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Former top Visa executive Ooi Huey Tyng starts work at Grab to steer e-payments push.
SINGAPORE – Former top Visa head honcho Ooi Huey Tyng has begun work at Grab in a move the company said “underlines the scale of (its) ambitions coming into 2018”.

The South-east Asian technology start-up announced on Monday (Jan 8) that Ms Ooi had come on board as its managing director for GrabPay in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The move was first reported by The Business Times in November 2017. The payments industry veteran was previously Visa’s country manager for Singapore and Brunei. Grab had previously declined to comment on the high-profile hire.

Annabeth Leow
The Straits Times

JANUARY 7, 2018

India Clings to Cash, Even as Tech Firms Push Digital Money.
ALIGARH, India — Signs and banners for Paytm, India’s biggest digital payments service, festoon Pooran Singh’s cellphone shop, where people drop in all day to add data or talk time to their prepaid phones.Yet few of these people actually use Paytm at the store, which straddles two dusty streets in this sleepy north Indian city in which tractors jostle with cows for space on the narrow roads.
“People recharge in cash,” Mr. Singh said, after a young man handed him 20 rupees, about 32 cents, to top up his mother’s phone.
The scene in Mr. Singh’s shop underscores a persistent reality of India’s economy: People prefer cash for most routine transactions, despite intensive efforts by the government and global technology companies to lure them onto digital platforms.
India’s reluctance to give up paper money poses challenges for the firms that are vying to offer electronic payments, including local players like Paytm, which has received financing from the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and American tech companies, like Facebook, Google and PayPal.

By Vindu Goel and Suhasini Raj
The New York Times

JAN. 7, 2018

How Alibaba, Tencent, SoftBank are becoming the biggest allies of India’s digital entrepreneurs.
Each of India’s four most-valued internet companies – Flipkart, Ola, mobile payments platform Paytm, and online travel agency MakeMyTrip – are more than 40% owned by Chinese corporations together with Naspers and SoftBank.
When online grocer Bigbasket went to market in early 2017 to raise capital just a year after securing $150 million, the list of suitors was very different. In March 2016, it had closed funding from US – and Middle East-based financial investors including Sands Capital, IFC and Abraaj Capital. This time, the interested ones were major corporations—Chinese strategic investors Tencent, conglomerate Fosun, ecommerce giant Alibaba along with Paytm Mall, and, of course, US-based Amazon.

Madhav Chanchani | ET Bureau

January 06, 2018, 09:54 IST

Code crackdown: China payments restrictions to hit profits.
BEIJING (Reuters) – A decision by China’s central bank to rein in reserve funds held by payment firms could cost the industry upwards of $689 million a year, spur consolidation and alter the way Asia’s biggest tech firms move money. Mobile payments using in-app QR or bar-codes have become ubiquitous for everything from taxis to grocery shopping and bike rental in China in recent years, with customers making 19 trillion yuan ($2.9 trillion) in transactions in 2016, according to iResearch. The rapid uptake has spurred fears that mobile payment firms, without oversight, could misuse funds held while transactions between users and merchants clear.
Regulations unveiled by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Saturday require firms to allocate 42 to 50 percent of their total client funds in regulated interest-free reserve accounts by April, up from a current rate of 12 to 20 percent.

Cate Cadell, Shu Zhang

JANUARY 5, 2018 / 11:38 AM

Visa locks down Bitcoin payment cards in crackdown on card issuer.
Thousands of Bitcoin users have had their pre-paid cryptocurrency cards shut down in a crackdown by Visa on a card provider. Several major pre-paid cards that allow users to make payments and ATM withdrawals using their Bitcoin and cryptocurrency funds were suspended as of January 5. Cards including BitPay, Cryptopay and Bitwala all announced they had suspended their cards and were working to return funds to users. All the cards make payments using regular currencies such as pounds or Euros, but allow users to fund the payments from Bitcoin or Ethereum wallets.

Matthew Field
The Telegraph

5 JANUARY 2018 • 2:28PM

Survey: Retail mobile banking nearing universal adoption, mobile payment offerings accelerate.
A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s payment strategies team provides insights into mobile banking payment practices and plans of financial institutions. The 2016 Mobile Banking and Payment Practices of U.S. Financial Institutions report presents consolidated survey results from 706 financial institutions in the Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Richmond Federal Reserve Districts, and provides historical comparisons to the 2014 MFS survey report where relevant.
Key findings from the report reveal increased consumer adoption of mobile banking and mobile payments, and changes planned for financial institutions in the years ahead.
To learn more, read the full report here.

