“Historically, PayPal has priced in the slipstream of Mastercard and Visa. As a weaker network, it had to. So, its price hike is a watershed moment. Merchant-acceptance fees for PayPal Checkout, Pay with Venmo, PayPal Credit, Pay in 4, PayPal with Rewards, and Checkout with crypto, will all increase to a rich 3.49% and 49 cents per transaction (4.3% on a $60 purchase) from an already healthy 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.”

COMMENTARY: Could PayPal’s Latest Fee Boost Make It the Merchant Lobby’s Next Target?

Microsoft Tops the 10 Most-Phished List, But Three Big Payment Brands Also Appear

Phishers trying to manipulate recipients of their ill-intended emails overwhelmingly target Microsoft Corp., according to the Brand Phishing Report for Q2 2021 from Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. Payment brands Chase, Apple Inc., and PayPal Holdings Inc. round out the report’s top 10 list for the quarter.

The results indicate the computing giant showing up in 45% of all brand phishing attempts  in the second quarter, dwarfing brands like Amazon (11%), Google (3%), Apple (1%), and PayPal (0.5%).

Phishing emails look authentic, but contains links that, if clicked, are designed to capture legitimate data. One example may have a “Your Subscription Has Expired” subject line and appear to come from Microsoft, but the link in the email goes to a fake Microsoft login page.

In a brand phishing attack, criminals try to impersonate the official Web site of a well-known brand by using a similar domain name or URL, as well as a design that mimics the genuine site, Check Point says. The scheme follows several paths to hook unsuspecting consumers. The link to the fake Web site can be sent to targeted individuals by email or text message, or a user can be redirected during Web browsing. Or the fake site may be triggered from a fraudulent mobile application.

“Cybercriminals are continually increasing their attempts to steal peoples’ personal data by impersonating leading brands. In fact, in the runup to Amazon Prime Day in [the second quarter], more than 2,300 new domains were registered about Amazon,” Omer Dembinsky, data research group manager at Check Point Software, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it’s the human element that often fails to pick up on misspelled domains or suspicious texts and emails, and as such, cybercriminals continue to impersonate trusted brands to dupe people into giving up their personal information.”

Trust And Security Could Be Big Hurdles As Apple Prepares Its Entry Into BNPL Peter Lucas July 14, 2021 Acquiring, Competitive Strategies, Credit Cards, Debit Cards, E-Commerce, Featured, Fraud & Security,

For Apple Inc. to become a disruptor in the rapidly growing buy now, pay later market, the technology giant is going to have to win consumer’s trust and demonstrate its BNPL platform is secure.

Reports of Apple developing a BNPL product, which the company has internally dubbed Apple Pay Later, surfaced Wednesday. The BNPL service will be linked to Apple’s Apple Pay mobile wallet. Each time they make a purchase, Apple Pay users will have the option to pay by making four interest-free payments every two weeks. Or they can pay over several months with interest.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which issues the Apple Card credit card, will be the lender behind the BNPL loans. Apple Pay Later is reportedly not going to be linked to Apple’s credit card.

The challenge facing Apple upon entering the hotly competitive BNPL market will be gaining consumers’ trust when it comes to taking out a BNPL loan, since Apple will control the payment terms, says Jared Drieling, senior director of market intelligence and insights for The Strawhecker Group, an Omaha, Neb.-based consulting and research firm that tracks the BNPL market.

“Trust is a huge hurdle [facing Apple] especially when it comes to handling of payment information and providing the level of service consumers expect from their bank,” Drieling says. “As a consumer, I trust my bank, know it is secure and know that it will help me resolve issues when they arise. Apple is going to need to put a lot of effort into winning consumers’ trust.”

Key to winning that trust will be the marketing message that Apple develops. Competitors such as Klarna AB and AfterPay Ltd. have developed marketing messages that help earn trust, says Sheridan Trent, a research analyst for The Strawhecker Group.

Klarna, for example, uses celebrities and humor in its marketing to attract consumers to its brand. AfterPay uses a multi-faceted marketing campaign that promotes the company’s environmental friendliness and corporate ethics, in addition to positioning its BNPL offering as a way to achieve financial freedom.

“These are companies that have good marketing messages,” Trent says. “How Apple intends to build trust is the million-dollar question,”

One demographic expected to embrace Apple Pay Later is Apple Pay users, who already trust Apple when it comes to handling the payment data stored in their wallet. Indeed, Apple Pay users are far more likely to have used an installment plan for online purchases than those who are eligible to use Apple Pay but haven’t, Jaclyn Holmes, director of research for Auriemma Group, says by email. Among Apple Pay users, 33% say they’ve used an installment loan for an online purchase, compared to 10% of non-users, Holmes adds.

