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NF Edition #548 - 3/10/17
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Highlights this week...

Transaction Opportunities

The U.S. Merchant Acquiring transaction market is currently extremely active. TSG is assisting buyers and sellers connect as well as by providing transaction support services to assist both buyers and sellers achieve their objectives.
 
In addition, TSG has been engaged by several firms to identify ISO and merchant acquiring business acquisitions and capital partnerships. Each client has its own key investment criteria which includes:
  • TSYS back-end portfolios with or without sales engine
  • Merchant acquiring enterprise businesses with more than $2 billion in card volume, with a sales engine
If you are interested in discussing a potential transaction, please provide high level details of your business and call us at 402-964-2617 - or email us at Acquisitions@TheStrawGroup.com.

All responses will be treated confidentially.

Bitcoin May Go Boom: A Guide to This Week’s Big SEC Decision
Fortune | 3.09.17

Bitcoin is at a critical juncture. Any time now, the Securities and Exchange Commission will issue a decision that could throw open the door to a flood of new capital, and change how many investors regard the digital currency. The SEC's bitcoin decision, which is over three years in the making, is due by Friday. Here's a plain English guide to what might happen, including why the decision is so important and how it could affect the price of bitcoin.

Home Depot to Pay Banks $25M in Data Breach Settlement
Fortune | 3.09.17

Home Depot has taken another step to move on from its colossal 2014 data breach, which involved hackers stealing email or credit card information from more than 50 million customers by infiltrating self check-out terminals. In a new settlement with dozens of banks, the retailer has agreed to pay $25 million for damages they incurred as a result of the breach, one of the biggest in history. The settlement, filed this week in federal court in Atlanta, also requires Home Depot to tighten its cyber-security practices and to subject its vendors to more scrutiny—a measure tied to the fact that a security flaw by a third-party payment processor made the hacked self-checkout terminals vulnerable.


Related: Home Depot Offers $19M to Settle Customers' Hacking Lawsuit

Building the Digital Shopping Experience
PaymentsSource | 3.07.17

Can a grocery store operate with no cashiers? The concept isn't completely outlandish — many stores already have a few self-checkout lanes, and the Amazon Go concept demonstrates how to operate a whole store this way — but grocery stores serve a wide range of consumers who are very much set in their habits. This means balancing the needs of traditional, check-writing shoppers with those of impatient, digitally savvy customers. Many retailers are watching Amazon Go as a test case for their own innovations. But from the perspective of Kroger payments chief Kathy Hanna, it's Amazon that can learn from her.

Some Data from Chase May Show How the Fledgling Zelle Could Outrun PayPal’s Venmo
Digital Transactions | 3.09.17

All eyes in the person-to-person payments business may be on Venmo these days, but a few tantalizing numbers released last week by JPMorgan Chase & Co. could indicate that a new, bank-controlled payments service set to launch this year will literally give PayPal Holdings Inc.’s P2P app a run for its money. Venmo’s mostly mobile service, which has captured the imagination of a younger crowd with its blend of swift payments and social media, posted $5.6 billion in volume in the last quarter of 2016, a 126% year-over-year growth rate. As recently as the fourth quarter of 2014, the service had not yet reached the $1 billion mark in quarterly volume.

Related: Why Zelle is More Than Just a Venmo Clone

AmEx Fights Back Against Credit-Card Churners
Bloomberg | 3.08.17

American Express Co. is looking to weed out customers who jump from credit card to credit card just for the sign-on bonus. An increase in incentive bonuses has boosted so-called gaming by credit-card applicants looking for a quick reward, Doug Buckminster, president of global consumer services, said Wednesday at the firm’s investor day in New York. AmEx is using analytics to identify and “suppress” gamers, while creating offers that incentivize long-term loyalty, the company said.

Trump Discussed Cordray's Future in Community Bank Meeting
American Banker | 3.09.17

President Trump deeply impressed the community bankers he met with Thursday, listening attentively to their concerns while demonstrating a willingness to pull out all the stops to help get them regulatory relief, according to multiple participants. The president also openly consulted with his top economic advisers during the meeting, pondering the future of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray while repeatedly asking whether he could fix community bank concerns through new executive orders.

