Robert McKinley, Senior Analyst/Editor Robert McKinley is an analyst of the payments industry on a daily basis for 32 years covering payment cards and payment systems from both the business side and the consumer side. McKinley is the retired founder and chief executive of RAM Research, CardWeb and CardTrak. In his prior position, McKinley has participated in more than 10,000 documented news media interviews, testified as an expert witness in two separate $billion+ U.S. anti-trust trials, testified before the U.S. Congress, assisted the GAO with paymentsIMG_2006 (1).jpeg reports, chaired numerous business conferences and provided C-Suite opinion to a multitude of Fortune 500 companies. In retirement, he has continued developing and funding digital media assets as well as contributing payments related analysis/content to a broad list of online publishers, including CardFlash, CardTrak and CardData. McKinley is also a national certified mentor with the non-profit SCORE organization with a focus on assisting Fintech startups. www.robert-mckinley.com

Datacard Announces Card Validation Program

Datacard announced a new card validation program targeted to card manufacturers and suppliers that allows them to validate the compatibility of their EMV smart cards with Datacard personalization solutions.The card validation program allows card manufacturers and suppliers to receive verification that their smart cards work with Datacard hardware and software systems. If they are pre-validated, issuers requiring those chips on Datacard brand systems will receive a discount on the pre-validated Chip Library for any issuers requiring those cards on their Datacard system with EMV personalization. Datacard Group can also help resolve any issues prior to full production and mass roll-out of card programs.

LoopWallet Android Available as Universally Accepted mPayment App

LoopPay made available its LoopWallet app for Android at the Google Play Store. The free LoopWallet app for Android now significantly expands the number of consumers who can store all their cards on their phones and pay faster at just about anywhere they shop with Loop Ready™ devices. The first Loop Ready device available for Android users is the Loop Fob for $39. Additional Loop Ready devices in different form factors will be released throughout this year. Loop is also working with OEMs to embed its patented technology directly into a variety of products including smartphones and smart watches in 2015. Without the critical mass of merchants accepting NFC or other solutions from barcodes to Bluetooth, users won’t change their habits and leave their plastic cards behind. Loop allows users to securely swipe-in or scan-in all their plastic cards, and to securely transmit mag stripe card data directly to almost every POS system today without any changes to the merchants’ current infrastructure.

MasterCard Teams Habitat for Humanity to Support Small Business

MasterCard and Habitat for Humanity officially launched the work/live initiative. WIth this, Habitat will build homes with functional living and business spaces, offering increased employment and income opportunities for low-income families. The MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, the arm of MasterCard focused on advancing financial inclusion, is providing a $400,000 grant to fund the construction of these work/live spaces and to increase Habitat’s capacity to replicate the model across the country.The program builds on the success of previous programs which developed the work/live model in response to community efforts related to economic development.

MasterCard and PULSE Launch Common Debit EMV Solution

MasterCard and PULSE reached an agreement to allow financial institutions that issue EMV debit cards that participate in both the MasterCard and PULSE networks to use MasterCard’s common debit solution on those cards. U.S. debit regulations require that each debit card provide merchants and acquirers the opportunity to route debit transactions over multiple, unaffiliated networks. This is made possible for debit EMV cards through the use of common application identifiers (AIDs). Licensing MasterCard’s common debit AID will help support EMV chip adoption in the United States by enabling issuers to deploy EMV cards in compliance with this regulatory requirement. PULSE will use MasterCard’s common AID to process domestic ATM and POS transactions on behalf of issuers that participate in both PULSE and MasterCard, including those initiated with contactless-enabled devices.

American Express Expands Merchant Network

American Express expanded its OptBlue merchant acquiring program that extends U.S. small merchant coverage. There are now 10 participating acquirers in OptBlue, five of which are among the top 10 in the United States. The program was announced at American Express’ Financial Community meeting earlier this year with Vantiv, Global Payments, Heartland Payment Systems, Worldpay, Transfirst and JetPay as the first participants. With OptBlue, participants have the flexibility to provide U.S. small merchants the benefit of a single statement, one settlement process, and one contact for all the major card brands. Participants determine merchant pricing in addition to providing payment processing and servicing. OptBlue will help expand American Express’ U.S. small merchant coverage, providing consumers more payment options at local businesses.

