Japanese government to reward shoppers for using mobile payments

Hoping to boost spending, Japan tries to sell shoppers on cashless purchases — Reuters — “A scheduled increase in the sales tax to 10% from 8% in October could hurt spending. Aware of that risk, the government is betting big on mobile payments, an industry only just taking root in Japan. As soon as the tax increase kicks in, the government will offer points redeemable for future discounts to shoppers who use QR codes and other cashless payments.”


Chinese retailers use face recognition to link shoppers’ online purchase history to in-store services

Data ‘R’ Us: Alibaba, JD.com seek to lock in merchant loyalty with new services — Reuters — “One of the first firms to join an Alibaba Group Holding Ltd programme that provides years of consumer shopping history, snack food chain, Bestore Co Ltd plans to link facial recognition technology with the e-commerce giant’s account data by the year’s end. For customers opting to have their facial data in Bestore’s systems, that means shop assistants will be able to check on what food they like the moment they enter one of its stores.”




Banco de Mexico to pilot national mobile payments service

Mexico pushes mobile payments to help unbanked consumers ditch cash — Reuters — “Mexico’s new leftist government is betting on financial technology to help lift people out of poverty… It is planning a digital payments system run and built by the central bank that will allow Mexicans to make and receive payments through their smartphones free of charge. A pilot roll-out for the platform, known as CoDi, is expected by March.”



Google Pay closes payments data sharing loophole

Google tweaks privacy policy for Indian payment app after rival complaint — Reuters — “Google has tweaked the privacy policy of its Indian digital payments mobile application, days after local rival Paytm complained that the US tech giant’s platform allowed disclosure of customer data for advertising and other purposes… Google Pay’s privacy policy had said it could ‘collect, store, use and/or disclose’ personal data and ‘any communications made through Google Pay’. A Reuters review of Google’s privacy policy that was updated on Thursday showed the company had dropped the word ‘disclose’ from its privacy clause.”


PayPal ‘ready to spend $3bn a year on acquisitions’

PayPal to spend $3 billion a year on M&A — Reuters — “PayPal Holdings Inc is on the lookout for further acquisitions following its recent takeover of iZettle, the Swedish fintech startup, for $2.2bn… ‘We have a healthy balance sheet and we are ready to put it to work to buy more companies,’ president and CEO Dan Schulman told Germany’s Handelsblatt… Paypal is ready to invest up to $3bn a year on acquisitions that enable it to acquire specific capabilities, Schulman added.”


JPMorgan Chase to reward mobile-only bank account customers for using key features

JPMorgan Chase takes smartphone account ‘Finn’ nationwide — Reuters — “JPMorgan is offering $100 to people who open accounts and complete 10 transactions of certain types, such as sending money to another person or paying a bill. The incentive is designed to make customers familiar with using the app, said Melissa Feldsher, head of Finn. She believes customers will stick with the accounts after seeing they can automatically make deposits to their savings accounts, such as moving $2 from their checking account every time they spend $5 with the app at a Starbucks coffee shop.”


Apple Pay launches in Norway

Nordea launches Apple Pay in Norway, DNB stays focused on Vipps — Reuters — “Nordea Bank launched Apple Pay to its customers in Norway on Wednesday… Visa separately said Apple Pay will also be available to Norwegian customers at Santander Bank, and soon also at Sbanken. Norway’s biggest bank DNB said it had been in dialogue with Apple, but will so far not offer Apple Pay to its customers as it would rather concentrate on its self-made Vipps payment solution.”


Ant Financial to pivot away from Alipay?

Exclusive: Ant Financial shifts focus from finance to tech services: sources — Reuters — “Ant Financial Services Group, the dominant Chinese fintech company, is shifting its main focus to technology services and away from payments and consumer finance as Beijing’s crackdown on financial risk deepens, four sources with knowledge of the matter said… They said the move was propelled, in part, by growing regulatory pressure on Ant’s core financial businesses, including payments, micro lending, credit rating and wealth management.”


