What We’re Reading

Below are interesting stories the Banking.com staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

  • Mobile Payments Grows Worldwide, But Business Issues Remain

American Banker

Many consumers don’t know what near-field communication is, but the services the technology enables are becoming quite popular. That puts an onus on mobile payments projects that use NFC to move beyond disputes over revenue and other issues. “At present the consumer is not looking that far ahead, but once the initial services are established, that will be the next thing the consumer will start demanding — mobile banking/payment ubiquity,” says David Snow, a senior analyst at Juniper Research. A new report from Juniper says the total value of mobile payments for digital and physical goods, money transfers and NFC transactions will reach $670 billion by 2015, up from $240 billion in 2001.

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  • Why PayPal Paid $240 Million for Zong

All Things D

PayPal has spent the past 13 years making it easier for anyone to pay who has an email address. But in today’s world, where cellphones are outnumbering computers, that sounds increasingly archaic. To bridge that gap, the eBay-owned payments company announced yesterday it was acquiring Zong, a mobile payments provider that allows charges to appear on a consumer’s carrier bill. Conceivably, you could imagine that  in the future PayPal could accept payments from anyone with a 10-digit number, switching its focus away from email after all these years to phone numbers.

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  • Regions Introduces P2P Payments for Online Customers

Bank Systems and Technology

Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Bank today announced Regions Personal Pay, a person-to-person electronic payments service for the checking and money market customers enrolled in online banking. Powered by Fiserv’s ZashPay, Regions Personal Pay allows Region customers to send and receive money from anyone with a U.S. bank account. Regions Personal Pay is a reliable solution to pay friends, family or others for everything from a lunch, to sending money to a child in college, to fundraisers, gifts and more,” said Chris Cox, head of Regions business.

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  • Jack Henry to Offer Chip-and-Signature Cards

Credit Union Times

JHA Payment Processing Solutions said it will begin offering chip-and-signature debit and credit cards to its credit union customers, enabling them to better serve members who live or work abroad. EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) cards have been widely adopted in international markets and are expected to gain traction in the United States because of their enhanced security, said the payments division of Jack Henry & Associates in Monett, Mo. In addition to the embedded microchip that meets the EMV standard, the Visa-branded cards have the standard magnetic stripe for use in any traditional card reader in the United States, the company said. The $5.6 billion Star One Credit Union in Sunnyvale, Calif., is beta testing the card, the company said.

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  • Bank of Internet Launches Free Rewards Checking Account

My Bank Tracker

A new free checking product from Bank of Internet is hitting the shelves as the industry cuts back on free checking and debit card rewards programs. Bank of Internet (NASDAQ: BOFI) has launched its Rewards Checking account that offers a comprehensive array of desirable features at no cost. It is a free checking account with no monthly account fee or required minimum balance, free debit card, free online bill pay, free initial order of checks, unlimited ATM fee refunds, and FinanceWorks, a free budgeting tool powered by Quicken. Additionally, Bank of Internet tracks on the Purchase Rewards debit card cash back program, which will reimburse your account when you complete a purchase of a targeted, retailer-specific offer.

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  • Financial services firms get updated authentication guidance

Network World

The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) recently updated the authentication guidance it provides to financial services firms that conduct online banking services. The supplement is to the Authentication in an Internet Banking Environment guidance issued in October 2005.This month’s update is designed to reinforce risk-based authentication for customers and covers layered security and other controls designed to mitigate transaction risk. Expert reaction to the guidance’s efficacy has been mixed.

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  • Google’s Punchd acquisition to push mobile wallet uptake

VentureBeat

On first glance, Google’s acquisition of Punchd (a mobile phone-based loyalty service), a company barely a year and a half old, with little revenue and less than $150K in funding for $10M (reported widely) seems crazy. Initial speculation was that Google was making the move to add talent to its Android engineering team. But the fact that it is keeping the Punchd service going (likely moving to Google’s mobile wallet) points to a more strategic objective. Google has invested a lot in mobile payments. Despite all the work that has gone into the Google Wallet product, the results so far have been less than stellar.

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