Aug 28, 2013

Labor unveils high-tech poll splurge | The Australian

LABOR today has unveiled an ambitious plan that it says will create tens of thousands of high-tech jobs and add billions to export revenues.
It involves three new industry partnerships in transport, financial services and ICT.
The pledge will see the Federal Government provide up to $28 million to fund these three partnerships to 2016-17, if Labor is re-elected on September 7.

Funds however will need to be matched by industry and research partners, bringing total investment to $56 million.

Industry Minister Kim Carr was due to announce specific funding of $6 million at National ICT Australia this morning for a government-industry partnership developing transport and logistics systems.

A NICTA spokeswoman said NICTA and the Australasian Railway Association involving 30 collaborators had sought the program.

Labor says the Financial Services Innovation Partnership alone would create up to 30,000 jobs but in a statement today detailed the aspirations rather than exactly how this would occur.

Labor says the transport and logistics sector was the seventh most significant industry group contributor to GDP by value and provided critical services to three of the top four industries by GDP value: mining; construction; and manufacturing.

It supported more than 240,000 transport logistics and freight related businesses in 2011.The partnership would see further research and development to aid these industries.

The Partnership already includes companies such as Linfox, Patrick Container Ports, Sydney Ports Corporation, Bombadier Transportation and Downer Rail, working alongside leading research organisations and universities, including NICTA, University of Technology Sydney, Central Queensland University and the University of Western Sydney.

Labor says the partnership will be headquartered in Eveleigh, Sydney, with a corresponding centre in Rhodes in Western Sydney focusing on the rail industry, with other centres throughout Australia.

The Financial Services Innovation Partnership meanwhile will be based in Sydney’s CBD with plans to move to Barangaroo in 2015.

Additional centres will be established in Melbourne and Wollongong.

It will receive funds of up to $16 million to 2016-17, to be matched cash or in-kind by industry and research partners, Labor says.

The third partnership in creative digital innovation would target Australia's ICT sector and would create a globally recognised Australian digital hub, rivalling London’s Tech City and New York’s "Silicon Alley" - Labor says.

The Partnership already includes 31 core partners and 27 collaborating partners including start-ups, SMEs, global firms, government and the research sector.

The partnership has signed up the ABC, Animal Logic, IBM Australia, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, NICTA, the University of Technology Sydney, Australian National University and the University of Melbourne.

Aug 27, 2013

Tony Abbott eager to overhaul e-health system | The Australian

TONY Abbott has vowed to work with health professionals to review the troubled $700 million personally controlled e-health record system should the Coalition win on September 7.
One GP called for the PCEHR to be governed by an independent council comprising medical experts. The proposed review does not come as a surprise as the opposition called for a "pause" to the system's rollout more than two years ago.
Both Queensland Liberal senator Sue Boyce and opposition e-health spokesman Andrew Southcott have repeatedly criticised the PCEHR implementation over the years.
While the future of the National E-health Transition Authority - Mr Abbott's baby while he was health minister during the Howard years - under a Coalition government is uncertain, doctors say an e-health overhaul is timely. The opposition's health policy, released last week, says "if elected, the Coalition will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the true status of the PCEHR implementation".
"In government, the Coalition implemented successful incentives to computerise general practice and will continue to provide strong in-principle support for a shared electronic health record for patients.
"The Coalition will again work with health professions and industry to prioritise implementation following a full assessment of the current situation," the policy says.
E-health expert David More said it was hard to know what the Coalition's review would say other than "more Labor waste".
He suspects the PCEHR will be maintained in some form under Mr Abbott but with different leadership and governance structures and a much smaller budget.
Dr More believes NEHTA would "probably be folded into a new organisation to drive e-health overall no matter what happens to the PCEHR". He said Deloitte's yet-to-be-completed refresh of the 2008 national e-health strategy could recommend a change in leadership and governance for e-health.
If Labor prevails, he feels it will maintain the PCEHR but this time in a slow and careful manner with less money and with different leadership and governance.
"DoHA are already and will increase control of NEHTA. Clinical input will need to be sorted out and that might lead to change," Dr More said. NEHTA was recently rocked by the shock exit of several clinical leads including Mukesh Haikerwal who ran the team of doctors.
Others who followed in his footsteps included Nathan Pinskier and Chris Pearce, who are both well-respected in their fields.
NEHTA declined to comment when asked if it was facing a crisis following the departures.
A spokeswoman said NEHTA's focus had shifted "from designing and building the national e-health infrastructure to implementing and supporting adoption of e-health".
Mr Abbott has vowed to slash 12,000 public sector jobs and it is understood NEHTA is not immune to cuts.
West Australian GP Edwin Kruys said many colleagues had already written off the PCEHR but he believed it could still be "saved".
"No matter who wins the election, it needs a good shake-up," Dr Kruys said.
"To do this we first of all need real stakeholder engagement."
Dr Kruys believes NEHTA and the Department of Health have been unable to manage the project successfully. He wants an independent council in charge of the scheme.
"The governance of the PCEHR should be handed over to an independent council as soon as possible," he said.
"This council should consist of health professionals appointed by professional bodies, consumers, industry and a government representative, and it should have the authority to take decisions, not just to give advice to DoHA."
He said consumers "must know exactly what happens with their data" in the PCEHR after they have visited their doctor or the hospital.
"We need to agree on secondary use of the data and informed consent by clinicians and consumers is a basic requirement," he said.
"At the moment informed consent is lacking.
"The PCEHR Act 2012 and the participation contract for clinicians should both be reviewed and made 100 per cent acceptable to consumers and clinicians."
About 650,000 people have registered for the PCEHR but only 4000-odd shared health summaries are in existence. These records are created by a patient's GP and contain diagnoses, allergies and medications.

