Category Archives: News

Merchant Hub Spotlights Polo Player Luis Escobar

Luis Escobar enjoys living and playing polo in Wellington and wants to share his passion with the world.

Escobar and Kazi enjoying the win at the 2011 Miami Beach World Polo Cup

Escobar first came to Wellington with his parents in 1978 when he was 7 and was hooked. He finished high school in Costa Rica, then moved to Wellington in 1989 and attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, graduating with a marketing degree. Escobar played polo when he could, basing his operation out of Santa Clara Polo Club, which his father purchased in 1984. “My father named it after my mom’s third name, Clara,” said Escobar. “Santa stands for Saint. He realized she had to be a Saint if she was married to him, hence the name Santa Clara.”

As a 7 goal player, Escobar just finished the season playing for Coca-Cola in the US Open and this week will play for the 4th year in a row at the 2012 Maserati Miami Beach World Polo Cup for the Lufthansa Private Jet team alongside National Team Captain for the UK team, Jamie Morrison and Merchant Hub CEO and team patron, Thomas Kato.

The Miami Beach World Polo Cup takes place on the sands of South Beach April 26th-29th.  Escobar had this to say about the tournament, “I think it’s fantastic.  I think it’s one of the best events for polo.  The people who come here really get into it.  The horses love it, the players are good.  The quality of players they are bringing is getting better and better every year.  So it’s getting very, very competitive, it’s going to get harder and harder every year”.

Luis Escobar

“Luis has an incredible reputation in the world of polo and has won countless tournaments over the last 30 years, I’m honored to play in my first professional polo match alongside him”, said teammate and team patron, Thomas Kato.

Lufthansa is sponsoring both men’s and women’s matches at the 2012 Miami Beach World Polo Cup after winning the 2011 Chicago Beach Polo.

T-Mobile USA Becomes The First Operator To Offer Square Credit Card Readers

T-Mobile USA has become the first mobile operator to offer Square payment readers to its customers, allowing smartphone owners on its networks to buy the payment accessory direct from its stores from today.

Square’s attachments are already on sale in Apple Stores and other retailers including Best Buy and Target, allowing iPhone, iPad and Android device owners to process credit card transactions on their mobile device.

The device is being aimed at small business owners that want to offer credit card payments to their customers. The company has set up a dedicated page on its website, here.

Square founder and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced via Twitter in December that the service now serves over 1 million merchants who are signed up and ready to process transactions.

As a counterpoint, Dorsey said that there are only 8 million merchants who accept credit cards in the US, giving Square a solid chunk of that market. Taking into account the figures that the Twitter co-founder shared, Square had managed to expand and capture 1/8th of the entire credit card processing market in just 2 short years since its launch.

Square is currently on the lookout for the best talent in software engineering, hardware engineering, creative, communications and public relations, compliance, finance, legal, marketing, and risk. With $168M in funding, the company can definitely afford to hire all of these positions and so created a slick new recruitment video to help it do so.

T-Mobile USA becomes the first operator to offer Square Credit Card Readers. By Matt Brian. (2012, January 31). Retrieved from http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2012/01/31/t-mobile-usa-becomes-the-first-operator-to-offer-square-credit-card-readers/.

Top Credit Card Processing Trends For 2012

Are You Ready for the Payment Revolution?

The credit card processing industry began a full steam march toward change in 2011. For instance, merchants saw the beginning of a mass migration towards the adoption of new mobile technologies that promise to change the way they accept payments. The industry also saw new legislation that brought public awareness to the high costs of accepting card payments, and new startup companies introduced groundbreaking services to not only help merchants accept payments but also make them smarter marketers while simultaneously lowering their processing costs.

It is my belief that the processing industry is about to undergo a disruption unlike anything is has ever experienced, and that these changes are eminent and unstoppable. Why? Two reasons:

First, and not surprisingly, merchants are fed up with the traditional credit card processing industry. Everywhere they look they are getting hit with more and more fees. It’s not uncommon for a merchant to be paying 4-5% in effective costs when all of their fees are added together against their total card sales. Not only that, but the merchant services industry is notorious for extremely poor customer service. Instead of supplying a product of value and giving merchants fair pricing, most providers rely on locking merchants into contracts with a goal to collect as much in fees for as long as possible. It’s a “churn and burn” industry and merchants have had enough of it.

Second, the new technologies and services that are entering the market promise to be different. These services are promoting features that include the complete elimination of nearly all of the most common fees imposed by traditional processors; such as cancellation fees, monthly fees, annual fees, PCI compliance fees, statement fees, batch header fees,AVS fees and nearly every other fee you can imagine. When it comes to processing costs, many of these services are offering flat rates that are easy to understand and don’t include any hidden downgrade surcharges. As you might have guessed, this is music to most merchants’ ears.

