New US credit card accounts rose to 84.9 million in the second quarter – the most recent quarter for which figures are available -, up 11% from a year earlier according to data released by the American Bankers Association
This growth in new account opening contributed to a post-recession high of 342 million open credit card accounts.
Other positive stats included this snippet: the post-recession high of 84.9 million new accounts included only 20% of sub-prime accounts comprise, down sharply from 28% in 2009.
The UK has also reported record card statistics. Payment card spending amounted to £54.7bn in September – the most recent month for which stats are to hand – up by 0.6% on August. The number of purchases also increased and reached a record 1.3 billion transactions, up by 0.7% during the month.
Predictably, September also witnessed another contactless record: spending on contactless cards increased to £2.4bn billion (4% of total value) with corresponding purchases reaching 275 million (22% of total volume).
That 22% figure for September 2016 compares to 8.9% in September 2015 and a mere 3.2% in September 2014.
How long before the industry moves to increase the UK maximum contactless transaction limit from £30 to £50?
Growth in card spending declined slightly in September with an annual rate of 4.0% – more than twice lower than a year ago (8.3%).
As the UK Cards Association suggests, slower growth in card spending could be linked to a slight increase in the annual consumer price inflation rate.
Back on a positive note, the annual growth rate of the number of purchases (11%) continued to outstrip that of spending, highlighting a consumer preference to use cards more frequently for lower value payments.
Meantime, still in the UK, one of the most interesting biometrics pilots is well underway at RBS. Its NatWest subsidiary has been trialling Israeli tech startup BioCatch’s behavioural biometrics to authenticate customers’ online activity.
BioCatch uses a system that recognises users by how they physically use their computer or tablet instead of utilising user names and passwords.
It captures more than 500 points of behaviour including hand-eye coordination, pressure and various finger movements to create a unique user profile.
Following a successful pilot at RBS’ private banking unit Coutts, RBS plans a further pilot, with retail banking customers in the New Year.
Simon McNamara, chief administrative officer of NatWest said, “The technology that we’ve been able to deploy with the help of BioCatch has played a crucial role in strengthening our security systems.
“The breadth of behavioural biometrics that BioCatch technology can monitor is really impressive and we’ve already seen many examples of it alerting us to suspicious activity and protecting our customers from fraud.”
Saving the bank material losses in the last few months alone, the system was able to: stop fraudulent attempts to transfer funds – identify remote access trojans during an online session – Identify fraud attempts occurring across multiple channels (i.e online and mobile).
Lastly, much is made of the need to optimise digital onboarding and rightly so. The news that Fujitsu has launched Smart Origination, customer onboarding technology enabling financial institutions to collect, process and verify documents in less than five minute is interesting.
Fujitsu’s cooperation with ImageWare Systems, InAuth, Intelligent Environments, Mitek, and Trunomi, operates across multiple channels in an attempt to increase conversation and reduce the cost of new customer acquisition and is among the more interesting news stories of the month.