Post image for Payments in Europe – Payments on Fire podcast with Elizabeth McQuerry and Manfred Schuck

Want to know more about SEPA and the new SEPA for cards initiative?  Thinking about opportunities in the EU?  Need to understand how payments work in Europe and how they vary country to country?

Well, to get started, take a listen to this podcast conversation between Elizabeth McQuerry, Glenbrook’s international payments maven, and Manfred Schuck of Schuck Consulting from Frankfurt.

Then, if you need more understanding, join them October 9 in Mountain View, CA for their Payments in Europe Insight workshop.

iTunes link here.


Post image for Glenbrook Payments on Fire podcast – On Checkout Flow and Apple Pay

In this Payments on Fire podcast, Russ Jones and I discuss last week’s Apple Pay announcement and how it fits with and compares to other checkout approaches.

We begin looking at Apple Pay and Visa Checkout from the perspective of the checkout process because that’s what they are, ways to optimize checkout. We talk about how both will evolve over time.

We then dive into what we know about Apple Pay and discuss and what’s most exciting about Apple Pay (it’s not NFC).

In our next Payments on Fire podcast, Russ takes a deeper dive into Visa Checkout.  So, come back for that next week.

This week’s Glenbrook links of note:


Post image for Apple Pay: It’s Your Life?

These are some personal observations on Apple Pay, after an exciting week of reading announcements from Apple and reactions from bloggers. (If you want a Glenbrook business view on the announcement, read Wednesday’s post by my partner George Peabody.)

For several years we’ve been talking, at Glenbrook, about how mobile payments take a back seat, in terms of importance, to mobile commerce – how it is the “tail that wags the dog.” We’ve been particularly focused on what enables merchants to “sell more”, whether by offering coupons, or loyalty programs, or special-treatment programs (my favorite!). And it is clear, when you look at players like Google, with Google Wallet, or Softcard (previously Isis) or CurrentC (the mobile wallet of MCX) that mobile commerce is the primary driver.

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Post image for Do You Want a Million Dollars?

I was delighted and fascinated to see that the Gates Foundation has issued a “Grand Challenge” on enabling universal acceptance of mobile money payments.  The Foundation’s previous best-known challenges have been in healthcare, notably for toilets and condoms, so this is quite a change!

The Foundation is soliciting two-page proposals on innovative devices, software or business models that can dramatically increase the acceptance of mobile payment solutions by small businesses and service providers “and other members of the ecosystem serving the poor”.  Winning applicants will receive a $100,000 grant, and may potentially receive a follow-up grant worth $1 million.

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Post image for Apple Pay Stirs, But Doesn’t Shake, the Mobile Landscape

The Apple Pay announcement finally came yesterday and the company’s orchestration of much of the complex and fractious card payments ecosystem demonstrates Apple’s insight into how the current payments ecosystem works and how it must be aligned in order to meet its own needs. Combining NFC, Apple’s Passbook wallet, Touch ID biometric reader, cards stored in the iTunes account, and a stronger security model, Apple Pay could give the NFC “tap and pay” gesture a reinvigorated future.

Looked at it from the payment context alone, Apple Pay does not do a great deal more than what Softcard/Isis and Google Wallet have already achieved. But the combination of Apple’s design focus and its assumption of a reasonably non-threatening role within the payments ecosystem should make a difference. [click to continue…]

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Post image for SEPA for Cards – The New Ballgame

We are delighted to feature another post by Manfred Schuck, a terrific payments consultant from Frankfurt, who will co-lead with Elizabeth McQuerry our upcoming Payments in Europe Insight workshop to be held in Mountain View, CA on October 9.

Now, it’s about cards.  Here’s how the European Payments Council (EPC), the self-regulation body of the European Banking Industry, views its SEPA for cards initiative:

“The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) for cards sets the conditions to offer European cardholders general purpose cards to make euro payments and withdraw euro cash throughout SEPA, with the same ease and convenience as in their home country. It also enables European merchants to choose which SEPA compliant card acceptance brand and product they wish to accept and with which acquirer(s) they wish to contract, without this choice being artificially constrained by legal, technical, or procedural issues”. [click to continue…]


Post image for Payments on Fire – Episode 1

Welcome to Glenbrook’s Payments on Fire podcast!

This conversation between Glenbrook’s founding partner Scott Loftesness, Terence Spies, CTO of Voltage Security, and Glenbrook’s George Peabody is about virtual currencies.  It’s a discussion about Bitcoin, other math-based currencies and approaches like Ethereum, Nxt, and more.

We’re calling Glenbrook’s podcast series Payments on Fire because, well, payments are hot and the payments industry finds itself in some hot water. Between investor, entrepreneur and hacker interests, payments is the place to be.

