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NF Edition #508 - 6/03/16
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Visa’s €16.5bn Merger with Visa Europe Gets the Green Light 
The Telegraph | 6.03.16

European officials have approved Visa’s plan to re-merge with its sister company, removing the final regulatory hurdle to the multi-billion euro deal. The decision means Visa can take over Visa Europe, paying €16.5bn (£12.8bn) up front and potentially adding another €4.7bn to that price tag depending on its future financial performance. The deal will hand a £1bn windfall to the UK banks that own stakes in Visa Europe.

NRF Wants FTC to Investigate Credit Card Giants Over Antitrust Worries
Fortune | 6.02.16

The National Retail Federation asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate an organization founded by credit card companies to set data security standards, saying the group’s practices raise antitrust concerns. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council “fails to meet any of the principles adopted by the federal government for voluntary standard-setting organizations,” NRF General Counsel Mallory Duncan wrote to the FTC on May 23.

PayPal Isn’t a Bank, But It May Be the New Face of Banking
The Wall Street Journal | 6.01.16

May require a subscription to read. By some measures,  PayPal Holdings Inc. holds more customer money than all but 20 U.S. banks. What does that say about the future of banking? At the end of March, customers of PayPal held more than $13 billion in accounts at the online-commerce company. Compared with the most similar type of bank deposit, the figure would put PayPal just behind TD Bank, the U.S. unit of Toronto-Dominion Bank, or Capital One Financial Corp., according to data provider S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Related: PayPal's Mission to Diversify, One Mom at a Time

Harbortouch Swaps Private-Equity Partners in Deal Valued at $500 Million-Plus
Digital Transactions | 6.01.16

Analyst Jared Drieling, business-intelligence manager at The Strawhecker Group, an Omaha, Neb.-based payments consultancy, suggests Harbortouch could one day offer an expanded line of so-called smart POS terminals, which run on apps that include payments but also a wide range of other business-management functions. “Smart terminals are a hot item for ISOs to go out and sell,” Drieling tells Digital Transactions News. “This [new investment] is an opportunity to grow and take market share away from the smart-terminal players in the market. It’s a window of opportunity for Harbortouch, which is why it’s seeing increased interest from investment companies.


Related: Harbortouch Partners with Searchlight Capital to Support Its Next Phase of Growth

i3 Verticals Acquires Axia Payments
Yahoo! Finance | 6.01.16

i3 Verticals, LLC, a rapidly growing technology and payment processing company, announced the acquisition of Axia Payments, LLC, headquartered in Santa Barbara, California. Axia, founded in 1999, provides electronic payment processing services to a broad range of business, government and non-profit organizations. For 2015, Axia’s charge volume exceeded $2.5 billion. i3 Verticals also made an investment in a related integrated payment technology and healthcare software business, Axia Technologies, LLC, which owns and markets Corral Solutions revenue cycle software to healthcare providers and the Payment Fusion integrated payment platform to healthcare software ISV’s and healthcare providers. In addition, i3 Verticals announced an expansion in its senior credit facilities to $85.5 million.

Three Reasons Bitcoin is Booming Again, Price Nears $550
Fortune | 5.31.16

Here we go again. After a long stretch in which the price of bitcoin held stable, the world’s most famous digital currency is on the move again—and this time it’s heading straight up. On Tuesday, bitcoin was nosing towards $550 per unit, which is even higher than August 2014, when bitcoin prices reached almost $533. The recent move also ends a six-month period of relative tranquility in which prices mostly hovered between $350 and $450.

Related: Bitcoin Price Index Chart

Fed Records Show Dozens of Cybersecurity Breaches
Reuters | 6.01.16

The U.S. Federal Reserve detected more than 50 cyber breaches between 2011 and 2015, with several incidents described internally as "espionage," according to Fed records. The central bank's staff suspected hackers or spies in many of the incidents, the records show. The Fed's computer systems play a critical role in global banking and hold confidential information on discussions about monetary policy that drives financial markets. The cybersecurity reports, obtained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request, were heavily redacted by Fed officials to keep secret the central bank's security procedures.

