Online shopping can become safer; Inflation causes consumer debt to skyrocket


Google Chrome gets integrated virtual credit cards

Google is adding a feature called Virtual Card Numbers to Chrome’s autofill system, which allows you to hide your credit or debit card number while you shop online. Google says the feature will help make it easy to buy things securely on sites that don’t support options like Google or Apple Pay. It’s basically the same experience as using Chrome Autofill to enter your credit card details, but with an extra layer of security. If you give your card number to a provider and they misuse it, you’ll have to contact your bank to reverse the charges and cancel your card, which is an inconvenience at best. That doesn’t happen when you use Google’s virtual maps. Every virtual credit card can only be used for a specific transaction, but support recurring transactions if you want to use them for a subscription. [The Verge]

Consumer debt increased by $52 billion in March

According to Federal Reserve data, consumer debt increased by $52.4 billion in March 2022, a seasonally adjusted annual increase of 14%. Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, rose 21.4%. Despite robust wage growth – average hourly wages have risen by 5.5% over the past 12 months – consumers are seeing these gains being eroded by the highest inflation in 40 years. The cost of groceries has increased nearly 9% in the last year, and a gallon of gas now averages $4,279 at the pump. [CNN]

Tech giants are taking steps to capture rising eGrocery sales

Big tech companies are pushing into the online grocery market. Apple is said to be considering launching its own grocery delivery ordering service to compete with Instacart, though Apple’s focus would be more on nutrition. Google is integrating grocery shopping and order tracking features into its navigation app. Additionally, in March 2021, the company announced a partnership with Albertsons Companies to integrate its cloud technologies with the grocer’s digital platforms. Amazon has also expanded its grocery offering, opening new brick-and-mortar stores and operating online delivery services through both its branded stores and its Whole Foods Market brand. So far, however, Amazon has struggled to narrow its retail rival Walmart’s lead in the category, with the latter continuing to outperform the tech giant 10-to-1 in food and beverage categories. [PYMNTS]

Google Wallet wants to replace your physical wallet

After the previous payment push ended, Google is back with something simpler, but just as ambitious. Google Wallet will replace the old Google Pay app installed on your phone and, if the company has its way, your physical wallet too. First of all, the Google Pay application already installed on your phone will soon become the new “Google Wallet” app. With this payment push, Google wants to replace and virtualize physical wallets. This is led by credit and debit cards, as well as transit and event tickets, airline boarding passes, loyalty/gift cards and vaccination cards. Along with virtual car keys and student ID cards, this makes up the existing set of what can be stored on your phone. [9 to 5 Google]

Amazon’s Alexa app now prompts customers to scan their purchase receipts for cash back rewards

It has been said that nobody uses Alexa for voice-based shopping. But the retail giant still sees potential for Alexa as a shopping companion, just in a different way. That’s why the company quietly rolled out a new feature this month aimed at encouraging consumer use of Alexa’s grocery lists: cashback offers. The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it has launched “Alexa Shopping List Savings,” which puts discount offers from brands and manufacturers right in the hands of consumers through the Alexa app, its mobile companion app for Echo device owners. The company says the deals will appear in the Alexa shopping list within the app, and then can be used in retail stores nationwide to help customers save money. [Tech Crunch]

American Express Adds New Cancel For Any Reason Coverage Option For Flights

Trip Cancel Guard is a new offering from American Express that works similarly to Cancel for Any Reason coverage. However, it is not an insurance policy. In fact, you can get these and travel insurance to cover your trip in a variety of ways. Upon purchase, Trip Cancel Guard offers a refund of up to 75% of your non-refundable airfare booked on as long as you cancel at least two calendar days before your departure date. This option is available when paying with a US-issued American Express card and must be added to at the time of booking. It is not available later as an add-on to your flights and cannot be purchased over the phone. [The Points Guy]

Visa curates a pool of Buy Now/Pay Later partners for banks

Nearly two years after unveiling its program for Visa credit card issuers to enter the fast-growing buy-now/pay-later industry, the company has introduced fast-track access to streamline bank acceptance. The card network has added BNPL to its Visa Ready program, which acts as a matchmaker between fintechs and card issuers, with turnkey access to about 20 companies that Visa has verified to help issuers launch BNPL programs through its application programming interfaces . Visa’s goal is to encourage more banks to venture into the BNPL arena to offer interest-free loans on a per-purchase basis, where fintech-powered players like Affirm, Klarna, Afterpay and PayPal dominate the scene. [American Banker]

The Fed fines Bank of America $10 million for illegally foreclosure of bank accounts

Bank of America will pay thousands of customers whose accounts were illegally seized a $10 million fine and reimburse nearly $600,000 in fees. The CFPB said its enforcement action stemmed from the country’s second-largest bank processing illegal out-of-state garnishment orders against its customers’ bank accounts. Customer accounts have been unlawfully frozen, illegal fees levied, and funds withdrawn and remitted to creditors based on court orders that should have been processed under the laws of the state in which they live. Since August 2011, the bank has unlawfully garnished at least 3,700 overseas accounts and levied at least $592,000 in garnishment fees while engaging in unfair practices. [CBS News]

The bottom line is that merchants are looking for benefits from credit card surcharges

Legal obstacles to surcharges on credit card transactions have largely fallen over the past decade as courts continue to rule that the surcharges are permissible. This is good news for merchants looking to increase their income by a few percentage points and cover their card processing costs, but other obstacles remain, including consumer reluctance to pay surcharges. Recent PYMNTS data has found that when faced with a premium at the point of sale, most consumers tend to pay it with relatively little harm to their satisfaction with the retailer. Despite most cardholders’ resistance to surcharges, 85% of credit card users pay these fees when faced with them. In this situation, cardholders only find another payment method 14% of the time and rarely leave the store. Our data shows that merchants need the right approach to take advantage of markups without forcing customers to switch their business to other merchants. [PYMNTS]

UK government hackers have rendered hundreds of thousands of stolen credit cards worthless to crooks

A joint operation in the UK involving the secret service GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) and the Ministry of Defense went head-to-head against computer networks used by cybercriminals to protect people from cyberattacks and render worthless hundreds of thousands of stolen credit cards they stole. First announced in 2020, the National Cyber ​​Force is working with international partners to actively conduct operations to “undermine” cybercriminals’ networks, denying them access to malware and other objectionable cyber tools and malicious hackers from profiting from cybercrime. [ZD Net]


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