Monday, November 30, 2009

86 Character Password or "Eighty-Six" Passwords Completely?

Help Net Security talks with an IT expert about what makes a strong password. They conclude that it should be no shorter than 86 symbols. So the way I see it, we have two choices.

1. Create your 86 character password now. Here's an example:









2. Eighty-Six (Eliminate) Passwords Completely

That's the one that gets my vote. Think keyloggers care if they have to cut and paste 4 digits or 86? We need to "get smart"...we need to swipe, encrypt, transmit.

From HNS: What makes a strong password?

In 1948 an American mathematician and engineer Claude Shannon entered information entropy term (measurement of uncertainty) in his work "A Mathematical Theory of Communication". If we take, for example, English text, it takes 8 bit (one byte) to represent one symbol. Eight bit allow encoding 256 different symbols. However, there are only 26 characters in English alphabet and they can be easily represented by five bit (32 possible combinations). Consequently, uncertainty of one symbol of an English text makes not 8, but less than 5 bit.

In addition, some symbols and combinations are considerably more frequently used than others. A letter “E” is encountered hundred times more frequently than “Z”, and “U” always follows “Q”. Such peculiarities allow reducing uncertainty even more. According to mathematicians’ evaluation it makes around 1.5 bit per symbol for texts in English.

This means that if information is protected by encryption with 128-bit encryption key, and a password will be an English phrase (without space characters, punctuation marks, and in one register), a really strong password (an oxymoron) should be no shorter than 128/1.5 = 86 symbols.

Speaking about the Internet in general - we won’t escape from passwords in the nearest future. They are habitual and their usage doesn’t require special equipment.

Editors Note: That may be true when it comes to accessing email, but when it comes to securing financial transactions, we can't afford to be messing around with passwords...anymore.

Especially when our device costs less than most "useless" bank promos.

BTW: Did you know that the "P" in Passwords is silent?

Keep It Smart, Swipe!

"However, in business segment passwords will continue to get substituted by two-factor authentication (e.g. smart card/USB Token + password/PIN code).

Though such means of authentication require financial expenditures, they should be paid
. (they can afford it...vs. the alternative)

They will guarantee a significantly higher security level

than the one provided by using only passwords."
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Out of Band Authentication Compromised

Fraudsters Find a Flaw in Elite Authentication
American Banker  |  Monday, November 30, 2009

by Rebecca Sausner

Banks in the U.K. are battling fraudsters who have found a way to compromise out-of-band authentication — widely considered one of the strongest security formats...

Continue Reading at American Banker

(subscription required)

Will the UK Abolish Check Clearing?

UK May Abolish Check Clearing

Bank Technology News  |  November, 2009

by John Adams

The trend toward cards and electronic payments has become strong enough that the largest banks in the United Kingdom are scheduled to vote soon on whether to stop clearing checks.

Members of the United Kingdom’s Payments Council, consisting of banks, are scheduled to vote in Dec. 16, with an announcement on the vote scheduled for January. A deadline for the end of check clearing was not announced, but 2018 has been floated by the Council as a possible deadline during past deliberations on the subject.

Continue Reading at BTN

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eBillme Announces Revenue Sharing Program for FI's

Image representing eBillMe as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Today eBillme™, the most secure payment option online that enables consumers to use online banking and bill pay services to pay now, pay securely, and use available funds, announces a new revenue sharing program for financial institutions, bill pay portals, and walk-in networks. As part of this new program, eBillme will offer a revenue share for every eBillme transaction generated by the third party, which is an opportunity for financial institutions to leverage their investment in online banking, expand their online bill pay offerings, and generate new revenue.

“eBillme leverages online banking for eCommerce checkout to give consumers a secure way to pay with cash online,” says Marwan Forzley, President and CEO of eBillme. “Consumers bank and pay bills online because they trust their financial institution. This new program is an opportunity for financial institutions to give customers that same sense of security and confidence while shopping online and to finally be able to turn a profit in this sector of their business. And for merchants, this program will bring cash-paying customers to the eCommerce sector at a time when the consumer demand for ways to pay with cash is at an all-time high. We are looking forward to welcoming more financial institutions into this program to make eBillme valuable to them and their customers.”

The pilot program, which began over the summer, included some of the nation’s top banks and walk-in providers leveraging their online, e-mail, and print channels to offer the eBillme credit card alternative to their customer base.

“As the payment preferences of our clients continue to evolve, we are always looking for innovative ways to meet their needs, and this is especially true for online commerce transactions,” says Steve Karp, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Payments Strategy for SunTrust. “Security, convenience, and ease of use are very important to our clients when it comes to making purchases online, and we feel that eBillme brings tremendous value in these areas. This relationship allows SunTrust to extend the value and utility of our online bill payment service, while at the same time providing our clients with unique discounts and incentives at the more than 800 online stores that accept eBillme.”

