Veterans Financial Coalition serves the financial challenges of military veterans

Group Serving Veterans Grows To Eight Members

The Veterans Financial Coalition, a diverse group of organizations seeking to serve the needs and unique financial challenges military veterans face when returning to civilian life, welcomed three new members today. Call For Action, the National Consumers League (NCL) and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) will join the Coalition’s founding members, the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®), Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Visa Inc. These organizations bring unique and important assets and initiatives that will strengthen the coalition and its mission of improving the financial security and wellbeing of our nation’s growing population of veterans.

The Veterans Financial Coalition has three goals: educate veterans and the community organizations that serve them; conduct research regarding enhanced consumer protections for veterans; and raise awareness for veterans’ financial needs. The new members bring resources focused on helping veterans with consumer complaints, learning how to spot fraud, and identifying and overcoming financial issues.

Call For Action has a network of local chapters a consumer complaint service and hotlines to help veterans, among a number of other resources. Veterans can utilize Call For Action’s direct consumer mediation services for any consumer issue. Veterans can find a local Call For Action by visiting the website http://www.callforaction.org.

“Call For Action is proud to support the empowerment of our veterans by joining this important coalition,” said Eduard Bartholme, Executive Director of Call For Action. “Since veterans are often targeted in the financial services marketplace, education is an important first step in teaching them how to avoid these potential pitfalls. If a problem does arise, our network of volunteer-staffed consumer help hotlines is ready to assist.”

National Consumers League brings the strength of its well established Fraud.org resource to help veterans learn the warning signs of common scams and how to avoid losing money to fraudsters. Thousands of consumer complaints are collected from over 100,000 monthly visitors to Fraud.org and shared with their network of more than 90 law enforcement partners. Fraud can be reporting by visiting the Fraud.org complaint form and FakeChecks.org can help veterans learn to spot the signs of fake checks.

“As a longstanding watchdog and advocate for consumer literacy, the National Consumers League is proud to ally with the Veterans Financial Coalition and its partners,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “Our programs seek to offer support and education for helping consumers navigate the marketplace at all stages of life, so partnering to bolster the financial literacy of those who have served our country is a natural fit. We are delighted to be a part of this effort.”

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s “Sharpen your Financial Focus” program seeks to assist veterans in stabilizing their personal financial situation. The program helps veterans identify their most pressing financial issue, and customize a three step program that will put them on a path to financial stability. More information is available at http://www.SharpenToday.org.

“The National Foundation for Credit Counseling has a long history of helping veterans avoid financial pitfalls or recover from them,” said Susan C. Keating, president and CEO of the NFCC. “Being part of the Veterans Financial Coalition underscores that commitment, and expands the opportunity for our member agencies to provide financial education and solutions to those who have served our country. There is something fundamentally wrong with a United States Armed Services veteran being in financial distress. They were there when we needed them; now it’s our turn to give back. We look forward to working with veterans to find solutions to their personal finance concerns, solutions that will lead to long-term financial stability.”

http://www.VeteransFinancialCoalition.org is a clearinghouse of important personal finance resources provided by coalition members. The website serves as a hub of free resources, ranging from educational games and guides, consumer protection brochures, training program information, and research.

SOURCE Veterans Financial Coalition

Square Reader for Chip Cards Available for Pre-Order

Square’s EMV Solution Will Enable All Sellers to Accept New Credit Card Technology

Square reports that starting today, sellers can pre-order the all-new Square Reader for chip cards, the company’s first EMV solution for U.S. businesses. Built with custom-designed components for optimum performance and easy mobility, Square’s latest reader is the most compact and affordable chip-enabled reader on the market. The Square Reader for chip cards is $29 and available for pre-order today at square.com/shop/reader.

“We’ve simplified the traditional cumbersome, power-hungry EMV terminal that costs sellers hundreds of dollars and requires complicated contracts,” said Jesse Dorogusker, head of hardware at Square. “Our chip reader is designed with custom components and software to offer every seller a beautiful, secure, and incredibly affordable EMV solution.”

