Happy Holidays from TSG!
As 2011 draws to a close, all of us at The Strawhecker Group want to thank you - our clients, friends and NewsFilter subscribers. Best wishes for a delightful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!
Please click the link below and watch TSG's holiday greeting; we went with the gift of laughter this year!
TSG's Holiday Greeting
ISOs Bracing For Uncertainty And ‘Attacks’
Uncertainty, competition and even attacks. In 2012, ISOs face a year of danger and opportunity. Because of rising renewal fees, some companies may stop registering as ISOs with the card brands and instead become sales agents for other ISOs, Duayne Haskett, vice president for agent/ISO business development at Priority Payment Systems LLC, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based ISO, tells ISO&Agent Weekly. “An increase in registration fees by MasterCard and potentially Visa may force smaller ISOs to rethink being registered as an ISO,” Linda Rossetti, president of Bluestone Payments wrote.
Dick Durbin’s Hypocritical Quest for “Honest Information’ on Bank Fees
12/20/11 Open Market
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wants banks and credit unions to know that he’s all about transparency and “honesty” in consumer fees. In his recent letter hectoring the Illinois Bankers Association and the Illinois Credit Union League, Durbin proclaimed that ”consumers in Illinois and across America have made clear their desire for honest information about banking fees.” He urged the banks to “be transparent about fees” by adopting a checking account disclosure form he favors. Yet when it comes to disclosing to consumers what’s causing these bank fees to rise, Durbin has told these same institutions to just shut up.
Fed Details 'Too Big To Fail' Battle Plan
The Federal Reserve proposed a number of measures to enforce tighter regulation and stricter supervision of major banks Tuesday, as well as systemically critical firms that are not technically banks and have traditionally fallen outside the central bank’s purview. The proposal, mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, “includes a wide range of measures addressing issues such as capital, liquidity, credit exposure, stress testing, risk management and early remediation requirements."
Economy is Looking Up as Year Ends, But Economists Worry that Recent Gains Won't Last in 2012
12/21/11 The Washington Post
The job market is healthier. Americans are spending lustily on holiday gifts. A long-awaited turnaround for the depressed housing industry may be under way. Gas is cheaper. Factories are busier. Stocks are higher. Not bad for an economy faced with a debt crisis in Europe and, as recently as this summer, scattered predictions of a second recession at home. Instead, the economy has grown faster each quarter this year, and the last three months should be the best.
First Data Releases December 2011 SpendTrend® Mid-Month Flash
12/21/11 First Data
First Data Corporation, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing, today released its First Data SpendTrend® Mid-Month Flash analysis for the first half of December 2011 compared to the same period in December 2010. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations. For the first two weeks of December 2011, overall dollar volume growth was steady compared to November levels. Card spending growth was stronger than this period last year.
Jobless Rates Fall in 43 States
12/20/11 The Wall Street Journal
Unemployment rates dropped in 43 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. in November from a month earlier, the Labor Department reported, but job growth remained relatively subdued. Nationally, the unemployment rate declined to 8.6% last month from 9% in October. Nineteen states and Washington have rates higher than the national average. Just three states — New York, Rhode Island and Wyoming — reported increases in their unemployment rates.
How People Shopped Online This Holiday Season
12/22/11 The New York Times
Little time remains for online shoppers to have gifts delivered in time for Christmas, and sales numbers for online shopping this season are arriving. The trends are clear: shoppers spent much more money online this year than last year, and they did a lot of their shopping on tablets like the iPad. So far this holiday season, shoppers have spent $32 billion online, 15 percent more than last year, according to comScore. Last week was the heaviest online shopping week on record, and last weekend was the second-heaviest weekend.
Credit Cards in Numbers for 2010 [Infographic]
Interesting infographic illustrating about the number of cards issued, transactions and total sum of transactions for 2010
Social Media Marketing Dubbed Just a Phase; Next Up: Transactions
Myriad payments companies this year created presence on such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter. But while it was important to roll with the times, the effort may not help to create long-term loyal customers. One analyst sees social and mobile interaction that actually drives payments behavior as the fad with lasting impact. "Social media's impact on acquisition and retention is overstated. That's not to say there are not important pieces, but it has to become more integrated."
First National Plans New Cobranded Cards After B of A Deal
12/21/11 American Banker
The card issuer next year will launch three cobranded credit card programs, Steve Eulie, the president of First National's First BankCard credit card division, tells PaymentsSource. His comments followed First National's announcement that it has bought $300 million of card receivables from Bank of America Corp. First National last year became one of three issuers to offer credit cards supported by all four of the major network brands, and on Wednesday it announced the purchase of 10 institutions' credit card portfolios from B of A, which served as the banks' agent issuer.