Matt Frye, Vice President of Product Development for PreCash, says: “We are thrilled to offer cash-paying consumers a way to shop online and pay with cash at our walk-in bill payment locations. Additionally, adding eBillme as a payment option for our Vision Premier® Visa® Prepaid cardholders offers them another secure way to pay when shopping with their card online. eBillme offers our customers the ability to shop online and take advantage of unique offers and discounts within their growing network of online retailers.”

The program brings a significant increase in new customer acquisitions for the more than 800 eBillme merchants.

“eBillme has been a solid performer bringing new customers and a high AOV to our checkout,” says Jeff Wisot, Vice President of Marketing for “eBillme has delivered a 70 percent higher ticket value than our site average, and more than 70 percent of eBillme users were new customers to This program is further evidence that eBillme can deliver a great ROI to online retailers.”

The revenue sharing program has also launched on community sites and will be expanded to include more banks, bill pay portals, and walk-in providers. Companies interested in becoming a part of this program, or learning more about the benefits are encouraged to contact eBillme at

About eBillme

eBillme™ is the most secure way to pay online and the only online payment solution that extends the convenience of online banking to the merchant’s checkout process. The service enhances security for online shoppers, and enables merchants to increase sales while reducing transaction costs. No financial data is exposed and the payment transaction is securely transferred from the customer’s bank to the retailer’s bank. Consumers can shop online, by catalog or through call centers, and pay for their purchases at their bank, credit union, or bill pay portal using the security and convenience of online banking or by paying the bill at over 75000 walk-in locations. For more information, please visit or eBillme’s Online Debt-Free Shopping Mall.

About SunTrust

SunTrust Banks, Inc., with total assets of $172.7 billion on September 30, 2009, is one of the nation's largest and strongest financial holding companies. Through its banking subsidiaries, the company provides deposit, credit, trust, and investment services to a broad range of retail, business, and institutional clients. Other subsidiaries provide mortgage banking, brokerage, investment management, equipment leasing, and capital market services.

Atlanta-based SunTrust enjoys leading market positions in some of the highest growth markets in the United States and also serves clients in selected markets nationally. The company operates 1,690 retail branches and 2,807 ATMs in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In addition, SunTrust provides customers with a full range of technology-based banking channels, including Internet, PC, and Automated Telephone Banking.

About PreCash

PreCash provides convenient, real-time payment solutions that convert cash into electronic payments for consumers who do not use traditional payment methods such as credit cards or bank accounts. PreCash offers the Vision Premier Prepaid Visa® card and other prepaid Visa and MasterCard® products, prepaid debit card program management services, real-time cash bill payments, prepaid wireless refills, payroll card products, and more. The company places more than 30,000 prepaid debit cards in the market monthly and services more than 30,000 national retail, wireless dealers and independent retail locations nationwide. Founded in 1998, PreCash is headquartered in Houston, Texas, with additional offices in Portland, Oregon. For more information, visit or


eBillme Website:

eBillme Blog:

@eBillme on Twitter:

Marwan Forzley:
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Visa Europe Predicts Busiest Ever ‘Mega Monday’ for Online Shopping

Visa Europe predicts that Monday November 30 will be the busiest ever day for online shopping in Europe and over 3,000 transactions carried by cardholders of Visa cards set to take place every minute on a Visa card across Europe.

Visa Europe says over €318 million is likely to be spent by European cardholders of Visa cards in Europe, with two thirds taking place on Visa debit cards. The volume of transactions is also expected to increase thus by 13% compared with the same day of last year.

Around 4.5 million transactions will take place on November 30, with the busiest period for online sales predicted to be around lunchtime with another peak around 7pm. This will represent a year on year growth of 16%. Over the course of the day, approximately €220,000 will be spent on Visa cards every minute.

Last year, December 1 was the busiest day for online sales with over €280 million spent on Visa cards across Europe. The continued growth in online spend is further shown by the fact that spend on Visa cards has already surpassed 2008’s peak on November 2, 2009.

Visa bases its predictions on up to the minute spending data and previous years’ Christmas spending trends. Over €1 in every €9 spent in Europe is on a Visa card, making this data one of the most reliable indicators of trends in consumer spending, Visa said in a release.

“In the past year, we’ve seen a continued increase in online spend on Visa cards, despite the recession. In fact on November 2, 2009, we surpassed our busiest day for spend in 2008 in Europe. Consumers are becoming increasingly confident shopping online and appreciate the security and convenience of doing so with a Visa card,” said Steve Perry, Commercial Director at Visa Europe.

On the High Street, the last Friday or Saturday before Christmas is usually the busiest shopping day but with Christmas falling on a Friday this year, Visa Europe predicts the busiest day will actually be Wednesday, December 23. Visa expects to process over 27 million transactions across Europe worth around €1.4 billion on this day alone. This represents a 9% growth in spend on 2008. The busiest time is expected to be from 11am to 12pm on Thursday, December 24 when Visa will process up to 850 transactions per second, compared to 731 in 2008.

