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

Lamassu’s Two Way Bitcoin ATM

Lamassu is taking orders for its modular system, which enables owners of existing Lamassu Bitcoin ATMs to add Bitcoin-for-cash capability via its new Santo Tirso bill dispensing pedestal. Previously, the manufacturer only produced machines with the ability to make cash-for-Bitcoin transactions. The bill dispenser stands, which sell for $5,500 each, are now available for preorder and will make their first appearance at the Bitcoin Foundation’s Bitcoin 2014 conference in Amsterdam May 15-17.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fiserv Granted Patent on Value Optimization

Fiserv has been granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a customer value optimization process in its Predictive ScoresSM solution. Using this newly patented process, financial institutions can benefit from the ability to proactively identify and approach customers with the optimum product, service or treatment they may need at the right time, through the appropriate channels. This can improve the current and future value of the customer, reduce their risk of attrition and increase satisfaction. Customer Value Optimization elevates the ROI of traditional cross-sales programs to previously unattainable levels while Predictive Scores from Fiserv is a suite of solutions that enables financial institutions to identify and prioritize the customers or members who are most likely to be receptive to marketing and sales initiatives by optimizing the revenue potential of each customer or member, and by understanding the most relevant products and services they are most likely to buy.

2Checkout Offers Online Checkout Methods with Payments API

2Checkout released a new suite of payment API (Application Programming Interface) libraries from beta testing, letting merchants embed 2Checkout’s payment processing capabilities directly into their website. The 2Checkout Payment API libraries join 2Checkout’s hosted options: Standard Checkout and Inline Checkout. With these three checkout platforms, 2Checkout is the payments vendor with the broadest set of customizable payment methods in the world. Merchants use 2Checkout to process credit card, debit card and PayPal payments, allowing them to directly integrate 2Checkout’s technology into their website with complete coding control. They can therefore focus on designing a unique and branded checkout experience for their customers. Standard Checkout displays checkout pages based on the buyer’s device while maintaining the merchant’s unique branding. Inline Checkout provides a simple payment form that gives shoppers the appearance that they are still on the merchant’s site. The Payment API empowers merchants to integrate 2Checkout’s payment processing directly into their website with the most customization options.

Western Union bids to unlock user data potential with Informatica

Informatica Corporation (INFA) data integration software announced that the Western Union Company has made Informatica the data integration provider for its internal data initiative. Data insights are helping Western Union continue to enhance its digital service offerings, maximize customer satisfaction and improve brand loyalty across the many facets of its global operations. In 2013, Western Union completed 242 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide and 459 million business payments, equating to more than 29 transactions per second, on average.

MoneyPass ATM Network Launches Contest for Cardholders

The MoneyPass Network is celebrating another year of increased growth with a contest for cardholders. The MoneyPass “Caught Without Cash” contest gives cardholders an opportunity to win one of two weekly $100 drawings and a grand prize of $1,000. The “Caught Without Cash” contest runs through June 1, 2014. Contestants enter by sharing a brief story about a time they were caught without cash when it was needed, such as paying a babysitter or shopping at a farmers market. Two $100 winners are drawn each week during the contest. Entries can be voted on by visitors to the contest site and one entry will be chosen from the top ten entries as the grand prize winner at the end of the contest. MoneyPass participants are encouraged to promote the contest to cardholders as a way to increase awareness of the benefits of MoneyPass access.