Users of Square’s Web site and app experienced a brief outage that prevented some payments from being processed.
Square was hit by an hour-long outage yesterday evening, stopping some payments being processed.
The outage caused problems for users of the startup’s website, Squareup.com, as well as its mobile app, The Next Web reports.
Square allows merchants to take credit card payments using its free Square card reader, which plugs into iOS or Android mobile devices. The company processes $5 billion of transactions per year.
The startup this month added Starbucks to its list of customers. Some 7,000 Starbucks outlets will introduce Square’s mobile payment system this fall, and the coffee chain also invested $25 million in the mobile payments startup.
Retail sales in the U.S. rose more than forecast in July, reflecting broad-based gains that ease concern elevated unemployment will cause consumers to retrench.
The 0.8 percent advance, the biggest since February and first gain in four months, followed a 0.7 percent decrease in June, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 0.3 percent rise, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Purchases climbed in all 13 categories, the first time that’s happened since 2005.
Pedestrians pass in front of a Gap Inc. store in San Francisco. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) — Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, talks about today’s reports on U.S. retail sales and producer prices in July. Retail sales rose 0.8 percent, the first gain in four months, Commerce Department figures showed. The producer price index rose 0.3 percent, Labor Department figures showed. The core measure excluding volatile food and energy increased 0.4 percent. (Source: Bloomberg)
Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) — Retail sales in the U.S. rose 0.8 percent in July, more than forecast, following a 0.7 percent decrease in June that was weaker than first reported, Commerce Department figures showed today. Separately, the producer price index rose 0.3 percent in July after an increase of 0.1 percent in the previous month, according to the Labor Department. Michael McKee and Deirdre Bolton report on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Joblessness in excess of 8 percent is keeping consumer spending from surging. Photographer: Sam Hodgson/Bloomberg
Improved sales at merchants such as Gap Inc. (GPS) and TJX Cos. (TJX) indicate American households are looking beyond the global economic slowdown as hiring improves. At the same time, joblessness in excess of 8 percent is keeping consumer spending from surging, consistent with the Federal Reserve’s view that economic growth will “remain moderate over coming quarters.”
“The consumer hasn’t exactly thrown in the towel, which is encouraging because they’ve been battered and bruised in recent months with very slow job growth and a cloud of uncertainty,” said Millan Mulraine, senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities Inc. in New York. “We’re off to good a start in the third quarter. I do question the sustainability of the current level of spending. It can only be sustained if employment growth accelerates beyond July.”
Stocks climbed as the report bolstered optimism the economic expansion will be maintained. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.2 percent to 1,407.09 at 10:48 a.m. in New York. Treasury securities fell, sending the yield on the benchmark 10- year note up to 1.71 percent from 1.67 percent late yesterday.
Today’s report showed the retail sales category used to calculate gross domestic product, which excludes sales at auto dealers, building material stores and service stations, increased 0.9 percent, the biggest gain since January, after a 0.2 percent decrease in June.
Economists at Morgan Stanley in New York raised their tracking estimate for growth in the third quarter to a 1.9 percent annual rate after today’s report from a previous estimate of 1.7 percent. Their counterparts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. boosted it to 2.3 percent from 2.2 percent.
Other reports today showed wholesale prices climbed more than forecast in July and inventories at U.S. companies rose in June at the slowest pace in nine months.
Global ATM software company, KAL, today launched the Retail Teller Machine (RTM): a revolutionary cashless ATM which is set to transform branchless banking forever.
The KAL Retail Teller Machine (RTM) provides all ATM transactions but operates at one tenth of the cost of bank ATMs (Photo: Business Wire)
The Times Square New York launch showcased KAL’s RTM – a machine that provides all ATM transactions including cash-out and cash-in – but has no cash inside the machine.
Operating at one tenth of the cost of bank ATMs, RTMs do not dispense cash. Instead they print a unique voucher which is then exchanged for cash inside the same store. The retailer is immediately compensated by the RTM which executes a back-to-back transaction. This remits the dispensed amount into the retailer’s bank account. Running the same software as ATMs, the RTM provides a full range of banking services and even includes the ability for the customer to video conference with a bank call center.
This means no more expensive branches, regular maintenance or armored services. With the lightweight RTM, it’s simply a case of plug and go.
KAL’s CEO, Aravinda Korala commented: “We believe the RTM is one of the most important products ever to be introduced to the self-service banking industry. With significantly decreased running costs, banks can now ensure they have a presence wherever their customers are. Most excitingly, it offers a cost effective way to open up banking services to millions of people around the world who do not have easy access to their banks. The patented process of the RTM also provides an exciting new opportunity for retailers to work closely with their banks in providing convenient and safe access to banking services.”
It has been called the largest private antitrust settlement in history, but the tentative $7.3 billion deal made last month between credit card companies and merchants may do little for Andy Charles, the owner of Haven’s Candies, which accepts credit cards at its three stores in the Portland, Me., area.
Although the settlement was announced with fanfare in July by the lawyers who negotiated it, the celebration may have been premature. Some merchants and retail advocates, including four organizations that are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, oppose the deal because, they say, it offers too little and will make it harder to take legal action against credit card companies in the future. The settlement is still subject to court approval and is unlikely to become official before the middle of next year.
“There’s nothing there,” said Mallory Duncan, senior vice president and general counsel at the National Retail Federation, a trade association that was not involved in the lawsuit. He called the cash and fee reductions a “drop in the bucket” compared with the amount banks had overcharged merchants to process credit cards.
The lawsuit was filed in 2005 on behalf of some seven million merchants who claimed that MasterCard and Visa had colluded, separately, with banks to eliminate competition and increase the price of their credit card transactions. Since then, the interchange fees, or so-called swipe fees, small merchants pay card networks have risen as the networks have plied cardholders with rewards, said David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, which tracks the card industry.
In 2011, Visa and MasterCard accounted for 68 percent of credit card spending at merchants, according to the report, and the two companies’ grip on the market is likely to make retailers think twice before applying a surcharge. “Customers are very temperamental now,” said Nancy Alinovi, who owns two consignment shops called Adore Designer Resale Boutique in the Raleigh, N.C., area. “It’s much harder to get them to spend their money.”
Ms. Alinovi said she would never apply a surcharge. “However,” she added, “I love that we have the ability to do that, the freedom to do that.”
That freedom, however, is limited. Under the agreement, a merchant that added a surcharge to Visa or MasterCard transactions would also be required to add the surcharge to American Express transactions, if the merchant took American Express. (Half of those who accept Visa and MasterCard also take American Express, said David Darst, an analyst who covers the industry for Guggenheim Securities.)
But American Express has its own rule that says merchants must treat every form of electronic payment equally — and that means that to add the surcharge to American Express transactions, the merchant would have to add it to every other card it accepted, including debit cards. But both Visa and MasterCard prohibit surcharges on debit cards — Catch-22! — which effectively means merchants cannot add a surcharge to any transaction.
In reality, few merchants would impose a debit surcharge even if Visa and MasterCard permitted it. “Debit is the product that merchants want to encourage customers to use, so if you have a rule that says if you’re going to surcharge American Express you’re going to have to surcharge debit, you might as well have a rule that says no surcharge,” said Gary B. Friedman, a lawyer in New York who represents merchants in a separate class-action lawsuit against American Express.
Noah J. Hanft, MasterCard’s general counsel, said the company was not trying to use the rules set by other networks as a shield against competition. “We can’t fix the problems that other brands have with their rules,” he said. “We can only fix issues with our rules, but we have to ensure that there’s a competitive marketplace. We’re not going to enter into an agreement that’s not fair to our cardholders.” Visa officials declined to speak on the record.
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