Marshall Islands to issue digital currency ‘banknotes’

Tangem to produce physical blockchain banknotes for the Marshall Islands’ digital currency legal tender — Tangem — “Each Tangem card will take the form of a unique physical banknote with secure blockchain-enabled microprocessor inside and combine the familiar advantages of paper banknotes with the security of blockchain technology. These protected notes will be fully transparent, 100% secure, decentralized, and represent a controllable mechanism of currency issuance and circulation for the state.” 


DBS pilots loadable red packets for Chinese New Year

DBS pilots world’s first loadable QR red packets — DBS Bank — “DBS is introducing a new way to celebrate Chinese New Year this year with the pilot launch of a loadable QR red packet (DBS QR Ang Bao), a global first… Customers simply need to scan a unique QR code on a DBS QR Ang Bao to ‘load’ a cash value of up to SGD 999. They may then gift the DBS QR Ang Bao to their family and friends, who can scan the QR code with their own DBS PayLah! app to receive the loaded amount.” 


Lydia lets friends make NFC payments from shared expense accounts

Lydia launches shared accounts for its mobile payment app — Techcrunch — “When you create a shared account, each user can top up the account using other Lydia sub-accounts, a traditional bank account that you have already connected to the app or a debit card… Once the account is up and running, anybody can spend money. You can generate a virtual card, add it to Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay, and associate it with the shared account. If you’re on a ski trip and buying raclette cheese for your group of friends, you can then pay with your phone and debit the shared account.” 


Microsoft to shut down its Microsoft Wallet service

Microsoft Wallet for Windows Phone to be retired in February — Windows Central — “Support is set to end for all Windows 10 Mobile devices by the end of this year, and Microsoft is already beginning to retire apps in anticipation. In an update to the Microsoft Wallet website, Microsoft has noted that the app will be ‘officially retired’ on February 28, 2019.” 


Conoco lets drivers pay at the pump with their mobile phone

Conoco launches Mobile Pay in Denver to bring easy pay-at-the-pump features to locals — Conoco — “With the My Conoco app, people can now pay at the pump and in-store on their mobile devices to get to their final destination as soon as possible… The My Conoco app launched this month in Denver and is rolling out regionally throughout the year.” 


Apple reports growth in US Apple Pay acceptance

Apple Pay coming to Target, Taco Bell and more top US retail locations — Apple — “Target, Taco Bell, Hy-Vee supermarkets in the Midwest, Speedway convenience stores and Jack in the Box are the latest merchants to support Apple Pay… With the addition of these national retailers, 74 of the top 100 merchants in the US and 65% of all retail locations across the country will support Apple Pay.” 


US credit unions report increase in mobile payment transaction volumes

Debit card study offered by Co-Op Financial Services highlights debit trends to watch in 2019 — Co-Op Financial Services — “A total of 55% of survey respondents have experienced increases in the number of debit cards enrolled in a mobile wallet like Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. Also, 53% have experienced increases in the number of debit cards transactions coming from the mobile wallet channel.” 


Church of England doubles donations with contactless collection plates

Church of England: Contactless collection payments trialled — BBC News — “Churches have reported a 97% increase in donations made at services trialling a digital collection box… Churchgoers picked a sum from four options decided by the Church, before using a card or smartphone to pay… Developers state the technology can support 500 transactions without the need for recharging, though a fixed table-top version of the system is also available — allowing congregations to donate before, during or after the service.” 


Alipay gets second European e-money license

Alipay granted Luxembourg license to serve European market — Luxembourg for Finance — “Already present with a licensed entity in London, Alipay’s new PSD2 license in Luxembourg will allow the group to leverage the EU passport to serve its customers across Europe in the future and connect Chinese users with merchants in EU countries.” 


