it as easy and safe as possible for people to contribute to the causes they care about. To make this possible, starting in August, 2% of contributions will be used to cover a portion of the costs of nonprofit vetting, security, and fraud protection, operational costs and payment support and 3% of contributions will go to payment processing. The remaining 95% will go straight to the nonprofit. Facebook's goal is to create a platform for good that’s sustainable over the long-term, and not to make a profit from these charitable giving tools.”

Facebook is charging back into the payments space but this time charging hard -- taking 5% on every donation it processes through its recently launched non-profit features, announced to page administrators Tuesday. Facebook introduced a Donate button for 19 select non-profits in 2013, but didn't charge a fee, instead sending 100 percent of donations to the charity. The social media giant says of each donation made through Donate buttons that keep donors on a non-profit's page:

On China’s Payments SuperHighway, Regulators Stomp The Brakes And AsiaPay Hits The Gas

When you drive on rough roads you don't have to slow down, but you do steer more carefully, guiding your car to smoother surfaces. Chinese payment facilitator AsiaPay is welcoming China's recent regulation tightening as a move to help clean up the country's payments industry's fraud-infested reputation. AsiaPay is reading the new road sign as it zooms by, according to our interview with its CEO Joseph Chan, a key player in the massive payments market that is China.

How massive? In their 2015 report on global payments, Capgemini and the Royal Bank of Scotland said China's non-cash transaction volume growth in 2013 led the world's countries at 37 percent, with the region they call Emerging Asia (India, China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries) leading global regions with more than 21 percent growth. Alipay and WeChat are the dominant third party service providers in the online and mobile payments. ApplePay and SamsungPay have entered the market as well, though they use NFC rather than the QR code conduit favored by Alipay and WeChat.

When you drive on rough roads you don't have to slow down, but you do steer more carefully, guiding your car to smoother surfaces. Chinese payment facilitator AsiaPay is welcoming China's recent regulation tightening as a move to help clean up the country's payments industry's fraud-infested reputation. AsiaPay is reading the new road sign as it zooms by, according to our interview with its CEO Joseph Chan, a key player in the massive payments market that is China.

Podcast: MAC Wants YOU To Learn Payment Facilitator Mastery

If you want to hang out at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, exchanging payment facilitator information and battle scars, you only need to join the Merchant Acquirers Committee (MAC). New and veteran payment facilitators can climb their steep learning curve with help from the members of the MAC; experienced peers, vendors, lawyers, government representatives and card brands exchange information and lessons learned to advance the cause of the payments industry.

"Membership in MAC is a huge opportunity because you can apply your questions to a wealth of knowledge from years and years of experience," said Dione Hodges, MAC's senior director of risk management. "From a payment facilitator standpoint, what you've found challenging today someone has already experienced previously."

If you want to hang out at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, exchanging payment facilitator information and battle scars, you only need to join the Merchant Acquirers Committee (MAC). New and veteran payment facilitators can climb their steep learning curve with help from the members of the MAC; experienced peers, vendors, lawyers, government representatives and card brands exchange information and lessons learned to advance the cause of the payments industry.

Podcast: Vantiv’s Danner Calls Payfacs ‘Epitome of Tech Companies’

Chuck Danner, GM of Payfacs for processor Vantiv, admires not only the software expertise of payfacs but also their creative nature in finding new verticals to help with their value-adds and efficiencies. "We're reliant on these companies for new ideas," Danner said in this week's edition of the PaymentFacilitator.com podcast.

Danner said payfacs are ideal for emerging markets that were either less complicated, non-existent or not tech-enabled, such as healthcare, ride-sharing, crowd funding and vending machines. Because the payfac model is so young, the need and opportunities for payfacs are outpacing the supply. "Growth is phenomenal," Danner said, but closing that gap will take "maturity and time."

Chuck Danner, GM of Payfacs for processor Vantiv, admires not only the software expertise of payfacs but also their creative nature in finding new verticals to help with their value-adds and efficiencies. "We're reliant on these companies for new ideas," Danner said in this week's edition of the PaymentFacilitator.com podcast.

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.

How To Get Cracking On Your PayFac-ing

There are at least two great reasons to jump into the payment facilitator game-- increased revenues and market share—and many many tools to help. One of those tools is advice from the hard-won success achieved by those who have made the leap.

In a session on the ins and outs of starting a payfac at the second annual Payment Facilitator Day at Transact16 in April, Kevin Harris of RunSignUp said training people was more of a challenge than software concerns, and David Weiss of Yapstone shared the difficulties of international expansion. Nick Starai of gateway tech company NMI told the audience to concentrate on the business they know best rather than focus on technological bells and whistles. The highlights of the discussion fill this week's paymentfacilitator.com podcast, the next best thing to having been there.

There are at least two great reasons to jump into the payment facilitator game-- increased revenues and market share—and many many tools to help. One of those tools is advice from the hard-won success achieved by those who have made the leap.

Fraud And Compliance And Rules, Oh My!

The pain of keeping all the rules and regulations straight for a payment facilitator is only exceeded by the pain of not keeping them straight. A PF has to protect itself from merchant problems with underwriting and monitoring, while adhering to the mandates from card brands and acquirers. It's a lot now, but as everyone knows, there's more coming.

As heard in this week's edition of the PaymentFacilitator.com podcast, the best PFs can do to mitigate excessive regulation from without is to do more within, said Rich Consulting president Deana Rich, moderator of the session Emerging Threats Cage Match: Compliance v. Fraud at the second annual Payment Facilitator Day at Transact 16 in April.

