Shopping online can become safer; Inflation is causing consumer debt to skyrocket

Google Chrome gets built-in virtual credit cards

Google is adding a feature to Chrome’s autofill system called Virtual Card Numbers, which will allow you to hide your credit or debit card number when shopping on the web. Google says this feature will make it easier to securely purchase items from 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 added layer of security. If you give your card number to a vendor and they misuse it, then you have to contact your bank to waive the charge and cancel your card, which is an inconvenience at best. This won’t happen if you use Google’s virtual cards. Each virtual credit card can only be used for a specific transaction, although they do support recurring transactions if you want to use it for a subscription. [The Verge]

Consumer debt soared by $52 billion in March

Consumer debt levels for March 2022 increased by $52.4 billion, an annual increase of 14%, seasonally adjusted, according to Federal Reserve data. Revolving credit, which includes credit cards, jumped 21.4%. Despite solid wage growth—over the past 12 months, the average hourly wage has risen 5.5%—consumers are seeing those gains eroded by the highest inflation in 40 years. The cost of food is up nearly 9% from a year ago, and a gallon of gas now costs an average of $4,279 at the pump. [CNN]

Tech giants take steps to capture surge in online grocery sales

Big tech companies are jumping into the online grocery space. Apple is said to be planning to launch its own grocery delivery ordering service to rival Instacart, although Apple is focusing more on nutrition. Google is building 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 into the grocer’s digital platforms. Amazon has also expanded its grocery offering, opening new physical stores in addition to offering online delivery services through both its branded stores and its Whole Foods Market brand. However, so far Amazon has struggled to make a dent in rival Walmart’s lead in the category, with the latter continuing to outpace the tech giant 10-to-one in the food and beverage categories. [PYMNTS]

Google Wallet wants to replace your physical wallet

After the end of its previous payment campaign, Google is back with something a little simpler but just as ambitious. Google Wallet will replace the old Google Pay app on your phone and, if the company is successful, your physical wallet as well. For starters, the Google Pay app already installed on your phone will soon become the new “Google Wallet” app. With this payments push, Google wants to replace and virtualize physical wallets. This is led by credit and debit cards, as well as public transport and event tickets, airline boarding passes, loyalty/gift cards and vaccination records. That, along with virtual car keys and student IDs, make up the existing set of what can be saved on your phone. [9 to 5 Google]

Amazon’s Alexa app now asks customers to scan their purchase receipts for cashback

It has been said that no one uses Alexa for voice purchases. But the retail giant still sees the potential of Alexa as a shopping companion, but in a different way. That’s why this month, the company quietly rolled out a new feature designed to boost consumers’ use of Alexa’s shopping lists: cashback offers. The company confirmed to TechCrunch that it has introduced “Alexa Shopping List Savings,” which puts discount offers from brands and manufacturers directly into the hands of consumers through the Alexa App, its companion mobile app for business owners. Echo devices. The company says the offers will be displayed in the Alexa Shopping List section of the app and can then be used at all retail stores nationwide to help customers save money. [Tech Crunch]

American Express Adds New ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ Coverage Option On Flights

Trip Cancel Guard is a new offer from American Express that works similarly to “cancellation for any reason” coverage. However, it is not insurance. In fact, you can buy this insurance and travel insurance to cover your trip in different ways. Once purchased, Trip Cancel Guard reimburses up to 75% of your non-refundable flight costs booked on AmexTravel.com, provided you cancel at least two calendar days prior to your departure date. This option is available when paying with any US-issued American Express card and must be added at time of booking on AmexTravel.com. It is not available later in addition to your flights and cannot be purchased over the phone. [The Points Guy]

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

Nearly two years after unveiling its program to allow Visa credit card issuers to enter the growing buy-now/pay-later industry, the company has introduced a fast-track to streamline adoption by banks. The card network has added BNPL to its “Visa Ready” program which operates as an intermediary between fintechs and card issuers, with turnkey access to around 20 companies that Visa has approved to help issuers launch programs BNPL 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 players like Affirm, Klarna, Afterpay and PayPal dominate the scene. . [American Banker]

Feds fine Bank of America $10 million for illegally seizing bank accounts

Bank of America will pay a $10 million fine and reimburse nearly $600,000 in costs to thousands of customers whose accounts were seized illegally. The CFPB said its enforcement action stemmed from the nation’s second-largest bank handling illegal out-of-state garnishment orders on its customers’ bank accounts. Customers’ accounts were illegally frozen, charged illegal fees, and had money withdrawn and sent to creditors based on court orders that should have been processed under the laws of the state where they live. Since August 2011, the bank has illegally seized at least 3,700 out-of-state accounts, charging at least $592,000 in garnishment fees while engaging in unfair practices. [CBS News]

Merchants Seek Net Benefits from Credit Card Surcharges

Legal impediments to surcharges on credit card transactions have diminished for much of the past decade as courts continue to rule that surcharges are permitted. That’s good news for merchants looking to boost their revenue by a few percentage points and cover their card processing fees, but other hurdles remain, including consumer aversion to paying surcharges. Recent data from PYMNTS revealed that most consumers, when faced with a surcharge at the point of sale, will tend to pay for it with relatively minor detriment to their satisfaction with the merchant. Despite the opposition that most cardholders express to surcharges, 85% of credit card users pay these fees when faced with them. Cardholders in this situation find another form of payment only 14% of the time and leave the store only in rare cases. Our data indicates that merchants will need the right approach to reap the benefits of surcharges without forcing customers to transfer 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 intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) and the Ministry of Defense has taken direct action against computer networks used by cybercriminals, helping to protect people from cyberattacks and also making hundreds of thousands of stolen credit cards worthless to the crooks who stole them. The National Cyber ​​Force, first announced in 2020, works alongside international partners to actively mount operations to “undermine” cybercriminals’ networks, denying them access to malware and other cyber tools. offensive and preventing malicious hackers from profiting from cybercrime. [ZD Net]