Dow Component American Express (AXP) Eliminates Signature Requirements

Dow 30 Component, American Express Company (AXP), and its subsidiaries provide customers and businesses globally with charge and credit payment card products and travel-related services. They look to enrich the lives of their customers and build business success.

American Express recently announced that beginning April 2018, Car Members’ signatures will not be required for any purchase transaction. Currently, American Express already eliminated signature requirements for any transactions under $50 in the U.S.

Eliminating the signature requirement is a step towards simplifying the checkout experience and speeding up the payment process. Due to advancements in technologies such as EMV chips and advanced machine learning algorithms, the need for signatures to detect fraud has declined.

Let us all applaud American Express for their valiant effort in shortening the ever-lengthening lines at the local superstore checkout.

To learn more about American Express Company (AXP) and to continue to track its progress please visit the Vista Partners American Express Coverage Page.

American Express to Provide Additional Flexibility to Merchants By Eliminating Signature Requirements Worldwide

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Interview with Payment Industry Expert Ryan Yuzon “The What, When & Why Regarding Apple Cash”

Apple (AAPL) recently released Apple Cash, a person-to-person payment system that competes directly with PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle.  With a strong market share of smart devices (newer iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches) in the US, Apple is well positioned to accelerate the adoption of mobile payments.

In a recent interview on the Groundwork Forum Podcast hosted by John Heerdink, Ryan Yuzon shares his views on Episode 6 titled “The What, When & Why Regarding Apple Cash”. Ryan speaks to why the new service will help adoption and usage but does not necessarily represent the “killer app” for mobile payments.

Mr. Yuzon has spent more than 20 years in the payments and financial services industry, working in product innovation for Visa and payments consulting firms Edgar Dunn and RFi in the US and the Asia Pacific.  He has a B.A. in Quantitative Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.

For more early impressions of Apple Cash, see http://mashable.com/2017/ 11/07/apple-pay-cash-is- finally-here/#p9N6FFImEgqZ and https://techcrunch.com/ 2017/11/07/apple-pay-cash- launches-in-beta-today- letting-you-send-and-receive- cash-in-messages/

To learn more about Apple (AAPL) and track its ongoing progress please visit the Vista Partners Apple Coverage Page.

Groundwork Forum Podcast aims to bring together leaders from all disciplines all over the world to join its Global Community to consider new perspectives on key issues; to create a powerful, global network in order to strengthen the influence throughout the world; to draw up innovative and concrete action plans to encourage contribution to society; and to promote diversity in the business world. Send us an email if you’d like to become a contributor: inquiries@vistapglobal.com.




Visa (V) Eyes 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Visa (NYSE:V), the world’s leader in digital payments, is the Official Payment Service Partner of FIFA and is eyeing the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. Today Visa released travel and spending data for or the 2018 FIFA World Cup as they will enable a cash-free fan experience by implementing point-of-sale terminals that accept a Visa credit or debit card and a range of digital payments. Based on spending trends and insights from Visa, it is projected that Russia will host an additional 300,000 to 500,000 international visitors during the months of June & July 2018, in addition to the baseline average of 4.3M total international visitors.

Ekaterina Petelina, country manager, Visa Russia stated, “As the Official Payment Service Partner of FIFA, Visa is excited for fans all over the world to join us in Russia. From unveiling the latest payment innovations to upgrading payment terminals to allow for contactless cards and digital payments, such as those made via phone or watch, throughout official venues, Visa will continue to elevate the fan experience. Visa provides simple and secure payment options for those in attendance, so they can get back to their seats quickly and focus on the match.”

To learn more about Visa (V) and to track its ongoing progress please visit the Vista Partners Visa (V) Coverage Page.

Visa Readies Digital Payments for the Projected 500,000 Visitors Traveling to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

In celebration of the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, Visa , the Official Payment Service Partner of FIFA, released travel and spending data for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™…

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Visa (NYSE: V) Beats Analyst Q3 Estimates

Visa (NYSE: V) beat analyst Q3 estimates reporting an 11 percent increase in profit for the most recent quarter. Earnings were $2.14B or 90 cents a share. Estimates were  85 cents a share. Visa saw payment volumes rise 9.8% to $1.93 trillion.

Chief Executive Alfred Kelly Jr. stated “Visa ended our fiscal year as we began, with strong growth across payments volume, cross-border volume and processed transactions, which was bolstered by the addition of Visa Europe.”

To learn more about Visa (NYSE: V) and to tracks its progress please visit the Vista Partners Dedicated Visa Coverage Page.