The pain of keeping all the rules and regulations straight for a payment facilitator is only exceeded by the pain of not keeping them straight.

A PF has to protect itself from merchant problems with underwriting and monitoring, while adhering to the mandates from card brands and acquirers. It's a lot now, but as everyone knows, there's more coming.

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.

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.

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.

PFs Are No Longer Flying Under The Radar

One of the six sessions at last month’s 2nd Annual Payment Facilitator Day at the ETA TRANSACT 2016 in Las Vegas was titled “What You Should Ask Your Payments Attorney: Yes, You Need an Attorney for This Stuff,” and featured Heather Mark, Director of Compliance for ProPay; Holli Targan, partner, at the law firm Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss; and Marc Liner, senior vice president and associate general counsel for Bank of America Merchant Services.

The panel cautioned payment facilitators and prospective payment facilitators that regulators are slowly and steadily noticing the payment facilitator model. It is a must to be aware of the rules now, and how they change as the model grows, as you’ll hear from this week’s PaymentFacilitator.com podcast. “We are no longer flying under the radar,” said Targan.

One of the six sessions at last month’s 2nd Annual Payment Facilitator Day at the ETA TRANSACT 2016 in Las Vegas was titled “What You Should Ask Your Payments Attorney: Yes, You Need an Attorney for This Stuff,” and featured Heather Mark, Director of Compliance for ProPay; Holli Targan, partner, at the law firm Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss; and Marc Liner, senior vice president and associate general counsel for Bank of America Merchant Services.

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.

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.

Podcast: The Small Merchant’s Response To A Breach Is To Pretend It Didn’t Happen

Of the seven stages of grief, the most remembered is denial. It's certainly remembered by small merchants, who often bizarrely gravitate to denial when they are told that they have been breached. At least that's how Chris Geron, chairman of the MAC Government Relations Committee, sees it.

The justifications for this denial are many, Geron said in this week's PaymentFacilitator.com podcast. Some cling to the absurd belief that being granted a letter of PCI compliance means "that it's not possible to be breached," Geron said. Other small merchants react negatively to a notification from a cardbrand, bank or processor. "Small retailers often believe that if the information has not been shared with them by law enforcement, that the allegation of a breach is not true," Geron said. And some smaller store chains believe that only large chains get breached, he said, despite the fact that the opposite is true. But the most likely reality-denying aspect is financial.

Of the seven stages of grief, the most remembered is denial. It's certainly remembered by small merchants, who often bizarrely gravitate to denial when they are told that they have been breached. At least that's how Chris Geron, chairman of the MAC Government Relations Committee, sees it.

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.

More State Money Transmitter Headaches

As states continue to play with how they define money transmitters, the payment facilitator is caught in the middle. And one payments advocate suggests that it may force a greater role for processors.

Mike Cottrell, direct of global marketing at ProPay and our guest this week for the PaymentFacilitator.com podcast series, argues that not only could this encourage PFs to embrace a greater role for processors, but it could also discourage innovation. In the podcast, Cottrell painted a scenario where PFs—who see themselves as helping merchants do business—will start to pull back on very innovative efforts if it means that they have to spend much more time filling out forms and adhering to different regulations.

As states continue to play with how they define money transmitters, the payment facilitator is caught in the middle. And one payments advocate suggests that it may force a greater role for processors.

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.

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.

PFs Should Take Liability Far More Often Than Anyone Expected

Based on analysis of the payment facilitator model, payments consultant Todd Ablowitz is arguing that payment facilitators need to take on liability a lot more often than they might think.

"Taking the risk as a PF is a choice. Do I take the liability or let the acquirer take the liability?" Ablowitz said. "It doesn't have a dial. You can have a dial on fraud and you can have a dial on credit, but you can't have a dial on how much risk tolerance you have for regulatory. You always have to be on point there. (If you don't), your acquirer will beat you up, the regulators will drag you through the mud and take you to court. You don't want it."

Based on analysis of the payment facilitator model, payments consultant Todd Ablowitz is arguing that payment facilitators need to take on liability a lot more often than they might think.

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.

Study Projects PF Explosion Next Year, To $58.4 Billion Transaction Volume

The number of payment facilitators—and the dollars they are expected to process—will both soar by the end of next year, from 450 PFs and $27 billion in transaction processing last year to 973 PFs and $58.4 billion in transaction processing next year, according to a PF market study finalized this week from Double Diamond Group. That transaction processing number is actually even more powerful as those figures excluded any transactions processed by industry powerhouses PayPal, Stripe and Square.

The study started by examining the SaaS B2B space—a roughly $33 billion market with 22,000 companies—and found that about 13,000 of those companies are positioned to benefit from the PF model. The study's results were announced at the PF Day at ETA TRANSACT 2016.

The number of payment facilitators—and the dollars they are expected to process—will both soar by the end of next year, from 450 PFs and $27 billion in transaction processing last year to 973 PFs and $58.4 billion in transaction processing next year, according to a PF market study finalized this week from Double Diamond Group. That transaction processing number is actually even more powerful as those figures excluded any transactions processed by industry powerhouses PayPal, Stripe and Square.

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.

Podcast: A Preview of Next Week’s Payment Facilitator Day ‘16

The 2nd Annual Payment Facilitator Day at the ETA TRANSACT 2016 will kick off Tuesday (April 19) in Las Vegas. This year’s theme is In Depth and On Target as the full-day event goal is to explore all of the relevant topics and ideas that are shaping the payment facilitator industry.

