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May 14, 2021

On The Web

Companies

Square Introduces New Developer Tools for Square Online And Online Selling

Digital Transactions

“At its fifth annual partner and developer conference, Square Inc. on Thursday announced three new tools for software developers: Snippets API for Square Online, Loyalty API, and the Web Payments software development kit (SDK). The new tools arrive as e-commerce volume has exploded in the past year and as larger sellers account for a greater share of Square’s volume. Snippets API, the first application programming interface for Square Online, enables developers to create online experiences that are meant to grab customers’ attention. The ability to enhance Square Online’s functionality through third-party apps ranked high atop software developers’ wish lists over the past year as e-commerce exploded due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Companies

PayPal to Buy Online Returns Start-up in Its Latest Run at the Retail Shopping Space

CNBC

PayPal is making another acquisition in the e-commerce space as it moves beyond payments and into physical and online retail. The digital payments giant announced a deal to acquire start-up Happy Returns on Thursday for an undisclosed amount. The 120-person Santa Monica-based company lets people return things they bought online, in person…The acquisition will help solve sometimes messy logistics of returning and shipping items for merchants, and help drive foot traffic to those businesses as the economy reopens, Keller said. Eventually, he expects the product to incentivize more merchants to sign up for PayPal products. The company, founded by Max Levchin and Peter Thiel, works with roughly 31 million businesses that will eventually have access to the in-person returns network.”

Deals

MFS Africa Invests in Maviance

africaglobalfunds

“MFS Africa, a pan-African fintech company, operating the largest digital payments hub on the continent, had provided seed investment of $3m to Maviance, a Cameroon-based fintech provider. Maviance will be using the new funding to increase its footprint in its Cameroon and to expand into other countries in the central African economic region (CEMAC).    Dare Okoudjou, MFS Africa’s founder and CEO, said: “The rapid development of digital financial services that we have seen in Cameroon over the past few years is poised to spread across the CEMAC region. This will further accelerate the demand for domestic and cross-border payment from MSMEs, social enterprises and corporates in the region.””

Providers

Need a Credit Card or Auto Loan? Banks Are Making Them Easier to Get

Wall Street Journal

“Credit cards, auto loans and other personal loans are all getting easier to come by, more than a year into a pandemic that spooked lenders and caused them to tighten lending standards significantly. The net share of banks that loosened underwriting standards for credit cards hit a high in roughly the first quarter, according to a survey of loan officers conducted by the Federal Reserve. The net share of banks relaxing underwriting on other consumer loans such as installment loans also notched a record. For auto loans, that share was the highest level in more than eight years.”

Providers

Varo ‘On Track’ to Be Profitable by 2023 Even As Losses Pile up

American Banker

“Colin Walsh always planned to do things differently than most fintech startups. The Varo Money CEO had a strategy to outcompete incumbent banks for customers who live paycheck to paycheck, and it involved becoming a bank rather than challenging the system from the outside. The approval process took more than three years, and it required an upfront investment of roughly $100 million . But Walsh said in a recent interview that the company is executing on a long-term vision.”

Providers

Safaricom in Talks With U.S. Giant Amazon on Mobile Payments

Bloomberg

Safaricom Plc of Kenya is holding talks with Amazon.com Inc. about the use of mobile-money service M-Pesa on the e-commerce giant’s platform, part of efforts to expand global reach and bounce back from a first profit decline in a decade. M-Pesa accounts for about a third of Safaricom’s revenue, and East Africa’s largest company sees the financial-technology product as key to future growth. The carrier already has partnerships with a unit of China’s Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Paypal Holdings Inc. Safaricom and Amazon already work together on web services while the Nairobi-based company runs local cloud sales for the U.S. giant, Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said in response to questions on the latest talks, which were announced alongside full-year earnings Thursday.”

Providers

American Express Launches New ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Option for Air Travel

American Banker

“American Express is diving further into installment lending, launching a new option for credit card customers to pay for flights in monthly chunks through its travel platform. Customers are now able to use Amex’s “Plan It” feature — which lets customers set up installment plans for card purchases above $100 — for any flights they book on the American Express Travel website. That essentially moves the Plan It feature up directly to the point of sale, rather than requiring customers to log into their Amex accounts and switch a prior card purchase to an installment plan after the fact.”

Providers

Plaid and U.S. Bank Agree to Share Bank Customer Data Through an API

American Banker

“The data aggregator Plaid and U.S. Bancorp have agreed to share bank customers’ account data through an application programming interface, rather than through screen scraping. This is not a first. Plaid says it has forged data-sharing agreements with the majority of the top 10 financial institutions and it has an API-based data exchange that’s used by hundreds of small financial institutions. The banks have also signed with other data aggregators, including Finicity and Intuit. But the move by Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, which has $553 billion of assets, is the latest sign the industry is moving away from screen scraping and toward sending customer data directly to the aggregators through APIs”

Risk

Hackers Using Text Messaging to Target Retailers

PaymentsSource

“The most sophisticated cyberattacks can begin with something as simple as a text message. It’s more common in retail than in other industries for the attacker to use text messaging to trick a retail employee into initiating a money transfer, according to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report… With criminals motivated to seek retail targets as a way to cash in on exposed payment card data and personal information, Verizon cited system intrusion, social engineering and basic web application attacks as being the most common in 77% of the retail breaches. Through the work of 83 contributing organizations, the Verizon investigators analyzed 79,635 security incidents across various industries, of which 29,207 met standards for further research — with 5,258 being confirmed breaches highlighted for data in this year’s report.”

