Archive for year: 2015
If you’re a fast-food junkie like me, November 16 is going to be a whopper of a day. Why? Because it’s National Fast Food Day, that’s why, and I can hardly wait to eat fresh, think outside the bun, and go on a hunt for some finger-lickin’ good fast food.
All puns aside, there really is a National Fast Food Day. It’s observed annually on November 16. Who created it or when is not clear, but we do know the term ‘fast food’ was first recognized in the Merriam-Webster dictionary 1951.
After World War II ended, the U.S. shifted into high gear. Quick and fast became the drumbeat of society. Everyone wanted housing, new cars, and jobs right now! America, after years of an economic depression and warfare, was on the move. By the 1950s, drive-thru and fast-order restaurants had begun to spring up all around the country.
Today, fast food restaurants, many of which are U.S. branded operations, can be found in over 100 countries worldwide. With over 300,000 fast food establishments in the U.S. generating close to $192 billion in sales in 2014, the United States is the undisputed king of the fast food industry. There’s hardly a town, village, or stretch of a major highway that doesn’t have a familiar fast-food logo atop a sign for all to see.
Although the term ‘fast food’ may be relatively new, the concept dates back to the Roman times when street stands called “thermopoliums” served up steaming hot sausages, bread and wine to hungry, toga-clad customers on the go. Fast forward a thousand years to 1867 and the first American fast food restaurant, a hot dog stand, opened on Coney Island.
Then in 1955, a mixer salesman named Ray Kroc wondered why two brothers named McDonald had purchased 5 of his milk-shake mixers for their small hamburger joint. He visited their site in San Bernardino, California, liked what he saw, and decided then and there to go into the fast food business. The rest, as they say, is history.
Besides getting your food quickly, the biggest draw in fast food dining has been the relatively low cost. I can remember 15-cent hamburgers, 10-cent fries and 5-cent cokes from my high school days. Inflation has upped those prices since then of course, but budget-menus at most fast food restaurants still offer 99-cent items like hamburgers and fries.
National Fast Food Day is really a celebration of foods like hamburgers, fries, tacos, pizza, hot dog, onion rings and chicken served as nuggets or deep fried or between two buns. Are these tasty, gourmet delights good for us? Maybe not, if eaten in excess, but boy…they sure taste good!
by Axis Payments
Believe it or not, the holiday season is upon us once again, which means that the biggest sales season of the year is also close at hand. Of all the occasions for increased economic activity on the retail level, the holiday season is by far the biggest stimulus of sales. This year should be no exception, with yet another record breaking year predicted.
A Fifth of All Sales
Not everyone appreciates just how big, and how vital, the holiday shopping season is to our economy. The truth is that nearly 20%, or a fifth of all retail sales for the year, occur during the holiday season. For many businesses, that amount falls well withing the margin of what they need to sell to have a profitable year. In other words, many businesses depend on holiday season sales to keep their doors open. Many people also depend on the holiday sales season for employment, as retailers typically hire over 750,000 seasonal workers each year.
There is really no official start to the holiday shopping season. Much depends on the type of business, for some it may start as early as September or not kick in until the last weeks of December. However, for most retailers the unofficial kick-off day is the day after Thanksgiving, generally known as Black Friday.
A newer, but fast growing companion to Black Friday is Cyber Monday, which falls on the first Monday after Black Friday. This day is devoted to the promotion of e-commerce, the buying and selling of things online. Once only a small fraction of holiday sales, online shopping has boomed in recent years. In 2010, retails analysts predicted that e-commerce holiday shopping would pass $300 billion in 2017. However, that milestone is expected to be blown past this year, as the 2015 shopping season is expected to produce at least $325 billion in retail sales.
Long Term Trends
It can be safely assumed that people will always enjoy doing some of their holiday shopping in actual brick and mortar stores. Yet, an ever increasing amount of shopping will also be done online, with average year to year growth in e-commerce holiday shopping averaging around five or six percent growth each holiday season since 2009. With record breaking sales expected once again this year, every business will want to be fully prepared to handle that extra business and all of the electronic payments that the increase will entail. For those businesses that are prepared, 2015 should be a very happy holiday season.
If you are a business owner still thinking about offering a credit and debit card payment option to your customers and clients, here are six reasons for you to consider. They can all help your bottom line by bringing more money to your business.
1 – Fostering the Image of Your Business
Small business owners who display the familiar logos of payment networks such as MasterCard, American Express and Visa seldom realize how attractive they are to customers and clients. The reason for this is simple: when consumers see those logos, they see brands they can trust. When they see that you do business with these trusted brands, they will think of your business as one that is legitimate and trustworthy.
2 – Enabling Online Business
Even if your business is exclusively a brick-and-mortar operation at this time, you should not discount the possibility of doing e-commerce in the future. By getting a merchant card system in your business now, you are essentially preparing for more productive days ahead since you will be prepared to accept payments.
3 – Checkbooks Are Disappearing
For some reason, the United States has been a stalwart of the paper check era. This is not the case in Europe and Latin America, where checks have been mostly phased out in favor of electronic payments as well as credit and debit card transactions. American consumers are warming up to a life without checks, and this is good news for business owners who are always at risk of getting bad checks. With a merchant processing system, card transactions are approved or declined on the spot, thereby reducing the risk of bad checks.
4 – Happy Customers = More Money
Americans are abandoning checks and turning to credit and debit cards because of convenience. Many consumers dislike the idea of carrying cash; what they like is being able to pay securely with a card that they can track spending with and perhaps score points or frequent flier miles. If you want happy customers, give them the option to pay with their cards.
