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June 14, 2021

On The Web

Companies

WSJ News Exclusive | Investors Clamor for a Bigger Piece of Payments Company Stripe

Wall Street Journal

“Stripe Inc. has yet to go public, but investors are still craving a piece of it. The company, which processes payments for e-commerce businesses, recently offered investors the chance to acquire sizable stakes in the company from existing shareholders, including current and former Stripe employees, according to people familiar with the transaction. Bids from those investors exceeded $4 billion, some of the people said. But only about $1 billion of those bids were filled, one of the people said, suggesting that many current Stripe shareholders believe their stock has a long way to climb. Among the largest buyers were mutual-fund giant Capital Group Cos., venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital, e-commerce company Shopify Inc. and buyout firm Silver Lake, some of the people said.”

Domains

Can Facebook’s New Payment Method Compete With Venmo and Zelle?

American Banker

“The rollout of Facebook’s QR code-based payment service turns its Messenger platform into an open payment network, but may struggle to pull users away from popular alternatives like Venmo and Zelle. Unlike previous iterations of Messenger payments, the new system does not require users to be connected on its social network. Instead, it creates a QR code or a payment link in the Messenger app and ties into Facebook Pay, which launched in 2019. Facebook initiates the payments immediately, but it could take up to five days for the funds to post to a bank account from a linked debit card or PayPal account. The service’s biggest draw is that it’s already baked into the systems Facebook operates. If successful, it could expand throughout Facebook’s social network and Marketplace.”

Domains

Nigerian Payments App Paga May Be Africa’s Next Unicorn

Bloomberg

“Nigeria’s biggest mobile payments company is vying to become Africa’s next unicorn, and its ambitions now stretch beyond the continent. Paga, whose backers include U.S. billionaire investor Tim Draper and former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jim O’Neill, boasts 17 million unique users including tech entrepreneurs, businesses and individuals in Africa’s most populous nation. Modeled after PayPal, it processed $2.3 billion worth of transactions in 2020 and $8 billion during the past four years, according to Tayo Oviosu, the company’s chief executive officer who founded it in 2009. Paga could reach a valuation of at least $1 billion “in the next year or two,” Oviosu said in an interview.”

Providers

Affirm and Klarna Both Moved to Strengthen Their Positions in the BNPL Market

Insider Intelligence

“BNPL keeps getting more popular. In July 2020, 37.65% of US adults had used a BNPL service—by March 2021, that figure shot up to 55.8%, per The Motley Fool, indicating a substantial rise in consumer demand and adoption. And that momentum will likely continue: More than 50% of consumers who haven’t used a BNPL service are at least somewhat likely to use it in the next year, according to The Fool. Affirm’s and Klarna’s recent moves should help them capitalize on growing BNPL popularity as they bring their solutions to more customers.”

Risk

Tax Refunds and Stimulus Checks Delayed by Identity Fraud Crossfire

CNBC

“It’s unclear how many taxpayers’ refunds have been delayed during the 2021 filing season. But it’s an issue for a growing number of Americans. The IRS flagged 5.2 million tax refunds for fraud last year, a nearly 50% increase over 2019, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS. Of those, about 1.9 million were flagged for identity screening. (The rest were earmarked for income verification.) Basically, the IRS wants to ensure a crook isn’t using a taxpayer’s identity to claim a tax refund. The agency mails letters (either a 5071C or 6331C letter ) to taxpayers if it suspects foul play. The IRS can’t process a tax return or issue a refund until the person responds. However, most flagged returns aren’t fraudulent. In 2019, 63% of the refunds vetted for identity theft turned out to be legitimate, according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service.”

Systems

Brazil’s Central Bank Pushes Back Target Date on CBDC by Two Years – CoinDesk

CoinDesk

“The Banco Central do Brasil (BCB) is pushing for more time on the rollout of its central bank digital currency (CBDC). BCB told CoinDesk via email the timeframe for the adoption of a Brazilian CBDC depended on the evolution of the bank’s current projects and the international landscape. “According to the current BCB assessment, the conditions for the adoption of a Brazilian CBDC will be achieved in two to three years,” the bank said. CBDCs are digital versions of a nation’s currency issued by a central financial authority.”

Systems

BIS Survey: Cross Border Use of CBDCs May Trigger Forex Controls

Ledger Insights

“During the first quarter, the Bank for International Settlements ( BIS ) surveyed 50 central banks about the potential use of central bank digital currencies ( CBDC ) for cross border payments. The indecisive results indicate it’s still early days, especially since most countries have yet to decide whether to launch a CBDC. But it looks like CBDCs might trigger greater foreign exchange controls. One area where there was slightly more clarity was whether countries would allow incoming foreign visitors to use the local retail CBDC while visiting, as they would with physical cash. Only 29% of respondents had a clear view, made up of 25% saying visitors can use the CBDC, and 4% saying no. This is a relatively simple decision because it maps to current habits. There was far greater concern about allowing retail CBDC usage outside of the country because of a lack of control.”

Systems

CBN to Launch Own Digital Currency by Year End: Official

Peoples Gazette

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is planning to launch its own digital currency by the of 2021, Rakiya Mohammed, the bank’s IT specialist said on Thursday in Lagos. Ms Mohammed’s disclosure follows the conclusion of the Bankers Committee meeting. According to her, the apex bank has for over two years been exploring the technology and has made tremendous progress. “Before the end of the year, the Central Bank will be making a special announcement and possibly launching a pilot scheme in order to be able to provide this kind of currency to the populace,” she said. Ms Mohammed said when eventually  operational, the currency would complement cash notes. The official said another reason the apex bank plans to come up with digital currency  is to make remittances travel easier from abroad to Nigeria.”

