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NF Edition #539 - 1/06/17
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Highlights this week...

10 Years With TSG

In 2016, The Strawhecker Group (TSG) celebrated its ten year milestone. Now, as we kick-off 2017, we have compiled a timeline visual to illustrate how TSG has evolved over the years with the help of our clients, readers, and friends. Without you, we would not be the leading industry consultancy we are today.

TSG wishes you and your firm a prosperous 2017!

Need help reaching your new year goals?
Let us know how we can help.

EVO Announces Acquisition of Sterling Payment Technologies
PRWeb | 1.04.17

EVO Payments International (EVO), a leading card payment acquirer and payment service provider operating throughout North America and Europe, announced its acquisition of Sterling Payment Technologies (Sterling), a nationally recognized provider of integrated payment solutions. Sterling is a leader in the integrated payments market, having built a robust network of dealers and distributors offering payment solutions to a broad array of industry verticals. The acquisition enhances significantly EVO’s existing integrated payments offering and extends further EVO’s extensive distribution capabilities in the growing integrated payments space.

Bitcoin Plummets Over 23% After Nearing All-Time High as 'Volatile Little Bubble' Bursts
CNBC | 1.05.17

Bitcoin tanked as much as 23 percent Thursday afternoon after nearing an all-time high earlier in the trading day. The world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap traded as low as $887.47, down from the day's high of $1,153.02, according to CoinDesk data. The high for the day was just shy of $1,165.89 set on November 30, 2013. The price has recovered somewhat from the day's low to about $973.89 at the time of publication.


Related:

ETA Announces 2017 Board of Directors
ETA | 1.05.17

“ETA’s 2017 Board of Directors reflects our broadened membership, which includes the world’s largest payments and technology companies, and amplifies ETA’s leadership position as the voice of the payments industry,” said Jason Oxman, CEO of ETA. “Our Board includes leaders from financial institutions, merchant sales organizations and processors, technology companies, and networks – the entire payments technology ecosystem. These top executives will serve our membership well as ETA grows our industry through world class events like TRANSACT, education and credentialing programs, and policy advocacy.”

U.S. Loses Bid to Overturn Amex Antitrust Decision
Fox Business | 1.05.17

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected the U.S. government's request that it reconsider its decision allowing American Express Co to stop merchants from encouraging customers to use rival cards that charge lower fees. Without comment, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand its Sept. 26 reversal of a lower court ruling that had struck down AmEx's "anti-steering" rules.

CMA Voices Concerns Over Mastercard's Vocalink Deal
The Guardian | 1.04.17

The competition watchdog has raised concerns that a takeover of a payments system by Mastercard could have an impact on the Link cash machine network. The Competition and Markets Authority has given Mastercard a week to tackle its concerns that its takeover of Vocalink will restrict the number of companies able to provide systems to Link, which operates more than 70,000 automatic teller machines (ATMs) around the UK. Andrea Coscelli, acting chief executive of the CMA, said: “The Link ATM network provides an essential service for millions of customers. It’s important that Link has a good choice of providers when it comes to supplying the necessary infrastructure so it can take advantage of the opening up of payment systems to competition.

Related: Mastercard Statement on Decision of the UK Competition and Markets Authority

US Regulator Cites Fintech as Risk to Banking System
Finextra | 1.06.17

Emerging financial technology poses a threat to US banks that are unable to compete with this developing field, according to an official report from the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).  The OCC has released a semi-annual report into risks to the banking system since 2012 and in its latest report, fintech is ranked alongside bank account scandals such as the one involving Wells Fargo and Brexit as the biggest risks for US banks and their operations.

The Big Payoff in Big Data
Digital Transactions | 1.01.17

Big data has been a hot topic for years as companies look for innovative ways to become more competitive, boost customer retention, and raise their bottom line. Now merchant acquirers, which are under constant pricing and customer-retention pressure, are taking a keen interest in it, too. “Acquirers that want to get ahead of the big-data curve have to invest in it,” says Jared Drieling, business intelligence manager for The Strawhecker Group, an Omaha, Neb.-based payments consultancy. “The investment is so great that only a handful of acquirers are proactively pursuing it.”

Swiss Are Frank About Their Love of Cash

The Wall Street Journal | 1.02.17

Not long ago, Tom O’Hara walked into a used car dealership in Ponte Tresa, Switzerland, and forked over the equivalent of nearly $13,000 in cash for a 1999 Porsche Boxster. It was just one of three cars that Mr. O’Hara, a onetime American and current Swiss citizen, paid for in cash in 2015. “You could do it by bank transfer,” said Mr. O’Hara, a 57-year-old electrical engineer. “But most people just take the cash out, and bring it over.”

