Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Postbank expands its distribution and sets up its own retail store

By tradition, contract and convention, the Dutch Postbank is bound to use post offices as the main outlet for services. Already in the 1980s, the disadvantages of using that channel lead the Postbank to develop its concept of at-home-banking ('thuisbankieren') suggesting that you don't need to leave home to do you banking and payments business. And this distance-based marketing concept is still at the heart of ING Direct.

As a next step in the evolution away from the Post Office, the Postbank will now set up its own retail stores. Not in combination with postal offices, but a 100% Postbank branded store. Of course Postbank denies that it will desinvest from the agreements with its Post-Offices joint venture.

And this may be true for the moment, but my guess is that in the long run (say 20 years from now) the combination with the post-office will be the exception and not the rule.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Domestic card schemes to disappear in Europe...?

See this article:
Accenture’s survey of 45 European senior payments industry executives also reveals that banks will spend an average of 11 million to 50 million Euros (US$14 million to US$63 million) on making their ACH (automated clearing house) systems SEPA-compatible.
"Our survey showed that 66 percent of respondents expect domestic European debit card schemes to disappear as a result of SEPA," Iglesias says. "Within the next five years, there will only be four or five domestic debit schemes left in Europe, as the majority (of schemes) migrate to either Visa or MasterCard."

Friday, October 27, 2006

E-wallet providers increasingly shut out US gambling customers

See this article:
The online ewallet provider, Moneybookers, will follow suit of Firepay which halted all gambling transactions for US stationed customers.

The decision to stop all gambling transactions between MoneyBookers and gambling sites for US players came yesterday. Moneybookers is a UK based provider but says they will comply with US laws.

No official press release has yet to be issued by Moneybookers. Players who logged into their account and tried to make a deposit into an online gaming site were denied. A pop-up now rears its ugly head saying, “US customers can not do business with Gaming sites.”

Thursday, October 19, 2006

ESI: new kid on e-money block in Europe, coming from Canada

Interesting press release here from Entertainment Systems Inc. ("ESI") which is a provider of products and services to the international gaming industry. Now that the US make life difficult for them (with the gambling act stuff going on), this Canadian company further expands to Europe instead, using their product MyCitadel.

Citadel Commerce initiated expansion into segments of European payment processing in 2005. It has now launched support for myCitadel Wallet in Spain and the United Kingdom. And the Company recently completed a technology audit, one of the final stages in completing an e-money license application before the FSA.

Visa US clarifies interchange reimbursement fees

This file link contains tables that set forth the interchange reimbursement fees applied on Visa financial transactions completed within the 50 United States and the District of Columbia.

Visa explains that it uses these interchange reimbursement fees as transfer fees between financial institutions to balance and grow the payment system for the benefit of all participants. Furthermore Visa explains that Merchants do not pay interchange reimbursement fees; they pay "merchant discount" to their financial institution. This is an important distinction, because merchants buy a variety of processing services from financial institutions; all of these services may be included in their merchant discount rate, which is typically a percentage rate per transaction.

The document tells us that Visa is not choosing the cost-based interchange fee reasoning but goes for the macro-economic position that interchange reimbursements are required in two-sided markets. It also shows the variety of card-transactions that policymakers and politicians should consider if they speak of card-schemes and card payments.

Paypal results are out: another growth quarter

See the file of ebay here:
PayPal's number of accounts grew 41% year over year to 123 million accounts.
The number of accounts active in the quarter grew to 30.9 million, up 26%.
The active accounts generated 146.2 million payments during the quarter averaging about $62 per payment resulting in a total payment volume of $9.1 billion, up 37%.

PayPal's transaction revenue rate was up from 3.6% of payment volume to 3.73% - resulting in PayPal revenues of $340 million, up 42%. And 38% of PayPal's revenue was from international.

Mobile NFC-payment pilot in Amsterdam started

See this press release to discover that a cooperation of JCB, CCV Holland B.V., Gemalto, KPN, Nokia, NXP Semiconductors (formerly Philips Semiconductors), PaySquare, and ViVOtech, announced that they have successfully launched Mobile J/Speedy™, the Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile payment pilot project in Amsterdam. Following initial trials in September, the pilot service is now being rolled out to a broader group of JCB’s customers. The project marks Europe’s first contactless international credit payment scheme using a mobile phone with an NFC chip.

This project is being carried out with close collaboration among these regional and global enterprises addressing the whole ecosystem for mobile payment applications. Selected JCB cardholders are provided with a mobile phone by Nokia, which is equipped with an NFC chip, developed by NXP and loaded with the JCB payment application specified by JCB and developed by Gemalto. At selected PaySquare merchants, cardholders can securely purchase items by just holding their mobile phone close to ViVOtech’s contactless NFC reader/writer, which is attached to the payment terminal of CCV. KPN is taking the role of installing the application and personalizing the mobile phones, and CCV is processing the transactions. JCB designed the scheme and coordinated the project based on its successful experience in contactless technology in Japan.

