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Back home  /  Payments News: 13 August 2021

Payments News Digest 13 August 2021

13 August 2021
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Australia: Citi sells consumer lending business to NAB, adding BNPL to product mix on the way out

In April, Citigroup announced that it would be exiting its consumer-facing businesses across 11 Asia-Pacific markets as well as Russia and Poland. Now the first of these divestments is set to take place with news that National Australia Bank (NAB) will be buying Citibank Australia for $882m. At the very least, the deal will see NAB cement its inclusion in the group of four leading credit card issuers in this market. Of particular interest to the purchaser, noted NAB chief executive Ross McEwan, is the scale and experience it will gain in credit cards and other forms of unsecured lending. The deal is a clear sign that issuers still see the credit card as a payments solution worth fighting for, even in the world's most BNPL-enthusiastic market. Intriguingly, in a move that is being touted as a first across Citi worldwide, Citibank Australia has launched a BNPL product of its own: Spot, currently open for pre-registration before its launch in October. Spot, with payments repayable over four interest-free instalments, will work at all Mastercard POS or online acceptance venues. As Argus Advisory Research's current market report for Australia points out, the bank had already dipped a toe into the BNPL sector, partnering with online retailer Kogan to let existing credit card customers switch to instalment loans at the POS.

Canada: Scotiabank offers to convert credit card repayments to fee-free instalments

That issuer strategy of allowing consumers to switch to repayments on an instalment basis is also being seen in Canada, where Scotiabank is now to allow a conversion to BNPL in the case of purchases valued at more than 100 Canadian dollars ($80) at the point of sale, whether offline or online. The Scotia SelectPay plan is accessible from the lender's mobile banking app, with no loss of rewards benefits or paperwork required. The month before last, the Toronto-headquartered bank had announced that it would be the first issuer in the country to avail of Visa's Installments functionality to offer repayment options to its cardholders. As seen elsewhere, BNPL has enjoyed an enthusiastic reception from Canadians, with adoption up by almost a third in the space of a year. Scotia issues just under a tenth of all credit cards, putting it in the top five firms for issuing. Still, its market share in Canada remains less than half that of leading player TD Bank, perhaps leading it to embrace more innovative approaches.

Singapore: Amazon slaps surcharge onto purchases by credit cardholders choosing Visa

Amazon has written to its customers in Singapore to advise them that, for transactions using Visa-branded credit cards, a surcharge of 0.5 percent is coming on many of its services in mid-September. Most purchases made on the company's dedicated Singapore site, even those fulfilled by third parties, will be subject to the measure. However, subscription fees, digital products and Amazon Fresh groceries will be untouched. Although the charge is confined to the city-state, a spokesperson for the e-commerce behemoth has told local media that Amazon sees the high cost of card payments as a global issue. "To avoid this surcharge, we encourage you to use a debit or non-Visa credit card as the default payment method in your account", the email advised. In other Amazon news, the company pays ten dollars in credit to American shoppers at its checkout-free outlets palm print data that is linked to the individual's Amazon account.

Payment news stories of interest this week...

S Korea: KakaoBank becomes largest retail lender as shares surge
UK: Spending on cards rises to 99 percent of pre-pandemic level
US: 85 percent of BofA deposits now made digitally
US: Cash Back to Crypto introduced for holders of Venmo Credit Card

The Weekly News Digest from Argus Advisory Research highlights significant developments in payment cards, digital payments, acquiring, processing, retail banking and consumer credit. Our writers and researchers frame these items in contexts such as historical, sectoral and regional trends, adding a layer of value often missing from the rolling news cycle.

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