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ACT Canada Driving Insights – April 2019

Welcome to the April 2019 edition of ACT News – Driving Insights. This complimentary service is provided by ACT Canada.  Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues.

In This Issue

Features ACT Canada Member Moneris

Features ACT Canada Member The Financial Institutions Commission

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard



Features ACT Canada Members Ingenico Group, Moneris and Verifone

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard








Features ACT Canada Members Accenture Strategy and MasterCard

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard

Features ACT Canada Member American Express

Features ACT Canada Member CIBC

Features ACT Canada Member Gemalto

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard


Features ACT Canada Members American Express and Discover

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard


Features ACT Canada Member G+D Mobile Security

Features ACT Canada Member American Express

Features ACT Canada Member Canadian Credit Union Association


Features ACT Canada Member FIME



ACT Canada Partners



Payment Acceptance Solution Provider

Ingenico Group is the global leader in seamless payment, providing smart, trusted and secure payment solutions to empower commerce across all channels, in-store, online and mobile. With the world’s largest payment acceptance network, we deliver secure solutions with a local, national and international scope in 125 countries. For over 30 years, we have been the trusted world-class partner for financial institutions and for retailers, ranging in size from small merchants to several of the world’s best known global brands. Our smart terminal and mobile solutions enable merchants to simplify payment and deliver their brand promise.

Payment Network Partner

Interac Corp. operates an economical, world-class debit payments system with broad-based acceptance, reliability, security, and efficiency. The organization is one of Canada’s leading payments brands and is chosen an average of 16 million times daily to pay and exchange money. For more than 30 years, Interac Corp. and its predecessors, Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation, have facilitated secure financial transactions through the development of innovative and convenient debit and money transfer solutions. A leader in the prevention and detection of fraud, the organization has one of the lowest rates of fraud globally.

Newsletter (4)
ACT Canada Payments Community Meetup
Last Tuesday (April 23rd), we hosted our first ACT Canada Payments Community Meetup. We had a lively debate on payment disruption, infrastructure, modernization, as well as the role of industry, regulators and consumers in open banking.
A big thank you to everyone who came out to the meetup; and a special thanks to Wendy MacKinnon for providing her insight on payments disruption. We’re looking forward to our next meetup on June 11th – we hope to see you there! For more information on future meetups, please visit
Mar19 II (1)


What are the Hot Button Items You Want to Address?

We’re pleased to announce that the Strategic Leadership Teams are back! We'd like to hear from you about which topics you would like to have covered at these monthly think tank sessions.
Please click on the following link to have your say about which subjects we cover -
Your feedback will determine the next topic and details will be sent to the membership on how to participate.
april membul meet up (1)




General Member

ABCorp ~ member since 2017
Consult Hyperion ~ member since 2013



Looking For good people?

There is a lot of movement in the market, so if you are looking for new employees, we are always aware of some great people. Please contact ACT Canada for more details -

looking to hire

Calendar of Events

ACT Event: ACT Canada Payments Community Meet Up
Duke of Westminster, Toronto
June 11th, 2019


ACT Event: ACT Canada Forum 2019
Toronto, ON, Canada
October 7th, 2019


ETA: Transact
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Apr 30th-May 2nd, 2019

ACT Canada Members receive a discount


Payments Canada SUMMIT
Toronto, ON,  Canada
May 14th - 16th, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 30% discount 


International Cryptographic Module Conference (ICMC)
Vancouver, BC, Canada
May 14th - 17th, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 20% discount

Charlotte, NC, USA
May 20th - 22nd, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 20% discount


Card Forum
New Orleans, LA, USA
May 21st - 23rd, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a $200 discount


FinTech Canada
Toronto, ON, Canada
Aug 14th, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 20% discount


Las Vegas, NV, USA
Oct 27-30, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a $250 discount



Source: Moneris (4/16)


Overall credit and debit spending moderately grew at 2.5%. For the first time, contactless accounted for the majority of card present transactions in Canada according to the Moneris. Metrics Quarterly Report released by Moneris Solutions Corporation. The first quarter of 2019 saw contactless growing nearly 25 per cent year over year to account for 51.5 per cent of total transactions. Overall credit and debit card spending saw moderate growth of 2.5 per cent.


For the first time since Moneris. Metrics began reporting on spending trends in 2012, contactless (tap) accounted for 51.5 per cent of all card present transactions, a 24.7 per cent increase year-over-year. Eight provinces lead the charge in this trend: Prince Edward Island (59.2 per cent), Manitoba (58.2 per cent), Nova Scotia (55.2 per cent), Ontario (54.0 per cent), British Columbia (53.5 per cent), Alberta (52.1 per cent), Saskatchewan (51.6 per cent) and New Brunswick (51.0 per cent).


“Consumers want to get through a queue quickly, so a fast, simple payment experience is what they’re looking for,” said Angela Brown, President and CEO of Moneris. “It’s never been easier for businesses to start accepting payments via tap. With more banks supporting digital wallets and more devices supporting tap to pay, it’s not a surprise that we are seeing contactless transactions surge. Whether it’s tap-enabled cards, mobile devices or wearables, Canadians have clearly embraced the tap and go experience.”


Across Canada, Alberta (+0.7 per cent), Saskatchewan (+0.6 per cent) and Newfoundland (-2.9 per cent) saw the lowest growth rates in the country. Despite a slow growth rate, Saskatchewan did see a positive increase when compared to the -0.9 percent growth rate from Q1 2018. Saskatchewan and Manitoba (+2.2 per cent) were the only provinces to see positive year-over-year growth when compared to their growth rates from last year. British Columbia (+3.3 per cent), Quebec (+3 per cent), Ontario (+2.9 per cent), New Brunswick (+2.8 per cent) and Nova Scotia (+2.3 per cent) all saw growth rates lower than 2018.


“While overall growth remains positive, we’ve definitely seen consumer spending slow in early 2019,” said Brown. “This change is consistent with the trending we saw in 2018. However, consumers also appear to be investing in experiences instead of goods in early 2019.” One of the key highlights in the first quarter spend has Canadians investing in theatrical productions (+34.1 per cent) and planning their outdoor activities by booking camp sites and trailer park (+22.6 per cent) spots for 2019. Canadians who didn’t want a shovelling experience invested more in landscaping services (+11.4 per cent) in the winter months as many provinces and cities saw significant snowfall. Another common and expected trend in Q1 was an increase in business for accountants and auditors (+11 per cent) and tax preparation services (+9.3 per cent) as the tax season began.



Source: Financial Institutions Commission (4/4)


New legislation establishing the B.C. financial services authority will more effectively protect people when they use financial services and boost oversight of the sector to support a strong, sustainable economy and make life better for people. The financial services authority act establishes a new, independent Crown agency to regulate credit unions, insurance and trust companies, pensions and mortgage brokers.


"People in B.C. work hard to make a living and its our responsibility to make sure their financial interests are protected, whether that's applying for a mortgage, using a credit union, getting insured or contributing to their pension" said Carole James, Minister of Finance. "The financial services sector is rapidly evolving. This legislation will make sure B.C.͛s financial services regulator is modern, effective and efficient for decades to come."


The act is designed to improve accountability and oversight, and align with international best practices and be consistent with other regulators.


"British Columbians expect a financial regulator to protect their interests" said Stanley Hamilton, chair, Financial Institutions Commission. ͞"This is a significant achievement that demonstrates governments commitment to making the changes needed to ensure we can successfully deliver on our mandate.͟”


The legislation requires the authority to be managed by a board of directors that will appoint a CEO. The authority will be accountable to the minister of finance. As a Crown agency, the B.C. financial services authority will receive a mandate letter from the B.C. government and must maintain a service plan and other transparent reporting requirements.


Modernizing this key provincial regulator will protect people using financial services into the future. The Province has worked with stakeholders over the past year, including as part of a larger legislative consultation and through direct meetings, to ensure a smooth transition for the sector. The new B.C. financial services authority is expected to launch later this year.


Quick Facts


In British Columbia, there are:

  • 42 credit unions with more than $72 billion in assets; 4,000 mortgage brokers; 677 pension plans with approximately $158 billion in assets; and over 200 insurance and trust companies.
  • The authority will be a self-funded Crown agency focused on sector regulation. It will not raise provincial revenue.
  • The B.C. financial services authority replaces the Financial Institutions Commission
  • (FICOM). FICOM will continue as the regulator until the authority is fully operational.
  • FICOM was created in 1989 with a mandate letter from the minister of finance.
  • Establishing FICOM as a Crown agency was a recommendation from a 2017 independent review of FICOM, as well as previously supported by B.C.͛s auditor general.



Source: PYMNTS (4/23)


Can Apple’s credit card change the card game? Ondot CEO Bharghavan (VB) tells Karen Webster that the tech giant may not dominate credit cards (virtual or plastic), but the company has a knack for changing the conversation. Here’s why issuers will sit up and take notice — and move toward simpler interactions (and rewards programs), all to benefit consumers. In technology, especially when it comes to consumer-focused technology, Apple is viewed as a disruptive force. Tick down the list of offerings spanning decades (the Mac, the iPhone, the iPod, iTunes, the iOS operating system/ecosystem), and one can find that the ways we communicate, listen, stream and, indeed, interact with technology have all shifted.


One might argue that the shifts have been better or for worse (when was the last time one could separate a millennial from their iPhone for a decent conversation?), but Apple has made itself indispensable across many verticals. That seismic change may not be felt in payments. However, according to Ondot Systems CEO Vaduvur Bharghavan (VB) in a recent conversation with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, win or lose, Apple will change the conversation about how we pay by spurring existing stakeholders — especially card issuers — to examine how they come to market.


A brief recap: Last month, Apple said that, in partnership with MasterCard and Goldman Sachs, it would debut a new credit card, in virtual and plastic forms — with 2 percent cash-back rewards linked to the virtual offering and 1 percent rewards linked to the tangible. The digital card will be linked to Apple Pay. Apple Card is set to be available starting this summer.


The duality of physical and digital cards seems to have sparked at least some mulling from other firms. As Webster noted, PayPal has considered launching credit cards in an effort to more fully monetize Venmo.


VB noted that the incumbent issuers have a leg up — OK, make that three legs up — on the newest entrants like Apple. These issuers differentiate themselves with experience, financial incentives and relationships that are already in place.


