Coauthored by Ben Carsley, Managing Editor (@BC_PYMNTS)
Welcome to What’s Trending In Payments – a weekly look at the most popular, irreverent and important stories the payments industry had to offer over the past five days. Which companies grabbed the most headlines – for better or for worse – this week, and which topics have the industry abuzz with intrigue, laughter or disbelief? Featuring breakdowns from the PYMNTS.com staff and commentary by Karen Webster, here’s our take on what all of you payments peeps thought.
TOPIC ONE: Another Day, Another (100) Dollar Delay
Why It’s Hot
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: there’s been yet another setback in the Federal Reserve’s plan to place new hundred-dollar bills into circulation.
This time, a printing error called “mashing,” which applies too much ink to paper, is the culprit. As Yahoo Finance pointed out, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) confirmed that a whopping 30 million of the new $100 bills are now useless.
The deadline for releasing the bills – which were originally supposed to hit the market in 2011 – is now October 8, 2013. But by the time the Fed actually gets these $100s into circulation, maybe cash really will be obsolete.
This reminds of one of a really funny movie, Mad Money, which stars Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah. The movie tells the story of three women who have run into money trouble and take jobs as cleaning people at the Federal Reserve Bank.. Their MO is to smuggle out and use the old, dirty and discarded currency that the Federal Reserve Bank was ready to destroy. I am sure that we could find a few PYMNTS peeps who’d be more than happy to take a few million of those overprinted Benjamin’s off of the Treasury’s hands so that the shredders wouldn’t have to work overtime. After all, what’s a few extra ink blobs between friends?
Yes, because this is such a departure from the normal speed and efficiency we’ve come to expect from the Federal Government.
TOPIC TWO: Post-PayPal Execs Get Creative
Why It’s Hot
Two of PayPal’s most famous former execs – Max Levchin and Elon Musk – -have made all sorts of headlines recently as they turn their attentions away from payments and towards some ambitious projects of their own.
Last week, we saw Levchin launch his new “Glow” app for iOS, which attempts to help women who are trying to start families by providing a “% chance” they have of getting pregnant every day, as Forbes notes.
But Musk really stole the show by unveiling the plans for a “Hyperloop” revolutionary transportation scheme that would allow ordinary people to travel from L.A. to San Francisco in just 30 minutes. Described by Musk himself as “a cross between a Concord, a rail gun and an air hockey table,” Hyperloop is basically “a large pneumatic tube” that Musk estimates would cost between $6-7.5 billion to complete.
These projects certainly represent a departures from payments, but hey: given some of Levchin’s and Musk’s former company’s latest plans, maybe tube travel and fertility tracking aren’t so crazy after all …
Would my hair get messed up? I love the feel of wind in my hair but this sounds a bit too extreme. I think I’ll stick with Surf Air.
An excellent point. Perhaps if the Hyperloop self-destructed 10 seconds after you use it, we’d have made more progress by now.
TOPIC THREE: In Soviet Russia, Consumer Sues You!
Why It’s Hot
Score one for David over Goliath.
Per this recent amusing Finextra story: Russian man Dmitry Agarkov was sued late last year by Tinkoff Credit Systems for failing to make minimum payments on his credit card.
Here’s where the story gets good.
It turns out that when Agarkov received the unsolicited offering for a credit card from Tinkoff in 2008, he actually rewrote the terms of the deal before sending in his application. Tinkoff signed off on the agreement – which included a clause awarding Agarkov $180,000 if the bank ever cancelled the deal – and issued Agarkov the card.
A court ruled that Agarkov’s revised contract is valid, and the Russian then sued Tinkoff for $727,000 for breaching eight additional clauses. Just yesterday, both Agarkov and Tinkoff decided to drop their lawsuits, but that makes this a victory for Agarkov nonetheless.