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October 5, 2021

On The Web

Companies

WSJ News Exclusive | Apple Pay Fees Vex Credit-Card Issuers

Wall Street Journal

“Banks rushed to work with the Apple Pay mobile wallet when it debuted in 2014. They have some regrets. When Apple Pay launched, the tech giant got big banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Capital One Financial Corp. and Bank of America Corp. to agree to pay fees that would allow their cardholders to pay by iPhone. But some banks have grown unhappy with the costs, especially after Apple Inc. introduced its own new credit card in 2019 , according to people familiar with the matter.”

Deals

Fintech GoCardless Taps JPMorgan for Unicorn Funding Round

standard

“London payments start-up GoCardless has tapped up JPMorgan to lead a fund-raising process that will likely see the firm reach unicorn status, the Standard can reveal. JPMorgan is understood to be in the early stages of working on a funding round for the 10-year-old business . A source in the market suggested GoCardless could be seeking around £200 million. The company last raised money in December 2020 when investors including Bain Capital put in $95 million. GoCardless was valued at $970 million in the deal . New funding would likely see the business become a unicorn — a private tech firm worth over $1 billion. JPMorgan and GoCardless declined to comment.”

Deals

Payments Firm AvidXchange Files for U.S. IPO

Reuters

“AvidXchange Holdings Inc is looking to raise up to $506 million in a U.S. initial public offering (IPO), according to a regulatory filing on Monday, that could value the business payments firm at about $4.4 billion. The company, which is backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, was valued at $2 billion in a funding round in April last year. Reuters reported in March that AvidXchange had hired investment banks to prepare for an IPO.”

Systems

USDC Stablecoin Backer Circle Subpoenaed by U.S. SEC

American Banker

“Circle Internet Financial, the backer of the USDC stablecoin, received a subpoena in July from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a filing Monday. The disclosure was made as part of a filing about Circle’s planned merger with the special purpose acquisition company, Concord Acquisition Corp., a deal announced in July valued at $4.5 billion. Circle Chief Executive Jeremy Allaire has previously called for more clarity around digital-asset regulation.”

Systems

Hong Kong Monetary Authority Releases CBDC Whitepaper to Study Prospect of E-HKD

coindesk

“Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority, its de facto central bank, has released a whitepaper on retail central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) while it continues to explore the potential of a digital Hong Kong dollar (e-HKD) for its domestic and cross-border markets. The white paper was published Monday by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), which is the de-facto central bank of the city who’s official title is the Hong Kong Special Administration of the People’s Republic of China.“”

Users

USPS Is Trying Out a New Business, Which Could Transform How Millions Access Cash and Pay Bills

Washington Post

“The U.S. Postal Service quietly began offering paycheck-cashing services at several East Coast post offices last month, testing a plan that financial experts say has the potential to transform how low-wage and underserved Americans access their money.  Postal customers can now redeem paychecks in Washington, Baltimore, Falls Church, Va., and the Bronx, for Visa gift cards topping out at $500, an agency spokesperson said. Postal officials expect to expand the pilot into a fuller study with more locations and financial products, such as bill-paying services and ATMs, according to three people involved with the program who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive business strategy.”

On The Wires

Use

PayNearMe Introduces MoneyLine, a Next-Gen Platform Developed to Simplify the Payment Experience for IGaming Players and Operators

“PayNearMe, the modern and reliable payments experience company known for making payments easy for both businesses and customers, today announced MoneyLine, the company’s new platform designed to manage the complexities of iGaming money movement. PlayLive!, the online casino affiliated with Live! Casinos & Hotels in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, is among the first to use MoneyLine to simplify deposit and payout experiences for its online players in Pennsylvania.”

October 4, 2021

On The Web

Deals

London’s Money Transfer Fintech TransferGo Acquires $50M Via Series C

Crowdfund Insider

“Money transfer Fintech firm TransferGo has acquired $50 million in capital in order to support its digital payments transformation efforts. Focusing on enhancing global funds transfers, TransferGo ‘s Series C investment round was reportedly led by Elbrus Capital Fund III and Black River Ventures. The fundraise has been finalized after the firm recorded 80% YoY growth and brings the total capital secured (to-date) to $77 million.”