Cleaning up Labor's mess | The Australian

WHY should the Coalition have to clean up the mess each time Labor governs? It must be galling to come to power every turn of the electoral cycle and have to clean up the debt of the previous team.
The Kennett government in Victoria had to clean up the Cain-Kirner mess, as is the Newman government in Queensland cleaning up the Beattie-Bligh debt. The first recommendations of the Queensland Commission of Audit to the Newman government in February were to arrest the deterioration in the state's financial position and to pay down debt to regain the Queensland government's triple-A credit rating. Will an Abbott government have to do the same for Rudd-Gillard? Reluctantly, of course it will, but how quickly?
The Queensland audit provided a philosophical statement about the state government's role in the economy. "The role of government should be directed towards the provision of core services that the private sector is unable or unwilling to provide." The Abbott government should start with these sentiments. Then it should move slowly on repaying Labor's debt. Not only does this strategy leave more room for better priorities but it also leaves a reminder to Labor that it doesn't deserve another crack until its debts are cleared, which will take more than two terms.
As long as progress in paying down the debt is steady, the federal government is in no danger of losing its triple-A credit rating. Leaving a bit at the time of the next two elections is a good reminder to the electorate to not give Labor another chance just yet. Governments must be punished for the debt binge.
It needs to be appreciated that the level of debt (to gross domestic product) is not as large now as it was in 1996 when the previous federal Coalition government came to power - roughly 30 per cent then and 20 per cent now. And the Hawke-Keating governments had done a powerful lot of good in promoting a more productive economy. The productivity conversation was transformed from a rare national productivity case before the then Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to conversations in tearooms and boardrooms across Australia. Bob Hawke and Paul Keating overspent, but the productive economy they left did a great deal of the work for Howard-Costello in paying debts. The same could not be said for the Rudd-Gillard governments.
It would be tempting to consider laying charges against Labor ministers Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, Penny Wong and Stephen Conroy for wasting $250 billion of Australian taxpayers' money. But, hey, Australia is a liberal democracy and we don't like to be seen to exact revenge. Perhaps an apology would do it.
Having to pay off the previous government's debt can slow mightily the work of establishing new directions and the "easy" options, selling government assets, have all but been exhausted - although some items come to mind. Making room for new ideas or just refreshing old ones, such as defending our borders, is more difficult when borrowing.
In his first speech as Productivity Commission chairman, Peter Harris said: "In making the case for change, government is not always part of the answer. We rely on firms to address the productivity task."
The Abbott government's big job is to make room for the productive sector of the economy. Harris asks whether Australia has the necessary structures that offer incentives in favour of productivity-oriented reform, and whether government, which has "all the tools that they find so useful in fiscal and monetary policy", has all the tools that it needs "in micro-economic reform".
Business groups need to create the demand for reform; that is the hard task and one they failed in recent years. Several industry groups were as weak as water over the carbon abatement response to climate change and selling Work Choices. Too many corporations are fiddling with the triple bottom line, spending superannuants' and shareholders' money appeasing green pressure groups. At the very least, the Coalition should stop subsidising those non-government organisations demanding more regulation and spending.
For example, when money is easy, governments can continue to ramp up foreign aid and restore the defence budget. When money is tight, something has to give. The government has opened the door to using the aid budget to stop the boats. After that has occurred, foreign aid should be rolled into foreign affairs and that aid that has no security element should be abandoned. If people want to donate to foreign-aid charities the tax incentives are there, but there is no need for government to toss in more. Better the money is used in defence and trade, the two really solid and sure means to a safer and more prosperous world.
The Coalition needs to stop subsidising the demand for regulation. Remove advocacy groups that undertake no charitable works from the charitable tax exemption system. These groups are free to do as they wish, but the taxpayer should never subsidise their regulatory demands.

Aug 26, 2013

Quick visas for Israelis as Coalition opens door | Greg Sheridan The Australian

TONY Abbott is committed to upgrading relations with Israel as part of a suite of new policies on the Middle East that includes banning more terrorist organisations and a harder line on visits to Australia by extremists.
A Coalition government would also step-up opposition to the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" campaign against Israel, withholding taxpayer funds from any organisation that actively backed the movement.
The Australian has learned that the Opposition Leader will this week commit to extending to Israeli citizens an electronic travel authority, which in most cases provides nearly instant visa approval.
The ETA system was introduced by the Howard government for citizens of advanced nations who have no history of illegally overstaying in Australia.
The Labor government recently expanded the list of nations whose citizens are eligible for fast-track visas to 64 but left Israel off the list - a decision critics said was in line with recent moves by the ALP to distance itself from Israel, including at the UN.
It is understood the omission of Israel caused consternation in Jerusalem.
Both the EU and Canada provide visa-free entry to Israelis.
An Abbott government would immediately direct that Israel be added to the list of nations whose citizens can access fast-track electronic visas for short-term visits to Australia.
Under a range of new policies - which are being directed by Mr Abbott with broad support within the opposition - the Coalition would seek to ban the Islamist extremist organisation Hizb Ut-Tahrir and prevent foreign members of the group coming to Australia to promote extremism.
The Coalition will also seek fresh advice from ASIO on the question of banning the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Only the militant wings of these groups are currently banned in Australia, while the US, Canada and a number of Western nations have banned the entire organisations.
Coalition policy documents draw attention to the fact that the US and Canada have banned more than twice as many terrorist organisations as Australia has.
The Coalition plans to make it more difficult for "preachers of hate" to visit Australia. It believes the federal government has the power to stop such visits on character grounds and should do so much more frequently.
An Abbott government would also strengthen Australia's opposition to the BDS campaign by committing to a government-wide policy that prevents additional grants of taxpayers' funds to individuals and organisations that actively support the BDS campaign. The moves are widely supported in the Coalition but also reflect Mr Abbott's long-standing personal commitment to supporting Israel.
He travelled independently to Israel as a young man and visited as an opposition MP before he became Liberal leader.
Mr Abbott and foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop believe Labor has deliberately moved away from its former close friendship with Israel, with its rhetoric becoming more critical.
The Coalition opposed Labor's decision to abstain from - rather than vote against - the UN move to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's status to that of an observer state late last year. The US, Israel and Canada voted against the proposal.
The Rudd government has recently described all Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank as "illegal".
Israel argues that because the land is disputed, and its status to be negotiated, this term is incorrect. The US does not use the blanket label of illegal.
The Coalition's stronger support for Israel and harder line on extremist organisations is the clearest foreign policy difference between the two sides of politics.

