Thursday, August 28, 2003

IBAN, if it works it is fast, if not it costs.....

Last weeks I've made some money transfers. One was to the UK which was debited on my account at July 15 and was credited at the beneficiary at July 16. For the cost of 7 euro.

Then one week later I tried to make a payment to Germany. But incidently I was provided with the wrong IBAN. So the payment, including address details of the beneficiary, arrived at the proper bank but was sent back with the information: Name/Number are incorrect. Minus 25 euro for processing cost.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Payment Cards in Europe

Retail Banking Research has issued a report on Cards in Europe with the not-so surprising conclusion that debit cards rule in Europe.

About 642 million payment cards were in issue in western Europe at end-2002, 16 per cent more than at end-2000. Six countries account for 80 per cent of cards with the UK being the largest market, with 145.6 million cards (a 22.7 per cent share). Germany is up next at 120.2 million cards, or an 18.7 per cent share.

In terms of credit card issuance, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Greece saw growth rates of over 30 per cent in the last two years, even if debit cards account for 53 per cent of all cards in western Europe. Banks, significantly, issue four out of five payment cards in the region (81 per cent at end-2002), with private labels at 17.1 per cent, and T&E organizations, at 1.7 per cent.

Western Europeans made about 19.5 billion payment card purchases in 2002, 4.1 billion (26 per cent) more than in 2000, while card payment value lagged volume, at 1,164 billion euros in 2002, a 21 per cent increase on the 2000 total.

Spain has the greatest number of installed POS terminals in Western Europe, at 900,000 terminals, with France second, at 819,000 and the UK third, at 810,000. The total number of POS terminals in the region grew 22 per cent to 5.72 million between 2000 and end-2002, even if the density of the installed base was generally higher in smaller countries such as Norway and Greece. Spain has 26,261 terminals per million adults, while Norway has 22,092, and Greece 20,293 per million, but the UK, the largest card market in the region, has just 16,679 terminals per million, somewhat above the regional average of 15,253.

Using the mobile phone for billing-delivery information

ePaynews.comreports that Japan’s premier telcos, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and J-Phone, are to provide a single billing/payment system to enable mobile phone users to pay easier for goods at convenience stores.

When a consumer makes an online purchase, the system, based on one that DoCoMo launched in May 2002, sends a two-dimensional bar code with billing information to their phone handset, which reduces the need for paper receipts. At the local convenience store, the consumer confirms their billing data by waving their phone at a special bar code reader, before paying by cash and picking up the goods.

Service ATM's as a skimming source

Cards Worldwide reports that four men and two women have been jailed to date for their part in the $1.2-million scam that ripped off nearly 4,000 Canadian debit-card holders and international credit-card holders worldwide.

The victims had all used debit or credit cards at one of five privately owned "white-label" ATMs in Vancouver. The machines were rigged to record their account and personal identification numbers. The card info was used to withdraw money at ATM's.

As soon as the police blocked the Canadian ATM-debit-cards, the criminals went on to use the credit-card info retrieved. One of the criminals was caught in Belgium with 80 fraudulent cards.

Lesson 1: be careful with non-bank ATM's!

Lesson 2: these crime's never go unsolved.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Deputy-Minister Wijn forbids mobile lottery reports that Deputy-Minister Wijn of the Ministry of Finance has forbidden the further development of an SMS-lottery as it does not fit in the government's anti-gambling policy for youngsters. Wijn may do so as the State Lottery is under control of his Ministry.

This is sad news for the developers of this service, especially as Wijn has not tried to do anything about the general mobile phone addiction that youngsters have (downloading ringtones, horoscopes etc).

Anyone interested in how it would work in practice may have a look at this demo (in which the consumer wins of course....).

NMa rejects interbank fee for urgent payments with notification

This press release of the NMa, the Dutch Competition Authority, informs us that the proposal of Dutch banks for an interbank interchange fee system for urgent transfers that include notitification of the receiver of the payment, has not been approved by the NMa. The banks, that have not charged one another for this service up to now, have not succeeded in explaining the reasonability of the introduction of the interbank fee structure to the NMa.

Other news of the NMa: a new director-general has been appointed (Mr Kalbfleisch) and the people may react to the consultation document containing the provisional agenda of the NMa for 2004. Financial markets remain on their radar, aided by the Monitor Financial Markets.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Mobile phone alternatives in Asia...