Visa Inc. Fiscal Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2017 Financial Results

Visa Inc. today announced its fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 financial results through an earnings release that will be furnished with the Securities and Exchange Commission on a Form 8-K and will be available on its Investor Relations website at http://investor.visa.com/sec-filings/default.aspx…

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JPMorgan Chase Reports Q3 Results -$25.3B Revs, NI $6.7B OR $1.76/Sh

Leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion & operations worldwide, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), reported Q3 results with $25.3 billion & managed revenue of $26.2 billion & net income of $6.7 Billion (a 7% increase), or $1.76 per share.  Average core loans were up 8%, average deposits of $646 billion were up 9%.

Jamie Dimon, Chairman, and CEO, commented on the financial results: “JPMorgan Chase delivered solid results in a competitive environment this quarter with steady core growth across the platform. And for the first time, the Firm led the nation in total U.S. deposits, as consumers and businesses continue to view us as their partner of choice.”
Dimon added: “In Consumer & Community Banking, card sales and merchant processing volumes were once again up double digits, while loans and deposits continued to grow strongly. In the Corporate & Investment Bank, we continued to lead our peers in Investment Banking fees, and Treasury Services and Securities Services each generated over $1 billion in revenue. Commercial Banking again delivered outstanding performance with record revenue as our long-term investments in the business are paying off. Our Asset & Wealth Management business delivered strong results with record net income and AUM this quarter.”

Dimon concluded: “The global economy continues to do well and the U.S. consumer remains healthy with solid wage growth. Unfortunately, natural disasters in the U.S. and abroad have impacted many of our customers and we have responded with enormous financial support as well as the expertise and generosity of our employees to help these customers, clients, and communities. Building on our success to-date in Detroit, we have announced new initiatives in Chicago and Washington, D.C. to drive inclusive economic growth in those communities. We will be there to do our part. And this is in addition to the $1.7 trillion of credit and capital supplied this year to consumers and small and mid-sized businesses and corporate clients.”

To learn more about JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and to track its progress please visit the Vista Partners Company Dedicated Coverage Page.

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Disney & Chase Renew Co-Branding Relationship!

Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion and operations worldwide. Chase serves nearly half of America’s households with a broad range of financial services, including personal banking, credit cards, mortgages, auto financing, investment advice, small business loans and payment processing. Customers can choose how and where they want to bank: 5,200 branches, 16,000 ATMs, mobile, online and by phone.

This week, Chase and The Walt Disney Company (DIS) announced a multi-year extension of the Disney Visa Card, Disney Premier Visa Card and Disney Visa Debit Card programs.  This co-branded card program spans approximately 15 years, and it is believed by management that this extension reinforces their shared commitment to bring exceptional rewards and experiences to Card Members.

To learn more about these two Dow 30 components please visit the Dedicated Company Pages located within the Vista Partners Coverage pages. Here are the direct links:  JPMorgan Chase (JPM) & Disney (DIS).

Disney and Chase Renew Co-Brand Card Relationship

Today, Chase Card Services, the leading co-brand credit card issuer in the United States, and The Walt Disney Company announced a multi-year extension of the Disney Visa Card, Disney Premier Visa Card and Disney Visa Debit Card programs…

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A Bank Stock To Watch: West Town Bancorp (WTWB) Completes Acquisition of Sound Banking Company and Private Placement Offering

On Sept. 05, 2017 West Town Bancorp, Inc. (WTWB) (“West Town”), announced the successful completion of its acquisition of Sound Banking Company of Morehead City, NC (“Sound Bank”) thereby further expanding its presence into Eastern North Carolina. West Town will operate as a multi-bank holding company with Sound Bank and West Town Bank & Trust as separately chartered, wholly owned subsidiaries of West Town. With the Sound Bank acquisition, West Town has grown its consolidated assets to approximately $500 million as of the August 31, 2017 closing date.

Additionally, in connection with the acquisition, West Town closed on a private placement of securities to a limited number of institutional and other accredited investors for aggregate gross proceeds to the company of approximately $17.5 million, before fees and expenses. In connection with the closing of the sales, West Town issued 453,490 shares of voting common stock at a per share purchase price of $23.00 and issued 30,738 shares of a non-voting convertible perpetual preferred stock at a per share purchase price of $230.00.

With 2,587,669 shares of common stock outstanding following the transactions, West Town has a market capitalization of $62.6 million based on the closing price of $24.20 per share on Thursday, August 31, 2017.

Eric Bergevin, President and CEO of West Town commented, “We are pleased to complete our acquisition of Sound Bank. Sound Bank’s traditional community banking franchise rooted with a strong core deposit base will complement West Town Bank & Trust’s substantial fee income business driven by its national SBA/USDA lending platform. Additionally, the completion of the private placement positions our company for continued organic growth as well as the flexibility to look at additional acquisition opportunities in the future.”

Phil Collins, President of Sound Bank echoed, “We are excited about becoming part of the West Town organization, which we believe will result in a bigger, stronger, more profitable franchise and allow our customers to benefit from additional products and services.”