Demographics that will be tougher for Apple will be older millennials and up and those that have never tried Apple Pay, Trent says.

Apple will also have to provide a speedy signup process, as another potential speed bump is application abandonment due to the applicant thinking it’s taking too long to get approved. Holmes adds that BNPL providers that streamline the application process and have wide availability and a strong relationship with digitally savvy customers, all of which Apple does and has, should fare well.

“With the amount of competition in the space, they’ll need to market a competitive product to reach beyond their customer base, but there’s reason to believe they should be successful among their current users,” says Holmes.

Your Roadmap to Payments

Payments technology was moving at a rapid pace before Covid, but now that pace has been supercharged, challenging financial institutions’ ability to keep up.

Now, trends like buy now, pay later, tokenization, and the stubborn persistence of fraud are reshaping the industry in ways that are hard to predict.

In this webinar, we’ll take an in-depth look at the payments trends that are shaping the way consumers pay and driving next-level cardholder experiences.

And we’ll explain how those trends are pushing payments forward at a record pace. Topics will include:

• The emergence of alternative payments
• How moving to the cloud means flexibility, scalability, and agility for modernization efforts
• A closer look into the As a Service (aaS) model
• Tokenization and digital issuance
• The role of APIs in connectivity
• Top fraud trends

viagogo-under-investigation-by-australian-trading-regulator Viagogo Under Investigation by Australian Trading Regulator

IndustryLegal July 8, 2021 Dave Clark

New South Wales Fair Trading has announced it is investigating Viagogo after consumer complaints over prices on tickets for events listed on the Swiss-based ticketing marketplace.

According to a NSW Fair Trading press release, most of the complaints are related to the NSW government having made resale of tickets for more than 10 percent above face value illegal. Other complaints involved tickets not being delivered in a timely manner, refunds not being granted for cancelled events, and accusations of misleading consumers about being the official event ticket sales agent.

“It was big news in 2018 when NSW Fair Trading made ticket scalping illegal by making it an offence for ticket resellers such as Viagogo to charge more than 10% extra on the original ticket price and transactions costs,” says NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb.

“We did briefly see a drop off in complaints but then we saw a spike at the end of 2019. When the pandemic hit complaints obviously dropped off again as events were not able to go ahead. However now that events are back on the agenda, we have seen a spike again and despite Viagogo being explicitly warned and receiving a $7 million fine from the ACCC in 2020, they continue to flout the rules.

“Those within the entertainment and arts industry have been vocal about the obliteration of their industry due to COVID and they do not need the additional stress of ticket resellers scalping well-meaning fans.

“We will be investigating and using our powers to stop any unlawful behaviour.”

Viagogo responded to the $7 million fine levied for “misrepresentation” by a judge in Australia by saying it had overhauled its systems to bring it into compliance with the various legal boundaries in countries it operates.

“Viagogo is committed to providing an important service to consumers that use our platform,” a spokesperson said at the time of that fine being announced.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Reverse Course, Ban Spectators Entirely

OlympicsSportsTop Story July 8, 2021 Dave Clark

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will take place in 2021, but fans will no longer be a part of the atmosphere. Organizers announced the decision Thursday after local officials extended the state of emergency in the region through August 22, which will span the entirety of the Olympic schedule – July 23-August 8.

“A very heavy judgement was made,” following meetings between Olympic officials and members of the Japanese government, according to Seiko Hashimoto of the Japanese Olympic Committee. The ongoing concerns of the pandemic have given officials “no choice but to hold the Games in a limited way.”

Organizers had announced in March that international fans would not be allowed, but planned on allowing domestic spectators at the events. Hopes were high that barring international fans would minimize the potential for a spike in COVID cases related to the games. But a slow vaccine rollout has kept case numbers at a persistently higher level than hoped, and numbers have been on the rise in the region, leading to the decision.

“The number of infected cases in the area including Tokyo has been increasing since the end of last month,” Prime Minister Yoshide Suga said. “The number of severe cases and bed occupancy rate continues to be on the low level, but considering the impact of variants, we need to enhance countermeasures so that the infection will not spread nationwide.”

Reporting on the decision does indicate that some events held outside of greater Tokyo, such as the Marathon, might allow some number of spectators. Twenty five of the 42 venues involved in the Games are within the Tokyo area impacted by the emergency declaration, with 17 taking place in other prefectures.