A New Normal?


Apple gets its shine from the fact that, per VB, it “makes innovation accessible, and uses its brand to viscerally connect with its consumers and establish a new normal. They do not necessarily dominate every market they enter, but they are a catalyst for transformation … maybe whether Apple Card takes off like they say is, actually, irrelevant to the industry.” Apple’s brand is based on simplicity, privacy and, of course, a “cool” factor that masks some of the simple aspects of its offerings. Wrap even modest rewards in a digital wrapper and, perhaps, demand will follow.


As VB stated, the fraud alerts and transaction monitoring — and the 1 percent rewards tied to the physical cards that will debut this summer — are less than seismic when placed alongside what is already out there.


“A lot of the capabilities that Apple has talked about [for its card] already exist in the industry,” he said. Yet, for Apple, the card and cash-back structure, “to me, is about two things. One is focusing on visibility to get engagement, and the other is incentives to drive that usage.”


The Incentives Question


The rewards on offer from Apple will likely “not be enough to influence a major change in behavior for a lot of people,” said VB.


However, the ancillary effect is that Apple may drive rewards on offer from other companies toward simplification. Many rewards programs are opaque. He noted that the Apple offerings (cash back through the Daily Cash offering, added back onto the card, with no fees) may serve as a “wakeup call” in the drive to establish digital engagement amid eCommerce growth. The issuers are finding, and will find, Apple’s card announcement as a sign that they now need to create a digital persona and engage with the consumer.


The ambition to engage and offer digital cards is one thing, but the reality is quite another. When asked by Webster how community and smaller banks can compete with Apple and other issuers as digital cards gain traction, he said there remains constraints in place for card offerings. The smaller financial institutions rely on credit and debit processors for back-end capabilities, as well as on mobile and digital vendors for front-end capabilities. Of course, money matters because, as VB noted, smaller players do not have the funds to compete with global and national brethren on digital and AI investments.


Firms such as Ondot, he said, can give mid-tier financial institutions “economies of experience” through pre-packaged solutions that allow them to design and offer cards. In addition, top-tier banks have 50 percent of the cards out in force and 90 percent of usage in terms of credit transactions. Conversely, he explained, fewer than 10 percent of regional and community issuers have “any sort of credit [profit and loss] that matters.”


Against that backdrop, he said, “there’s a clarion call” for mid-tier banks to recognize that they have an asset that Apple doesn’t have in the financial services realm, which is an existing relationship with the consumer that they trust.


“Let’s see where it goes,” said VB of Apple’s stride into cards, even as he noted that, “from an industry point of view, this will certainly cause a lot of conversation.”



Source: Financial Post (4/25)


The Privacy Commissioner of Canada quits using Facebook after finding it is ‘irresponsible’. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada plans to take its complaint against Facebook to Federal Court to "seek an order to force the company to correct its privacy practices.” Privacy watchdogs are accusing Facebook Inc. of “serious contraventions” of Canadian law in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.


In a joint report released Thursday, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia said the Menlo Park, California-based technology giant didn’t obtain proper consent from users to disclose their personal data, didn’t have adequate safeguards to protect that data and didn’t take proper responsibility for the information under its control.


“Facebook’s refusal to act responsibly is deeply troubling given the vast amount of sensitive personal information users have entrusted to this company,” Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien said in a news release. “Their privacy framework was empty, and their vague terms were so elastic that they were not meaningful for privacy protection.”


Source: PYMNTS (4/18)


Wireless carrier T-Mobile is getting into the banking market, announcing Thursday (April  18) the launch of T-Mobile MONEY nationwide, a no-fee, interest-earning, mobile-first checking account that anyone can open and manage from their smartphone.


In a press release, T-Mobile said with the checking account customers can earn 4 percent Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on balances up to $3,000, which is 50 times higher than the average U.S. checking account. T-Mobile said the account also comes with a 1 percent APY on every dollar over $3,000. There are no bank or overdraft fees associated with the account.


“Traditional banks aren’t mobile-first, and they’re definitely not customer-first. As more and more people use their smartphones to manage money, we saw an opportunity to address another customer pain point,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in the press release. “You work hard for your money … you should keep it … and with T-Mobile MONEY, you can!”


Aiming to take on big banks and the fees associated with traditional checking accounts, T-Mobile said Americans spent $34 billion in overdraft fees in 2017. In the press release, the firm argued that Bank of America Advantage Checking has 19 different types of fees, and Wells Fargo Everyday Checking has 14 different types of fees. T-Mobile MONEY, it said, has no monthly fees, no overdraft fees and no fees at more than 55,000 in-network Allpoint ATMs worldwide. T-Mobile also won’t charge customers for using ATMs that are out of that network.


The wireless carrier said there is no minimum balance requirement. T-Mobile will even let customers go into the red for up to $50 without penalty. Customers will have 30 days to bring the account back into the positive to avoid any fees.


The new service is aimed at keeping customers with the wireless carrier amid fierce competition. It also comes as T-Mobile is trying to get approval for its deal with Sprint. T-Mobile began piloting the new checking account offering in late November, according to media reports at the time.


Source: Moneris (4/23)


Moneris Core delivers a uniform payment and user experience across new Ingenico and Verifone point-of-sale terminals. Moneris Solutions Corporation introduced Moneris Core (“Core”), proprietary software that will power its next-generation payment terminals. Available on Moneris’ newest countertop devices, the Verifone V400c and Ingenico Desk/5000, and the wireless Ingenico Move/5000, the application delivers a consistent merchant and consumer experience during a payment transaction. Moneris is the only acquirer in Canada to offer a unified bilingual experience across point-of-sale (POS) terminals.


Core controls the terminal settings, payment functions, reporting and enhanced security features on the device. Its full-colour interface provides a modern look and feel across terminals, with intuitive icon screens similar to everyday smart devices. The consistent navigation and terminal responses regardless of device promise to help accelerate payment transactions and staff training.


“The payment terminal and application that powers it are critical parts of the engine that keep a business running,” says Malcolm Fowler, Chief Product and Partnership Officer. “For Moneris Core, we put merchant and cardholder payment terminal interactions under the microscope and focused on making them faster, more intuitive and frankly more elegant. We took every opportunity to strip out clunky steps in the payment flow, removing friction from the payment experience. Moneris Core saves businesses time and speeds cardholders through payment transactions.” Displayed on the 3.5-inch touchscreen of Moneris’ new devices, Core’s simplified menus and transaction prompts are easy to understand for both staff and cardholders. Merchants can customize the homepage with common functions for faster access during payments. The application leverages the Moneris Cloud for enhanced features like text and email receipts, and extends remote terminal management and transaction reporting from the device to Merchant Direct.


To deliver a seamless experience out of the box, Moneris pre-configures the devices for merchants prior to shipping, so that terminals are payment ready within seconds of the application loading. Moneris’ 24/7 customer care team can program local terminal settings through the Moneris Cloud, minimizing the troubleshooting effort for merchants. Among Core’s robust cloud-based security features is the multi-level password protection, which allows managers to restrict access to transaction types, configurations and reporting functions based on user profile. Transaction features supported include credit and debit payments, mobile wallets, Dynamic Currency Conversion, Moneris Gift Cards, store and forward, electronic receipts, card-not-present payments, cashback, gratuity, surcharge and more.


Moneris plans to grow its suite of next-generation devices powered by Core with the addition of semi-integrated and pay-at-table functionality coming later this year. For more information on Core, please visit



Source: MasterCard (4/24)


MasterCard Send enables faster, more cost-effective and transparent international payments for BMO business and commercial banking clients. MasterCard and BMO Bank of Montreal today announced that BMO will implement MasterCard Send to deliver faster, more cost-effective and transparent international payment services to its Canadian-based business and commercial banking clients. BMO joins a growing list of global banks working with MasterCard to offer their clients a better way to send money around the world.


With MasterCard Send, BMO can offer its clients the ability to send cross-border payments efficiently, seamlessly and securely to bank accounts in more than 75 countries. The partnership will initially focus on bank account transfers, but will expand to include payments to mobile wallets and cards internationally.


“Consumers today expect quicker access to their funds, but businesses face numerous challenges when making cross-border payments,” said Brian Lang, President of MasterCard in Canada. “MasterCard Send helps banks modernize their cross-border services and deliver a better experience for their clients.”


“BMO has a long history of serving cross-border customers across a wide range of industries, and our capabilities and experience in this area are a key differentiator for us,” said Sharon Haward-Laird, Head, North American Treasury & Payment Solutions, BMO Bank of Montreal. “As a result, we have a deep understanding of the complexities involved in running a cross-border business, including as it relates to payments, and this latest offering with MasterCard Send reflects our commitment to providing customers with solutions that deliver against their changing expectations and needs.” As businesses of all sizes manage an increasingly global marketplace, banks will need cost-effective solutions to meet the evolving needs of their clients. MasterCard Send delivers funds quickly and securely to both cards and non-cards, including bank accounts, mobile wallets and cash-out locations. Consumers with MasterCard Send can receive payments from governments, businesses, non-profit organizations and even other consumers, locally or in another country. With MasterCard Send, banks can improve customer experience and future-proof their cross-border payment service.



Source: MSN (4/24)


Beer would seem to be a universal favorite across generations, but millennials aren’t downing brews like other age groups. (They’re still sipping wine, though.). The trend may last — the generation coming behind millennials is said to prefer smoking pot to drinking alcohol. Things millennials are being blamed for killing off. However, HoJo’s faced tough competition from other franchises like Applebee's and Chili's and its stagnant menu failed to keep up with the times. In 1985 it was bought out by Marriott for $65 million, with restaurants reopening as hotels and coffee shops, although one original Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Lake George, New York remains open, displaying a sign that reads "Last one standing." Why 21 giant American brands disappeared. PayPal is in talks with Synchrony Financial to issue a Venmo-branded credit card, according to The Wall Street Journal. Venmo wouldn't be the first tech company to use its popular consumer brand to capitalize on the credit card market. Apple announced the Apple Card last month; Uber launched a co-branded credit card in late 2017.


Venmo, a peer-to-peer payment app, has had some success with its debit card, which is linked to the balance in a user's Venmo account. The debit card, combined with monetized features like Instant Transfer and Pay With Venmo, put the company on a $200 million revenue run rate entering 2019. That's still not enough to overcome its operating expenses, and the PayPal property is expected to take nearly $400 million in operating losses this year, according to an estimate from Nomura analysts.