Federal Regulators Propose Restrictions on Payday Lenders
CNBC | 6.02.16

Federal regulators are proposing a significant clampdown on payday lenders and other providers of high-interest loans, saying borrowers need to be protected from practices that wind up turning into "debt traps" for many. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposed regulations, announced Thursday, seek to tackle two common complaints about the payday lending industry.

What Costco Has to Say About the Switch to Visa
Fox Business | 6.02.16

Costco's transition away from an American Express -branded credit card has cost the retailer over $40 million since it stopped taking new card sign-ups last Fall. Thankfully, those losses are set to end as soon as the Visa co-branded cards open up for use on the official transition date later this month. Because this represents a huge change -- both for Costco and its members -- executives had plenty to say about the Visa transition in last week's earnings conference call.

APIs? Check. Fast Payment Portals? Check. Knife Sharpener? Check
American Banker | 6.01.16

Suresh Ramamurthi has been on American Banker's radar for some time now. In December, we named the chairman and chief technology officer of CBW Bank our 2015 Innovator of the Year. Ramamurthi, one of the finalists for the 2016 Digital Banker of the Year, keeps innovating. In the past 12 months, he and his team have introduced a health care payment portal based on a faster payment platform they created. They've set up an API marketplace that customers have already begun using to build their own products and services atop the bank's homegrown technology. And they've created an app for cloud-connected cars.

Will Blockchain Become The Internet Of Finance? 
Forbes | 5.31.16

Perhaps an even better question is: When did back-office record-keeping become so sexy? For anyone who’s been following innovation in the financial technology space, the word blockchain has become the buzzword du jour in the span of about 12 months. Conference sessions, news stories, regulatory testimony – they are all consumed with the underlying ledger technology that powers Bitcoin. It’s estimated that $1 billion has been invested in blockchain start-ups since the technology was introduced.

Visa Introduces NFC-Enabled Payment Ring for Team Visa Sponsored Athletes to Use at Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Visa | 6.02.16

Visa Inc., the exclusive payment provider at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, introduced a new innovation for use at the Rio 2016 Games – the first payment wearable ring backed by a Visa account. The Visa payment ring will be given to all Team Visa athletes in Rio, a group of 45 Olympic hopefuls from around the world who embody Visa’s values of acceptance, partnership and innovation. The Visa payment ring is NFC-enabled, allowing Team Visa athletes to make purchases by simply tapping their ring at any NFC-capable payment terminal.

Square Pushes Apple Pay Contactless Reader with New $1/Week Installment Plan
Apple Insider | 5.31.16

The new 60-week payment plan carries an $11 premium over the standard cost, but gives merchants more than a year to pay it off in full. In a statement to AppleInsider, Square revealed that about 20 percent of "micro businesses" take out loans for operational expenses, such as the tools needed to run the day-to-day business. The new payment plan is intended to reach those small-business owners who may be apprehensive about adopting new technology due to upfront costs.

Samsung Pay Enters Europe with Launch in Spain
The Verge | 6.03.16

Samsung Pay continues to expand with a launch in Spain. This marks the first country in Europe that's able to use Samsung's mobile payments platform, following launches in the US, South Korea, and recently China. Samsung hasn't said where it intends to expand to next, but it's likely that other European countries will follow soon.

PayPal to Shutter Operations in Turkey Over Licensing Hurdle
CNET | 5.31.16

PayPal is closing up shop in Turkey. As of June 6, customers there will no longer be able to send and receive money via a PayPal account, the online payments service said on its Turkish website. PayPal users will be able to log into their accounts but only to transfer money to a Turkish bank. PayPal blamed the closure on a new policy instituted by Turkey's financial regulator BDDK, which prevents the company from obtaining the necessary license. The new policy would have required PayPal to establish a local IT center in the country, something the company does not consider doable given its global approach to maintaining its IT systems.

Twitter's Retreat From 'Buy' Buttons Puts its Payments Partner Stripe in an Awkward Spot
Recode | 5.29.16

In September, payments startup Stripe trumpeted a new product that would allow retailers to sell goods directly in social networking and content apps. The biggest partner app Stripe launched with was Twitter, whose 'Buy' buttons allowed users to buy items directly from a tweet. But just a month later, Twitter disbanded the team working on 'Buy' buttons, as Recode reported on Thursday, and shifted its focus on commerce to other initiatives. The 'Buy' button technology still exists, and retailers can still use Stripe's new product, Relay, to sell products on Twitter. But the perception that Stripe's biggest partner no longer considers it a priority doesn't look good.

Crooks Are Using an International Messaging System to Rob Banks 
Bloomberg | 6.02.16

The central bank of Bangladesh was the victim of one of the biggest bank heists of all time in February, when thieves made off with $81 million. The perps are still at large—and may have the combinations to many more vaults. Since the Bangladesh job came to light, other banks have come forward. In Ecuador, a commercial bank said it was held up for $12 million last year. A bank in Vietnam said criminals tried, and failed, to steal $1.1 million in what experts say may have been a practice run for Bangladesh.

ATMIA Releases Industry Report on Operation Choke Point
Yahoo! Finance | 6.02.16

The ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) has released a new industry report “Operation Choke Point: An ATM Industry Update.” Sponsored by the U.S. Independent ATM Deployer Committee, the report details the issues the ATM industry has faced due to Operation Choke Point (OCP) and how independent ATM deployers (IAD) can protect their businesses and respond to bank inquiries.

Court Clears Way for Banks' Home Depot Suit to Proceed
Bank Info Security | 6.01.16

A federal judge in Georgia has cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit filed by card issuers against Home Depot over the retailer's massive 2014 payments breach to proceed. In making the ruling, the judge noted the banks' allegations regarding the retailer's security negligence appear to have merit.The judge rejected most of Home Depot's motions to have various claims in the lawsuit dismissed, clearing the way for the case to go to trial.

Green Dot-Walmart Customer Backlash Echoes RushCard's Costly Fiasco
American Banker | 6.01.16

Just when Green Dot made it through one firestorm, along comes another. The nation's leading prepaid card issuer, which spent nearly four months battling a large shareholder that was agitating for a management shake-up, now finds itself in the third week of complaints from customers who have been unable to access their funds. The consumer furor began just days before a May 23 vote to determine whether Green Dot Chief Executive Steve Streit should keep his seat on the company's board. Streit did win re-election, but he received far fewer votes than two of the candidates put forward by the activist shareholder.

Employers in U.S. Add Fewest Workers in Almost Six Years 
Bloomberg | 6.03.16

Employers in May added the fewest number of workers in almost six years, reflecting broad cutbacks that may raise concern about U.S. growth and prompt Federal Reserve policy makers to put off an increase in interest rates. The addition of 38,000 workers, the fewest since September 2010, followed a 123,000 advance in April that was smaller than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Friday. The increase in May was less than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

Related: Opening Bell - U.S. Stocks Slip on Dismal May Jobs Report

Countries Must Spend to Escape ‘Low-Growth Trap,’ O.E.C.D. Says
The New York Times | 6.01.16

The world economy is locked in a “low-growth trap” and will expand this year at its slowest pace since the financial crisis, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday, urging governments to increase spending. With businesses wary of investing and consumers cautious about spending, the global economy will grow only 3 percent this year, the O.E.C.D., the research and policy organization estimated in its Economic Outlook report, which it releases twice a year.

Middle Market Companies Are Fueling Economic Growth, According to New Research
American Express | 6.01.16

Despite comprising only 1% of the total number of commercially active firms in the country, middle market companies have led national job growth over the past five years, employing nearly 53 million workers – more than double the number employed by this segment in 2011. Middle market firms are also contributing $9.3 trillion to the U.S. economy, according to the Middle Market Power Index.

B of A Ups Credit Card Rewards to Woo Warehouse Club Members 
ISO & Agent | 6.01.16

As the Costco-Citibank credit card partnership hits full stride this month following the retailer’s painful split with longtime credit card partner American Express, Bank of America is making a change to its own credit card rewards program to win the business of warehouse club shoppers.Beginning June 1, B of A is expanding its 2% cash-back rewards program and adding warehouse and wholesale clubs to the list, along with grocery stores. The bank also is increasing the quarterly cap on cash-back earnings on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and wholesale clubs to $2,500 from $1,500, a B of A spokesperson said.

