News on sorts of very serious matters broke all over the world last week – the internet pretty much had eyes for one piece of news, and one piece only. Beyonce had the twins. As of the writing of this article their names and genders are unknown – though the minute words breaks, we are sure Twitter will break right along with it.
And while it might be hard to focus in the midst of a royal birth announcement – payments and commerce managed to be consistently eye-grabbing this week. Amazon, among many other things, decided to pump up Prime some more, the long-suffering Monitise finally found a buyer, and the CFPB had the rare change of heart on something.
So ready to dive in?
Amazon Prime Reload
The big news out of Amazon this week was, of course, its big buy of Whole Foods.
Big news to be sure, but what got lost some place in the news shuffle is that Amazon has decided to extend rewards to all of its Prime Shoppers. Through a newly launched program called Prime Reload – customers can load funds to an Amazon debit card linked directly to their checking account.
To reward them for their loyalty – and switching to a payment method with no associated swipe fee – Amazon guarantees that these customers will receive 2 percent rewards when they transfer funds to their Amazon balance using their checking account with a linked debit card.
Rewards are granted within minutes of loading funds on to their Amazon balance.
For those customers using credit instead of debit – the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card offers Prime members 5 percent back on Amazon.com, 2 percent back on restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1 percent back on all other purchases. Those rewards are awarded in the form of rewards points that can be redeemed on thousands of Amazon items, as well as travel and cash back through Chase.
The Amazon Prime Store Card offers Prime members 5 percent back on Amazon.com spending in the form of a statement credit.
Jeff Bezos has famously noted that his goal is to make it “irresponsible” for anyone anywhere to pass on Prime membership. And now, with the possibility of any purchase being rewarding, it is one more boost for making being a Prime member the most responsible thing to do.
Monitise Finds A Buyer
After a tough two years of falling revenue and general difficulty navigating the rapidly evolving payments landscape, Monitise has found a buyer in Fiserv.
Fiserv will purchase the U.K.-based firm at a price of 2.9 pence per share, valuing the company at £70 million ($88 million). Monitise as of yet has never reported a profit, though its annual revenue as of FY 2016 was £67.6 million. It has been in business for about 13 years.
Fiserv’s £70 million offer represents a 26.1 percent premium on Monitise’s share price as of the close of markets yesterday (June 12).
At its highest valuation, Monitise was worth at £2 billion.
“Fiserv is well-positioned to carry this business forward given its strength in digital banking and extensive client network. Following the completion of this transaction, we are confident that Monitise clients will be served well by Fiserv and its long-standing commitment to creating value for its clients,” Monitise CEO Lee Cameron said in a statement.
Jeffery Yabuki, Fiserv’s president and chief executive officer, said that the company is acquiring a “global pioneer and innovator in digital banking” that will speed the company’s development of digital banking solutions.
“Combining [Monitise’s] talented associates and advanced technologies with leading digital solutions from Fiserv will expand our clients’ ability to provide differentiated experiences to their customer,” Yabuki said.
The CFPB Changes Course
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has reversed course on debt collection – in a move that has been called both a big surprise and a huge win for the third-party debt collectors. The new ruling specifies that banks, among other first-party creditors, must be responsible for accuracy of their consumer debt data.
In a statement delivered by CFPB Director Richard Cordray about debt collection at a consumer advisory board meeting last week, he said, “We have now decided to consolidate all the issues of ‘right consumer, right amount’ into the separate rule we will be developing for first-party creditors.
“Writing rules to make sure debt collectors have the right information about their debts is best handled by considering solutions from first-party creditors and third-party collectors at the same time.”
A plan focused on third-party debt collection will be released by the end of the year – and focused on third-party debt collection. A separate plan for first-party debt collection will come separately and “further on.”
The CFPB also noted that despite the accuracy issues with data now being handed out by first parties, debt collectors still must make efforts to verify those debts.
So what did we learn this week? Change is always coming. Could be doing more – as is the case of Amazon. Could be doing something new – as with Monitise. Or it could be doing the complete opposite of what one was doing before.
Have a good week.