Citigroup to use rewards to turn credit card customers into digital bank account holders

Citigroup won’t use high deposit rates to win digital accounts: executive — Reuters — “Citigroup Inc does not plan to use high deposit rates to attract customers to its new digital bank accounts when it begins marketing this fall, the chief of its global consumer bank said on Tuesday… Instead, the bank will market the accounts nationally to its credit card customers, such as holders of its Double Cash card and cards it issues for American Airlines Group, and Costco Wholesale Corp and Home Depot Inc… Bird said, for example, that offering additional American Airlines mileage credits will attract stable deposits to the bank.”


Ant Financial raises $10bn at a $150bn valuation

China’s Ant Financial raises $10 billion at $150 billion valuation: sources — Reuters — “Ant Financial Services Group, operator of China’s biggest online payment platform by market share, Alipay, has closed its latest funding round having raised US$10bn from a clutch of global and local investors, five people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Ant’s first fundraising targeting global money values the firm at US$150bn, the people said, compared with about US$60bn after its previous fundraising in April 2016.”


Marshall Islands to issue official digital currency

Marshall Islands to issue own sovereign cryptocurrency — Reuters — “The Marshall Islands will issue its own cryptocurrency that will be circulated as legal tender along with the US dollar… SOV is based on what the Marshall Islands government calls the ‘Yakwe framework’, which requires users to identify themselves on the blockchain, solving the anonymity problem that has plagued bitcoin and precluded its mainstream adoption.”


Apple Pay goes live in Brazil

Apple Pay arrives in Brazil, partnering with Itaú Unibanco — Reuters — “Apple Inc’s mobile payment platform Apple Pay arrived in Brazil on Wednesday with an exclusive partnership with Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, the country’s largest private lender. The bank said Apple Pay will be available during the 90-day exclusive period to Itaú’s roughly 1.2 million card holders who also own an iPhone 6 or higher. Under the terms of the partnership, Brazilian retailers such as GPA SA will offer discounts on purchases using Apple Pay.”


Alipay parent Ant Financial to go public at a $100bn valuation?

China’s Ant plans equity fundraising at potential $100 billion valuation — Reuters — “China’s Ant Financial Services Group is planning to raise up to US$5bn (£3.59bn) in fresh equity that could value the online payments giant at more than US$100bn… A fundraising would bring Ant, in which e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is taking a one-third stake, a step closer to a hotly anticipated initial public offering.”


Apple to accept Alipay mobile payments at its stores in China

Apple brings Alibaba-linked payment system into China stores amid market push — Reuters — “The tie-up will make Alipay, run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the first third-party mobile payment system to be accepted at any physical Apple store worldwide… The Cupertino-based firm will accept Alipay payment across its 41 brick-and-mortar retail stores in China.”


Israel considers issuing a digital currency to speed up payments

Israel central bank mulls issuing digital currency for faster payments — Reuters — “The Bank of Israel is examining issuing digital currency as a means of creating a faster payments system as well as reducing the amount of cash in the economy, a central bank source said… The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the government was ready to legislate or include the issue in its 2019 budget and economic package if the central bank gave the green light.”


Central bank requires Chinese mobile payments providers to set aside customers’ prepaid funds

China’s central bank to raise reserve funds ratio of third-party payment firms to 50% — Reuters — “China’s central bank said it will gradually raise the reserve funds ratio of third-party payment firms to 50% by April 2018 from a current rate of 20%, as it continues to ramp up regulation of the industry… It will eventually ban non-bank payment firms from making any private investments with money deposited by users, which would see the reserve rate at some point increased to 100%.”


ECB survey finds cash still dominates payments in the euro zone

Euro zone consumers still addicted to cash when they buy — Reuters — “Cash still dominates consumer payments in the euro zone, even as many Western economies are rapidly moving towards electronic payments, a survey published by the European Central Bank showed on Friday… The figures indicate that the euro zone is one of the slowest among big Western economies in giving up cash, trailing countries like the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada.”


Feed for stories about Reuters.