MasterCard to Host Investment Community Webcast at the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference 2009

PURCHASE, N.Y., Nov. 30  -- On Tuesday, December 8, Tim Murphy, Group Executive, Core Products for MasterCard (NYSE: MA), will participate in the Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference 2009 in New York City. The discussion will begin at 3:30 p.m. (Eastern) and last for approximately 40 minutes.

A listen-only live audio webcast will be accessible through the Investor Relations section of the MasterCard website at An audio replay of the session will also be available for 30 days at the same website location.

About MasterCard Incorporated

MasterCard Incorporated advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide. As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payment solutions, processes approximately 21 billion transactions each year, and provides industry leading analysis and consulting services to financial-institution customers and merchants. Powered by the MasterCard Worldwide Network and through its family of brands, including MasterCard® Maestro® and Cirrus® MasterCard serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information go to

SOURCE MasterCard Incorporated

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75% of Consumers Feel Online Shopping Less Safe than Retail Shopping

 ProtectMyID.comIs Online Shopping Safe for the Holiday Season?

New Study Shows Consumers May Be Misinformed Regarding Identity Theft Risks

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Consumers may have incorrect perceptions regarding identity theft while shopping for the holidays, according to a study commissioned by™, the multilayered identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution product.1

According to the survey, nearly 75 percent of all consumers feel that shopping online instead of at a retail location leaves them more vulnerable to identity theft.

However, these sentiments are contrary to data showing that only one in 10 cases of identity theft occur as a result of online activity.2  

Editor's Note:  That doesn't preclude the fact that 75% of consumers feel online shopping is unsafe compared to shopping at a retail location...perception is reality.  Here's another reality.  When consumers shop at a retail location they "swipe" their card vs. type their card number into a box on a website.  Therein lies the problem.  If consumers were to be equipped with their very own personal point of sale device, such as HomeATM's PCI certified PIN Entry Device, the risk of fraud would be dramatically decreased.

The data also reveals that shoppers’ fears regarding identity theft are heightened during the holiday season, as more than half of respondents felt that the time of year contributed to a greater all-around risk. This heightened fear combined with the busiest shopping period of the year underscores the need for education and awareness surrounding identity theft.

“No one wants to have to deal with the damages caused by identity theft, especially around the holidays,” said Jennifer Leuer, general manager of “Fortunately, there are simple things people can do now to protect themselves while shopping, and there are products such as that provide a layered defense against this crime.”

Even leading industry organizations, such as the Identity Theft Resource Center®, are urging consumers to be cautious and alert this holiday season.

“As we have seen year after year, the holiday time frame always yields a higher rate of identity theft and related frauds,” said Linda Foley, founder of the Identity Theft Resource Center. “At times like these, it is important to protect yourself from the many individuals looking to take advantage of vulnerable targets both out in public and online.”

To aid consumers in this regard, and the Identity Theft Resource Center have compiled a list of top tips to help protect against identity theft this holiday season:
  • Beware of shoulder surfers. Protect credit cards, driver’s licenses and checks from wandering eyes.

  • Beware of skimmers. Skimming occurs when a clerk slides your credit card through a second machine to download its information onto a counterfeit card. Remember to keep your eyes on your cards at all times.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pay extra attention in crowded malls, as pickpocketing numbers noticeably increase during the holidays.

  • Minimize purse/wallet contents. Carry only the cards you know you will use.

  • Secure your cards. Never leave your purse/backpack/bag unzipped, and keep a hand on it when in crowded stores.

  • Use your online shopping smarts. Keep printouts of information detailing your Web purchases. Use a credit card instead of a debit card if possible, and make sure the company’s Website is on a secure server.

  • Visit trusted sites. Shopping at trusted Websites or those recommended via secure comparison shopping sites, such as®, can be a good way to reduce online shopping risks.

  • Be careful with personal items when shopping. Don’t leave your laptop; purse; or any item with credit cards, checks, driver’s license or Social Security numbers visible in your car.

Several other interesting statistics from’s consumer survey include:

  • Seventy-six percent of the tech-savvy age 18 to 24 demographic expect to do their holiday shopping in-store.

  • A noteworthy 74 percent of respondents age 55 to 64 feel that in-store shopping is safer than purchasing online.

  • More than half of individuals age 18 to 24 and older than 65 claim to know someone who has been a victim of identity theft. Forty-four percent of overall respondents make the same assertion.

  • Overall, nearly two in 10 people surveyed have personally been victims of identity theft.

About is a leading, full-service provider of identity theft detection, protection and fraud resolution. offers comprehensive identity theft protection products supported by experienced identity theft resolution professionals who deliver personal attention that customers can rely on. is a Website owned by Inc., an Experian company. For more information about how helps consumers protect themselves against identity theft, please visit

About Experian

Experian® is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 65 countries. The company helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score and protect against identity theft.

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iPhone Virus Designed to Steal Online Banking Passwords at Phoney Websites

From Mobile Financial dot Com:

This virus is designed to steal online banking passwords and scrape the user's SMS messages. It is basically a phishing attack whereby it dupes iPhone users visiting their online banking website with a "phoney" look-alike to steal their passwords. There have been confirmed reports of this happening in the Netherlands with users accessing ING online banking from their phones.

