NAB and Visa in contactless push
Australian Bank NAB and payment network Visa have announced they
are to roll out contactless payment technology at more than 500
merchants in Melbourne, Australia.
Customers can use the Visa payWave-enabled card at the reader for
purchases up to A$100 ($90).
Steve Aliferis, NAB executive general manager of working capital
solutions, said that contactless payments deliver multiple benefits
to customers and merchants.
“The motivation for merchants to go contactless is customer
convenience and the cost savings and revenue uplift associated with
faster throughput and reduced cash handling costs,” Aliferis
“NAB expects to have deployed over 2,500 NAB contactless readers to
merchants by Christmas 2009.”
Worldwide Visa has launched Visa payWave programmes with more than
40 issuers in 15 countries and territories.
Western Union to launch mobile remittance service in
Western Union, the global money transfer specialist, and Maxis, one
of Malaysia’s largest mobile communications service providers, are
working together to launch a service that would allow Maxis
subscribers to send cross-border remittances directly from their
mobile phones. The service is expected to be rolled out in early
The new service will mainly benefit the large numbers of foreign
workers in Malaysia, providing convenience and efficiency in global
In 2008, more than $6.4 billion in remittances was sent out of
Malaysia. Many of these remittances were sent by the estimated 1.9
million foreign workers living in Malaysia – largely Indonesians,
Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Vietnamese.
With the launch of the service, more than 11 million Maxis
subscribers in Malaysia will be able to send funds from their
mobile phones. The recipient will be able to pick up the funds in
cash at more than 345,000 Western Union Agent locations in 200
The joint service with Maxis will mark the first time that Western
Union has enabled mobile money transfer transactions from a mobile
phone outside the US.
Chunghwa Post unveils Visa Debit Card
Taiwainese postal service Chunghwa Post has announced the debut of
its Visa debit card in Taiwan. Chunghwa Post is the first post
office in Asia-Pacific to launch a Visa debit card programme.
Using their Visa debit card, Chunghwa Post account holders will
gain access to Visa’s POS network of 28 million merchants and 1.4
million ATMs around the world. Cardholders will have access to cash
rebates, gasoline discounts and a range of travel, dining and
Oliver Yu, chairman of Chunghwa Post, said: “Chunghwa Post is the
biggest depository institution in Taiwan, both in terms of the
number of depositors and total deposit amount.
“As of August 2009, we had more than 20 million depositors. Also,
at the end of 2008, our extensive network spanned 1,321 post
offices throughout Taiwan.”
The Chunghwa Post is the official postal service of the Republic of
China (ROC), providing mail service in the ROC territories such as
Taiwan, Penghu (Pescadores), Kinmen, Matsu, and other out-laying
islands. It also provides a funds saving service.
Interac allows China UnionPay ATM access
Chinese bankcard network China UnionPay (CUP) and Canadian national
debit and ATM scheme Interac have announced that CUP cards will now
be accepted at Interac’s Canadian ATMs. This follows the launch of
Canadian merchant acceptance for the cards in January.
As the largest ATM network and the only debit card acceptance brand
in Canada, Interac currently has 63 member institutions, including
most of the banks, non-banking financial institutions and
professional service companies in Canada.
All ATMs (around 57,000 in total) across Canada are networked with
Interac as well as 400,000 merchants.
CUP currently has nearly 250 member institutions with more than 1.9
billion CUP cards issued. Canada attracted around 160,000 residents
from mainland China for commerce, travel and visiting relatives in
The number of Chinese students studying in Canada has reached
42,000, accounting for nearly one quarter of the total number of
foreign students in the country.
Gemalto opens card personalisation centre in
Gemalto, the European smart card manufacturer and digital security
expert, has said it will inaugurate its first personalisation
centre in Indonesia before the end of the year.
The facility will enable Gemalto to locally support financial
institutions in their EMV migration. Gemalto will act as an
end-to-end service provider, from card manufacturing through to
The process will also include express card personalisation with
same day shipment.
Tan Teck Lee, president of Gemalto Asia, remarked: “We are
dedicated to providing more secure and more convenient financial
payment solutions to our customers in Indonesia and the region.
This new facility will also allow us to assist in the deployment of
advanced capabilities such as secure online banking and mobile NFC
services for instance.”
