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

Evolve Money Adds Debit Cards

Evolve Money™, the first online and mobile app that makes it easy for people to track and quickly pay more than 10,000 bills using cash, now offers people more choices of how to pay with the addition of debit and prepaid cards. Launched this summer by PreCash, Evolve Money is gaining traction as a fast, affordable and secure way to pay bills from one place and is an alternative to bank bill payment services. Evolve Money is available as a free Android mobile app from Google Play, and other smartphone, tablet and computer users can use Evolve Money by visiting www.evolvemoney.com.

China Plateau

China’s economy has hit the breaks the past two quarters. The current Composite Leading Indicator (CLI) has leveled out at 10.8%, the lowest in four years according to RAM Research. The HSBC/Market Purchasing Managers’ Index is now 50.8 in November slightly down from October. Reuters says China’s economy is forecast to grow 7.5% in the fourth quarter, which is slower than previously forecast and represents a 14 year low. However, there is a sign of resilience as China’s leaders eyeball the yuan’s trading band and potential approval of privately-held banks. RAM Research predicts China’s CLI will drop to 10.5% at year end.

Square redesigns Register POS

Square launched a new design for Square Registe POS solution. The design’s refined aesthetic introduces a smoother, more intuitive experience for both merchants and their customers, and optimizes for efficiency, simple customization and ease-of-use. It also provides a consistent experience across Android and iOS 7, and with Square web dashboard, Square’s back office solution. For many businesses, speed and efficiency at the counter is critical. Square Register’s new navigation is intuitive and ergonomic for a faster workflow that keeps the line moving. Design details improve the interaction between buyer and seller; for example, the timing of how Register screens change is designed to correspond with how customers naturally order during a lunch rush.

PlayPhone Announces Vivo Partnership

PlayPhone mobile social gaming partnered Vivo to expand its social game store and global gaming network to its customers. This partnership is the latest in a rapidly expanding list of key carrier partners including Verizon, Claro Brazil, SingTel and Sprint, to adopt PlayPhone’s turnkey social gaming platform. With the addition of Vivo, PlayPhone now reaches over 870 million mobile customers. PlayPhone Games enables Vivo customers to discover, download and play a wide variety of the latest popular games with friends from around the world in a single app. It’s the first aggregated mobile games store for Vivo customers that offers secure direct carrier billing, and it provides gamers with a unique, deeply social set of gaming features. PlayPhone Games is personalized to each player’s gaming habits, their friend network and the games their friends are playing, exposing players to very targeted content and making it easy for players to instantly connect with friends to play and share favorite games together.

Planeta Informática LTDA JOINS OSPT ALLIANCE

Expanding its membership base in Brazil, the Open Standard for Public Transport (OSPT™) Alliance announced that Planeta Informática has joined as a Full Member. Planeta Informática’s long experience in public transportation consulting and support will help accelerate development of new solutions based on open standards that enable public transport operators to more easily migrate existing fare collection systems and achieve greater security, interoperability, and cost-effectiveness.

Lukoil Partners NCR on Growth Strategy

NCR announced Lukoil is improving the customer experience and increasing operational efficiency by deploying NCR’s latest point of sale (POS) software and hardware for petroleum and convenience stores. NCR’s POS solution will be implemented at more than 170 petrol station convenience stores in Belgium by the end of 2013. The relationship between NCR and Lukoil is also expanding in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as legacy POS equipment is updated to the new NCR technology. This covers more than 400 sites in six countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Luxembourg. NCR facilitates cross-functional promotions and rewarding customers for their loyalty when visiting Lukoil petrol station convenience stores. It also provides a platform for Lukoil to utilize a NCR Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, as Lukoil seeks to further enhance the shopper experience in the future.

Eximbank – JCB Credit Card

Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank) and JCB International Co., Ltd. (JCBI) have launched Eximbank – JCB Credit Card in order to diversify the products to meet various demands of customers. With today’s launch event of Eximbank and JCBI, Eximbank will join the member of issuing international card bearing JCB brand in Vietnam. Cardmembers are also entitled to enjoy many privileges upon card issuance, such as: Waiver of first-year annual fee for primary card and supplementary card, receive 300,000VND cashback for the cardmembers who spend over 1,000,000 VND and travel to Japan for a cardmember who spends the most from today to 11/03/2014.

FEXCO and EVERTEC Provide DCC

FEXCO and EVERTEC Group, LLC announced they will be joining forces to offer FEXCO’s Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) solution to EVERTEC’s banking clients and merchants. DCC is a financial service in which credit card transactions performed at point of sale and ATM terminals are instantly converted to the currency of the cardholder making the transaction. This real time conversion provides customers the option to proceed with the transaction in the currency of the credit card or the local currency, as opposed to learning of these fees and charges through their monthly statement at the end of the billing cycle. The initial roll out of FEXCO’s DCC will focus particularly on merchants within the hotel, restaurant and retailer industries to attend to business travelers and tourists traveling to Costa Rica from the United States, Europe and Canada.

Cetecom a GlobalPlatform Member

Global smart card testing service provider, CETECOM, has joined GlobalPlatform as a Participating Member.CETECOM has identified participation in the GlobalPlatform compliance program as a key priority in order to work towards becoming a recognized GlobalPlatform testing laboratory. As the association which standardizes the management of applications on secure chip technology, GlobalPlatform seeks to ensure the advancement and maintenance of an interoperable, sustainable and trusted end-to-end environment for managing applications on secure chip technology. The association is achieving this through its established testing infrastructure and qualified test tool providers and laboratories.

Consumers Unleashed

The U.S. Personal Consumption Expenditures Index has fallen to 2.8% in the third quarter of 2013 from 5.1% in the third quarter of 2006. Consumers are still sitting on their wallets and not sure sure what retailers are up to, as aggressive holiday sales are very early and very sluggish. January may be the bright spot for retailers, but “Baby Boomers” are watching closely and will close in during the first quarter.

Canada CPI

Inflation in Canada is finally slowing down. The latest Canadian Consumer Price Index shows a 0.7% rate, compared to 1.1% In September. Canada’s economy is picking up slowly, at a rate close to the USA, 2.7% for the third quarter compared to 2.8% in the USA. The devastating Alberta flooding and Quebec’s construction strike were definite drags in the third quarter. Statistics Canada reports employee pay rose 80 basis points in Q3, compared to 40 basis points in Q2. RAM Research predicts Canada’s CPI will fall to 0.7% by year’s end.

adMarketplace Taps Microsoft and AOL Veterans

adMarketplace search advertising technology named Lou Severine as its Chief Revenue Officer and James Domenick as Vice President of Ad Operations. Severine and Domenick bring extensive industry experience to adMarketplace’s rapidly expanding sales and operations teams. Severine joins adMarketplace after serving as Chief Revenue Officer for Adknowledge, where he managed revenue, business development, and marketing efforts. Severine also served as Senior Vice President of Global Sales for AOL/ADTECH, where he was responsible for domestic and international sales for numerous AOL Networks platforms. Domenick comes to adMarketplace from Microsoft, where he served as Chief of Staff for Global Accounts & Agencies. He joined Microsoft in 2007 and managed a range of cross-group initiatives for Microsoft’s Global Creative Solutions team. Prior to Microsoft, Domenick served as Director of Product Solutions for Experian CheetahMail.