Can a credit card help Venmo turn a profit?


Creating a compelling credit card is tough. It's really hard to compete with some of the big banks' best credit cards. It's pretty easy to get at least 2% cash back on every purchase. That's why Apple's credit card, which only offers 2% on purchases made with Apple Pay, didn't produce very much excitement among analysts or investors. Uber, however, created a compelling product for many of its users. It gets one of the best cash-back rates on dining purchases, and competitive rates on select travel expenses. It also encourages regular use through statement credits for online video streaming if you spend $5,000 or more per year, and cellphone insurance if you pay your phone bill with the card. Uber took a close look at what its users were most likely to spend their money on besides the ridesharing app, and it made a product that rewards spending in those areas. Apple had an opportunity to offer things like free Apple Care or iCloud Storage as perks for putting spend on the card, but the company failed to offer anything beyond a very basic card.


Venmo has an opportunity to create an excellent financial product. It has a lot of access to how its users spend money, based on the data it collects when users pay their friends. Users are required to leave a note, and while it's often used for inside jokes, it's usually pretty clear what the payment is for. Venmo also knows exactly how consumers are spending money on the Venmo Card. It could use that data to craft a rewards card that fits with how its users spend. If Venmo wants to convince a large percentage of its 23 million active users to sign up for a new credit card, it needs to offer value its users can't get elsewhere. It needs to follow Uber and avoid offering another Apple Card.


A divergent path to monetization


A Venmo credit card doesn't seem very dissimilar from the Venmo debit card, but the two products would actually be quite different. The debit card appeals to the underbanked population -- consumers who don't qualify for a traditional bank account. A Venmo credit card will only be available to consumers whom banks want to do business with. Last year, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said he thinks Venmo could offer more services to the underbanked at prices well below what they're used to paying for financial services. Things like cashing a check or paying a utility bill shouldn't require you to stand in line or pay high fees. A rival peer-to-peer payments app, Cash App from Square, has also taken to offering financial services for the underbanked. And with Cash App's integration with Square's payment terminals and its food delivery platform, a larger percentage of its user base may already be using it to replace financial services. Cash App's integration with other Square services also means it may be able to offer better pricing for those services than Venmo.


Venmo may have greater success by reviewing how its users spend money already, and figuring out the best way to reward them for doing that spending with its credit card. If it strikes a chord, it could be a big moneymaker for the payments app.


Source: PYMNTS (4/23)


Part of the trick in retail is knowing when to pass the torch, so to speak – in other words, focusing more effort on reaching younger consumers and meeting their desires. Target stands as one of the latest examples.


To reach consumers on the hunt for offerings that are “clean and natural,” Target has rolled out its Everspring household brand. The line includes products such as dish soap, paper towels and laundry detergent. The selections are made from recycled and bio-based materials as well as natural fibers. They will also come with a new “Target Clean” symbol, which indicates an item is not made with chemicals like propylparaben or sodium laureth sulfate.


The items are sold in small quantities to catch the interest of Generation Z and millennial consumers who are just starting out and aren’t interested in buying in bulk. According to the report, Target research has shown these consumers aren’t as loyal to specific brands as older shoppers.


Christina Hennington, a senior vice president and general merchandise manager at the retailer, said it had taken over a year to bring the household brand to fruition. “From the sourcing to the packaging … we had to do it right,” she said. “We hired the right expertise to make sure the chemical quality was up to expectations.”


Gen Z Focus


The Target move underscores the growing appeal of offering sustainable products in hopes of becoming more attractive to younger consumers – and not just millennials. Indeed, retailers, including Target, are upping their innovation game when it comes to the so-called Generation Z. Not only is the chain rolling out more brands that target the consumer segment, but it has also launched a startup incubator and retail lab in hopes of connecting with those shoppers. Larger retail trends support such a move.


Gen Z – generally defined as people born after 1996 – are expected to become the largest consumer segment within a year, when they will account for 32 percent of the global population. Those consumers have never known a non-digital, web-free world. They were youthful members of The Great Recession. And in the U.S. and certain other countries, they have never known a world without war.


Early signs indicate that Gen Z, despite digital habits honed since birth, will not reject the brick-and-mortar experience. One study that mirrors the findings of others – this one from Euclid Analytics – found that 66 percent of Gen Zers prefer in-store shopping, while 28 percent want to interact with store associates. That said, Gen Z, commonly considered a mobile-first generation, uses digital channels to research products, but then prefers to go to the store to touch and try out those products prior to making their purchases.


The consumer power of Gen Z also extends to influence: A report by IBM and the National Retail Federation said that 70 percent of the average family’s spending is influenced by these post-millennial consumers.


Much of what retailers are doing today to appeal to millennials – offering new products and services, and trying new ways to reach them – will likely spill over and influence efforts to reach more consumers from Generation Z.


Battle in the Cities


Take, owned by Walmart. It is battling with Amazon for the coveted upscale, younger, city-dwelling consumer. has broadened its selection and is rolling out same-day delivery in New York City for the kinds of items millennials purportedly crave, like craft beer and local foods. To assist in those efforts, Walmart has tapped another company that it acquired – logistics company Parcel – to bring grocery delivery to New York City customers within a three-hour window. That service option ups the ante for speed and flexibility through, as the retailer previously had a relatively early 9 a.m. cutoff for same-day deliveries. To help meet its new delivery window, plans to use its Bronx fulfilment centre.


It’s a retail battle that never ends: the competition for younger consumers, and for those consumers who are steadily gaining more purchase power. The battle is likely to take place both inside stores and online, and will no doubt bring more experimentation and innovation.


Source: PYMNTS (4/22)


Only a few years after a full rollout of Apple Pay, JCPenney has reportedly dropped the Apple Pay digital payment service in its app and brick-and-mortar stores. The retailer’s support account on Twitter noted the change during the weekend, 9 to 5 Mac reported.


In the social media reply to a user who asked why the payment method was taken away, the retailer said, “JCPenney made the decision to remove Apple Pay for our stores, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. We will definitely forward your feedback regarding this for review.”


The company, which was started in 1902, had a full rollout of the payment method in 2016 after testing it out in 2015. As it stands, the retailer has over 800 locations in 49 states in the U.S. Ron Johnson, who arrived at the retailer to become CEO from Apple, had the role for only two years. And the outlet reported the chain was “disappointed in the results of his reshaping of the retail stores.”


The news comes after Apple announced in the beginning of the year that Jack In The Box, Speedway Convenience Stores, Hy-Vee supermarkets in the Midwest, Taco Bell and Target all support Apple Pay. The iPhone maker said in a press release that 65 percent of retail locations around the U.S. support Apple Pay and 74 of the leading 100 merchants in the U.S. support Apple Pay with those additions.


Apple Vice President of Internet Services Jennifer Bailey said in the announcement, “Whether customers are buying everyday household items, groceries, snacks for a road trip or grabbing a quick meal, Apple Pay is the easiest way to pay in stores, while also being secure and faster than using a credit or debit card at the register.” Bailey continued, “We’re thrilled even more customers will be able to pay at their favorite stores and restaurants using the Apple devices that are always with them.”


Source: PYMNTS (4/24)


Like many other financial institutions (FIs), credit unions (CUs) need responsive websites and mobile apps to address their members’ needs. It’s through these channels that most members will engage with their CUs to conduct their digital banking business. As such, CUs need to ensure that their websites and mobile apps are meeting their members’ expectations.


However, that’s sometimes easier said than done, as different generations of members have different priorities when it comes to their CUs’ digital banking and mobile app features. Though not the top priority for onboarding members, these features play an essential role in convincing Gen Z, millennials and Bridge Millennials to sign up with their current CUs. These groups are also more likely to choose their current CUs based on their mobile apps.


Generational divides come into play again in terms of satisfaction with CUs’ websites and mobile app offerings. Overall, CU members are satisfied with their current CUs’ desktops, mobile websites and mobile apps.


However, younger millennial and Gen Z members are less likely to be satisfied with their CUs’ desktop websites or mobile apps than older members, including Gen X, baby boomers and seniors who said they were either “very” or “extremely” satisfied. What’s more, satisfaction with a CU’s website or mobile app could play a significant role in convincing Bridge Millennials to stay on or switch to a FinTech for banking.


So, how are CUs to approach their website and mobile innovations with different generations that hold different expectations?


The new Credit Union Innovation Playbook is based on input from more than 3,000 financial services customers to highlight how different generations prioritize their CUs’ digital banking capabilities, and the factors that convince some members to remain with their current CUs, while others are willing to bank elsewhere.


Some notable findings included in the report:

  • The research found 59.9 percent of current CU members consider it “very” or “extremely” important for their CUs to offer a mobile app.
  • Among Gen Z members, 50.4 percent said they chose their CUs because of the mobile app offerings.
  • Bridge Millennials are more likely than any other generation to consider switching their primary FI, with 12.7 percent reportedly willing to do so.
  • An overwhelming share of CU members (90.1 percent) said they are “very” or “extremely” satisfied with their CUs’ desktop/mobile websites.
  • In addition, 78.8 percent of CU members are willing to switch from a CU to a FinTech because they like the latter’s easy and convenient services.
  • The Playbook includes 460 data points outlining CU members’ attitudes toward their current FIs’ desktop and mobile capabilities, and the role digital banking plays in members’ daily lives.


Source: PYMNTS (4/22)


JPMorgan Chase is planning to expand its use of blockchain technology to improve the banking industry’s payment system, as well as get fintechs to experiment on developing the platform. The platform allows banks to quickly resolve compliance issues that can delay payments by weeks. Last year, more than 75 of the world’s biggest banks became members of the Interbank Information Network (IIN) to fight off threats from payment startups. And more than 220 banks have signed up for the original service, which enables data sharing on payments over the network.


“The initial use case was around sanctions screening,” JPMorgan’s head of global clearing, John Hunter, said, according to The Financial Times. “Now we’re looking at the ability to do more at the point of settlement.” Hunter added that JPMorgan has also created a function that can verify in real time that a payment was being transferred into a valid account.