5 – Card Shoppers Are Bigger Spenders
With more banks combining credit and debit features into a single card, retail analysts are noticing greater patterns of spending. Consumers who run to the ATM or cash checks do not spend as much as those who have a payment card at their disposal. With the American economy improving, credit lines are becoming more generous, and thus many shoppers are spending more on their purchases.
6 – Electronic Payments Are Cheap
The merchant processing industry is very competitive these days, and this makes it very attractive for business owners. Rates, fees and high-tech terminals that process card and electronic payments do not require a major investment, particularly when considering the boost in sales.
Last year, over one hundred million Americans had their sensitive financial data breached when they did their holiday shopping at a popular discount store. That is a lot of angry people and they slapped the retailer with at least two class-action law suits.
More criminals are targeting the U.S. for credit card fraud these days. That is because we have been slower to transition to a new, more secure system that Europe and other parts of the world have already embraced. We are beginning to make the change, though, and this may be the most secure holiday shopping season ever.
The “change” I am talking about is the introduction of EMV systems. The term simply means Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and the new cards are referred to as “chip cards or “smart cards.” What makes them smart is the chip that is embedded in them in place of the magnetic strip that older cards have. The problem with the strip is that the data stored there just doesn’t change. That means a crook can get your information when you swipe your card through the reader and replicate it, using it again and again to wish himself a very merry Christmas indeed. The chip, however, generates a different transaction code every time the card is used. If the criminal tries to use the card again, it is denied. EMV cards don’t stop the transfer of data, but they make it harder to profit from the information. You use the card in a different way, too. Instead of swiping it through a magnetic-stripe card reader, you either deposit it into a slot and wait for it to process, or you tap an NFC-enabled device against the reader.
Why has the U.S. been so slow to bring the new technology on board? Part of the reason for our tardiness, no doubt, is the cost associated with putting a reader at every point of purchase and retailers don’t see the value in the investment. Another reason U.S. retailers have not brought the new system on board is that they don’t understand their liabilities. Up until now the card issuing bank has been responsible for fraudulent charges, but new regulations shift some of that financial responsibility to the retailer if he doesn’t have an EMV system in place. The company that saw the huge holiday breach last season faced huge losses through the suits brought against it by irate customers. If the EMV system is in place and a “not-so-smart” card is used in it, the liability belongs to the company that issued the card.
Integrating the EMV system is costly and smaller companies may have a difficult time seeing the importance of making the change. Still, the incidence of credit card fraud has doubled in America in the last seven years. The liability of making reparation for losses incurred by customers after a breach could mean a bleak holiday season for even small businesses. By the end of this year credit card issuers will send out an estimated 600 million smart cards to Americans. We are well on our way to making the change that much of the rest of the world has already embraced, and this season American shoppers may not have to worry as much about fraudulent charges on their cards.
Are you using mobile transactions yet? This encompasses mobile point-of-sale services like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. They all work using NFC (near field communication) technology and you now have several options…but which is the best?
It’s difficult to say, but the top 3 platforms all have their pros and cons. Apple Pay, for example, seems to have the most brand-recognition yet they’re battling the perception of being susceptible to fraud. Samsung Pay seems to have the widest reach in terms of retailer acceptance as they have built mag-stripe technology into their platform, but it only works on Galaxy S6-series devices which limits the size of their user-base. And Android Pay works across all of its devices which gives them a big advantage over the others, but their existing Google Wallet customers have been complaining about compatibility differences and the process of switching from Google Wallet to Android Pay.
Most of us will simply go with whatever works on our phones. If you’ve got an iPhone, you’ll use Apple Pay and so on. I’m sure there will be cross-platform apps like CurrentC or PayPal that bring strong offerings using NFC, as well.
Copyright 2015 Axis Payments
Despite our close political and economic ties, Americans have traditionally considered themselves distinctly different from Europe. However, when it comes to credit cards, on October 1st America became more like Europe and that’s probably a good thing.
Our friends across the pond have for years benefited from a new generation of chip-enabled smart cards that make credit card processing much less susceptible to fraud. As of the first of October, any American business that cannot process a credit card using smart card technology faces new liability issues and could find themselves forced to accept responsibility for the fraudulent use of the card.
No Small Problem
Credit card fraud takes many forms and is one of the biggest issues facing businesses today. In fact, the amount of fraud adds up to a staggering sum of $10 billion lost per year. That means the use of the best card technology is imperative to protect both businesses and their customers, especially since failure to employ that technology can now expose businesses to new risks.
Slow to Act
Despite these risks, many American businesses have been slow to embrace smart card technology. Surveys show that as of October 1st, 2015, less than a third of U.S. merchants were able to handle smart card transactions, thereby needlessly exposing themselves to avoidable fraud risks. This is even more puzzling considering the ease and low expense of adopting the technology, leading some experts to conclude that many business owners are simply ignorant of both the risks and the solution.
Despite their effectiveness in combating fraud, embedding microprocessor chips in credit cards are not mandated in the United States. The technology simply has not caught on in America as it has in Europe and Canada. Yet, it remains in the best interest of every American business to upgrade their equipment and software as quickly as they can.
One reason why many merchants have not adopted smart cards is because it may require replacing processing techniques and upgrading point of sales terminals. However, under the new liability rules, the party with the lowest processing technology must assume liability, in contrast to earlier procedures where the card issuer simply assumed liability. Therefore, failure to adapt smart card capability can leave businesses on the hook for fraudulent activity.
Time to Act
Chip-embedded smart cards offer the best protection to businesses trying to combat fraud. The technology is neither complicated nor expensive to install, with it possible for a service provider to make the technology conversion in less than three days. Don’t get caught holding the bag when credit card fraud occurs. Instead, join our wise European friends by adapting smart card processing technology now.
Copyright 2015 Axis Payments