Obama drags US into global irrelevancy | The Australian

IT'S a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country's place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It's unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.
Whether during the structured Cold War or the chaotic two decades that followed, America's economic size, technological edge, military prowess and basic decency meant that even in its inactivity, the US government counted as much or more in world developments than any other state. Sniffles in Washington translated into influenza elsewhere.
Weak and largely indifferent presidents such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton mattered despite themselves, for example in the Iranian revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 90s. Strong and active presidents such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had greater impact yet, speeding up the Soviet collapse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq.
But now, with Obama, the US has slid into shocking irrelevance in the Middle East, the world's most turbulent region. Inconstancy, incompetence and inaction have rendered the Obama administration impotent.
In the foreign policy arena, Obama acts as though he would rather be the prime minister of Belgium, a small country that usually copies its neighbours' decisions when casting votes at the UN or preening morally about distant troubles. Belgians naturally "lead from behind", to use the famed phrase emanating from Obama's White House.
Qatar (with a national population of 225,000) has an arguably greater impact on current events than the 1400-times-larger US (population: 314 million). Note how Obama these days takes a back seat to the sheiks of Doha: They take the lead supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, he follows. They actively help the rebels in Syria, he dithers. They provide billions to the new leadership in Egypt, he stumbles over himself.
They unreservedly back Hamas in Gaza, he pursues delusions of an Israeli-Palestinian "peace process". Toward this end, the US Secretary of State made six trips in four months to Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of a diplomatic initiative that almost no one believes will end the Arab-Israel conflict.
Meanwhile, the Defence Secretary called Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi 17 times in conversations lasting 60-90 minutes, yet failed in his pleas that Sisi desist from using force against the Muslim Brotherhood. More striking yet, Sisi apparently refused to take a phone call from Obama.
The $US1.5 billion in annual US aid to Egypt suddenly looks paltry in comparison with the $US12bn from three Persian Gulf countries, with promises to make up for any Western cuts in aid. Both sides in Egypt's deep political divide accuse Obama of favouring the other and execrate his name. As dozens of Coptic churches burned, he played six rounds of golf.
Ironically, Egypt is where, four long years ago, Obama delivered a major speech repudiating Bush's policies with seeming triumph.
Obama's ambitions lie elsewhere, in augmenting the role of government within the US, as epitomised by Obamacare. So he treats foreign policy as an afterthought, an unwelcome burden, and something to dispatch before returning to juicier matters.
He oversees withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan with little concern for what follows. His unique foreign policy accomplishment, trumpeted ad nauseam, was the execution of Osama bin Laden.
So far, the price to American interests for Obama's ineptitude has not been high. But that could change quickly. Most worrisome, Iran could soon achieve nuclear breakout and start to throw its newfound weight around, if not to deploy its brand-new weapons.
The new regime in Egypt could revert to its earlier anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism; already, important elements in Egypt are calling for rejection of US aid and termination of the peace treaty with Israel.
As an American who sees his country as a force for good, these developments are painful and scary. The world needs an active, thoughtful, and assertive US.
The historian Walter A. McDougall rightly states that "The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years" and its civilisation "perturbs the trajectories of all other civilisations just by existing".
Well, not so much perturbation these days; may the dismal present be brief in duration.