Amazon 1-Click Patent Expires In 2017
PYMNTS | 1.04.17

Soon, online payments might get more frictionless. Amazon’s patent on its 1-Click payment system will expire this year, meaning online buyers could soon see many other online stores adopting similar methods throughout 2017. Anyone who has used Amazon more than once or bought using voice commands on the Amazon Echo will be familiar with 1-Click. It’s an integral part of the Amazon experience. Additionally, Apple reportedly pays Amazon an undisclosed sum to use its own version of the technology in its app store.

Related: Fulfillment by Amazon Delivered More than 2 Billion Items for Sellers Worldwide in 2016

USA Technologies Lets Users Tap Apple Pay Data To Enroll in Its Loyalty Program
Digital Transactions | 1.05.17

Vending-payments specialist USA Technologies Inc. is integrating its MORE. loyalty platform into Apple Pay, the company announced Thursday. The deal is designed to induce more consumers to use Apple Pay at almost 300,000 vending machines that use USAT’s contactless payment technology and to encourage them to use the MORE. program. The integration enables consumers using Apple Pay to enroll in the loyalty program with relative ease. That’s because the program can access data stored in the Apple Pay wallet, says Amelia Powell, senior director of marketing and strategic partnerships, at Malvern, Pa.-based USAT.

Shopify Spikes 8% After Report of Expected Amazon Sales Partnership Announcement
CNBC | 1.05.17

Shares of Shopify spiked more than 8 percent Thursday after a report that the e-commerce company will announce a major partnership with Amazon next week. After the market closed, Shopify formally announced in a news release that it had completed the long-awaited integration. The platform integration connects Shopify merchants to "millions of potential Amazon customers," the company said. Plans were first announced in September 2015, but it wasn't "made generally available" until December. It allows merchants to manage their product catalog for various channels — including the Amazon store — from Shopify.

Samsung Pay Daily Usage Doubles, Since Rewards Introduction
Android Headlines | 1.05.17

The Vice President and General Manager of Services and New Business at Samsung Electronics America, Nana Murugesan, today announced that use of Samsung Pay has almost doubled following the introduction of Samsung Rewards. Samsung Pay is the South Korean conglomerate’s mobile payment system, which has been available on high-end Samsung devices for some time now, but for 2017 will be available on all, or nearly all, Samsung smartphones. 

Pay for Gas Without Leaving Your Car With Ford and Exxon Mobil
TheStreet | 1.05.17

Ford is integrating Exxon Mobil's Speedpass+ app to make paying for gas from inside the vehicle possible. Drivers can use Sync AppLink to search for and find approximately 9,400 participating Exxon and Mobil gas stations.

Paytm, India's Top Mobile Payments Firm, Gets Approval to Launch Its Own Digital Bank
TechCrunch | 1.03.17

India’s leading mobile payments company Paytm has announced that it has formally received permission from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to launch a digital bank. The project has been a long-time coming for Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who today confirmed that he will “take a full-time executive role” in the venture. He didn’t provide a timeframe for the launch, but local media reported the bank could be introduced in just 30-60 days.

China Launches FinTech Fund Worth $1.5 Bn
ReaditQuik | 1.05.17

A group of Chinese state-owned and private companies has convened and come up with a $ 1.5 billion fund for the fintech sector. A total of ten corporates have tied up with Credit China FinTech Holdings, including the likes of Shanghai Xinhua Distribution Group and China Huarong International. The idea is to spur the growth of fintech in big data, mobile payments, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and so on. 

Walmart Tacks on Another E-commerce Company in the Hopes of Crushing Amazon
TheStreet | 1.05.17

Walmart is hell-bent on sticking around and not going the way of Macy's or other brick-and-mortar companies that have fell victim to the burgeoning world of e-commerce and the likes of Amazon. In its latest move to stay relevant in the world of e-commerce the company announced Thursday, Jan. 5, that it would buy online shoe seller Shoebuy.com from Barry Diller's IAC for $70 million. Shoebuy.com will be added to Wal-Mart's recently acquired e-commerce unit, Jet.com.

CFPB Orders TransUnion and Equifax to Pay for Deceiving Consumers in Marketing Credit Scores and Credit Products
CFPB | 1.03.17

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took action against Equifax, Inc., TransUnion, and their subsidiaries for deceiving consumers about the usefulness and actual cost of credit scores they sold to consumers. The companies also lured consumers into costly recurring payments for credit-related products with false promises. The CFPB ordered TransUnion and Equifax to truthfully represent the value of the credit scores they provide and the cost of obtaining those credit scores and other services. Between them, TransUnion and Equifax must pay a total of more than $17.6 million in restitution to consumers, and fines totaling $5.5 million to the CFPB.

Task Force Issues Cybersecurity Advice to Donald Trump
Bank Info Security | 1.04.17

A task force co-chaired by two U.S. lawmakers and a former federal CIO is issuing a 34-page report recommending a cybersecurity agenda for the incoming Trump administration. The report recommends the new administration jettison outdated ways the federal government tackles cybersecurity, noting: "Once-powerful ideas have been transformed into clichés." The report from the CSIS Cyber Policy Task Force - From Awareness to Action: A Cybersecurity Agenda for the 45th President - will be formally unveiled on Jan. 5. It comes from the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, which sponsored the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency that made recommendations to then-President-elect Barack Obama in 2008.

The Download on the DNC Hack
KrebsonSecurity | 1.03.17

Over the past few days, several longtime readers have asked why I haven’t written about two stories that have consumed the news media of late: The alleged Russian hacking attacks against the U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) and, more recently, the discovery of malware on a laptop at a Vermont power utility that has been attributed to Russian hacker groups. I’ve avoided covering these stories mainly because I don’t have any original reporting to add to them, and because I generally avoid chasing the story of the day — preferring instead to focus on producing original journalism on cybercrime and computer security.

Customer Data Is a Liability
American Banker | 1.05.17

The most significant data breach of 2016 was arguably the one that didn't matter at all. What makes it so significant is not what the hackers took, but the takeaway for the rest of us. The hackers were unable to get any customer data, because there was none to steal. ShapeShift, a digital currency exchange, lost about $230,000 in a series of thefts discovered in March and April. But no customers' funds were taken, nor any of their personal information. Unlike most exchanges, the company holds neither. It simply arranges transfers from one cryptocurrency to another (bitcoin to ether, Dash to Dogecoin, Monero to Zcash, etc.). 

U.S. Job Market Ends 2016 on a Tepid Note
The New York Times | 1.06.17

The American economy added 156,000 jobs in December, capping the final full month of President Obama’s term on a tepid note, even as his successor, Donald J. Trump, promises that much bigger gains could be around the corner. The unemployment rate edged up to 4.7 percent, from a post-recession low of 4.6 percent in November, according to the Labor Department report on Friday. Before the announcement, economists had been looking for a gain of 175,000 jobs for the month.

Dismal Holiday Sales at Macy's, Kohls Spell Gloom for Sector
Reuters | 1.05.17

Disappointing holiday season sales at Macy's Inc and Kohl's Corp underscored the uphill task department stores face in winning back shoppers, who are increasingly turning to online retailers and spending less on apparel. Macy's shares were down 14.4 percent in morning trading on Thursday and Kohl's 18.3 percent after both reported lower-than-expected sales for November and December and cut their full-year profit forecasts.

Related: Amazon Has Turned Sears and Macy's Into Graveyards

Fed Sees Faster Economic Growth Under Trump, but Not a Boom
The New York Times | 1.04.17

Federal Reserve officials expect Donald J. Trump’s election to result in somewhat faster economic growth over the next several years, but they see little chance of the boom Mr. Trump has promised, according to an account of the Fed’s most recent meeting in mid-December. That is in part because the Fed plans to raise interest rates more quickly if growth accelerates. The minutes, released Wednesday, offer more evidence that the Fed sees itself as a counterweight to Mr. Trump’s promised policies of tax cuts and infrastructure and defense spending.

U.S. Manufacturing, Construction Sectors Shine as Year Ended
Reuters | 1.03.17

U.S. factory activity accelerated to a two-year high in December amid a surge in new orders and rapidly rising raw material prices, indicating that some of the drag on manufacturing from prolonged dollar strength and a slump in oil prices was fading. Other data on Tuesday showed U.S. construction spending hit a 10-1/2-year high in November, providing a boost to a fourth-quarter economic growth estimate. The reports suggested President-elect Donald Trump would inherit a strong economy, with a labor market that is near full employment, from the Obama administration.

Capital One's Credit Card Deal with Cabela's Faces Delay
Nasdaq | 1.02.17

In a setback, Capital One Financial Corporation 's COF proposed credit card deal with Cabela's Incorporated CAB is facing delay. Previously, the deal was expected to close in first-half 2017, subject to the closing of  Bass Pro Shops' acquisition of Cabela's, regulatory approval and the fulfillment of other customary closing conditions as well. On Thursday, Cabela's stated in a regulatory filing that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sought for additional information, commonly known as "second request", on Bass Pro Shops' $5.5 deal to acquire Cabela's.