While these viruses have only targeted the small percentage of does highlight the risks that smartphones will face more and more as they become the tool of choice for consumers to stay connected online. This should not be overlooked by the mobile financial services community and it would be wise for the leaders in this space to begin to offer solutions towards thwarting these types of threats before they become a reality.

Read the Entire Article

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Digital River to Participate at the Airline & Travel Payments Summit

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Digital River, Inc. (NASDAQ:DRIV), a leading provider of global e-commerce solutions, announced its business unit, Netgiro Systems, will participate in an industry panel at the Airline & Travel Payments Summit. The event is being held Dec. 2-3, 2009, at the Wyndham Miami Airport Hotel & Executive Meeting Center in Miami, Fla.

During a panel on localized payments, Netgiro, a leading global payment service provider, will discuss the payment-related challenges online travel companies face when taking their businesses international. Drawing upon its relationship with banks worldwide and its international payments platform, Netgiro offers online merchants global online payment solutions that are tailored to their target markets, industries and risk tolerances. Netgiro delivers its technology and services, which are designed to help expand international reach and simplify payment administration, as a stand-alone payment solution as well as an integrated part of Digital River’s global e-commerce solution.

The Airline & Travel Payments Summit is a conference that gathers payment professionals within the travel sector as well as from the payment and fraud industries. For more information, visit

About Digital River, Inc.

Digital River, Inc., a leading provider of global e-commerce solutions, builds and manages online businesses for software and game publishers, consumer electronics manufacturers, distributors, online retailers and affiliates. Its multi-channel e-commerce solution, which supports both direct and indirect sales, is designed to help companies of all sizes maximize online revenues as well as reduce the costs and risks of running an e-commerce operation. The company’s comprehensive platform offers site development and hosting, order management, fraud management, export controls, tax management, physical and digital product fulfillment, multi-lingual customer service, advanced reporting and strategic marketing services.

Founded in 1994, Digital River is headquartered in Minneapolis with offices across the U.S., Asia, Europe and South America. For more details about Digital River, visit the corporate Web site at or call +1 952-253-1234.

Digital River is a registered trademark of Digital River, Inc. All other company and product names are trademarks, registrations or copyrights of their respective owners.


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Columbia's Largest Bank Deploys Actimize Card

NICE Systems Ltd.Image via Wikipedia

Bancolombia Works with Actimize, a NICE Company, and Unisys to Build Stronger Enterprise-Wide Fraud Management Program

Colombia's Largest Bank Deploys Actimize Card, Remote Banking, Deposit, Wire and Employee Fraud Prevention Solutions on a Single Technology Platform

NEW YORK, November 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Actimize, a NICE Systems (NASDAQ:NICE) company and the largest and broadest provider of a single financial crime, risk and compliance software platform for the financial services industry, and Unisys Corporation ( UIS) today announced that Bancolombia is working with both firms to strengthen its ability to fight fraud across the entire bank. Bancolombia is implementing Actimize ATM/Debit, Remote Banking, Wire & ACH Fraud prevention solutions. As a strategic Actimize partner, Unisys is working on deployment of the solutions.

As a leader in the Colombian market, Bancolombia strives to best protect customer and firm assets by combating the threat of fraud across all its lines of business. Once deployed, the Actimize suite of fraud prevention solutions will monitor all types of transactions enterprise-wide, alerting on suspicious behavior and blocking truly risky transactions.

"We performed an exhaustive review of all the top fraud prevention solutions in the market, looking for a single vendor who can cover our entire enterprise fraud needs," said Joaquin Fernando Yepes, IT security and compliance director at Bancolombia. "Actimize solutions and Unisys services are a major component of Bancolombia's strategy to provide greater levels of security to our customers."

Financial institutions are being confronted with new types of fraud attacks on a daily basis. In the past, fraud criminals typically specialized in a single channel (e.g., credit card fraud, online banking fraud), but now high loss fraud events increasingly incorporate multiple channels. The Actimize enterprise-wide fraud solution suite protects across all channels, from ATM/Debit cards, remote banking (online, mobile phone, phone), deposit, electronic payment and more. Additionally, Actimize solutions monitor many types of employee behavior, looking for and alerting investigators to suspicious activities.

"Fraud is a global problem that has no boundaries," said Amir Orad, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Actimize. "Our strategic partnership with Unisys helps Actimize ensure quality deployments around the globe. Our cross-channel financial crime prevention solutions are today used by firms around the world because they scale to meet the challenges faced by large, complex enterprises while maintaining the flexibility to exceed group level and individual expectations."