By Marianne Crowe, Elisa Tavilla, and Breffni McGuire
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

January 5, 2018

Bankwest Halo. Make simpler, faster payments with wearable payment ring.
January 4, 2018. Australia’s Bankwest is inviting customers to join the wearable payment movement as it prepares for the release of a contactless payments ring.
Whether you’re out for a jog, at the beach or balancing groceries and kids, your wallet or phone isn’t always easy to get your hands on. Bankwest Halo is the latest in wearable payment tech. It works exactly like your contactless cards, just grab the things you need, fist-bump the terminal and go.


January 4, 2018

BHIM app behind country’s digital payment ecosystem.
The Mahabharata would have the mighty Bhim live unconquered, virtually indestructible. Aeons later, the eponymous app has gone from strength to strength, but may not prove immortal. UPI-powered Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) was among the first tide of apps launched to complete digital payments using Universal Payments Interface (UPI).
It’s been quite a year. Growth has been impressive, to say the least. The number of banks live on BHIM have more than doubled to 65. The volume of transactions has magnified a whopping 212 times and the amount of money transacted ballooned 1,660 times. While that’s the growth in one year from BHIM’s launch, in December 2016, month-on-month growth has slowed down, particularly in the last six months.

Shelley Singh
The Economic Times

Jan 04, 2018, 12.23 AM IST

Mark Zuckerberg is ‘studying’ crypto currency, which could help Facebook catch Asian rivals.
Facebook payments have lagged compared to Chinese competitors, Alibaba and WeChat. Alibaba and WeChat hold an estimated 92 percent of the marketshare for mobile wallets in China. Crypto currencies, which Mark Zuckerberg is currently “studying,” could give Facebook a way to catch up on payment tech.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his interest in crypto currency and its potential uses in his 2018 mission statement, issued on Thursday.The statement was all about how Zuckerberg is taking on a new personal challenge for 2018: fixing Facebook. (Last year’s challenge was visiting all the states he’d never been to and meeting people there.)
Zuckerberg mentioned cryptocurrency only in passing as an example of technology that decentralizes power. But the concept could also help Facebook catch up to Asian messaging rivals when it comes to mobile payments.

Lora Kolodny

4 Jan 2018

Gemalto launches the first biometric EMV card for contactless payments.
Amsterdam, 4 January 2018 – Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO), the world leader in digital security, has been selected by Bank of Cyprus to supply the world’s first EMV biometric dual interface payment card for both chip and contactless payments. Using fingerprint recognition instead of a PIN code to authenticate the cardholder, the card is compatible with existing payment terminals already installed in the country. When customers place their fingerprint on the sensor, a comparison is performed between the scanned fingerprint and the reference biometric data securely stored in the card.
The biometric sensor card is powered by the payment terminal and does not require an embedded battery; this means there is no limit from battery life nor on the number of transactions.

Business Insider

Jan. 4, 2018, 01:01 AM

UnionPay transaction volume reached a new record high during the 2018 New Year’s holiday.
SHANGHAI, Jan. 3, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — On January 2, UnionPay released its transaction data during the New Year’s holiday. During the 2018 New Year’s holiday (from Dec 30, 2017 to Jan 1, 2018), the total transaction volume of UnionPay reached a new record high of 700.8 billion yuan, growing by 36.8% compared to the 2017 New Year’s holiday (from Dec 31, 2016 to Jan 2, 2017). The transaction number and volume of UnionPay QR code, driven by the launch of the unified APP of China’s banking industry, increased by 11.6 and 19.8 times respectively compared to last Dragon Boat Festival holiday (from May 28 to 30, 2017).
Shopping is still the major part of customers’ spending, growing by 41.9% year-on-year as many merchants were offering year-end promotions. 83% of the total purchasing was at supermarkets, general merchandise and household appliances merchants. The transaction volume of UnionPay cards at food and beverage merchants in China grew by 70% year-on-year during this New Year’s holiday.