Can BBVA Compass' New CEO Make Tech Innovation Pay Off?
BTN | 1.03.17

For the past five years, BBVA Compass has been a poster child for modern technology and innovation. It spent an estimated $400 million implementing Accenture's Alnova, a modern, real-time core banking system. It created a well-regarded mobile app. It bought the neobank Simple. It partnered with Dwolla to be the first U.S. bank to offer real-time payments to businesses. It partnered with FutureAdvisor to build a customized robo-adviser for clients. It's building a marketplace for third parties to build innovative products and services through its application program interfaces.

Shift4 Positions for Continued Success With Three Executive Promotions
Shift4 | 1.04.17

Shift4 Corporation today announced that it has made several strategic promotions within its sales team. Daniel Montellano has been promoted to vice president of strategic business development; Brett Williams is now the company’s director of business development; and Andrew Gutshall has taken on the role of director of industry relationships. These three promotions are in alignment with Shift4’s continued focus to be the innovative leader in secure payments and financial technology.

Related: Shift4 Enables Cloud-Based EMV Solution for Independent Hotels Using WebRezPro

Mexico’s Largest Bank Acquires Fintech Payments Startup Openpay
Cryptocoins News | 1.02.17

BBVA Bancomer, the largest financial institution in Mexico, has acquired Openpay, a payments Fintech startup based in Mexico that enables real-time payments for individuals, small businesses, and large enterprises. The acquisition comes after a collaborative partnership between the bank and the Openpay which saw the bank benefit by increasing its range of online payments solutions.

Mastercard Brings Masterpass Platform to South Africa, Partners with Vodacom
Mobile Commerce Daily | 1.04.17

Mastercard’s Masterpass payment platform has found another home, this time in the heart of South Africa thanks to a partnership with one of Africa’s mobile communications companies as the credit card provider attempts to gain ground on its competitors by going global. The partnership will see Masterpass’ payment options brought to Vodacom’s platforms. The partnership also marks another instance of Masterpass expanding on a global level.

Wells Fargo Hires Payments Expert, Fintech Entrepreneur to Innovation Group
American Banker | 1.04.17

Wells Fargo's innovation group has appointed Peggy Mangot for the newly created position of senior vice president of its design and delivery leadership team. Mangot previously served as CEO of SparkGift, a microinvesting platform she founded that lets users give stocks and index funds as gifts. SparkGift was acquired in June 2016 by Stockpile, a firm with a similar business model. Mangot also worked at Google as head of partnership management, payments and commerce before creating SparkGift and earlier in her career she was a senior director of debit product management at Visa. She joined Wells in August.

Payment Alliance Acquires Avery Scott LLC
Louisville Business First | 1.04.17

Payment Alliance International Inc. has acquired Avery Scott LLC, which owns an ATM network in Kentucky and three other states. Terms of the deal between the two Louisville-based companies were not disclosed.Payment Alliance operates a network of more than 70,000 ATMs and offers related services, and the acquisition adds more than 400 ATM locations in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Florida.

Barclays Promises Faster Biz Loans Via Mobile App
Finextra  | 1.05.17

In a move it claims can help unlock a multi-billion pound opportunity for the UK economy, Barclays has revamped its mobile app to enable businesses to secure loans and overdrafts in minutes. Barclays says that its research shows that 30% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are not planning on applying for a loan despite acknowledging it would boost their businesses.

Carnival Unveils NFC and BLE Wearable for Cruise Ship Passengers
NFC World | 1.05.17

Holidaymakers aboard Carnival Corporation cruise ships will soon be given an NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) enabled wearable device, designed by the man behind Disney’s MagicBand, that will let them access a wide range of next generation services including boarding without checking in, unlocking rooms, accessing personalised entertainment, ordering food and drinks and making payments.

Primus Capital Announces Major Growth Investment in Payspan, Inc.
BusinessWire | 1.05.17

Primus Capital announced that it has made a major growth investment in Payspan, Inc. Based in Atlanta, GA, Payspan is a healthcare technology company that provides payment automation services that improve administrative efficiency, meet regulatory requirements, and enable payers and providers to manage new reimbursement strategies in a rapidly changing landscape. The investment by Primus will accelerate Payspan’s existing foothold as the leading provider of healthcare reimbursement solutions to expand its product portfolio and customers reach.

Harbortouch Expands POS-as-a-Service Program with New Salon & Spa Software & New Hardware
PRWeb | 1.03.17

Harbortouch, a leading business technology company having served over 300,000 merchants across the nation and processing in excess of $12 billion annually, today announced the expansion of its innovative POS-as-a-Service program with the launch of a new premium software suite for the Salon & Spa industry, which will run on a brand new hardware platform. Harbortouch Salon & Spa represents Harbortouch’s entrance into an entirely new vertical with over 82,000 locations in the US.