"It’s about payment facilitators, for payment facilitators and entities that want to become payment facilitators,” Todd Ablowitz said in this week’s PaymentFacilitator.com podcast. Event hosts, Todd Ablowitz and Deana Rich, dive into what to expect at PF Day ’16 and who will be there.

The 2nd Annual Payment Facilitator Day at the ETA TRANSACT 2016 will kick off Tuesday (April 19) in Las Vegas. This year’s theme is In Depth and On Target as the full-day event goal is to explore all of the relevant topics and ideas that are shaping the payment facilitator industry.

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.

Finally, An Event Where PF Is The Focus, Not A Footnote

Given how important payment facilitators are to the rapidly emerging and morphing payments landscape in 2016, it's stunning how few places there are to explore the implications of being a PF today. Plenty of meetings and symposium exist for chatting about payments in general or virtual currencies or mobile payments, but the opportunities to really delve deeply into PF issues are practically non-existent. Until now.

If you can swing by Las Vegas on April 19, PaymentFacilatator.com—in conjunction with Double Diamond Group, Rich Consulting and the Electronic Transactions Association—will present our version of Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About PFs, But Were Too Geeky To Ask. Officially, though, it's dubbed simply TRANSACT 16’s Payment Facilitator Day – In Depth and On Target.

Given how important payment facilitators are to the rapidly emerging and morphing payments landscape in 2016, it's stunning how few places there are to explore the implications of being a PF today. Plenty of meetings and symposium exist for chatting about payments in general or virtual currencies or mobile payments, but the opportunities to really delve deeply into PF issues are practically non-existent. Until now.

Risk Teams Are All Over The Map When It Comes To PFs

Compliance and risk leaders in the Americas, Europe, and Asia exhibit a polarity in their attitudes about payment facilitators. First, there are those who either endorse or oppose. Second, there are PFs that are either fit or unfit for partnership. This yields three observations: Risk teams see PFs in general as either "friends" or "foes"; Risk teams categorize PFs into "safe bets" or "wild cards"; Risk teams demand oversight rights when working with PFs.

G2 recently conducted a survey with acquirers globally. The results showed a greater willingness among banks and processors to work with PFs in EMEA and APAC. In the Americas, one-half of respondents actively work with PFs. In EMEA and APAC, the numbers were closer to two-thirds. When asked if they knew if there were PFs in their portfolios, there was some doubt. A significant number of acquirers in all regions had either discovered a merchant unknowingly acting as a PF in the past year or did not know if that activity was occurring.

Compliance and risk leaders in the Americas, Europe, and Asia exhibit a polarity in their attitudes about payment facilitators. First, there are those who either endorse or oppose. Second, there are PFs that are either fit or unfit for partnership. This yields three observations: Risk teams see PFs in general as either "friends" or "foes"; Risk teams categorize PFs into "safe bets" or "wild cards"; Risk teams demand oversight rights when working with PFs.

Visa’s New SMB Rules Add PF Complexities

When Visa recently added more rules on its smallest merchants—PCI Level 4s—it created a sales opportunity for payment facilitators by giving SMBs an even stronger reason to outsource its payments activities. At the same time, it added more complexity to PCI management for those PFs.

Mike Cottrell, head of global sales and marketing at ProPay, tried to put the new rules into perspective for payment facilitators in this week's PaymentFacilitator.com podcast.

When Visa recently added more rules on its smallest merchants—PCI Level 4s—it created a sales opportunity for payment facilitators by giving SMBs an even stronger reason to outsource its payments activities. At the same time, it added more complexity to PCI management for those PFs.

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.

Transaction Laundering: How Not To Get Taken To The Cleaners

One of the cyberthief's favorite tactics these days is transaction laundering, where the bad guy takes their bad transactions—usually for drugs, gambling, counterfeit goods or human trafficking—and runs them through seemingly good web sites, ones ostensibly trying to sell innocuous products. There are things that a payment facilitator can do to thwart such efforts and that is the focus of this week's PaymentFacilitator.com podcast, featuring Deana Rich, president of Rich Consulting.

One of the less-commonly-used but quite effective tactics, Rich said, is do some secret shopping, both on the PF's own customer sites as well as suspected fraudulent sites. That is literally making purchases from both kinds of sites and seeing what then happens. Rich said she was recently talking "with a banker who told me that she had done that on a site she suspected to be bad and then she made the purchase and it never came through her own system. She never saw it because the purchase didn't really occur. They weren't really selling anything on that site. They were really selling stuff on the bad site. It was that secret shopping, using your own payment card to purchase things, that let her know what went wrong."

One of the cyberthief's favorite tactics these days is transaction laundering, where the bad guy takes their bad transactions—usually for drugs, gambling, counterfeit goods or human trafficking—and runs them through seemingly good web sites, ones ostensibly trying to sell innocuous products. There are things that a payment facilitator can do to thwart such efforts and that is the focus of this week's PaymentFacilitator.com podcast, featuring Deana Rich, president of Rich Consulting.

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?

Questions Every New Payment Facilitator Should Ask Its Payments Attorney

Under the latest card brand rules, payment facilitators are being held to exacting requirements. Note that the acquirer is now able to terminate a PF contract immediately with "good cause." So while state and federal regulation may get the bulk of the attention, those are hardly the only areas of potential rules-enforced disasters.

