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.
- Smurfs Offer Cautionary Mobile Payments Tale
The Smurfs may have an important security lesson for banks and credit card networks getting into mobile payments. Capcom Interactive Inc. caught the ire of parental groups in recent weeks over its Smurfs’ Village iPhone game, which is free to download but charges players to purchase additional features, like “Smurfberries,” within the application. Smurfberries can cost as much as $99.99 per wagonful. There’s a difference between making a purchase within a mobile app and using a mobile phone as a credit card replacement at the grocery store.
- Amex Builds E-Wallet for Non-Amex Spending
American Express Co., going against its image as a brand for the elite, is launching a digital wallet that would make it the payment choice for the masses — in person, online and in mobile. “This is not an Amex wallet,” said Dan Schulman, American Express’ group president for enterprise growth. Serve “allows us to address a larger chunk of the marketplace that we haven’t before.” In Serve’s current form, “some of this is like PayPal,” Schulman said. Users enroll by linking any bank or card account and choosing which to use to fund each payment.
- Visa, MasterCard Face Class Action in Canada
Canada’s major banks and credit card lenders may face a national class action over alleged merchant-related price-fixing conspiracies if the application is certified. The claim, filed Monday in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, alleges that Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. and the major card issuers have conspired to increase or maintain the fees paid by merchants on every card transaction. The certification process is expected to take well over a year, depending on how hotly contested the process becomes, said Greg McMullen, a litigation associate at Branch MacMaster LLP. The claim alleges that Visa and MasterCard rules force merchants to accept every Visa or MasterCard credit card, even if those cards carry high fees for merchants.
- Treasury Expects to Save $120 Million Annually in Switch to Electronic Payments
The U.S. Department of the Treasury is going electronic. And in switching from paper checks to electronic payments to pay all federal benefits, the Treasury expects to save $120 million a year. Starting May 1, Americans applying for federal benefits such as Social Security or Veterans Affairs will exclusively receive electronic payments made through either direct deposit to a bank or credit union account or to a prepaid debit card. About 11 million Americans who currently receive federal benefits dispersed by paper check will also be moved to electronic payments by March 2013.
- Banking via mobile device jumps 54 percent
The number of people accessing their bank or brokerage accounts through mobile devices surged 54 percent in the fourth quarter last year compared with the same period in 2009, according to a new report from ComScore. During the fourth quarter of 2010, 29.8 million Americans tapped into their bank, credit, or brokerage accounts via cell phones and other mobile devices, according to the Mobile Financial Advisor report released yesterday. Drilling down further, 18.6 million people accessed their financial accounts via a mobile browser, 10.8 million used a mobile app, and 8.1 million used text messaging, said ComScore. Those numbers include people who used more than one of the three methods to access their accounts.
- Smartphone advice that you can bank on
Using your smartphone to check your bank account balance or deposit a check is convenient. But is it safe? Hackers are getting better at finding ways to tap into smartphones and capture account numbers and other personal information. But you have ways to lower the risk of becoming a victim, said Michael Gregg, founder of Superior Solutions. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to access accounts online.