Robert McKinley, Senior Analyst/Editor Robert McKinley, with 33 years experience covering payment cards and payment systems, is Senior Analyst/Editor for CardFlash and other payments-related publications. He is the retired founder and chief executive of RAM Research, CardWeb and CardTrak. McKinley served as an expert witness in 100+ litigations including two multi-$billion trials, testified before the U.S. Congress, chaired multiple payments conferences, hired as consultant by Fortune 100 companies and several overseas financial institutions. Full Bio:

Visa Launches Heritage-Based Corporate Platform

Visa launched “Everywhere you want to be” multi-stakeholder communications platform designed to deliver universal access to Visa’s secure digital payments. In the 21st century, “everywhere” transcends card usage at physical locations. It’s about realizing potential and achieving dreams. “Everywhere” now is relevant for a farmer in Rwanda paying school fees on his mobile phone, a jewelry designer in California selling to a global online customer base or a government official in Brazil rebuilding a village using a Visa prepaid card. With a new tagline, as well as a refreshed brand logo, Visa is introducing a new visual identity for one of the most recognized and powerful brands in the world. Visa’s first new spot under the “Everywhere you want to be” tagline is entitled “Flying,” and features U.S. Olympic women’s ski jumping hopeful and Team Visa athlete, Sarah Hendrickson.

American Express Discount Rate

The average discount rate for merchants accepting American Express cards hit a new low in the second and third quarters of 2013. Over the past seven years the worldwide average discount rate has declined from 2.57% to 2.52%. American Express says there are many factors that will likely result in more erosion. The mix of spending by location and industry, volume-related pricing discounts, strategic investments, and certain pricing initiatives are major factors in the erosion. Despite the decrease in the average discount rate, discount revenue increased 5% in the third quarter as billed business volume rose 7%. American Express notes faster growth in Global Network Services’ billings than overall American Express billings had an impact on discount revenues too. The average discount rate reflects pricing at merchants accepting general purpose American Express cards. It represents the percentage of billed business (both proprietary and Global Network Services) retained by the American Express from merchants it acquires, prior to payments to third parties unrelated to merchant acceptance.

NCR Announces Latest POS Innovation

NCR announced its fully integrated POS solution and an all-imaging bi-optic scanner. Both solutions are designed to provide retailers with innovative technology that helps provide competitive differentiation by enabling exceptional in-store shopping experiences. NCR is the leader in consumer transaction technologies including retail self-checkout technology and POS terminals with more than a million touchpoints in service. NCR POS solutions handle more than 125,000 transactions per minute. The new imagers and POS solutions are designed to improve operations and fit within the existing footprint of previous NCR devices.The NCR “RealScan” Imager reads 1D, 2D and Mobile bar codes fast and efficiently, provides high-performance imaging with the largest scan zone in its class and enables the ability to improve store security, provide real-time scanner feedback to managers, simplify cashier training and stream live images and videos.The “RealPOS XR7″ features a stylish all-in-one design with versatility, ruggedness and data security, either a 15″ or an 18.5” multi-touch display and is powered by the 4th generation Intel Core processor.

EMEA Region Credit Card Charge Offs

Credit card charge-offs in the Europe, Middle-East, Asia region (EMEA) have declined sharply over the past year, falling 47 basis points and expected to drop another six basis points in the fourth quarter. After peaking in the first quarter at 2.60%, EMEA credit card charge-offs declined to 1.71% in the third quarter of 2013. Citibank reports EMEA credit card charge-offs declined from 2.42% in the third quarter of last year to 1.89% in the third quarter of this year. The drop-off in EMEA credit card charge-offs mirrors the trend in the U.S. market. Citibank’s U.S. credit card charge-offs dropped 61 basis over the past year to 3.54%. According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, U.S. credit card charge-offs declined for four consecutive quarters to 3.23% in the third quarter of 2013. RAM Research projects EMEA charge-offs will fall to 1.65% in the fourth quarter.

Allied Wallet Users Now Over 100mm Mark

Allied Wallet online credit card processing, multi-currency merchant services, and a PCI Level 1 secured payment gateway reported over 100 million users worldwide for their online payment solutions after a spike in holiday sales. Allied Wallet’s merchants saw an average increase of nearly 30% in sales. Allied Wallet’s merchants saw a significant spike in volume this holiday season, and this spike contributed to Allied Wallet’s growth to over 100 million users worldwide. Allied Wallet simplifies the process of online shopping by allowing consumers to create an eWallet. This eWallet acts as an online payment solution for consumers that stores and protects their payment information.

