LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–December 29, 2017

December 29, 2017, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Americans Have More Credit Cards And More Debt
The credit card market is alive and well – and growing, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released on Wednesday. The biennial report to Congress found that the total number of credit card accounts, the total credit available to cardholders, and the average amount of card debt have all increased over the past two years. During that same period, the delinquency rate (paying late or not at all) – which had fallen to historic lows following the financial crisis of 2007-2009 – has “modestly increased,” the CFPB analysis showed. Story by Herb Weisbaum for NBC News

Goodbye Signatures? Credit Card Firms Make Big Change
Don’t take this too hard: Your autograph isn’t worth what it once was. American Express, Mastercard and Discover have each announced that, starting in April, they will no longer require signatures on any U.S. and Canadian credit card purchases. Actually, American Express is making the change for all its transactions worldwide. Visa hasn’t announced any plans to do the same. But there’s speculation it may eventually do so. That pretty much would fully evaporate what may be the most common reason U.S. consumers still bother writing signatures, which were once the most prominent symbol of our financial integrity and proof of our identity. Story by Matt Kempner for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Why The U.S. Is Still a Big Growth Market For Visa And Mastercard
Shares of Visa and Mastercard have soared since their IPOs, thanks to a general shift in payments from cash to cards, as well as a dominant position in the U.S. payments ecosystem. But while investors look to emerging markets as drivers of growth going forward, data from a Federal Reserve study show that these two payments businesses have massive growth potential even in their most developed markets. Here’s why Visa and Mastercard can continue to drive profit growth from U.S. consumer spending. Story by Jordan Wathen for the Motley Fool

Holiday Retail Sales Rise 5 Percent
Holiday retail sales in 2017 increased 4.9 percent over the previous year, the largest year-over-year increase since 2011, according to the latest MasterCard SpendingPulse report. The report, which tracks retail spending by all payment types, found that consumer confidence, innovative retail strategies, robust online shopping activity and last-minute gift-buying produced the record-setting numbers. Electronics and appliance sales increased 7.5 percent, the strongest showing in 10 years. The home furniture and furnishings category grew 5.1 percent, as did home improvement. Story in Mobile Payments Today

China Will Cap QR-Code Payments To Tackle Fraud
China’s central bank is issuing regulations over QR-code-based payments. Paying for things by scanning a barcode with the Alibaba or WeChat app is more common than using cash in the region and now the government wants to keep closer tabs on where the money is going. You might laugh at the idea, but QR codes aren’t the punchline in the east that they are here. For instance, plenty of cabbies prefer taking QR payments because it means they don’t have to handle small change. The payment systems have a dark side, though, facilitating money laundering and allowing shady online retailers to cook the books by sending themselves money. These new regulations could stymie those nefarious deeds. Starting in April, static QR transactions will have a hard limit of $76.52 per person, per day. Story by Timothy J. Seppala for Engadget

Bitcoin Falls 11% On S. Korea Curbs On Digital Currency Trade
Bitcoin fell more than 11 per cent after South Korea said on Thursday it would ban anonymous trading of virtual currencies and crack down on money laundering activities using them. The announcement came as the hyper-wired South emerged as a hotbed for cryptocurrency trading, accounting for some 20 per cent of global bitcoin transactions, about 10 times the country’s share of the world economy. The new rules announced by Seoul include a ban on opening anonymous cryptocurrency accounts and new legislation to allow regulators to close virtual currency exchanges if necessary. Story in Gulf News

Retailers Offer Myriad Returns Options to Retain Customers
After a strong holiday shopping season, retailers are bracing for a flood of returns, and not just at the customer service counter. This year traditional and online retailers have expanded the number of locations and routes consumers can use to return merchandise, from in-store kiosks and lockers to the mall concierge, grocery stores, parcel shipping locations and at-home pickup. Amazon said it has expanded options for in-person returns this year, with a network of 2,000 “locker” locations, including 400 at Whole Foods stores, where customers can drop off items to be returned. Amazon also partnered with Kohl’s stores in Chicago and Los Angeles, which are accepting returns of Amazon goods bought online. Wal-Mart is touting its Mobile Express Returns kiosks, located in its stores, where it says customers can complete the return process in less than five minutes and receive a refund within a day or so. Story by Erica E. Phillips for The Wall Street Journal

Retailers See Increased Declines In Counterfeit Fraud
EMV is leading to a significant drop in counterfeit fraud. The combination of increased EMV card penetration and rising merchant participation is driving growth in chip-on-chip volume, which hit $59.4 billion in September, up twelvefold from two years earlier. Merchants who offered EMV transactions saw a 66% decline in counterfeit fraud – that’s even higher than the 52% decline reported last December. And while that’s good news for in-store sellers, it means that card-not-present (CNP) fraud will likely continue to rise, as fraud moves to channels with weaker security. Story by Jaime Toplin for Business Insider

John McAfee’s Twitter Account Hacked In Cyber-Security Breach
Cyber security expert John McAfee has revealed his Twitter account has been hacked. The tech pioneer’s account was compromised and used to promote obscure crypto-currencies. But Mr McAfee insisted the breach did not reflect badly on his own company’s cyber-security credentials, saying: “I have no control over Twitter’s security.” Story by Robin De Peyer for the Evening Standard



The information contained within this article was accurate as of December 29, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for LowCards.com for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue