Alexa can now use Amazon Pay to make voice-based donations to charity

Alexa now lets you donate to nearly 50 nonprofits — Cnet — “Alexa allows you to make a donation between US$5 and US$5,000 and tells you it will share your name, address and email with the charity. It will ask repeatedly if you want to go through with the donation, but you can also set up a four-digit voice-shopping code to prevent accidental donations.” 


Korea’s capital city plans its own payments cryptocurrency

Mayor Park Won-soon unveils Seoul cryptocurrency ‘S-Coin’ — Coindesk Korea (translation) — “Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul, said he will create a coin currency called S-coin that can be used in Seoul… He thinks that ‘blockchains can be applied to all administrations in Seoul such as the public transport system operated by Seoul City and the provision of youth allowance.'” 


Google to take its Tez mobile wallet app global

Google’s Indian payments platform looks for new markets — Financial Times — “Diana Layfield, head of Tez and vice president of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative, told the Financial Times that Google had drawn up a shortlist of three Asian markets and one other emerging market country for Tez’s next launch… Tez initially looked across Latin America, the Middle East and Africa… Countries with “similar characteristics” to India — relatively low credit card penetration and limited access to near field communications systems — were the most attractive to Tez.” 


Apple rolls out support for transit cards in China

Using Apple Pay Express Card features in Beijing and Shanghai — Apple (translation) — “To use the Apple Pay Express Card feature in Beijing or Shanghai, you first need to set up an Apple Pay Transportation Card on your iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or later, or Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 2 or later… In Beijing, you can use transportation cards to pay for subways and buses. In Shanghai, you can use transportation cards to pay for subways, buses, ferries and Maglev trains.” 


Octopus lets Hong Kong merchants accept NFC payments on their mobile phones

Octopus App for Business now enables all Octopus users to pay on merchant mobile devices — Octopus Cards — “Octopus Cards Limited today launched a new feature to enhance the Octopus App for Business, allowing merchants to accept Octopus card payment through their NFC mobile devices. Users of all Octopus cards and products (including Smart Octopus in Samsung Pay) can simply tap on the merchants’ NFC mobile devices — which can now serve as Octopus readers for easy payments.” 


Japanese banks to begin QR mobile payments pilot

Japan’s megabanks aim to introduce unified smartphone payment system — The Mainichi — “MHFG announced that it will soon embark on a verification test of smartphone payments with Toho Bank, headquartered in Fukushima Prefecture, using the barcodes. It is thought that the results of the test will be used to create uniform standards for the two-dimensional barcodes that are currently being mulled by the three banking groups.” 


Dutch retailers sign up for OK mobile payments and rewards app

OK app conquers the Netherlands — OK (translation) — “Major players who will soon offer OK are the Superunie members in food retail like Coop, Deen, Dirk, Spar and DekaMarkt. Food and hospitality services include Febo and Van der Valk, as well as online players such as FonQ and deonlinedrogist.nl. Other partners include GrandVision (Eyewish, Pearle, zonnebrillen.com), Sundays, Verbunt Wines, Jamin, Karwei, Praxis, Vitaminstore and FrieslandCampina.” 


Vehicle vending machine lets drivers book, pay and drive away a test car from their mobile phone

Ford, Alibaba roll out test-drive services via ‘auto vending machine’ — China Automotive News — “Users can book a test drive via the Alibaba’s Taobao mobile app or the Tmall platform. Entering a key word of ‘super test drive’, users can follow the instructions from the interface to select the vehicles they want and the time to have the test drive. To schedule a test drive, users should submit their basic information and upload their selfies on the platform. Besides, they need to pay some test drive fees and the money for vehicle purchasing intention. After all these done, consumers can pick up their test vehicle via a facial recognition at the ‘super test drive center’ in Guangzhou to enjoy a three-day ride.” 


Uber applies for a European payments license

Uber seeks Dutch payments licence in drive to diversify — Sky News — “Uber Technologies has submitted an application for a European payments processing licence as it seeks to accelerate its diversification into a broad range of consumer-facing services… Sources said the attempt to become classified as an electronic money institution was being handled by a new subsidiary called Uber Payments BV.” 


Beijing Metro to replace NFC ticket gates with QR codes?

