All articles by Stafford Thomas

Stafford Thomas

HSBC opts for smart-phone solution

Touchstone Mobile is the opposite and we can now really say it is time to go mobile. TMB also boasts extensive functionality which includes: Transfers between accounts; Release of payments created on a portal or another device; International money transfers to accounts and stored value cards; Transfer of funds from multi-currency stored value accounts to stored value credit cards; Transfer of balances between stored value credit cards; Accessing bank account details; and Investment data and news feeds.HSBC now offers TMB as a component of its Managed Payments Service, an outsourced transaction, connectivity and data integration solution offered to banks and corporates since September 2008

Canada’s big-three mobile network operators join forces

Long-standing rivals in the battle for market share, Canadas three largest mobile network operators (MNO) have joined forces to launch Zoompass, a mobile phone-based payments service which they have hailed as revolutionary

Online gambling war rages on

Enforcing the controversial US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), a Southern District of New York federal prosecutor has frozen bank accounts of payment processor Allied Systems containing some $34 million in poker players deposits and payouts, reports advocacy group The Poker Players Alliance The move against Allied Systems comes at a time of growing opposition to the UIGEA which, with the exception of horse racing and lotteries, outlaws online gambling by US residents and effectively criminalises online gambling provided by foreign operators

Debit cards gain ground in India

Debit cards continued to gain in popularity in India in the 200809 fiscal year to 31 March with the number in issue at the end of the period standing at 137.4 million, up 34.2 percent compared with the end of 200708, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).The number of debit card transactions increased at an even faster pace, rising 44.6 percent compared with 200708 to 127.7 million while the total value of transactions advanced by 48.1 percent to INR185.47 billion ($3.9 billion).The increase in both the number and value of transactions was significantly higher than during the period 200304 to 200708 when CAGRs of 23.6 percent and 26.6 percent, respectively were recorded.Credit cards experienced a far tougher year, with the number of cards in issue actually falling from 27.5 million at the end of 200708 to 24.7 million.There was, however, continued growth in the credit card sector with the number of transactions increasing by 13.8 percent to 259.6 million and the value of transactions increasing by 12.7 percent to INR653.56 billion.Growth in the number and total value of credit cards transactions was considerably below CAGRs of 22.8 percent and 34.6 percent, respectively, recorded between 200304 and 200708

Mobile NFC takes to the highway

A first-of-it-kind multi-city contactless payments trial in the US involving the use of near field communications (NFC) enabled mobile phones by fleet-vehicle drivers has been hailed as a resounding success Partnering in the trial were payments processor Wright Express, contactless payments specialist ViVOtech and fuel and convenience store retailer Sheetz Launched in December 2008, the objective of the trial was to assess the reaction of participating fleet-vehicle drivers who were able to undertake contactless payments for fuel and make other purchases at Sheetzs 350 locations across six north-western states

Another boost for Global Payments

Continuing a steady withdrawal from the card payments processing market, HSBC has sold the remaining 49 percent stake in its UK merchant acquiring joint venture (JV) to Global Payments The move follows Globals acquisition of a 51 percent stake in the banks UK business unit in June 2008, a deal that gave the US payment processor a 15 percent share of the UKs card processing market.In the latest cash deal Global will pay HSBC $307.7 million, or about £187 million in the UK banks reporting currency This compares with $439 million paid for the 51 percent stake in June 2008 which at the then prevailing exchange rate equaled about £225 million.As part of the deal HSBC will extend the current 10-year exclusive marketing alliance agreement whereby it provides merchant referrals and bank sponsorship to Global to June 2019.The close relationship between HSBC and Global was further highlighted in July 2008 with HSBCs sale of its merchant acquiring unit in the Philippines to their JV in the region, Global Payments Asia-Pacific (GPA)

National Australia Bank ventures into biometrics

Marking a first for Australias banking industry, National Australia Bank (NAB) has begun offering its 3.3 million personal banking customers voice biometric identification and verification as an alternative to PINs and passwords The launch in June followed a successful internal pilot involving 2,000 branch staff conducted during May.Our objective is to provide customers with a more convenient, faster and easy-to-use telephone banking experience while simultaneously improving identity security, explained NAB Personal Bankings executive GM Warren Shaw.With identity theft-related fraud increasingly moving to the phone channel, the use of voice biometrics enables the effective identification, authentication and verification of customers, offering an extra layer of protection, he added.As technology partner in its voice biometrics service NAB selected Salmat VeCommerce (SVC), a unit of Salmat an Australian company with interests including communications, financial services security and business process outsourcing and automation.To use the NAB voice biometric service customers are required to enroll by speaking a unique identifier which SVC explained is converted to a numerical algorithm and entered into a database Whenever a customer phones the bank their voice is compared to those existing in the database to determine a match using some 100 specific identifiers.Highlighting the effectiveness of voice verification SVC noted that research by the British Governments Communications Electronic Security Group and Edinburgh University has demonstrated that voice verification accuracy results are superior to those of fingerprint, hand print and face recognition systems and are 100 times better security than PINs and passwords.SVC explained that in verification solutions two parameters are used to assess accuracy: the false reject rate (FRR), and the false accept rate (FAR)

EC calls for views on possible SEPA end-date

It is a view shared by the European Central Bank (ECB) which in its sixth SEPA progress report published in November 2008 lamented: The Eurosystem Eurozones monetary authority has observed that motivation for the project has been fading away among market participants, and that the constructive spirit of the preparation phase has turned into a downbeat attitude.Against this background the ECB concluded: It must be made clear to all market actors that national credit transfer and direct debit schemes will be phased out in the euro area by setting a realistic, but ambitious end-date. The full extent of support for an end-date is now to be assessed by the European Commission (EC) which has launched a consultation paper in which it calls on stakeholders to assist it identify whether there is a need for action in respect of an end-date

Merchants under compliance whip

Against a background of rampant fraud which has resulted in theft of payment card details of millions of consumers, there is no doubt enhancing the security of cardholder details is of paramount importance to the payments industry.Galvanised into action the major card schemes (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover and JCB) formed the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council which in December 2004 released the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) imposing strict data protection requirements on payments processors and merchants

Online Resources resolves one-time payments problem

Upping the ante in the one-time payments market, US internet banking outsourcer Online Resources is aiming for the company-to-consumer angle, promising an end-to-end solution to all those troublesome one-time payments.The Virginia-based company announced that its eCommerce Services has developed a disbursement system focused on small, often one-time payments by companies to their consumers It is another way to serve the emerging market for outsourced payments services, and it extends the potential for electronification to a segment currently wholly dependent upon paper-based payments.The technology, which the company began offering to large billers late last year, is based on the pay anyone capabilities of its online bill payment software, which sends paper cheques to billers that cannot accept electronic payments, Robert R Craig, an executive vice-president at Online Resources and the general manager of eCommerce Services, told EPI.The disbursement solution satisfies a range of applications across a variety of industries including mortgages, credit cards, insurance, utilities, health care and others There are a host of uses for such a disbursement system, including refunds of overpayments, rewards, card balance transfers, insurance claims and flexible spending account reimbursements, to name but a few, Craig said.Electronic and paper combo Its a combination of electronic and paper payment solutions really aimed at the business-to-consumer market, Craig said