Smart Card Alliance Becomes Secure Technology Alliance as the Organization Expands Its Mission to Include a Broader View of Security Technologies
Secure Technology Alliance | 3.08.17

The Smart Card Alliance, known for propelling the adoption of smart card technology as the global standard for payment, identity, access and mobile application security, announced today it is expanding its charter to include a broader range of security and privacy-enhancing technologies. To reflect this expanded mission, the Smart Card Alliance will be changing its name to the Secure Technology Alliance. “The Alliance’s focus has always been on engaging in industry-wide discussion and providing best practices and educational resources for designing and building secure payments, identification, access and mobile applications and systems,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Secure Technology Alliance.

Comptroller Curry Hits Back at Critics of Fintech Charter Plans
Finextra | 3.07.17

Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry says the oversight body will persist with plans to offer banking charters to fintech companies, dismissing criticisms that the agency is over-reaching its authority. In a speech to the LendIT conference in New York, Curry offered a stout defence to charges laid by banking trade bodies and state regulators over its plans. "To be clear, the National Bank Act does give the OCC the legal authority to grant national bank charters to companies engaged in the business of banking," Curry told the conference.

Other Countries Embrace Contactless Cards, but the U.S. Still Shuns Them
Digital Transactions | 3.06.17

When it comes to contactless electronic payment transactions, the U.S. payments industry seems to be more interested in using smart phones than plastic debit or credit cards. But other countries have gone the opposite route. In the United Kingdom, for example, spending on contactless cards reached a record £3.4 billion ($4.2 billion at current exchange rates) in December, almost three times the £1.2 billion spent a year earlier, according to the UK Cards Association, a trade group of card issuers and merchant acquirers. The number of contactless payments amounted to 354 million in December, up from 325 million in November, and accounted for over a quarter of all card payments.

Toss, South Korea's Venmo, Rakes In $48 Million From PayPal And Silicon Valley
Forbes | 3.09.17

In the U.S., few financial technology apps have gained the mindshare and usage numbers of Venmo, PayPal's popular peer-to-peer money transfer tool. With total payment volume of nearly $18 billion in 2016, Venmo, has become a key product for PayPal in its attempt to attract younger, mobile-oriented users. As Venmo continues to grow, PayPal is now trying to recreate that success abroad, starting in South Korea. On Wednesday, Viva Republica, the maker of Toss, a popular money transfer app, announced that it had raised about $48 million from PayPal and a handful of Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

The World's First Contactless Payment Ring is Now Ready to Buy
Tech Radar | 3.08.17

You can now buy the world's first contactless payment ring so you can pay for your shopping directly from your finger. Kerv will allow you to pay for public transport, your shopping or even unlock your front door - if you have a contactless lock - but all from the jewellery on your finger, rather than your phone, smartwatch or card. Kerv is initially launching in the UK at £99.99 (about $120, AU$160) and you can now buy it directly from the manufacturer's website.

Startup Trials POS Palm Payments
Finextra | 3.10.17

A Chicago startup has built a biometrics-based payments system that lets people make purchases by holding their hands over a scanner at the point-of-sale. To sign up for the Keyo system, shoppers create an account online, receive a registration code and then visit a retail location with one of the firm's terminals to enter the code and map the unique blood vessel patterns in their palms. They can then add cards and make purchases at participating retailers by waving their hands over the Keyo terminals and then selecting the payment method.

Samsung Pay is Now Live in India
TechCrunch | 3.07.17

Samsung Pay has launched in India where it is working on selected devices, according to a report from Sam Mobile. The Korean firm had teased its entry to India’s payments market last month, but now it has rolled out with support for banks Axis, HDFC, ICICI, SBI, and Standard Chartered, and credit and debit cards from MasterCard and Visa. Beyond traditional financial organizations, Samsung has also teamed up with Paytm — India’s largest mobile wallet with 200 million registered users — to add support for its digital payment service. That’s a particularly important given how the government’s demonitization program last year has accelerated the rise of digital cash.

WikiLeaks Dumps Docs on CIA’s Hacking Tools
Krebs on Security | 3.08.17

WikiLeaks on Tuesday dropped one of its most explosive word bombs ever: A secret trove of documents apparently stolen from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) detailing methods of hacking everything from smart phones and TVs to compromising Internet routers and computers. KrebsOnSecurity is still digesting much of this fascinating data cache, but here are some first impressions based on what I’ve seen so far.