Visa’s Core Rules, for example, have the PF being "liable for all acts, omissions, cardholder disputes, and other cardholder customer service related issues caused by the Payment Facilitator's Sponsored Merchants" and "is responsible and financially liable for each transaction processed on behalf of the sponsored merchant, or for any disputed transaction or credit." MasterCard similarly requires that "the payment facilitator must ensure that each of its submerchants complies with the standards applicable to merchants." Understanding the limitations and obligations that the card brands impose upon PFs is crucial to ensure the ongoing operations of business.

Under the latest card brand rules, payment facilitators are being held to exacting requirements. Note that the acquirer is now able to terminate a PF contract immediately with "good cause." So while state and federal regulation may get the bulk of the attention, those are hardly the only areas of potential rules-enforced disasters.

A Surreal Peek Into The Payment Data Underworld

If you're in the mood for a truly surreal peek into the stolen payment card data market, check out this profile of a data-seller called Joker's Stash, over at KrebsOnSecurity. This vendor's employees, solely selling illegal stolen data mind you, "set themselves apart by focusing on loyalty programs, frequent-buyer discounts, money-back guarantees and just plain old good customer service." Heck, it's hard enough to get legitimate retailers to do that.

Indeed, the Bitcoin-accepting company markets itself as proudly only selling data that it's own people stole, as opposed to selling what any lowlife on the street steals. And it offers limited guarantees: "All sales are final, although some batches of stolen cards for sale at Joker’s Stash come with a replacement policy — a short window of time from minutes to a few hours, generally — in which buyers can request replacement cards for any that come back as declined during that replacement timeframe." Even their loyalty program is better than that offered by some large retailers.

If you're in the mood for a truly surreal peek into the stolen payment card data market, check out this profile of a data-seller called Joker's Stash, over at KrebsOnSecurity. This vendor's employees, solely selling illegal stolen data mind you, "set themselves apart by focusing on loyalty programs, frequent-buyer discounts, money-back guarantees and just plain old good customer service." Heck, it's hard enough to get legitimate retailers to do that.

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.

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."

Australia’s Crackdown On “Excessive” Interchange

A bill passed by both houses of the Australian Parliament bans companies "from charging an excessive payment surcharge." But what does Parliament consider excessive? That is partially dictated by rules from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

The bill requires that interchange must "reflect the cost of using the payment methods for which they are charged." Does it allow for any margin? And if so, how much would Parliament consider reasonable? In a report from PwC (aka PricewaterhouseCoopers) Australia, "whether a surcharge will be deemed excessive is dependent upon whether there is a Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) standard or regulation in place. The RBA is currently consulting on a standard and is due to make a decision in May 2016. The Bill will not become operative until the standard is in place." It added: "If an infringement notice is issued it will impose a penalty of 600 penalty units ($108,000) for a listed corporation and 60 penalty units ($10,800) for a body corporate that is not a listed corporation."

A bill passed by both houses of the Australian Parliament bans companies "from charging an excessive payment surcharge." But what does Parliament consider excessive? That is partially dictated by rules from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

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.

How A PF Can Clear The Confusing Regulatory Thicket Of Money Transmitters

As states, U.S. federal regulators along with country regulators across the globe try and set rules for money transmitters, payment facilitators are temporarily caught in the middle.

That is how Heather Mark—director of compliance at ProPay and our guest for this week's PaymentFacilitator.com podcast—sees the environment. When all of the conflicting particulars are set aside, there are only two situations where a PF gets into the money transmitter definition mess. First, there is the issue of "who has the ultimate control of the funds being transmitted," Mark said. Secondly, she points to circumstances "where payment facilitators are injecting themselves into the payments process." If a PF's activities take it into either of those scenarios, "then chances are pretty good that they will fall under the money transmitter provision," Mark said.

As states, U.S. federal regulators along with country regulators across the globe try and set rules for money transmitters, payment facilitators are temporarily caught in the middle.

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.

EMV Liability Shift Delivering Surprises To Restaurants

One of the unintended consequences of merchant protections prior to the EMV liability shift in October is that they shielded retailers from seeing a lot of the fraud going through their stores. The problem? That caused quite a few smaller merchants to reach the erroneous conclusion that the frauds that they didn't see didn't exist.

"We're now just seeing the fraud that always existed," said Georgia Stavrakis, the senior director of loss prevention at Heartland Payment Systems and the secretary of MAC. Stavrakis, the guest for this week's PaymentFacilitator.com podcast, as seen a lot of retailers who looked at their level of known fraud and chose to not bother implementing EMV. In short, the fact that they were shielded from seeing their true fraud rate caused them to not fear having to pay for their fraud. The liability shift, therefore, didn't frighten them. "People were misinterpreting the data that we had from before the shift. People were looking at their records, saying 'OK, I've never had a chargeback in 16 years so I don't really care when the liability shift comes because I won't have a dispute,'" Stavrakis said during the podcast. "The reality is that you could have had hundreds of thousands of fraudulent transactions at your location before October. You just didn't know about it because the bank wasn't going to waste its time or money to send that to you."

One of the unintended consequences of merchant protections prior to the EMV liability shift in October is that they shielded retailers from seeing a lot of the fraud going through their stores. The problem? That caused quite a few smaller merchants to reach the erroneous conclusion that the frauds that they didn't see didn't exist.

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."

Is The Cash Disappearance A PF Goldrush?