Deals

Rize Raises $11.4M to Scale Its Embedded Fintech Service

TechCrunch

Rize , a fintech-as-a-service company that provides services to other firms, announced an $11.4 million Series A this morning. The funding event was led by Alpha Edison and Morpheus Ventures . A number of the startup’s prior backers also participated in the round. Rize is an interesting company in a competitive space; the market for building financial technology products for use by customers enjoys a great number of players . Rize hopes to compete by allowing its customers to leverage a single API for more than one account type, unifying its offering to a single developer hook.”

Deals

Jeff Bezos Invests in Indonesian E-commerce Startup Ula

TechCrunch

“In a statement just now, Ula confirmed TechCrunch’s reporting, saying it has raised $87 million in its Series B financing round. The round was, as TechCrunch reported, co-led by Prosus Ventures, Tencent, and B Capital. Jeff Bezos invested in the new round.”

Deals

Amazon Rival Noon to Draw $2 Billion From PIF, Other Backers

Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc ’s Middle Eastern rival Noon.com is set to draw as much as $2 billion in financing from investors including Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund over three to four years, as it seeks to capture a larger slice of the Gulf e-commerce market.   The investments from the Public Investment Fund and others will be used to upgrade infrastructure and help speed up deliveries, Noon founder Mohamed Alabbar said late on Sunday.”

Domains

Santander Unplugs Payments Challenger PagoFX After 15 Months – AltFi

AltFi

“Santander has pulled the plug on its Wise- rival PagoFX just 15 months after it launched. Santander described the move as being designed to refocus efforts on business-to-business payments within its PagoNxt division. “We have ambitious plans to grow PagoNxt and expect to more than double revenues in the media term, with an immediate focus on high growth segments such as merchant and trade services,” a PagoNxt spokesperson said. “To help support this growth, we have decided to integrate the PagoFX technology into our trade services business to leverage the fast and secure payment capabilities offered by the service.””

Industry

More Than One-Quarter of Surveyed BNPL Users Have Missed at Least One Payment

Digital Transactions

“As the popularity of buy now, pay later services accelerates, potential problems do, too. Evidence of that has emerged in new research that finds 14% of BNPL users missed a payment once, and 12% missed a payment more than once, according to a new report from Piplsay, a consumer-research firm. Most consumers—74%—were able to make their payments on time. Conducted Sept. 28-30 as an online survey that gathered 30,880 responses, the research found that 43% of Gen Z consumers missed a BNPL payment at least once this year, compared to 31% of Millennials and 26% of Gen X shoppers.”

Regulation

WSJ News Exclusive | Biden Administration Seeks to Regulate Stablecoin Issuers As Banks

Wall Street Journal

“The Biden administration is considering ways to impose bank-like regulation on the cryptocurrency companies that issue stablecoins, according to people familiar with the matter, including prodding the firms to register as banks. The administration is also expected to urge Congress to consider legislation to create a special-purpose charter for such firms that would be tailored to their business models, the people say.”

Regulation

What Can Payments Execs Expect From Chopra’s CFPB? ‘Very Aggressive Regulating,’ Say Some

Digital Transactions

“Payments observers are expecting a tougher regulatory approach from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the confirmation on Thursday of Rohit Chopra as executive director of the 10-year old federal agency. “The agency will likely return to the days of director Cordray,” predicts one close observer who asked not to be named. Richard Cordray served as the CFPB’s first director before stepping down in 2017. His aggressive enforcement approach came in for frequent criticism from the financial-services industry.”

Systems

Circle Taps Plaid for ACH Payments As USDC Market Cap Hits $30B

coindesk

“Stablecoin issuer Circle said that it is partnering with financial data aggregator Plaid to make it easier for consumers to move their money out of the bank and into Circle’s USDC. Like its partnership with Visa, working with Plaid is another way for Circle to become more deeply integrated with networks that allow users to move faster between fiat and dollar-backed crypto tokens via the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network. USDC is among the leading stablecoins flowing across the crypto ecosystem.”

Systems

Fed Prepares to Launch Review of Possible Central Bank Digital Currency

Wall Street Journal

“The Federal Reserve plans as early as this week to launch a review of the potential benefits and risks of issuing a U.S. digital currency, as central banks around the world experiment with the potential new form of money. Fed officials are divided on the matter, making it unlikely they will decide any time soon on whether to create a digital dollar. Unlike private cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, a Fed version would be issued by and backed by the U.S. central bank, a government entity, as are U.S. paper dollar bills and coins.”

Systems

New Zealand Exploring Possibility of Issuing a Digital Currency

Bloomberg

“New Zealand’s central bank is exploring the possibility of issuing a digital currency, saying the benefits it would bring include its potential use as a monetary policy tool…While developing a CBDC would require long lead times given the complexities and involve a multi-stage approach, the RBNZ said it broadly favors the idea. A digital currency should support the New Zealand dollar “as our single unit of account” and be exchanged 1-for-1 with cash, it said, adding “cash is here to stay for as long as some of us need it.””

On The Wires

Companies

Square and TikTok Partner to Help Businesses Expand Their Reach Online

“Today, Square and TikTok announced a new integration that will make it easy for sellers of all types and sizes to reach new customers and grow their sales online. Square x TikTok enables sellers to send fans directly from TikTok videos, ads, and shopping tabs on their profiles to products available in their existing Square Online store, providing a streamlined shopping experience that retains the look and feel of their personal brand.”

Companies

American Express and Extend Partner to Enable Virtual Cards for U.S. Small and Mid-Sized Businesses

“American Express (NYSE: AXP) and Extend, a New York City-based fintech specializing in virtual cards, announced their partnership to expand virtual Card solutions for U.S. businesses. U.S. companies with an eligible American Express Business Card can now enroll and create virtual Cards, also known as tokens, through Extend’s app or desktop login in as little as five minutes using their existing American Express Card account.”

Domains

Singapore’s PayNow and Malaysia’s DuitNow to Link in 2022

“The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) today announced plans to commence a phased linkage of Singapore’s PayNow and Malaysia’s DuitNow real-time payment systems. The first phase of the PayNow-DuitNow linkage will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2022. This will allow customers of participating financial institutions to make real-time fund transfers between Singapore and Malaysia using just a mobile number. Customers will also be able to make retail payments by scanning NETS or DuitNow QR codes displayed at merchants’ storefronts.”

Security

Basis Theory Becomes Nacha Preferred Partner for Data Tokenization and Encryption | Nacha

“Basis Theory today became a Nacha Preferred Partner for Data Tokenization and Encryption. As a Nacha Preferred Partner, Basis Theory joins a select group of innovators recognized for offering products and services that align with Nacha’s strategies to advance the ACH Network. Basis Theory helps ACH originators provide data protection and risk management that help improve ACH transaction quality.”

October 1, 2021

TOP POST

Companies

WSJ News Exclusive | Google Is Scrapping Its Plan to Offer Bank Accounts to Users

Wall Street Journal

“Google is abandoning plans to pitch bank accounts to its users, marking a retreat from an effort to make the tech giant a bigger name in finance. The Alphabet Inc unit announced almost two years ago that users of its Google Pay digital wallet would be able to sign up for enhanced checking accounts and debit cards at a handful of financial institutions large and small, including Citigroup Inc. and Stanford Federal Credit Union.”

On The Web

Companies

Banks Lean on Western Union to Counter Fintech Rivals

American Banker

“The recent jump in digital commerce has made international payment processing a hot target for fintechs, but Western Union contends its established network provides a way for banks to boost their own cross-border reach. “For a long time we were kind of alone in the world. Now everyone wants a piece of our business. The startups and the banks,” Jacqueline Molnar, chief transformation officer at Western Union, said during American Banker’s Card Forum event, which took place Sept. 28-30.”

Global

Tech Giants Brace for Impact in India As New Payments Rule Goes Into Effect

TechCrunch

“Apple, Sony, Google, Zoom, PayPal and several other tech companies as well as scores of banks have cautioned customers and partners in India to expect a surge in declined transactions as the world’s second-largest internet market’s central bank enforces a new directive for the way recurring payments are processed in the country. The Reserve Bank of India’s directive, which goes into effect on Friday, requires banks, financial institutions and payment gateways to obtain additional approval for auto-renewables transactions worth over 5,000 Indian rupees ($67) from users by conducting notifications, e-mandates and Additional Factors of Authentication (AFA). The directive impacts all such transactions for debit cards as well as credit cards.”

Global

CBN Postpones ENaira Launch

Premium Times Nigeria

“The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced the postponement of the launch of the country’s digital currency, eNaira. The bank had earlier said it would launch the currency today, October 1. It announced a postponement Thursday citing lined up events for the country’s 61st independence anniversary. The postponement came a day after a firm (ENaira Payment Solutions Limited) filed a suit before the Federal High Court against the CBN over the name “eNaira”.”

Regulation

Card Issuers Resisted Slashing Credit Limits During Pandemic: CFPB

American Banker

“In a shift from the previous U.S. economic crisis, credit card issuers last year mostly avoided clamping down on their existing customers’ borrowing limits, according to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The report, one of the most extensive analyses of credit card trends during the pandemic, found a significant tightening of credit availability as lenders lessened their appetite for new business. But the stricter credit criteria mostly appeared to affect potential new customers rather than existing ones, the CFPB’s biennial report to Congress on credit cards indicated.”

On The Wires

Companies

Western Union Joins Forces With Major Financial Institutions in Africa

Businesswire

“Western Union, a global leader in cross-border, cross-currency money movement and payments, is collaborating with major financial institutions in Africa, to enable millions of consumers to send and receive cross-border payments, quickly and reliably, 24/7. Customers of KCB Bank Kenya, the Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) and the Kenya Post Office Savings Bank (Postbank), can now enjoy an easy and convenient way to send cross-border money transfers, with the launch of Western Union’s digital money transfer services on their respective mobile banking apps. Customers can send money overseas/cross-border using funds from their bank accounts and choose for the receiver to have the money paid out to their bank account or at a Western Union agent location, depending on the country in which they reside. Customers of these financial institutions are also able to receive international money transfers directly to their bank accounts, depending on the country in which senders reside.”

September 30, 2021

On The Web

Companies

Paysafe Streamlines Payments for Interactive Wagering With Fubo Gaming in US

Yahoo

“Paysafe, a leading specialized payments platform, today announced a partnership with Fubo Gaming , the Chicago-based subsidiary of leading sports-first live TV streaming platform fuboTV Inc. Expected to launch in Q4 2021 subject to obtaining requisite regulatory approvals, Fubo Gaming’s mobile sportsbook, Fubo Sportsbook, will plug into Paysafe for credit and debit card payments, the Skrill USA digital wallet, and paysafecard and Paysafecash eCash solutions.”

Deals

Alloy Raises $100M at a $1.35B Valuation to Help Banks and Fintechs Fight Fraud With Its API-based Platform

TechCrunch

“Alloy, which has built an identity operating system for banks and fintechs, announced Thursday that it has raised $100 million at a $1.35 billion valuation. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the Series C round, which comes just over one year after New York-based Alloy raised $40 million in a Series B financing. Existing backers Canapi Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Avid Ventures and Felicis Ventures all put money in the latest round, bringing Alloy’s total raised to over $150 million since its 2015 inception.”

Global

A New Payments Platform for African Currencies Is a Push for Independence From the Dollar

Quartz

“High hopes for seamless intra-Africa trade under the terms of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) got a boost this week with the formal roll-out of a payments platform by the Africa Export-Import bank (Afreximbank), the continent’s trade finance institution. The platform is called the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System, or PAPSS, and was first launched in July 2019 at an African Union summit in Niger.”

Regulation

Can Regulators Keep Pace With Fintech Innovation?

American Banker

“Digital payment products and alternative credit took off rapidly during the pandemic — and while they may have outpaced regulation, these technologies did not escape regulators’ notice. New fintech and payment services are likely to face tougher rules under the Biden administration, but the market is moving so fast that regulators can’t keep up, according to a panel of financial technology legal experts at American Banker’s Card Forum, taking place this week as a virtual event.”

