With the number of Chicago residents who feel that they are better off today than in September 2009 is up three points to 16%, 60% believe the economy has not yet hit bottom, compared with 62 percent nationally. This, compared to September when 52% believed we still had a ways to go and 34% said we had already hit bottom.Only 53% of Chicagoans believe that local business conditions will get somewhat (47%) or much (6%) better in the next 12 months â a 14-point decline since September. This, according to Citi, also shows 63% are somewhat (47%) or very (16%) optimistic that their own financial situation will get better over the next 12 months; 22% believe their local economy is good or excellent; 64% believe it is only a fair (30%) or poor (34%) time to buy a major household item; and 55% will not take any vacation at all this summer, more than 51 percent nationally. Additionally, 38% are somewhat (24%) or very (14%) uncomfortable with their current level of debt, a six-point increase since September, and five points higher than the country overall (33%).
USA Technologies announced that over 20,000 ePort cashless payment terminals have been shipped or verbally committed to by customers under the “JumpStart” program. JumpStart was originally launched in January 2010 to help vending operators and bottlers acquire the ePort EDGE cashless terminal at no cost, paying only a low monthly service fee, and avoiding the need to make a major upfront capital investment. The ePort EDGE, which accepts swipe cards only, is the only one-piece cashless reader and controller combo on the vending market, with PCI Level One compliant security. The program was recently expanded to include the companyâs top-of-the-line ePort G8 terminal, which accepts contactless cards in addition to traditional magnetic swipe cards as well as the Get One/Buy One (GoBo) optionâwhich enables a customer to get an ePort under a rental agreement if they commit to buying one by December 31, 2010.
The FDIC has proposed guidelines its claiming could save financially
vulnerable American families millions of dollars a year in overdraft
fees. Encouraging banks to offer customers lower-cost overdraft
alternatives rather than charge unlimited high-cost overdraft fees, the
proposal would require banks to contact customers incurring six
overdraft fees within 12 months and offerâand explainâless costly
options. The banks also would be discouraged from re-ordering
transactions to maximize overdraft fees. Banks and credit unions
frequently promote their most expensive form of overdraft coverage,
which typically imposes a $34 fee per overdraftâtwice the amount of the
typical debit card purchase that triggers an overdraftârather than
reasonably priced options like a low-interest line of credit or an
affordable small-dollar loan. Financial institutions earn $24 billion
annually from these high-cost programs. Citibank has never charged
overdraft fees on debit cards, Bank of America is stopping the practice
but Wells Fargo continues to charge over a billion dollars a year in
debit card overdraft fees.
Central Payment said it had added more than 11,000 merchants as new customers since it began offering the First National Merchant Solutions processing platform service. Through its arrangement with First National Bank of Omaha, sponsoring bank of First National Merchant Solutions, CPAY continues to offer complete debit and credit card processing to companies who accept transaction cards for payment. Among the new markets opened to CPAY by the agreement is the gasoline service station industry, which has more than 110,000 merchants nationally. The Company is on pace to add more than 20,000 total merchants in 2010.
MasterCard Advisorsâ “SpendingPulse” report, tracking national retail and service sales in specific U.S. retail industries, shows a mixed bag in July. Retail sales grew by 1.4% since the year ago period, while seasonally adjusted month-to-month sales declined by 0.9%, while year-over-year sales for the month grew by 1.0%, slightly below Juneâs 1.1% increase. July growth was driven mostly by an increase in spending on gasoline, which is why the ex-auto ex-gasoline number is a better barometer to measuring the underlying health in retail spending. Julyâs growth rate excluding auto and gasoline leaves the three-month average year-to-year growth rate of retail sales at 1.0%, well below the 3.5% for the prior three months. The ex-auto year-over-year numbers posted an unadjusted three-month average year-over-year growth rate slowing to 1.6% compared to the 6.5% average growth rate for the previous three months.
The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI) by UCLA Anderson School of Management climbed 1.7% in July after dropping 1.9% in June. Though the PCI fell significantly in June, it was not as bad as the headline number suggested because of a late Memorial Day and due to the second half of June being stronger than the first. This more positive interpretation of the June data has now been confirmed with a strong July PCI. Year-over-year growth for July of 8% represented the eighth straight month of mid to high single digit year-over-year percentage growth after approximately two years of decline. The sustained growth is welcome news; however, the PCI needs to reach year-over-year growth of 10 to 15 percent in the near term to drive a meaningful increase in employment. As a leading economic indicator, the PCI also offers insight on expected quarterly GDP results. Last month, the PCI forecasted second quarter GDP growth of 2.5 percent, essentially matching the subsequent release of the federal government’s initial GDP Q2 estimate of 2.4 percent.
