Every three weeks, TouchNet President Dan Toughey discusses campus commerce, electronic payments, data security and more. Feel free to share Toughey Talks. We're all in the same community. At TouchNet, we feel it's our duty as knowledge leaders to share it.
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April 24, 2013
Around this time last year, the refund-to-debit-card trend in Higher Education became big news. Student protests led to a series of class action lawsuits. Not far behind was the Department of Education (DoE) with its rulemaking committee and public hearings. Then came the US PIRG report (The Campus Debit Card Trap), and a media frenzy was in full swing. For many, campus debit cards became too hot to handle and Higher Education had a new mess on its hands. The gist of the controversy focused on deceptive marketing practices, hidden fees, and lack of convenient student access to ATMs.
mCommerce: Money on the Move
April 24, 2013
While the craze to download an "app for that" is fading, use of mobile-enabled websites for payments, banking, purchases, and other business activities is skyrocketing. It reminds me a lot of the World Wide Web in its early years. At first, websites displayed static visual data, such as maps or other previously printed documents that were transplanted to the web. But static displays quickly gave way to more robust and secure websites that gave consumers the confidence to do real-time business transactions online. Mobile technology is following the same arc from static data to real-time transactions, only its evolution has been much faster.
Southwest's Simple Secret
April 3, 2013
I've spent a good deal of time on airplanes recently and, more often than not, they have been Southwest Airlines flights. We jokingly call Southwest Airlines our "corporate jet." Southwest has been a model of success for more than 40 years in an industry littered with constant failures, bankruptcies, and consolidations. Year after year, they outperform their peers in almost every category, including financial, safety, and customer satisfaction. Today, they are one of the largest airlines in the world. So what's their "secret sauce?"
Be PCI or Be Square
March 14, 2013
In my last email, we looked at three new technologies that will improve data security for point-of-sale (POS) payments. Each requires an upgrade to your card swipe devices. However, we didn't talk about the growing interest in using mobile POS card readers for in-person payments.
It's Time to "Swap Your Swipes"
February 25, 2013
Even though merchants have implemented PCI controls, security for in-person payments at point-of-sale (POS) terminals remains a huge concern for the card brands. The main problem is that old magnetic stripe technology is vulnerable to fraud.
The "DisburseMESS" Widens
February 7, 2013
A few months ago, we discussed the growing uproar stemming from debit cards and bank accounts involved in the disbursement of Title IV student financial aid refunds. We dubbed this conflict "DisburseMESS."
Business Plan in a Gift Box
December 5, 2012
The holiday season is a busy time for most of us as we wrap up the current year and work on plans for the next. So, in the spirit of giving, allow me to provide you with a time-saving "Instant Campus Commerce Plan" for the new year. It's quick and easy. Just print, personalize, and present to your boss.
Visa Says "Yes" to Higher Education
November 6, 2012
BREAKING NEWS: A very big announcement by Visa may be overshadowed by today's election. After years of saying "No" to percentage-based convenience fees for tuition, Visa reversed its position. As of today, Visa will now allow percentage-based convenience fees for Higher Education just as they do for Government payments.
Merchant in the Middle
October 24, 2012
Last week was COMTEC 2012, our TouchNet Client Conference. Once again, it was a great opportunity for me to talk with many of you and hear firsthand about the state of payments on your campuses. One topic I frequently heard discussed at the conference was Wednesday's Keynote Session on payments, called "Merchant in the Middle."
What a Difference One Word Makes
September 27, 2012
Undoubtedly you've seen recent examples of negative publicity related to fees and questionable marketing practices surrounding debit cards and Title IV "student refunds." It seems to me that most of today's problems could have been avoided if the "Credit" CARD Act of 2009 had focused on being the "Payment" CARD Act (or just CARD Act) instead.
Visa Says "Yes" to Surcharge... Maybe.