Risk

Binance Faces Probe by U.S. Money-Laundering and Tax Sleuths

Bloomberg

Binance Holdings Ltd. is under investigation by the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service, ensnaring the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange in U.S. efforts to root out illicit activity that’s thrived in the red-hot but mostly unregulated market. As part of the inquiry, officials who probe money laundering and tax offenses have sought information from individuals with insight into Binance’s business, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named because the probe is confidential.”

Tech

New Generation of Digital Banks Bets on Minority Markets

Reuters

“Daylight estimates there are 30 million Americans who identify as LGBTQ. It is among a cohort of new digital banks in the United States targeting communities where many people say their needs have not been met by mainstream lenders. Such startups include First Boulevard and Greenwood, both focused on serving Black Americans, Cheese Financial aimed at the Asian community and Majority serving immigrant groups. “Historically, community banks have focused on cheaper customer acquisition by focusing on an underserved geography,” said Ian Kar, founder and CEO of research firm Fintech Today. “The internet removes geographical restrictions. Developing banking services around people’s identity, like race and sexual orientation, is a modern approach.””

Use

Airbnb Sees Signs of Rebound; Loss Widens on Debt Payment

“The surprisingly positive results reflect a big upswing from a year ago, when Airbnb’s bookings plunged 80% after the coronavirus shut down most of the world. Travel was one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy in the pandemic, but Airbnb saw a swifter recovery than its peers when urbanites started abandoning their city apartments in favor of longer stays in rural rentals. Domestic leisure travel has continued to increase this year as vaccination rates have climbed in the U.S., with some analysts expecting Airbnb to see bookings return to pre-pandemic levels by summer.”

On The Wires

Providers

The Evolution From Data Access to Data Control | Plaid

“At Plaid, we believe that people should have control over their financial information. We built our first API to help people connect their accounts across thousands of financial services providers. Now we’re building new experiences to give people even more control over the financial data they choose to share with their favorite digital finance tools. This diversity of use cases in digital finance creates an obligation for companies like Plaid to build infrastructure and experiences that keep people and their data safe and secure. Giving people the tools to make more active choices with their data is just one part of this evolution.”

Standards

How EMVCo Is Supporting the Rising Use of QR Codes for Payments – EMVCo

“Advances in technology are making secure card payments possible in new ways – whether online or face-to-face. EMV® Specifications have evolved beyond the original EMV Chip Specification to support a wide range of technologies for card-based payments, including contactless, mobile, tokenisation and QR Codes™. Increasingly, QR Codes are used to initiate mobile payments at the point-of-sale. They are rising in popularity as they are one emerging solution that can enable contact-free payments.”

Systems

Central Bank of Bahrain, Bank ABC and J.P. Morgan Announce Digital Currency Settlement Collaboration | CBB

“As part of the CBB’s vision to improve the customer experience for safe and efficient settlement solutions, CBB is collaborating with J P Morgan and Bank ABC in a pilot scheme to introduce instantaneous cross border payment solution leveraging state of the art technology and digital currency. Bank ABC along with J.P. Morgan will pilot the transferring of funds from and to the Kingdom of Bahrain in US-Dollars for payments from buyers to suppliers. This will lead to suppliers being paid faster and buyers originating payments in shorter time periods without the need for holding funds in advance. The Central Bank of Bahrain will act as a close partner in the pilot between Bank ABC and J.P. Morgan and going forward would look to extend the collaboration to Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).”

Systems

Rho Technologies Launches First-Ever Corporate Card Providing Flexible Terms

“Rho Technologies, the high-growth fintech enterprise behind Rho Business Banking *, today announced the launch of the Rho Card , the first-ever, bank-issued corporate card that gives businesses the ability to flexibly manage their cash back, credit terms, company spend controls and policies – all on their terms. This unique corporate card Mastercard was designed to empower business growth while helping manage spend with precision and accountability.”

May 13, 2021

On The Web

Deals

Pomelo Raises $9M to Build a Payments Infrastructure for LatAm Fintechs

TechCrunch

“Pomelo, a startup building a fintech-as-a-service platform for Latin America, has raised $9 million in a seed round of funding. The Buenos Aires-based startup’s new infrastructure aims to allow fintechs and embedded finance players to launch virtual accounts and issue prepaid and credit cards via “compliant” onboarding processes.”

Deals

Stampli Raises $50 Million in Series C to Help Companies Intelligently Manage Invoices

TechCrunch

“This morning Stampli , a software platform that optimizes corporate invoice management, announced a $50 million Series C financing round, led by Insight Partners with participation from Signalfire and Nextworld Capital. The company launched in 2015 with the goal of simplifying the process of invoice management. Why is that needed? Services and software are purchased by employees of companies across a variety of departments. The resulting invoices then land in the finance department, a part of companies that can be a bit siloed. Finance is then left to determine a number of factors, like why something was purchased, whether it delivered and if the invoice should it be paid at all.”

Domains

Hong Kong Looks to Expand Cross-Border Tests of Digital Yuan

Bloomberg

“Hong Kong is in talks with China to expand cross-border testing of the digital yuan after the first phase proceeded smoothly, another step toward wider adoption of the currency. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority recently conducted tests with the Digital Currency Institute of the People’s Bank of China, involving a bank designated by the mainland authority, as well as merchants and bank staff, the HKMA said in an e-mailed response to questions.”

