money changing_handsWorldwide trends--toward convenience, rapid action, digital integration, and away from cash--in payment systems continue to play out in the latest news. Here are a few items that reinforce the movements "The Payoff" earlier described in more detail:

Dwolla moves fast

Payments specialist Dwolla recently announced a couple of additions to its application programming interface (API): bank funded transfers and push notification. Also, in a separate action, Veridian Credit Union became the first financial institution to adopt Dwolla's FiSynch Web service alternative to the Automated Clearing House (ACH) and other payment systems.

A separate question, of course, is whether anyone is using Dwolla's API. Jordan Lampe, the company's chief communications officer (CCO), told "The Payoff" that, while Dwolla releases few details about its internal operations, he can report that the number of accounts at Veridian has more than doubled since Veridian first backed Dwolla. Veridian, largest credit union in the state of Iowa, has assets of approximately $1.5 billion, and serves both individuals and businesses throughout eastern Iowa.

PayPal cleans up its act

Convenience is paramount with consumers, according to several sources for last week's column on competing payment systems. PayPal adds its weight to that message with itsongoing makeover of its Web site to simplify what users--especially mobile users--see.

Europe moves away from cash

Quite apart from the grand strategics and tragedies of European Union debt crises, Europeans are leaving cash and checks behind. Sweden in particular does little business with cash--to the point that even some churches accept contributions by credit card. Those discomforted by such a non-traditional intrusion into the liturgy do well to remember that Sweden was also a leader four-and-a-half centuries ago when it was the first European nation to issue paper bank notes. Churches survived before paper money arrived, and presumably they'll do so after its departure.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom's Post Office has made a major commitment to payment by contactless credit and debit cards and mobile telephones. As the Post Office's CIO is quoted, "Contactless will bring huge benefits to our customers by increasing choice and reducing transaction times." Notice in the same article mention of what PayPal UK argues is "the start of a quiet revolution in the way we shop ...": use of the PayPal mobile application to pay in retail stores in "a simple, secure way."

Worldwide innovation

One of the most interesting trends in payments, and supply-chain management more generally, is the extent to which leaders are turning up outside North America and Europe.EasyOrder, for example, is a sophisticated application for ordering and supply chain management based on mobile SMS communications. It integrates customized analytics and geo-mapping with round-the-clock automation; Kampala-based Afrocyber, Inc. developed EasyOrder.

Also from East Africa is SchoolBursar, which resembles EasyOrder in its ease of use even from a minimal cellular handset, emphasis on meaningful reporting, and integration with a payment system. While SchoolBursar and EasyOrder probably apply directly to few of the businesses of ec-bp readers, they are illuminating examples of how much value a little bit of digital thought, design, and ingenuity can bring to supply-chain operations.

Electronic initiatives like these are particularly timely when the United States Postal Service is planning to increase delays in delivery of first-class mail. Does your supply-chain or Accounts department still depend on delivery and processing of pieces of paper?

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