About Actimize

Actimize, a NICE Systems company (NASDAQ: NICE), is the world's largest and broadest provider of a single financial crime, risk and compliance software platform for the financial services industry. Actimize empowers its clients to prevent financial crime, mitigate risk, reduce operational costs, minimize losses and improve compliance. Actimize provides real-time and cross-channel fraud prevention, anti-money laundering, enterprise investigations, risk management and trading surveillance solutions; built upon the Actimize Core Platform which has been enhanced by the company's acquisitions of Syfact and Fortent (Searchspace) analytics and technology. With offices across North America, Europe, and Asia, Actimize serves more than 200 clients globally including all of the world's 10 largest financial institutions.

About NICE Systems

NICE Systems (NASDAQ: NICE) is the leading provider of Insight from Interactions(TM) solutions and value-added services, powered by the convergence of advanced analytics of unstructured multimedia content and transactional data - from telephony, web, email, radio, video, and other data sources. NICE's solutions address the needs of the enterprise and security markets, enabling organizations to operate in an insightful and proactive manner, and take immediate action to improve business and operational performance and ensure safety and security. NICE has over 24,000 customers in more than 150 countries, including over 85 of the Fortune 100 companies. More information is available at
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Alternative Payments 101 from TDG-PHENIX

Why Alternative Payments? You are a merchant seeking to reach a customer that you don't have access to today: the under-banked You are a financial institution seeking incremental payments revenue securely through a trusted online banking portal You want to understand why PayPal has 150 million customers and how it could affect your business or FI You want to see what former AOL'er Steve Case is up to with Revolution Money Maybe you want a career in alternative payments...


December 10 2009

Alternative Payments 101

This two-hour session gives participants an introduction to the world of alternative payments (it's no longer about credit or debit anymore, folks...)

We will examine some established and emerging players in the alternative payments space, review current metrics on alternative payments, discuss market predictions and examine the various risks and opportunities these alternative payments pose to the financial institution and payments processor.

This session will even demonstrate some of these payments in action, including:

  • Bill Me Later

  • PayPal

  • Tempo / DebitMan

  • eBillMe

  • Google Checkout

  • NACHA's Secure Vault Payments

  • Green Dot Financial

  • Western Union

  • Amazon Payments

Who should attend?

  • Senior management

  • Product managers

  • e-Commerce management

  • Financial institution executives

  • Operations management

  • Card processing professionals

1:30 - 3:30PM Eastern

$159. per line

How does it work?

Register online shop -- we accept all cards and PayPal.

One day prior to the session, you will receive an email with a webinar hyperlink, dial-in instructions and information on how to download the presentation the day of the webinar. 

If you are planning on having multiple locations dialing in and participating, you will need to register them separately -- a webinar link is valid for one workstation and one dial-in access.

Any questions, don't hesitate to email us at or tweet us @tdgphenix or call at 615-373-5486

British Postal Strike Hurts eCommerce

British shoppers spend £4.2 billion online in October

Growth in e-retail sales was down by 7% over two weeks, due to postal strikes, according to IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.  However, the index saw 11.8% increase year on year and 8.4% month on month in e-retail sales. British shoppers spend £4.2 billion online in October. 

According to the index, delivery concerns had a noticeable impact on online clothing sales with 13.2% growth, which fell short from the average of 27% for the month of October in previous years.  Overall,the Postal Strikes caused a £53m Drop In Online Sales.  (see related article below)

Read Entire Article

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BillMyParents™ and Offerpal Media Form a Strategic Partnership

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Socialwise, Inc. (OTCBB:SCLW) today announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Offerpal Media (, the leading provider of virtual currency monetization solutions for more than 160 million users on social networks, online games, and virtual worlds.

The two companies will work together to promote their existing payment solutions, as well as develop new payment programs specifically for the teen and tween market. Offerpal will feature BillMyParents on its proprietary monetization platform as an alternate payment solution alongside Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and others, providing teens and tweens with an easy way to acquire virtual currency across Offerpal’s network of 2,000+ publishers. The virtual currency will be spent on items such as virtual gifts, subscriptions, game-play upgrades, and other virtual goods.

BillMyParents and Offerpal will also collaborate to launch innovative programs that will expand their reach into the teen and tween online payment solutions market. “We plan to create effective solutions by combining the unique attributes of the BillMyParents youth payment system, along with Offerpal’s leading position in online monetization,” commented Jim Collas, CEO of Socialwise. “This partnership could take online revenues from the tween and teen market segments to a new level.”

“BillMyParents has developed the most effective parent-approved payment system on the Web, and we are excited to partner with them to help provide safe, secure payment options for the millions of teens and tweens playing social games across the Offerpal network,” said George Garrick, CEO of Offerpal Media.