The friend of my monetary enemy is my monetary enemy. In short, as long as fraudsters take a liking to $100 bills in the U.S., 1,000-franc notes in Switzerland and 10,000-yen pieces of paper in Japan, they should quickly head to the economic graveyard. Turns out, they are indeed going there—and sooner than many expect. But this news is critically important to the payment facilitator world. It provides PFs an opportunity where banks are literally unable to deliver.

How does this impact PFs? Surprisingly directly, actually. As far as cash is concerned, someone has to terminalize the world, especially in emerging markets. Is it going to be the banks? Not a chance. PFs are positioned to create acceptance worldwide of digital payments. In many developing countries, this is a powerful opportunity for fintech companies in the PF world to fill the vacuum that is increasingly going to be left thanks to the rapid demise of cash. Small merchants dramatically outnumber their larger siblings and it's those legions of small merchants that are driving these economies. Why won't the banks do this? They can't because bank business plans won't permit it. Banks have a minimum bar for profitability per merchant and that number is simply far too high for many very small merchants. The banks have to spend the equivalent of hundreds of U.S. dollars for each merchant to onboard those small merchants, with endless paper and process.

The friend of my monetary enemy is my monetary enemy. In short, as long as fraudsters take a liking to $100 bills in the U.S., 1,000-franc notes in Switzerland and 10,000-yen pieces of paper in Japan, they should quickly head to the economic graveyard. Turns out, they are indeed going there—and sooner than many expect. But this news is critically important to the payment facilitator world. It provides PFs an opportunity where banks are literally unable to deliver.

What Do Risk and Compliance Teams Really Think About PFs?

With the number of payment facilitators set to grow meaningfully over the next few years, each acquirer will make a decision—embrace or abstain. Choosing which side of the fence depends on whether an acquirer primarily sees PFs as sources of growth or risk. When G2's Dan Frechtling hears from compliance and risk leaders, this is not a spontaneous choice. It’s a conditional, pragmatic, step-by-step journey. Even the believers have adopted a trust-but-verify stance.

The compliance and risk teams who embrace PFs envision a new scalable sales channel that fuels growth. They focus on a few PFs with which to succeed. Said one compliance head, "We choose a small number opportunistically because they take so long to get over the board." Those teams that avoid PFs take a shorter term view of ROI, deeming PFs too hard to onboard in relation to potential fee revenue. Some even have a visceral fear over what could go wrong. "We see them as a risk we don’t want to touch, so we avoid them like the plague," said one manager.

With the number of payment facilitators set to grow meaningfully over the next few years, each acquirer will make a decision—embrace or abstain. Choosing which side of the fence depends on whether an acquirer primarily sees PFs as sources of growth or risk. When G2's Dan Frechtling hears from compliance and risk leaders, this is not a spontaneous choice. It’s a conditional, pragmatic, step-by-step journey. Even the believers have adopted a trust-but-verify stance.

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.

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.

Patent Wrap: MasterCard’s Plan To Turn An ATM Into A POS

In this week’s look at interesting payments patents issued and/or applied for, PayPal and MasterCard inventors are our payments patent people with a trio of invention applications all filed on Feb. 18. MasterCard's filing envisions using all of those strategically ATMs for a lot more than cash-dispensing. This makes even more sense given that cash-dispensing will become increasingly unnecessary as in-person purchases go digital.

Meanwhile, PayPal wants to aggregate purchases from multiple merchants in one quasi-session. And MasterCard also has an idea for a way to use payment data to identify physically-proximate consumers with similar buying patterns.

In this week’s look at interesting payments patents issued and/or applied for, PayPal and MasterCard inventors are our payments patent people with a trio of invention applications all filed on Feb. 18. MasterCard's filing envisions using all of those strategically ATMs for a lot more than cash-dispensing. This makes even more sense given that cash-dispensing will become increasingly unnecessary as in-person purchases go digital.

Regulators Sharpening Their Ordinance Knives For New Payments

Although regulators have never been mainstays of payment facilitators' holiday card lists, as payments grow increasingly complex, those regulators will become even more ever-present and, candidly, resented. As state regulators—along with their federal counterparts from the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, plus some global regulators—zero in on newer payment methods, their chief focuses will be organizational structure.

Specifically, initial questions will focus on "whether compliance functions are adequately staffed, whether we have enough risk managers looking at all of the pieces of the puzzle and whether the board is involved. We're starting to see these regulators ask these questions," said Ellen Berge, law partner at Venable LLP as well as panel leader for the compliance panel at the Merchant Acquirers Committee (MAC). Berge discussed these issues during this issue's edition of the PaymentFacilitator.com's weekly payments podcast.

Although regulators have never been mainstays of payment facilitators' holiday card lists, as payments grow increasingly complex, those regulators will become even more ever-present and, candidly, resented. As state regulators—along with their federal counterparts from the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, plus some global regulators—zero in on newer payment methods, their chief focuses will be organizational structure.

Google Compare Shutting Down

Google is shutting down Google Compare (which at one point had been called Google Advisor), the search engine's service to deliver price quotes on payment cards, insurance and mortgages—and to sometimes sell those products directly to shoppers.

This likely says less about Google's commitment to the financial services space and more about the difficulties selling those kinds of highly regulated products. Sometimes, it's best to leave these matters to payment facilitator professionals, Google. Stick to your searches.

Google is shutting down Google Compare (which at one point had been called Google Advisor), the search engine's service to deliver price quotes on payment cards, insurance and mortgages—and to sometimes sell those products directly to shoppers.