On The Wires

Companies

Making Digital Currency Interoperable

Visa

“Imagine splitting the check with your friends, when everyone at the table is using a different type of money — some using a central bank digital currency (or CBDC) like Sweden’s eKrona, and others preferring a private stablecoin like USDC. How about sending $500 in USDC to a friend in London, and having those funds automatically converted to digital British pounds before they arrive in her CBDC wallet. Now imagine all this happening in real-time, across multiple networks, and compatible with multiple digital wallets.    In the not-too-distant future, this very well may be a reality. But getting there will take solving one key problem: cross-chain interoperability. In other words, how do you get different digital currencies, relying on different tech stacks and protocols, with different compliance standards and market requirements, to “talk” to each other in a wider network of value?”

September 29, 2021

On The Web

Deals

Highnote Emerges From Stealth With $54M and a Plan to Take on Marqeta in the World of Card Issuing As a Service

TechCrunch

“Fintech startups have thrown a curve ball into the world of financial services by building more flexible, cheaper and user-friendly tools to businesses and consumers, who in turn are walking away from older incumbents and taking their custom to newer providers. In the latest development, a startup called Highnote is launching with ambitions to make waves in the world of card issuing, by making it easy for any company of any size to provide virtual payment cards to their customers. Founded by PayPal alums, the company is exiting stealth mode today and also announcing $54 million in funding to take its first steps.”

Domains

Online Powerhouse GoDaddy Takes the Next Step With Card-Present Transactions

Digital Transactions

“GoDaddy Inc., which launched GoDaddy Payments in June to unify its transaction services following its December deal to buy point-of-sale terminal maker Poynt Inc., released a countertop payment terminal and mobile card reader with lower fees than most competitors. Merchants will pay 2.3% per card-present transaction and 2.3% plus 10 cents per e-commerce transactions. Keyed transactions are 3.3%. GoDaddy says its rate undercuts the average among four competitors—Square, Stripe, Shopify, and PayPal—of 2.6% plus 6 cents.”

Providers

Affirm to Debut Crypto, Debit Products in Push Toward Super App

Bloomberg

Affirm Holdings Inc. is planning to debut a debit card and allow customers to buy and sell crypto directly from savings accounts they have with the company as part of a broader push to become a one-stop shop for consumers’ financial needs.  Affirm — known for letting customers split up purchases and pay them off over time — is also weighing expanding internationally, the San Francisco-based company said Tuesday at an investor presentation.”

Providers

Bank Mergers Are On Track to Hit Their Highest Level Since the Financial Crisis

Wall Street Journal

“It is a sharp turnaround from last year, when the economy spiraled and many regional and community banks put merger plans on the shelf. Now, bank executives are feeling more certain about what the future holds, but some are finding it hard to make it on their own. Though the economy has in many ways recovered from 2020, loan demand is still low and profits from lending are slim.”

Systems

Ripple Starts $250 Million Fund to Woo Would-Be NFT Creators

Bloomberg

Ripple Labs Inc. is starting a $250 million fund to help creators of non-fungible tokens, in another sign of just how hot the NFT market has gotten. The Creator Fund will provide NFT creators with the financial, creative and technical support needed to explore and craft premium NFTs and other tokenization projects on the XRP Ledger, Ripple said in a statement Wednesday. While the best-known NFTs tend to be art and collectibles, the fund will aim to support other use cases as well, like interactive experiences and fractional ownership, the statement said, adding that Mintable, mintNFT and VSA Partners will also be involved.”

On The Wires

Providers

Discover Expands Its College Payment Solutions Through Partnership With Phood’s Meal Delivery Program

“Discover, a leading digital bank and payments company, will be supporting Phood’s new meal delivery program for college students by opening up access to merchants that run on the Discover network. This industry-first partnership will provide a mobile app that allows higher education students to easily sign-up, and load their meal plan and flex plan dollars for use on meal delivery services, such as DoorDash food, groceries and convenience items on demand, and at local restaurants that accept Discover.”

Providers

Payrailz Launches New Action Insight®, Miss a Payment

Payrailz ®, a digital payments company offering smarter, more engaging payment experiences to banks and credit unions across the United States, has launched its newest Action Insight®, Miss a Payment. Action Insights are an integrated product offering that helps financial institution users manage their finances by leveraging data-based intelligence, AI and machine learning capabilities to serve highly personalized recommendations to consumers based on their unique payment history and transaction data.”

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