Visa/MasterCard Credit Card Q1

Visa (VS) and MasterCard (MC) credit card activity ramped up in the first quarter, as Gross Dollar Volume (GDV) on U.S.-issued credit and charge cards jumped 9.5% year-on-year (Y/Y) in the first quarter of 2014 (1Q/2014), according to CardData. VS’ U.S. credit card GDV was up 10.2% to $281 billion, while MC’s U.S. credit and charge card GDV increased 8.1% in 1Q/2014 to $145 billion. The first quarter growth was a pickup for MasterCard, the highest level over the past five quarters.

Vantiv to Acquire Mercury Payment Systems

Vantiv, Inc. announced an agreement to acquire Mercury Payment Systems, LLC for an aggregate price of $1.65 billion. Mercury is a payment technology and service leader whose solutions are embedded into point-of-sale software applications and brought to market through their dealer and developer partners. Mercury is currently majority-owned by Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing.

Veracity Payment Acquires Vanco Services

Veracity Payment announced its acquisition of Vanco Services electronic payment solutions to faith-based organizations, healthcare organizations, financial institutions, nonprofits, schools, municipalities and other entities.
As part of the acquisition, Veracity and Vanco will be rebranded as “Vanco Payment Solutions.” Vanco processes both credit card and ACH transactions on its robust payment platform. The platform not only supports Vanco’s own proprietary suite of online, mobile, in-person and batch payment solutions, it also provides the back office credit card, debit card and ACH processing for more than 60 different software companies via web services integrations. In addition, Vanco systems enable the end-to-end electronic transfer and posting of consumer bill payments initiated anywhere on the nation’s highly fragmented network of online banking sites – payments that would otherwise be sent by check and require manual intervention. The two organizations now serve a combined total of more than 38,000 clients nationwide and process more than $11 billion in electronic payments. They also collectively support over 200 client partners that include financial institutions, affinity and trade associations, professional services and independent software vendors/developers.

Xoom Updates Transfer App

Xoom Corporation announced a major upgrade to its App that allows Xoom customers to sign up and send money from their mobile devices to friends and family members instantly at the outset. Now, in a few simple steps, Xoom’s new App release allows money senders to sign up and send money to someone new for the first time — in addition to any existing recipients — using iOS or Android mobile devices. To send to new recipients, users provide information about how much to send, recipient details and method of payment and then the money is on its way. Repeat Xoom customers continue to enjoy the Xoom App for best-in-class mobile money transfer. In the 12 months ending March 31, 2014, Xoom processed $1.5 billion in mobile volume and in Q1-2014, 45 percent of Xoom transactions were sent via mobile devices.

Contactless Card Shipment Volume Through the Roof

Contactless payment card shipments accelerated globally in 2013, according to figures released today by the Smart Payment Association (SPA). The SPA reports that contactless technologies were present on 37% of all smart payment cards shipped in 2013. By far the greatest increase was experienced in the Asia Pacific region, where contactless shipments grew by a staggering 193 percent compared to 2012. Other regions around the globe experienced strong growth rates, ranging from 45 percent in the Americas to 64 percent in Western Europe. Whether in the form of a ‘tap-and-go’ credit or debit card or contactless payments via a smartphone, growing consumer and retailer hunger for the convenience and opportunities presented by contactless payment accounts for this rapid growth. In 2013 more than 450 million contactless cards were delivered by SPA members in over 30 countries worldwide, demonstrating that the full potential for consumers, providers and retailers is now being realized. More than 1.5 billion cards were shipped last year, with the highest increased once again recorded in the Asia Pacific region (up 75 percent) driven largely by China’s migration to chip based payments and the initiation of EMV in India. EMEA’s strong growth of 12 percent was in part driven by SEPA rules which enforce chip and PIN and the growth of EMV in Russia. A substantial 37 percent growth in North America reflects the completion to EMV by Canada and the escalating migration to EMV currently underway in the USA.

ACI Announces Latest Online Banking, mBanking FI Client

Maps Credit Union has selected ACI’s integrated online banking platform to power its online banking, mobile banking and bill payment services. Advanced online banking and mobile solutions are critical to driving customer loyalty, building market share and creating new revenue opportunities, which is why Maps selected ACI’s integrated online banking platform for credit unions, ACI Architect Banking. A single end-to-end solution, Architect Banking gives financial institutions like Maps the control, choice and the flexibility to quickly respond to ever-changing consumer and business financial needs. By also leveraging ACI’s bill payment services, Maps benefits from an industry-leading payment offering and a rich heritage of payment services that deliver reliable and accurate bill pay, seamlessly integrated within Architect Banking. ACI’s Electronic Biller Directory technology maximizes payment accuracy for both Maps and its members, resulting in faster payment delivery and minimizing the risk of payment errors.