Global Payments Wrap: MasterCard’s Selfie—And Other Biometric—Authentication—Trials Do Well With The Dutch

This week’s global payments news takes us to the Netherlands, France, India and Brazil. As MasterCard promises to continue and extend its selfie biometric authentications trials in various countries, it found impressively positive results in one region. Dutch participants, given the option of either a fingerprint or a selfie in lieu of a password during a six-month trial, decidedly went bio.

Visa is rolling out Visa Checkout to France, India, Ireland, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom later this year, the card brand announced. And Paytm is close to finalising technology outsourcing contracts worth Rs 125 crore to manage the back-end for its payments bank which the company expects to roll out in August

This week’s global payments news takes us to the Netherlands, France, India and Brazil. As MasterCard promises to continue and extend its selfie biometric authentications trials in various countries, it found impressively positive results in one region. Dutch participants, given the option of either a fingerprint or a selfie in lieu of a password during a six-month trial, decidedly went bio.

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.

Card Data Breaches Are Unseen Mobile Payments Killers

As payment facilitators see an increasingly high percentage of their transactions going through mobile, it's critical to acknowledge the many ways mobile payments could be harm. For example, I got a new debit card last month. Nothing unusual about that in itself. However, I may add that this is the third card in less than a year from the same issuer.

The reason: card data breaches. A few years ago, this would have been a minor inconvenience, but today a fresh card results in the myriad of digital connections I have being unceremoniously cut off. For the last couple of weeks, I've been revisiting the experience of a few months back when I had to re-establish card details with Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, Starbucks, my gym membership and countless others. It's frankly a huge pain in the ass. Again.

As payment facilitators see an increasingly high percentage of their transactions going through mobile, it's critical to acknowledge the many ways mobile payments could be harm. For example, I got a new debit card last month. Nothing unusual about that in itself. However, I may add that this is the third card in less than a year from the same issuer.

PF Confusion May Yet Endanger This Embryonic Market

Confusion regarding the term payment facilitator poses a great risk to the PF community. It is only a matter of time before a registered PF goes belly up due to a lack of understanding of the risk associated with taking liability for sub merchants and meeting the rules of the card brands. When a PF does go belly up, there is a real risk of stifling innovation due to increased regulations.

SAAS providers, community heads and point-of-sale providers all need payments and view a PF license as the panacea to their challenges in processing payments. Investments are at stake and an expectation of get to market reigns supreme. Yet many providers, in their quest to get to market fast, don’t have sufficient information to make an informed decision as to what it means to be a registered PF. The notion of simply signing a merchant agreement and paying $5,000 to register seems all too easy. The liability, regulatory requirements, audits, PCI and flexibility take a back seat in the go-to-market strategy.

Confusion regarding the term payment facilitator poses a great risk to the PF community. It is only a matter of time before a registered PF goes belly up due to a lack of understanding of the risk associated with taking liability for sub merchants and meeting the rules of the card brands. When a PF does go belly up, there is a real risk of stifling innovation due to increased regulations.

Can Anyone Really Tell The Payments Impact On Revenue?

Although it's all-but-universally accepted that the more customer-desired payments options a merchant offers the better, it's often tricky to measure the revenue-specific results. David Cost, VP of e-commerce for apparel site Rainbow Shops, found this out a few months ago when his site started accepting PayPal. Revenue increased at the same rate it historically has, but 20 percent of payments almost immediately started being fulfilled by PayPal.

The tricky question is: Would the shoppers who used PayPal have made those identical purchases anyway, using Visa/MasterCard? Or did the PayPal move save those sales and prevent the revenue from plunging?

Although it's all-but-universally accepted that the more customer-desired payments options a merchant offers the better, it's often tricky to measure the revenue-specific results. David Cost, VP of e-commerce for apparel site Rainbow Shops, found this out a few months ago when his site started accepting PayPal. Revenue increased at the same rate it historically has, but 20 percent of payments almost immediately started being fulfilled by PayPal.

Podcast: A Preview Of Next Month’s MAC Show

The Merchant Acquirers Committee (MAC) show will unfold in Las Vegas March 8-10 and MAC President Richard Parrott makes his case this show will be a different kind of payments event. Specifically, it will be much more specific.

In this week's PaymentFaciliators.com podcast, Parrott argues that the show will be far more granular than other payments show, allowing for payments professionals to learn specific techniques and methods, rather than broad overviews of industry trends.

The Merchant Acquirers Committee (MAC) show will unfold in Las Vegas March 8-10 and MAC President Richard Parrott makes his case this show will be a different kind of payments event. Specifically, it will be much more specific. In this week's PaymentFaciliators.com podcast, Parrott argues that the show will be far more granular than other payments show, allowing for payments professionals to learn specific techniques and methods, rather than broad overviews of industry trends.

Global Wrap: Russia Wants To Imprison Bitcoin Users

This week's look at payments stories from around the globe stops at the U.K., Russia, Hungary and the European Union. Choose your currency carefully in Russia these days as the Russian Finance Ministry doesn't mess around. The Ministry wants to punish anyone who uses Bitcoins with a 500,000 ruble (about $6,500 U.S.) fine and two years in a "corrective labor" camp, according to a report in Crypto Coins News. The story says that corrective labor is just what it sounds like: "a combination of penal detention and forced labor."

After the Hungarian Competition Authority slapped MasterCard with a HUF 88 million (about $318,000 U.S.) fine "for abusing its market position," the card brand said it would appeal the fine, according to a report in The Budapest Business Journal. And the EU wants to cap cash payments in an anti-terror move.