“Banks straight through processing rates are in the mid-80s to the mid-90s. It’s that gap — the 5 to 20 per cent of payments — that have to be assessed by operations where we’re trying to alleviate some of that pain,” he said. The firm anticipates that the system will be live by the third quarter of this year, with the expectation that it will be especially useful for international payments, which experience higher error rates. The services are currently free, but there is the possibility for both paid and commercial applications in the future.


In addition, the IIN is setting up a sandbox so that fintechs can use the network to “develop and put out applications.” that is also expected to launch in the third quarter, offering developers secure messaging, document file transfer, data modelling, and more. “This removes many challenges and hurdles — tooling, ecosystem, data, environment, etc,” said Hunter. “Developers only need to bring their intellect.”


Source: PYMNTS (4/24)


Online gaming and gambling platforms provide engaging and enticing experiences for users, but their efforts are shattered if clunky onboarding practices stand in the way. This means they must ensure the entire process is simple, smooth and speedy to maintain customers’ interest. According to a recent report, more than 25 percent of potential online gambling customers abandoned their account opening processes because they were too lengthy or complex. Forty percent of those surveyed said opening their accounts took at least 10 minutes, and 10 percent said the process took longer than an hour. A separate survey found that 15 percent of online gamblers felt onboarding should be faster, while 35 percent said they wanted to provide fewer personal details during registration.


Improving upon onboarding processes can be tricky, though. Gaming and gambling platforms must adhere to tight regulations to remain compliant and keep users safe, and they cannot afford to sacrifice security – even at the expense of convenience. To top it all off, the global online gambling market is slated to grow to more than $74 billion in revenue by 2023, which makes it necessary to balance streamlined onboarding with robust fraud prevention efforts.


Tackling Fraud


Gaming and gambling platforms must also confront various issues, ranging from preventing underage users from signing up to thwarting more serious abuses. If they aren’t vigilant, they risk allowing fraudsters to access users’ accounts to seize funds, create accounts to launder money or use stolen or false identities to access platforms – even after they’ve been blocked. In other cases, users could collude to fix games’ outcomes, ruining participants’ experiences.  Resources are available to help platforms fight back, and such efforts can take place behind the scenes without bothering customers. Efforts to curb cybercriminals’ collusion include checking the histories associated with certain IP addresses, devices and locations to see if they are associated with past misbehaviors. Platforms can also determine whether multiple accounts use the same IP address or device. Such activities could signal that parties behind the accounts are working together to unfairly determine games’ outcomes.


Leveraging tools like artificial intelligence to assess customers’ selfie videos and IDs could also ensure onboarding processes are swiftly and securely handled. Such automated scans can discover documentation issues that suggest falsification, while facial liveness testing can help monitor for spoofed selfies. Human employees can also step in when cases prove too ambiguous to be solved through technology alone. These speedy verification measures could help online gambling and gaming platforms stay compliant and protect their customers from fraud, while preventing them from losing users to sign-in frictions. When it comes to ensuring their bottom lines, these platforms can’t afford to gamble with their customers’ onboarding experiences.


Source: PYMNTS (4/22)


Corporate payments still don’t have a clear role in driving the adoption of faster payment technologies and systems in the U.S. The obvious assumption in the business-to-business (B2B) landscape is that faster payments are not only unnecessary, but unwanted, as corporates don’t necessarily need to move money immediately. Some industry experts are beginning to challenge that notion, though, particularly when it comes to internal cash flows and treasury management processes. Still, others have said that B2B payments should be largely left out of the faster payments conversation.


The U.S. remains in its early days of faster and real-time payments adoption, so neither of these two schools of thought have been proven correct. However, regardless of how corporates adopt faster payment technologies, many experts agree that the acceleration of payments in the country will have profound effects on the broader financial services space, and those changes are likely to impact how companies manage money and operate in a new ecosystem of payments innovation.


Bill Schoch, WesPay president and CEO, and inaugural chair of the Center for Payments, said the emergence of faster payments in the U.S. reflects a larger shift in the market — one that could certainly have profound implications for business payments.


“We are seeing, what I think is, an unprecedented amount of change that is being proposed and introduced in terms of [payment] operations,” he told PYMNTS in a recent interview, emphasizing that his remarks are his personal viewpoints, and not those of WesPay or the Center for Payments. That change, he continued, is largely why WesPay and 10 other payment associations formed the Center for Payments, an initiative aimed at providing the payments ecosystem with market intelligence and guidance as innovation continues to disrupt the market. The Center intends to guide its collective financial institution (FI) and corporate members, represented by the associations, in addressing key challenges in today’s market. Those challenges include the costs of investing in and deploying faster payment systems, understanding and meeting the demand for these technologies, and navigating a shifting operational model of payments.


When it comes to faster payment systems, fundamental industry shifts are emerging that will affect the way corporates manage funds and transact — regardless of their actual adoption of real-time and faster payment capabilities. Schoch pointed to that operational model as a key example.


“We’re starting to look at solutions that have significantly different modes of operations,” he said. “Our [payment] systems are looking at 24/7/365 solutions. These present a really significant change, and, in some cases, disruption to the way FIs are processing payments today.”


They could also disrupt the way corporates are able to operate, as well as how treasurers and financial chiefs adjust to an always-on, always-available payments infrastructure. Other operational changes emerging from faster payment initiatives include the focus on individual payment processing, which could be a significant disruption for corporates that historically operate on a batch-processing strategy.


“What we’re seeing evolve [with] faster [payment] systems, especially with RTP by The Clearing House or RTGS that is proposed by the Federal Reserve, is that these systems are handling each individual payment on its own,” said Schoch. “The question that I have is, ‘How are we going to bridge this batch-operating environment in which many businesses are operating today into a single-payment, on-demand conversation that is the model of the new [payment] systems we’re seeing?'” This focus on faster, single-payment processes has also introduced shifts in payment security and fraud mitigation efforts, which are likely to make a mark on corporate payment strategies moving forward. Since these transactions are irrevocable, pre-transaction authorization and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks are even more essential in the risk mitigation process.


Schoch said the payment associations’ members are being encouraged to focus on that pre-payment initiation process to ensure that those initiating payments are actually authorized to do so, and that adequate compliance and customer checks occur to proactively address the risk of fraud and non-compliance. For businesses, this would similarly represent a significant change in operations when transactions occur. FIs have return on investment (ROI) at the center of their faster payment strategies. Adoption and implementation will rely significantly on market demand. Indeed, it’s not B2B payments, but peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions that drive FIs’ investments in faster payment technologies today, said Schoch.


However, even with limited adoption of faster payment capabilities in the B2B market, the broader industry changes resulting from faster payment initiatives are sure to affect the way corporates transact. According to Schoch, corporate adoption of faster payments is likely to occur in a segmented way: There may be a need for companies to embrace real-time payment capabilities in the business-to-consumer (B2C) disbursement segment, for instance, while real-time payroll is also a potential use case for faster payments functionality in the corporate sphere.


The Center for Payments wants to help FIs and corporates understand where those opportunities exist, and assess whether investments in those opportunities would be profitable. FIs and corporates must also be able to compare where their industry peers are in terms of their own investments and adoption, making market intelligence an important part of progress in this space, Schoch said. While it remains to be seen whether B2B payments will become a driver of investment and implementation for faster payments functionality, Schoch believes the corporate payments landscape will, nonetheless, see significant impacts from the nation’s progress toward payments acceleration — so FIs and corporates must be ready.


Source: MasterCard (4/16)


New Instalment Offering Adds Value to Merchants and Issuers, Boosts Consumer Purchasing Power. MasterCard today announced it has acquired Vyze, a technology platform that delivers more choice – and purchasing power – to people who want their point-of-sale payment options to match the flexibility and convenience of today’s shopping experiences.


Increasingly, consumers are seeking alternative financing options, leaving merchants and financial institutions with a need to deliver these services at the point of sale. In the U.S. alone, these solutions represent a more than $1.8 trillion opportunity, according to Accenture. Vyze shakes up traditional models by connecting merchants with multiple lenders, allowing them to offer their customers a wide range of credit options online and in-store. These financing options provide shoppers with additional payment flexibility at the exact moment of purchase, complementing MasterCard's existing card and ACH-based solutions.


“Both consumers and businesses want the best choice and service, exactly when they need it,” said Blake Rosenthal, executive vice president of global acceptance at MasterCard. “Vyze adds to our ability to empower banks and other lending partners to participate in the growing trend of retail financing. The combination of their platform with our technology and network complements our existing payments programs.”


Through this acquisition, MasterCard becomes a more strategic partner to both lenders and merchants, delivering a checkout experience that adds to MasterCard's best-in-class security and convenience. Vyze’s proven technology better facilitates lending options to merchants’ customers, delivering a better shopping experience through financing approval rates up to 90 percent that are well above the industry average.


The end-to-end Vyze platform allows lenders and merchants to “integrate once and innovate forever” through the simple use of APIs. Previously, managing and maintaining a range of consumer payment and financing options would require significant time and investment.


“Shoppers looking for new ways to pay and merchants looking to sell higher ticket items and deter abandonments has driven a flurry of activity in the ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ market,” said Raymond Pucci, director of merchant services practice at Mercator Advisory Group. “This acquisition creates a new market making approach that supports operation at scale, helping banks offer and merchants shop for the terms that best fit their needs. MasterCard's existing relationships will assure both take a serious look at this new solution.”


Several top U.S. retailers work with Vyze for special financing options. This proven track record will be used to bring the same functionality to customers in additional markets.


“MasterCard has a long history of building an incredibly powerful network, connecting some of the world’s most influential financial institutions, merchants and innovators,” said Keith Nealon, CEO of Vyze. “With their relationships and scale, we see a great opportunity to reach exponentially more partners and consumers.”


Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.



Source: MasterCard (4/9)


New program calls on more corporations and federal agencies to help recruit and train the next generation of cyber leaders and provide up to $75,000 in student loan assistance. MasterCard, in collaboration with Microsoft, Workday and the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service today launched the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative – a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership to recruit the nation’s best minds to defend against global cyberattacks. The launch of this initiative serves as a call to action for leading companies, federal agencies and higher education institutions to come together and help grow the talent pipeline of cybersecurity technologists to protect the nation and support our digital economy.