Providers

WSJ News Exclusive | JPMorgan, Others Plan to Issue Credit Cards to People With No Credit Scores

Wall Street Journal

“Some of the largest U.S. banks plan to start sharing data on customers’ deposit accounts as part of a government-backed initiative to extend credit to people who have traditionally lacked opportunities to borrow. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., U.S. Bancorp and others will factor in information from applicants’ checking or savings accounts at other financial institutions to increase their chances of being approved for credit cards, according to people familiar with the matter. The pilot program is expected to launch this year. It is aimed at individuals who don’t have credit scores but who are financially responsible. The banks would consider applicants’ account balances over time and their overdraft histories, the people said.”

Systems

An Instant Payments Operator Update – FedPayments Improvement

FedPayments Improvement

“The recent U.S. Faster Payments Council (FPC) Spring Conference offered an opportunity to hear from industry leaders about key developments in areas such as interoperability, fraud prevention and use case trends. A highlight of this virtual event was a discussion with Nick Stanescu, senior vice president and FedNow business executive and Steve Ledford, The Clearing House’s senior vice president for product and strategy, about their organizations’ instant payments infrastructures.”

Systems

MoneyGram to Allow Bitcoin Buying and Selling Across Retail Network

CoinDesk

“MoneyGram International said Wednesday it will allow customers to buy and sell bitcoin (BTC, -10.8%) for cash at 12,000 U.S. retail locations through a partnership with Coinme.  The cash transfer company plans to introduce bitcoin trades in 20,000 stores across 32 states by Q3, Coinme CEO Neil Bergquist told CoinDesk. His crypto firm already facilitates cash-for-bitcoin swaps at around 6,000 supermarket kiosks. MoneyGram and Coinme will take 4% of customers’ transactions plus $2.75 in fees. Walmart-based MoneyGram locations will charge $2 more, he said.”

Systems

Brex Partners With TravelBank To Launch Bitcoin And Ether Rewards Program For Businesses

Forbes

“Fresh off last month’s massive $425M fundraise at a $7.4 billion valuation, Brex, an all-in-one financial services provider for small and medium-sized businesses, is launching one of the first crypto rewards programs for corporates…Brex’s rewards partner, TravelBank, will power the zero-fee rewards redemption program, allowing users to input the amount of points they want to redeem for crypto that can then be transferred to a cryptocurrency wallet like Coinbase’s.”

Use

Household Debt and Credit Report – Household Debt Edges Higher, but Credit Card Balances Fall

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

“According to the latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, total household debt rose by $85 billion (0.6 percent) to reach $14.64 trillion in the first quarter of 2021. Mortgage balances—the largest component of household debt—rose by $117 billion, while auto and student loan balances increased by $8 billion and $29 billion, respectively. Credit card balances declined by $49 billion—the second largest quarterly decline in the history of the series (which dates back to 1999). Credit card balances are $157 billion lower than they had been at the end of 2019, consistent with both paydowns among borrowers and constrained consumption opportunities.”

Use

New Committee to Advance Safe, Efficient, Inclusive Payments

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

“The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta announces the formation of a Special Committee on Payments Inclusion focused on finding solutions for cash-reliant individuals to become better connected to the economy, including to innovative financial services. The committee, a public- and private-sector collaboration sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, will work to advance ubiquitous access to safe, efficient, and inclusive payments for everyone. Payments innovations such as digital wallets, mobile payments, and person-to-person payment apps offer convenience to many consumers and businesses, but they also raise concerns about how to include populations already marginally attached to the economy. This collaboration of payments and financial inclusion experts will conduct research on emerging issues in payments inclusion, collect and analyze data to better understand trends in the evolving payments ecosystem, and make recommendations to the industry and policymakers based on research findings.”

On The Wires

Companies

PayPal Accelerates Its Digital Transformation With Google Cloud to Support Customer Needs During Pandemic–and Beyond

“Google Cloud and PayPal today announced they are deepening their relationship to further accelerate PayPal’s digital transformation and evolving customer needs. Under this expanded relationship, Google Cloud will provide both infrastructure and analytics capabilities to support PayPal’s growth, helping the company process transactional data at massive scale.”

Providers

FinTron Partners With LendingClub Bank to Offer Digital Banking Services to Mobile-First Generation

“FinTron Invest (“FinTron”) – a new FinTech company, built by the mobile generation, for the mobile generation – announced today a new partnership with LendingClub Bank, National Association, Member FDIC, America’s leading digital marketplace bank. This partnership allows FinTron to offer its customers low-cost mobile banking services, including FDIC-insured checking accounts that earn interest, free ATM withdrawals worldwide, and online check deposits – all through the FinTron app.”

Use

Merchants Call on Fed to Cut Debit Card Swipe Fee Rate As Banks’ Costs Fall, Applaud Routing Announcement – Merchants Payments Coalition

“The Merchants Payments Coalition called on the Federal Reserve today to revise debit card swipe fee regulations adopted a decade ago, citing a new Fed report showing banks’ average cost of processing the transactions has fallen by half. MPC also welcomed the Fed’s announcement that it plans to clarify that debit card routing requirements apply to all transactions regardless of whether they take place online, in-store or in another form.”

