Fed Seeks Industry Input on Payments Security by Nov. 8

As part of its mission to improve the U.S. payments system, the Federal Reserve’s Secure Payments Task Force is seeking industry input on ways to beef up security. Industry members can provide comment through online surveys, which are separated into the task force’s three areas of focus: payment identity management, information sharing for the mitigation of payment risk/fraud and data protection. Comments will be accepted through Tuesday, Nov. 8. The task force says the goal of the surveys is to help ensure that any solutions considered will meet industry needs.

In its 2015 report the Fed outlined Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payment System, including working with “payment stakeholders to identify effective approaches to implementing a U.S. payments infrastructure to support a safe, ubiquitous, faster payments capability that promotes efficient commerce, facilitates innovation, reduces fraud and improves public confidence.”

The 160-member security task force has created three work groups focusing on each of the three areas and considering possible barriers to implementing recommendations. The work groups are led by Nancy O’Malley, executive vice president, Mastercard, payment identity management; Reed Luhtanen, senior director payments strategy, Walmart, data protection; and Glen Ulrich, operations executive, U.S. Bank, information sharing.

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NRF Study Projects Post-Election Holiday Shopping Surge

Election-season politics are taking up ad space typically used to get holiday shopping on the minds of consumers—but observers predict a post-election surge as Americans finally get into the holiday shopping spirit. And much of that spending will be on gift cards—both as gifts for others and for self-use. The National Retail Federation (NRF)’s 2016 Holiday Shopping Trends report projects consumers will spend an average of $935.58 during the holiday shopping season—a downtick from the record per-consumer average of $952.58 set in 2015, but still the second-highest figure since the NRF began tracking the data in 2004.

In a separate NRF flash poll conducted last week, more than a quarter of respondents said the election will impact their spending plans for the holidays. In addition, 43 percent say they’re being more cautious with their spending due to the uncertainty of the election season. But that should change once the election is over, with 41.4 percent of respondents planning to start shopping in November—by far the most popular month to do so, according to the holiday shopping study.

“Retailers should prepare for a rush of consumers in the weeks following the presidential election as they get more economic and political certainty and are looking to take advantage of promotions and deals that are too good to pass up for their friends, family and even themselves,” predicted Matthew Shay, president and CEO, NRF.

Self-spending will be a major theme this holiday season, with 58 percent of consumers planning to buy for themselves this holiday season, expecting to spend an average of $139.61—up 4 percent from last year and the second-highest self-spending level since 2004. To capitalize on the self-spending urge, retailers are offering deals and discounts on items consumers want to give as gifts, hoping to compel them to purchase those items for themselves as well, the NRF noted. That trend could bode well for gift cards, which continue to be the most sought-after gift—cited as a desired gift by 61 percent of respondents—marking the 10th straight year gift cards topped the list. Gift cards likely will be popular with self-spenders this season, too. A recent study from the Retail Gift Card Association found that one in three U.S. consumers had bought a gift card for their own use, with qualifying for special loyalty deals or discounts the most common reason cited for doing so.

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India, Singapore Banks Launching Sound-Based Payment Services

Audio-based payments continue to make noise with India’s YES Bank enabling payments via sound waves over its mobile wallet and OCBC Bank becoming the first in the Asia Pacific region to enable secure payments via Apple’s Siri service.

YES Bank has teamed up with ToneTag, a provider of sound wave-based data transfer, to enable users of its mobile wallet to make payments via tone, even when they’re offline. ToneTag uses the microphone or speaker of any mobile device to enable payments at compatible POS terminals. The ToneTag SDK features noise filters, three-level encryption, tokenization and multifactor authentication. YES Bank previously experimented with sound wave-based payments earlier this year, when the bank partnered with Ultracash Technologies on an initiative to enable device-to-device payments using ultra-high-frequency sound waves.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based OCBC Bank has enabled customers to send money via the iPhone’s Siri service. Users tell Siri to whom to send the payment and the amount, then the funds are sent via the bank’s Pay Anyone mobile payment service, which runs through OCBC’s mobile banking app. The service is the first in Asia-Pacific to use Siri to send payments, according to the bank.

Voice-based banking and payments services have been on the rise over the past several months. In March, Amazon’s Alexa digital voice assistant—which operates via the company’s Echo and Fire TV devices—added voice banking capabilities with Capital One. The integration enables Capital One customers to check their account balances or pay credit card bills by issuing a voice command to Alexa. The same month, Santander became the first U.K. bank to launch voice banking services, enabling users of its SmartBank iOS app to obtain account information using voice commands and questions.

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Image Credits: phipatbig/Shutterstock

On the Wire: The Bancorp, Discover Earnings; Cardtronics Grows ATM Footprint; More

stockticker_shutterstockKeep up to date on the latest deals and earnings with our snapshot of payments-related press releases.

