Quote of the Day: “…a card communicates brand story and service quality…”

“One of the most sacred touchpoints and vehicles of brand communication for any credit card company is the physical card itself. Simply stated, a card communicates brand story and service quality, and reinforces cardholder attributes such as professional role, income level, and personal affinity,” says Kerri Williams, director of client services, Landor Associates.

Read more: http://www.dmnews.com/mobile-payments-will-force-credit-card-marketers-to-rethink-branding/article/342482/

Source: DM News

Verifone launches EMV-ready Portable Payment Terminal

Bluetooth, 3G and Wi-Fi communications enable merchants to accept all types of payments in any environment.

VX690

VeriFone Systems, Inc. (NYSE: PAY) announced today the VX 690—its first handheld EMV-capable payment terminal featuring Bluetooth, 3G radio and Wi-Fi connectivity for fast transactions and flexible payment capabilities.  The terminal’s size, design and multiple connection capabilities meets merchants’ mobile point of sale (mPOS) demands—especially in North America, Australia and parts of Asia—where 3G connectivity is increasingly required for payment device acceptance.

“It is no secret that merchants increasingly want a user experience that parallels that of a consumer electronics device,” said Bill Nelson, executive vice president of Global Product Management for VeriFone. “The VX 690 achieves this goal while providing 3G connectivity that is critical in many markets where 2G networks are transitioning to 3G. The user experience of the terminal combined with its robustness, flexibility, and technical communication capabilities will not only enable payments today—it will enable commerce tomorrow.”

Enhanced Communication Flexibility

The VX 690’s Bluetooth, 3G radio and Wi-Fi combination provides fast, wireless payment convenience as well as fewer dropped transactions in virtually every type of merchant environment. Dual SIM functionality enables the terminal to quickly connect to different networks to keep transactions moving, while built-in GPS allows merchants to track the location of every transaction, providing greater visibility into operations and inventory across multiple stores.

VX690The terminal is PCI PTS 3.0 compliant and features built-in security protection that includes end-to-end encryption to protect data at every point of the transaction.

Simple, Consumer Electronic Style Design

The VX 690’s simple, handheld design is similar to consumer technologies and easily fits on countertops and in users’ hands. Its built-in functionality includes:

  • 3.5″ capacitive touch display that allows merchants to enable commerce with marketing messages via video streaming and audio capabilities
  • Single micro-USB connector for added convenience and functionality
  • EMV capability for supporting PIN, Signature, and no Cardholder Verification Method (CVM)
  • NFC capability to support contactless and mobile wallet transactions
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support
  • Peripheral capability for potential future expansion, including biometric scanner/barcode reader

“Virtually all consumers use portable technologies providing enormous capabilities in their day-to-day lives. Using these technologies has become second nature, not only because of their practicality, but because they present advanced functionality in a brilliant, yet simple package that is easy to use,” said Nelson. “The VX 690’s purpose-driven design merges advanced, secure mPOS capabilities with the type of sleek and simplistic form factor that is familiar to consumers and can help merchants improve the customer experience.”

The VX 690 from VeriFone is expected to be available in late 2014.

Additional Resources

Source: Verifone

The Cost of Data Breaches on Brand Value

According to ADWEEK magazine, the bad guys hit the bull’s-eye with the massive credit card breach at Target. We all remember the news at the height of the 2013 holiday season when the retailer reported that hackers accessed payment-card data and personal information (names, addresses, emails and phone numbers) of 110 million of their customers.

Target, according to ADWEEK, said costs associated with the cyber invasion totaled $61 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, “contributing to a 46 percent decline in net income to $520 million (81 cents per share) versus $961 million ($1.47 per share) the previous year.”

Target spends over $1.4 billion on advertising and promotions.  The impact of the data breach put a massive dent on that investment.

Read more: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/retailers-are-finding-data-vulnerability-can-undo-years-brand-equity-156459

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Don’ts and Do’s to Protecting your Personal Information

April is Financial Literacy Month and MasterCard just published a little refresher on some basic tips and insights to help folks be savvier consumers on how we share our personal information.

