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

Virgin America Visa Signature

Virgin America announced it will partner with Alliance Data Retail Services, which manages more than 120 private label and co-brand credit programs and is an Alliance Data Systems Corporation business, to launch a new Virgin America Visa Signature® Credit Card and a first-ever Virgin America Premium Visa Signature® Card. Both co-brand cards offer Virgin America guests and Elevate® frequent flyer program members a host of perks to make their travel experience more convenient, flexible and rewarding. Under terms of the multiyear agreement, Alliance Data will partner with Virgin America to provide a full suite of credit and marketing services for the Virgin America Visa Signature Card and will leverage its full suite of acquisition tools along with its marketing and analytics expertise to drive cardholder spend and further support one-to-one customer engagement.

UniRush Appoints New CEO

UniRush, LLC,announced the appointment of Rick Savard as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. Savard was CEO of NetSpend from 2004 – 2008. In 2009, he joined the FSV Payments board as a Director and became CEO in 2010, where he led the sale of FSV to U.S. Bank in December of 2012. Previous to NetSpend, he held a number of senior level positions in payments, retail and consumer package goods.

mCard Protects Personal Data

mCards, a mobile payment system launched by New Media Insight Group, Inc. helps users prevent their personal information from falling into the wrong hands by generating credit card numbers that can only be used once and expire after 20 minutes. When consumers sign up, they link their mCard to an existing bank account or credit card, which allows them to add money to their account. They will then be able to access a virtual credit card on their smartphone that they can use to make purchases at any merchant that accepts MasterCard. Because the mCard functions similarly to a prepaid credit card, even if someone did steal the number, the thief could only access the available balance.

Voice ID for Secure Digital Tranactions

AGNITiO and fellow FIDO Alliance founding member Nok Nok Labs, a company founded to transform online authentication for modern computing, announce the world’s first demonstration at CES of a FIDO Ready™ Voice iD implementation, showcasing the market-transforming benefits of spoken voice authentication and identification for digital transactions. The Agnitio and Nok Nok Labs FIDO Ready™ demonstration shows how Voice ID and Nok Nok Lab’s Multifactor Authentication Client can be integrated into a mobile application to perform voiceprint-based strong authentication. The solution shown illustrates how FIDO-based authentication can replace the use of passwords to log in or confirm an e-commerce payment. This combination of Nok Nok Labs and AGNITiO FIDO Ready™ product empowers users of online, mobile, and point-of-sale applications to conveniently access sites and services, and perform transactions that are more secure, private, and easy-to-use.

NCR Cloud Connect

NCR Corporation today unveiled NCR Cloud Connect: a powerful, cloud-based ecosystem of digital services for retailers. The innovations offered to retailers as part of the NCR Cloud Connect ecosystem will be provided by both NCR and a growing roster of innovative technology companies. As a result of the digital explosion, retailers are increasingly turning to new and innovative technology services to better engage consumers. According to a recent study by Retail Systems Research, 48 percent of retailers recognize that they must do more to incorporate digital and online experiences into stores. The challenge many retailers have experienced to date has been finding the best solutions to implement and making them as effective as possible in their existing retail environments.

Paper Checks Disappearing

[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”0″ ihc_mb_template=”1″] Paper checks continue to fall out-of-favor in the USA, The volume of checks cleared through the Federal Reserve System declined 3.1% in the third quarter, following a 6.0% decline one-year ago. The latest figures show only 1.481 billion checks cleared in the third quarter of this year, compared to 1.609 billion…

U.S. Bancorp Aquires Charter One Bank

U.S. Bancorp announced today that its lead bank, U.S. Bank National Association, has reached an agreement to acquire the Chicago branch banking operations of the Charter One Bank franchise owned by RBS Citizens Financial Group. The acquisition includes Charter One’s Chicago retail branch network, small business operations, and select middle market relationships. Once complete, the acquisition will nearly double U.S. Bank’s deposit market share in the Chicago metro area. Under the terms of this transaction, U.S. Bank will acquire approximately $5.3 billion of deposits, $1.1 billion of loans, 94 branches, and 800 employees for a deposit premium of approximately $315 million, or 6 percent. At close, U.S. Bank will have combined deposits of approximately $11.3 billion in Chicago.

BPAY Group and IDRBT Join IFX Forum

The Interactive Financial eXchange (IFX; http://www.ifxforum.org) Forum announced two new members: the BPAY Group and the Institute for Development & Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), both at the Small Business level. The IFX Forum is an international non-profit industry association whose mission is to develop and promote the adoption of its open, interoperable standard for financial data exchange, IFX, which is available at no charge at http://bms.ifxforum.org/. BPAY is an Australian payments scheme linking individuals and businesses to more than 160 banks and credit unions, and it processes more than 26 million bill payments each month. IDRBT is a banking technology research institute in India, established to provide operational service support in information technology to banks and financial institutions. IDBRT also offers a range of academic programs, and consults in banking technology and related areas.

Mercury StoreCard

Mercury Payment Systems, LLC, today announced the launch of Mercury StoreCard™, a gift, rewards, mobile payments and promotions card all in one. Consumers can use the Mercury StoreCard as a gift card or a reloadable stored-value card to earn cash back loyalty rewards on every StoreCard purchase. The Mercury StoreCard can also be converted into a digital gift card via Apple® Passbook® or an Android marketplace app, allowing consumers to pay for purchases with either their physical card or smartphones, creating mobile payment convenience. Consumers can also use their smartphones to view their Mercury StoreCard’s balances, manually or automatically reload their cards, send custom-printed gift cards to their family and friends, and share promotional gift cards via social media.

MasterCard APMEA

[ihc-hide-content ihc_mb_type=”show” ihc_mb_who=”0″ ihc_mb_template=”1″] MasterCard’s payment dollar volume (PDV) in the Asia-Pacific-Middle East-Africa region is flattening in the fourth quarter to 23% year-on-year. RAM Research is projecting a 20 basis points drop in the first quarter of 2014. The economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are hinged on the global economy, thus…

Asta Funding Acquires CBC Settlement Funding

Asta Funding, Inc. today announced the acquisition of an 80% ownership interest in CBC Settlement Funding, LLC (“CBC”) On December 31, 2013, the Company, through a subsidiary acquired 100% of the ownership of CBC and its affiliate, CBC Management Services, LLC, for approximately $5.9 million. At the closing, the operating principals of CBC, namely William J. Skyrm, Esq. and James Goodman, were issued a 20% interest in CBC (10% to Mr. Skyrm, and 10% to Mr. Goodman). William J. Skyrm, Esq. and James Goodman, have over 30 years combined experience in the structured settlement industry. CBC purchases periodic payments under a structured settlement and annuity from individuals in exchange for a lump sum payment. In addition, the Company, through another subsidiary has agreed to provide financing to CBC of up to $5 million.

Payelp Partners with Fortumo

International business and payment platform Payelp Global announced its partnership and integration with Fortumo, which offers merchants “one-click” mobile payments in 79 countries worldwide. Fortumo, which has offices in the U.S. (San Francisco), Europe, China and India, not only offers mobile payments in the U.S. and Europe, but focuses on emerging regions and “hard-to-monetize” regions such as Latin America, Middle East, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia. Over 100,000 developers have already signed up to offer Fortumo mobile payments, including top developers such as Rovio, Electronic Arts (EA) and Gameloft.