Aug 25, 2013

Security | MasterCard®

Security and Risk Backgrounder
The payments industry faces increased security challenges as payment card counterfeiters and other criminals employ more sophisticated techniques and technologies to defraud financial institutions and their customers.
MasterCard® has been an industry leader internationally and here in Canada in developing security features, including the first tamper-evident signature panel, the use of three-dimensional holograms and card validation codes. As criminals become increasingly resourceful, MasterCard continues to build on its history of innovation by developing and delivering new security initiatives that strengthen fraud prevention.
As the Internet continues to grow as a channel of commerce for consumers and businesses, the security of payment information has never been more critical. MasterCard is focused on implementing best practices and technologies to protect its member financial institutions, consumers and merchants from online fraud while ensuring their privacy is respected. The following provides a brief sample of the technologies and programs MasterCard is using to fight fraud and protect financial transactions.
MasterCard develops and supports innovative technologies that protect Canadian consumers and merchants from card fraud and unsafe transactions when purchasing products or services person to person, by phone and mail, or over the Internet. Through its many fraud-fighting programs, MasterCard Canada works proactively with its members, the industry, law enforcement and the public to build consumer confidence and increase the security of transactions. More details on some of the initiatives mentioned below can be found on MasterCard Canada’s website at
MasterCard Site Date Protection (SDP) Service – In the spring of 2001, MasterCard announced a solution to assist online merchants in defending against Internet hackers. MasterCard SDP is a multi-tiered, comprehensive set of global e-commerce and financial security services designed to help protect the websites of its members and online merchants. SDP proactively defends against hackers by identifying possible vulnerabilities in an acquirer or merchant’s online system and makes recommendations for short-and long-term security improvements. This includes Internet fraud, which leads to charge backs, damage to brand image and consumer concerns about the safety of their account numbers. Unlike other hacker prevention services that are referral-based, MasterCard delivers SDP directly to its acquiring members, who in turn will offer the service to merchants.
MasterCard Secure Payment Application (SPA) – With the growing number of online payment transactions, MasterCard has developed an innovative solution for securing credit and debit payments between cardholders, online merchants and member financial institutions. SPA provides the online merchant with the equivalent of a cardholder signature, thus providing assurance that the issuer has verified the cardholder prior to completion of the payment transaction. Based on an open specification, SPA is easily implemented because it readily integrates into existing issuer security solutions, including server-based wallets and pseudo-account numbers. The solution is also flexible with payment transactions conducted via smart cards, PDAs, cell phones and other wireless devices.
Universal Cardholder Authentication Field (UCAF) – MasterCard has developed a universal standard called UCAF for use by members, merchants and MasterCard in collecting and transporting accountholder authentication data generated by issuer and accountholder security solutions. UCAF is intended to be security scheme independent and offers standardized fields and messages used by merchants and MasterCard members to collect and transport authentication information. Once collected by a merchant and their acquirer, this information is communicated to the issuer in the payment authorization request and provides explicit evidence that the transaction was originated by the accountholder. UCAF is intended to be a universal platform that supports a variety of issuer security and authentication approaches, including SPA, issuer servers, smart cards and more. Having this universal payment mechanism simplifies compatibility and interoperability issues, and keeps costs relatively low when new technologies or upgrades are implemented.
SET Secure Electronic Transaction – The SET protocol safeguards personal information contained on a consumer’s credit and debit cards. SET uses the highest level of data encryption to transport customer data and payment information over the Internet. Digital certificates enable parties to positively identify each other, much in the same way that a driver’s license or passport does.
Card Validation Code 2 (CVC2) – CVC2 consists of a three-digit value uniquely derived for each account and indent printed, not embossed, on the tamper evident signature panel of all MasterCard cards. This is one way that a merchant can verify that the cardholder physically has the card in their possession in a card-not-present environment.
RiskFinder – MasterCard’s proprietary neural network – RiskFinder – developed in collaboration with HNC Software, Inc., is an advanced system for detecting fraud in near real time. RiskFinder models are built using MasterCard’s broad range of historical Banknet data and provide extremely accurate predictions. RiskFinder scores both credit and debit transactions and has received excellent performance reviews. This technology helps MasterCard members in the early detection and prevention of fraud.
Smart Cards – MasterCard is investing in the development of smart card technologies that will provide a whole new level of security. Digital identification can be placed on a smart card, making it totally portable and the ultimate security tool. Once consumers have a smart card imbedded with their digital identification, they can take that card anywhere, insert it into any personal computer that has a chip reader, enter their personal identification number (PIN) and begin shopping or receiving information securely. Smart cards offer consumers greater mobility and added security by ensuring that someone cannot sit down at a computer and pose as the cardholder simply by logging on, as the physical card must be present and inserted into a card reader. As smart cards are introduced around the world, hardware manufacturers are increasingly installing smart card readers as standard equipment on their PCs.
Biometrics – Since 1995, MasterCard has researched biometric technologies that use unique physical characteristics to positively identify cardholders. MasterCard has rolled out a biometrics program utilizing finger minutiae at its Purchase, N.Y.-based headquarters. The next step in this approach is to match the image value calculated from the finger minutiae with the value stored on a smart card. The smart card, operating on the MULTOS platform, would ultimately combine functionality such as stored value and loyalty to the physical and logistical access applications, and would allow all to coexist on a secure platform.
System to Avoid Fraud Effectively (SAFE) – As the central repository for fraud data within MasterCard, SAFE supports fraud prevention programs and security efforts. All MasterCard issuers are required to report fraudulent transactions to SAFE at least monthly. SAFE then generates reports for both issuers and acquirers, which include peer group, country, worldwide and basis point information. SAFE serves as the data feeder for other security and risk management programs like RiskFinder and various merchant audit programs.
Member Alert to Control High-Risk (Merchants) (MATCH)/ Special Merchant File – MATCH is a file of merchants who have been terminated for cause. It is available either online or through batch process. The Special Merchant File, a sub file of MATCH, contains a list of merchants who have been classified as special merchants as a result of an audit or other information developed by MasterCard. MATCH acts as an important tool to help assess risk prior to a member signing a merchant. Through MasterCard’s partnership with another global payment company, the power of MATCH has been significantly increased.
Fraud Velocity Monitoring – A formidable first line of defense against fraudulent activity, Fraud Velocity Monitoring program provides an early warning of suspicious authorization activity using two powerful tools: Authorization Velocity Monitoring (AVM), which can alert issuers to suspicious cardholder activity; and Merchant Velocity Monitoring (MVM), which can alert acquirers to questionable merchant activity.
First Alert – First Alert provides an early warning to member financial institutions on a daily basis by identifying transactions occurring on accounts that have been classified for credit or fraud reasons. The warnings come in the form of specialized reports tailored for acquirers or issuers. Members can customize the information that appears on their daily reports.
Address Verification (AVS) – AVS protects against fraudulent card use in non face-to-face transactions by verifying the cardholder's billing address during the authorization process.
Merchant Audit and Excessive Counterfeit Special Merchant Program –
The merchant audit program consists of three components – watch, violator, and merchant tracking. The watch and violator components continually track merchant transactions for fraudulent activity, alerting member institutions to merchant locations having a fraud/sales ratio greater than the set parameters. For merchants identified by the violator program, acquirers must either accept charge back liability or terminate the merchant.
The merchant tracking program identifies merchants that have exceeded violator program parameters with one acquirer and have simultaneous merchant agreement(s) with another acquirer.
The excessive counterfeit special merchant program audits the worldwide merchant base and identifies merchants with excessive numbers of counterfeit transactions. Acquirers must then either terminate the merchant or accept charge back liability.
Fraud Strategy Forums – Fraud Strategy Forums are comprised MasterCard members and staff and are held regularly throughout the world. These meetings provide staff with feedback on security programs and insight for future efforts. Additionally, regional task forces have been established to work with law enforcement to respond to local fraud concerns and other regional issues.
MasterCard Alerts – MasterCard Alerts is a personal computer application that facilitates law enforcement agencies worldwide, MasterCard security and risk staff, and MasterCard members' security and risk staff to interact directly regarding fraudulent activities and concerns. MasterCard Alerts is available through MasterCard Online to member security personnel worldwide.
Working with Members and Law Enforcement – MasterCard has established a number of additional programs with international and Canadian law enforcement agencies and members to investigate fraudulent transactions, including;
  • A 24-hour Law Enforcement Hotline, providing a direct line to law enforcement agencies worldwide
  • Operations reviews of issuers and acquirers with high-fraud activityInvestigative support to members and law enforcement agencies
  • Vendor inspections to assure compliance with minimum security standards
  • Security Administration Management Services (SAMS), providing specialty services that offer members expert guidance in processing workflow management