Like all Square products, the Square Reader for chip cards is built to ensure better performance, easier use, and an elegant design. Standout features of the new Square Reader for chip cards include:

  • Compact and portable: The Square Reader for chip cards is small enough to fit in a pocket and works with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
  • Dual acceptance of both chip and magnetic-stripe cards: with a built-in readhead and a chip connector, customers can choose how they want to pay and sellers never have to miss a sale.
  • End-to-end encryption: Custom silicon and a bespoke magnetic readhead ensure that credit card information is encrypted at the moment of swipe or dip, protecting the buyer and seller.
  • Active tamper detection: Square Reader for chip cards has multiple layers of security designed to detect and defend against misuse, providing a secure transaction.
  • Same revolutionary sign-up experience: No merchant accounts, no long-term contracts — start accepting chip cards from the counter or your pocket right away.

Square’s Chip Card Accessory for Square Stand for its brick-and-mortar sellers is also available for pre-order today. This peripheral works seamlessly with the beautiful Square Stand, which turns an iPad into a complete point of sale. The accessory connects via USB port to any Square Stand, allowing sellers to accept chip cards. Priced at $39, the Chip Card Accessory is now available for pre-order atsquare.com/shop/chip-accessory. Delivery begins in Spring 2015.

“Cyber-Crime” Not Uncommon – says Gallup in new poll

In addition to the seven core crimes (burglary, property theft or larceny, car theft, vandalism, robbery, physical assault and sexual assault) asked each year since 2000, this year’s Gallup Crime poll asked about cyber-crimes, defined as “theft of credit card information from store database and hacking of computers or smartphones.”

Gallup reports that twenty-seven percent of households and 19% of U.S. adults claim they have been affected by stolen credit card information (including Target and Home Depot customers) over the past 12 months.  This number is far greater than said they had been victimized by any of the traditional crimes.

Gallup also reports that 11% of U.S. households and 7% of Americans claim they had their computer or smartphone hacked, with information stolen by unauthorized users.

More:  http://www.gallup.com/poll/179174/one-four-households-victimized-crime.aspx

The real numbers: Unbanked and Underbanked Households in the U.S.

From my early days (beginning in 2002) researching the size and scope of the market for prepaid financial services, I consistently found a great deal of misinformation and unsubstantiated claims being bantered around by both the media and entrepreneurs which greatly exaggerated the number of adults who were either un-banked or under-banked, Those inaccurate numbers still persist today in the projections of many a start-up seeking a sliver of these markets.

Misconceptions on the market began to fade when in June 2013, the FDIC sponsored its third National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households.

The study focused on collecting accurate data on the number of U.S. households that are unbanked and underbanked, their demographic characteristics, and their reasons for being unbanked and underbanked.

The survey was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau as a special supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS).

With the rich demographic and geographic data available through the CPS, the study presents a wealth of previously unavailable data on unbanked and underbanked households at the national, state, and large metropolitan statistical area (MSA) levels.

The survey addresses a gap in the availability of reliable, accurate, and comprehensive data on the number of unbanked and underbanked households in the United States. Some of the key overall findings from the 2013 include:

  • 7.7 percent (1 in 13) of households in the United States were unbanked in 2013. This proportion represented nearly 9.6 million households.
  • 20.0 percent of U.S. households (24.8 million) were underbanked in 2013, meaning that they had a bank account but also used alternative financial services (AFS) outside of the banking system.
  • The unbanked rate has varied from 7.6 percent in 2009 to 8.2 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2013.
    • The 0.5 percentage point decrease in the unbanked rate between 2011 and 2013 can be explained by differences in the economic conditions and demographic composition of households over this period.
    • In particular, compared to 2011, households in 2013 had slightly higher levels of employment and income, and were slightly older and better educated. These characteristics are all associated with a higher likelihood of having a bank account.
  • While relatively small proportions of U.S. households experienced major life events in the past year, households that transitioned in or out of the banking system were more likely to have experienced certain events:
    • Among households that recently became unbanked, 34.1 percent experienced either a significant income loss or a job loss that they said contributed to the household becoming unbanked.
    • Among households that recently became banked, 19.4 percent reported that a new job contributed to their opening a bank account.