Use

Announcing Our Partnership With Silicon Valley Bank | Modern Treasury Journal

“We are excited to announce our partnership with Silicon Valley Bank, building upon three years of work serving our mutual clients. Since its unconventional start in the early ‘80s [1] , SVB has grown to work with innovative companies, supporting 50% of all venture-capital backed tech and life science companies in the U.S. Our formal referral partnership will catalyze the sourcing of new clients and support existing clients with specialized teams and onboarding processes that allow for easier and faster implementations.”

May 12, 2021

On The Web

Deals

German Payments Software Firm Serrala Put up for Sale -sources

Reuters

“German payments software firm Serrala has been put up for sale as its private equity owner Waterland hopes to benefit from high sector valuations, people close to the matter said…Payment technology firms have seen a surge in business as people switch to digital transactions, raising their values…The fintech company makes software that manages all inbound and outbound payments, treasury processes as well as related data and documents in any IT landscape for corporate customers…It competes with HighRadius, Billtrust, Bill.com, Kyriba and Fidelity National Information Services.”

Deals

Treasury Prime Raises $20M to Scale Its Banking-as-a-service Biz

TechCrunch

“This morning Treasury Prime , a banking-as-a-service startup that delivers its product via APIs, announced that it has closed a $20 million Series B. The capital comes around a year since the startup announced its Series A , and around 1.5 years since it raised its preceding round. For Treasury Prime, the new capital was an internal affair, with prior investors stepping up to lead its new round of funding. Deciens Capital and QED Investors co-led the round, with Susa Ventures and SaaStr Fund also putting cash into the transaction.”

Deals

Asym Capital Raises $15MM for ATMs

Digital Journal

Asym Capital (Asym) , a private equity group in Los Angeles, CA recently announced that they had placed over $15,000,000 in the ATM business over the last few months. Asym’s founder, Hunter Thompson, is confident that the ATM business isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, despite the recent discussions surrounding government-issued digital currencies.Read more: https://www.getnews.info/1128294/asym-capital-raises-15mm-for-atms.html#ixzz6uepc3eoz

Domains

TikTok Begins Testing In-App Shopping to Challenge Facebook

Bloomberg

ByteDance Ltd. ’s TikTok is working with brands including streetwear label Hype to test in-app sales in Europe, a move that will intensify its competition with Facebook Inc. and further blur the line between social media and online shopping. The popular video app is hoping to replicate abroad the success of its Chinese-only cousin Douyin, which racked up $26 billion of e-commerce transactions in just its first year of operation. TikTok has begun working with merchants in markets including the U.K. on ways they can sell products directly to millions of users within the app, people familiar with the matter say.”

Global

Irish Banks Plan Yippay Mobile Payments Joint Venture to Compete With New Entrants

NFCW

Bank of Ireland , AIB , Permanent TSB and KBC Ireland are planning to launch a mobile payments service known as Yippay “to rival disruptors such as Revolut”, according to the Irish Independent. The four banks filed an application with Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) for a joint venture called Synch Payments to create the new service last month.”

Global

Is This the End of ‘No Paywave’ Signs? Govt to Clamp Down on Merchant Fees – NZ Herald

NZ Herald

“The Government is to clamp down on the fees banks charge businesses when people pay by credit or debit cards. Eftpos is free for merchants but its use has been dropping particularly with the Covid-19 pandemic as more people shopped online or used contactless credit or debit cards. The major banks temporarily cut contactless debit card fees to small business customers in late March amid pressure from technology entrepreneurs worried the high cost was putting merchants off using it.”

Global

UPDATE 1-Ethiopia’s State Telecoms Monopoly Launches Mobile Money Service

Reuters

“Ethiopia’s sole mobile operator, Ethio Telecom, launched a mobile phone-based financial service on Tuesday, seeking to boost growth by offering cashless transactions. Mobile financial services have become a significant part of African telecom operators’ businesses since Kenya’s Safaricom pioneered them with M-Pesa in 2007, giving people an alternative to banks. The new service, telebirr, will mark a shift for Ethiopia, where the banking system is seen as inefficient with 19 commercial banks serving a population of about 115 million.”

Providers

U.S. Senate Votes to Repeal ‘True Lender’ Banking Rule Issued Under Trump

Reuters

“The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to repeal a regulation introduced during former President Donald Trump’s administration that Democrats say allows predatory lenders to skirt state consumer protections. Lawmakers voted 52-47 to repeal the “true lender” rule, marking the first time Democrats have rolled back a Trump-era financial rule using the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that gives Congress the ability to rescind recently enacted regulations. The White House said in a statement it supported the resolution repealing the rule, which now heads to the Democratic-led House, where it is also expected to pass. The targeted rule, written last year by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, attempted to clarify whether state or federal laws applied when lenders like fintechs partnered with traditional banks.”

Reports

Exploring Central Bank Digital Currencies: SWIFT and Accenture Publish Joint Paper

SWIFT - The global provider of secure financial messaging services

“Indeed, today more than half the world’s central banks are actively exploring the use of CBDCs, a development that could lead to a profound change in the global payments ecosystem. Our new paper explores the practicalities of such a shift – from the ways in which CBDCs would move across jurisdictions to their integration into the mix of currencies that already exist. It also unpacks what’s required for CBDCs to be a viable solution in international payments. These include a scalable interchange mechanism, institutions that can provide interoperability, a foreign exchange mechanism, standardised interoperable rich data, financial crime compliance, a strong governance model, and compatible local infrastructure.”