NuMobile partners with Alternet
NuMobile, a US mobile software and security provider, and US
electronic ticketing payment services and solutions provider
Alternet Systems have announced the launch of a joint e-commerce
strategy in China.
The companies have said they plan to pursue mobile computing
opportunities with NuMobile’s channel partner in the Chinese
market, China Crescent Enterprises, as well as announcing a
partnership to pursue the mobile computing and smartphone market in
Central and South America where Alternet currently offers its
mobile payment solutions.
According to a recent International Development Corporation (IDC)
market research report, trade in China’s e-commerce market is
expected to reach CNY3.2 trillion ($468 billion) in total trade by
2010, up from CNY1.9 trillion in 2008.
The Chinese online auction site, Taobao.com, China’s answer to
eBay, reported CNY100 billion in trade volume in 2008, compared to
just CNY43.3 billion in 2007. Even with strong growth, the
penetration of e-commerce in China is just over 25 percent.
EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA
Sierra Leone mobile money service launches
Splash Mobile Money, a mobile payment system provider, and
MoreMagic Solutions, a mobile transactions provider, have announced
the availability of a mobile money transfer system in Sierra Leone,
enabled by MoreMagic’s ‘MWallet’ platform.
Splash customers in Sierra Leone can now send money using their
mobile phone without a bank account. Splash customers can use the
service by visiting a Splash agent location, including branches of
GT Bank. Customers transfer money by completing a registration,
purchasing SplashCash and sending it by text to any Zain or
Africell mobile phone.
The recipient then exchanges the SplashCash for cash at any agent
location. Agents are currently concentrated in the Sierra Leonian
towns Freetown, Bo, and Makeni, with many more locations due to
open throughout Sierra Leone before the end of the year.
Santander and Elavon form UK merchant services
Elavon, a card processing subsidiary of US Bancorp, has joined with
Spanish bank Santander to launch a new alliance for merchant
services in the UK.
The alliance will benefit Santander’s corporate and business
customers, who, under the new agreement, will gain access to
Elavon’s international processing platform, which features
cross-border and multi-currency processing, eliminating the need
for pan-European clients to contract with multiple
Elavon and Santander’s strategy is to become one of the leading
players in the UK acquiring market. The new alliance will enable
Santander to leverage Elavon’s end-to-end control of the processing
relationship, from risk and underwriting, to processing, funding
and all customer support functions, whilst Elavon will increase its
presence in the UK market by partnering with one of Europe’s
“Through the new Santander and Elavon alliance, UK businesses can
benefit from a comprehensive card processing system tailored to
their specific needs with the added benefits of dynamic currency
conversion and online account management,” said Steve Pateman, head
of corporate and commercial banking at Santander.
Mobile debit payments go on trial in Italy
Visa Europe and Italian Bank Credito Valtellinese have announced
the first mobile payments trial in Europe using Tellcard, Credito
Valtellinese’s contactless VPay debit product.
The trial is an extension of the Tellcard initiative in the North
Italian province of Sondrio, which uses contactless technology to
enable payments of up to €15 ($22) on Credito Valtellinese VPay
Fifty Credito Valtellinese employees will be given a Nokia mobile
phone equipped with the Tellcard mobile VPay contactless
application. The phone can be used to make purchases at 180
locations in the northern cities of Sondrio, Chiavenna, Morbegno,
Tirano and Bormio.
Mobile payments can be made using the same contactless acceptance
infrastructure already deployed for the Tellcard VPay
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
Barclays to buy Citi’s Portuguese credit cards
UK bank Barclays Bank has agreed to acquire the Portuguese credit
card business of troubled US bank Citibank. Under the terms of the
transaction, Barclays will acquire approximately 400,000 credit
card accounts, gross assets of approximately €644 million ($949
million) of which substantially all relate to receivables, as well
as Citibank’s employees. Barclays has said it intends to integrate
the business into its existing Barclays Portugal business, which is
part of the Barclays Global Retail and Commercial Banking Western
Barclays has also said it intends to rebrand existing Citi cards
with its global Barclaycard brand over a period of time. Completion
is subject to competition clearance and is expected to occur before
the end of 2009.