$0 Liability for Unauthorized Use – MasterCard cardholders in North America have protection from losses related to unauthorized card use regardless of when the loss or theft of a card is reported, per the zero-dollar liability limit policy.
MasterCard Canada is committed to educating its member financial institutions and cardholders about fraud. The programs below illustrate the broad scope and intensity of that commitment.
Best Practices – MasterCard provides educational materials that identify best practices for issuers and acquirers, which focus on industry proven methods of combating fraud. MasterCard has also taken into account the virtual environment and continues to develop best practices for combating new types of online fraud as well.
Law Enforcement Training Seminars – MasterCard engages in law enforcement training seminars around the world. It provides critical training in areas often overlooked by multi-tasked law enforcement agencies. Every year here in Canada, MasterCard partners with the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators to train new law enforcement officers. MasterCard also regularly participates in local and national police conferences.
Educational Videos – MasterCard has designed a number of videos to educate members and merchants about fraud prevention.
Government – MasterCard Canada routinely interfaces with RCMP, Canadian Bankers’ Assoc., Canada Post, Customs & Immigration, Phonebusters, Industry Canada, and counterpart organizations throughout the world to help facilitate investigations and prosecution of financial payment card fraud.
Legislation – MasterCard Canada actively pursues the development of fraud legislation to protect accountholders in countries throughout the world that lack such statutes, or where such legislation is deemed ineffective. For example, MasterCard recently joined several industry partners to lobby for changes to the Canadian Criminal Code to define laws and penalties specific to counterfeit payment cards.