Use

Big Banks on Defense After Fed Sides With Retailers on Debit Swipe Fees

American Banker

“For nearly a decade, the Federal Reserve avoided choosing sides in the protracted, high-stakes dispute between banks and retailers over debit card fees. But after the Fed last week embraced one of the main arguments made by merchants, many observers believe that more bad news is coming for large and midsize banks. The Fed is required by law to cap the interchange fees that banks with more than $10 billion in assets can collect when consumers use their debit cards at retailers. Since 2011, the limit has been set at 21 cents, plus 0.05% of the transaction. The central bank has long ignored pleas from both sectors to make changes. But now, in light of a decadelong decline in the banks’ processing costs, the Fed faces growing pressure to lower the price ceiling.”

On The Wires

Companies

Visa Launches U.S. Spending Momentum Index—A New Way to Gauge the Economic Health of U.S. Consumers

“Visa (NYSE: V) today launched the Visa U.S. Spending Momentum Index (SMI), an economic indicator designed to be a timely gauge of the health of consumer spending. The Visa SMI delivers insight into what drives upturns and downturns in spending by measuring the breadth of the momentum supporting these trends…In April 2021, the Visa SMI hit 136.0, confirming that the U.S. economic recovery remains on firm ground. At its current level, the Visa SMI implies that 65 percent of consumers are now spending more than they did a year ago, while only 35 percent are spending the same or less.”

Domains

Bolt Launches Bolt SSO Commerce™: Redefining the Login Layer for Commerce to End Guest Checkout

Bolt , the leading checkout experience platform, today announced the launch of Bolt SSO Commerce™, the first single sign-on checkout experience that helps retailers engage directly with their customers by turning anonymous, guest shoppers into logged-in account holders whose insights and feedback brands can use to offer more personalized shopping experiences…With Bolt SSO Commerce, a shopper can create both a Bolt account for one-click checkout and a store account for the retailer through a simple checkbox option.”

Domains

Paymode-X Expands Network With Billtrust’s Business Payments Network

“Billtrust (NASDAQ: BTRS), a B2B accounts receivable automation and integrated payments leader, announced today that Bottomline Technologies (NASDAQ: EPAY), a leading financial technology provider, will connect its Paymode-X payers to new card acceptance endpoints via Billtrust’s Business Payments Network (BPN). Bottomline customers are now able to use BPN’s connected platform of suppliers to quickly and efficiently send and receive digital payments through BPN’s digital lockbox. Customers also will reduce processing time and costs as they continue their migration from legacy payment types such as checks.”

Risk

Payment Fraud Fears Grow; 65% of Consumers More Concerned About Fraud Than Before COVID-19, According to New Marqeta Survey

“As the pandemic drove consumers online en masse to make purchases, consumer anxiety around fraud saw a considerable spike, according to a new survey by Marqeta , the global modern card issuing platform. The company surveyed 2,000 consumers across the United States and United Kingdom about their experiences and attitudes toward payment fraud and how they felt about the threat of fraud in the aftermath of COVID-19.”

Systems

Diem Announces Partnership With Silvergate and Strategic Shift to the United States | Diem Association

“The Diem Association is pleased to announce a partnership between its wholly-owned subsidiary, Diem Networks US, and Silvergate Capital Corporation (NYSE: SI). Under this partnership, Silvergate Bank (“Silvergate”) will become the exclusive issuer of the Diem USD stablecoin. The Association is also announcing a strategic shift to the United States, resulting in a move of Diem’s primary operations from Switzerland to the United States. Diem has built a blockchain-based payment system to support financial inclusion and responsible financial services innovation. Silvergate will become the exclusive issuer of the Diem USD stablecoin and will manage the Diem USD reserve.”

May 11, 2021

On The Web

Companies

Munich Airport – First Airport in Europe With Integrated PayPal QR Code

ftnnews

“Munich Airport becomes the first airport in Europe to introduce PayPal QR Code – a mobile and cash-free payment system – in all stores and businesses of the Eurotrade retail subsidiary…The new QR code will be seamlessly integrated into the processes of existing check-out systems including accounting. The payment process for this is as secure as it is uncomplicated: if customers would like to pay, they open the QR code in the PayPal app on their smartphone and show it to the cashier. The cashier scans the code and the amount to be paid is shown directly in the app. Next, customers select their preferred payment method stored in their PayPal account – for example bank account or credit card – and confirm the payment on their smartphone. Customers as well as cashiers immediately receive a confirmation of the successful transaction.”

Companies

Affirm Beats on Revenue, Sees Early Recovery in Travel Spending

MarketWatch

“Affirm Holdings Inc. topped revenue expectations Monday afternoon while delivering an optimistic forecast for the current quarter. The buy-now-pay-later company posted a fiscal third-quarter net loss of $247.2 million, or $1.06 a share, compared with a loss of $85.6 million, or $1.80 a share, in the year-earlier quarter. Gross merchandise volume rose 83% from a year earlier to $2.3 billion. Excluding Peloton, Affirm’s GMV doubled from the year-prior period. Affirm saw a near tripling of volume in its travel and ticketing category on a sequential basis, the company disclosed in its release.”