Below you will find my predictions for the top card processing trends for this coming year. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, or by email and RSS to stay informed as we track these changes.

Mainstream Merchant Adoption of Mobile Smartphone Processing

Sliding Credit Card Through Mobile Card Reader

The popularity of iPhone and Android devices has given rise to companies like GoPayment and Square. These companies offer free card readers, free setup, no monthly or annual fees, no contract, and flat processing rates. Square reported that it has shipped nearly one million card readers since its launch in 2009 and GoPayment is likely not far behind. Not only do these services make great mobile options, but they are also great backup options in the event of a service disruption from a primary processor.

Mobile processing popularity has spurred traditional processors into offering similar smartphone apps and card readers in order to compete, but generally under traditional merchant account pricing models. Merchants will need to be careful so as to not fall prey to copycat services that lock them into expensive fees and long-term contracts. Continue reading

CES 2012: Ebay, PayPal Investing Heavily In Mobile Transactions

The mobile payment industry is booming and the eBay company is at the center of it. EBay was involved in two industry panels during CES that discussed the future of digital and mobile payment industries. The company was able to announce record mobile payment volume.

The Ebay Ink Blog was kind of enough to recap the panels that Ebay was involved with. The first panel was PayPal at “Mobile Payment Basics: How the Technology Works.” The title sounds like a boring introductory course, but it turned into a discussion on the pros and cons of the “wallet in the cloud” versus NFC solutions for mobile payments.

“We see the wallet in the cloud as the best way to bridge the gap between the online and offline world,” said David Marcus, VP/GM of Mobile for PayPal.

Andrew Paradise, CEO of Aislebuyer, agreed saying, “If I lose my iPhone, I don’t want to have to cancel all my credit cards. It would be no different than losing my wallet.”

Bill Gadja, Head of Mobile for Visa, was more in favor for NFC solutions, but said that “whatever technology we end up using, it’s all going to come down to the widespread education and adoption by the individual merchants.”

All at the panel agreed that 2012 may very well be the year of the digital wallet. Paypal used this to announce that their mobile payment volume had reached $4 billion, a huge increase from the original prediction of $1.5 billion.

The second panel, aptly named “Planet of the Apps,” included the eBay company proper with Steve Yankovich, VP of Ebay Mobile, speaking on the panel.

The panelists discussed trends in mobile apps in 2011, but Yankovich stressed the importance of QR codes in 2011. He predicts that the next big trend will be apps that utilize the camera on mobile devices.

Chris Hercik, Creative Director at Sports Illustrated, said that organizations need to adapt and react to shifts in consumer behavior. He presented the example of readers using the Sports Illustrated mobile app are asking for interactive ads instead of having to reject or be put off by them.

Yankovich went on to equate eBay to plumbing in that they only exist to connect the buyer to the seller.

eBay, like PayPal, did well in mobile in 2011 as well. The company’s global mobile gross merchandise volume reached $5 billion in 2011.

CES 2012: ebay, Paypal Investing Heavily In Mobile Transactions. (2012, January 11). By Zack Walton. Retrieved from http://www.webpronews.com/ces-ebay-paypal-2012-01.

Online E-Commerce In Romania Grew By 24 Percent To Nearly EUR 160mln Last Year

Electronic commerce with online payment posted a 24 percent boost compared to the previous year up to a level of EUR 158.9 million, according to data from Romcard.

“The growth of the industry is a natural phenomenon, as the industry evolves and attracts more buyers and this trend will continue over the next years,” said Cristian Herghelegiu, Country Manager ePayment, PayU Group.

Unlike other years when only certain domains registered spectacular evolution, last year all domains were on growth.

“If until recently we witnessed growth of 20-30-50 percent or even more in established industries such as tourism and telecom, in 2011 other types of products had such evolution, which is a sign that there is a permanent diversification of the purchase basket and that online acquisitions are becoming a habit,” said Marin Mitroi, general manager of Romcard.

The domains that posted the highest growth were flower sales (29.62 percent), toys (23.38 percent), presents (21.26 percent), IT products (32 percents). At the same time, online donations are had a positive evolution, with a nearly 26 percent growth compared to 2010.

Online e-commerce in Romania grew by 24 percent to nearly EUR 160mln last year. (2012, January 11). Retrieved from http://business-review.ro/news/online-e-commerce-in-romania-grew-by-24-percent-to-nearly-eur-160mln-last-year/13113/.

