The payments world News
in 60 days:
The rising popularity of hackathons has caught the attention of financial giants including JP Morgan and Barclays who are all staging their own events in order to attract the cream of the IT crop. Hackathons involve programmers and coders developing APIs and services before demoing them to company executives and entrepreneurs.
An altruistic ATM in Spain is giving out free money to customers – but only if they promise to share the money. The ATM, known as the “happiness dispenser”, is part of a publicity initiative with drinks giant Coca-Cola, which has taken the ATM around various parts of the recession-hit country.
After being forced by the Bank of Italy to suspend card payments over its failure to comply with anti money-laundering regulations, the Vatican City has re-commenced processing card payments. Swiss card payment specialist Aduno has taken over from the previous processor Deutsche Bank Italia – the Bank of Italy does not need to approve the arrangement because Aduno is based outside of the EU.
Cheque usage may be on the decline elsewhere in Europe but in Ireland they are still a popular payment instrument, according to the country's central bank. At the cheque's peak in 2005, 131.5 million were used, or around 32 per person, during the year. However by 2012 the figure had fallen to 75.1 million or 19 per person. This compares to an EU average of nine per person per year, with 20 out of 27 member states using just two or less cheques per annum. France is the only country with a significant lead on Ireland – a massive 46 cheques for each person each year.
Cyber-criminals managed to steal nearly $11 million from ATMs around the world using prepaid cards, according to security blogger Brian Krebs. Hackers gained access to issuer authorisation systems and card parameter information. In an alert sent to issuers, processors and ATM acquirers, Visa warned that further attempts are expected, and is urging increased vigilance.
Online retailer Amazon is to launch its own virtual currency for purchasing apps, games and in-app items on its Kindle Fire tablet device. Amazon says it will give customers tens of millions of dollars' worth of free Amazon Coins to spend on developers' apps on Kindle Fire from the tablet's Appstore when it launches the new currency in May. Amazon Appstore developers will earn the standard 70% revenue share when customers make purchases using Amazon Coins, whch are pegged to the US dollar, with one Coin equivalent to one US cent.
Is an iATM on the way? Tech giant Apple has reportedly filed a US patent application for an ad-hoc cash-dispensing network which lets people who need cash but cannot locate an ATM send a message through their iPhone to find people nearby who are willing to lend them the money. The patent application involves a system where people who sign up and download an app can connect to an Apple server.
Facebook has launched a prepaid gift card that people can buy on the social network and send to friends for use at specific retailers and restaurants. Cards can hold multiple gift balances, each one dedicated to the associated retailer. Balances can be checked in account settings on Facebook from users' phones or desktops, with real-time notifications sent when there are changes.
Bank of Ireland has introduce mobile-to-mobile payments for customers. The bank's new ‘Pay to Mobile' service allows customers to send money to family and friends with a registered Bank of Ireland account by using their mobile phone number. To date, almost 20,000 of the bank's 180,000 active mobile customers have pre-registered for the service, which is available for iPhone users, with an Android version following shortly.
Banking giant Citi has started rolling out functionally advanced Citibank Express ATMs in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, which are aimed at joining the physical and digital banking worlds. The ATMs incorporate an online banking connection, video-conferencing and biometric capabilities for customer identity authentication. A customer can start a transaction on a computer or mobile device and complete it on Citibank Express, and vice versa.
Bridge Community Bank of the US is introducing a biometrics-based system for verifying customers inside branches. Current and new account holders can sign up for a digital icon in branches, which incorporate customer fingerprint and facial biometic data to generate a financial security number which is linked to the customer's account. To identify themselves in a branch and carry out transactions, customers then provide their name and fingerprint.
The US state of Iowa is to enable residents to pay some of their taxes using Dwolla, a local digital transactions start-up. Dwolla is a cash-based payment network that provides real-time, online and mobile payments, charging a $0.25 fee on any transaction over $10. Businesses that already pay more than $100 million in cigarette stamp taxes now have the option of paying via Dwolla.
US mobile-based financial services provider Moven has launched a closed beta test of its services. Moven is advertising itself as a cardless and branchless alternative to traditional lenders, and is working with partners that have charters and FDIC insurance. Customers will receive a contactless MasterCard sticker which they can attach to their phone and link to the Moven app for physical payments. Users will also be able to pay friends through Facebook, deposit cheques from their handset, and withdraw cash for free from thousands of ATMs across the US.
American Express is enabling customers to sync cards with their Twitter accounts and then make purchases by tweeting hashtags. Using its Card Sync technology, AmEx is offering selected cardholders the option to link their card to their Twitter account to buy the network's gift cards and products from Amazon, Sony, Urban Zen and Xbox 360.
BlackBerry is piloting a person-to-person mobile payments service within its BBM instant messaging system in Indonesia. The BBM Money commercial pilot will let users access an account from their smartphone and make real-time payments from within the messenger app to their contacts who are also signed up to the service. Customers will also be able to buy mobile airtime credit and transfer money to bank accounts. The service has been developed by BlackBerry with local financial institution PermataBank and AGIT Monitise Indonesia, part of global mobile banking service provider Monitise.
Incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney has indicated that he may introduce Canadian-style plastic bank notes to the UK. In Canada, the polymer bank note is widely used. Carney said that the notes are environmentally friendly and represent good value for taxpayers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Visa after accusing the network of misusing its market power to distort competing dynamic currency conversion (DCC) services. Such conversion services allow consumers to choose whether they complete a transaction in their home currency or in the local one of the POS terminal or ATM they are using. In 2010 Visa announced rules to stop the expansion of supply of DCC services by rival providers on POS transactions on its network, according to the ACCC.