First Professional Sports Team to Accept Bitcoin

The Sacramento Kings announced they will become the first major professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin, a popular online currency. The bitcoin purchases will be processed through BitPay. Since purchasing the Kings earlier this year, majority team owner Vivek Ranadivé has directed a business philosophy coined “NBA 3.0,” which focuses on investments in technology, globalization and deep community partnerships. The BitPay relationship marks another manifestation of the 3.0 philosophy in Sacramento.

American Express 4Q EPS Rises

American Express Company reported 4Q net income of $1.3 billion, up from $637 million a year ago. Diluted earnings per share rose to $1.21, from $0.56 a year ago. Excluding expenses associated with the merchant litigation settlement agreement announced in late December, fourth-quarter adjusted net income was $1.3 billion, or $1.25 per share. U.S. Card Services reported 4Q net income of $864 million, up from $423 million while International Card Services reported 4Q net income of $103 million, up 8 percent from $95 million a year ago. Total revenues net of interest expense increased 8% for U.S. Card Services and 2% for International Card Services.

TSYS Announces Authorization Controls

TSYS announced plans today to release TSYS Authorization ControlsSM ” a new product that enables credit and debit cardholders to turn their account “on” or “off” from any user interface. This innovative product can be integrated with existing mobile and other online customer service tools, and will help financial institutions empower their consumers to manage their own account preferences, reduce fraud and build customer loyalty. According to the recent TSYS 2013 Consumer Payment Choice Study, more than half of consumers stated they would be “Interested” in using their phone to temporarily allow or block transactions on their card.

NRF Asks Appeals Court to Uphold Lower Swipe Fee Cap

The National Retail Federation today asked an appeals court to uphold a judge’s ruling that the Federal Reserve set its cap on debit card swipe fees far higher than intended by Congress and that the cap needs to be recalculated at a lower level. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hold a hearing in Washington this morning on the Fed’s challenge of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s July ruling that the 21-cent cap that took effect in 2011 was too high. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by NRF and other groups.

Citigroup Net Profit Doubles

Citigroup reported today a 4Q profit for 2013 at double that of its 4Q profit of 2012. Net Income was at $2.7 billion on revenues of $17.8 billion for 4Q/2013 compared to net income of $1.2 billion on revenues of $17.9 billion for 4Q/2012. CVA/DVA was a negative $164 million ($100 million after-tax) in the fourth quarter, mainly resulting from the improvement in Citigroup’s credit spreads, compared to negative $485 million ($301 million after-tax) in the prior year period. Excluding CVA/DVA, fourth quarter revenues were $17.9 billion, down 2% from the prior year period. Fourth quarter 2013 results also included a $189 million after-tax benefit related to the divestiture of Citi’s Credicard business in Brazil, while results in the prior year period included a $1.0 billion repositioning charge ($653 million after-tax). Excluding CVA/DVA, the impact of the Credicard divestiture in the fourth quarter 2013 and the fourth quarter 2012 repositioning charge,6 earnings were $0.82 per diluted share, up 19% from the prior year period.

Visa Metrics 2014

Visa has decided to no longer provide financial metrics for marketing expense, capital expenditures and tax rate for fiscal full-year 2014. However, for fiscal full-year 2014 Visa did provide financial metrics on net revenue growth and client incentives as a percent of gross income. Visa expects annual net revenue growth to be in the low double-digits on a constant dollar basis, with an expectation of two percentage points of negative foreign currency impact for fiscal full-year 2014.

Computop Launches Updated Payment Platform

Computop PSP made available its Computop Paygate 6.0. This latest version of the company’s multichannel global payment platform offers new features and functionality that make it even easier and faster for merchants to conduct business both domestically and internationally, and is fully SEPA enabled in preparation for the pan-European payment harmonization initiative due to go live in February and August 2014. The release of Computop Paygate 6.0 extends yet further the choice of international and domestic alternative payment and processing methods available to support consumer preferences. Paygate 6.0 sees Computop significantly extend its local market presence in a number of key global territories.

Aptito mPOS Now Visa-Ready

Net Element mpayment and value-added transactional services announced Aptito cloud-based POS payments platform is now Visa-Ready for their mPOS solution. Aptito helps restaurants drive consumer engagement via tablet, mobile and all other cloud-connected devices. Aptito’s mPOS system provides hospitality merchants with tools to increase sales, productivity, and customer loyalty. The solution is a tablet-based POS that combines traditional POS functionality with mobile ordering, payments, social media, intelligent offers, mobile applications, loyalty, and transactional data all in one solution supported by Aptito’s cloud-based payments platform. Restaurants can leverage Aptito to plug into social networks, daily deal promotions and other marketing programs while having the ability to use Aptito’s integrated mobile marketing tools to deploy their own lead generation campaigns and loyalty rewards.

USA Tech Wins 2014 ‘Future 50’ Award

USA Technologies is among the winners of the SmartCEO 2014 Future 50 awards for Greater Philadelphia.The Future 50 awards program recognizes the region’s 50 fast-growth, mid-sized companies, five large blue chip companies and five small emerging growth companies based on a combined three-year average of revenue and employee growth. USA Technologies is to be celebrated at an awards ceremony on January 16, 2014.

Massive credit card and identity theft scheme

A Ukrainian national charged as part of a multiagency federal investigation into a worldwide online marketplace for stolen personal and financial information was arraigned in federal court Monday following his extradition Friday from Croatia. Operation Open Market, which began in March 2007, targeted an organization known as “Carder.su.” The investigation revealed members of the ring, known as “carders,” were involved in large-scale trafficking of compromised credit card account data and counterfeit credit cards, as well as money laundering, narcotics trafficking and various types of computer crime.