Frits Seegers, CEO of Barclays Global Retail and Commercial
Banking, said: “Barclays’ business in Portugal has grown rapidly
over the past three years, adding more than 130 branches across the
“With this acquisition, we will deliver a real step change in our
business, significantly increasing Barclays Portugal’s customer
base and providing extensive cross-sell opportunities.”
Tesco Personal Finance becomes Tesco Bank
UK supermarket chain Tesco has changed the name of its personal
finance unit to Tesco Bank. Last December the UK’s largest retailer
bought out the Royal Bank of Scotland’s share in its Tesco Personal
Finance unit, consolidating it into what it now calls Tesco
Tesco Bank added 300,000 customer accounts in the last year as well
as featuring double-digit growth in savings, loans and credit
cards. It also has more than six million customers across all
financial products and is the seventh-largest credit card issuer in
the UK. The unit recorded revenue of £420 million ($670 million)
for the first half of 2009 with a trading profit of £115
Tesco says it has already selected the core technology platforms
for the banking products, although no details have been provided.
It has also stated it aims to start providing mortgages and current
accounts by 2011.
RePay International enters into partnership with
RePay International, the company responsible for the Visa Greencard
and the ClimaCount compensation programme, has entered into a
partnership agreement for the Dutch market with credit card issuer
PaySquare. The latter takes over from Laser Cards, which had
earlier indicated that it would not continue its support for the
sustainable credit card programme.
The Visa Greencard is the only credit card that makes all credit
card payments CO2 neutral by automatically compensating for the CO2
emission associated with the purchase in question.
The follow-up card that RePay International is introducing in
collaboration with PaySquare and Visa is claimed to be an improved
version of the current Visa Greencard. Cardholders will be provided
with direct insight into the CO2 emission for all major product
categories. In this way, customers can compare their CO2 footprint
with that of other Visa Greencard holders.
The improved programme will also offer customers the possibility to
select a compensation method via the web. Cardholders can choose
between forestry, sustainable energy, energy savings or the capture
of greenhouse gases. Customers will also benefit from a free
180-day credit card purchase insurance, and are permanently ensured
of secure online payments through the Verified by Visa internet
Brazil’s Itaú Unibanco extends cash transfer deal with
Global money transfer provider MoneyGram has signed a new
multi-year contract with Itaú Unibanco, Brazil’s largest
private-sector bank, that will add 1,000 MoneyGram agent locations
in Brazil, bringing money transfer services to the bank’s network
of nearly 5,000 locations.
Last year more than $7 billion in remittances were sent into the
country from the 4 million Brazilians living abroad, according to
Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Relations.
Earlier this year, the Central Bank of Brazil approved the merger
of Banco Itaú and Unibanco and Moneygram services will be added in
phases to the 1,000 Unibanco locations as part of the bank’s
integration plan. To collect funds in Brazil, customers can visit
any Itaú Unibanco agent location, complete a form and show required
Itaú Unibanco began offering MoneyGram money transfer services in
2003 in Brazil and later at its bank locations in Japan and
Argentina. MoneyGram first entered Brazil in 1996 and now has a
countrywide money transfer network with Itaú Unibanco.
Visa takes part in NFC trial in Brazil
Visa, Brazilian mobile operator Claro and two Brazilian banks are
reported to have launched a near-field-communication (NFC) payments
trial in the country. Nearly 70 participating customers will use
the Nokia 6212 handset, which includes NFC technology, for payments
at any retailer equipped to accept Visa
payWave contactless payments.
If the project proves successful, phone-based account management,
alerts, coupon and voucher services will also be added. The banks
participating in the trial are Banco do Brasil and Bradesco.
Oi Paggo, the mobile payments division of telecoms operator Oi, has
also announced a NFC initiative.
Petra Financial, Acotelsa launch m-banking
Banking software company Petra Financial has entered an agreement
with Acotelsa, a financial services company, under the terms of
which the two companies will market the Touchstone Mobile banking
and finance application in Spain and Latin America.
Touchstone Mobile is compatible with the Apple iPhone and iTouch;
BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Curve and other 3G and WiFi enabled
phones. Touchstone Mobile includes an international payment
validation which validates data at the point of initiation.
The companies will mainly focus on markets in developing Latin
American countries and Mexico.