About West Town Bancorp, Inc.
West Town Bancorp, Inc., which is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a multi-bank holding company registered with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. West Town operates two banking subsidiaries – West Town Bank & Trust, an Illinois state bank with its main office in North Riverside, IL, and Sound Bank, a North Carolina-chartered bank with its main office in Morehead City, NC. Through its banking subsidiaries, West Town provides banking services and products through its offices in Illinois and North Carolina, including checking, savings, and time deposit accounts and residential mortgage, commercial, and installment loans.

West Town Bancorp, Inc. Completes Acquisition of Sound Banking Company and Private Placement Offering

RALEIGH, N.C., Sept. 05, 2017– West Town Bancorp, Inc., announced today the successful completion of its acquisition of Sound Banking Company of Morehead City, NC thereby further expanding its presence …..

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American Express (AXP) Unveiled “Pay It Plan” Targeting Millennials

American Express (NYSE: AXP) introduced a new feature called “Pay It Plan It” recently that is designed that is targeting millennials and became available to all card holders August 30th. This feature allows cardholders to pay for certain purchases of $100 or more in installments.

Please visit the American Express (NYSE: AXP) Dedicated Company Page located within the Vista Partners Coverage Universe section our our website in order to learn more and to gain a  greater understanding as developments occur.

American Express is making a major change — because of millennials

AmEx now allows certain large credit card purchases to be paid via installments…

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MERGER ANNOUNCEMENT: West Town Bancorp (WTWB) and Sound Banking Company

On Feb. 17, 2017 West Town Bancorp, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina (“West Town”) (WTWB), parent company of West Town Bank & Trust, North Riverside, Illinois (“WTBT”), and Sound Banking Company, Morehead City, North Carolina (“Sound Bank”) (SNBN) jointly announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement pursuant to which Sound Bank will be merged with and into WTBT. Upon completion of the transaction, the combined bank will operate under the name “Sound Bank” from branch offices in both North Carolina and Illinois. On a combined basis, the bank will have approximately $485 million in assets, approximately $374 million in loans, and approximately $384 million in deposits based upon reported amounts as of December 31, 2016. Following the merger, four non-employee members of Sound Bank’s existing board of directors will join the seven existing members of the West Town and WTBT boards of directors to lead the combined firm.

In connection with the merger, West Town has entered into securities purchase agreements (“SPAs”) with a limited number of institutional and other accredited investors (collectively the “Purchasers”) to sell a total of 453,480 shares of West Town common stock, $1.00 par value, at a purchase price of $23.00 per share and 30,739 shares of a non-voting, convertible, perpetual preferred stock, Series A, $100.00 par value (the “Series A Preferred Stock”), at a purchase price of $230.00 per share, for aggregate gross proceeds of $17.5 million.

Commenting on the announcement, Eric Bergevin, President and Chief Executive Officer of West Town and WTBT, said, “The combined bank offers a unique and highly attractive community bank franchise in contiguous markets in Eastern North Carolina that will expand branch access for the bank’s customers. Sound Bank’s traditional community banking franchise rooted with a strong core deposit base will also compliment West Town’s substantial fee income business driven by our national SBA/USDA and residential lending platforms. We look forward to working with the Sound Bank team to operate a larger organization in a cost effective way, which we feel will increase profitability and shareholder value, while better serving our customers with a larger branch network and access to more products and services.” Phil Collins, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sound Bank, echoed, “We are very excited about this opportunity to team up with West Town. We believe the combination of our two companies will result in a bigger, stronger, more profitable bank and allow us to offer additional services to better meet the needs of our expanding customer base.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2017, subject to receipt of regulatory approvals and the approval of the merger by the shareholders of Sound Bank.

The Merger Agreement

Under the terms of the merger agreement, shareholders of Sound Bank will receive a combination of cash and stock valued at $24.6 million, based on West Town’s closing price of $23.00 as of February 16, 2017. Each share of Sound Bank common stock will be converted at closing of the merger into the right to receive either $12.75 in cash or 0.60 shares of West Town common stock. The exchange ratio of 0.60 shares of West Town common stock for each share of Sound Bank common stock will be adjusted down if the weighted average closing price of West Town common stock on the ten most recent trading days preceding the merger closing is greater than $27.75 per share. In such an event, the exchange ratio would be reduced only such amount as would be necessary so that the average market value of a share of West Town common stock multiplied by the adjusted exchange ratio would approximate $16.65. Sound Bank shareholders will have the opportunity to elect between West Town common stock, cash or a combination of West Town stock and cash, subject to the limitation that 65% of Sound Bank shares will be exchanged for West Town stock and 35% of Sound Bank shares will be exchanged for cash.