With more than 313,000 cybersecurity job openings in the U.S. between September 2017 and August 2018, the talent deficit is significant and the need for a skilled workforce is steadily expanding. The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is a new program to help reduce the critical talent gap and support the next generation of motivated, mission-driven cybersecurity leaders.


A selective cross-sector opportunity for highly qualified, recent graduates in cybersecurity-related fields, the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative helps to jumpstart careers and provide the training and experience needed to lead the nation’s cyber defence across the public and private sectors. Participants selected for the program will be guaranteed a two-year placement at a federal agency with cybersecurity opportunities. Before the conclusion of their federal service, participants will then be eligible for full-time positions with the program’s private sector partners, and once hired, will receive up to $75,000 in student loan assistance.


The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative includes an unparalleled group of private sector companies and government agencies that play a vital role in protecting the nation and digital economy. Founding partners in the program’s inaugural year include:

  • MasterCard
  • Microsoft
  • Workday


Participating federal agencies include:

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Election Commission
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Office of Naval Intelligence
  • Small Business Administration


“Cybersecurity is a critical issue facing our world today. It will take a true collaboration between the public and private sectors to get the right resources in place to address the threat,” said Ron Green, chief security officer, MasterCard. “We invite more corporations and government agencies to join us in this critical endeavour and give the best and brightest talent an opportunity to get a step up, enhance their skills and pave their own career paths.”


Throughout the program, participants will engage with subject matter experts from the public and private sectors, build an interagency network of cybersecurity colleagues across government and attend leadership development sessions. By working for government organizations and innovative private sector companies, participants will gain an understanding of the complexity of cybersecurity challenges and develop the necessary skills needed to overcome threats to the nation’s digital infrastructure.


“The Army is pleased to join the Cybersecurity Talent Initiative and partner with top companies and universities across the country to develop cybersecurity talent and provide them with opportunities that help support our nation’s defense,” said Brig. Gen. Jennifer Buckner, director of headquarters Department of the Army’s Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Information Operations. “This program reflects not only our emphasis on, but also the immense value we see in public-private partnerships to collaboratively address the country’s cyberspace talent deficit.”


The federal government’s ability to deliver important services to the American people, protect privacy and safeguard classified information requires an effective and secure digital infrastructure overseen by highly skilled cybersecurity professionals. As of June 2018, only four percent of federal cybersecurity employees are under the age of 30, compared to nearly 14 percent of federal cybersecurity employees over the age of 60, according to federal workforce data.


“It is critical for our government to attract and hire highly skilled workers capable of securing federal computer networks and building defenses against the thousands of cyberattacks that occur every year,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, the organization operating the new initiative. “The federal government has fallen more and more behind in the race for cyber talent, and this program will help get it back on track.”


“The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is an important way for the George Washington University and other top universities to help build a first-class cybersecurity workforce,” said Thomas LeBlanc, president of The George Washington University. “This program offers a unique opportunity for our students to gain invaluable leadership skills and hands-on experience in the public and private sectors, while alleviating the burden of student loan debt.” Candidates can apply now on the website through October 18. Agencies will make offers by spring 2020 and participants will start in the summer or fall of 2020.



Source: American Express (4/11)


New research from American Express has found that the UK’s SMEs are exploring new sources of finance as access to funds becomes harder to secure. The research, carried out annually among senior executives and decision-makers in SMEs across the globe, found that despite the majority (68%) of UK SMEs saying that cashflow is important for the running of their business, nearly one third (30%) find it difficult to access the finance they need. The number of SMEs facing this challenge is up by 6% year-on-year, and in line with the global average.


In response, the UK’s SMEs are moving away from reliance on traditional sources of finance, such as bank loans. Use of bank loans as a source of finance was down 20% (90% to 70%) between 2017 and 2018, and 43% of SMEs did not agree with the statement that ‘traditional banks currently provide them with all the finance they need’. Instead, SMEs are prioritising flexibility and ease when it comes to accessing finance – with flexibility of repayment options, low fees and ease of application ranking as the most important factors in their decision making. UK SMEs report a 7% increase in the use of existing working capital and a 13% increase in the use of peer to peer lending over the past year.


Paul Abbott, Chief Commercial Officer, American Express commented: “UK SMEs are confident they can continue to prosper, despite political and regulatory change, economic uncertainty and data security concerns, and they are prioritising several initiatives to insulate themselves from external pressures and accelerate their growth. In addition to looking at alternative ways to finance their business, SMEs identify technology, innovation and talent as the key areas of focus to sustain strong performance.” American Express’ research found that while growing revenue remains the most important long-term goal for SMEs, they have scaled down both profit and revenue projections for the year ahead. Average predicted revenue growth for the next three years dropped from 7.7% to 5.9% between 2017 and 2018, and average profit margin is predicted to decrease from 6% in 2017 to 5.6% in 2018. This could indicate that SMEs are being more realistic about what they can achieve in the current climate.


As UK’s SMEs are facing increased pressure to sustain their bottom line, access to cash flow has risen up their agenda as a business priority.


Paul Abbott continued: "SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy - and it is it vital that they have access to the finance they need to survive and thrive. Our research found that SMEs plan to use their unique advantages as smaller businesses to help them achieve success in 2019 – and this is certainly true when it comes to finance. By exploring more flexible forms of finance, that will allow them to remain nimble in the face of uncertainty, SMEs will stand the best chance of weathering the current climate."



Source: CIBC (4/4)


Strategies for lowering taxable income can keep more money in your pocket throughout the year, says CIBC's Jamie Golombek in a new report. Can't wait for your tax refund? You're not alone. A new CIBC poll finds that more than half (53 per cent) of Canadians have already received or expect to get some money back for the 2018 tax year. Most will use the extra cash to pay bills, credit cards or loans. But a tax refund isn't the "windfall" Canadians believe it is, says tax expert Jamie Golombek, rather it's a sign of poor financial planning.


"Canadians love their tax refunds and at this time of year many people are filled with 'intaxication' – a term I use to describe the short-term euphoria of getting a tax refund that fades when you realize you're getting your own money back. A better plan is to ensure your portfolio operates as tax-efficiently as possible to keep more of your money throughout the year," says Jamie Golombek, Managing Director, Tax & Estate Planning, CIBC. "Now is the perfect time to talk to a financial advisor about how to make the best use of your 2018 refund to meet your goals – and plan not to get a refund next year."


For example, one strategy Mr. Golombek suggests is to reduce your taxes on every paycheque, instead of waiting until your return is filed the following spring to get a refund.  By completing Canada Revenue Agency's one-page form, T1213 "Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source" you can indicate various deductions or credits that, if not taken into account, would otherwise result in a tax refund for the year. Examples include contributions to RRSPs or childcare expenses.


Key poll findings:


  • More than half (53 per cent) of Canadians expect a tax refund for the 2018 tax year
  • 63 per cent view their tax refund as a "windfall of unexpected money" to put towards their goals
  • Most will use the money to either pay down balances on credit cards and loans (20 per cent) or cover everyday expenses (20 per cent), rather than invest (12 per cent); 22 per cent don't know what to do with it
  • 39 per cent have "no idea" what their tax situation will be until they've reviewed their paperwork with an expert


How your investment income impacts your tax bill


Canadians use various investments to help grow their money, but many are in the dark about the implications on their tax bill. In fact, the majority of those Canadians don't know that all non-registered investments aren't taxed the same way (76 per cent), or that all investment income isn't taxed at their full marginal rate (80 per cent). More than half (51 per cent) don't realize that they're required to even pay tax on the interest income they earn in an everyday savings account.


"Various types of investment income are taxed differently, so your choice of investments can greatly impact your after-tax return on a particular investment," says Mr. Golombek and Debbie Pearl-Weinberg, Executive Director, Tax & Estate Planning, CIBC in a new report A Portfolio Less Taxing: Understanding the Taxation of Investment Income and accompanying video. "If you're not paying attention to how your investment income is taxed you could be missing out on better after-tax returns – and, your investment earnings could tip you into a higher marginal tax bracket."


For example, 77 per cent of respondents don't know that Canadian dividends received from Canadian companies such as banks or through mutual funds and ETFs are taxed at a preferred rate thanks to the dividend tax credit. Similarly, capital gains are only 50 per cent taxed, effectively cutting whatever tax rate applies in half, and are only taxed when the investment is sold. This is in contrast to interest from sources such as a bank account or GIC or foreign dividends, which is taxed annually at your full marginal tax rate.


The timing of buying or selling investments can also impact your tax bill, notes the report. For example the case of capital gains, postponing a sale of an investment to January of the following calendar year, rather than selling late in the year, may defer the tax for an additional year. Moreover, if you have a net capital loss, it can either be carried back to offset gains in the prior three years or carried forward for use in any future year.


When asked about taxation of Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), Canadians fared a bit better. Most (70 per cent) knew that they don't pay any tax on income earned in an RRSP until it's withdrawn from the plan, though fewer knew (53 per cent) that income earned in a TFSA is completely tax-free when the rules for these plans are followed.


"Investing in either a TFSA or tax-deferred RRSP is a great first step, but take the time to review your entire portfolio with a tax advisor to ensure you're not overlooking ways to optimize your earnings and lower your tax bill with more informed investment choices," says Mr. Golombek.


In addition, if you're borrowing to invest or you're paying fees to have your non-registered portfolio professionally managed, you may also be able to claim expenses to further reduce your taxes payable, he adds. More information about the taxation of investment income, including foreign income, real estate investments and income splitting using prescribed rate loans, along with the deductibility of investment expenses can be found in the report.


About the 2019 Tax Refund poll:  From March 22nd to March 24th 2019 an online survey of 1,516 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada panelists was executed by Maru/Blue. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.



Source: Gemalto (4/2)


Thales has today completed the acquisition of Gemalto. With Gemalto, Thales will cover the entire critical decision chain in a digital world, from data generation via sensors, to real-time decision support. This acquisition increases Thales’s revenues to €19 billion and self-funded R&D to €1 billion a year, with 80,000 employees in 68 countries.


Completed in 15 months, the acquisition of Gemalto by Thales for €4.8 billion creates a Group on a new scale and a global leader in digital identity and security employing 80,000 people. The larger Thales will master all the technologies underpinning the critical decision chain for companies, organisations and governments. Incorporating the talent and technologies of Gemalto, Thales will develop secure solutions to address the major  challenges faced by our societies, such as unmanned air traffic management, data and network cybersecurity, airport security or financial transaction security.


