LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–March 20, 2015

LowCards.com Weekly Credit Card Update–March 20, 2015

March 20, 2015         Written By Lynn Oldshue

Facebook to Let Messenger Users Send Cash to Friends
Facebook is giving the more than 500 million users of its Messenger app the ability to send money to each other, becoming the latest mobile platform to incorporate a payments service. Once users link a Visa or MasterCard debit card to their Messenger account, they can send their friends money by tapping a dollar sign in the chat box. Facebook said the feature will become available to U.S. users in the coming months. The service will be free, and Facebook said it has no plans to monetize it as this time. Story by Yoree Koh for The Wall Street Journal.

Chinese Phone Giant Xiaomi Tests Mobile Wallet That Pays Interest
Chinese phone giant Xiaomi has introduced a new wrinkle on the mobile wallet: A portable account that bears interest. Xiaomi President Bin Lin offered details of the new beta program Tuesday. Phone users in China can earn an interest rate of 3.058 percent on money transferred from their bank accounts to their mobile wallets. A handful of financial institutions have partnered with Xiaomi on its test of an interest-bearing, money-market-like fund–though Lin said the phone maker has no desire to get into the banking business. Rather, he described the mobile wallet as a service to its customers. Story by Dawn Chmielewski for re/code.

Health Insurer Premera Hit by “Sophisticated Cyberattack”
Health insurer Premera Blue Cross said Tuesday it was hit by a cyberattack that could affect 11 million people. Hackers may have accessed names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, mailing and email addresses, phone numbers, member ID numbers, bank account information, and clinical information of members and applicants. Members of Premera Blue Cross, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, and affiliate brands Vivacity and Connexion Insurance Solutions, along with members of other Blue Cross Blue Shield plans who sought treatment in Alaska or Washington, may have also been impacted. The company said in a release it discovered the breach on Jan. 29, more than eight months after hackers gained access to its systems. Story in CBS MoneyWatch.

Pointing Fingers in Apple Pay Fraud
When Apple was planning its Apple Pay electronic payment system last summer for its iPhones, the nation’s banks raced to be included among the first credit card issuers associated with the new technology. Six months later, some of the nation’s banks are privately complaining that Apple Pay may not be so great after all. But the banks may largely have themselves to blame. A raft of headlines over the last week about unusually high fraud rates from thieves using stolen credit numbers on Apple Pay has exposed what many of the banks privately acknowledge they have been trying to fix for months. Story by Andrew Ross Sorkin for The New York Times.

Point-of-Sale Vendor NEXTEP Probes Breach
NEXTEP Systems, a Troy, Mich.-based vendor of point-of-sale solutions for restaurants, corporate cafeterias, casinos, airports and other food service venues, was recently notified by law enforcement that some of its customer locations have been compromised in a potentially wide-ranging credit card breach. The acknowledgement came in response to reports by sources in the financial industry who spotted a pattern of fraud on credit cards all recently used at one of NEXTEP’S biggest customers: Zoup, a chain of some 75 soup eateries spread across the northern half of the United States and Canada. Story by Brian Krebs for Krebs On Security.

Big Changes at the Three Major Credit Bureaus
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion track consumer credit information on almost every person in the United States. This information is put into a database and also calculated into a credit score that is used to determine what interest rate you will pay on loans as well as the premiums for homeowner’s and auto insurance. The three credit bureaus have instituted a number of significant changes as a result of a March 9 agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. These changes will be implemented over the next several months. Story by Bill Hardekopf for LowCards.com.

Governments: The Next Big Mobile Payments Driver?
A strange set of events is coming together to make government income connect to an unlikely platform: mobile payments. This connection is actually leading some to suggest that government agencies may prove to be leading the next big thing in mobile payments, an assertion that’s being given plenty of backup. Given that mobile phone subscriptions worldwide are approximately equal to people on the planet, that’s got governments thinking that maybe the new weapon of choice when it comes to payment systems should be none other than mobile payments. Bringing mobile payments into the government payments arena is likely to prove a useful proposition, if for no other reason than it should speed up operations. When operations move faster, particularly government operations, that improves efficiency, allowing more to be done in the same amount of time. Story by Steven Anderson for Payment Week.

CFPB’s Card Study Could Set Stage for New Regulations, Enforcement
The CFPB is required to perform a study of the market every two years to gauge how rules have affected credit card terms and disclosures. But for this go around, the agency added two additional topics it wants to examine: debt collection practices, specifically for debt being charged off or sold, and how issuers are applying ability-to-repay standards to applicants. Though the study is required by Congress, it’s also a tool in helping the CFPB determine whether the market needs further rulemaking. Industry observers said the study is a precursor to what the CFPB may crack down on next year in the card market. Story by Rachel Witkowski for American Banker.

American Express, Charles Schwab Enter Co-Branded Card Agreement
American Express announced it will enter into an exclusive multi-year partnership with brokerage company Charles Schwab to develop two new premium cards. The cards will be available early next year and will carry the names of both companies. No other details were released about the cards, but some analysts believe one could be a charge card and the other a credit card. Story by John Oldshue for LowCards.com.

Identity Theft: 4 Trends to Watch
The Federal Trade Commission released the list of top complaints received by it’s Consumer Sentinal Data Network – which gathers complaints not only directly from consumers to the FTC but also from law enforcement agencies (state and federal), and national consumer protection agencies. Leading the pack for the 15th consecutive year: Identity theft. In 2014, 12.7 million U.S. consumers were victimized to the tune of $16 billion, according to a report released this week by Javelin Strategy and Research. Here are some new ways consumers should be on their guard. Story by Jean Chatzky for Fortune.

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 14.48 percent, slightly higher than last week’s average of 14.46 percent. Six months ago, the average was 14.51 percent. One year ago, the average was 14.47 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