Global Payments and CaixaBank Finalize Joint Venture with Erste Group in Central and Eastern Europe
Global Payments | 6.01.16

Global Payments Inc., a leading worldwide provider of payment technology services, and CaixaBank, Spain's largest bank by market share, announced the completion of the formation of a joint venture with Erste Group Bank AG (Erste Group), a leading financial services provider in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), to provide merchant acquiring and payment services in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.

ACI Worldwide Simplifies and Expedites Secure eCommerce Payments for Global Merchants
Business Wire | 6.02.16

ACI Worldwide, a leading global provider of real-time electronic payment solutions, will unveil the next generation of eCommerce payments today at the eCommerce Disruption Opportunity executive summit. UP eCommerce Payments empowers merchants and the payment service providers (PSPs) that serve them to capitalize on the $2.2 trillion global eCommerce opportunity by embracing payments innovation.

FIME Acquired By Chequers Capital
Business Wire | 6.02.16

FIME, a world leader in certification consultancy and testing for secure electronic transactions, has been acquired from Orange by independent investment firm Chequers Capital. The new ownership framework will enable FIME to enhance its assertive expansion strategy to offer new services in emerging markets and increase its geographical presence globally. Chequers Capital has extensive experience in developing companies, both organically and through acquisitions and works with their management teams to drive growth.

UnionPay Becomes the Official Payment Brand for the Great Singapore Sale 2016
UnionPay | 6.02.16

The annual Great Singapore Sale (hereinafter referred to as "GSS") will be inaugurated tomorrow. On June 2, UnionPay International and Singapore Retailers Association jointly announced that UnionPay will become the only official payment brand for GSS from 2016 to 2018. During the GSS, over 100 local merchants will provide exclusive offers and privileges for UnionPay cards. 

Digit Adds $22.5M Series B to Its Savings Account
Tech Crunch | 6.02.16

Fast moving fintech startup Digit closed a $22.5 million Series B today just a year after closing an $11.3 million Series A. Ribbit Capital led the round with support from all prior investors including General Catalyst. This new round brings their total fundraising to $36 million. The San Francisco based startup, founded in February 2015, operates in the savings space and has been doubling down on the notion that Americans, especially those in the 18-30 set, do not save enough money.

Santander Bank Introduces Internal Blockchain-Based Remittance App Using Ripple
LTP | 6.03.16

Santander Bank, the world’s 10th largest bank, has been investigating blockchain technology for a while. The bank claims to have observed 20–25 use cases for blockchain internally. A report co-authored by Santander estimated that blockchain technology could reduce banks’ infrastructure costs by up to $20 billion (£12.8 billion) a year.

PayNearMe Acquires Consumer Financial Management App Prism Money
Mobile Payments Today | 5.31.16

Electronic cash payment network PayNearMe has acquired consumer financial management app Prism Money. According to a press release, the move will allow PayNearMe to offer businesses and financial institutions the capability for in-app bill presentment that enables their customers to make bill payments via automated clearing house or with credit, debit or prepaid cards. Prism Money capabilities will augment existing PayNearMe cash payment processing offerings, the release said.

Mercantile Processing Teams with Vend
The Green Sheet | 6.01.16

Mercantile Processing Inc. is proud to announce its partnership with Vend POS the top iPad POS software for retailers, to better align with merchants needs. Vend POS is an ipad cloud based point of sale system that allows merchants to accept payments, track inventory, ecommerce solution, rewards program sure to increase your revenue. Aside from Vends cloud based system, it also offers a FREE online shopping cart. eCommerce is an ever growing trend and MPI found it necessary to offer a solution which highlighted customer support and quality.

National Benefit Programs Adds Telemedicine
NBP | 5.31.16

National Benefit Programs (NBP), the leading discount program for payments industry customers, has added telemedicine provider Call a Doctor Plus to its vendor lineup. Along with other discounted offerings including travel, office supplies, and identity protection, NBP’s small business members now have affordable, convenient and unlimited access to healthcare professionals via phone, video, or app for less than $15 per month.

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