On the Wire: WEX and MyFlightSolutions Launch My Copilot, an All-in-One Virtual Card Payment Solution

Press release

The first-of-its-kind My Copilot™ app is tailored to pilots, international trip planning companies, fuel companies and related businesses to streamline aviation-related purchases

ORLANDO, Fla.–Oct. 31, 2016– WEX Inc.® (NYSE: WEX), a leading provider of corporate payment solutions, and MyFlightSolutions™, an innovative leader in aviation software, announce the launch of a new all-in-one virtual payments application called My Copilot™. The My Copilot™ app offers innovative new technology and maximum flexibility for pilots and aviation industry professionals, such as fixed-base operators (FBOs), international trip-planning companies, fuel distributors and more.

“Enabling operators to quickly and automatically reconcile a pilot’s trip expenses is groundbreaking for aviation businesses,” explained Jim Pratt, SVP, general manager, WEX Virtual Payments. Another benefit of My Copilot™ is the ability to automate the receipt tracking process so that users no longer need to manually keep track of unwieldy copies of receipts for approved expenses. “Simply put, this app means that pilots will ‘free up’ their wallets, which are usually chock-full of fuel credit cards,” notes Pratt. “Plus, aircraft operators no longer need to worry about losing track of cumbersome paper releases in order to buy fuel.”

The app generates a single-use Mastercard® payment solution for all purchases of fuel and FBO services, as well as transportation, commercial airfare and hotel expenses anywhere Mastercard® is accepted globally.

Virtual payment solutions help drive down costs and increase productivity, resulting in bottom-line savings. For merchants, the My Copilot™ app requires no new processes or integrations because transactions are processed as traditional Mastercard® credit cards at the point of sale.

Additional My Copilot features include:

  • Implement easily without additional hardware or software
  • Capture quality data and enables robust and insightful reports
  • Establish transaction- or trip-specific controls
  • Assign purchases to cost centers or general ledger accounts
  • Reduce fraud and credit card misuse
  • Access accounts anytime, from anywhere, even on mobile devices

“The My Copilot™ app and WEX’s virtual payment solutions have flexible application program interface (API) capabilities, which empowers aviation operations to seamlessly integrate the solution into current fuel order, scheduling, accounts payable or global distribution systems (GDS),” said Tom Perkins, president, MyFlightSolutions, a Flying Software Labs company. “We’re extremely proud to be part of My Copilot™’s innovative technology, which is unavailable elsewhere in the market today.”

Featuring robust data and receipt capture technology, the My Copilot™ app sends real-time information to connect the entire flight department. The app also allows users to generate single-use Mastercard® payment solutions without release (within corporate-controlled parameters), which means no delayed or stranded pilots.

MyFlightSolutions and WEX will team up to demonstrate the My Copilot™ app in booths 4686 and 4687 during NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (#NBAA16). Visit myflightsolutions.com/myflightcopilot/ to view a video about the My Copilot™ app. For more information about MyFlightSolutions, visit myflightsolutions.com, call 1-801-694-0242 or email payments@myflightsolutions.com.

About WEX Inc.
WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX) is a leading provider of corporate payment solutions. From its roots in fleet card payments beginning in 1983, WEX has expanded the scope of its business into a multi-channel provider of corporate payment solutions representing 10 million vehicles and offering exceptional payment security and control across a wide spectrum of business sectors. WEX serves a global set of customers and partners through its operations around the world, with offices in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Norway and Singapore. WEX and its subsidiaries employ more than 2,500 associates. The company has been publicly traded since 2005, and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “WEX.” For more information, visit www.wexinc.com and follow WEX on Twitter at @WEXIncNews.

About MyFlightSolutions
MyFlightSolutions™ is a fast-growing, Salt Lake City, Utah-based aviation technology company that develops software applications for the business and general aviation industry. Founded in 2011, MyFlightSolutions was named one of the “20 Most Promising Solution Providers 2016” in the Aerospace Industry by CIOReview magazine. Wholly owned by Flying Software Labs, Inc., MyFlightSolutions is a comprehensive suite of aviation business software modules comprised of MyFlightFBO®, MyFlightCopilot™ / My Copilot™, MyFlightCharter™, MyFlightMXShop™ andMyFlightTrain®. The product suite provides clients powerful, easy-to-use web-based systems to manage aviation-related activities, offering a fresh, modern platform for clients managing fixed-base operators (FBOs), Charter Operators, Maintenance Shops and aviation flight schools. On Dec. 31, 2016, MyFlightSolutions will merge with Vessix Inc. and continue doing business as MyFlightSolutions. For more information, visit www.myflightsolutions.com and follow MyFlightSolutions on Twitter at @MyFlightApps.

Source: WEX Inc.

WEX Inc.
Rob Gould, 1-207-523-7429
Forward Street Marketing, LLC
Jill Henning, 1-602-502-6206

“Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding WEX Inc.’s business which are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report or Form 10-K for the most recently ended fiscal year.