Related: 

Stealth New Security Threat Requires Protection for 'Low Risk' Merchants
PayThink | 3.10.17

The terms ‘high-risk’ merchant or ‘high-risk’ MCC (Merchant Category Code), may grab your attention if you’re in the payment industry. The latest crop of online fraudsters are quite aware of the banks’ vulnerabilities, and use merchants with seemingly low-risk lines of business as fronts for their crimes. The fraudsters mask the payment platforms of legitimate websites to sell illicit goods so that charges will show up as innocent transactions in the bank’s records.

Verifone Investigates Gas Station Hack Attacks
Bank Info Security | 3.08.17

News of any breach affecting the internal network at Verifone - the largest payment terminal player in the United States, and the second-largest in the world, operating in 150 countries - is concerning, since attackers could potentially have accessed not only payment card data but also software code and schematics related to the integrity and security of Verifone's devices and infrastructure. But Verifone says that digital forensic investigators have found no evidence of any such outcomes.

Steady U.S. Job Growth Sets Stage for Fed to Raise Interest Rates
The New York Times | 3.10.17

Employers added 235,000 workers to their payrolls in February, the government reported on Friday, a hefty gain that clears the path for the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate when it meets next week. The official jobless rate fell to 4.7 percent, from 4.8 percent in January, while average hourly earnings grew by 0.2 percent in a report that overlaps with President Trump’s first full month in office. “They’re ready to go,” said Diane Swonk, founder and chief executive of DS Economics, referring to the central bank’s expected vote next week to raise rates from their historically low levels.

U.S. Consumer Comfort Just Reached Its Highest Level in a Decade
Bloomberg | 3.09.17

Americans’ confidence continued to mount last week as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reached the highest point in a decade on more-upbeat assessments about the economy and buying climate, figures showed Thursday. Stock indexes near record highs and persistent strength in the job market have lifted the consumer comfort gauge in five of the last six weeks since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Consumers Take a Credit-Card Breather
The Wall Street Journal | 3.07.17

The amount of credit-card debt held by U.S. consumers retreated slightly in January. Although consumer card balances in January were up 6% from a year earlier, the amount of debt outstanding dropped slightly from December, according to data released by the Federal Reserve on Tuesday. That halted 10 months of consecutive increases. Outstanding revolving debt, mostly comprising bank and store credit cards, totaled $995.1 billion in January, down from $998.9 billion in December, the data showed.

The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2017
PaymentsSource | 3.07.17

In financial services, there are always opportunities for disruption. Women can advance their careers through decades of experience, but they can also come in from new points of entry such as technology development, venture capital and retail. The Most Influential Women in Payments are the ones taking risks with new ideas and investments, and developing the technology that will forever change the way people handle money. Not only do they set an example for their peers, they are unafraid to learn from newcomers and are diligent about encouraging a freshness and diversity of ideas.

Verifone Reports Results for the First Quarter of Fiscal 2017
Verifone | 3.09.17

“Our first quarter results were better than our outlook on both the top and bottom line. Total revenues were as expected or better across all of our major geographies, with particular strength coming from the Asia Pacific region," said Paul Galant, Chief Executive Officer of Verifone. “We continue to be on track with our execution during what is an important launch year for our next generation devices and services. By scaling these devices and connecting them with our expanded services, we will establish platforms that power the future of payments and commerce.”

UK's Worldpay Misses Revenue on Weak U.S. Business
Reuters | 3.07.17

British payment processor Worldpay Group Plc on Tuesday said revenue for the full year was lower than expected, hurt by weakness in its U.S. business. Worldpay, which provides platforms to allow merchants to accept payments by cards and other methods, said its performance in the U.S. was "subdued" with second-half revenue being softer than anticipated. The industry has become extremely competitive in recent years as payments are increasingly routed electronically, including through cards and mobile wallets.