American Express is giving its Cardmembers exclusive access to “Fashionâs Night Out: The Show” public fashion show in New York City on September 7. With a portion of the proceeds benefitting The New York City AIDS fund, the show will feature over 150 looks based on the seasonâs top trends and will precede the second-ever Fashionâs Night Out which is set to take place on September 10 in over 100 cities across the country. The event will boast designers, celebrities, models, and fashion editors and will once again stage exciting, one-of-a-kind events in stores open after-hours to the public, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fashionâs Night Out is a global initiative created to celebrate fashion, restore consumer confidence, and boost the industryâs economy.
SafetyPay secure payment is embarking on the U.S. market with its retail pilot program. Designed to allow U.S. merchants to tap the online banking customer base of a leading U.S. bank partner for a three-month trial period, the program allows users to process purchases in real time through their banks online banking platform. This will also provide merchants access to millions of local and international shoppers. SafetyPay was created to help financial institutions monetize their online banking platforms by providing a secure, direct payment method between a consumerâs bank and the retailer of choice. SafetyPay links the customer directly to their online banking account and has partnered with more than 22 prominent international banks such as Santander, ScotiaBank and BBVA/Bancomer, and more than 2,000 international retailers such as Nike and Sears.
Keynote Competitive has released its first smartphone “Mobile Financial Services Performance Index,” weekly performance ranking of the Websites of leading U.S. banks, brokerages and credit card companies when accessed by a variety of leading smartphones. The Index shows the average response times, success rates and download speeds for downloading the homepage of selected US financial services mobile sites on popular smartphones using Keynote’s commercially available mobile performance monitoring solution, Mobile Application Perspective. The financial services sites that appear in the index were selected to provide an industry benchmark for well-known company sites. The Mobile Financial Services Performance Index is the benchmark for financial companies to compare their mobile site performance against the biggest names in the industry. Measurements are taken from New York, Dallas, Chicago and San Francisco to measure single page downloads of the home page of the mobile Web site.
AllCom integrating telecommunications, internet and commerce solutions has inked 5 year agreements with eCommLink prepaid debit processor to provide the prepaid transaction processing for the AllCom “GenieCard.” This is in conjunction with AllCom’s plans to increase the “GenieCard” distribution level and to expand its retail distribution network in both the U.S. and Canada. The “GenieCard” is a full-service, general-purpose reloadable Visa prepaid debit card that includes: numerous reload and transfer options; full ATM and POS access; robust email and SMS notifications; and bill payment services. The card can be purchased by AllCom’s subscribers online and will soon be distributed through independent retailers throughout North America. It is available as both a standalone product and as a value add to AllCom’s Universal Office communications platform.
Among the 78% of respondents who shop online, credit cards continue to be the dominant method of payment for online purchases, used by 70%. However, increasing numbers of consumers are using other payment methods as well: 39% use PayPal, just edging out debit cards, used by 37%, for second place. This, according Auriemma Consulting Group, shows credit cards are considered the most convenient way to pay for online purchases, PayPal was rated as the most secure. The average purchase amount for PayPal transactions was virtually unchanged from 2008, at just under $60. However, the number of PayPal transactions reported by consumers in the survey doubled, from 10.8 in 2008 to 21.2 in June 2010, raising the average annual spend by about $635. Itâs not just for eBay anymore, Stahl noted.
MoneyGram International has signed a multi-year contract extension with the United Kingdomâs Post Office. The Post Office, which has been a MoneyGram agent since 1997, offers MoneyGram money transfer services in every one of its 12,000 branches throughout the UK. It has the largest retail network in Western Europe, and over 93 percent of the UK population lives within one mile of a Post Office. The partnership with the United Kingdomâs Post Office is MoneyGramâs longest-standing post office agent relationship. As part of its growth strategy, MoneyGram strategically aligns itself with post offices, providing consumers with convenient access to reliable and affordable money transfer services close to where they live and work. Other post office systems in MoneyGramâs network include Canada, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Italy, Jamaica, Jersey, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Moldova, Poland, and Ukraine.