Companies

Google Pay Launches International Money Transfers With Wise and Western Union

Reuters

“Alphabet Inc’s Google has launched international money transfer partnerships with remittances firms Wise and Western Union Co for users of its U.S. payments app, the companies said on Tuesday. Google Pay users in the United States can now transfer money to app customers in India and Singapore, with plans to expand to the 80 countries available via Wise, and 200 via Western Union by the end of the year. Google’s foray in the $470 billion remittance market, marks a further step by the technology company to expand its financial services offering, ramping up competition in the digital payments sector.”

Global

SA banks are ‘forced’ to charge more for instant payments – but their prices vary wildly

BusinessInsider

“South African banks say they have little choice but to charge extra for processing immediate electronic payments between clients of different banks. In a single year, banks process more than 49 million of these premium-rate transactions – but quite how much banks believe this extra computing power and risk should cost clients differs greatly. At the extremes, the difference between the cheapest and most expensive fees for these transactions is as much as R42.50, a difference of 147%.  There are currently just two prominent types of online interbank payment systems in South Africa – traditional electronic fund transfers or EFTs, which can take money up to two business days to reflect in another bank account, and so-called immediate, or real-time clearing (RTC), payments, which transfer funds into any bank account within 60 seconds.”

Systems

Credit Card Companies Are Bringing Back Huge Points Offers

Bloomberg

“A 125,000-point sign-up bonus. Credits for Equinox personal training. An exclusive airport lounge with cold brew on tap. The country’s largest banks are pulling out all the stops to lure customers to take on new credit cards again, after retreating from such deals during the Covid-19 pandemic. Call it the return of the rewards war for credit cards: American Express Co. is dangling the 125,000 point-bonus — a $2,500 value that’s one of the largest ever offered — in front of some new applicants for its higher-end Platinum card. It’s also offering perks for virtual personal-training sessions through luxury gym chain Equinox. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is now offering $120 in credits toward a Peloton Interactive Inc. membership. Capital One Financial Corp. is planning to open its first-ever airport lounge for certain cardholders this summer along with a 100,000-point bonus of its own.”

Systems

Credit-Card Debt Keeps Falling. Banks Are On Edge.

Wall Street Journal

“Americans are paying down their credit-card debt at levels not seen in years. That is good news for everyone but credit-card issuers. Large card issuers that cater to borrowers ranging from the affluent to the subprime say that overall card balances—and thus the firms’ interest income—are falling. To make up for it, issuers are spending more on marketing and loosening their underwriting standards.”

Systems

Israel Central Bank Boosting Preparations for Digital Currency

Reuters

“Israel’s central bank said on Tuesday it was once again considering issuing a digital shekel that would create a more efficient payments system. The Bank of Israel began to consider the possibility of issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in late 2017 but a year later a team established to study the matter recommended against issuing a CBDC in the near future.”

Systems

China’s Much-Hyped Digital Yuan Fails to Impress Early Users

Bloomberg

“In Shenzhen, the high-tech metropolis that just extended China’s largest digital yuan trial, participants interviewed by Bloomberg showed little interest in switching from mobile payment systems run by Ant Group Co. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. that have already replaced cash in much of the country. Some balked at the possibility a digital yuan might give authorities easier access to real-time data on their financial lives.”

On The Wires

Companies

ACI Worldwide Powers Payments Innovation for KNET

ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a leading global provider of real-time digital payment software and solutions , today announced that it has expanded its partnership with KNET , Kuwait’s national electronic banking company, to launch a number of new and innovative digital payment services to support its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. KNET, a long-standing ACI customer, offers end-to-end payment solutions for all financial institutions in Kuwait.”

Companies

Adyen Launches Planet, Enabling Climate Action at Checkout

“ADYEN (AMS: ADYEN), the payments platform of choice for many of the world’s leading companies, today announced the launch of Planet, the company’s latest addition to its Impact product suite1. Planet allows Adyen’s merchants to offer their shoppers the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint of their purchases at the end of the checkout process. This optional feature, which can be implemented at no additional cost to the merchant, directly supports climate action projects (e.g. reforestation or renewable energy).”

Companies

Tap to Ride! Monterey-Salinas Transit Becomes 1st in California to Offer Riders the Ability to Tap to Pay With Visa

“Today, in collaboration with Visa, Caltrans, Cybersource, Littlepay, and SC Soft, Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) became the first transit agency in California to offer bus riders a contactless payment option. As cities begin to reopen, public transportation will play a critical role in recovery, and contactless payments can help provide a safe and easy experience for riders and transit operators seeking limited physical touchpoints and interactions. MST riders can now simply tap their contactless credit, debit, prepaid card or payment-enabled device on readers in MST buses for an easy and secure way to travel, without needing to purchase or load a separate transit card or handle cash while boarding.”

Deals

Remitly Receives Investment From Visa to Help Accelerate Expansion of Cross-Border Money Transfer Network in Emerging Markets

Remitly , the mobile-first provider of remittances and financial services for immigrants, today announced new funding from Visa, a world leader in digital payments. On the heels of a meaningful year for Remitly, Visa has made an equity investment in the digital provider, showcasing confidence in the quality and continuity of Remitly’s vision to provide transformative financial services products for immigrants across the globe.”

