Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Irish Consumers are Changing their Payment Habits

A report from the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO) has revealed that Irish consumers are changing their payment habits from cash and are making more low-cost, convenient electronic payments through online banking channels. This was confirmed by payment statistics released yesterday.

Although still one of the highest users of cash in the EU, at least as measured by ATM withdrawals on a per capita basis, the volume of cash being paid out of ATMs in Ireland dropped by over 3-billion-Euro to 22.3-billion-Euro in 2010. The number of new debit cards issued exceeded 330,000 in 2010 to bring the total number now to 3.4 million.

The total spend on cards in Ireland last year was 22.8 billion-Euro, now exceeding the value of ATM withdrawals for the first time. Figures for the first half of 2011 indicate the continued rise of card usage and decline of ATM withdrawals.

Even allowing for the economic downturn, there does appear to be a shift away from cash to debit cards for day-to-day purchases. While the rise in online purchasing is having some impact, debit card usage continues to grow in popularity, with over 200 million transactions in 2010, now exceeding the number of ATM withdrawals.

IPSO Chief Executive Pat McLoughlin said "The fact that there is a clear trend towards greater usage of debit cards is a sign that Ireland is embracing a new era in consumer transactions and it will come as a boost to retailers and businesses across the country as the speed and efficiency of payments improves. It is essential that Irish consumers continue to take the lead from their European counterparts in switching to more efficient payment methods as this will positively impact on Ireland's economic competitiveness".

Multicard Provides Identity Management Service for Australia's Student Flights Travel Agency

Multicard announced today that it has been selected by the youth-oriented Australian travel agency Student Flights to provide identity management services for the verification and issuance of International Student Exchange (ISE) student ID cards.

Student Flights is the youth and adventure division of Brisbane-based Flight Centre Limited and its 50 stores across Australia are authorised issuing agents for the internationally recognized ISE card. In addition to serving as an ID credential for student travel and work, ISE cards also entitle their holders to student discounts worldwide on everything from flights and rail passes to food, hotels and hostels, as well as emergency assistance while travelling.

"Multicard's identity management solution allows us to outsource the backend activities associated with issuing ISE cards while still maintaining our role as the primary interface with our customers. Multicard's online portal is very easy to use, students get their ISE cards quickly and the whole system is secure. This is important to us because Student Flights is recognised as a leader in the youth travel market and ISE cards are a must-have for every student travelling at home or abroad," said Darren Lloyd, Student Flights' Brand Leader.

The customised identity management system that Multicard has implemented for Student Flights includes a secure online portal for data collection, verification of applicants' age and status as students or teachers, and card issuance by Multicard's secure card production bureau.

"Multicard's broad experience with identity management systems helped us to create a custom solution for Student Flights that meets the needs of their business, which is centred around providing personalised, experience-based service," said Ross Head, Managing Director for Multicard Australia.

HTC Sues Apple for Patent Infringement

HTC Corporation is taking legal action against Apple Inc., filing a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. District Court of Delaware for patent infringement by Apple's Mac computer product lines as well Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod product lines.

"We are taking this action against Apple to protect our intellectual property, our industry partners, and most importantly our customers that use HTC phones," said Grace Lei, general counsel, HTC Corporation. "This is the 3rd case before the ITC in which Apple is infringing our intellectual property. Apple needs to stop its infringement of our patented inventions in its products."

The patents at issue cover a range of functionality embodied in Apple's Mac computer and mobile devices that are essential to user experience, including: 1) Wi-Fi capability that allows users to wirelessly network multiple devices at home, at work, or in public, and 2) processor communication technology that enables a seamless integration of a PDA and a cellular phone into a single device providing users with a true smartphone experience. The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,417,944, and 7,672,219 and 7,765,414.

The case is Certain Electronic Devices with Communication Capabilities, Components Thereof, and Related Software.