Mr. Bergevin will remain President and Chief Executive Officer of West Town and Chief Executive Officer of the combined bank. At closing, Mr. Collins will become President of the combined bank and will also be added to the combined bank’s board of directors as a fifth legacy Sound Bank director.

The Private Placement

As mentioned above, West Town has entered into SPAs with certain investors pursuant to which the company expects to raise gross proceeds of $17.5 million. The Purchasers’ obligations to fund under the SPAs are subject to certain conditions, including the receipt of all required regulatory and shareholder approvals to consummate the merger with Sound Bank. The Series A Preferred Stock issued as part of the mixed equity raise will be a newly created series of preferred stock, which will be non-voting and, subject to required shareholder approvals, will be convertible, on or after October 1, 2017, into non-voting common stock, on the basis of ten shares of non-voting common stock for every one share of non-voting Series A Preferred Stock. The proceeds from the private placement will be used to support the Sound Bank merger, the combined bank’s capital ratios and for general corporate purposes.

West Town was advised in the merger by FIG Partners, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, as financial advisor and Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, Raleigh, North Carolina, as legal counsel. Sound Bank was advised by Raymond James & Associates, Inc., as financial advisor, Performance Trust Capital Partners, LLC, Chicago, Illinois, as independent advisor to render a fairness opinion, and Ward and Smith, P.A., New Bern, North Carolina, as legal counsel.

About West Town Bancorp, Inc.
West Town Bancorp, Inc. is the registered bank holding company for West Town Bank & Trust, an Illinois state-chartered bank based in North Riverside, Illinois. The bank provides banking services through its offices in Illinois and North Carolina and also maintains loan production offices in North Carolina, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, Idaho and New Jersey. Its primary deposit products are checking, savings, and time certificate accounts, and its primary lending products are residential mortgage, commercial, and installment loans. Additionally, the bank engages in mortgage banking activities and, as such, originates and sells one-to-four family residential mortgage loans in multiple states. To learn more about West Town and its subsidiary bank, please visit its website at www.westtownbank.com.

About Sound Banking Company
Sound Bank is a North Carolina state-chartered bank headquartered in Morehead City, North Carolina. Sound Bank has full-service offices in the following North Carolina cities: Morehead City, Wilmington, New Bern, Beaufort and Cedar Point. Sound Bank also operates a loan production office in Jacksonville, North Carolina. To learn more about Sound Bank, please visit its website at www.soundbanking.net.

Additional Information About the Merger
In connection with the proposed merger, West Town and Sound Bank will prepare a proxy statement/offering circular for the special meeting of shareholders of Sound Bank that will be called to approve the merger. It is anticipated that the proxy statement/offering circular and other relevant materials (when they become available) will be mailed to shareholders of Sound Bank in the second quarter of 2017. This press release is not a solicitation of any vote or approval of the shareholders of any of the parties and is not a substitute for the proxy statement/offering circular or any other documents that West Town or Sound Bank may send to Sound Bank’s shareholders in connection with the proposed merger. This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities to be issued in connection with the proposed merger. Offers to buy such securities will be solicited only by and pursuant to the terms, conditions and disclosures contained in the proxy statement/offering circular. The securities to be issued in the proposed merger and in the private placement are not savings or deposit accounts and are not insured or otherwise approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other federal or state governmental agency.

BEFORE MAKING ANY VOTING OR INVESTMENT DECISIONS, SHAREHOLDERS OF SOUND BANK ARE URGED TO CAREFULLY READ THE ENTIRE PROXY STATEMENT/OFFERING CIRCULAR REGARDING THE PROPOSED MERGER WHEN IT BECOMES AVAILABLE, AS WELL AS ANY AMENDMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS TO THOSE DOCUMENTS, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED MERGER.

Sound Bank and its directors and executive officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of appointments of proxies from the shareholders of Sound Bank in connection with the special meeting of shareholders. Information about the directors and executive officers of Sound Bank is set forth in the proxy statement for Sound Bank’s 2016 annual meeting of shareholders, which is available from the investor relations section of the bank’s website. Additional information regarding the interests of these participants and other persons who may be deemed participants in the proxy solicitation may be obtained by reading the proxy statement for the special meeting of shareholders when it becomes available.

West Town Bank & Trust and Sound Bank Announce Merger

RALEIGH, N.C. and MOREHEAD CITY, N.C., Feb. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — West Town Bancorp, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina (“West Town”) (OTC: WTWB), parent company of West Town Bank & Trust, North …..

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Why Is Ride-Sharing Marrying Financial Services?

Ride-sharing companies are marrying their services with financial services to take advantage of their natural reach to as many as 2 billion people that lack access to traditional financial services worldwide. With the majority of these 2 billion residing in developing countries where banks and financial institutions have long resisted offering tradition banking services to them.

Are Taxis the New Banks?

Why ride-sharing companies are getting into financial services…

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