Discover Recognized as a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality
Discover | 1.04.17

For the fourth consecutive year, Discover Financial Services has been named a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign’s Annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI). Discover earned a perfect score of 100 in the report for advancing corporate practices, policies and benefits related to LGBTQ employees. The CEI is a national survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ workplace equality. The index provides an in-depth analysis and ratings of U.S. employers, their policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ employees.

SBI to Launch Its Own Version of Digital Only Bank Soon
The Economic Times | 1.06.17

The country's largest lender SBI will take the lead among state-run lenders to launch branch less banking. The latest launch from the lender - SBI Digi Bank will have a financial superstore, a market place and end to end digitisation for all products and services. SBI will soon rub shoulders with the likes of Europe's M-Bank and Canada's Tangerine Bank as it prepares to launch its own version of Digital only bank in the next 3-6 months. While SBI did not respond to a mail seeking .

Payfone Raises $23.5 Million to Fuel Its Leadership in the High-Growth Mobile Authentication Market
LTP | 1.06.17

Mike Spadafore of Sandbox Industries, on behalf of Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners, and Andrew Prozes, the former global CEO of LexisNexis, whose risk solutions are the premier identity authentication and verification services in the market today, join Payfone’s Board of Directors. The financing reinforces Payfone’s leadership in the high-growth authentication market. Enterprises harnessing the power of digital channels to transform and grow their businesses are burdened with the increasing cost and complexity of authentication to fight identity theft and social engineering attacks from professional attackers.

Cayan Achieves Elavon EMV Certification
Cayan | 1.03.17

Cayan, a payment technology company, today announced that it has attained EMV certification with payments processor Elavon, a leading global payments provider and subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. In addition to Cayan's Vantiv and First Data EMV certifications, this latest certification allows merchants to now process both credit and debit chip card transactions through the Cayan Genius® Platform EMV gateway to Elavon.

JetPay Corporation Names Vincent S. Breault as President of Payment Sales
JetPay| 1.05.17

JetPay Corporation, a leading provider of debit and credit card processing services, payroll and human capital management services, and prepaid card services, announced today that it has appointed Vincent S. Breault as President of Sales of its Payment Processing Segment. Mr. Breault brings a broad range of experience to his new position at JetPay, including executive sales and product development roles at large payment organizations, including, his most recent position at Elavon, a subsidiary of U. S. Bank, where he led their Major Account Sales and helped develop the ISV/VAR channel.

ACI Worldwide to Power Fraud Protection for Kuwait's National Payments Switch

Yahoo! Finance | 1.04.17

ACI Worldwide, a leading global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions, today announced that The Shared Electronic Banking Services Company (KNET) in Kuwait has expanded its relationship with the company and will leverage its payments risk management solution to power fraud protection for its member banks.

Cross Border Ecommerce More Susceptible to Fraud; Payscout Offers Solutions

PRWeb | 1.03.17

According to data by Radial, cross-border ecommerce is proven to be much more susceptible to fraud than domestic ecommerce. The data, which covers over 100 clients in eight different verticals and over 100 million transactions, showed that cross-order ecommerce was riskier.(1) LexisNexis data confirms that international online/mobile channels suffer 2.5 times more successful fraud than domestic-only remote channels.(2) Cleveland Brown, CEO of leading global payment processing provider Payscout, Inc., said these findings underscore the importance of risk analysis and fraud management for global ecommerce merchants.

eCommerce Platform Magento Scores $250M
PYMNTS | 1.05.17

Open-source eCommerce platform provider Magento Commerce recently snagged a whopping $250 million in new funding from one of China’s largest investment firms, Hillhouse. This latest fundraising puts Magento Commerce’s valuation at more than $700 million, according to a person familiar with the deal. In a statement, Magento Commerce said that the new money will fund a global expansion, particularly in Asia, of both its sales and marketing operations. Additionally, the funding will reportedly be used to reinforce customer support and to boost product development, as well as any potential acquisitions.

Helsinki Airport Among the First Airports in Europe to Accept AliPay
TravelDailyNews | 1.04.17

Chinese passengers are the most rapidly growing customer group at Helsinki Airport. Being able to use a familiar payment method will further improve their service experience at the airport. Helsinki Airport is among the first airports in Europe to enable AliPay. The first commercial operators at Helsinki Airport adopted the Chinese AliPay mobile payment application in December 2016.

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