Mobile phone payment to smooth out Beijing subway rides — The Beijinger — “Beginning in May, commuters will be able to pay for their fares on the Beijing Metro by using electronic payment systems like Alipay. All entrance gates to subway stations in the city will be equipped with QR code sensors… The new feature is not related to last year’s feature that allowed Beijing commuters to enter city subways using near field communication (NFC) technology… The Beijing Metro intends to phase out NFC technology at its entrance gates at an unspecified future date.” 


Supermarket giant Carrefour rolls out its own NFC mobile payments service

Carrefour steps up its digital transformation with the in-store roll-out of ‘Carrefour Pay’ — its mobile payment solution — Carrefour — “Carrefour Pay is quick and easy and has no payment limit — customers can use it to pay for their shopping at all terminals which have NFC contactless technology… It can be used in 3,000 Carrefour stores in France and in all stores which accept contactless payment. All bank cards will be added in 2018, as well as all Carrefour e-commerce sites in France. Carrefour Pay can be accessed via the Carrefour&Moi mobile app and also features a loyalty card and coupon facility.” 


Samsung Pay now has 7m users in Korea

Samsung Pay’s monthly Android users hit nearly 7m mark in Feb — Yonhap News — “Some 6.94m users of Android-powered smartphones used Samsung Pay at least once last month… Samsung Pay use was centered during lunch times, with those in their 30s and 40s accounting for 28% and 27%, respectively. The corresponding number for those in their 20s stood at 20%.” 



India to add face biometrics to Aadhaar national ID platform

Will introduce ‘Face ID’ on July 1 for Aadhaar authentication, UIDAI tells Supreme Court — The Hindu — “The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that it will introduce ‘Face ID’ on July 1 to enable Aadhaar holders to authenticate their identity to access services, benefits and subsidies. The ‘Face ID’ would help people without biometrics or those with poor biometrics to avoid authentication failures and financial exclusion.” 


Walmart applies for multiple automated shopping patents

Walmart files patent applications for drone shopping assistants and smart shopping carts — The Verge — “One of the patents is clearly for the in-store experience, and proposes a sensing device to make shopping carts smart and communicate with a mobile device… There’s also a patent that tracks users through wearables, and several for managing/sensing inventory levels. Walmart has also filed a patent for drones that would assist customers shopping in-store… There are also two patents for autonomous tech. One outlines a method for detecting items placed in a container.” 


Apple Pay runs free meal delivery promotion

Apple Pay’s new promo offers up to three free deliveries from Grubhub, Seamless, and Eat24 — MacRumors — “To take advantage of the March Madness-themed promotion, customers can enter the code “HOOPS” at checkout in Grubhub, Seamless, and Eat24 (in apps or on websites), and pay for their orders via Apple Pay to get a free delivery. The offer is limited to three redemptions per diner and three per device during the promo period, and does not cover the cost of the meal in the order.” 


Google Assistant adds support for voice-based payments

Now the Google Assistant can take care of your IOUs — Google — “Starting today, you can ask your Google Assistant to pay your friends back with Google Pay… You can easily send or request money from your contacts — for free — using the Assistant on Android and iOS phones in the US. In the coming months, you’ll be able to send money on voice-activated speakers like Google Home… To get started, just say ‘Hey Google, request $20 from Sam for the show tonight’ or ‘Hey Google, send Jane $15 for lunch today.’” 


Shell rolls out mobile payments at the pump

Customers at participating Shell branded retail stations in the US can now pay at the pump and in store using mobile payment with Chase Pay — JP Morgan Chase — “Millions of consumers of participating Shell branded retail sites in the US are now able to pay for fuel with their mobile devices, using either the Shell app or the Chase Pay app… Customers simply pull up to the pump, enter their pump number, and receive a three-digit code to enter into the dispenser to refuel… Customers can also make purchases using the apps inside Shell convenience stores.” 


China opens up its payments market to foreign companies

China allows foreigners to enter $27tn payments market — Bloomberg — “Foreign players can start applying for payment licenses and will be treated the same as local firms, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement on Wednesday. Applicants must set up local units, establish payment infrastructure — including disaster recovery systems — and store client information domestically, the central bank said.” 


Starbucks to run cashless store pilot in South Korea

Starbucks to test cashless stores in S Korea — Yonhap News — “Starbucks Coffee Korea Co, the local unit of the US coffee giant, said Thursday it will begin a test run of cashless stores at three outlets next month amid rising use of credit card and mobile payment systems… It will mark the second trial for the global coffee giant, following its first cashless store under test run in Seattle.” 


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