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    Archive: News in brief

    Absa Bank comes to Facebook Messenger

    July 26th, 2016

    Customers of Africa’s Absa Bank can now conduct banking transactions through Facebook Messenger using the bank’s ChatBanking feature. The service will allow customers to retrieve balances, buy airtime or data for their mobile phone, view statements, buy prepaid electricity and make money transfers. “In a one-time only process, Absa customers who are registered for Absa Online and have access to the Express tab can register for ChatBanking for Facebook Messenger,” Absa says. The feature was made available in May 2016 through Twitter.

    BBA reports UK contactless increase

    July 26th, 2016

    The annual use of contactless cards across the UK has risen 250%, with £1.1bn spent in March 2016 alone, research released by the British Bankers Association (BBA) reveals. “Banks issued 15m cards with contactless technology in 2015, up 54% on the year before,” the trade association says. UK consumers are now also using mobile banking apps more than 7,610 times a minute or 4bn times a year.

    Mastercard planning to become a PSP in China

    July 25th, 2016

    Mastercard is planning to apply to become a payment service provider (PSP) in China this year but is still deciding whether to do so alone or with a partner, according to Reuters. “China in June allowed foreign payment card companies to operate in the country under new rules,” the publication reports. “Under the rules, China’s national security and cyber security standards must be met. Applicants must also hold 1 billion yuan (US$150m) in registered capital in a local company.”

    PBOC working to regulate QR code mobile payments in China

    July 25th, 2016

    People’s Bank of China (PBOC) is working to create a system for regulating QR code mobile payments in the country, after it suspended QR code-based services run by third-party payment providers in March 2014. “Payment providers including Alipay and Tenpay, along with a number of commercial banks, have continued marketing their QR code payment services,” Caixin reports. “A source close to the central bank said that the 2014 ban was put in place because there were no rules or standards for third party QR code payment services.” PBOC also moved to open up Chinese mobile payment services in August 2015.

    Scotiabank gives Apple Pay users 10% cashback

    July 25th, 2016

    Canada’s Scotiabank is offering its customers a 10% cashback on everyday purchases of up to US$20 whenever the payment is made using Apple Pay. “This offer is available to our first 50,000 customers who make Apple Pay purchases,” an email sent to a Red Flag Deals forum member reveals. The promotion will run until the end of September 2016. Scotiabank began supporting Apple Pay in June this year.

    Mastercard takes majority stake in VocaLink

    July 21st, 2016

    Mastercard has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 92.4% of UK payments infrastructure operator VocaLink for approximately £700m (US$920m). “Under the agreement, a majority of VocaLink’s shareholders will retain 7.6% ownership for at least three years,” Mastercard says. “This acquisition accelerates Mastercard’s efforts to be an active participant in all types of electronic payments and payment flows and to enhance its services for the benefit of customers and partners.”

    Visa reports EMV uptake in the US

    July 21st, 2016

    There were 326.8m chip cards in the US as of the end of June 2016, exceeding the number of people who live in the country, Visa has reported. “The US added more than 100,000 chip-enabled merchant locations in June, bringing the total to 1.3m, or about 28% of the total merchant population,” the payment network says. “More than three-quarters of those chip-ready locations are small and medium-sized businesses. In June, one in four dollars spent in-store on a Visa card was spent with a chip card in a chip terminal.” The number of Visa chip payment transactions hit 483m in June.

    Apple Pay adds 13 US banks

    July 20th, 2016

    Apple has added a further 13 banks and credit unions to its list of Apple Pay supporting financial institutions in the US. “The system now supports over 1,200 individual banks and credit unions in the US alone,” iMore reports. “This is in addition to the more than 30 financial institutions supported across Australia, Canada, China, Singapore and the UK.” The mobile payment service launched in France earlier this week as well as in Hong Kong.

    Square preparing for European launch

    July 20th, 2016

    Mobile POS provider Square has incorporated a business called Squareup Europe in the UK, suggesting that the company could be setting itself up for its first European launch. “Squareup Europe has permission to provide payment services such as transactions with or without credit lines in Britain,” Reuters reports. “Square began beta testing of its payments system in London last month to prepare for an initial launch in Britain.”

    Apple promotes Apple Pay with iTunes gift cards

    July 20th, 2016

    UK and US consumers are being encouraged to sign up and use Apple Pay with a £5 or $5 iTunes gift card at Apple retail stores across both countries. “When making a purchase in store, Apple employees will ask customers if they would like to pay via Apple Pay,” MacRumors reports. “If a customer declines and does not have Apple Pay set up, employees will guide customers through the setup process to make the purchase and will offer a bonus $5 or £5 iTunes gift card for using Apple Pay as their payment method.”