An accredited SWIFT business partner, Acotelsa operates in Spain,
Portugal, Mexico, and Panama and with customers in many of the
developing markets in Latin America. Having HSBC, National
Australia Group, Absa, First National Bank and Mizuho as clients,
Petra Financial provides services in the payments and mobile
Brazilian regulators urge competition
Brazilian antitrust authorities and the country’s central bank will
recommend a series of measures aimed at increasing competition and
transparency in the nation’s credit card industry.
The proposals include ending the exclusivity that local card
processors VisaNet and Redecard have with Visa and MasterCard
respectively. VisaNet and Redecard have a combined market share
above 90 percent. Regulators are also urging the introduction of
greater transparency in the determination of tariffs, among other
The proposals still have to be approved by the justice and finance
ministers and the central bank president. Regulators also want to
strengthen the usage of debit cards in Brazil and force operators
to share networks.
INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERINGS
Santander floats Brazilian business
Spanish banking group Santander has floated its Brazilian business,
raising BRL14.1 billion ($8.1 billion) in a dual flotation in New
York and São Paulo, the biggest ever for a Brazilian company. Banco
Santander expects net proceeds of $6.8 billion and will use about
70 percent of the funds to expand its network of branches and
Santander is the third-largest private sector bank in Brazil by
assets, with a 10.2 percent market share, behind Itaú Unibanco and
Bradesco. It has more than 3,600 branches across the country,
having expanded through six domestic takeovers in the past 12
Part of Santander Brasil was acquired when Santander bought ABN
Amro’s Banco Real business in Brazil in 2008 as part of its hostile
bid for the Dutch bank with Royal Bank of Scotland and
i2c opens Panama contact centre
i2c, a provider of prepaid card processing and payment solutions,
has expanded its operations with the launch of a contact centre in
Panama City, Panama.
The launch is part of i2c’s continued expansion into the Latin
American and Caribbean (LAC) region, where, together with its
clients and partners, i2c is capitalising on the growing
opportunities for prepaid in the region.
The Panama contact centre handles inbound calls from both Latin
American countries and the US and is staffed with experienced
customer service agents trilingual in Spanish, Portuguese, and
“Since its founding, i2c has been committed to providing excellent
customer care and the highest quality of service to its clients,”
said Jon Round, senior vice-president and general manager of
“Many of our clients are deploying prepaid programmes that are
multilingual, and i2c is ready to provide the customer support and
services our clients need to be successful.”
Wal-Mart de Mexico net profit up 18% in Q3
Mexico’s largest retailer and recently-approved bank operator
Wal-Mart de Mexico has reported third-quarter net profit rose 18
percent to MXP3.8 billion ($290 million), in stark contrast to the
country’s weakening economic outlook.
Mexico’s GDP shrank 10.3 percent in the second quarter, the worst
quarterly drop since comparable records began in 1981.
The 6.28 percent unemployment in August was the country’s highest
jobless rate in more than 13 years.
As a result, consumer expenditure has dropped sharply, but Wal-Mart
reported that it saw a 16.3 percent increase in the total number of
customers who visited Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart has opened 132 new stores and restaurants this year and
expects that to hit 270 by year-end. The company operates a total
of 1,344 sales units. Wal-Mart also announced that it has opened 70
branches of its recently approved in-house bank operation.
7-Eleven collects 1.6m signatures against interchange
US retail behemoth 7-Eleven has announced its franchisees and store
operators have collected more than 1.6 million signatures in the
‘Stop Unfair Credit Card Fees’ petition drive, in one of the
largest numbers of signatures collected for a public policy
Thousands of 7-Eleven franchisees across the country asked
customers to support their neighbourhood stores by signing
petitions calling for Congress to pass legislation that prohibits
payment networks and card-issuing banks from charging what they
claim are ‘unfair’ transaction fees. The signature drive ran from
22 June until 10 August coast to coast.
According to the National Association of Convenience Stores’ (NACS)
2008 data, on average, a US convenience store owner paid 63 percent
more in transaction fees than they earned in profits. Credit card
companies typically levy more than $2 in fees for every $100
consumers charge at US businesses. Convenience stores generally
have smaller purchases which typically result in much higher
NACHA to rewrite rule book
US electronic payment association NACHA has opened up the floor for
comments to a proposed change in its rules to allow for a an
expected surge in mobile payments processed over the national ACH
According to the proposal, while current mobile payment volume is
low, industry analysts predict significant growth over the next
five years as more consumers acquire smart phones and payment
solution providers begin marketing more aggressively.
