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 as judged by social media. 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: Epic ATM Heist Results In $45 Million Loss
Why It’s Hot
Think you had a bad week? Did you lose $45 million due to ATM fraud or wind up dead in the Dominican Republic? If not, the odds are the last five days have been kinder to you than to most involved in this incredible story about the arrest of eight men in connection with one of the biggest, most complex and most impressive ATM theft schemes in history. We found out later that two Indian payments companies - ElectraCard Services and EnStage Inc., were the two processors compromised, while Middle Eastern FIs RAKBank and Bank Muscat suffered financial losses. Yikes.
Wow, and I really did think I had a rough week. Setting aside the fact that it was major league illegal and all around wrong, when I read the story about how these eight guys did what they did, it was obvious that they were pretty clever dudes. Well, not clever enough to know to keep the Rolex’s and sports cars out of sight for a while, but they showed the kind of out of the box thinking that organizations really value. Rather than try to train employees on thinking differently, maybe organizations should train employees on how to think like criminals - I said think, not act - to really fire up the creative juices. Perhaps an Oceans Eleven professional development course (taught by Brad Pitt and George Clooney!!) would do the trick. Stayed tuned for a PYMNTS.com series in primetime. I’ll volunteer to personally reach out to Brad and George to see if they might be game for the game.
This New York Times piece breaking down the intricacies of the theft and all of the players involved is truly amazing. While discussing the story internally this week, several PYMNTS.com staffers remarked that the entire scheme sounded like it was hatched from a movie plot. Some the strategy used by the criminals here is really, really impressive.
Oceans Eleven immediately came to mind for me as well when first reading about this story, and it really is crazy that this happened in real life in 2013. I just hope there isn’t a sequel where Julia Roberts plays herself and ruins the whole storyline.
TOPIC TWO: Everyone And Their Mother Releases MPOS Update
Why It’s Hot
When PayPal, Square or Groupon release a major product update or on-boarding initiative, it’s usually worth covering in its own right. When all three companies release related solutions within hours of each other on the same day, well, the payments industry tends to take note. That’s exactly what happened this past Tuesday, when Square released its new Square Stand MPOS solution, PayPal answered with a shot across the bow and Groupon overcame a false start to expand its Breadcrumb branding. And oh, yeah, did we mention that as part of its initiative, PayPal offered free payments processing for the rest of the year?!
I am sort of thinking now that the “m” in mPOS stands for “many” ... there are as many mPOS solutions in market as shoes in the infamous Imelda Marcus closet (which of course is much smaller than mine). What was once a pretty repetitive story focused on the size, shape and color of one’s dongle is now about how dongles deliver. The three-fer on Tuesday is more evidence that mPOS is a game for those who don’t mind showing the world what they’ve got and those who will even give it away for free without even being asked. I guess the old adage “if you give the milk away for free, they’ll never buy the cow” must not hold true for mPOS. Yes, I know, I mixed metaphors, sexes, and who knows what else, but it’s late.
Perhaps humility is not a PYMNTS.com strong suit, as I’m going to refer you to our piece that lays out the key features and differences between the three offerings. I find the PayPal vs. Square angle to be particularly compelling, and the approach the two companies take towards hardware says a good amount about their strategy. I really like that the Square Stand comes with a built-in card reader from an aesthetics standpoint, but man, free payments processing for half a year is going to be a tough offer to beat.
I highlighted this tweet for its simplicity, and for its willingness to point out the obvious: free is good, especially when that free comes with “payments processing” attached. You can understand why Square’s all-in-one solution or Groupon’s price matching feature will appeal to some SMBs, but for a lot of businesses, the ability to write off processing fees for half-a-year is going to be tough to beat.
TOPIC THREE: Move Over Bitcoin, Says Bezos
Why It’s Hot
I mean, who DOESN’T want to buy apps on Kindle Fire! But seriously, Amazon making practical use of its Amazon Coin virtual currency is a big deal, and it’s interesting that they’re giving away what amounts to “tens of millions of dollars” of the stuff as well. Kindle Fire customers all get 500 free Coins with the release, which is a fancy way of saying $5.
Virtual currency seems to be this season’s must-have payments' fashion accessory. I know I am not supposed to say this but I really don’t get the Coin. I don’t have a Kindle, don’t want a Kindle and based on the people I know who have Kindles, can't say that I see them chomping at the bit to use them either. What problem does this solve that just having an Amazon account doesn’t? Well, at least the name is easy to remember.
This piece by TechCrunch does a nice job of breaking down what Amazon Coin means right now and what it could mean in the future for the so-called “eCommerce leviathan.” In all honesty, it’s a bit tough for me to get really excited about this right now, but when you start to entertain the possibility of Amazon Coins being used to buy items from Amazon.com itself, my ears perk up a bit more. There’s also a nice breakdown here of how developers themselves will benefit.
While I admit this is a goofy-looking coin, if you think THIS is a harbinger of the Internet losing its mind, I have just one response: observe.