Domains

Fiserv and State Farm® Speed Fire and Auto Claim Payments With Digital Payout Solution

State Farm , the largest insurer of cars and homes in the nation, is accelerating the claims payout process for customers with technology from Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV), a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions. State Farm is incrementally deploying digital payout technology from Fiserv, which will enable the company to offer customers speed and flexibility in how they receive auto and fire claim payments. With the launch of Digital Pay, claims that have been reviewed and approved can be paid digitally. If a claimant opts for a digital payout, funds can be received in their personal account in a matter of seconds – and disbursed via the payment method that best suits their needs, including to a debit card or directly to their bank account.”

Global

Mastercard Partners With Billetera to Offer Cutting-edge Digital Payment Solutions in Democratic Republic of Congo | Middle East/Africa Hub

“Mastercard has partnered with Billetera – a leading digital payments technology company headquartered in Kenya – to provide millions of unbanked and financially excluded residents in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), access to formal financial and digital services through a diverse range of digital payment solutions…Mastercard’s partnership with Billetera is aimed at creating payments solutions that will drive acceptance of government services such as water and electricity bills, taxes such as wet market permits, housing rents and building permits, e-visas, customs payments in the ports.  The acceptance solutions were designed for delivery through online portals and PostBank channels.”

Global

FLEETCOR® Signs Joint Venture Agreement With CAIXA, Brazil’s Largest Bank, to Distribute Its Electronic Payment Solutions

FLEETCOR Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: FLT), a leading global business payments company, today announced the signing of a joint venture in Brazil between its local subsidiaries and CAIXA, the country’s largest bank. FLEETCOR® partnered with VR Benefícios, a Brazilian leader in meal and food vouchers, on the joint venture to meet the product requirements in the agreement. The 20-year joint venture agreement exclusively provides CAIXA’s customers the most comprehensive portfolio of electronic payment solutions including automatic toll tags, fuel cards, transportation vouchers and food vouchers.”

Providers

New Clover, PayBright Relationship Gives More Small Businesses the Power to Offer Canadians Buy Now, Pay Later

“Small business owners in Canada using the popular Clover® platform from Fiserv, a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions, now have the option to offer PayBright’s buy now, pay later (BNPL) plans at checkout. Merchants that use Clover can easily enable PayBright’s solutions by downloading the PayBright app available in the Clover App Market. This allows merchants to offer their customers flexible biweekly or monthly installment payment options that better suit their budgets. Merchants that offer PayBright typically see immediate business results including increased sales, larger average order values (AOV), and growth in repeat business.”

Security

LoginID Launches FIDO-certified WordPress Plugin for Passwordless Authentication

“LoginID Inc., creators of the FIDO-powered passwordless authentication solution LoginID, announced today the launch of its WordPress plugin . The plugin is free to install, and enables websites powered by WordPress to install strong passwordless authentication in five clicks. The solution also helps WordPress websites align to emerging and existing compliance regulations, such as PSD2 and GDPR. Developing a plugin that enables passwordless authentication will bolster the security for potentially over 35 million websites powered by WordPress. With this plugin, WordPress-created websites, in just five clicks, can integrate a customizable, quick, easy and regulatory-compliant way to authenticate their users.”

Use

Kount Announces Partnership With Ethoca for Dispute Management | Kount

“Kount, an Equifax® (NYSE: EFX) company, and a leader in digital identity trust and fraud prevention, today announced a new joint offering of two award-winning products from Ethoca , a Mastercard Company. Ethoca Alerts and Consumer ClarityTM are being delivered as part of the Kount Dispute and Chargeback Management Solution, a comprehensive, post-authorization solution that integrates best-in-class fraud and customer dispute alert systems with in-depth transaction details and industry-leading AI-driven fraud prevention.”

May 10, 2021

On The Web

Companies

PayPal Wants to Be a Lot More Than an Online Checkout Button

Bloomberg

PayPal Holdings Inc. is eyeing life beyond the checkout button. In the coming months, the firm is planning to debut a bevy of new services, which could include high-yield savings accounts, check-cashing services and stock-investing capabilities. It’s all being done in the hopes of PayPal becoming the world’s next “super app,” akin to China’s Alipay or WeChat, India’s Paytm or Singapore’s Grab. The stakes are high: If PayPal pulls it off, the company could become a bigger part of U.S. consumers’ lives than Amazon, Google or Facebook. But, in the U.S., there is no shortage of banking giants and technology firms that have tried and failed to accomplish what PayPal wants to do.”

Providers

Who’s Winning the BNPL Race in Europe & the US? | Sifted

Sifted

“Klarna, the buy now pay later fintech, saw its customer base grow faster than any of its European and US rivals last year — putting the company in a strong position ahead of a rumoured public listing. The Swedish fintech recorded 8m mobile downloads in Europe alone last year, while its closest rival Clearpay got just shy of 1m, according to data from Apptopia. Klarna also topped the leaderboard in the US in 2020, raking up a further 8.5m downloads after years of struggling stateside. Mobile app downloads* offer a good proxy for customer adoption in the buy now pay later (BNPL) space, which allows shoppers to defer payments on goods at no cost.”

Providers

Simple Bank Shutdown Goes Awry Leaving Customers Without Account Access

The Verge

“The online bank Simple shut down on Saturday and was supposed to seamlessly transition customers’ accounts over to its parent company, BBVA. But instead, many users found themselves unable to access their bank account at all, as BBVA’s website returned an assortment of error messages, from “system error” to warnings that their account information was mismatched. The transition has gone so poorly that BBVA’s US website now opens on a large red banner warning users of extended customer service wait times. Anyone who visits the Simple transition page will see a different red banner, apologizing for the issues.”

