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

TigerDirect.com Integrates V.me by Visa

Technology retail giant TigerDirect.com announced it has begun accepting V.me by Visa to help simplify online payments at its Internet Retailer Top-25 ranked TigerDirect.com e-commerce site, as well as its mobile and tablet web sites at M.tigerdirect.com and T.tigerdirect.com. V.me is a simple, secure way for people to pay online, letting consumers checkout by simply entering a username and password. Once enrolled, consumers can more easily manage online shopping payments anywhere that accepts V.me. The marketing and technology integration between TigerDirect.com and Visa is one of many strides TigerDirect.com has taken to minimize payment friction, giving customers one more reason to complete their purchases with TigerDirect.com. Because customers can complete their purchases in fewer steps and without ever leaving the TigerDirect.com web or mobile site, V.me helps reduce the likelihood of cart abandonment. V.me by Visa digital wallet lets consumers checkout securely using any major credit or debit card, without re-entering card number and shipping preferences.

The Clearing House Whitepaper Examines US payments system

The Clearing House (TCH) issued a working paper entitled U.S. Payment System: Recommendations for Safe Evolution and Future Improvements that offers recommendations on how best to evolve the existing payments system. The working paper focuses on the need to ensure the safety, soundness and sustainable economics of the U.S. payment system and to continue to deliver superior payment services to consumers and businesses. The working paper is part of TCH’s ongoing discussions regarding the future of the U.S. payment system and serves as its response the Federal Reserve Banks’ Payments System Improvement – Public Consultation Paper published in September. The paper also sets forth TCH’s own recommendations regarding optimal payment system evolution and outcomes.

Western Union and Moat Housing Association pilot pre-paid card

Western Union is piloting a prepaid card that enables tenants of Moat Housing Association to receive their housing benefit and automatically pay the Registered Social Landlord (RSL). The trial is part of a scheme to evaluate the role of prepaid cards in supporting automatic rent payments, which would meet many of the challenges RSLs face when implementing Universal Credit. Western Union is currently providing tenants with MasterCard prepaid cards. The cards allow RSLs to automatically draw money from the tenant’s card, preventing rent arrears and giving both tenants and the housing association a record that the rent has been paid. The cards have no credit facilities, so the tenants cannot spend more than the value on the card, once the rent has been paid to the landlord, the cards can be used to pay for goods and services wherever MasterCard is accepted.

PCI Gaming Opening New Casino-Resort

PCI Gaming unveiled a major awareness campaign targeting Atlanta to support the opening of this new resort. The multi-channel effort includes unique and innovative interactive promotions and marketing elements aimed at building awareness in the Atlanta market for what will become the city’s closest casino. The focus of this campaign is to support awareness for the December 17 opening of Wind Creek Wetumpka, PCI Gaming’s newest and largest property. The $250 million casino-hotel is a two-hour drive from downtown Atlanta, just outside Montgomery, Alabama, and is the city’s closest casino. Wind Creek Wetumpka offers 2,520 gaming machines on an 85,000 square-foot casino floor. That’s about the size of two football fields. It is surrounded by 5 restaurants including a luxury steakhouse, Fire, whose sister restaurant at the Wind Creek Atmore earned AAA’s coveted four-diamond award, the only restaurant in Alabama with that distinction.

DFC Global Corp. Announces Acquisition of Pawn Lending and Gold Buying Stores

DFC Global international diversified financial services company serving primarily unbanked and under-banked consumers for over 30 years, announced the acquisition of Monte Caja Oro, a chain of 27 stores primarily located in the Andalusian and Catalonian regions of Spain, which brings the Company’s total store count in the country to 58 locations. The acquired stores primarily offer pawn lending on gold jewelry, as well as gold buying services. The total purchase price of the transaction at closing was approximately $6.0 million in addition to payment for the value of the pawn pledge inventory. The acquisition is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings.

Ingenico Moves .5 million POS Terminals

Ingenico has reached a new milestone with half a million terminals shipped in Indonesia. With the acquisition and successful integration of PT Integra Pratama in 2012, one of the leading players in the fast growing market of Indonesia, Ingenico has further expanded its footprint across South East Asia. Ingenico has grown to be the leading terminal supplier in Indonesia and confirmed its position with the four major acquirers, in line with Ingenico’s growth strategy.

Alelo taps Multos EMV tech

ALELO has issued the latest EMV™ technology to support meal voucher programs in Brazil. The advanced ALELO card program utilises an EMV approved application implemented on MULTOS technology from Multos International. Multos International is working with the local Brazil card manufacturers to provide the products and support for personalization and issuance. ALELO has already begun card issuance, enabling payment services and meal benefits to their program customers.

US PCE Index

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.

Retail Holiday Spending

First Data Corporation released its First Data SpendTrend® analysis for Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2013 compared to Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2012. SpendTrend tracks same-store consumer spending by credit, signature debit, PIN debit, EBT, closed-loop prepaid cards and checks at U.S. merchant locations. Black Friday lost some of its luster as retailers opened their doors earlier this year in order to vie for a piece of the holiday spending pie, especially with this year’s shorter-than-usual window between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Year-over-year retail dollar volume growth during Thanksgiving and Black Friday was strong at 9.0%, and a significant increase compared to last year’s growth of 5.6%. Most of the 9.0% retail spending growth was driven by shopping on Thanksgiving as opposed to Black Friday; with 3.4% growth on Black Friday.

PayAnywhere Now Accepts PayPal Payments

PayAnywhere announced they have teamed with Discover Financial Services, a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services, to offer PayAnywhere merchants the ability to accept PayPal at the point of sale. This means that PayAnywhere merchants will be able to accept PayPal and will be able to tap into PayPal’s rapidly growing customer base that has swelled to more than 55 million active customers in the U.S., more and more of whom are using the PayPal payment card.

SLUGGISH DOWN UNDER

Australia, the world’s second wealthiest economy, is cracking a bit. The labor market is deteriorating in Australia and consumer spending is softening. Despite cutting the benchmark interest rate to 2.5% Australia’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth will likely run at 2.4% and stay stuck in the mud for the foreseeable future. According to Reuters, except for just one quarter of negative growth, Australia actually grew by 1.4% in 2009. Last year, growth amounted to 3.3%, whereas unemployment was 5.2%. RAM Research predicts the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will fall to 1.2% for the fourth quarter.