UnionPay International
Cision PR Newswire

Jan 03, 2018, 04:20 ET

PSD2: The new regulatory framework for payments that’s set to change global banking.
2018 is the year that the banking sector will be shaken up, and retail banking is no exception. While the rise of fintech and disruptive technologies has resulted in alternative payment methods, such as PayPal, iDeal and SoFort, offering more consumer choice, they lack oversight or regulation with protection standards across Europe varying from country-to-country.
The second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) aims to create a level playing field for all payment service providers, while enhancing security and customer protection. It also allows different sectors, such as Fintech companies, retailers, and social media platforms, that have previously struggled to add value to customers due to rigid banking structures, to directly engage with them.
Coming into force on 13 January 2018, PSD2 is much more than just another banking regulation, but rather a strategy, which demands operational and infrastructure change.

Christopher Burke
International Business Times

January 3, 2018 07:01 GMT

Digital payments gateway PayU eyes acquisitions to enter lending segment.
Digital payments gateway PayU India is looking to take an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) route to enter the ever-growing lending segment in the country. The firm, which is owned by South Africa’s Naspers Ltd, plans to either acquire or partner start-ups, companies and banks to offer both secured and unsecured loans in the Indian market by April, Shailaz Nag, its chief operating officer and co-founder, told BusinessLine. These M&As could be both domestic and global, Nag added. The company has already made three such investments in companies —Kreditech, Paysense and ZestMoney — for consumer and SME lending.

The Hindu BusinessLine

January 2, 2018

2017 Holiday Retail Index by Verizon tracking digital commerce traffic.
The Holiday Retail Index by Verizon monitors daily traffic volume to the top 25 U.S.-based online retailers throughout the holiday shopping season.
“Retailers appear to be finishing strong as many consumers shopped online and in stores during the days before Christmas. It’s not a wrap yet as this week offers fresh opportunities to incentivize consumers with e-cards to redeem and optimism to spend.”

By: Maria Montenegro

January 2, 2018

How payments industry may shape up in India.
Unified Payments Interface has become mainstream and the new version, which will have ‘mandate-based payment option’, will become even bigger.
In the last two years, financial institutions and financial technology (fintech) companies have tested and implemented new technologies. In the process, some companies have changed tack to become enablers for banks while others are trying to scale up their business or enter newer segments. So what can one expect in the Indian payments industry in 2018 and beyond?

Vivina Vishwanathan

Fri, Dec 29 2017. 03 39 AM IST

China begins regulating QR code payments. A cap on individual payments is meant to cut out fraud.
In an attempt to cut down on fraud, China’s central bank has announced plans to begin regulating payments by QR codes, barcodes, and other scannable codes. The regulations will initially cap payments by traditional QR codes to 500 yuan, or about $76 USD. When additional security measures are applied, the cap can raise to 5,000 yuan, or around $765 USD. At an even higher security level, banks and payment processors are given discretion over the cap.
Beyond that, The People’s Bank of China isn’t putting many hard rules in place. But it is mandating that banks and payment processors begin to self-regulate, and the central bank has provided quite a few guidelines on what they should do. It’s asked an industry group to gather members and experts to study how businesses use QR codes and what steps can be taken to improve their security. The central bank seems particularly concerned with static codes — ones that sit around and never change — which can be tampered with to link to malicious sources. By one report, $13 million has been stolen in QR code scams in the country’s most populated province.

Jacob Kastrenakes
The Verge

Dec 28, 2017, 2:04pm EST

Cash Might Be King, but They Don’t Care.
A patron tries to pay with cash at the West 40th Street location of Dos Toros Taqueria, only to learn that only credit or debit cards are accepted.
at Dig Inn, a just-opened lunch spot on Broadway and 38th Street in Midtown Manhattan, Shania Bryant committed a consumer faux pas. She placed her order for chicken and brown rice and yams, and when she got to the register, she held out a $50 bill.
“Sorry,” the cashier told her. “We don’t take cash.” Not, “We don’t take $50s.” No cash. Period.
“What?” Ms. Bryant asked.
The cashier patiently explained. Credit and debit cards were fine, as was the easy-to-download Dig Inn phone app. But the almighty dollar was powerless.
“I’ve never experienced that before,” said Ms. Bryant, 20, an assistant to a designer. “I guess we’re in new times.”
Indeed. Cashless businesses were once an isolated phenomenon, but now, similarly jarring experiences can be had across the street at Sweetgreen, or two blocks up at Two Forks, or next door to Two Forks at Dos Toros, or over on 41st Street at Bluestone Lane coffee. In Midtown and some other neighborhoods across New York City, cashless is fast on its way to becoming normal.

BY Andy Newman
The New York Times

DEC. 25, 2017


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