Systems

Lawmakers Split on Merits of U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency

Pensions & Investments

“The Federal Reserve establishing a “digital dollar” could transform the nation’s payment systems, though much work is needed before it’s achievable, according to experts, but Republicans and Democrats are divided as to whether it’s good idea at all. Lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee’s economic policy subcommittee and a panel of experts discussed the potential for a central bank digital currency at a hearing Wednesday. A central bank digital currency is a widely used digital representation of a country’s sovereign currency issued by and as a liability of a jurisdiction’s central bank or other monetary authority.”

Tech

Timex Launches Wearable Payments With Chase, Visa and Tappy

NFCW

“Timex Group has officially launched a range of watches and watch straps that let the wearer make tokenized payments at any merchant equipped to accept Visa contactless payments. The new Timex Pay collection includes a range of watches that each come with a contactless payment chip embedded into the strap. A selection of leather, fabric and silicone watch straps that can be used to add Timex Pay to an existing watch is also available, either direct from Timex or from Amazon . Owners use a Timex Pay branded mobile app and a Timex Pay clip, both developed by Tappy Technologies , to add a tokenized version of an existing payment card to their new watch or strap.”

Users

American Express Puts Kabbage Acquisition to Work With Card Company’s First Checking Account

CNBC

American Express , best known for its array of personal and corporate cards , is making a push into territory held by banks and a growing list of fintech players. The card company is launching its first checking account for small businesses by leaning on technology acquired last year in the acquisition of online lender Kabbage , CNBC has learned.   The product, called Kabbage Checking, is a no-fee digital account that pays 1.1% interest on up to $100,000 in balances. It includes mobile check deposits, a debit card, bill pay and targeted savings features as well as access to a network of ATMs and retail locations for cash transactions.”

On The Wires

Companies

Adyen Granted US Branch License

“The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has approved Adyen’s application to establish a Federal Foreign Branch in San Francisco, California. The OCC’s approval and its granting of the branch charter in combination with the Federal Reserve’s approval of the application on May 24, 2021 permits Adyen to commence operations as a Federal Foreign Branch.  Obtaining this US branch license allows Adyen to enhance its US activities and operations in line with those conducted in Europe under its European banking license (obtained in 2017). Benefits include increased operational scalability via Adyen’s single platform and the ability to offer enhanced services to its merchants.”

Domains

Airwallex and Visa unveil Airwallex Borderless Cards for Businesses in Hong Kong

Airwallex , a leading global fintech platform, and Visa, the world’s leading digital payment technology company, today introduced the Airwallex Borderless Card (a good funds card) for businesses in Hong Kong. Starting today, Airwallex customers in Hong Kong will be able to instantly generate and issue multi-currency virtual payment cards that can be used to promptly pay third parties, such as vendors and online subscriptions. With the ability to transact in more than 140 currencies and make payments to merchants globally where Visa is accepted, the Airwallex Borderless Card will enable a more secure, transparent and fast way for businesses to make digital payments across borders.”

Domains

New payment tool for flexible workers in the gig economy

“ABN AMRO is introducing a new instant payment service that makes it easier for flexible workers to decide themselves when their invoice is paid once the work is done. This shortens the time between when the work is delivered and payment for their services from a number of weeks to one second. Freelancers have complete control over their earnings.”

Risk

Stripe Newsroom: Stripe Launches Stripe Identity, an Identity Verification Tool to Increase Trust Online

“Stripe today announced the launch of Stripe Identity, the easiest way for internet businesses to securely verify the identities of users from over 30 countries. As more economic activity happens online, the need for internet businesses to establish and maintain high levels of trust increases commensurately. Online businesses frequently need to verify the identities of their users to comply with age requirements or “Know Your Customer” (KYC) laws—and to increase trust and safety by reducing fraud, preventing account takeovers, and stopping bad actors.”

Use

Societe Generale and Kyriba Join Forces to Create a Cloud Treasury Management Solution – Société Générale

“Societe Generale (the Bank), one of the leading European financial services groups (most notably in the field of transaction banking), and Kyriba, a global leader of cloud-based finance and IT solutions, have today announced a strategic partnership to launch a new treasury management solution.  This solution will include payment automation and fraud management functionalities, and will be dedicated to the Bank’s corporate clients and their subsidiaries. Fully hosted in the cloud, this solution will be based on Kyriba’s global platform and distributed by Societe Generale.”

June 11, 2021

On The Web

Companies

Apple Says Its New Logon Tech Is As Easy As Passwords but Far More Secure

CNET

“Apple has begun testing passkeys, a new authentication technology it says are as easy to use as passwords but vastly more secure. Part of iCloud Keychains, a test version of the technology will come with iPhones, iPads and Macs later this year. To set up an account on a website or app using a passkey, you first choose a username for the new account, then use FaceID or Touch ID to confirm that it’s really you who’s using the device. You don’t ever pick a password. Your device handles generation and storage of the passkey, which iCloud Keychain synchronizes across all your Apple devices.”

Deals

Shopify Brings on Team From Augmented Reality Home Design App Primer

TechCrunch

“In Friday acquisition news, Shopify shared today that they’ve acquired the team from augmented reality startup Primer , which makes an app that lets users visualize what tile, wallpaper or paint will look like on surfaces inside their home. In a blog post , co-founders Adam Debreczeni and Russ Maschmeyer write that Primer’s app and services will be shutting down next month as part of the deal. Primer’s team of eight employees will all be joining Shopify following the acquisition.”

Domains

Virtual Cards to Provide Catalyst for Commercial Card Spending

Payments Cards & Mobile

“An impressive €42.7 billion was spent on European virtual commercial cards in 2019, accounting for 12% of total commercial card spending, according to RBR. Virtual card expenditure in the region increased at an average of 32% per year between 2016 and 2019. Virtual commercial cards are digital card numbers generated centrally or instantly issued, which are distinct from tokenised versions of plastic cards in mobile wallets. They are offered primarily by specialists, but increasingly also by traditional bank issuers.”

Domains

Claro Argentina partners with DOCOMO Digital to Boost Mobile Payments  | Billing & Payments

Telemedia Online

“Claro Argentina, a leading mobile phone operator and part of the América Móvil group, has teamed up with DOCOMO Digital, one of the leading integrators of digital app stores, to facilitate the purchase of applications and content with direct carrier billing (DCB), within the Samsung Galaxy Store, using a Claro’s pre-paid or post-paid accounts. Thanks to this integration, Claro offers its subscribers the possibility to purchase digital services (applications, games, etc.) on theSamsung Galaxy Store via their top-up balance (in the case of prepaid users) or via billing on the phone receipt as an additional charge (in the case of postpaid users), quickly and easily. Digital content consumption has increased and Claro is committed to simplifying the associated transactions.”

Providers

The Future Of Payments: Fintech 50 2021

Forbes

“Before Covid, payments companies were some of fintech’s fastest-growing. As the pandemic caused online transactions to spike, these startups went on an unprecedented tear. Stripe and Plaid nearly tripled their valuations in a year, reaching $95 and $13.4 billion, respectively. Marqeta is preparing to go public at a valuation rumored to be north of $10 billion, up from $4 billion a year ago.   Ten payments companies made the Fintech 50 this year. They range from fraud-fighting startups to a business that lets companies offer digital wallets to Latin American consumers to one that tries to make transferred bank funds available in one day, instead of five.”

Providers

How Payments Disruptors Are Entering Financial Services

Insider Intelligence

“Payments service providers are building an array of financial services to compete with financial institutions (FIs). Lending, bank account products, issuing, and other services that have been FIs’ bread and butter are being challenged in a bid to add more revenue opportunities and engender greater loyalty. These payment disruptors, such as Square, Stripe, and Shopify, are using their existing relationships with small businesses to attract clients away from FIs and persuading them to use their own financial offerings. Two trends are powering service providers’ pushes into financial services: one from their own industry and another from banks and fintechs.”

Systems

China’s Digital Yuan Wallets Are ‘Inclusive,’ PBOC Official Says

Bloomberg

“China’s digital yuan wallets are designed to ensure everyone can use them and in different formats, according to Mu Changchun, director general of the central bank’s Digital Currency Research Institute. The e-yuan can be stored in various kinds of wallets, including physical or digital, and personal or public ones, Mu said Friday at the Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai. The wallets are designed to satisfy different demands, with users able to apply for them based on their credit limits, purposes of use, or preferences for a physical one or a digital one, he said.”

Systems

Cross-border Interoperability Will Be a Key Test for CBDCs, BIS and BoE Specialists Warn

Bobsguide

“As the UK joins the list of global players considering issuing central bank digital currencies (CBDC), with the Bank of England taking practical steps to explore possible costs and benefits earlier this week, one crucial hurdle lies in the level of transnational utilisation they’d be able to guarantee, a Bank for International Settlements (BIS) advisor and a senior Bank of England specialist said. One element of particular note concerns the possibility for non-residents to hold a country’s retail CBDC, said Ross Leckow, senior fintech advisor at the BIS Innovation Hub while speaking at BAFT’s annual global meeting.”

Systems

The Credit Card Wars Are Heating up Again As Citigroup Takes on JPMorgan With New 5% Cash-back Card

CNBC

“Banks have been falling over themselves to entice new credit card customers, dangling hefty 100,000 point bonuses and rolling out new products. Now, Citigroup is making a push in one of the fastest-growing card segments.   The bank on Thursday is launching a credit card that gives users 5% cash back on up to $500 of spending per month in a category – from restaurants to groceries or travel – and 1% cash back on all other purchases, according to Pam Habner , Citigroup’s head of U.S. branded cards. Unlike existing cards from competitors including JPMorgan Chase , the new Custom Cash card doesn’t require users to enroll in or select the categories for that 5% rate; instead it automatically applies the rate to a user’s top category of spending.”

Tech

Messenger Adds Venmo-like QR Codes for Person-to-person Payments in the US

TechCrunch

“This spring, Facebook confirmed it was testing Venmo-like QR codes for person-to-person payments inside its app in the U.S. Today, the company announced those codes are now launching publicly to all U.S. users, allowing anyone to send or request money through Facebook Pay — even if they’re not Facebook friends. The QR codes work similarly to those found in other payment apps, like Venmo. The feature can be found under the “Facebook Pay” section in Messenger’s settings, accessed by tapping on your profile icon at the top left of the screen. Here, you’ll be presented with your personalized QR code which looks much like a regular QR code except that it features your profile icon in the middle.”

On The Wires

Companies

Square, Inc. Allocates $25 Million for Minority and Underserved Communities, Including $5 Million Bitcoin Endowment

“Square, Inc. announced the allocation of the remaining $25 million of its $100 million investment in support of minority and underserved communities. Square shared the ideology behind the investments in a memo outlining how companies can make similar commitments, along with information about the newly launched Bitcoin Endowment focused on financial education and access. With the company’s purpose of economic empowerment at the forefront, in 2019 Square began dedicating deposits to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) in communities around the country. The $100 million of investments announced in September 2020 was a continuation of Square’s commitment to increasing access to financial services.”

Deals

Southern Bancorp, Inc. Receives Investment From Square, Inc. As Part of the Company’s $100 Million Commitment to Minority and Underserved Communities

“Square, Inc. announced this week the allocation of $25 million as part of its $100 million investment to minority and underserved communities. Southern Bancorp, Inc., one of the nation’s original Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) serving the Mid-South, was an investee, with Square, Inc. making an equity investment.”

Deals

Clip Becomes Mexico’s Fintech Unicorn

“Clip, Mexico’s leading digital payments and commerce platform, today announced it has received a U.S. $250 million capital investment led by the SoftBank Latin America Fund and Viking Global Investors LP. The investment is the largest ever for a payments company in Mexico and establishes Clip as the first payments Unicorn in the 12th largest economy in the world, with a valuation approaching U.S. $2 billion. Clip pioneered simple and easy access to digital payments and the democratization of financial services in Mexico, with an obsessive focus on delivering superior client experiences and customer service.”