We’re all guilty of it. You’re in a hurry, you don’t have time to be as diligent as you’d like and there it is. You let your guard down. You’ve just shared your phone number at the point of sale simply because you were asked. What’s the harm? Well, actually, potentially a lot.

Staying vigilant about protecting your personal information can greatly reduce your risk of theft or fraud – an important and necessary step in today’s digital world. While your credit and debit cards have built in protections, the first line of defense really starts with you.

I like MasterCard’s Priceless Pointers videos for more helpful tools and resources to inform and protect yourself from fraud.

Check out this infographic from MasterCard for their top five tips

takecarebeforeyoushare

 

Source: MasterCard

Walmart and Sam’s Club Converts Discover Co-Branded Cards to MasterCard

Sam’s Club Extends Contract for Branded Credit Card Program with GE Capital Retail Bank and Converts Discover Card Co-Branded Cards to MasterCard

Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has finalized a multi-year agreement with GE Capital Retail Bank to extend their existing relationship to provide Sam’s Club-branded credit cards to club members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

As part of the extension, GE Capital’s Retail Finance business will continue to manage and service the credit card programs for Sam’s Club Savings, Business and Plus members.  Under the agreement, the Sam’s Club co-branded credit card programs will be converted to MasterCard later this year, providing members with a broader card acceptance network, as well as more robust features and benefits.

Walmart has also extended their relationship with GE Capital Retail Bank and branded cards will transition to MasterCard later this year.

GE Capital’s Retail Finance began its relationship with Sam’s Club in 1993, providing credit programs for business members; adding revolving credit programs for Sam’s Club consumer members in 1995; and currently offering Sam’s Club private-label credit card programs and co-branded cards for Savings, Business and Plus members – all of which double as membership cards.

April is National Financial Literacy Month

National Financial Literacy Month represents a national challenge to observe the month of April with programs and initiatives geared at helping individuals and families improve their understanding of financial principles and best practices.

We invite you to meet the National Financial Literacy Month challenge by pledging to help Americans improve their understanding of financial issues and take steps toward financial freedom!

Supporting Financial Literacy Month is easy by using the free resources provided in the Financial Literacy Month toolkit.

Tools for success

  • Financial Literacy eBooks  – Two free downloadable Financial Literacy Month eBooks are available for you to read and share.
  • Know the Facts  – Be prepared to answer questions about financial literacy and the month long initiative by reviewing these talking points.

Source:  http://www.financialliteracymonth.com/

 

CONVENIENCE STORES HIT RECORD IN-STORE SALES

 U.S. convenience stores reached record in-store sales in 2013, with sales climbing 2.4% to $204 billion.

Combined with motor fuels sales of $491.5 billion, overall convenience store sales were $695.5 billion, according to figures released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Woman Pumping Gas     Image by © Royalty Free/Corbis

C-stores sell an average 132,029 gallons per month

The industry’s 2013 numbers were announced at the NACS State of the Industry Summit, a two-day conference that reviews and analyzes the industry’s key economic indicators.

The convenience store industry’s in-store sales have seen rapid growth over the last decade, as consumers seek out more food and beverages on the go. In-store sales in 2013 were led by continued growth in foodservice (2.4%), driven by prepared food and commissary.

Motor fuels sales also hit new highs on a per-gallon basis, with sales climbing 0.9% to 132,029 gallons per store per month. While fuels sales per store increased on a unit basis, a 2.9% decrease in gas prices led to an overall 2.1% decrease in fuels sales.

Although the industry again realized strong sales, store-operating costs increased at a faster rate than sales and led to a decrease in industry pretax profits, which fell from $7.2 billion in 2012 to $7.1 billion in 2013.

The biggest increase in costs was wages and payroll taxes. The industry saw a dramatic 19.5% increase in employees, a function of the industry’s continuing embrace of foodservice, which requires more labor to manage.