This week's look at payments stories from around the globe stops at the U.K., Russia, Hungary and the European Union. Choose your currency carefully in Russia these days as the Russian Finance Ministry doesn't mess around. The Ministry wants to punish anyone who uses Bitcoins with a 500,000 ruble (about $6,500 U.S.) fine and two years in a "corrective labor" camp, according to a report in Crypto Coins News. The story says that corrective labor is just what it sounds like: "a combination of penal detention and forced labor."

Payments Patent Wrap: PayPal Seeks One Honest Room

Our weekly look at the most interesting—or perplexing—Patents or Patents Pending from the payments industry. PayPal on Thursday (Feb. 4) applied for a patent that would determine the security level of a set of coordinates and remember it, allowing for less stringent authentication and security when making a purchase that place.

Also, EBay on Feb. 4 (Thursday) filed for a Patent on a way for truck fleets and consumers to more intelligently purchase fuel. And MasterCard on Thursday (Feb. 4) filed for a patent application that would look at non-compliant merchants and track activities to find other naughty players. The card brand is operating on the rationale that thieves tend to hang out together—and that shoppers who buy from one illegal store will likely go to another disreputable merchant if the first one is shut down.

Our weekly look at the most interesting—or perplexing—Patents or Patents Pending from the payments industry. PayPal on Thursday (Feb. 4) applied for a patent that would determine the security level of a set of coordinates and remember it, allowing for less stringent authentication and security when making a purchase that place.

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.

Patent Wrap: If A Stylus Is Out-Of-Date, How About Stylus Integrated Into A Plastic Card?

Our weekly look at the most interesting—or perplexing—Patents or Patents Pending from the payments industry brings us two from MasterCard. MasterCard on Tuesday (Jan. 26) was issued a patent for a creative way to integrate a high-tech stylus with plastic cards.

Can Privacy Be Maintained By Analyzing Consumer Spend? Yes, But It's Not Easy. The patent applicaton described "a method for maintaining consumer privacy in behavioral scoring includes a first computing system and a second computing system. The first computing system disguises consumer characteristics and maps disguised consumer characteristics to unencrypted account identifiers, and then transmits the data to the second computing system. The second computing system encrypts the account identifiers upon receipt, and maps the encrypted account identifiers to anonymous transaction data."

Our weekly look at the most interesting—or perplexing—Patents or Patents Pending from the payments industry brings us two from MasterCard. MasterCard on Tuesday (Jan. 26) was issued a patent for a creative way to integrate a high-tech stylus with plastic cards.

Global Wrap: In China, 360,000 Mobile Payment Viruses Detected In 2015

This week's wrapup of payments news around the globe brings us to Brazil, China, Nigeria, the Netherlands, France, India, Canada and the U.K..

In China, 360,000 Mobile Payment Viruses Detected In 2015. As many as 25.05 million mobile phone users in 2015 became victims of various viruses in China amid the growing popularity of mobile payment in the country, according to a report from the Tencent Research Institute and reported by ChinaDaily.com.

This week's wrapup of payments news around the globe brings us to Brazil, China, Nigeria, the Netherlands, France, India, Canada and the U.K..

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.

Podcast: The Tricks To Mastering The PF ROI

Just because a business adopts a payment facilitator business model, that doesn't mean that its executives let those new procedures touch every aspect of their business. But not doing so can literally cost a business money by robbing it of some of the benefits that initially attracted those execs to the PF model.

New PF companies run that risk "if we don't do a good job of building the metrics that measure the success of our throughput, as in how many apps an hour, what volumes are we looking at, what SIC codes?" said Joni Floyd, a 35-year veteran ISO exec, who penned a column about these conundrums last week, in our new podcast. "A lot of times, the financial operations or the settlement accounting of an organization doesn't really change when you go from a strict direct merchant to a sub-merchant model. All of the chargeback fees might be dropped into the same general ledger account. Sub-merchant and direct merchant losses might not be recorded correctly," Floyd said. "One of the challenges to the back-office of the operation, in parallel with implementing the payment facilitator model, is making sure that our financial operations team records the expenses relative to both direct merchants and sub-merchants so that we don't overburden our sub-merchant categories with expenses that don't pertain to them, like chargebacks, write-offs due to risk or bankruptcies."

Just because a business adopts a payment facilitator business model, that doesn't mean that its executives let those new procedures touch every aspect of their business. But not doing so can literally cost a business money by robbing it of some of the benefits that initially attracted those execs to the PF model.

Global Wrap: China’s Ping++ Issues Funding Statement With No Amounts

This week's look at payments around the world takes us to China, Russia, Costa Rica and Canada. Here's something you don't see every day: A funding round news release that somehow opts to not reveal the amount raised. Isn't that the whole point of issuing a funding news release?

That said, this is what Ping++ said said, in its official statement: "Ping++, an integrated payment firm in China, recently announced that it has raised tens of million dollars during its series B round of financing. New investors China Broadband Capital Partners, L.P. (CBC) and Shengjing Technology led this new financing round, which also included the existing investors Sequoia Capital and Linear Ventures. The moneyfrom this round will be used in team expansion, in order to enrich the product line, and further establishment of the base system."

This week's look at payments around the world takes us to China, Russia, Costa Rica and Canada. Here's something you don't see every day: A funding round news release that somehow opts to not reveal the amount raised. Isn't that the whole point of issuing a funding news release?

