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.

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

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

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

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

Samsung Pay’s Encryption Perception Problem

It seems a funny thing has happened on the way to using Samsung Pay for some users, as the emerging mobile payments platform isn't compatible with a phone’s encryption protocol. Simply stated: if the phone is switched into encrypted mode (as many who use their phones for work are required to do), users can’t add cards to their Samsung Pay wallet.

This isn't going over well. Although it's not yet clear if this encryption conniption is a glitch or intentional, either way it is sending a positively terrible message to users about Samsung Pay and security. Not requiring a user to activate phone encryption is one thing, but refusing new payment credentials if it's already been activated is very different.

It seems a funny thing has happened on the way to using Samsung Pay for some users, as the emerging mobile payments platform isn't compatible with a phone’s encryption protocol. Simply stated: if the phone is switched into encrypted mode (as many who use their phones for work are required to do), users can’t add cards to their Samsung Pay wallet. This isn't going over well. Although it's not yet clear if this encryption conniption is a glitch or intentional, either way it is sending a positively terrible message to users about Samsung Pay and security.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Why Home Improvement Chains Make The Most Natural PFs

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

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

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

Can Candor And A Payments Card Launch Co-Exist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

PF Magic: Square Is $150m In The Red, But Still Worth Billions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Non-Intuitive World Of Authentication And Social Media

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

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

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

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

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.

Some Interesting Odds And Ends From Money2020 Announcements

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

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

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

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