The link between fuels and convenience retailing continues to grow. Overall, 83.7% of convenience stores (126,658 total) sell motor fuels, a 2.7% increase (3,369 stores) over 2013, according to the 2014 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count. The U.S. convenience store count increased to 151,282 stores as of December 31, 2013, a 1.4% increase (2,062 stores) from the year prior.

Convenience stores also account for 34.3% of all retail outlets in the United States, according to Nielsen, which is significantly higher than the U.S. total of other retail channels including drugstores (41,378 stores), supermarket/supercenter (37,459 stores) and dollar stores (24,853 stores).

Beyond sales, convenience stores are an important part of the economy. They employed 2.2 million people and generated $174.5 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2013. Overall, convenience stores sales represent 4.0% — or one out of every 25 dollars — of the entire $17.4 trillion U.S. gross domestic product.

“Our industry numbers demonstrate that convenience and fuel retailing continues to grow, despite economic and retail environment challenges,” said NACS Chairman Brad Call, vice president of adventure culture at Maverik Inc. “These numbers show that we continue to meet the needs of our diverse consumers throughout the United States.”

Motor fuels continued to drive revenue dollars, but in-store sales drove profit dollars. Overall, 70.7% of total sales were motor fuels, but motor fuels only accounted for 35.6% of profit dollars. Motor fuels gross margins were 18.5 cents per gallon before expenses, or 5.3%.

The industry’s bifurcation also continues, with a considerable difference between top quartile and bottom quartile performers. Top quartile performers had hot dispensed beverage gross profits that were 7.3 times greater than those of the bottom quartile; prepared food gross profits 3.0 times greater than the bottom quartile; cold dispensed beverage gross profits 3.9 times greater than the bottom quartile; and packaged beverage gross profits that were 2.4 times greater than the bottom quartile.

Of major interest to retailers this year was the breakout of industry numbers into regional benchmarks, allowing them to compare key metrics against more companies in their respective markets.

Here’s how in-store sales were broken down in 2013:

• Tobacco (cigarettes and other tobacco products): 37.0% of in-store sales
• Foodservice (prepared and commissary food; hot, cold and dispensed beverages): 18.0%
• Packaged beverages (soda, alternative beverages, sports drinks, juices, water, teas, etc.): 15.5%
• Center of the store (candy; sweet, salty and alternative snacks): 9.9%
• Beer: 7.9%
• Other: 11.7%

Meanwhile, foodservice was the category that drove profits, accounting for 29.1% of gross profit dollars. Packaged beverages were second, accounting for 19.6% of gross profit dollars. While tobacco products constituted 37.0% of in-store revenue dollars, they accounted for only 18.7% of gross margin dollars.

The industry’s 2013 metrics are based on the NACS State of the Industry survey powered by its wholly owned subsidiary CSX, the industry’s largest online database of financial and operating data. Complete data and analysis will be released in June in the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2013 Data.

 Source:  Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 151,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2013, of which $491 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

MasterCard Reports 40% Growth in Prepaid Business across Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa for 2013


Cross Border and E-commerce Transactions Key Drivers for Growth
 - China Presents Biggest Opportunity for Further Growth

MasterCard reported a growth of 40% in gross dollar volume, or GDV, for its prepaid card business across Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA) for 2013 (y-o-y). This strong growth was fuelled in part by significant partnerships announced over the last couple of years in the region, such as:

The momentum for prepaid growth is expected to continue given the potential for driving further financial inclusion in emerging markets as well as the increasing cross border and e-commerce transactions.

Emerging Markets: Hotbed of Innovation

According to Jason Tymms, MasterCard’s Head of Prepaid, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa, “The needs in emerging markets differ greatly from developed markets and this is proving to be a catalyst for innovation. We find ourselves innovating to meet the most basic of needs which is access to financial services, especially for citizens who sit at the bottom of the financial pyramid.”