Domains

BofA Expands Its Digital B2C Payment Offerings With Pay to Card

“Bank of America is adding a new payment solution to its suite of business-to-consumer (B2C) payment capabilities. Named Pay to Card, the solution supports corporates’ growing need to pay consumers quickly and digitally by depositing funds directly into an individual’s or small business’ bank account. Pay to Card leverages the details of a bank card (excluding credit cards) associated with an account to process the transaction.”

Domains

Introducing Netflix.shop: A New Way for Fans to Connect With Their Favorite Stories

“We love it when great stories transcend screens and become part of people’s lives. We’re always looking at how we can  extend the world of our stories for fans, from apparel and toys to immersive events and games. And it’s why today we’re launching Netflix.shop as an exciting new destination combining curated products and rich storytelling in a uniquely Netflix shopping experience. Netflix.shop will drop exclusive limited editions of carefully selected high-quality apparel and lifestyle products tied to our shows and brand on a regular basis. Among the items debuting this month are streetwear and action figures based on anime series Yasuke and Eden; as well as limited-edition apparel and decorative items  inspired by Lupin in collaboration with the Musée du Louvre.”

Providers

Splitit Partners With ChargeAfter

Splitit (ASX:SPT), the company empowering consumers to use their existing line of credit to pay in installments, announced a partnership with ChargeAfter , the leading global network of personalized buy now pay later (BNPL) and point-of-sale financing for merchants, adding Splitit to complement its existing portfolio of consumer financing offerings. Splitit will be the first financing-free installment payment option available on the platform.”

Regulation

EBA Publishes Report on the Data Provided by PSPs on Their Readiness to Apply Strong Customer Authentication for E-commerce Card-based Payment Transactions – European Banking Authority

“The European Banking Authority (EBA) published today a Report on the data provided by PSPs on their readiness to apply SCA for the subset of payment transactions that are e-commerce card-based payment transactions. The Report highlights the status of issuing and acquiring PSPs in enrolling online merchants, payment cards and payment service users (PSUs) into SCA-compliant solutions, and in requesting SCA for online payment transactions after 31 December 2020, when the SCA migration period ended. The EBA tracked the progress made by issuing and acquiring PSPs from September 2019 to April 2021 by monitoring a number of indicators that had been set out in the EBA Opinion of 2019 on the deadline for the migration to SCA compliance for e-commerce card-based payment transactions .”

June 10, 2021

On The Web

Deals

Tech Group Ledger Completes New Fundraising, Valuing It at Over $1.5 Billion

Reuters

“French technology and digital company Ledger said on Thursday it completed a new $380 million fundraising round that gave it a valuation of more than $1.5 billion. Ledger, headquartered in Paris, runs a platform called Ledger-Live which deals with cryptocurrencies. Its latest Series C fundraising round was led by 10T Holdings, while other investors involved included Financiere Agache, a unit of Bernard Arnault, the French luxury goods billionaire who runs LVMH.”

Deals

HPE Collects €160 Million to Support Portfolio Company PPRO

Wall Street Journal

“European growth investor HPE Growth has collected €160 million (roughly $194.8 million) to support an increasingly popular deal structure that gives the firm more time to support PPRO Financial Ltd., a cross-border payments infrastructure technology company the firm initially backed in 2014. HPE Growth, which invests in small and medium-size technology companies across Western Europe, is recapitalizing London-based PPRO, pronounced as “P-pro.”…PPRO helps consumers pay for online transactions using local payment methods they are familiar with and serves companies such as Citibank Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc. , Mollie BV and Mastercard Payment Gateway Services. HPE Growth first backed the company out of its debut growth-equity fund, which closed in 2011.”

Deals

Fintech Giant Klarna Raises $639M at a $45.6B Valuation Amid ‘massive Momentum’ in the US

TechCrunch

“Just over three months after its last funding round, European fintech giant Klarna is announcing today that it has raised another $639 million at a staggering post-money valuation of $45.6 billion. Rumors swirled in recent weeks that Klarna had raised more money at a valuation north of $40 billion. But the Swedish buy now, pay later behemoth and upstart bank declined to comment until now. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led the latest round, which also included participation from existing investors Adit Ventures, Honeycomb Asset Management and WestCap Group.”

Systems

Ex-commodities Chairman Timothy Massad Calls for More Regulation of Tether, Stablecoins

CNBC

“A former Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman is calling for more regulation of stablecoins, or cryptocurrencies created to be pegged to other assets like fiat money. Timothy Massad, who led the commission during much of the Obama administration’s second term, told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that investors would benefit from more transparency in the wake of Tether Limited’s settlement with the New York attorney’s general office in February.   Tether Limited is the company that issues tether, the most valuable stablecoin and third-most valuable cryptocurrency behind bitcoin and ethereum.”

Systems

Bank Regulators Plan ‘Conservative’ Capital Rule for Bitcoin

Reuters

“Banks must set aside enough capital to cover losses on any bitcoin holdings in full, global banking regulators proposed on Thursday, in a “conservative” step that could prevent widescale use of the cryptocurrency by major lenders. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, made up of regulators from the world’s leading financial centres, proposed a twin approach to capital requirements for cryptoassets held by banks in its first bespoke rule for the nascent sector. El Salvador has become the world’s first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender even though central banks globally have repeatedly warned that investors in the cryptocurrency must be ready to lose all their money.”

Systems

French and Swiss Central Banks to Trial Wholesale Digital Currencies

Reuters

“The Swiss National Bank and the Bank of France will trial Europe’s first cross-border central bank digital currency payments, the banks said on Thursday, a move that will be a first for two of the world’s top currencies. The experiment will focus on the bank-to-bank ‘wholesale’ lending market rather than everyday public transactions but will be the first time a digital euro and Swiss franc have been fully tested. Switzerland’s UBS (UBSG.S) , Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) and France’s Natixis (CNAT.PA) are involved in the project, along with Swiss bourse operator SIX Digital Exchange, fintech firm R3 and the Innovation Hub at the Bank for International Settlements.”