    Samsung Pay prepping rewards programme

    July 20th, 2016

    Samsung is preparing to launch its own rewards program that will let consumers earn and redeem points each time they use Samsung Pay. “The application process at the local patent office is already done and the membership program should help Samsung lure new users and sell more Samsung smartphones,” Android Headlines reports. Samsung Pay added loyalty cards to the service in the US in May 2016.

    Safaricom pilots M-Pesa NFC cards

    July 19th, 2016

    Kenyan carrier Safaricom is testing a new PIN-based NFC-enabled ‘Tap-and-Go’ card for its M-Pesa mobile money service. “The telecommunications services provider says the new offering can integrate with an existing M-Pesa account and the pilot phase is currently being conducted among Safaricom staff, with plans to extend the service to university students,” ITWeb Africa reports. Reports emerged in March 2014 that Safaricom was working to add NFC to its M-Pesa service.

    Samsung Pay Beta goes live on Gear S2

    July 19th, 2016

    An update to the Samsung Gear app is adding access to Samsung Pay for the Gear S2 smartwatch. “To get the mobile payments feature setup, you do indeed need to be up and running with the latest software on your Gear S2,” Droid Life reports. “Then look for the latest update to the Samsung Gear App that seems to include the option for Samsung Pay Beta.” The beta is currently available for Bluetooth versions of the Gear S2 devices only. Reports surfaced that Samsung Pay would be going live on the device from November 2015. Its launch was delayed in December.

    Android Pay adds 19 banks

    July 19th, 2016

    Google has added a further 19 banks and credit unions to its list of US financial institutions that support Android Pay. “These banks and credit unions are spread out across the entire country,” Android Police reports.

    Brazilian mobile bank launches with biometric authentication

    July 18th, 2016

    Brazilian consumers can now sign up to mobile and online only bank Neon by taking a selfie with their mobile phone. “Instead of authenticating with a username and password, customers will take a selfie to use facial biometrics,” technology provider Daon says. “Customers will be issued two Visa branded debit cards. The physical card will be used for POS purchases at retail locations while the virtual card will be used for online purchases. Customers will use facial recognition to access their account and to perform additional transactions, such as transfers and payments.” The service makes use of Daon’s IdentityX platform.

    Cardless Cash heads to 70,000 additional ATMs

    July 18th, 2016

    US consumers will soon be able to withdraw cash from 70,000 ATMs belonging to Payment Alliance International (PAI) using their mobile phones through banking and payment technologies provider FIS’ Cardless Cash ATM functionality. “The partnership connects FIS Cardless Cash with PAI and brings mobile access to ATMs located at many of the nation’s largest retailers, gas stations, convenience stores and more,” FIS says. Cardless Cash was launched in January 2015 and had recorded hundreds of thousands of transactions by February 2016.

    Pokemon Go to add NFC for trading

    July 18th, 2016

    Players of augmented reality mobile app Pokemon Go will soon be able to trade the Pokemon they catch with other players through NFC, according to PokeGoFans. “Pokemon trading is one of the features that will be added to the game in upcoming updates,” the publication says. “Pokemon Go trading will be done using NFC — that is, sharing Pokemons without any cable by touching two phones together. There will be other trading options also available.”

    Videotron launches SIM-based NFC mobile payments

    July 18th, 2016

    Customers of Canadian mobile network operator Videotron with a Desjardins Visa card can now use their mobile phones to make NFC payments of up to $100 (US$77) at any contactless terminal. “Customers who want to make mobile payments can go to the Videotron Customer Centre to check whether the function is supported by their device and their SIM card,” Videotron says. “If their phone supports NFC but their SIM card does not, they can pick up a compatible SIM card free at any Videotron location.”

    Droplet to close down

    July 18th, 2016

    UK-based mobile payment and rewards platform Droplet is to be discontinued. “We never got to the scale to make Droplet viable as a profit-making business,” CEO Steffan Aquarone says. “We will now be seeking a buyer for the technology, support materials and know-how we’ve built.” British brewer Adnams launched Droplet in 12 stores and 50 pubs in April 2015. More than 100 retailers in Norwich teamed up with the company for a mobile payment loyalty scheme in September.

    Pizza Hut enables orders on social media

    July 14th, 2016

    Customers of Pizza Hut will soon be able to place orders using Facebook Messenger and Twitter through a new chatbot launched by the pizza chain and technology provider Conversable. “With this service, customers will be able to reorder their favourites or saved orders from any US Pizza Hut location by chatting directly with the Pizza Hut accounts on Facebook Messenger and Twitter as well as get answers to frequently asked questions and receive the latest deals and promotions,” Pizza Hut says.

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