Swatch brings its contactless payments service to Europe

Fashion watch buyers in Switzerland can now choose from one of a range of four Swatch watches that come with support for SwatchPay! contactless payments — and enable customers to use a specially designed ‘SwatchPay! Box’ to instantly provision their bank card to their new watch in the store. More


Chinese shopping street adopts face recognition payments

China’s first facial recognition payment-based shopping street opens in Wenzhou — ECNS — “A historical shopping street in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, has become the first in China to extensively apply facial recognition in making payments… Mao Xinqin, director of the street’s administration, said facial recognition payments can improve efficiency during the peak season for tourism and shopping. Yang Peng, vice president of Ant Financial, said Alipay has upgraded the payment system using a 3D structured light camera and can ensure accuracy of 99.99%.” 


TD Ameritrade leverages Apple Pay to let share buyers use debit cards to instantly fund their brokerage accounts

Industry first: TD Ameritrade enables investors to instantly fund brokerage accounts using Apple Pay — TD Ameritrade — “TD Ameritrade announced an industry first today: The ability for individual investors to instantly fund a brokerage account with Apple Pay through Apple Business Chat in the Messages app on iPhone and iPad. Historically, to fund brokerage accounts, investors have had to endure a multi-day waiting period while funds were verified or manage a complicated wire transfer… Using a debit card, customers can deposit up to US$10,000 per day through Apple Pay.” 


Russian supermarket chain rolls out open loop fingerprint payments service

Sberbank and Azbuka Vkusa perfect fingerprint payment service — Sberbank — “After the quick registration process, which takes place at a checkout, clients tie two fingerprints to a Visa or Mastercard bank card and confirm the registration by coming up with a password. Payments can then be made at all stores with biometric POS terminals by scanning a fingerprint and confirming the transaction with the password. It is not necessary to use a bank card or a smartphone… The service is already available at 20 Azbuka Vkusa supermarkets, and will be added to more locations soon.” 


Blockchain mobile payments pilot to go live in Mongolia

Blockchain firm Terra to launch instant remittance, lending services in Mongolia’s capital city — e27 — “The pilot programme in Nalaikh City will launch with two main features: peer-to-peer (P2P) payments to allow instant transfer among users of different banks, and mobile payments to build the infrastructure for secure, contactless payments… The programme is set to launch within the next six months.” 


PenFed joins US move to contactless payment cards

PenFed Credit Union to give members the ability to tap to pay with new contactless Visa credit and debit cards — PenFed Credit Union — “PenFed Credit Union, the nation’s second largest federal credit union, is among the first credit card issuers in the US to roll out new contactless Visa cards across its credit and debit portfolio, giving members the ability to tap to pay at checkout… Merchants across the US have already enabled contactless payments, with 70 of the top 100 merchants, by number of transactions, offering the ability to tap to pay at checkout.” 


Swift to let merchants offer instant bank loans to online shoppers

Swift publishes new ‘Pay Later’ API standard — Swift — “By selecting Pay Later at the point of purchase, customers are provided with available loans from their banks; they can then select and initiate a loan, knowing that the funds can immediately be credited to the merchants and items dispatched. By offering the Pay Later option, merchants are in turn able to offer a wider variety of purchase options and to reach a wider consumer audience, whilst still ensuring surety of payment.” 


Apple Pay set to go live in Czech Republic and Slovakia?

Apple Pay expected to launch in Czech Republic and Slovakia in late February to early March — MacRumors — “Apple Pay will launch in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in late February to early March, according to Seznam Zprávy and Živé… Czech Republic’s two largest banks Česká Spořitelna and Komerční Banka, along with mBank, Moneta, and Air Bank, will reportedly be among the first financial institutions to offer Apple Pay to customers in the Czech Republic. Equa Bank and Banka Creditas may follow suit within the first half of the year.” 


Airlines leverage PSD2 to cut transaction fees

New payment method for air tickets successfully demonstrated — International Air Transport Association — “IATA Pay is an industry-supported initiative to develop a new payment option for consumers when purchasing a ticket directly from an airline website. It is made possible by the European Commission’s second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), and the UK’s Open Banking regulation. For airlines, the advantages of IATA Pay are: Cheaper payment option compared to other alternatives; Highly secure; Faster cashflow with instant/near instant payment to the merchant; Simpler payment process resulting in fewer lost sales.”