About Offerpal Media

Offerpal Media is the leader in virtual currency monetization for online games, virtual worlds and social networks. The company's turnkey payment platform gives consumers the opportunity to earn or buy virtual currency by completing targeted advertising offers or by purchasing it through direct, global payment options. Since its launch in 2007, Offerpal has issued more than 725 billion virtual points to more than 160 million consumers across 2,000 publishers. The company is headquartered in Fremont, California. Investors include Interwest Capital, North Bridge Venture Partners, and D. E. Shaw Ventures. For more information, visit

About BillMyParents

BillMyParents is an innovative youth payment system that lets teens and tweens shop online without a credit card while giving parents the ability to easily track and control their spending. With a simple email request and approval, BillMyParents allows for the independence young people crave and the control over spending that parents want - while ensuring that credit card numbers and personal information are kept safe and secure. BillMyParents is currently available as a payment system for online retail, social network, and online gaming Web sites. BillMyParents is offered by Socialwise, Inc. For more information:

About Socialwise, Inc.

Socialwise™, Inc. (OTCBB:SCLW) is headquartered in San Diego, CA. For more information:

Certain statements contained in this press release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of federal securities laws, including, without limitation, anything relating or referring to future financial results and planned business activities. Such statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, which include, without limitation, those in Company reports filed with the SEC. The Company can give no assurance that such expectations will prove correct. Future events and actual results could differ materially from those statements.


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Discover: Small Biz Confidence Lowest in Nine Months

http://www.discoverfinancial.comDiscover® Small Business WatchSM: Small Business Economic Confidence Plunges to Lowest Level in Nine Months

  • Cash Flow Concerns Increase, Economic Conditions Worsen


  • 46% of Small Business Owners Expect Lower Sales Over 2008

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Economic confidence among America’s small business owners plummeted in November, as more owners cited serious concerns about cash flow and saw economic conditions for their own businesses getting worse.

The Discover® Small Business WatchSM index fell 12 points in November to 76.5 from 88.5 in October.

“Fading confidence among small business owners could be tied to their low expectations for the upcoming holiday season, as 46 percent are forecasting decreased sales and 39 percent are expecting to hold the line,” said Ryan Scully, director of

Discover's business credit card. “However, we saw drops in optimism across the board, so it’s hardly just one factor causing the concern.”The mood of small business owners generally has soured in November for three straight years, as economic confidence dropped from October to November in 2007 and 2008. The November 2008 index of 67.5 is the low point for the Watch since it started in August 2006.

November Highlights:

  • 52 percent of owners say they have experienced cash flow issues in the past 90 days, up from 44 percent in October. Forty-one percent of owners say they have not experienced cash flow issues, which is the lowest response in this category since the Watch began. The remaining 6 percent said they weren’t sure.

  • 53 percent of small business owners see conditions getting worse in the next six months, up from 43 percent in October; while 19 percent report that conditions are improving, a sharp decline from 29 percent in October; 23 percent see conditions as the same, and 5 percent weren’t sure.

  • 62 percent of small business owners rate the economy as poor, an increase from 55 percent in October; 30 percent rate it as fair, and 8 percent say it is good or excellent.

  • 53 percent of small business owners think the overall economy is getting worse, up from 44 percent in October but still significantly lower than the 69 percent of owners who felt that way in February 2009, the last time the Watch index was this low. For November; 28 percent say the economy is getting better, down from 35 percent in October; 16 percent see it staying the same, and 3 percent are not sure.

Only 11 percent of Small Businesses Expecting Increased Sales This Year

Small business owners have a glum outlook on the holiday season: Only 11 percent expect to see more business this year over last, while 46 percent of them are expecting less business than last year, an increase over the 40 percent who said the same in November 2008; 39 percent anticipate 2009 sales will be about the same as last year, and 4 percent weren’t sure.

For many small business owners, the holiday season is not necessarily their busiest time. A majority of owners, 56 percent, say that the holiday season falls somewhere in between being their busiest and the slowest time of year, 29 percent say this is their slowest time, and 13 percent say it is the busiest.

Discount Department Stores Still Most Popular for Holiday Shopping

This month the Watch also polled 3,000 consumers on issues important to small businesses. When asked to choose from a list of places where they expect to do most of their holiday shopping, they chose the following:

  • Discount department stores, 30 percent

  • Department stores, 18 percent

  • Warehouse and club stores, 7 percent

  • Small retail and specialty stores, 7 percent

  • Electronics retailers, 5 percent

  • Some other type of store, 9 percent

  • Not sure, 23 percent

These shopping-preference percentages were little changed from what they were in 2008. When it comes to the Internet, 57 percent of consumers said that they will do at least some of their shopping online this year.

Squeeze on Credit

Twenty-four percent of small business owners say that they extend credit to customers, and 73 percent of those that extend credit say that they have customers who have delayed or asked to delay a payment in the last three months. This is largely unchanged from December 2008 when 25 percent said they were extending credit, and 72 percent said that they had customers who delayed or asked to delay a payment.

Helping Out the Little Guy

What would you do if that convenient corner market or neighborhood hardware store near you suddenly closed? Did you ever consciously make a point to use a small business in the hope that your patronage would help keep it open? If so, you’re in good company – 68 percent of consumers say that they have made purchases at a small business in an effort to keep it from closing.

The views and opinions expressed by small business owners and consumers who participate in the Small Business Watch survey are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Discover Financial Services or its affiliates.