Payment Gateway Terminology

Acquirer (Acquiring Bank/Merchant Bank): A financial institution that provides accounts for merchants. Your merchant account at the acquiring bank receives funds when a transaction is complete. Acquirers are so named because they obtain (acquire) a merchant's sales transactions and credit the order value to the merchant's account.
API (Application Programming Interface): APIs provide users with pre-existing interfaces to program against which allows rapid and standardised application development.
Approval: A positive reply from a transaction authorisation request.
Arbitration: Process used by Acquirers to resolve a chargeback related dispute with an Issuer.
Authorisation: The approval or guarantee of funds given by the Card Issuer to the Acquirer.
BIN (Bank Identification Number): The six-digit number assigned by Visa and MasterCard to identify a member (Issuer or Acquirer) or processor for authorization, clearing or settlement processing. The Issuer assigns the six digits as the first six digits of the card number. The Acquirer assigns the six digits as the first six digits of the merchant number. Visa numbers always begins with a 4 and MasterCard numbers with a 5.
Card Issuer: Financial institution that issues the payment card to the Cardholder.
Card Present Transaction: Card is present at the POS (Point of Sale) and swiped through an electronic device that reads the magnetic stripe on the card.
Card Not Present (CNP) Transaction: Type of transaction where the card is not presented at the POS (Point of Sale) and no magnetic stripe is read. These are usually considered higher risk transactions.
Cardholder: Customer associated with the primary account number (or an additional authorized user) that requests a transaction from a merchant.
Cardholder-Initiated Chargeback: Cardholder contacts the Issuer with-in 90 days of a transaction and refuses to accept the charge.
Chargeback: A payment dispute initiated by the cardholder with their credit card issuing bank when a charge was not authorised by the cardholder or the goods were not delivered as promised. The amount of the disputed transaction is partially or completely reversed and immediately withdrawn from the merchant's bank account. The merchant can dispute the chargeback with proof of purchase, signature, proof of delivery, etc.
Chargeback Fee: Amount charged to a Merchant, by an Acquirer, for processing a chargeback.
CVV (Card Verification Value): Term for 3-digit code in signature panel to verify that the card is in the cardholder' s possession.
Decline: Negative issuer response to an authorization request on card payment. Merchant must request a different form of payment.
E-Commerce (Electronic Commerce): A way of doing real-time business transactions via the Internet using any combination of technologies designed to exchange data (such as EDI or e-mail), access data (such as shared databases or electronic bulletin boards) and capture date (through bar coding and magnetic or optical character readers).
Encryption: Way of scrambling data to protect personal information.
Financial Institution: Any organization that supplies financial services such as commercial banks, thrifts, savings banks and credit unions.
Financial Transaction: A transaction from the Acquirer to the Issuer containing all the necessary data elements for authorization, posting and reconciliation. 
Issuer/Issuing Bank: Member of MasterCard and/or Visa that issues payment cards.
Merchant: Seller of products or services.
Merchant Agreement: Contract between a Merchant and Acquirer that outlines payment processing rights and responsibilities.
Merchant Bank: See Acquirer.
MID (Merchant Identification Number/Merchant ID): Unique number assigned by an Acquirer to identify a specific merchant.
MOTO (Mail Order/Telephone Order): A classification of merchant account with a specific set of rules that is more restrictive than for retail merchants but enables a merchant to accept a credit card payment without a cardholder's signature. The merchant and the cardholder do not need to be in the same physical location. MOTO accounts are also known as Card Not Present or CNP accounts.
MOTO Transaction: With a MOTO transaction the merchant never gets a physical signature from the customer - only the credit card number and expiration date are received to effect the payment.
Notification: A message where the sender notifies the receiver of an activity taken, requiring no approval or response.
Payment Cards: A broad term that encompasses all types of plastic cards used to make payments including credit, debit, stored value and prepaid.
Payment Gateway: Electronic connection between a Merchant and Acquirer that transmits payment data.
PIN (Personal Identification Number): A cardholders secret identification number that completes an online debit transaction.
POS (Point of Sale): Usually associated with retail points-of-sale, but also applies to any initial point where the customer presents payment to the merchant, such as by telephone or Internet. 
Real-Time Authorization: Merchant requests and receives an authorization/decline for a credit card purchase as the customer makes their purchase. Typically take 2-3 seconds.
Reconciliation: An exchange of messages between two institutions (Acquirer, Issuer or their agents) to reach agreement on their financial totals.
Recurring or Periodic Payment: A pre-authorized recurring transaction charged to a cardholders account (i.e. phone bill, memberships).
Retrieval Request: Request by an Issuer for a copy of the original sales ticket from the Acquirer.
Reversal: A transaction from the Acquirer to the Issuer informing the card issuer that the previously initiated transaction cannot be processed as instructed (i.e. is undeliverable, unprocessed or cancelled by the receiver).
Settlement: A transfer of funds to complete one or more prior transactions made, subject to final accounting.
Smart Card: A payment card with a built in chip to store information.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer): This is a technological method used to transmit information which is submitted via a website securely in order to prevent unauthorised users gaining access to that information. Typically, when a user accesses a website which secured with SSL, a symbol displays in their browser windows to indicate that the site is secure. When information is transmitted using SSL, it is encrypted prior to transmission using a special certificate key.  It is then decrypted with another key after transmission.
TID (Terminal Identification Number): Number that identifies a merchant to the front-end network. A unique number is assigned to each POS terminal.
Transaction: Transfer of goods or services between a customer and merchant that results in payment.
Transaction Date: Actual date transaction was made.
Transaction Fee: The amount a merchant pays per transaction for processing.

Aug 22, 2013

Evolving gadgets offer a light-bulb moment | Executive Living | The Australian

WHEN my wife and I were dating, I'm fairly sure she considered dumping me when she saw the lighting system in my apartment.
Using a line of products called X10, I had arranged to control my lamps with a small remote. If I pressed the button I'd designated "work", my desk lamp would turn on while my bedside light would shut off. The "relax" button dimmed all the lamps to a soft glow. At night, I could push another button to shut everything off.
Luckily, my wife saw me for who I was and not as someone solely obsessed with dorky light shows. We have kids now, and so I'm less interested in automated mood lighting than in getting the bathroom light to illuminate automatically whenever someone under 1m tall enters. Our children can't quite reach the switch yet, and having to turn the light on for them every time gets old.
The lighting-gadget landscape has evolved, too. X10 has given way to fancier solutions, many of which let you control lights using a smartphone. While the idea of swiping a touchscreen to turn a lamp on and off initially appealed to me, after testing these products I've come to realise that a smartphone isn't nearly as convenient as a light switch. A switch never runs out of battery or crashes, and, unlike an app, it isn't sluggish: There often seems to be a slight delay when you use a smartphone to beam commands, but a switch responds instantly.
That said, the newest lighting solutions are fun to use. Even if I never turn off my lights with the internet, I find it somehow empowering to know that I can. And even my wife has come to appreciate the motion-sensing light in our bathroom.
Here's a selection of gizmos designed for maximum convenience with minimal fuss - systems that your own loved ones will hopefully come to embrace.
Among home-automation nerds - the guys who set their televisions and coffee makers to turn on automatically in the morning and their curtains to close at night - Insteon ( has long been the system of choice. So tackling basic tasks - such as setting up a motion-activated or smartphone-controlled light - is no problem.
A good start with the Insteon system is the Hub ($129) which connects to your home network and allows control of Insteon-equipped electrical gadgets via a smartphone. There's Insteon plug-in on/off switches for $69 a pop to control appliances such as fans, and plug-in Insteon dimmer switches for lamps, also $69. A remote-control Insteon LED bulb is coming early next year.
The Insteon system includes a broad range of compatible products, from motion sensors ($59) to thermostats.
Just keep in mind that if you want to control your system over the internet, you'll need to adjust advanced settings in your home router (a process that Insteon's tech support can walk you through).
The Belkin WeMo ( is one of the easiest ways to get your smartphone to control a light - or even a small appliance.
The system is most useful for getting a light to turn on automatically when you enter a room. For that, you'll need the WeMo Switch + Motion bundle ($119.95). It includes a device that looks like a small surge protector that you plug your lamp into, and another plug-in gizmo with a small motion sensor that you place on a shelf or table.
Pairing the free WeMo app for Android or iOS with the system is painless and doesn't require you to connect anything to your home router. Like Hue, WeMo can tap into a web service called IFTTT that makes it easy for newbies to customise the system using "recipes" that more experienced users have written: one recipe, for example, turns on a light automatically at sunset each day, another lets you control lights by sending a text message.