Just two weeks before the games are set to take place, the decision is monumental in terms of the revenue model for the hosts. Previous reports have indicated that a decision to bar fans entirely might lead to a government bailout to make up for the enormous budget shortfalls involved in refunding thousands of tickets. The games are already facing a huge wave of backlash from the Japanese people. A survey taken in May by a Japanese newspaper showed 43 percent of respondents believed that the Olympics should be cancelled entirely, with another 40 percent believing they should be postponed once more. Just 12 percent surveyed said the games should go on as planned.

ticketmaster-resale-returns-to-broker-focused-conferences-despite-past-controversy Ticketmaster Resale Returns to Broker-Focused Conferences Despite Past Controversy

ConferencesIndustryTop Story July 8, 2021 Dave Clark 0

In 2018, Ticketmaster came under significant fire over reports detailing the company’s deep relationships with large-scale ticket resale operators. Its so-called “secret scalper program” brought scrutiny from public officials, condemnation from members of the public, and a number of lawsuits alleging that the largest ticketing operation in the world was rigging the game against consumers and playing both sides of the fence.

It doesn’t appear that the feedback has led to any changes in behavior from the Live Nation Entertainment-owned ticketing behemoth, which is preparing to market its services to ticket resale operations at this week’s World Ticket Conference in Las Vegas.

“Join us as we detail how we are welcoming back fans, supporting content, and enabling buyers and sellers for an epic event season,” reads the event teaser for Ticketmaster Resale’s panel at WTC, which is put on by the National Association of Ticket Brokers.

“For over a year, we were missing live events. Today, we are experiencing an amazing resurgence. With accelerating fan demand, concerts and festivals are selling out in record time. Twice as many artists are lined up to tour. Sports teams are selling tickets for full capacity for events. The magic of live is returning and Ticketmaster Resale is ready.”

The panel features Ticketmaster Marketplace Executive VP and Global General Manager Larry Plawsky, along with VP and General Manager of Ticketmaster Resale Casey Klein, and VP of Product Management for Ticketmaster Resale Phil Volini. Ticketmaster Resale is also one of four “Diamond” sponsors of the conference as a whole.

Plawsky has been integral to the growth of the Ticketmaster Resale brand and its set of tools for professional ticket resellers including Trade Desk, which allows professional sellers to almost immediately post purchase tickets for resale across Ticketmaster platforms, while other company products such as SafeTix actively discourage the use of competing marketplaces for events held at Live Nation/Ticketmaster venues.

Ticketmaster has long been involved in the ticket resale business, despite its numerous actions taken to make it harder for consumers and professionals alike to sell tickets on platforms that they do not directly control or profit from. They have not kept that fact a secret, in fact, indicated by the notation that this will be Plawsky’s sixth time appearing at World Ticket Conference as a speaker.

However, the disclosure of the reporting from the Ticket Summit conference in 2018 shed a far harsher light on how the company operates in the resale world, and the enormous conflicts of interest inherent to that fact.

“We don’t spend any time looking at your ticketmaster.com account. I don’t care what you buy. It doesn’t matter to me,” a Ticketmaster Resale sales agent told reporters posing as ticket resellers from Ontario considering the Trade Desk system for their own resale operations in 2018. “There’s a total separation between Ticketmaster and our division. It’s church and state… We don’t monitor that at all.”

What the sales agent was referring to was ticket purchase limits put in place by the company’s primary marketplace side – limits that purportedly help consumers get tickets over professional resellers. He was admitting that the company’s resale operation turned a blind eye to those who violated those limits, as long as they were using the company’s resale platform to move that inventory. Ticketmaster, of course, was quick to condemn the remarks and deny that any program to assist “scalping” existed, but the damage was largely done.

In the wake of the bombshell story, U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) composed a letter to Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino demanding answers.

“CBC News reported that Ticketmaster . . . recruits and employs professional ticket scalpers to circumvent the ticket purchasing limits on its own primary ticket sales platform in an effort to expand its ticket resale division,” the senators wrote. “According to the article, Ticketmaster utilizes a professional reseller program called TradeDesk, which provides a web-based inventory for scalpers to effectively purchase large quantities of tickets from Ticketmaster’s primary ticket sales website and resell these tickets for higher prices on its own resale platform.”

“Citing examples of TradeDesk users moving up to several million tickets per year, the allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention,” the senators continued.

Several lawsuits were filed alleging malfeasance on the part of Ticketmaster and Live Nation Entertainment, while the Federal Trade Commission convened a workshop to examine the entire ticketing ecosystem, which was followed in short order by a renewed push for the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) legislation.

Despite all the noise, Ticketmaster largely escaped the hubbub from the reporting unscathed, though it did see its consent decree with the Department of Justice extended after numerous allegations of anti-competitive behavior from other ticketing entities. That said, it is somewhat surprising to see the company once again taking such a public role in a conference run by and for the benefit of the professional ticket resale community.

An email sent to Live Nation Entertainment’s media relation department regarding the company’s participating at World Ticket Conference has not received a response as of Thursday morning.

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Cheers,

Bob Jenisch
Publisher