TSYS President and COO Pam Joseph Named One of the Most Influential Women in Payments
TSYS | 3.07.17

TSYS announced that Pam Joseph, president and chief operating officer (COO), has been named as one of the Most Influential Women in Payments in 2017 by PaymentsSource. It is the fourth time in the last five years that Joseph has been named to the prestigious list. “There is no doubt that Pam has been making her mark in the payments industry for more than three decades now, and this is certainly a well-deserved honor,” said M. Troy Woods, chairman and chief executive officer, TSYS. “Since joining our leadership team last year, she has had a significant impact on all of our segments, as well as the re-shaping of our product team and how we will operate — and innovate — moving forward.

Clearent Completes Acquisition of PAI’s Merchant Services Division

The Green Sheet | 3.09.17

Today Clearent announced that it has completed its acquisition of Payment Alliance International’s (PAI) Merchant Services Division. The acquisition adds support and operations resources, a complementary telesales channel, strategic association partnerships, and increases Clearent’s processing volume by 40 percent. PAI’s Merchant Services Division is a leading provider of payment processing solutions for businesses, Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs), agents and associations, and has previously been recognized as the “Independent Sales Organization (ISO) of the Year” by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA).

First Data and FLEETCOR Join Forces In New Prepaid Gift Joint Venture
First Data | 3.06.17

First Data, a global leader in commerce-enabling technology, and FLEETCOR Technologies Inc., a leading global provider of fuel cards and workforce payment products to businesses, announced the formation of a joint venture that will consolidate their various gift solutions to drive new value for their clients. The new joint venture combines the gift card businesses of both companies. This includes First Data’s core gift card business, Transaction Wireless, Inc.™, and Gyft®, along with FLEETCOR’s Stored Value Solutions (SVS) prepaid card services and gift card program management assets. The new entity will provide clients with broader international reach and a more robust end-to-end offering.

Citi Names Piazza Permanent Head of Fintech Unit

American Banker | 3.09.17

Citigroup on Thursday announced that Yolande Piazza will serve as the permanent head of its fintech unit. Piazza had been serving in that role on an interim basis since August, when the previous chief executive of Citi FinTech, Heather Cox, left for a role with USAA. Piazza has been with Citi for nearly 30 years and has held several technology leadership roles, including chief operating officer of Citi FinTech.

Visa and Girl Starter Team Up to Empower Female-Led Startups
Visa | 3.08.17

Today, in celebration of International Women’s Day, Visa Inc. is announcing the third annual Everywhere Initiative with a focus on female entrepreneurship and a sponsorship of Girl Starter, a technology company that provides platforms to amplify girls in entrepreneurship and business leadership. Visa helps to shine a light on women in technology, both by inviting women entrepreneurs to participate in Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and by sponsoring an upcoming episode of the new TLC network series, “Girl Starter.”

Shazam Launches First Scaled Augmented Reality Solution for Brands Worldwide
Shazam | 3.06.17

Shazam, one of the world’s most popular apps, today announced the launch of a massively scaled augmented reality (AR) platform for its brand partners, artists and hundreds of millions of global users. Beam Suntory, Inc., the world's third largest premium spirits company, has signed on as one of several launch partners. Since launching visual-recognition functionality in 2015, Shazam has partnered with brands and artists to seamlessly connect its users to innovative custom content. AR marks the next huge step forward in this visual capability and offering. AR has become a cornerstone to engage users

Shift 4 Announces Unified Commerce Payment Integration
RIS | 3.07.17

Shift4 Corporation announced its Unified Commerce Payments solution for retailers using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics AX 2012. Shift4 partnered with Microsoft value-added distributor Retail Realm to develop a complete integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. The resulting solution provides retailers the flexibility to implement a secure, integrated payment solution across their entire enterprise – from storefronts to e-commerce, call center, fulfillment and more. 

ACI Worldwide and Jack Henry & Associates Accelerate Real-time Payments in the U.S.
ACI | 3.08.17

ACI Worldwide, a leading global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions, today announced that Jack Henry & Associates, Inc.® will use ACI’s UP Immediate Payments to connect its more than 10,000 financial institution clients and their customers to real-time payments networks—including The Clearing House Real-time Payments System and Zelle networks—to accelerate real-time payments in the U.S.

GetLinked Software Delivers Fast Integration System for Jimmy John’s
PRWeb | 3.08.17

GetLinked® software is now being used in Jimmy John’s franchise locations interfacing their MacromatiX (Hot Schedules) point of sale system to financial accounting systems. GetLinked integrates point of sale systems to accounting systems eliminating manual entries into the accounting system. The software provides faster and more accurate accounting transactions between point of sale and financial systems.