In May last year, MasterCard, in partnership with the Nigerian government, announced the roll out of 13 million National Identity Cards with MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology, the largest formal electronic payment solution in Nigeria and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind in Africa. When using the card as a prepaid payment tool, cardholders can deposit funds on the card, receive social benefits, pay for goods and services, withdraw cash and engage in other financial transactions that are facilitated by electronic payments.

In India, MasterCard is launching a mobile companion prepaid card allowing Beam Money consumers to move beyond basic utility payments by connecting their existing mobile wallets to the world of MasterCard acceptance and electronic payments, thus enabling them to carry out e-commerce transactions, make fund transfers, book movie or travel tickets.

In 2012, MasterCard also worked with the State Government of Chhattisgarh and the Central Bank of India to launch a student prepaid card for the distribution of scholarships. This resulted in the speedy disbursement of scholarships as well as safety and convenience for students who received payments through bank ATMs nationwide.

But according to Tymms, innovation is not just happening in emerging markets. “In developed markets such as New Zealand, MasterCard is innovating to meet different needs. For example, MasterCard worked with Air New Zealand to launch the OneSmart dual-faced loyalty and prepaid card, a first in the world,” Tymms said. One side of the card is an Air New Zealand Airpoints loyalty card, equipped with ePass technology that enables cardholders to speed through domestic check-in. Meanwhile, on the other side is a prepaid MasterCard that enables cardholders to load up on foreign currencies as well as lock in the exchange rates.

Similarly in Australia, MasterCard together with Qantas launched the new Qantas Frequent Flyer membership card with a new inbuilt feature, Qantas Cash™, a prepaid facility which allows cardholders to store foreign currency, access cash worldwide via ATM withdrawals, and earn points on spending in Australia and overseas.

But it is not just consumers that are adopting the use of travel prepaid cards. In India, SMEs in the IT services industry especially, are providing travel prepaid cards to their employees who need to travel for international projects. Functioning as a means for paying for their expenses during the term of the overseas stint, prepaid cards also means easier tracking and reconciliation for the SMEs.

The Rise of the China Traveler, and Cross Border Potential

“We are seeing the biggest potential for prepaid growth come out of China given it had the highest number of outbound tourists and amount of overseas spending in the world last year. Coupled with the Chinese’ higher purchasing power, this presents an obvious need for electronic payments acceptance when abroad and multi-currency travel prepaid cards such as the MasterCard Cash Passport fit the bill as it takes away the hassle and risk of carrying a lot of cash while also enabling cardholders to lock in exchange rate at the time of loading to avoid fluctuations,” Tymms added.

Officially the world’s biggest spenders, Chinese’ spending on overseas travel increased 28 percent in the first nine months of 2013. In 2012, China became the largest outbound tourism market with 83 million overseas trips, and last year, this number grew even further to 97 million. It is expected that this year, the number will top the 100 million mark, in what will be a historic first – an amazing feat, considering that this number was just 10 million in 2000. 

These kinds of numbers represent the enormous opportunity MasterCard is seeing in the areas of cross border transaction and China aside, across emerging markets in Southeast Asia, India and Japan.

E-commerce is also proving to be a key driver for prepaid growth. According to MasterCard’s Online Shopping Survey, besides China (97.8%) which continues to have a strong potential for making online purchases in the next six months, Southeast Asian markets such as Vietnam (91.4%) and Thailand (84.2%) are also showing great potential in terms of respondents intending to make an online purchase in the next six months.

 

 

Amazon lights fires with $99 TV Set-Top Box

Amazon Fire TVFollowing in the footsteps of Roku, Apple, and Google, Amazon launched its new Amazon Fire TV, which will allow consumers to watch Amazon’s video library on their television sets.

Beyond enabling access to Amazon’s video library (my Roku already does that), it taps into a range of content from other providers, including Hulu, Netflix, ESPN and others (which my Roku already does).   Amazon Prime cannot be watched with Apple TV currently, so this is meaningful to Apple users, putting the Apple team on notice they need to step it up.

Consumers can also purchase a separate controller for use with Fire TV to play games.

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