In Europe and the Netherlands, quite some payment options exist in which the phone can be used. But seldom in combination with the credit-card back-office infrastructure. Ron Onrust tipped me on an article in Wall Street Journal ('Charge It,' Says Your Cellphone) in which two Asian examples are discussed.

In Japan Nippon Shinpan has linked up with NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's mammoth mobile-network provider, to test a system in which an infrared beam with credit card information is sent from the phone to a special infrared reader attached to a cash register.

In Singapore, a MasterCard project uses text messaging and phone banking. A consumer, while waiting in line to pay, calls the phone-banking service of one of the participating banks and requests an approval number. Seconds later, he receives an approval code -- valid for just 10 minutes -- that he shows to the cashier. The cashier enters the code into the usual payments terminal to complete the transaction.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Keyware payment terminal certified for Belgian market

See this press release. Interesting enough, the certification resulted in an article in Dutch newspaper Trouw. Apparently the entry of a non-monopolist provider of terminals in the Belgian market is newsworthy and tells us all about the very closed nature of the Belgian retail payments market.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

ABN AMRO reveals loss Interpay over 2002

This press release of ABN AMRO about the first half year of 2003 reveals that ABN AMRO has taken its share of 12 million euro to compensate the loss of Interpay over 2002. Roughly multiplying it by three-point-something (to include the losses born by other shareholders) leads to a total estimated loss of 40 million euro for Interpay Nederland in the year 2002.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Japan Post to issue cards adopting Sony's Edy e-money system

Japan Today reports:

TOKYO — Japan Post and the Sony Corp group will jointly issue postal savings cards compatible with Sony's Edy electronic money system, starting Aug 11, the operator of the system said Monday.

The postal card will enable users to pay for products by holding the card over a reading device installed at convenience stores and other retailers, Sony Finance International Inc said.

ATM Fraud US - part II

Ever see someone going to an ATM with a helmet on? reports about this bizarre scene.

A car wash employee saw a bizarre scene at an automated teller, and told his co-workers. Someone was wearing motorcycle headgear while withdrawing money from the machine without a motorcycle anywhere in sight.

That's when a Greenwood police officer showed-up. The criminal had a number of false driver licenses, cash etc in posession. After his arrest as a John Doe, suspected of fraud, the man finally told police he was 19-year-old William Penny.

William Penny....... would the police really buy that as his real name ?

A.T.M. Fraud in the US

The New York Times reports about an ATM Fraud in the US. The brief version:

Mr. Iljmija Frljuckic was an illegal, married the daugther of a US law enforcement officer under a false name and started buying in-store ATM's to provide cash to customers. He rigged the ATM's, stealing magstripe info and PIN-numbers for some time and then started emptying the accounts of customers. As soon as the source of fraud was discovered, the rigged ATM's had long disappeared.

The story supports both the argument that there is no escaping a magstripe fraud so no need to worry and the argument that there are serious security issues for in-store ATM's / magstripe technology. Personally I would favour the first.

Monday, August 04, 2003

E-banking and web browsers...

... do not always work together. Specifically the Girotel application of the Postbank has some problems with different browser-types. Unsatisfied users have opened their own website in which they ask Postbank to design their e-banking applications in line with Internet-standards.

See also the article by Erwin Boogert.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Free e-purse balance card readers for all ...??

Some five years ago, Dutch banks were battling to get the consumer to use chipcards for e-purse payments (small payments). As a part of the battle they gave away readers that helped the consumer determine the amount of money in the e-purse. Now that the use of e-purse becomes more widespread consumers and the Consumer Union want more of these free readers.

Interesting enough most Dutch payment and all load terminals for e-purses have a ?-button that tells consumers their balance in the e-purse. And most consumers will have the old reader at home somewhere. But apparently that is not enough...

....or is this merely a case of cucumber-news (Dutch expression for those irrelevant news items that can only become news-items during a dull/boring eventless summer).

The end of savings-booklets at post offices

The possibility of saving money by going to the post office, depositing money and receiving a book entry in a separate savings booklet in the Netherlands formally exists since a Royal Decree of 28 December 1875 (published in the State Newspaper Nr 250). But as of this week, this possibility is history. The Postbank (now responsible for these savings booklets) has ended offering this product, with 500.000 booklets remaining at unknown locations. See also the article at

But although the savings booklets now disappear, the savings mentality of the Dutch will not be gone as rapidly. Savings banks started as early as 1820 and 'hammered in' the concept of saving for later for a mere 150-180 years. Which is still reflected in all the different kind of savings coupons and programs in the Netherlands.