Aug 21, 2013

How covert union stays disciplined

The election is being contested by two antagonist political coalitions, both highly disciplined in their voting unity. While one of them is called, unimaginatively, the Coalition, the other coalition has no name and pretends it does not exist. It is the Voldemort of Australian politics, aka He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
This coalition that will not name itself may tremble with mutual mistrust but it has, nonetheless, been supremely disciplined where it counts: voting. In the 2010 election, 45 of Labor's 72 MPs won their seats on Greens' preferences. This alliance kept Julia Gillard's minority government in office for an entire three-year term. Over those three years, the coalition-that-must-not-be-named exercised ruthless efficiency in tandem. In the Senate, where Labor and the Greens could combine to impose their will, they paired up to guillotine debate on 216 bills and rammed them through Parliament.
This statistic may not mean much to most people but, by way of contrast, during the last three-year term of the Howard government, the Coalition had a majority in the Senate but guillotined debate on only 32 bills.
The ruthlessness of the Labor-Greens coalition reached its zenith during the frenetic final day of Parliament, in the hours after Labor had decapitated its leader, recycled Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, and intended to ram through as much legislation as possible to fireproof the next Parliament against expected defeat in the federal election.
Labor had a very willing partner. So willing that, on the last sitting day, Friday, June 28, it was able to guillotine debate on 55 bills. That is more in just six hours than the Coalition had guillotined in three years. Little wonder leader of the opposition in the Senate Eric Abetz delivered one of the most revealing and enraged parliamentary speeches of the three-year term of government.
''Never before in the history of the Senate have the provisions of the standing orders been so abused … Earlier this week I asked whether any deal had been done with the Australian Greens to get their agreement, their connivance, to move this unprecedented guillotine of over 55 bills this week …
''Not content with guillotining bills through this place, those opposite, the Labor Party, are now doing the dirty work for the Australian Greens, sponsoring Greens' motions as government business.
''So we had to have the pantomime of that thespian Senator Bob Carr claiming to attack the Greens. What a pathetic act that was, when we now see the dirty, sleazy deals that are done behind closed doors, away from the microphones.
''When I asked Senator Stephen Conroy [then government leader in the Senate], 'Can you give an assurance that no deal has been done with the Greens in relation to the guillotine?' he studiously avoided the question. He did not deny the allegation. We now know why.''
The unspoken deal-that-could-not-be-named, by the coalition-that-must-not-be named, was that the Greens would get several of their provisions passed into law, plus a motion to give them a seat on the Senate privileges committee, the most influential in the Senate, during the next Parliament.
''So,'' thundered Abetz, ''on the very last day of this Parliament, there are the Australian Labor Party and the Greens, they may have publicly ripped up the marriage certificate, but they are still cohabiting … And I say to the empty press gallery … the gross hypocrisy of some of the scribes in the press gallery who wrote column after column after column condemning the Liberal and National Party majority in the Senate for the outrage against democracy for forcing 32 bills through the Senate. Where are their fingers on the keyboards [now]?''
In this context, the least surprising major preference development of this election is the Coalition putting the implacably hostile Greens last in every contest, while Labor gives the Greens its first preferences everywhere except Queensland, where Bob Katter, an old mate of Rudd, will get the nod instead.
The coalition-that-must-not-be-named is thus sticking together where it matters, voting, which may deliver the Greens the balance of power in the Senate and even save their one seat in the House of Representatives, Adam Bandt's electorate of Melbourne.
Labor's candidate for this once safe Labor seat, Cath Bowtell, has said her campaign is so starved of resources and finance that volunteers have resorted to borrowing mobile phones and computers. No need to wonder why.
Thus while the media has been fixated on a presidential-style election campaign between Rudd and Tony Abbott, what has been neglected is the important rearguard action that Labor is fighting in the Senate campaign. As its decision to preference the Greens shows, it would rather have the Greens with the balance of power. This means Labor wants gridlock, something the Greens are happy to deliver. As Gillard said in 2011: "We happily leave to the Greens being a party of protest with no tradition of striking the balance required to deliver major reform.''
Dirty deals can backfire. The Greens learnt this on the final day of Parliament when Abetz, knowing a guillotine was hanging over every matter, proposed several amendments, which consumed the limited time available, and the Greens' perk of the privileges committee became a casualty of its own guillotine.