Fiserv Integrates Credit Score Monitoring into Digital Banking to Give Consumers One-Stop Insight into Their Finances
Businesswire | 3.08.17

Fiserv, Inc., a leading global provider of financial services technology solutions, has launched Credit Sense, a solution that enables financial institutions to meet consumer expectations for personalized credit information by integrating credit scores into the digital banking experience. Credit Sense provides a credit score, daily credit monitoring, insight into factors influencing credit score and free financial education resources. Credit Sense also helps financial institutions strengthen and grow member relationships through customized lending offers.

JetPay Taps Cardplatforms to Provide Its Clients with a Fully Customized Payroll Card Solution
PRWeb | 3.07.17

Cardplatforms®, a rapidly growing provider of payroll and corporate prepaid debit card solutions, announced that it has added JetPay® Corporation “JetPay” to its roster of premier clients. JetPay is leveraging Cardplatforms’ proprietary Blu Box™ technology platform to deploy the JetPay Money Access Card. JetPay is a dynamic and growing business solutions company, with more than 15,000 clients nationally, that offers innovative and technologically advanced products for the payments, payroll and prepaid card industries.

Bluefin and First Atlantic Commerce (FAC) Partner for PCI-Validated P2PE through FAC’s Payment Gateway
Bluefin | 3.07.17

Bluefin Payment Systems, the leading provider of PCI-validated Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) solutions, today announced a new partnership with First Atlantic Commerce (FAC), a leading international online payments and fraud and data management solutions provider. The partnership will further enhance data security for companies using FAC’s payment gateway with the addition of Bluefin’s Decryptx PCI-validated P2PE solution, which enables merchants utilizing FAC to get the security and scope reduction of PCI-validated P2PE.

UnionPay Partners With Wanda Group to Expand QuickPass Access in China
Cards International | 3.06.17

UnionPay, a provider of bank card services in China, has collaborated with Chinese commercial property developer Wanda Group to expand its QuickPass to Wanda partner merchants. UnionPay and Wanda Group will jointly develop a UnionPay cardholder service system and make various applications, such as UnionPay QuickPass and other ‘Physical + Internet’ payment applications. The new services will be available at Wanda’s properties, including commercial centres, department stores, supermarkets, theatres, hotels, theme parks and hospitals.

Harbortouch And Sarbari Announce Strategic Partnership, Coupling Best-In-Class Point-Of-Sale Technology With Powerful Cloud-Based Inventory Solution
PRWeb | 3.06.17

Harbortouch, a leading national provider of point-of-sale (POS) systems and payment processing services, today announced a partnership with Sarbari, a cloud-based software provider for the restaurant and retail industries. Sarbari provides cloud-based purchasing and inventory control software applications that automatically generate purchase orders, resulting in significant increases in efficiency. This powerful tool enables merchants to streamline the entire purchasing process in the back office and realize considerable savings in both time and money every month.

Dream Payments Closes $10 Million Series A Round to Launch Payments Cloud in the U.S.
MarketWired | 3.08.17

Dream Payments (Dream), a leading financial technology (fintech) company that operates a payments cloud that powers commerce and payments across mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), today announced the closing of a $10 million Series A financing round. The round was led by FairVentures Inc, the innovation investing arm of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. Connecticut Innovations (CI), Real Ventures and a prominent group of angel investors were also key participants in the financing. The capital infusion will fund the expansion of Dream's payments cloud into the U.S., the acceleration of Dream's third party app ecosystem and the company's continued growth in Canada.

Constellation Payments Achieves New Elavon Certifications, Expands Payment Functionality Throughout North America
PRWeb | 3.07.17

Constellation Payments, a leading gateway and merchant services provider specializing in integrated payment processing solutions for software applications, today announced that its integrated payment terminal solution, and contactless payment functionality, have been certified for Canada. With this certification, Constellation Payments is the first ISO to attain approval with Elavon for EMV contact and contactless terminal functionality in Canada, including both credit and Interac debit. The latest Elavon certification also authorizes Constellation Payments for online credit card processing services for Mexico.

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