This combination creates a world-class leader with an unrivalled portfolio of digital identity and security solutions based on technologies such as biometry, data protection, and, more broadly, cybersecurity. Thales will thus provide a seamless response to customers, including critical infrastructure providers such as banks, telecom operators, government agencies, utilities and other industries as they step up to the challenges of identifying people and objects and keeping data secure.


Research and development: inventing the world of tomorrow


Thales and Gemalto share a passion for the advanced technologies that serve as a common foundation and focus for their 80,000 employees. Research and development (R&D) is at the core of the new Group, with its 3,000 researchers and 28,000 engineers dedicated to R&D. Thales has been developing state-of-the-art technologies to meet the most demanding requirements of customers around the world for decades. Today the Group has become a giant laboratory inventing the world of tomorrow, with a portfolio of 20,500 patents, of which more than 400 new ones were registered in 2018.


Technological synergies


The new Thales will cover the entire critical decision chain in an increasingly interconnected and vulnerable world, with capabilities spanning software development, data processing, real-time decision support, connectivity and end-to-end network management. With €1 billion a year devoted to self-funded R&D, the Group will continue to innovate in its key markets, drawing in particular on its world-class digital expertise in the Internet of Things, Big Data, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. The first illustrations are as wide as the Group’s portfolio:

  • Banking: Big Data analytics
  • Defence: biometrics
  • Aerospace: unmanned traffic management
  • Ground transportation: Internet of Things
  • Space: Internet of Things
  • Telecommunications: Big Data analytics


An extended global footprint


Following this acquisition, Gemalto will form one of Thales’s seven global divisions, to be named Digital Identity and Security (DIS). Gemalto will interact with all of the Group’s civil and defence customers and will significantly strengthen its industrial presence in 68 countries. Thales will considerably expand its operations in Latin America (2,500 employees, up from 600), triple its presence in Northern Asia (1,980, from 700), Southeast Asia (2,500, from 800) and India (1,150, from 400) and North America (6,660 employees, up from 4,600). “With Gemalto, a global leader in digital identification and data protection, Thales has acquired a set of highly complementary technologies and competencies with applications in all of our five vertical markets, which are now redefined as aerospace; space; ground transportation; digital identity and security; and defence and security. These are the smart technologies that help people make the best choices at every decisive moment. The acquisition is a turning point for the Group’s 80,000 employees. Together, we are creating a giant in digital identity and security with the capabilities to compete in the big leagues worldwide.” Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO, Thales



Source: MasterCard (4/23)


MasterCard-Sponsored Study Identifies Opportunities for Growth, Partnership


As new technologies and regulations bring new opportunities and challenges to the financial services industry, nearly two-thirds of established companies are leveraging fintech capabilities for growth, according to a new survey from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. That number is expected to increase by 20 percent in the next three years.


“In the Game: Traditional Financial Institutions Embrace Fintech Disruption” surveyed 300 senior executives at financial services companies to gauge their views on the opportunities and threats brought about by newer, nimbler competitors that rely heavily on specialized software, algorithms, and technology to offer their services. The MasterCard-sponsored study showed that traditional institutions are “banking” on brand recognition, customer trust, physical distribution channels, and experience navigating the complex regulatory environments to maintain a competitive advantage. In fact, nearly 80 percent do not feel an immediate threat from fintechs, but are learning from their efforts.


“This report reinforces the importance of collaboration and new partnerships in sparking innovation and new ways of working,” said Michael Miebach, chief product officer of MasterCard. “Many traditional companies are already using technology to improve their business. Yet, there’s an opportunity to realize greater success by thinking differently and combining experience with the agile nature of fintechs.” Over the long-term, every financial services company has an opportunity to learn from today’s emerging fintechs, particularly in the areas of agile business practices, digital-first business plans and leading with an entrepreneurial mindset.


As they do, data and analytics will play an even more critical role. Companies will increasingly use these capabilities to support risk management and the customer experience. Data-driven companies will have a greater advantage in terms of personalizing the customer experience and boosting customer loyalty. Additional insights and the full report are available at



Source: PYMNTS (4/24)


To that end, Volkswagen, the German car manufacturer, said this week it is launching a blockchain pilot aimed at tracking battery supply chains that wend their way from production to the carmaker’s own factories. The trial involves suppliers and sub-suppliers that are responsible for two thirds of Volkswagen lead battery requirements.


As reported on The Next Web, the company has partnered with Minespider, which is an open-source blockchain protocol that tracks and certifies mineral supply chains. The joint efforts between Minespider and Volkswagen seek to provide greater transparency about how (and from where) the batteries are sourced. The Volkswagen pilot follows other automakers’ blockchain announcements where, for instance, Mercedes-Benz said earlier this year it has partnered with Icertis to help document supply chains and gain visibility into third-party suppliers. Marco Philippi, head of strategy for Volkswagen Group Procurement, said in a statement dovetailed with the release that: “Digitalization provides important technological instruments that enable us to track the path of minerals and raw materials in cross-border supply chains in ever greater detail.”


In China


Separately, in China, reports came this week that the first blockchain-enabled notary has opened in that country, at the Beijing CITIC Notary Office. As reported in local press there, through the website People, Director Wang Mingliang has said the initiative offers value in the form of notary services and legal certification. As explained by the site, the notary-with-blockchain offering lets certificate holders view and verify contents of a document though codes that are scanned – effective lines of defense against fraud.


In addition, as reported earlier this month, Blockdata estimated there are 263 blockchain-related projects in China, a tally that accounts for as much as 25 percent of the global total of blockchain projects. The British Virgin Islands has linked with a blockchain startup, Lifelabs, to devise a crypto payment platform that will help speed and streamline financial transactions between the dozens of islands in the territory. Under the terms of the partnership, the BVI and the blockchain firm will provide Rapid Cash Response in case of emergencies. Users, by deploying an app, can access accounts to deposit funds as emergencies strike. Digital currencies can be sent and received through the accounts.


“The intrinsic value of’s platform is found in its trifecta of security, transparency and efficiency,” said CEO Sanjay Jadhav in a statement about the partnership. “It is estimated that adopters of our blockchain platform as a service (PaaS) will reduce their current transactional fees in excess of 50 percent, all while incurring zero out-of-pocket cost to implement it, speeding the average transaction time exponentially compared to Automated Clearing House (ACH) electronic payments, wired [payments] or over-the-counter cash transactions.”


Finally, in further evidence of JPMorgan Chase’s burgeoning moves into the blockchain, the banking giant is expanding its projects to help reduce errors in global, cross-border payments. The company is boosting the number of new features with its Interbank Information Network, which looks to help the 220 banks using the network (which began operations two years ago) to view real-time payments data. As reported by the Financial Times, John Hunter, JPM’s head of global clearing, has said the blockchain-enabled feature can help verify the validity of the bank accounts to which payments are sent.


“Banks’ straight-through processing rates are in the mid-80s to mid-90s. It’s that gap – the 5 to 20 percent of payments – that have to be assessed by operations where we’re trying to alleviate some of that pain,” the executive told the FT. The verification feature is slated to debut in the fall of this year.


Source: PYMNTS (4/23)


Now, when you like your credit card rewards … you can really “like” them.


On social media – specifically, on Facebook. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday morning (April 23) that at least a few credit card giants – Capital One Financial Corp. and American Express Co. among them – are spending time (and a significant sum of money) on efforts to buy Facebook ads, looking to get new users for their cards.


As estimated by Mintel Comperemedia’s data analysis (the data is from Pathmatics), Capital One spent $18.6 million on those efforts last year, leagues above the $2.8 million spent in 2017. American Express spent $13.5 million last year, up from $4 million in 2017.


Discover Financial Services has also committed capital to Facebook ads, spending more than $1 million last year, compared to $426,000 in 2017.


Call it, then, an emerging “brave new world” where credit card companies are tapping into bits and bytes to get a bit more traction. Indeed, the digital realm is blurring the lines of how we interact with companies – and, increasingly, digital is the way that at least some issuers are leaning toward the cards themselves.


Witness the announcement last month by tech giant Apple that it was getting into the credit card game with both plastic and virtual offerings, and the news this past week that PayPal might offer credit cards, too. (As the CEO of Ondot Systems said to PYMNTS in an interview this week, the Apple news seems destined to change the “conversation” about how credit card companies come to market with new offers.)


Of course, the traditional “snail mail” conduit still receives the bulk of attention and funding. The Journal reported that data from those aforementioned firms shows that Capital One and Discover spent $377 million and $196 million on mail solicitations for cards. As noted in the DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail response rates are 9 percent to a house list, 5 percent to a prospect list and social media had a 1 percent rate. Financial services firms were among the heaviest users of direct mail, at about 67 percent of firms in that vertical.


Yet getting new cards out in the field remains important as new issuances have slowed, and at least some cards are no longer being used as consumers have “gamed” rewards programs, repeating that system across several cards as they spend just enough to earn the points they need for the goods and services they desire.


If the goal is to get younger consumers, the social media movement makes sense. Some issuers such as American Express are also paying social media “influencers” to post on sites like Twitter in an effort to pique interest among their followers, which can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands and even to millions of individuals.



Source: PYMNTS (4/22)


Bitcoin, through the lightning network, will soon be available as an option to pay on Amazon and other eCommerce sites, according to reports. Cryptocurrency payment processing company Moon said any e-wallet that is lightning-enabled can also be used through the company’s browser extension. Moon previously allowed about 250 beta users to use crypto on eCommerce sites by connecting them through exchange accounts like Coinbase.


“(The extension) will pop up a QR code and it will have the lightning invoice, which you could also copy and paste if you can’t use the QR code for some reason, and you’ll be able to pay with your favorite lightning wallet,” Moon CEO Ken Kruger told CoinDesk. Amazon itself does not handle the bitcoin, and Kruger didn’t say which financial institutions are converting it from crypto to fiat (real currency) so that merchants receive actual money. He added that by next year, users with the lightning feature on their browser should be able to shop from any eCommerce site.