About the Small Business Watch

The Discover Small Business Watch is a monthly index measuring the relative economic confidence of U.S. small business owners who have less than five employees, a segment that consists of 22 million businesses producing more than a trillion dollars in annual receipts. The Watch is based on a national random survey of 750 small business owners. It is commissioned by Discover Business card, which strives to offer the best business credit card for American small businesses, and is conducted by Rasmussen Reports, LLC (, an independent survey research firm. The numeric index is calculated by assigning values to responses to a set of six consistent questions. The base value of the Watch was established at 100.0 based on surveys conducted in August 2006. In addition to generating the index, the Small Business Watch surveys small business owners every month on key issues, and polls 3,000 consumers four times per year to gauge purchasing behavior and attitudes towards small businesses. For past results and survey data, visit For information on Discover Business card, visit

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a leading credit card issuer and electronic payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers student and personal loans, as well as savings products such as certificates of deposit and money market accounts. Its payments businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit

PayPal 20% More Productive This Black Friday vs. Last

SAN JOSE -- Black Friday was a big day for San Jose-based eBay's PayPal division. The payment processing company announced that it 20% more productive this year than it was for Black Friday 2008.

While the company did not release its total payment volume, it claimed that its Payflow Gateway system handles about 25% of e-commerce and its direct sales account for 12% of all e-commerce.

In addition, PayPal noted that one of the main differences from last year was that there was about 140% more transactions made on mobile devices this year.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta] On Interchange

Interchange fees

Published: November 29 2009 18:50 | Last updated: November 30 2009 09:28

The way retailers pay banks when customers spend on plastic is peculiar. Fees are split: the processing bank takes some, with the bulk going to the bank that issued the card. The large networks – Visa and MasterCard, which handle almost three-quarters of US card purchases – do not make revenues from so-called interchange directly. They instead charge banks individually negotiated licence and processing fees. But it is the networks that set the interchange fee, typically between 1.5 and 2 per cent of a transaction’s value. 

The article goes on to say that the recent GAO Report supports V/MC and refutes the retailers arguments regarding Interchange.  It also points out that meddling governments should stay out of this fight based on the fact that the last time they stepped in, (Australia) it backfired. (see related articles)

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Payments Systems in India - Vision 2009-12

India may soon have a domestic payment card system — a rival to multinational card associations like Visa and MasterCard. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is looking into the potential possibility of a domestic payment card which would handle credit and debit card transactions inside that country. This project is strongly supported by Indian banking Association (IBI) which is the leader in Indian Banking.  Here's the report, along with a sampling:

Payments Systems in India - Vision 2009-12

7. New Projects / Major Initiatives

7.1 Major projects intended to be pursued would include -

India MoneyLine – A 24x7 system for one-to-one funds transfers – The existing NEFT system operates during weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 12 noon. The Bank would pursue the suggestion to consider the need to extend NEFT to function on a 24x7 basis or to develop a

Payment Systems in India – Vision 2009-12

India Card – A domestic card initiative – The concept of a domestic payment card (India Card) and a PoS switch network for issuance and acceptance of payment cards would be looked into. The need for such a system arises from two major considerations (a) the high cost borne by the Indian banks for affiliation with international card associations in the absence of a domestic price setter (b) the connection with international card associations resulting in the need for routing even domestic transactions, which account for more than 90% of the total, through a switch located outside the country.

Redesigning ECS to function as a true Automated Clearing House (ACH) for bulk transactions – Currently, Local ECS (to facilitate bulk electronic transactions with one-to-many and many-to-one variants) is operational at 76 centres. Centralisation of this process is already underway with the launch of credit variant of NECS at Mumbai (and RECS on a pilot basis). The debit variant is also being planned for implementation. The ECS / NECS solution is internally developed and has been in use since long and the need for building a technology and feature-rich ACH network by totally redesigning the existing ECS to provide end-to-end processing in a straight-through manner would be examined.

Mobile payments settlement network – Mobile phones are expected to emerge as an important channel for transmission of payment instructions. Efficient mobile payments would require real time transfer of funds with adequate security. Currently all inter-bank mobile transfers are payment instructions for settling funds through existing payment systems. This would require building a national infrastructure for facilitating real time mobile payments.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

More On Black Friday (Benchmark Report from Coremetrics)

SAN MATEO, CA--(Marketwire - November 28, 2009) - The U.S online retail sector delivered a strong comeback on Black Friday 2009 compared to the same period last year, according to Coremetrics, the leader in marketing optimization.

This analysis, delivered as part of Coremetrics' second annual Black Friday Benchmark Report, reveals the following trends and patterns as of 12:00 am PST:

  • The average dollar value that consumers spent per online order rose 35.0 percent year over year, led by apparel retailers.

  • Consumers are buying more items per order than they did last year -- by 18.3 percent.

  • Consumers are spending considerably less time browsing retailers' sites, suggesting they had done their research prior to Black Friday and that they are shopping from lists.