Global Wrap: Visa Europe Falling Out Of Love With Bitcoin

In Visa Europe's end-of-the-year payments wrap, it went out of its way to indicate that when it comes to virtual currencies, the Euro cardbrand has a roving eye.

"When 2015 arrived, a lot of innovation chatter in Fintech focused on Bitcoin, but as we leave the year, that focus has shifted substantially to the blockchain. If we think back to how it was perceived a year ago and then how it is understood today, it’s clear that another transformation is happening," the Visa Europe post said. "2015 has turned blockchain into something the industry has to live with. It is no longer a choice anymore. Recent news speculating about the identity of its creator and the formalisation of virtual money as a commodity, just makes it more real than ever before."

In Visa Europe's end-of-the-year payments wrap, it went out of its way to indicate that when it comes to virtual currencies, the Euro cardbrand has a roving eye.

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.

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.

Payments Patent Potpourri: A Way For Visa To Ride The Payment Rails Faster

This is our weekly plunge into some of the more interesting patents awarded in the payments space.

Visa Needs To Ride The Rails Faster—And These Are Literally Rails. On Tuesday (Dec. 15), Visa was granted a patent that deals with how transactions can be approved quickly enough for the increasingly-popular mobile public transit payments.

This is our weekly plunge into some of the more interesting patents awarded in the payments space. Visa Needs To Ride The Rails Faster—And These Are Literally Rails. On Tuesday (Dec. 15), Visa was granted a patent that deals with how transactions can be approved quickly enough for the increasingly-popular mobile public transit payments.

The Struggles Of Social Media Authentication For PFs

On December 8, Facebook said that the number of active business Pages on Facebook has grown to 50 million, a 25 percent increase since 40 million in April. This casual announcement from Facebook is significant for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it confirms what payment facilitators have known for years: Social payment needs are soaring.

Specifically, FB's stats illustrate the explosive, global growth in the number of small merchants while simultaneously reminding merchants how much they need to embrace social media as both a marketing and communications tool.

On December 8, Facebook said that the number of active business Pages on Facebook has grown to 50 million, a 25 percent increase since 40 million in April. This casual announcement from Facebook is significant for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it confirms what payment facilitators have known for years: Social payment needs are soaring.

Global Wrap: Russia Offers Card Brand Alternative, Citi Guts Loyalty Benefits In Australia

This week's reports—from Russia, Taiwan, Australia, China, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Canada— show the continued shifts in payments strategies across the globe.

Russian Banks Issue First Payment Alternative To Visa, MasterCard. The move on Tuesday (Dec. 15) reveals the Mir card, which translates to "peace," "world" and "Bite me, U.S. card brands." According to a story in The Rakyat Post, Mir was issued "by a string of banks, among them Gazprombank, Rossiya bank and others blacklisted by the West following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year."

This week's reports—from Russia, Taiwan, Australia, China, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Canada— show the continued shifts in payments strategies across the globe.

Global Wrap: WeChat Unveils Overseas Social Payments, The Importance Of Amex In Australia

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.

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?

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.

Global Wrap: European Parliament Insisting On Mobile Payment Standards

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.

We Won’t Publish The Week Of Nov. 23, For Thanksgiving

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.

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.

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.

Global Wrap: Nambia Launches A New National Payments System

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.

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.

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).

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.

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."

State Money Transmitter Rule Slams PFs, ISOs

Late last month, Pennsylvania issued an advisory that its money transmitter regulations are violated when payments companies–payment facilitators and ISOs–collect money from consumers and forward it to nonprofits and religious organizations. And yes, this advisory is as crazy as it sounds.

Whether or not other states follow the Keystone State’s lead, this decision will have devastating consequences for emerging payment companies, especially those who do not have the resources of traditional old line processors. Many may well be faced with the prospect of either banning Pennsylvania consumers or leaving the nonprofit and religious processing space.

Late last month, Pennsylvania issued an advisory that its money transmitter regulations are violated when payments companies–payment facilitators and ISOs–collect money from consumers and forward it to nonprofits and religious organizations. And yes, this advisory is as crazy as it sounds.

Whether or not other states follow the Keystone State’s lead, this decision will have devastating consequences for emerging payment companies, especially those who do not have the resources of traditional old line processors. Many may well be faced with the prospect of either banning Pennsylvania consumers or leaving the nonprofit and religious processing space.

Financial Futility: Why Chip & PIN Sucks For Small Merchants

Given the huge importance of small merchants in the U.S. (especially one-location shops, which account for overwhelmingly more retail locations than any other merchant size segment), it's impressive how little attention has been paid to how inappropriate chip and PIN is for those merchants.

In the wake of the U.S. EMV liability shift that kicked in on October 1, there’s been no shortage of debate about Chip and PIN vs. Chip and Signature. Once again, our old friend, the Durbin Amendment, is having its say. And for all the high-minded security-oriented thoughts being dished out, along with the many biased special interests trying to influence the debate, the small and micro-merchant have been left out, as usual.

Given the huge importance of small merchants in the U.S. (especially one-location shops, which account for overwhelmingly more retail locations than any other merchant size segment), it's impressive how little attention has been paid to how inappropriate chip and PIN is for those merchants.

In the wake of the U.S. EMV liability shift that kicked in on October 1, there’s been no shortage of debate about Chip and PIN vs. Chip and Signature. Once again, our old friend, the Durbin Amendment, is having its say. And for all the high-minded security-oriented thoughts being dished out, along with the many biased special interests trying to influence the debate, the small and micro-merchant have been left out, as usual.