Consultancy Insight Research estimates that 2.2 billion consumers
will generate $124 billion in financial transactions by 2014. A
more conservative estimate still predicts huge growth: Mercator
Advisory Group estimates that payments from remote devices will
grow from an estimated $389 million in 2009 to $8.6 billion in
NACHA also thinks that the threat of viruses on handsets and mobile
payments is low today compared to the online world, but mobile
malicious software (malware) does exist. As the market matures and
a dominant operating system emerges, the mobile market will be
subject to the same level of threat as the traditional internet is
today, according to NACHA.
FRAUD AND SECURITY
Smart Card Alliance attacks end-to-end encryption
US smart card organisation Smart Card Alliance has released a
report slamming end-to-end encryption as a weaker alternative to
Analysis of the attacks behind recent and highly publicised data
breaches at merchants and processors has led to a flurry of
interest in the implementation of end-to-end encryption solutions
to protect cardholder data.
According to Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card
Alliance: “Implementing end-to-end encryption is not a panacea; in
fact, it may be more akin to putting a steel door on a grass hut.
Experience shows that despite incredible investments by merchants
and acquirers to secure cardholder information, we have not put an
end to data breaches and fraud.”
The report goes on to say contactless chip cards eliminate the root
cause of the fraud by eliminating use of the magnetic stripe over
Zenius introduces real-time authorisation
Zenius Solutions, a US near-field-communication (NFC) software
company supporting mobile payments, contactless acceptance devices
and NFC add-ons, has announced the completion of the first
end-to-end live acceptance of a contactless credit card on a mobile
The ZeniusMobilePOS with real-time authorisation (RTA) solution
reads information from a contactless card, performs transaction
processing, and connects with the Authorize.net payment gateway for
The end-to-end transaction marks the ability for ZeniusMobilePOS
with RTA to interface with an external authorisation system –
allowing on-the-spot authorisation merchants to read and process
MasterCard PayPass, Visa payWave, American Express ExpressPay and
Discover Network Zip contactless payments on an NFC-enabled
Beyond cards, ZeniusMobilePOS can also accept transactions from
other NFC-enabled devices and transactions including payments,
couponing, ticketing and transport.
John Wiese, CEO of Zenius Solutions, said: “By giving anyone,
anywhere the ability to securely accept and authorise contactless
cards on a mobile phone, we have taken a giant leap toward mass
commercialisation of contactless technology.”
NetSpend unveils ‘virtual’ card
NetSpend, a US provider of card-based prepaid financial products to
underbanked consumers, has announced the availability of the first
‘virtual’ card to be tied to an existing prepaid card account, and
a suite of online financial management and budgeting tools,
including a visual spending history report, online budgeting
application and budgeting report card.
The virtual card acts like an additional card on the account and is
available to current cardholders through the company’s online
account centre. The card can be created or deleted on demand, can
be accessed or created via a mobile phone and can be used for any
card-not-present transaction. The virtual card is designed to add a
level of security and convenience for NetSpend cardholders.
Because it can be instantly deleted after a purchase, the virtual
card also adds an extra layer of protection for account holders who
are shopping online or on the phone. Its instant issue
functionality allows it to also act as a temporary back-up when a
customer loses their physical card, eliminating the waiting period
to receive a replacement.
Wells Fargo launches customer-to-customer mobile money
US bank Wells Fargo has launched a mobile customer-to-customer
payment option, which allows Wells Fargo customers to transfer
money to each other via the Wells Fargo mobile banking
The money transfer service is free and customers can access the
service by logging on to online banking, adding the account number
of the customer to whom they wish to transfer money and make a
Subsequent transfers can be made from the customer’s mobile device
by logging onto WF.com and following the prompts, or online from
their computer. Customers can transfer up to $1,000 daily to
“More and more Americans are using mobile devices for banking, and
we want to be there for our customers where and when they need us –
whether they are waiting in line at a store or travelling by bus,”
said Arah Erickson, vice-president and head of Wells Fargo retail