Consumers Remain Committed To Using Credit Cards

National Foundation For Credit Counseling Poll Reveals Top Financial Resolutions.

According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) December online poll, consumers remain very connected to their credit cards. When asked to rank their 2012 financial resolutions, only six percent of more than 2,300 respondents indicated that decreasing dependence on credit cards was their number one goal.

“At first glance, that statistic could appear to be a warning sign of future trouble. However, credit is not the problem. Instead, it is the misuse of credit that leads people into financial distress,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

Balancing the continuing reliance upon credit, an encouraging statistic from the poll is that the overwhelming majority, 62 percent, selected decreasing debt as their focus for 2012. “If consumers are able to decrease their debt load, continuing to use credit responsibly will help them meet the goal selected by 24 percent of respondents, that of increasing their credit score,” continued Cunningham.

While decreasing debt is always a positive, consumers should not neglect savings, yet that is exactly what respondents appear to be doing. Only eight percent of those weighing in ranked saving as their most important resolution. Without the security of a well-funded emergency savings account, consumers are living without a financial safety net, as unplanned expenses will occur, usually at the worst possible time.

The poll also revealed some interesting trending from 2010 when the identical question was posed. Showing the largest percentage difference between the years, the 2010 poll noted 69 percent of respondents were most interested in decreasing debt, compared to 62 percent in 2011.

The second largest year-over-year difference involved improving the credit score, with that category posting a six percent increase. In 2010, 18 percent of consumers chose increasing their credit score as their main goal, while in 2011, 24 percent selected that category as most important in the New Year. This increase indicates that consumers understand the relationship between the credit score and obtaining credit, confirming their interest in continuing to have access to credit.

“The poll suggests that consumers have recognized the importance of achieving financial stability, and intend to take action. Nonetheless, even though paying down debt and improving the credit score are positive steps, the low priority placed on savings is disturbing,” said Cunningham.

For professional assistance meeting your financial goals, consider an appointment with a Certified Consumer Credit Counselor at an NFCC Member Agency. To be automatically connected to the Agency closest to you, dial (800) 388-2227, or to locate a counselor online go to http://www.DebtAdvice.org. For assistance in Spanish, dial (800) 682-9832.

The actual poll question and answers are as follows:

My #1 financial New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to:

A.    Decrease debt 62% (December 2010 poll = 69%)

B.    Increase savings 8% (December 2010 poll = 7%)

C.    Improve my credit score 24% (December 2010 poll = 18%)

D.    Decrease my dependence on credit cards 6% (December 2010 poll = 7%)

Note: The NFCC’s December Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC Web site (http://www.DebtAdvice.org) from December 1 – 31, 2011 and was answered by 2,319 individuals.

Consumers Remain Committed To Using Credit Cards. (2012, January 6). Retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/1/prweb9083010.htm.

Ryanair Defiant Over Credit Card Surcharges Crackdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A group of 14 people travelling together on Ryanair would pay £168 extra for their flights, despite only making one payment.

Ryanair has defied the government’s move to ban surcharges on payments to airlines and other firms by saying it does not charge its passengers any credit or debit card fees.

Airlines, cinemas and holiday firms will be stopped from imposing millions of pounds in “hidden last-minute” charges on internet bookings. Treasury minister Mark Hoban said the government is prepared to legislate to prevent airlines and other businesses from imposing hefty charges on credit and debit card bookings that are difficult to detect.

However, the budget airline said in a statement: “Ryanair, the UK’s favourite airline, today confirms that it does not impose any debit or credit card fees.”

Ryanair claims instead to charge an “admin fee” per passenger per one-way flight. This £6 charge is levied when a passenger comes to pay and can only be avoided by using the airline’s own prepaid Mastercard. It states on its website that this charge “relates to costs associated with Ryanair’s booking system.”

The charge means that, for example, a group of 14 people travelling together would pay £168 extra for their flights, despite the fact that only one payment is processed for the entire group.

John Holmes, principal economist at Which?, who helped compile a report into excessive card charges which formed the basis of a supercomplaint to the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year, said the Ryanair reaction was typical of the airline and would be dismissed by the government.

“The only time the airline charges that £6 admin fee is when a passenger presents a payment method to the airline,” he said. “The principle of this government legislation is about those charges that are practically unavoidable. You cannot avoid paying for a flight so you cannot avoid the charge.”

Which? says an airline incurs costs of between 8p-20p on debit card transactions. Those rise to between 0.88% and 1.8% of the transaction for payments by credit card. It means a passenger paying the average return fare of £136.09 should pay a minimum of £1.20 and a maximum of £2.45 for a credit card booking. Continue reading