MSN payment innovation Bill (by SNS) will disappear

Emerce reports that MSN payment system Bill (as offered by SNS Bank) will be taken off the market. Only 10.000 users applied, whereas the bank hoped that at this time (the introduction was in March 2005) there would be 60.000 users.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ukash moving in to Europe with vouchers...

See this release explaining that preparing the company Ukash (in posession of e-money license) wishes to steer the growth of cash transactions for online sportsbook and gambling merchants, outside the States.

Ukash is currently trading in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Germany and Ukash vouchers will be available to purchase in The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, France, Italy, Romania and Greece by the end of 2006.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Visa to go public as well...

Financieele Dagblad reports that Visa intends to restructure its organization in order to create a new public global corporation called Visa Inc. As a part of this restructuring, Visa Europe will remain a membership association, owned and governed by its European member banks, and become a licensee of Visa Inc.

Mastercard did the same in May this year, collecting some $ 2,4 billion. Since then its stock rose about 80 % so that Mastercard is now valued at $ 9,5 billion. Analysts estimate that Visa would be worth $ 20 billion. And, if this were to be the case, the British bank Barclay might see some $ 200 million coming in (having about 1% of shares).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Postbank's Online-Internet Banking down once more....

and once too often as the operational trouble now hit the Internet-press: Planet Multimedia mentions that the good old dial-up banking still works fine and properly... ;-)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

SAP and SWIFT join hands for further efficiency

As announced at Sibos, SAP and SWIFT have joined forces to introduce the SAP(R) Integration Package for SWIFT -- a standardized software solution that will be designed to link SAP ERP solutions directly to SWIFTNet, the IP-based messaging platform connecting nearly 8,000 financial institutions in 206 countries and territories.

Monday, October 09, 2006

US law against use of credit-card for gambling

The Guardian placed a very nice article that outlined the paradoxal effects of the recent US legislation that prohibits Internet users/credit-card users to use their credit-card in certain domains (gambling etc).

Essentially the consequence might be that a whole bus-load of US customers will revert to less legal solutions in order to continue to do what they did. In essence the US Bill thus leads to a customer base seeking for alternative solutions. Those solutions will all be examples of the money laundering procedure (placement, layering and integration). And once the customers get to know the principles of money laundering, why not use it for other purposes (tax evasion) as well?

'Strange guys, those Romans....' as Obelix would put it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

And even more credit-cards in Dutch supermarkets..?

While representative organisations of retailers still moan about the lowest POS-fees on the earth (the Dutch..) their own constituency demonstrate that this moaning is no more than crocodiles tears (as we say in the Netherlands). They do so by increasingly signing up to accepting credit-cards.

In todays Financieele Dagblad a representative of EMS (European Merchant Services) states that they are keen on breaking the taboo on credit-cards for supermarkets. EMS is also involved in providing the first supermarket in Roosendaal with terminals and functionality to accept credit-cards. First results show that the average amount paid increases from € 20 to € 50 upon allowing the use of credit-cards. The results also hold for use at the HEMA convenience stores.

National Australia Reviews Credit Card Unit for Possible Sale

See this Bloomberg article.

National Australia is assessing whether it should focus on more profitable units because of concern it is losing customers to rivals. The Melbourne- based bank said in May it had lost market share in credit cards.

The bank has sold several units this year to focus on improving the performance of its domestic operations where revenue growth stalled following a currency-trading scandal in 2004. The review of National Australia's card unit began last month and is initially being conducted without external consultants or advisers.

Blog on Sibos by Anita Hawser

Well, not high enough in the picking order?
Did not let you go to Sydney?

Then have a look at Anita Hawser's blog and just pretend you were there as well.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Standardisation in payments does not require government intervention

Policymakers tend to overemphasize the relevance of intervention in the area of standardisation for payments. It does take an economic/econometric approach but using that approach one can demonstrate that standardisation will always occur in the payments market (unfortunately the margin in this blog does not allow me the space to prove this theorem).

But practice may be supporting me in this theorem. See this press release that explains that four e-Payment brands in Japan are to use the same reader/writer. Those brands are: Suica, iD, QUICPay and Edy.

Which was exactly what also happened in the Netherlands upon development of e-purses and point of sale applications.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Australian RBA sets interchange fees....

See the press release here and find out:

In accordance with the Standard The Setting of Wholesale (‘Interchange’) Fees in the Designated Credit Card Schemes RBA has determined a common benchmark for interchange fees in the MasterCard and Visa credit card schemes. Using data supplied by issuers of credit cards and the two schemes, the Reserve Bank has calculated that the common benchmark to apply for the three years from 1 November 2006 is 0.50 per cent. This compares with the current average interchange fee in these schemes of a little under 0.55 per cent.

For Debit Cards Schemes a similar exercise lead the RBA to calculate a fee of 12 dollarcents as of November 2006 (for Visa this is now app. 44 cents).

Let's now wait and see what happens....