While a great deal of misinformation continues to persist over the number of households and the size of the population of adults who are either unbanked or underbanked, this study should serve as the more realistic benchmark for understanding the scope of opportunities for both entrepreneurs and financial institutions to serve their communities and build their business.

FleetCor Technologies third-quarter revenues jump 31 percent

FleetCor Technologies reported Thursday (Oct. 30) that third-quarter revenues jumped 31 percent to $295.3 million and its net income grew 21 percent to $95.5 million.

Reducing Fraud at the Gas Station

FleetCor at the Gas Station

FleetCor Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:FLT) is a leading global provider of fuel cards and workforce payment products to businesses.

Results for the quarter included adjusted net income per diluted share growth of 27% and adjusted revenue growth of 30%.

Financial Results for Third Quarter 2014:

GAAP Results

  • Total revenues increased 31% to $295.3 million compared to $225.2 million in the third quarter of 2013;
  • Net income increased 21% to $95.5 million compared to $78.6 million in the third quarter of 2013;
  • Net income per diluted share increased 19% to $1.11 compared to $0.93 in the third quarter of 2013.

More: http://www.fleetcor.com/news_press_release.htm?reqid=1983896

Source: FleetCor

Over 70% of UK Consumers Still Do Not Have a Contactless Card

Compass Plus Survey Reveals That Over 70 Percent of UK Consumers Still Do Not Have a Contactless Card

A survey conducted by Compass Plus, an international provider of retail banking and electronic payments software to financial institutions and processors, has revealed that there are three main challenges hindering the mass adoption of contactless payments in the UK; card distribution, fears around security and regional awareness.

The survey, in which more than 700 consumers answered questions about their banking and payments habits, was carried out across the UK, in Sheffield, Nottingham, Wellingborough and London. The results found that despite industry claims that contactless cards are now widespread, more than two-thirds of respondents (70.7%) stated that they still do not have a contactless-enabled card in their wallet. Predictably, the group with the highest number of enabled cards were those based in London, however this figure only reached 37.2%, which means that over 60% of Londoners still do not have a contactless card. Nottingham and Sheffield had achieved 30% penetration, whilst Wellingborough, located in the London commuter-belt, fell behind at 23.5%.

After card distribution, the main barrier of card use was security. Nearly half of all respondents viewed contactless cards as one of the least secure methods of payment (46.8%), behind mobile payments (71.3%). 64.6% of respondents in Wellingborough feel the technology is the least secure, whilst just 45 minutes away by train in London, this figure falls to 39.2%. Out of the total number respondents that did have a contactless card, just under half of them had chosen to make a tap-and-go payment within the last month.

Although nearly three-quarters of respondents stated that they know what contactless payments are (73.6%), almost half of the respondents in Wellingborough do not (43.5%) compared to just 17.3% of Londoners. This shows a distinct lack of education around the payment method outside of larger cities, and emphasised the trend of London being the sole hub of contactless payments; not only as the country’s capital, but also due to the high profile initiatives of its city transport system.

“It is incredible to see that six years after the first contactless cards were issued in the UK, more than 70% of the country still have not been issued one. The lack of penetration is even more surprising in London, due to the high profile contactless transport initiatives that were rolled out earlier this year.

When we compare these results to Compass Plus’ 2013 survey, it does show a significant increase in both the awareness and use of contactless cards across the country,” said Maria Nottingham, CEO of Compass Plus GB. “In 2013, nearly 40% of the public revealed they did not even know what contactless payments are and less than one in 10 people had actually made a purchase using their contactless card in the previous month. Although this growth is promising, the current penetration in no way matches up to industry expectations. It is clear the popularity and use of contactless payments depends solely on the card issuers’ efforts to complete their rollout and education campaigns around this cashless initiative.

Source: Compass Plus

Compass Plus provides comprehensive, fully integrated and flexible payments software and services that help financial institutions meet rapidly changing market demands.