My Glenbrook partner Elizabeth McQuerry will join me as co-host on this series soon. Looking ahead, Payments on Fire will cover all things payments. You’ll hear interviews with payments participants about their offerings, conversations with members of the Glenbrook team and guests on recent events and news as well as discussions on the larger themes of faster payments in the US, payments security, and more. So, please plan on coming back to hear more.  It’s not just about Bitcoin.

But before we leave that topic, we are running our second annual bitcoin and payments survey right now.  So, please, check it out and let us know what you think. You’ll find the link at our blog site, and here.


Post image for IBAN the Terrible and Other EU Payment Issues

As the summer holiday period close, I find myself in a back to school mode even though I haven’t been enrolled for nearly twenty years. Europe is especially on my mind as we prepare for the Glenbrook Payments in Europe workshop next month. What are the big payments issues in Europe today, what’s the context behind them and how are things different here in the US.

One overarching point is that even as the Euro serves as a common currency in 18 countries, you really can’t think in terms of “European payment preferences”. Rather, there are German payment preferences, French payment preferences, and so on. Germans are not keen on credit cards while the French still use the paper check more than their continental counterparts. Perhaps one high level, regional trend that we can describe is that cards, especially credit cards, are not as popular among consumers and generally less widely used by corporates than they are here in the US. From a US perspective, I ask myself, how does anyone buy something off the Internet? [click to continue…]


Post image for Who’s a Better Fraud Investigator — You or Your Bank?

Last month, I invited everyone to participate in a survey about card fraud detection. It asked a simple question: “Who’s better at card fraud detection? You or your bank?”

The results are in and, well, it looks like it’s more or less a tie: cardholders initially detected card fraud slightly more often than their issuers. But when a second instance of fraud was experienced by those same cardholders, it was the issuer that was the first to notice the bogus transaction.


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Post image for Hostility in Payments

The recent entry of into the small merchant mobile POS card acceptance market may signal the last phase of increasing hostility in the US merchant acquiring segment of the card payments business.

Prior to the launch of Square in 2010, the merchant acquiring business in the US might have been described as having some of the characteristics of an oligopoly. The existing players had reached a rough equilibrium that was based on complex pricing schedules and a lack of pricing transparency. The market could be described as relatively inefficient and having high friction.

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Post image for Full SEPA is Here, At Last

This week, we are delighted to feature a post by Manfred Schuck, a payments consultant from Frankfurt.  Manfred will co-lead with Elizabeth McQuerry our upcoming Payments in Europe Insight workshop to be held in Mountain View, CA on October 9. 

On January 1st, 2001 fifteen European countries introduced notes and coins of a new common currency.  At this singular moment, fifteen national currencies ceased to exist and a new star, the EURO, was born. That was also the first step in the creation of SEPA, the “Single Euro Payments Area”!

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Post image for Bitcoin and Payments Survey 2014

We’re at it again. We’re conducting our second annual Bitcoin and Payments Survey. Please participate!

The survey takes about 7 minutes, maybe less. Do it from your smartphone while you’re waiting in the market’s check-out line or on the sofa using your tablet. The survey is mobile friendly.

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Post image for What the BRICS Tell Us About Payments

As the leaders of the BRICS group of nations gather this week in Brazil (now that the World Cup crowds are gone), I’ve asked myself if that meeting has any important implications for payments. The BRICS moniker is often applied to a group of countries that share the characteristics large, young populations and high economic growth rates, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The BRICS share another characteristic, fast growing payment markets along with their economies, cash evolving toward electronic payments and young populations coming of age and, ideally, gaining access to formal banking and financial services.

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Post image for Learnings from the Bitcoin Workshop

Bryan Derman and I led Glenbrook’s second Bitcoin: Basics and Beyond workshop a couple of weeks go, this time in NYC from the 22nd floor board room of the Downtown Conference Center, a great space (the staff took great care of us, too, thank you).

As with every Glenbrook workshop—especially with our smaller Insight workshops on topics like Bitcoin, Data in Payments, Payments in Europe and B2B Payments—the questions and discussion enriched the experience for Bryan, me, and the business leaders who joined us for the workshop. The combination of commentary, insight, and the process of clearing up misconceptions made for a rich dialog that served everyone.


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Post image for MCX – Now I Get It!

In various venues — our Payments Bootcamp, our private client sessions or our merchant group meetings — we have talked a lot about MCX, the Merchant Customer Exchange initiative, created by a number of the largest US retailers to establish a merchant-centric wallet and payments solution. In these discussions, I’ve often joked about the name, since the last thing we think this is about is the participating merchant’s exchanging customer data as the name implies. But it dawned on me yesterday, MCX makes perfect sense if you think of it as enabling merchants to better exchange customer spending habits with manufacturers, consumer packaged good manufacturers (CPGs) and others to create more timely, relevant and compelling offers to those merchants’ customers!

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