Voters are waking up to the real Rudd | The Australian

IF you are a politician who plays a hard game of personality politics, don't be surprised if your personality comes in for hard scrutiny. Especially if you claim that you have changed and you simultaneously launch a brutal, personal attack on your opponent. Hence, Kevin Rudd's character warrants close examination because no one plays personality politics as hard and fast as Rudd.
When the Labor caucus re-elected Rudd as leader, it was on the basis of personality alone. And the party duly scored an early poll boost as the new-old Prime Minister hit the ground campaigning, flying across the country, flitting over to Indonesia, kissing babies, smiling into iPhones, talking folksy, promising positivity, posing like an emperor as a long line of diplomats dipped their lids, and feeding the Rudd addiction with regular doses of social networking to get hits of approval via Twitter and Facebook.
The polls suggest voters are now remembering more about Rudd. Not just that he is a narcissist and a fake. Canberra is full of them. Rudd is more and worse than that. When he sent out an Instagram photo of himself with a shaving cut, it exposed more than Rudd counted on. The PM said he posted the "selfie" to prove that he bleeds, that he's human too. It was a telling comment. Most of us never think about proving we are human. It wouldn't cross our minds.
Rudd knows he is not like the rest of us and that's why he works so hard to prove that he is. Whether it's the weird way he talks or the cheesy smile he wears for those few seconds too long, or his unnatural hand gestures, Rudd is trying hard to fit in. The problem is the more Rudd tries to be like us, the less he is.
When Rudd was removed in 2010, it was not just about policy mistakes, though they weighed heavily. Rudd was also removed because of his temperament, the way he governed as PM. Plenty within Labor were anxious that Rudd's disturbing personality flaws would become known to the public. There were already slips: his hissy fits, his crude language, the white anger caught on camera and the rude, dismissive treatment of colleagues.
When Labor MPs spoke about the arrogance of Rudd, what Peter Beattie called his "fatal political flaw", his dysfunctional, grandiose and chaotic governing style - it wasn't hard to find evidence. Rudd's character translated into rushed policies (think the National Broadband Network, the school halls, the resource super profits tax), overblown rhetoric that only highlighted under-delivery (how many policies were "revolutions"), arrogance that he always knew better (ignoring warnings about the consequences of dismantling John Howard's immigration policy and safety concerns about pink batts) and thrilling symbolism over tangible outcomes (the apology to indigenous people was Rudd's crowning achievement as PM).
Wayne Swan was correct when he fingered Rudd as a "man with no Labor values". As David Marr pointed out in his June 2010 Quarterly Essay, Rudd didn't lift a finger for Labor after Gough Whitlam's dismissal in 1975. He didn't man booths, hand out pamphlets or join protest marches. Working as a cleaner in a hospital, Rudd told Marr that when he heard about the dismissal - the most tumultuous event in Australian political history - he leaned briefly on his mop, then returned to the cleaning task at hand. It was classic Rudd.
While Labor loyalties and animosities run deep, Rudd is known only for the latter. At most, he has relationships of convenience.
As PM, he treated Labor traditions with contempt, choosing to visit Cate Blanchett and her new baby rather than attend the funeral of Labor icon John Button. That single act became a defining moment for Rudd's status as a Labor locum, popping in to do a job with no Labor convictions.
Rudd's only political conviction is doing whatever it takes to get and keep power. Hence he can shift effortlessly from one persona to the other, comfortable selling any position, the only criteria being that it suits the politics of the day. Rudd calls for more positive politics only to launch a campaign of negativity. He calls for more civil politics after his three years of treachery to destabilise Julia Gillard. He attacks Tony Abbott for sexism despite his own tawdry history of demeaning behaviour towards a flight attendant and behaving badly at a strip club.
Rudd's history is based on shameless political shifts. In 1994, Rudd said his personal religious faith was a private affair - until Family First arrived on the scene in 2004, and Rudd embraced Sunday doorstops outside church and 5000-word tomes about his religious beliefs. Rudd told us he was an economic conservative until he became the big spending Keynesian barely a year later.
Climate change was the great moral issue of our time until the politics changed. Rudd advocated turning back the boats before the 2007 election until he joined the confected moralists a year later.
Alas, one observation about Rudd stood out as a bridge too far.
In 2010, Labor MP Steve Gibbons called Rudd a psychopath.
To many, the label is better suited to Hannibal Lecter types. Except that experts tell us there are plenty of psychopaths in the workplace. Often highly successful, highly functioning people, they ooze ersatz charisma to those who don't know them while causing enormous damage to an organisation. So common are these psychopaths, experts have written books distinguishing leadership traits from psychopathic traits.
A leader is charismatic, self-confident, able to influence, persuasive, visionary, able to take risks, action oriented and able to take hard decisions. A psychopath relies on superficial charm, makes great first impressions, is glib and grandiose, callous and manipulative, adept at conning people, refuses to accept responsibility for mistakes, is armed with an impressive supply of excuses, hates monotony preferring constant stimulation, and - most critically - has no empathy.
They never feel bad about anything they do. They are shameless. That's what psychologists Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare set out in their book, Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work.
And this: a person with psychopathic traits often will use language "larded with jargon, cliches and flowery phrases" to make up for their lack of sincerity, becoming social chameleons to hide who they really are. Hmmm. It may be best if Rudd stopped the personality politics forthwith.