Systems

U.S. Senate Hearing to Consider Opportunities of a ‘Digital Dollar’

Forbes

“The U.S. Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy will be holding a hearing titled, “Building A Stronger Financial System: Opportunities of a Central Bank Digital Currency”. On October 4, 2019, Congressman French Hill (R-AR) and Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) wrote a bi-partisan letter displaying interest in Congress that the Federal Reserve seriously consider a central bank digital currency (CBDC) or ‘digital dollar’ for the United States. In March of this year, Hill and Foster followed up on their initial bi-partisan initiative in 2019 with the introduction of H.R. 2211 titled the Central Bank Digital Currency Study Act of 2021.”

On The Wires

Companies

Stripe Newsroom: Stripe Launches Stripe Tax to Simplify Global Tax Compliance for Businesses

“Stripe, the technology company building economic infrastructure for the internet, today announced the launch of Stripe Tax to help businesses automatically calculate and collect sales tax, value-added tax (VAT), and goods and services tax (GST) in over 30 countries*. Stripe Tax makes every aspect of global sales tax handling as frictionless as the rest of Stripe. It automates tax calculation and collection for transactions on Stripe, tells businesses where they need to collect taxes, and creates comprehensive reports to make filing taxes easy.”

Deals

Clair Closes $15M Series A Led by Thrive Capital

Clair, a social impact, embedded fintech startup transforming how America’s hourly workers get paid, today announced the close of a $15 million Series A funding round led by Thrive Capital , a firm that has been a part of building and investing in many of the top technology companies of the last decade. This brings Clair’s total funding to $19.5 million, following its seed round led by Upfront Ventures announced seven months ago. Clair enables HR tech and gig companies to give hourly workers free instant cash advances on their earnings. Today, Clair has partnerships with platforms used by over 1.5 million hourly and gig workers.”

Domains

WooCommerce Merchants Can Now List Their Products Across Google

“Last week we announced that all of WooCommerce’s 4.4 million merchants would soon have the ability to easily integrate their product inventory across Google in just a few clicks, and for free. Today, the product is live and ready for WooCommerce merchants to use globally. Making it easier for retailers who work with partners like WooCommerce to integrate with Google shopping features across Search, Shopping, Image Search and YouTube means that retailers of all sizes will have even more ways to get discovered. And shoppers will have even more choice as they make their shopping decisions.”

Industry

Back-to-School U.S. Retail Sales Expected to Grow 5.5%* Compared to Last Year, According to Mastercard SpendingPulse

“As students wrap up the current school year, retailers – and parents – are already preparing for a robust back-to-school shopping season as more kids head back into the classroom. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse ™, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, U.S. retail sales are expected to grow 5.5% excluding automotive and gas during the critical July 15 through September 6 back-to-school period compared to 2020. Compared to 2019, sales are expected to grow 6.7%.”

Providers

A Note From Our CEO: Affirm and Shopify Expand Shop Pay Installments Across the U.S.

“Today, we are taking a big step forward to expand the reach of our mission by making Shop Pay Installments, exclusively powered by Affirm, available to all eligible Shopify merchants in the United States.  We are thrilled to support these hundreds of thousands of unique merchants by providing access to unparalleled technology that can help grow their businesses. One in four merchants that used Shop Pay Installments during its early access saw 50% higher average order volume compared to other payment methods.  Shop Pay Installments doesn’t just enable merchants to provide buyers with a more flexible and transparent way to pay, but it also provides unparalleled speed and ease of integration. Unlike other buy now, pay later solutions, Shop Pay Installments avoids sending buyers offsite to complete their purchase. Merchants saw 28% fewer abandoned carts through Shop Pay Installments after switching from a third-party buy now, pay later solution.”

June 9, 2021

On The Web

Deals

Marqeta Closes up 13%, Topping $16 Billion Market Cap in Wall Street Debut

CNBC

“Shares of payment processing company Marqeta closed up 13% after its market debut Wednesday on the Nasdaq. Shares closed at $30.52, giving the company a market cap of just over $16 billion. Marqeta priced just over 45 million shares at $27 apiece on Tuesday, above its initial $20 to $24 target range. The company raised $1.2 billion at an implied $15.2 billion valuation, up from its last private market valuation last year of about $4.3 billion .   Marqeta has become one of the hottest businesses in digital commerce. It’s a two-time CNBC Disruptor 50 company and ranked No. 7 on this year’s list.”

Deals

Kafene Raises $14M to Offer Buy Now, Pay Later to the Subprime Consumer

TechCrunch

“The buy now, pay later frenzy isn’t going anywhere as more consumers seek alternatives to credit cards to fund purchases. And those purchases aren’t exclusive to luxuries such as Pelotons (ahem, Affirm) or jewelry someone might be treating themselves to online. A new fintech company is out to help consumers finance big-ticket items that are considered more “must have” than “nice to have.” And it’s just raised $14 million in Series A funding to help it advance on that goal…More specifically, Kafene is focused on helping consumers with credit scores below 650 purchase retail items such as furniture, appliances and electronics with its buy now, pay later (BNPL) model. Consider it an “Affirm for the subprime,” says Desai.”

Providers

Open Bank Yapily to Offer Bulk Payments Service to SMEs

Crowdfund Insider

“London-based Yapily , a leading Open Banking infrastructure provider, has launched a new bulk payments service in the UK market. Yapily has started the service by going live with Comma , an SME payments platform in that country.    Yapily claims to have simplified the complex process of bulk payments – under Open Banking- for small and medium businesses in the UK. This service was only available to medium to large-scale companies with corporate banking accounts so far.”

Providers

Kenyan President Urges Ethiopia to Open up Mobile Money Market

Reuters

“Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday urged Ethiopia to open up its telecoms sector to private mobile money business investors, a move that would complement a process already underway to reform the sector and bring in foreign investment. Ethiopia is opening up its telecoms sector, hitherto a monopoly of the state-owned Ethio Telecom, and last month authorities awarded the first private operator licence. The licence was handed out to a consortium led by Kenya’s Safaricom (SCOM.NR) , Vodafone (VOD.L) , and Japan’s Sumitomo 8053.T. read more Currently though only Ethio Telecom is allowed to offer mobile financial services while foreign operators are barred by law from participating.”

Regulation

US Financial Regulator Warns Against Strict Cryptocurrency Rules

FT

“A senior US financial regulator has spoken out against attempts by her colleagues to regulate cryptocurrencies more strictly, warning that doing so runs the risk of discouraging investors. Hester Peirce, one of two Republicans among the five commissioners at the Securities and Exchange Commission, told the Financial Times she was worried about the push by several US regulators to play a more active role in the $1.5tn cryptocurrency market. Her comments expose a split at the top of the SEC just as Gary Gensler, its chair, spearheads an effort to bring the fast-growing cryptocurrency market more in line with other types of financial assets.”

Risk

Santander Pushes Back at Which? Over APP Scam Reimbursement Rates

Finextra Research

“Santander has pushed back against calls from Which? for banks to publish figures on the proportion of customers they refund for authorised push payment (APP) fraud, arguing that looking at reimbursement rates in isolation could present a “misleading” picture. APP scams have been on the rise during the Covid-19 pandemic, with losses hitting nearly half a billion pounds in 2020.Many of the UK’s biggest banks and building societies are signed up a voluntary code, which is based on the principle that blameless victims of bank transfer scams should be reimbursed their losses.”

Systems

Crypto Lender BlockFi in Talks to Raise Funding at $5 Billion Valuation

The Information

“BlockFi, a wealth management and trading firm for cryptocurrency holders, is raising new funding just three months after its last round. It’s the latest sign that VC interest in cryptocurrency, supercharged by Coinbase’s direct listing two months ago, is overriding a recent steep retreat in crypto prices. The four-year-old startup is in late-stage talks with new and existing investors to raise several hundred million dollars at a valuation near $5 billion, according to two people familiar with the deal talks.”

Systems

Amazon Explores Replacing JPMorgan in Credit-Card Tie-Up

Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. is fielding bids to replace JPMorgan Chase & Co. as the issuer on its popular co-brand credit card as a fresh wave of competition for new card customers emerges. American Express Co. and Synchrony Financial are among those bidding on the portfolio, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing the negotiations. Representatives for the lenders declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Amazon didn’t have an immediate comment when reached by email on Tuesday”

Systems

ABA to Lawmakers: CBDCs Could ‘Reshape’ Banking System | ABA Banking Journal

ABA Banking Journal

“As central banks around the globe explore whether to issue central bank digital currencies, there is a growing recognition that CBDCs involve very significant real-world trade-offs. While recognizing that CBDC proposals are often driven by laudable goals, the American Bankers Association today cautioned that the introduction of a CBDC could “fundamentally change the role of the central bank in the United States and reshape the banking system.” In a statement for the record of a Senate Banking subcommittee hearing, ABA noted that choosing between the various CBDC designs requires “serious and complex policy tradeoffs” and that too often CBDC proponents take a “highlight reel” approach to describing CBDC, “cherry picking all the perceived benefits, while downplaying the serious risks to consumers and our financial system.””

On The Wires

Companies

Mastercard Launches New Start Path Programming Dedicated to Supporting Minority-owned Startups, Furthering Efforts to Close the Racial Wealth and Opportunity Gap

“New programming complements Mastercard investments in minority focused VCs including Authentic Ventures, Fearless Fund, CNote and The Astia Fund Venture capitalists invest less than 3 percent of funding to Black founders , resulting in fewer success stories. Mastercard today announced the launch of a new Start Path track dedicated to supporting traditionally underrepresented fintech founders as the company continues its work to ensure minority led startups have access to the funding necessary to scale.   The new programming is part of Mastercard’s In Solidarity commitment of $500 million in products, services, technology and financial support to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap.”

Deals

Sticky.io Closes $90 Million Facility With Goldman Sachs Asset Management

“sticky.io, a leading ecommerce platform provider for subscription management and recurring billing, today announced that it has closed a $90 million material capital transaction with the Private Credit business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Goldman Sachs). The company plans to use the funds to build more functionality into its platform and leverage the relationship for ongoing growth opportunities…sticky.io is the world’s leading integrated commerce and billing platform, providing an extensive ecosystem of solutions for enterprise merchants that require flexibility and robust analytics, while providing a return on investment from a low-cost, rapid deployment model to get to market faster with a better solution than any other available today.”

Deals

Gemini Acquires Leading Crypto Custody Technology

“Gemini, a crypto platform, today announced the acquisition of Shard X, a leading developer of secure multi-party computation (MPC) cryptographic technology. Gemini will integrate Shard X’s MPC technology into its distributed, multi-site key management and signing infrastructure, markedly increasing the speed with which Gemini can transfer customer assets and provide support for new asset listings and usage on the Gemini platform.”

Industry

Visa U.S. Spending Momentum Index Remains Robust in May

“Visa (NYSE: V) today released the May reading of 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 May 2021, the Visa SMI remained historically elevated at 123.3, indicating that the U.S. consumer recovery remains on firm ground. Exceptionally low SMI readings this time last year are creating some distortions in the true signal of consumer spending. At its current level, the Visa SMI implies that 59 percent of consumers are now spending more than they did a year ago, while only 41 percent are spending the same or less.”

Providers

Driving Towards an Open Finance Future | Plaid

“Last year, Plaid announced a goal to commit 75% of our traffic to APIs by the end of 2021. This target for fair, reliable, and secure API-based data exchange is one of our top priorities as the industry moves full-steam ahead towards a fully digital financial system.  That’s why I’m thrilled to announce an open finance partnership with Capital One — a digital finance innovator — and the successful completion of our migration to the Capital One API. As a result, Capital One customers can enjoy reliable and secure access to the apps and services in our network, and through the technical partnership we are able to make significant headway in our efforts to help build a credential-less ecosystem.”