Amex Looks to Broaden Appeal Beyond Credit Cards
Michael Thomas pays for most of his shopping with a piece of plastic from American Express Co., but the company's name is conspicuously missing from the front of the card. Rather, the card bears the name Serve, a new brand American Express is pushing to broaden its appeal and compete against a slew of new digital-payment services that have cropped up in recent years. Serve is one of several initiatives American Express has embarked on this year to expand its customer base.
PayPal Runs a Brief Test in Sweden to Check out Cloud-Based NFC for POS Payments
12/20/11 Digital Transactions
In a move that could be seen as a precursor to mobile in-store payments using so-called cloud-based NFC, PayPal Inc. is testing an app that works with contactless stickers to allow consumers to access their PayPal accounts. The test, which is taking place at two stores in Stockholm, Sweden, is set to run for only a few days, concluding before Christmas. The app was developed by Stockholm-based technology firm Accumulate AB and works on both Apple and Android software.
Intuit Launches Prepaid GoPayment Visa Card
Mobile phone applications, like Square and Intuit’s GoPayment, let anyone receive credit card payments. Having a garage sale? You can now use your iPhone or Android phone to receive payments, just like a big-time merchant. Selling stuff at a farmer’s market or flea market? Whip out your iPhone with the Square or GoPayment apps and let your customers say “charge it”. One problem is that it can take time to set up your new merchant account to let you receive funds from these transactions.
Vantiv and TransEngen, Inc. Announce Strategic Relationship
12/20/11 The Sacramento Bee
Vantiv, LLC, (formerly, Fifth Third Processing Solutions, LLC) one of the nation's leading full service payment solutions providers announced today a new relationship with TransEngen, Inc., an innovator in health care transaction processing technology to offer the Healthcare Virtual Payments System, to Vantiv merchants. This relationship aims to improve cash flow for health care providers, reduce patient receivables and the costs associated with patient billing and collections.
MasterCard Offers Discount for Small Businesses on Microsoft’s Office 365
MasterCard on Tuesday announced that it was offering eligible small businesses a 10% discount on Microsoft‘s Office 365 cloud productivity service. The program, open to businesses that have a MasterCard Easy Savings Program account, is the credit card firm’s latest overture toward the small business category. In October, the brand teamed with Dell to choose “America’s Favorite Small Business,” Shwood Handcrafted Wooden Eyewear.
Worldpay Plans Ambitious Expansion
May require free registration to read: Worldpay, the card processing business that was carved out of Royal Bank of Scotland a year ago, is planning an ambitious expansion aimed at doubling its value in time for a planned stock market float by 2015. Ron Kalifa, chief executive who led the £2bn ($3bn) sale to US private equity companies Advent International and Bain Capital in 2010, said the business had been “unshackled” and was increasing revenue fast.
Target Rolls To $60 Ditching Credit Cards, Focusing On Core Biz
12/19/11 Yahoo! News
Target Corp. has been discussing selling its credit card segment for some time now. The segment’s third quarter revenues declined 8.2% from the prior-year quarter to $348 million. However, the credit card segment’s profit grew about 10% due to a steep fall of around 64% in bad debt expense. The improved economic conditions resulted in prompt credit card payments by customers. With its anticipated credit card segment sale, the company can focus on its core business, retailing.
Elan Financial Services Acquires $700 Million in Financial Institution Credit Card Portfolios
Elan Financial Services, a unit of U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), has completed the acquisition of the credit card assets of 28 financial institutions, in a portfolio comprising approximately $700 million of outstanding balances. The portfolio, which includes small business and consumer cards, was acquired from FIA Card Services, N.A. The terms of the agreement and purchase price were not disclosed. “This portfolio of financial institutions represents a significant opportunity for Elan.”
First Bankcard Acquires $285M Card Portfolio from FIA Card Services, N.A.
12/21/11 News Blaze
First Bankcard, a top U.S. credit card issuer, today announced the acquisition of 10 credit card portfolios, totaling $285 million, from FIA Card Services, N.A. The acquisition includes the portfolios of nine financial service providers - including industry leader New York Community Bank - totaling more than 1,000 branches. "The selection of First Bankcard to serve as our issuing provider was driven by their commitment to partnerships and providing a diverse set of compelling customer solutions."
TSG/ETA Economic Indicators, Reports Key Findings on the Payments Industry
The Q3 2011 Economic Indicators Report released today contains Macroeconomic, Microeconomic, and Payments Industry analysis. This free report contains illustrative details on the following findings as well as 35 additional data points that trend performance of the economy and the payments industry.
The Payments Industry is Shielded Against Economic Volatility
Electronic Payments Still Have Significant Growth Opportunity
Merchant Portfolios Have Seen Dollar Volume Attrition Decline During The Recovery Period
Merchant Portfolios Have Seen Net Revenue Attrition Increase During The Recovery Period
Click here to read the report.