  • Browsing sessions were down by 5.4 percent

  • The number of people who left a site after viewing only one page (also known as a "bounce" rate) was up by 39.4 percent

  • Page views per session declined by 30.4 percent

"The healthy jump in the average amount of money people are willing to spend online this year suggests consumers have adjusted their shopping patterns to the reality of the economic downturn. They're thriftier, they're savvier and every one of them wants to be the best bargain hunter out there," said John Squire, chief strategy officer, Coremetrics. "Secondly, there are fewer online retailers this year than last year. Those who survived the first several months of the downturn are pulling out all the stops to lure shoppers with aggressive incentives. The net effect is a jump in the amount the average person spends online and in the number of things they're willing to purchase per order."

Retail Categories

  • Apparel retailers and jewelry retailers reported the biggest jumps in the average dollar amount consumers spent per online order, up 28.6 percent and nearly 25 percent respectively.

  • Department stores did a phenomenal job of attracting new consumers to their sites, reporting a 151.7 percent jump. However, the average dollar amount consumers spent per online order actually decreased by 7.2 percent, suggesting that shoppers may be sitting on the sidelines waiting for more discounts and special offers.

  • Sports Gear and Apparel retailers also reported a rise of 54.6 percent in the number of new consumers visiting their sites and a 61.3 percent jump in the number of sessions in which consumers completed an order. But the average dollar amount consumers spent per online order declined slightly by 3.1 percent.


These findings are based on data from Coremetrics Benchmark™, the industry's only peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results, including commerce data, against those of the competition. More than 500 leading U.S. retailers, contribute their analytics data to Benchmark. All data is aggregated and anonymized. Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Bloomingdale's, Coldwater Creek, L'Occitane en Provence, Macy's, Nordstrom, Office Depot, PETCO and Williams-Sonoma are just a few of the participating companies.

Coremetrics recently enhanced Benchmark to include near-real-time data and added advanced functionality, such as sales trends by comparison period, conversion rates from Pay per Click (PPC) campaigns, and website traffic by browser type. Over the last year, Coremetrics has nearly doubled the number of companies participating in Benchmark.

Coremetrics Benchmark comes standard with Coremetrics Analytics for no additional cost.

Related Materials

1. Complete Coremetrics Black Friday Benchmark Report (pdf)

2. Press FAQ

Black Friday Online Retail Sales Grow 41% Over 2008

For the Record:  Black Friday 2009 Online Retail Sales Grow 41% Over 2008 Reports Mercent; Mercent eCommerce Index Signals Strong Online Holiday Sales

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - November 28, 2009) - Mercent™, a leading provider of on-demand marketing solutions for retailers, today released the Mercent eCommerce Index™ for Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day 2009.

The Mercent eCommerce Index is a scheduled report that measures the year-over-year (YOY) same-seller online gross merchandise value (GMV) growth of Mercent's aggregate retail clients each quarter and for key dates and date ranges during the holiday shopping season. Today's release specifically includes consumer retail e-commerce growth figures for Black Friday (November 27, 2009) and Thanksgiving Day (November 26, 2009).

  • For the 24 hours of Thanksgiving Day 2009, Mercent reports overall same-seller online retail GMV grew 33% relative to Thanksgiving Day 2008.

  • For the 24 hours of Black Friday 2009, Mercent reports overall same- seller online retail GMV grew 41% on Black Friday relative to 2008.

  • On Thanksgiving Day, same-seller GMV of Mercent clients participating in Amazon's "Selling on Amazon" third-party marketplace program increased by 78% relative to Thanksgiving Day 2008.

  • On Black Friday, same-seller GMV of Mercent clients participating in Amazon's "Selling on Amazon" third-party marketplace program increased by 56% on Black Friday relative to 2008.

2009 Key Holiday Shopping Days vs. Corresponding Days in 2008 for eCommerce Spending

Holiday Season Day Online Shopping Channels  ALL AMZN

November 26th (Thanksgiving Day) 33%    78%

November 27th (Black Friday) 41%    56%

According to Mercent CEO Eric Best, "Mercent data indicates Black Friday holiday eCommerce retail sales are markedly better than the same period in 2008, further confirming our belief the retail industry, especially online, is in a measured recovery. Furthermore, we believe consumers are responding well to aggressive merchant promotions, discounts and increased customer service levels offered online -- particularly among market leaders like We anticipate this growth to continue on Cyber Monday and through the peak selling season in December."

Mercent attributes merchant GMV sales growth across online channels to the macro-economic recovery in non-discretionary and discretionary spending; the increased draw of online channels that provide aggressive and competitive purchasing options for value-conscious shoppers; and the efficiencies of major online shopping destinations such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart and others, that are placing downward pressure on industry selling and fulfillment expenses. Furthermore, the most competitive merchants are becoming intensely savvy and efficient with their online sales and advertising strategies, leveraging technologies like Mercent Retail™ to seamlessly integrate product data feeds with online sales channels and fully optimize online ad campaigns and promotions to drive incremental sales.

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