Tech

A Vision for Federated Sidechains on the XRP Ledger

“Over the last nine years, the XRP community has been committed to advancing the innovation and forward progress of the XRP Ledger (XRPL) to dramatically increase its decentralization, performance, and feature set. Among the most-requested features we have heard from developers and contributors to the XRP Ledger is smart contract capabilities brought about by the exponential growth in decentralized finance (DeFi). In fact, the number of DeFi developers has grown 110% since 2019, and that number is projected to grow well beyond 2021. However, we at Ripple have long advocated against features that would compromise the XRP Ledger’s highly efficient focus on payments.”

June 8, 2021

On The Web

Companies

You’ll Soon Be Able to Use Your IPhone As ID at the Airport

The Verge

“Apple has announced a forthcoming update to its Wallet app that will allow you to use your iPhone as digital identification in select US airports. The company showed how you’ll be able to scan your driver’s license or state ID in participating US states, which will then be encrypted and stored in the iPhone’s secure enclave. The company says it’s working with the TSA to enable the iPhone to be used as identification at airport security checkpoints. As well as secure ID, Apple says it’s working to allow hotels to distribute room card keys via Apple Wallet, allowing you to collect a room key before you arrive at a hotel. Home keys and work keys were also announced as coming to the Wallet app. The new keys feature is also coming to Apple Watch, Apple says .”

Deals

Fintech All-star Nubank Raises a $750M Mega Round

TechCrunch

“In 2013, Colombian businessman David Velez decided to reinvent the Brazilian banking system. He didn’t speak Portuguese, nor was he an engineer or a banker, but he did have the conviction that the system was broken and that he could fix it. And as a former Sequoia VC, he also had access to capital. His gut instinct and market analysis were right. Today, Nubank announced a $750 million extension to its Series G (which rang in at $400 million this past January), bringing the round to a total of $1.15 billion and their valuation to $30 billion — $5 billion more than when we covered them in January.

Domains

Taking Cue From Fintechs, Banks Warm to Early Direct Deposit

American Banker

“A small number of banks have begun offering early direct deposit — a move that will cost them revenue in the short run but could help them preserve market share and strengthen their public image over the long term. This service, which is sometimes called early pay, lets customers access their paycheck a day or two sooner than normal to avoid overdraft fees or the need to turn to a payday lender. Early direct deposit has been made popular in the past decade by challenger banks like Chime, Varo and One, though a few community banks have offered it for years. Many traditional banks have been unwilling to give up the overdraft fees they can reap in the days leading up to payday. But some — including Capital One Financial — have embraced early direct deposit to appeal to consumers, who are increasingly drawn to an expanding field of consumer-friendly neobanks.”

Domains

Some Companies Are Taking Longer to Pay Suppliers Despite Recovery

Wall Street Journal

“Last spring, when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. economy, many companies asked their suppliers for more time to pay their bills. A year later, some of them are holding on to the better terms, freeing up extra cash. Big U.S. companies on average took 58 days to pay suppliers in their first quarters of fiscal 2021, up 5.5% from 55 days in the comparable period last year, according to research from Hackett Group Inc. The business advisory firm gathered the data from corporate disclosures for 938 of the largest public U.S. companies by revenue that have reported results for their fiscal first quarter, excluding financial institutions. For fiscal 2020, businesses took 62 days on average to settle their dues with suppliers, up 7.6% from the previous year, Hackett said. The full-year data set includes 1,000 companies.”

Global

InstantPay Launches India’s First Cashback Card

Big News Network.com

“InstantPay, India’s leading open banking platform, today announced the launch of the InstantPay Cashback Card in partnership with NPCI and YES Bank. It is a premium, ‘future ready’ contactless card powered by RuPay that offers 1 per cent unlimited cashback on most spends, so consumers can now grow their money, even when they spend. The InstantPay card comes with a zero minimum balance requirement and has a maximum balance limit of Rs. 2 lakh, which makes it a perfect secondary account for everyday transactions of any individual. This also ensures that there is zero exposure to customers’ primary bank account.”

Industry

Illinois Digital Asset Charter Bill Falls Short in Spring Session, Persists for Next Round

Payments Dive

“The Illinois legislative session ended last month without passage of the bill, but the House chamber did vote to approve it on April 21 and it remains a bill for the Senate to consider when it reconvenes.  “Despite running out of time during the spring session to pass this legislation, I’m confident we’ll get it done in this legislative session,” Rep. Croke said through a spokesperson. “In the meantime, I will continue working to make Illinois a leader in the growing fintech and blockchain industries.”

Systems

Wells Fargo’s Scharf Goes on Offense With New Credit-Card Lineup

Bloomberg

“Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf is embarking on his biggest push to expand a major business line since taking over, launching a roster of credit cards aimed at competing with popular products from larger rivals. The first volley is the Active Cash card, offering a flat 2% cash-back rate on all spending, a challenge to Citigroup Inc.’s Double Cash product and a card offered jointly by Synchrony Financial and PayPal Holdings Inc. Wells Fargo will introduce a low-interest-rate card in coming months and a new rewards card line next year.”

Systems

U.S. Retrieves Millions in Ransom Paid to Colonial Pipeline Hackers

Wall Street Journal

“U.S. authorities have recovered millions of dollars in digital currency paid to the hackers who hit a major East Coast fuel pipeline with a ransomware attack last month , in a law-enforcement operation that officials said demonstrated progress undermining criminals’ ability to disrupt American commerce and critical infrastructure for profit. Investigators seized about 64 bitcoin, valued at roughly $2.3 million, from a virtual wallet—the alleged proceeds from the ransom hack carried out by a suspected Russian-based criminal gang on Colonial Pipeline Co., the Justice Department said. “The extortionists will never see this money,” Stephanie Hinds, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, where the seizure warrant was obtained, told reporters. “This case demonstrates our resolve to develop methods to prevent evildoers from converting new methods of payment into tools and extortion for undeserved profits.””

Use

Hospital System Upgrades Payments Tech to Improve Collection, Security

American Banker

“Hospital data is as confusing as it is sensitive. An automated system for collecting payments can simplify the process while also making it more secure. An additional benefit of automating payments is it improves collection efforts by allowing patients to settle their bills even when the health care provider’s call center is closed. Emory Healthcare of Atlanta has used technology from RevSpring the past three years to collect payment card data while also keeping it out of scope from the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.”

Use

Marqeta IPO puts spotlight on fintech fees

FT

“Most of Marqeta’s revenue comes from interchange fees, the costs that merchants pay when their customers use debit cards to make a purchase.  Because of the Durbin Amendment in the 2010 Dodd Frank Act, banks with under $10bn in assets receive higher interchange fees than larger lenders from the transactions.  Fintech start-ups such as Marqeta and Chime, a fast-growing personal finance app in the US, have taken advantage of this discrepancy by partnering with small community banks and taking a cut of the fees.  Marqeta’s largest partner is Sutton Bank, which receives a payment from Marqeta in exchange for the interchange fee. The company also passes on a part of its revenue from interchange fees to Square and other customers.  Some analysts and investors have questioned the long-term viability of the set-up, with the growth of fintech start-ups drawing attention from regulators and large banks.”

On The Wires

Deals

Grabango Raises $39M As It Scales Up Its Checkout-Free Technology

“Grabango, the leading provider of checkout-free technology for existing grocery and convenience stores, announced today that it has raised $39 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Commerce Ventures with participation from Founders Fund, Unilever Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, and WIND Ventures. All participants share Grabango’s vision for modernizing the retail industry and bring a broad range of strategic expertise to the enterprise…Grabango is the first and only company to retrofit its checkout-free technology into an already-operating store , saving shoppers time by letting them skip the line. In partnership with Giant Eagle Inc, one of the nation’s largest food retailers, Grabango has proven that its technology works in a real-world environment with over 15,000 SKUs and tens of thousands of transactions each month.”

Domains

Wix Launches Point of Sale to Provide Powerful Omnichannel Solutions

Wix (Nasdaq: WIX ), a leading global SaaS platform to create, manage, and grow an online presence, today announced the launch of Wix POS solutions for Wix business owners to accept secure in-person payments of goods and services in store, online and on the go, allowing them to manage all sales, inventory and data directly from the Wix platform…Wix POS offers a cohesive end-to-end omnichannel solution, unifying the online and offline, directly from the Wix platform. It is the latest in a series of enhancements to Wix’s eCommerce platform, further advancing Wix’s vision to provide business owners with a full operating system to create, manage and grow their business.”

Domains

PayNearMe Enables Millions of Walmart® Shoppers to Pay Their Bills Through Green Dot Network at the Walmart MoneyCenter

PayNearMe , the modern and reliable payments platform known for making payments easy for both businesses and customers, announced that effective August 2021 PayNearMe customers will be able to complete bill payment transactions at participating Walmart locations. By expanding its partnership with Green Dot (NYSE: GDOT), a financial technology company committed to seamlessly connecting people to their money, PayNearMe can enable consumers to access Green Dot’s more than 90,000 retail locations nationwide. To pay bills at participating Walmart stores, customers simply show an associate at the Money Services desk or Customer Service desk the scannable code on their smartphone, pay with cash and collect a receipt that confirms the payment is completed. Funds are then transferred to the biller electronically through a single consolidated settlement.”

Domains

PayAlly Strengthens International Payments Offering Through New Partnership With Banking Circle | Banking Circle

“PayAlly, the fully integrated payments ecosystem for SMEs is using Banking Circle solutions to improve its multi-currency B2B cross border payments services. In particular, the new partnership gives PayAlly access to a wider choice of payment rails through the Banking Circle super-correspondent banking network, thereby improving the speed and cost of international payments for its e-commerce customers.”

Domains

Pinterest Takes the Best of Offline Shopping and Brings It Online

“Today, we are announcing the expansion of our shopping features to Australia, Canada, France and Germany, offering Pinterest users the opportunity to shop right from Pins, on boards, from search, and from the inspiration they find in the real world using Lens camera search. Pinners will also be able to get inspiration from Shopping spotlights, which showcase expert recommendations and trends from influential fashion and home tastemakers as well as publishers.”

Providers

Consumers Can Safely Share Their Cryptoasset Investment Data With First-in-Market Capability From Fiserv – Fiserv, Inc.

Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV), a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions, will enable consumers to share data on their cryptoasset holdings with their fintech apps and service providers, including a broad array of financial institutions, wealth managers, and lenders, enhancing consumers’ financial management and control as cryptoasset investing reaches the mainstream. This first-in-market capability will be enabled through the integration of AllData® Aggregation from Fiserv with Verady , the leading provider of cryptocurrency tax, accounting, and audit technology products and integrations. AllData Aggregation enables thousands of financial institutions, fintechs and other companies to access data and facilitate transactions across existing and emerging applications, and tens of millions of consumers to connect to their bank account, billing, card, mortgage and other data through the third parties of their choosing.”

Systems

TokenEx Becomes Nacha Preferred Partner for ACH Data Protection | Nacha

“TokenEx today became a Nacha Preferred Partner for ACH Data Protection. As a Nacha Preferred Partner, TokenEx joins a select group of innovators recognized for offering products and services that align with Nacha’s strategies to advance the ACH Network…This partnership comes at a crucial moment, as Phase 1 of Nacha’s Rule on Supplementing Data Security Requirements goes into effect June 30, 2021. This rule requires ACH Originators and Third Parties that process more than 6 million ACH payments annually to render deposit account information unreadable in electronic storage.”

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