Thales Announces New Crypto Support for Mobile Payment Issuers

Thales announces the world's first software for Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) that enables mobile payment issuers to deliver their mobile payment applications to mobile handsets Over-The-Air (OTA) in a simple, efficient and secure manner.

According to Juniper Research mobile payments for digital and physical goods, money transfers and NFC (Near Field Communications) transactions will reach almost $630bn by 2014. The many recent announcements by handset manufacturers and Mobile Network Operators on the support for NFC on phones suggest 2011 could be the year when phones capable of mobile payments will become widely available.

Today's mobile payments issuers have to use multiple core cryptographic function calls to build the data needed to issue a payment application and to create the secure messages required to personalise the mobile phone with the application Over-The-Air (OTA). This approach can be lengthy, inefficient, and less secure as it can potentially expose sensitive data.

Thales HSMs now provides for the first time the ability to create a secure message to personalise a payment application hosted in a GlobalPlatform Secure Element, resident in a mobile phone using a single dedicated cryptographic HSM call. The new card and phone personalisation software is based on the industry standard specifications for secure messaging developed and published by GlobalPlatform.

"With the widespread adoption of smartphones consumers are increasingly looking for the freedom to make purchases from their mobile handsets," says Franck Greverie, Thales vice president in charge of information technology security activities. "Thales is the largest supplier of payment HSMs, and our new dedicated cryptographic functions for mobile payment issuers have come at exactly the right time, enabling card personalisation providers, including Trusted Service Managers (TSMs), to simplify the secure implementation of payment applications and take advantage of the huge growth in mobile-based payments that is being widely predicted."

ICO Audit Finds Improvements to Google's Privacy Policies

Google Inc. has taken reasonable steps to improve its privacy policies, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said yesterday, following an audit at the company's London office.

The ICO's audit - which took place in London in July - was agreed as part of the terms of an undertaking that Google signed in November 2010 after the company reported that its Street View cars had collected Wi-Fi payload data alongside the location mapping information that was the stated aim of the project. The audit found that Google has taken action in all of the agreed improvement areas. The ICO has now asked the company to go further to enhance privacy, including ensuring that users are given more information about the privacy aspects of Google products.

Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: "I'm satisfied that Google has made good progress in improving its privacy procedures following the undertaking they signed with me last year. All of the commitments they gave us have been progressed and the company have also accepted the findings of our audit report where we've asked them to go even further. The ICO's Google audit is not a rubber stamp for the company's data protection policies. The company needs to ensure its work in this area continues to evolve alongside new products and technologies. Google will not be filed and forgotten by the ICO."

BPC Banking Technologies Brings Greece's National Switch Live

BPC Banking Technologies, a provider of Open System e-payment solutions for the global financial industry, announced that Interbanking Systems (DIAS) S.A., Greece has gone live on SmartSwitch, the switching and routing solution within the SmartVista suite. The migration project took only six months. The deal was inked with the help of BPC partner B&R Outsourcing Services S.A, Greece.

SmartSwitch replaced DIAS' legacy solution that was being sunsetted. The Greek payment market is dynamic and expanding rapidly and DIAS needed a modern payments solution that would allow it to provide competitive services to its client banks and meet the needs of future expansion. BPC's

DIAS provides processing services to the great majority of Greek banks and has 20 clients running 7,400 ATMs throughout Greece. In addition, DIAS supports and processes for a network of POS devices located across the 180 Ministry of Finance tax offices in Greece. The terminals are used for tax payments being made by cards issued by the Greek banks.

SmartSwitch provides on-line interfaces to the terminal devices and be supporting all authorisation and routing across the ATM and POS networks, and also interfaces to host systems and communicates to other types of external systems such as payment service providers.

"Like all the SmartVista solutions, SmartSwitch is a modern Open Systems solution purpose built to integrate seamlessly with complex IT infrastructures and at DIAS we were able easily to meet the very aggressive timelines for the project," commented Vasily Grigoriev, CEO BPC Banking Technologies.

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