Providers

U.S. Justice Department Probing Kabbage, Fintechs Over PPP Loan Calculations

Reuters

“The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether financial technology companies including Atlanta-based Kabbage Inc may have erred while distributing billions of dollars in pandemic aid to struggling small businesses, three people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The investigation, led by the Justice Department’s civil division, is examining whether Kabbage and other fintech companies miscalculated how much aid borrowers were entitled to from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) due to confusion over how to account for payroll taxes, the three people said.”

Providers

Fifth Third Joins List of Banks Offering Low-cost Deposit Accounts

American Banker

“Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati has begun offering low-cost deposit accounts aimed at helping retail customers avoid overdraft fees and access their paychecks sooner. The $207 billion-asset Fifth Third will give customers extra time to replenish balances before an overdraft penalty is charged, post direct deposit payroll funds earlier than before and make advances against future direct deposits for a fee. It will also charge no monthly maintenance fee for the Momentum Banking checking or savings products.”

Security

Amazon’s Palm-reading Payment Tech Is Now Available in New York City | Engadget

Engadget

“You no longer have to shop in Washington state to use Amazon’s palm-reading technology . MarketWatch reports that Amazon has introduced One to New York City, making the biometric authentication available in the Amazon Go store at 11 West 42nd Street. It functions just like it did before. Once you’ve signed up, you just need to hover your palm above a reader to enter the store and approve your purchases. You don’t have to touch a thing besides the goods you’re buying.”

Systems

Alibaba’s Ant Group Will Let More Users Test China’s Digital Yuan

CNBC

“Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba, is becoming one of the first major privately run businesses to work with China’s digital currency trials. MYbank — an online-only bank in which Ant has a 30% stake — is allowing some users to link their accounts with China’s digital yuan app, state-backed China Securities Journal said Monday. The new feature is accessible to some users through Ant’s Alipay app, another report from the journal said. Alipay is one of the two primary mobile pay apps in China, where using smartphones for daily payment transactions is the norm.”

On The Wires

Companies

Improving the Payments Experience in the UK | Plaid

“One year ago, we launched Payment Initiation in the UK, which included a new Payment Initiation experience in Plaid Link. Link is the fastest way to get started. It’s optimised for a seamless experience, and ensures your user experience benefits from the full Plaid platform. Since then, we’ve focused on improving the user experience for making payments. We introduced QR code authentication to remove friction from the Plaid account linking desktop experience, enabling people to authenticate—and thus make payments—quickly and securely.”

Deals

Nuvei to Acquire Simplex, a Payment Solution Provider to the Cryptocurrency Industry

Nuvei Corporation (“Nuvei” or the “Company”) (TSX: NVEI and NVEI.U), the global payment technology partner of thriving brands, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SimplexCC Ltd. (“Simplex”), a fintech startup providing the fiat infrastructure to the cryptocurrency industry, for approximately $250 million to be paid in cash. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulator approval, and is expected to close in the second half of 2021.  Founded in 2014, Simplex has grown into a leading fiat-cryptocurrency gateway connecting market participants including exchanges, brokers, wallet and liquidity providers. Simplex delivers the infrastructure for users to buy or sell cryptocurrencies (i.e. on-ramp/off-ramp capabilities) using credit and debit cards.”

Deals

REPAY to Acquire Integrated Payments Provider BillingTree for $503 Million

Repay Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: RPAY) (“REPAY”), a leading provider of vertically-integrated payment solutions, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire BillingTree for approximately $503 million…BillingTree, founded in 2003 and headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, is a leading provider of omni-channel, integrated payments solutions to the Healthcare, Credit Union, Accounts Receivable Management (ARM), and Energy industries. Through its technology-enabled suite of products and services, including a variety of payment channels and reporting capabilities, BillingTree helps organizations get paid faster and more efficiently.”

Providers

Akoya | Easily Access and Securely Share Consumer Financial Data

Akoya LLC announced today that Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. has joined the Akoya Data Access Network. The agreement will enable more than 400 banks and credit unions using Jack Henry’s Banno Digital Platform to securely connect with fintechs and data aggregators through the application programming interface (API)-based network this year. By integrating with Akoya, Jack Henry enables over 4.8 million customers of banks and credit unions using its Banno Digital Platform the ability to grant fintech apps access to their financial data. They will also be able to permission which data they share with third parties and revoke that permission at any time, providing peace of mind for customers using new fintech apps.”

Security

You Are Worth $1,000 on the Dark Web, New Study by Privacy Affairs Finds

“The Dark Web sees personal information sold to this day. In 2020, organizations like NASA, McDonald’s, Visa, MasterCard, Microsoft, and Google have experienced security breaches, leading to theft of credit card details, online banking logins, and social media credentials. Later, all this information can be found sold on the Dark Web. PrivacyAffairs.com collected hundreds of examples of data being sold and reported the prices on their Dark Web Price Index … In the United States, the average annual expense for dealing with cybercrime increased by 29% in 2018, reaching $27.4 million. Credit card details are sold on the Dark Web from $14-$30, which include the card number, associated dates, and CVV. Personal data such as an address, email, and phone number may also be included.”

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