September 6, 2012
You may have seen the recent news about a proposed settlement to a class action suit against Visa and MasterCard. Note that a key word here is "proposed." It is not clear whether the parties are still negotiating or the deal is unraveling, but the participants have until next month to reach an accord, or the suit goes to trial, unless there are further delays.
Storm Warning - CFPB Issues Student Advisory
August 14, 2012
A new acronym you will be hearing a lot about is the CFPB. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act in 2010 to protect consumers from questionable practices by the financial services industry.
POS in Motion
July 14, 2012
In my last email, I talked about a new payment card technology called "Chip and PIN." (Chip and PIN: Coming Soon to a Swipe Near You). Chip and PIN technology, also referred to as EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) is widely used in Europe, Canada, and other parts of the world.
Chip and PIN
June 28, 2012
If you've travelled to Europe recently or had students studying abroad, you've no doubt heard about "Chip and PIN" payment technology. Chip and PIN technology, widely used in Europe and Canada, is also known as EMV technology (for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, developers of the technology's standards).
Up In The Air
June 4, 2012
Wow! What a week it has been for Higher Education payments. I traveled to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to present comments to the Department of Education concerning Title IV financial aid disbursements, aka "student refunds." When I landed, my phone was full of messages concerning a study released by US PIRG called "The Campus Debit Card Trap."
Speak Up On Student Refunds!
May 21, 2012
My last email ended with a postscript about the U.S. Department of Education's intent to form a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. They are holding public hearings this month on how to reduce fraud and how to regulate the use of debit cards and bank products in the financial aid disbursement process.
Dear Colleague, Are You Ready for the Spotlight?
May 10, 2012
Higher Education is in the spotlight and it's not to highlight the good work that so many of you do day in and day out. You can't watch the news or read the paper without seeing a negative story about tuition increases or the explosive growth of student debt. Politicians are tuned in, and the media are on the hunt for controversy.
The Case for m-Commerce
April 23, 2012
I recently got a new case for my iPhone. It has a compartment in the back large enough to carry a driver's license and credit card. Since I have images of insurance cards and other key information on the phone itself, the phone is now "Dan's digital wallet." That sounds pretty cool, doesn't it? After all, there is a lot of talk about digital wallets (e-wallets) going around today.
Another Major Cardholder Breach
April 3, 2012
By now, most of us have heard the news about the recent cardholder data breach in a major payment processor's network. Reportedly, up to one-and-a-half million card numbers were compromised by "unauthorized access." Visa, subsequently, has removed the processor from its registry of compliant service providers. Here are a few key items to consider when news like this surfaces:
The Business Next Door
March 22, 2012
For several years now, you've managed your bottom line by cutting costs and streamlining processes. Now, many of you say you've cut as deep as you can and it is time to focus on the top line. But there are several dynamics in motion that will work against increasing revenue: declining support from state governments; an improving economy; and a declining pool of traditional students. So where will revenue growth come from in the next 5-10 years?
Zappos Gets Zapped
February 23, 2012
Zappos.com, a popular, online shoe retailer known for its customer service slogan, "delivering happiness," was attacked by hackers last month, and over 24 million customer records were exposed. This was not a happy time for the company or their many customers. However, it seems no critical cardholder data was compromised.
"That's Right...It's Groundhog Day!"
February 2, 2012
This is a quote from one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. It's a classic that never fails to deliver a few chuckles. The story is about a man who must re-live Groundhog Day, over and over, until he learns to get things right. In some ways, the movie is similar to your credit card processing costs; they, too, have a certain "déjà vu - all over again" quality about them.
Lines, Calls, and Spreads: Your 2012 Playbook
January 12, 2012
If you are a football fan, you've heard a lot about lines, calls, and spreads by this time of year. However, even if you are not a football fan, lines, calls, and spreads can represent a practical, no nonsense way to focus on campus commerce fundamentals. Let's take a quick look at each:
The Dickens You Say...
December 15, 2011
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and good will to all. Yet, for the business office, the reality is more about the hustle and bustle of closing another year and preparing for a long list of new initiatives. So, hit the pause button for a minute and reflect on the progress you've already made in your campus commerce systems. In the spirit of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, let's visit campus commerce past, present, and future:
Let's Talks Turkeys
November 17, 2011
In November, our thoughts often drift to turkey dinners with all the trimmings. So, let's talk TURKEYS. Let's poke some fun at achievements that cry out for special recognition. Here are my nominations for our 2011 TURKEY Awards---dubious achievement awards in the payment space during the past 12 months.
From the Aisles of EDUCAUSE
October 19, 2011
A steady flow of people have enjoyed playing The Money Game at our EDUCAUSE booth in Philadelphia. It's a fun way to highlight ways that colleges and universities can save, make, and manage money better. Here are some of the topics I've discussed with them:
1st of October: Durbin Debit Day
September 29, 2011
October 1, 2011 is "D-Day" for debit cards. It's the date that the new Federal Reserve Board cap for debit card interchange fees goes into effect. The debit card interchange fee will be capped at 22¢ plus 5 basis points (5¢ per $100). It should reduce the fee for a typical $1,000 tuition transaction from about $12.00 to just 72 cents. Learn more Three cheers for Senator Durbin!
Combo Card Confusion
September 8, 2011
Two months after the Federal Reserve Board announced a cap on interchange rates for debit transactions, we are seeing hints about how banks and card processors can be creative in offsetting the loss of revenue caused by the lower debit fees.
Here We Go Again...
August 18, 2011
Last week, the stock market exhibited a volatility that unnerved even the most seasoned investor. My initial reaction was "here we go again." It doesn't take a crystal ball to know that next year's budgets will not be getting any friendlier. Once again you'll be asked to do more with less.
Durbin Debit Decisions
July 28, 2011
The race is on to take advantage of new debit card interchange rates effective October 1st. As we discussed during our Special Edition TouchNet LIVE! on July 14th, (click here to view a 10-minute executive summary), the Federal Reserve Board has defined new debit interchange rates in response to the Wall Street Reform Act of 2010 and its "Durbin Amendment." Now the big question is...What financial impact will Durbin have on your campus payments?
Special Announcement on Durbin Debit Reform
June 29, 2011
Today, the Federal Reserve Board has announced how they will meet their obligation under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 to regulate the interchange rate of bank debit card transactions. The new rates will be effective October 1st, 2011. The bottom line for merchants (your school) is that the cost of processing most debit card transactions is going to go way down - if you take the right steps now.
Durbin is a Done Deal
June 9, 2011
Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted down a bill that would have delayed the implementation of the Durbin Amendment set to go into effect on July 21st. The Durbin Amendment is part of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010 and mandates the Federal Reserve to regulate the interchange rate of bank debit card transactions. This is truly historic.
A PCI-Free Zone for Cashiering
June 8, 2011
Last month, I discussed a simple truth for your cashiering PCs: "If you type or swipe payment cards, you're in PCI scope." PCI standards have evolved to include all of the touch points for cardholder data, including computers that touch this information for only nanoseconds as they transmit data. Basically, there are 3 ways to implement cashiering functionality
Is Your PC In PCI Scope
May 19, 2011
In a typical retail business, there is no question about what the cashiering PC in the checkout lane does. It takes payments. Period. It wouldn't be used to check email, run ERP reports, or access the Internet. Most colleges and universities, however, want the flexibility to use their cashiering PCs for multiple purposes. This creates challenges with PCI compliance.
Partners Not Payers
April 28, 2011
During the last decade, higher education has made a lot of progress in automating eCommerce transactions, gaining the benefits of greater efficiency and improved student satisfaction. However, billing and payments for contract accounts (third-party payments, contract payments, sponsor payments, or whatever you call them) are still, by and large, processed manually. They're like student payments were ten years ago. Manual. Off-line. Messy. Fortunately, there is new momentum and growing interest in automating contract payments. Consider these points:
PCI: Performing Continuous Investigations
April 7, 2011
Payment card security has continuously evolved to provide more stringent protection for cardholder data. From its initial focus on large payment gateways and processors, the scope of cardholder data security has expanded to include all merchants, all sizes, and all systems.
I Can See Clearly Now
March 15, 2011
I recently found myself thinking that it was just two years ago when PA-DSS (Payment Application Data Security Standard) became "real" for many colleges and universities. Sure, the PCI standard was already in place. But it really hit home for many campuses when ERP vendors began changing the way their systems handled credit card payments.
Marching Into Mobile Madness
February 24, 2011
March is an interesting month. It brings longer days, changes in the weather, and what we call "show season." In March alone, the three big ERP companies all have their annual user conferences. I always make an effort to be at these conferences because change is normally in the air.
Seek and Ye Shall (Probably) Find
February 3, 2011
Complying with Payment Card Industry (PCI) rules and regulations is certainly not a "one and done" effort. There is always more to do. A case in point is the new PCI Data Security Standard 2.0. It has added another requirement for you to deal with.
PCI Version 2.0: New for You
January 12, 2011
Did you know that PCI specifications have versions just like software? The newest version, PCI 2.0, became effective on January 1st. The good news is that most PCI 2.0 changes do not add to your "to do" list. They simply clarify existing requirements.
December 17, 2010
Earlier this year, the Dodd-Frank Act tasked the Federal Reserve Board with setting standards for debit card interchange. Yesterday, the Fed responded and shocked the industry with its preliminary proposal. New rules are required to be in effect by July 21st of next year.
'Twas the Reason for Reform Season...
December 15, 2010
Recently on one of our many flights around the country, John Murphy, Vice President of TouchNet, and I were reflecting on the changes in the financial world over the last two years. John made an offhand comment that sounded something like "Twas the night before the crash, and all through the land, the subprime mess got really out of hand..." We laughed, but then over the next hour or so, we scribbled the basic outline of this parody of Clement C. Moore's classic 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
It's Fast. It's Glamorous. It's Obsolete.
November 17, 2010
At our COMTEC Client Conference last week, Tuesday night's dinner party was held at the Kansas City Airline History Museum. The museum featured a beautifully restored Lockheed Super Constellation, the four engine turboprop airliner affectionately called the "Connie." Designed by Howard Hughes the 1940s, the Connie ruled the skies for over two decades as the fastest, most elegant and comfortable airliner in the world. The cabin was amazing. Except for the lack of video screens and the abundance of ashtrays, it felt very much like the interior of an airplane 60 years newer.
A Card Is A Card
October 26, 2010
In my last email, I discussed the CARD Act of 2009, a law enacted to protect consumers from deceptive or unfair business practices regarding credit cards. Noteworthy about the CARD Act is language directly aimed at college and university campuses. Since then, there have been a number of articles published about a new type of debit card called a student loan card. Articles from both traditional print and online blogs point out that student loan cards have created conversations on campuses because these cards seem to sidestep the intent of the CARD Act.
Credit C A R D Confidential
September 29, 2010
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) became law in May 2009, bringing forward significant change for the credit card industry. For consumers, it provides a long list of new protections against deceptive or unfair business practices. For college and university administrators, it includes specific language that addresses credit card marketing to students on college and university campuses.
3 R's of Campus Payments™
September 9, 2010
When the pendulum swings in either direction, it goes to extremes. That's exactly what has happened in the finance industry in the last year or so. Not since the 1930s has there been more legislation passed affecting money and banking. Many of these changes have been enacted with the intent of providing better consumer protections and more integrity in our financial systems. The result for campus financial professionals is that the 3 R's of Campus PaymentsSM are now RULES, REGULATIONS, and REFORM:
Refund Mania - Part 2
August 25, 2010
In my last Toughey Talks email, I mentioned the hype surrounding disbursement of student refunds to debit cards. It doesn't surprise me that some vendors are pushing this service as there are ample profits in providing "free" refund debit cards and bank accounts to your students. These profits may be challenged when new regulations for interchange rates take hold, so it wouldn't surprise me if new fees pop up to replace lost interchange revenue.
Refund Mania - Part 1
August 10, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the annual NACUBO Conference in San Francisco. Besides the normal vendor amenities, such as cybercafés and giveaways, I noticed a good deal of vendor hype around refund-to-debit-card disbursements at no cost to campuses. Let's stop and think about this for a minute. After all, the old saying goes "there's always free cheese in a mousetrap." Assuming vendors are not doing something for nothing, how do they make money on debit card refund services? Let me count the ways...
Debit Gets Dinged
July 21, 2010
Debit card volume has grown exponentially in recent years. Merchants and consumers both appreciate the ease and speed of debit transactions. However, there is a dark side to debit cards, too. Merchants feel "dinged" by the high discount rate and consumers feel "dinged" by banking practices that trigger expensive overdraft charges. Now, recent legislation is shifting the tide and the debit card industry is getting dinged in return.
Lessons from the Sky
June 30, 2010
If you've flown recently, I'm sure that you've seen the shoppers' magazine filled with interesting and novel items to buy. Common sense tells you that some of these items won't work as well as expected, but it's human nature to always be on the hunt for a "better mousetrap."
A Law for the "Mass's"
June 16, 2010
A recent Commonwealth of Massachusetts law has really raised the bar in protecting consumer information. In addition to being one of the most comprehensive security laws in the nation, it can also impact any college or university, anywhere, that has a Massachusetts resident enrolled as a student.
Consumer Protection Overload?
May 26, 2010
I empathize with you if you feel a bit overwhelmed by the mix of rules, regulations, and laws designed to protect consumers these days. I've heard some of you say, "When it rains, it pours." Some days we feel the same.
"You Only Cry Once"
May 6, 2010
March and April was show season for us and, once again, I had the opportunity to attend our ERP partners' user conferences. I really enjoy this annual ritual because it gives me a chance to talk with a lot of you in a relatively short time.
Is There a (Payment) App for That
April 8, 2010
People don't buy smart phones just to make phone calls. People buy them for the convenience, productivity, and capabilities of text messages, emails, web browsing, maps, GPS, calendars, and other "apps." Today's smart phones are a technology platform for communication and interactivity.
31 Flavors of Cashiering
March 18, 2010
As I mentioned in my last e-mail, there seems to be a lot of confusion about "cashiering-like" systems. There appear to be as many different views of what Cashiering is as there are ice-cream flavors at Baskin-Robbins®.
Type or Swipe and You're In
February 25, 2010
There certainly is a lot of confusion right now about PCI rules, cashiering-like systems, and what's in or out of scope. There's so much confusion, in fact, that we really don't know what to call these systems - cashiering systems, virtual terminals, web stations, or what. With new PCI compliance deadlines looming July 1, it's time to clear things up.
Triple Witching Day?
January 28, 2010
When I think about July 1st, I am reminded of "triple witching day", a phrase in use when I was working in the financial services business during the '80s. "Triple witching day" occurred when the contracts for stock index futures, stock index options, and stock options all came due on the same day. It created an extremely volatile trading environment.
Ready for Advanced Training?
January 13, 2010
One of my favorite stories about legendary football coach Vince Lombardi is this one...After winning several NFL Championships and the first Super Bowl, Coach Lombardi congratulated his team on being world champs. He then said, "Are you guys ready for some 'advanced training'?"
And Then There Was One!
December 15, 2009
This month I planned to send you a clever follow-up to November's "Turducken" message. However, there has been a significant change in our industry and I feel compelled to comment on it.
This Bird's For U!
November 19, 2010
For Thanksgiving this year, the Toughey clan will try something new-"Turducken." I just heard about this Cajun treat, a boneless turkey wrapped around duck, wrapped around chicken, with dressing between each layer. I'm hoping to find another example of "the whole being greater than the sum of the parts."