LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 19, 2016

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–February 19, 2016

February 19, 2016         Written By Lynn Oldshue

As Marijuana Sales Grow, Start-Ups Step In for Wary Banks
The start-up, Tokken is one of several recently created companies looking to solve one of the most vexing problems facing marijuana businesses in Colorado and several other states: the endless flow of dirty, dangerous, hard-to-track cash. The State of Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2014, joining several other states where the drug has been decriminalized in some form, but Visa and MasterCard will not process transactions for pot dispensaries and most banks will not open accounts for the businesses–leaving dispensaries dealing with a constant influx of cash, and nowhere good to put it. Tokken and others start-ups, with names like Hypur and Kind Financial, have been putting together software that helps banks and dispensaries monitor and record transactions, with the long-term goal of moving transactions away from cash. Story by Nathaniel Popper for The New York Times.

MasterCard Promises Fewer Card Declines When You’re Traveling
Nowadays, if you buy something out of character, that sets off fraud alarms at the bank and locks down your credit card. MasterCard, recognizing that this is a huge annoyance to customers, has spent “several million of dollars” to rework its vast, worldwide communication network and cut down the false alarms by 25%. It’s tapping into all the extra information that’s collected on us–by retailers and your smartphone–to track our location and verify it’s really you. That means you won’t have to call your bank and divulge your travel plans. MasterCard will automatically know you’re traveling and tell the bank it’s OK. Nowadays, if you buy something out of character, that sets off fraud alarms at the bank and locks down your credit card. Story by Jose Pagliery for CNN Money.

Apple Pay Goes Live In China
Apple Pay has today launched in China, a move that takes Apple’s digital payments service into its fifth country worldwide. Apple Pay initially supports credit and debit cards from UnionPay, which counts 260 million users. UnionPay isn’t just relying on Apple though, it secured a similar partnership with Samsung last year and also already offers its QuickPass contactless payment technology, which it plans to expand to cover alternative technology such as wearables. Apple Pay has been one of the pioneers of mobile payments in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia–the four other countries were it is operational–but it is playing catchup in China, where it must compete with services like Alibaba’s Alipay, which has over 400 million registered users, and Tencent’s WePay, which is available through blockbuster Chinese messaging app WeChat. Story by Jon Russell for Tech Crunch.

Whole Foods’ Turnaround Plan Features Mobile Payments
Once the leader of the natural food concept, Whole Foods has had to fend off a host of competitors in the meantime. Costco to Target have stepped in to the fray, and so have some outright organic rivals. A plummeting stock price means a call for change, and change is coming in the form of mobile payments. Mobile payments won’t be the only change to Whole Foods; if it were that easy, everyone would have done it by now. Also slated for arrival is a new value concept called “365 by Whole Foods Market,” as well as new exclusive brand sales available only at Whole Foods, greater discounts—one of the biggest problems with “organic” anything is a perception of higher prices–and more work with Instacart. It’s also just recently launched digital coupons in its mobile app. Story by Steven Anderson for Payment Week.

Visa Now Owns a Significant Stake in Square Mobile Payments
Visa has now taken a considerable stake in the Square mobile payments company, through shares purchased ahead of the initial public offering (IPO) at Square, according to a Security and Exchange Commission regulatory filing. Those Class B shares do not trade publicly. That said, Square has revealed in its filing that Visa has the right to translate 3.52 million of those Class Bs into Class A shares. Should Visa choose to take advantage of that option, it would hold a 10 percent share of the mobile payments company. That would be only slightly smaller than the current largest stakeholder, Capital Research and Management Co, which owns a 12.4 percent slice of the company. Story in the Mobile Commerce Press.

Credit Cards Come to Monopoly
Monopoly has been one of the world’s most popular board games since it was introduced in 1903, and it is about to see major changes. Hasbro, the manufacturer of the game, has decided to follow the worldwide move toward a cashless society by bringing credit cards to the game. The familiar pastel cash transactions will be gone forever. In Monopoly Ultimate Banking, which will come out later this year, players will receive credit cards they can scan to spend and receive money. Even Chance and Community Chest card awards will be automatically loaded to players’ accounts. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

Paid Too Much for Something? These Credit Cards will Pay You Back
A handful of credit cards offer price protection programs that give customers money back on an item that went on sale after they bought it. The savings can amount to thousands of dollars per year. But like most credit card perks, the benefit often goes overlooked. The rules and process of getting a refund differ–and some make it easier than others. Story by Kathryn Vasel for CNN Money.

Adoption of Chip-Enabled Credit Cards Falls Behind
Businesses are falling behind schedule when it comes to being able to accept chip-enabled credit cards. Despite an October milestone that largely shifted the burden of liability to merchants, only 37% of businesses are currently able to accept chip-enabled credit and debit cards, according to a new survey by The Strawhecker Group. That’s fewer than the 44% that were expected to be ready based on a previous survey. Confusion about the new EMV or chip-enabled technology, as well as concern about making such a significant transition during the holiday shopping season, likely contributed to the lag. Story by Charisse Jones for USA Today.

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report
Based on the 1,000+ cards in the LowCards.com Complete Credit Card Index, the average advertised APR for credit cards is 14.83 percent, identical to last week. Six months ago, the average was 14.65 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.45 percent.


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
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