“There’s no direct merchant integration,” Kruger said. “We’re integrating with the Visa and MasterCard networks, and we get a cut of the interchange fees that merchants pay every time they receive a credit card transaction.” The company also handles the interface and manages the payment channels. Moon is widely regarded as having huge potential to be an anchor for crypto businesses in the next five years. The company was founded last year with only $100,000 invested through the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator. The accelerator’s Managing Director Murat Aktihanoglu said he sees the firm’s incredible potential.


“We invested in Moon as a long-term portfolio company,” he noted. Kruger said he wants to continue to grow the company and raise a Series A round in 2019.


“There’s a lot of opportunities to help solve some of those usability problems and get people onto the lightning network, increasing adoption in that way,” Kruger said. “We’re going to engage with other folks in the lightning community to see what people are doing, what they’re working on and if there are any significant gaps. We’d love to step in and help whenever possible.”


The company said the payment interface should be ready by April 24.



Source: PYMNTS (4/24)                            


The sharing economy is butting against regulatory challenges. As the number of sharing economy participants grows worldwide, governments and regulatory bodies are starting to ask more questions.


Regulators want to have a greater stake in the way sharing platforms operate. Many of these regulators also now expect sharing and payment services to comply with shifting data regulations, like GDPR.


In the April edition of the Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, PYMNTS examines how regulatory compliance changes are impacting the growth of the sharing economy. The Playbook also looks at how payment services and other third-party platforms are working with shifting compliance demands to participate in the global sharing economy.


Around the Payments and the Platform Economy


As data security and transparency become greater concerns across a number of markets, some services are already working to confront the challenges.


In India, Google Pay is up against the New Delhi High Court over its operations in the region, facing a debate over how the payment service should be regulated. A reclassification could lead to significant changes in how the mobile payment service can operate in the country.


Meanwhile, homesharing platforms like Airbnb are battling regulators in states like New York, as hotels vie for a shift in occupancy laws. Putting this into practice would call into question whether or not Airbnb could operate in several state markets — a win for hotels. In China, eCommerce platforms are also seeing shifts in regulation, with the country debating legislation that would reclassify both foreign and domestic players alike as they fight for market share.


Homesharing Platforms Look to Lease Features to Mitigate Data Concerns


As the homesharing market grows extensively around the world, consumers are expecting more when it comes to verification on the platform. Sellers want to know that buyers are who they say they are, while buyers want an assurance of legitimacy when it comes to sellers.


According to Hugo Monteiro, co-founder and technology advisor for homesharing platform Spotahome, home rental services need to offer more security features to assuage the growing concerns expressed by consumers. Along with other features, home rental platforms need to offer users more options when it comes to how they want to pay, and how they’d like to be paid to create more consumer trust, he said.


To learn more about how Spotahome is approaching data security and customer trust, read the Playbook’s feature story.


Why Stopped Accepting Payments


As a 100-year-old staple of the hospitality industry, hostels remain one of the top lodging options where consumers are booking stays on the internet. Yet, as consumers start to expect faster service with more security, payments can be a major undertaking for booking sites. That’s why no longer accepts them, according to Owner and Founder David Orr.


With the hostel industry still an attractive choice for millennial customers, is taking an intermediary role, leaving payment and booking friction to partner platforms like


Source: G+D Mobile Security (4/18)


G+D Mobile Security has won XPENG Motors as a new customer. The Chinese manufacturer of electric cars will equip its new production vehicle with a digital smart car key. Key elements of thetechnologies, solutions, services and infrastructure are delivered by G+D.


The next generation model of XPENG Motors, a highly intelligent and high performance coupe named P7, will be available in China with the DCK (Digital Car Key) service from G+D Mobile Security. Buyers receive two NFC (Near Field Communication) cards as digital keys with which they can open, turn on and turn off the vehicle. This makes a conventional physical car key obsolete. G+D's DCK system is also integrated in Xiaomi's NFC solution, allowing P7 drivers to receive and share their digital car keys via their Xiaomi smartphone and mobile network.


The XPENG P7 will be presented to a broad specialist audience for the first time at Auto Shanghai 2019 from 18 to 25 April. For manufacturers, cyber security is one of the most important criteria when introducing a digital car key solution. G+D delivers security technologies and services for the entire lifecycle of such a solution.


The digital car key solution from G+D Mobile Security for the XPENG P7 includes the following basic components:

  • DCK Management Server: complete lifecycle management of the digital car key, including application, generation, distribution of the digital car key and authentication of the vehicle owner;
  • eSE (embedded Secure Element) in the vehicle: certification according to Common Criteria EAL 5+; secure storage of keys, certificates and confidential data; secure connection of service platform and mobile device; verification of authentication protocols and commands;
  • Mobile Security Service: In XPENG’s case, mobile security relies on a secure element in the mobile. For more general cases without the secure element the
  • solution will use G+D mobile security framework CyWall integrated in a smartphone environment for the secure use and management of mobile apps on networked devices; secure storage of digital keys and certificates using cryptographic methods; securing the connection between service platform and vehicle;
  • TSM (Trusted Service Manager) services: dynamic and secure management of
  • applets and credentials in the in-vehicle eSE "over-the-air".


"The range of applications for mobile devices is growing continuously, and the digital car key is another example of a dynamically developing market. G+D Mobile Security is broadly positioned in this area and supports digital car key solutions in various form factors such as wearables, smartphones or NFC cards and via various access technologies such as passive entry passive start, Bluetooth low energy or NFC," explains Alois Kliner, Divisional Head Digital Enterprise Security at G+D Mobile Security.


Rocky Liu, Vice Product General Manager at XPENG, says: “As an emerging intelligent vehicle brand, XPENG views the partnership with G+D as part of our extreme pursuit to excellence in information security and service innovation. G+D’s offerings based on their experience and expertise in finance and proximity communication are an important foundation for such pursuit. Our users will enjoy comprehensive driving experience through our collaborative innovation.”


G+D's technologies, solutions and services for digital car keys are designed for the global market. In China, several vehicle OEMs already rely on the DCK solution from G+D. They plan to launch the DCK service before the end of this year or at the beginning of 2020.



Source: American Express (4/2)


American Express and Delta Air Lines have signed an 11-year renewal extending their exclusive Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards from American Express portfolio through the end of 2029. New agreement sets stage to create industry’s most valuable co-brand portfolio; extends relationship through 2029. Co-brand credit cards, Delta Sky Club® access and the Membership Rewards® program remain key features.


American Express and Delta Air Lines have signed an 11-year renewal extending their exclusive Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards from American Express portfolio through the end of 2029. The long-term agreement will leverage shared strengths to deliver best-in-class value to customers, while continuing existing features, including:

  • Ongoing investment in industry-leading benefits for Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards from American Express
  • Complimentary access to the award-winning network of Delta Sky Clubs around the world for Delta Reserve Card Members and Platinum Card® Members from American Express
  • Delta participation in the Membership Rewards program from American Express, allowing those points to transfer into the SkyMiles® Program
  • Delta as an American Express Card-accepting merchant


“Delta and American Express are two great consumer brands that share a passion for service to our customers, employees and communities. Our shared trust helps us work together to find innovative ways to offer greater opportunity to our customers as we grow our long-term partnership,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “Enhancing customer loyalty is at the heart of our business. Our partnership with American Express provides a competitive advantage as we deliver substantial value to our customers and owners.”


“This is a true partnership steeped in common values, strong relationships and 23 years of history,” said Stephen J. Squeri, Chairman and CEO of American Express. “We are thrilled to extend our agreement in a way that combines so many of American Express’ unique assets and capabilities with Delta's large and engaged customer base to drive growth for both companies. We will be working together across our card, merchant and travel businesses to expand the partnership and believe this continues to be a very attractive platform for growth that delivers substantial benefits to our customers, our partners and our shareholders.”


As the two companies work together, Delta expects its benefit from the relationship to double to nearly $7 billion annually by 2023, up from $3.4 billion in 2018, strengthening Delta’s increasingly diversified revenue stream. American Express expects attractive growth economics over the term of the agreement and affirmed its previous guidance for 2019 of FX-adjusted revenue growth in the 8-10 percent range and adjusted earnings per share between $7.85 and $8.35, subject to any contingencies and legal settlements1. The economics of the new terms are not expected to have a material effect on the first quarter results of American Express.


Since 1996, Delta and American Express have offered a portfolio of co-branded products that allow eligible Card Members to earn miles and receive other Delta-related benefits such as first checked bag free, Main Cabin 1 priority boarding and Delta Sky Club access. In 2018, the companies added 1 million new Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Members while spending across the card portfolio grew by double digits. Delta is the largest co-brand partner for American Express and its only U.S. airline consumer co-brand partner.


The airline continues to invest in the SkyMiles program, named a Best Travel Rewards program by U.S. News & World Report for the second year, while leading the industry when it comes to launching innovative ways to use miles on more Delta offerings, the latest of which is post-purchase upgrades. This pairs with the increased ability to earn miles on everyday activities through partnerships with brands customers love like Lyft and Airbnb. And, the award-winning Delta Sky Club experience continues to be a reason travelers choose to fly Delta.



Source: Canadian Credit Union Association (4/17)


After a five-year delay, Canada’s new trademark laws take effect on June 17, 2019. The legislation contains long-awaited amendments to modernize the trademark landscape in Canada and bring it in-line with international treaties, namely the Madrid protocol.


The following are some of the key changes coming into force (“CIF”):

  • Registrations - Trademark registrations filed after the CIF date will be valid for 10 years, reduced from the previous 15-year period. Renewals will only be permissible within a six-month window, prior to and after renewal deadline date.
  • Applications - A simplified application process will eliminate the registrant’s responsibility to specify a basis for filing, (i.e. date of first use or proposed use) or execute a ‘Proof of Use’ declaration prior to registration, in the case of the latter.
  • Fees - The filing fee will shift from the current rate of $250 for all goods and services outlined in the trademark application, to fees charged on a ‘per-class’ basis. The rate for the first classification will be $330, and $100 per each additional class. Renewal fees will increase to $400 for the first class and an additional $125 for every class thereafter. The $200 registration fee will be eliminated.
  • Non-traditional trademarks - Registration will open for non-traditional items such as sound, texture, scents, shape, three dimensional objects, etc. The special sauce you enjoy on a Big Mac sandwich or the iconic rumble of a Harley Davidson motorcycle may become future registered assets of intellectual property. Of course, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”) will require the registrant to prove such items are distinctive by supplying sound evidence of extensive use and promotion in the marketplace.
  • International applications - Canada will adopt the Madrid Protocol, a centralized system for registering and managing trademarks worldwide, allowing for a streamlined and cost-effective process for filing trademark applications through the World Intellectual Property Association (“WIPO”) for protection in up to 120 jurisdictions.


In addition to the changes outlined above, amendments will also be made to the technical requirements of the Act, examination protocols, opposition proceedings and other aspects of trademark management and enforcement.


Credit unions may benefit from the upcoming changes by:

  • Taking action to renew any trademark registration(s) in advance of the June 17, 2019 deadline, to maintain the current 15-year period.
  • Filing any trademark registration(s) under consideration to:
  • Avoid delays by the influx of registrations resulting from international applications.
  • Evade trademark squatters who aim to profit from the elimination of the ‘basis for filing’ requirement by selling or licensing their trademark(s) to businesses that use those marks.
  • Bypass the “per class” fee(s).
  • Maintaining proof of use records (i.e. samples and collateral) to protect your trademark(s) from cancellation due to non-use.
  • Enlisting a watch service to monitor the marketplace for trademark infringement and foster brand protection.
  • Engaging legal counsel for additional guidance with the changes.


  • Canadian Credit Union Association is a Member of ACT Canada; please visit


Source: PYMNTS (4/24)


Pretty much nothing these days escapes the pull of the digital economy – and that goes for the most basic needs, such as clothing, food and shelter. Now comes further evidence of the change in home buying brought upon by technological advances and shifts in consumer behavior and desires.


The slow but ongoing shift from traditional boots-on-the-ground home buying to digital shopping continues with the launch of an iPhone app from Zillow that enables 3D tours of properties in the U.S. and Canada. According to one description of the newly released tool, “realtors use the iOS app to take panoramic photos of the home, which the server then stitches together into a complete 3D tour, in much the same way as Google’s Street View building interiors.”


Virtual Tour


Shoppers can click or tap to virtually move around the home. The 3D digital tool is not a full augmented reality “experience, but does provide a much better sense of the space of a home than static photos. The company says it is designed to supplement, rather than replace, video tours – as some buyers prefer to navigate around the home themselves.” Zillow reportedly will add the tool to listings free of charge.


The move comes amid a larger effort by Zillow to turn itself into a real estate ecosystem and better compete with other real estate operators as home buyers become increasingly digital and mobile. Recent activity indicates Zillow also wants to help customers put in an offer, secure financing, pay their rent and – in some cases – even sell them the house directly. In short, Zillow doesn’t just want to be a customer’s entrance into the real estate market – it aims to be the real estate ecosystem that consumers can grow up and out with. But as Zillow stands as a solid example of ongoing changes in the industry, the company is hardly the only real estate player that hopes to innovate and disrupt to make the most of digital technology, payments and commerce.


Less Friction


Among the main goals for some players? Make the home buying and selling process come as close as it can to the “ease of trading in your car,” according to a recent PYMNTS interview with Sean Black, CEO of home trade-in platform Knock, which is coming off a $400 million Series B funding round led by the Foundry Group. He also likened the process to Uber, a relatively easy mobile experience by which customers can keep track of the transaction.


The Knock process shows how digital technology combines with other fresh processes to provide a new kind of home buying and selling experience. First, a homeowner submits a property to Knock for a price estimate, followed by a phone consultation. A “licensed local expert” working with Knock then helps the homeowner look for a new house. Knock also helps customers find mortgages via the platform’s partners, Black said. Next, Knock buys the new home via an all-cash transaction (in fact, part of the new funding round goes toward paying for that part of the business, he told PYMNTS). Paying cash usually results in discounts of between 3 percent and 5 percent.


New Models


The next step? Knock handles the listing and sale of the old home with its own cash. Once the homeowner accepts an offer and the old house is sold, Knock transfers the new house into the customer’s name and mortgage. Knock and the customer then settle the improvements and other costs the company incurred throughout the process. Finally, Knock takes a 6 percent commission on the sale of the old house.


Home buying and selling platform Perch is another company that recently announced new funding – in this case, $220 million. Perch also targets homeowners looking to sell their current home in order to buy a new one, which the startup calls “dual trackers.” These customers currently represent about 60 percent of all homebuyers.


As you can imagine, millennials are also changing the way homes are bought and sold – again, via digital payments and commerce. The market for millennial real estate consumers remains an extremely uneven and, for many, rather uncertain place.


According to data released from Redfin, affording a down payment was the leading concern among millennials looking to purchase a home in the last 12 months, with 50 percent of respondents noting down payment woes. But new services are striving to turn that problem into a business opportunity. For instance, HomeFundIt, which is operated by CMG Financial, gives otherwise qualified (by credit score and income) homebuyers a way to crowdfund down payments and other associated costs from family members and friends. As part of a conventional financing agreement with a bank or mortgage lender, consumers can receive cash gifts toward a down payment, but the circle of eligible gift givers is very limited – and those gifts must be carefully (and sometimes arduously) verified.


HomeFundIt allows consumers to take crowdfunded gifts from a wider range of their friends and family network, and on average helps users raise about $2,500 toward their down payment costs. CMG also offers users some access to match funds with grants to further boost their down payment amount. From new listing tools that reflect some of the latest advances in retail tech to the use of digital financing, home buying and home selling are undergoing dramatic shifts, with more certain to come.


Source: FIME (4/1)


FIME announced that its testing laboratories have been accredited by EMVCo for EMV®* Contactless Interface v3.0. Card, terminal, smartphone and wearable manufacturers can now align with EMVCo’s updated EMV Level 1 Specification. The enhanced specification addresses the latest interoperability and communication needs of EMV acceptance devices and contactless payment form factors.


Vendor’s migration efforts are set to commence from April 2019. FIME’s gap analysis, tools and lab certification services are helping manufacturers to efficiently and successfully design, develop, deploy and validate their products.


"Payment form factors are evolving and diversifying,” comments Stephanie El Rhomri, VP Services at FIME. “This is great for consumers but can present interoperability challenges, particularly for terminal manufacturers as they cannot afford for retailers to experience false declines in-store. To continue driving adoption, products and services must work seamlessly and these latest specifications bring the Level 1 specifications up to speed with innovation to reduce interoperability issues in the field.”


The availability of leading testing tools from different providers brings flexibility to FIME customers worldwide, supporting product development and debugging either in-house at the customer’s site or at FIME lab ahead of formal approval.


"We have vast experience in supporting payment technology migrations around the world,” adds Stephanie. “With our full end-to-end services, manufacturers can identify the gaps, put a plan in place, and achieve smooth, swift and cost-effective migration to EMV Contactless Interface v3.0 with a single expert partner.”


FIME’s experts also offer training and set-up assistance on the tools to ensure consistency between in-house testing processes and formal approval conditions.



Source: PYMNTS (4/22)


Afghanistan is looking to boost its ailing economy with bitcoin. At the annual Spring Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, Khalil Sediq, governor at the Central Bank of Afghanistan, told The Asia Times that Afghanistan might issue a sovereign crypto bond that uses blockchain technology. The goal is to raise $5.8 billion to support the country’s critical mining, energy and agriculture sectors.


Afghanistan has been in economic turmoil for the last three decades, with the country’s 25-percent population currently unemployed and living under the poverty level. Sediq explained that bitcoin could be used with a form of metals future, such as lithium, adding that the value of Afghanistan’s mineral reserves is estimated at more than $3 trillion. In fact, the country is expected to be one of the world’s largest miners of lithium, which is in short supply due to the high demand for electric vehicles.


Christine Lagarde, the managing director at the IMF, said that while she supports Afghanistan’s bitcoin ambitions, she believes that bond issuance over blockchain should be tested in a sandbox environment before it is formally implemented. In the meantime, Afghanistan isn’t the only country looking into bitcoin. Tunisia has formed a working group that is studying the issuance of a sovereign bitcoin bond. Banque Centrale de Tunisie governor Marouane El Abassi told delegates at the Spring Meetings that his country was already hosting digital cash payments through a Poste Tunisienne system created by DigitUS Tech.


And Uzbekistan sent a delegation to the event so it could study bitcoin and blockchain. Uzbek Ambassador to the United States Javlon Vakhabov told delegates that an Uzbek bitcoin bond could be coupled with the cotton futures market, as the Central Asian nation is the world’s fifth-largest producer of the commodity.


Source: PYMNTS (4/19)


Chipotle Mexican Grill has been the victim of a cyberattack that compromised the credit card payment information for a small number of customers. Many customers have recently posted on social media that orders placed at the restaurant fraudulently used their payment cards during the first few weeks of April.


“The privacy and security of our customer information is very important,” said Laurie Schalow, chief communications officer at Chipotle, according to Mobile Payments Today. “We have no indication of any breach of Chipotle’s databases or systems.”


“We are among the many retail, hotel and restaurant companies affected by credential stuffing, in which combinations of user names and passwords are accessed by third parties and used on websites of different companies to see if they can gain access,” she added.


Schalow further explained that, “through credential stuffing, [an attacker] can access [the customer’s] account once they have their user name and password, and place an order, but they cannot see their personal credit card data.” Chipotle, which will continue to monitor the situation, recently posted better-than-expected earnings results for the fourth quarter of 2018, reporting sales of $1.23 billion and earnings of $1.72  per share, compared with analysts’ estimates of $1.19 billion and $1.34 per share.


CEO Brian Niccol noted in an earnings conference call that the company saw 6.1 percent comparable restaurant sales growth during the quarter (which included 2 percent restaurant transaction growth), along with restaurant-level margins of 17 percent. “The growth acceleration this quarter gives us confidence that our strategy to win today and create the future is working,” he said. In addition, Niccol revealed that the company opened the doors of 137 new restaurants in 2018, “with industry-leading returns.” In existing restaurants, the company completed the “big fix,” and is working on growing the reach of its digital system to provide more convenience and better access to diners.

ACT Canada helps members understand complex issues and filter truth from market noise for current and emerging commerce trends.  Through a consultative approach with all stakeholder groups, the association provides knowledge and expertise to help members leverage opportunities, confront challenges and advance their businesses. Please visit or contact our office at 1 905 426-6360.

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Andrea McMullen

President | ACT Canada
905 426-6360 ext. 124 | | |

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