Checkpoint and RGIS Partner on Retailer RFID Implementations

Checkpoint Systems and RGIS, LLC, announced at the NRF 103rd Annual Convention & Expo that they have entered into a global partnership to bring the full RFID-based inventory management solution to retailers. The end-to-end solution incorporates the best-of-breed Merchandise Visibility Solution from Checkpoint, together with RGIS’s global team of inventory specialists. Checkpoint’s Merchandise Visibility Solution includes OATSystems software, RFID hardware, RFID tags, RFID-trained field engineers to deploy and support the implementation, RFID-based EAS leveraging the OneTag approach and Wirama Radar and RFID-based POS solutions and compliance tools.

Starmount Announces Advanced Omni-channel Customer Engagement, mSelling

Starmount announced version 3.0 of Starmount Connect, an advanced omni-channel commerce and customer engagement platform, and version 3.0 of Starmount Engage, the industry’s leading mobile selling solution for retailers. Starmount Connect and Engage allow retailers to meet rising consumer expectations in an omni-channel world by using mobile devices to engage their customers and deliver a personalized, highly relevant selling experience where the majority of retail sales take place ” in the store aisle. Starmount Connect brings together the data and capabilities to connect retailers’ stores, Web site, warehouses and distribution centers, with the out-of-the-box infrastructure, integration, data distribution and enterprise services that are required to drive omni-channel operations.

Visualsoft eCommerce Implements Realex PCI Payments

Realex Payments, an established e-retail payment service provider, and Visualsoft, an award winning ecommerce platform, have announced a partnership that offers PCI compliant payment solutions for online retailers operating on the Visualsoft platform. Realex Payments works closely with online retailers throughout the initial engagement period, providing consultative services to establish the particular suite of payment solutions that is required to fit the individual business needs. Realex Payments is already trusted by Visualsoft merchants who process thousands of orders per week. Read the latest case study from Realex Payments – “Improving Fraud Management and Customer Navigation Solutions to Deliver Increased Sales” – demonstrating the onboarding process of online retailer and highlighting the key solutions provided by Realex Payments.

Payfirma Announces Latest Addition to Board

Payfirma announced Ryan Holmes, Founder and CEO of HootSuite, joined its board of directors. Holmes has grown HootSuite to be a global leader in social media management with over 8 million users, including 744 of the Fortune 1000 companies. HootSuite is a social relationship platform for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute social media strategies across networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ Pages from one secure, web-based dashboard. Advanced functionality includes tools for audience engagement, team collaboration, account security and comprehensive analytics for end-to-end measurement and reporting.

Easypaisa Rolls Out mATM cards

Easypaisa, Pakistan’s first and leading branchless banking service from Telenor and Tameer Microfinance Bank, has launched easypaisa mobile account ATM cards in Pakistan using TPS IRIS Enterprise Payment Switch. These cards are highly secure and convenient where customers will no longer need to visit an easypaisa outlet to avail easypaisa services. With the launch of Easypaisa mobile account ATM cards, Easypaisa customers can not only withdraw cash from ATMs nationwide but can also make fund transfers, bill payments and withdraw cash on Tameer Bank POS machines. This card program paves way for significantly improving financial inclusion for easypaisa customers who can receive payments from governmental institutions such as Benazir Income Support Program (BISP), Employees Old Age Benefit Institute (EOBI) and many others.

ERN Partners Swiff mPayments on Data Analysis

ERN announced its partnership with SCCP Group’s mobile payment platform Swiff, to enable merchants in Europe and Asia to analyse behavioral transaction data captured by Swiff platform in real time. Swiff mobile payment platform is designed to help merchants make and receive card payments using mobile devices to allow fast, easy and secure card transactions. With this new partnership with ERN, the transactional data captured by Swiff can be analyzed in real time by ERN’s Looop platform, enabling merchants to create personalized offers for individual customers delivered directly to their smartphone. ERN recently announced a three-year strategic partnership with FICO (NYSE:FICO), a leading predictive analytics and decision management software company.