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U.K. watchdog barks at Mastercard: Mastercard's $920 million acquisition of British payment company VocaLink is under fire, as the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority contends the deal will give the card network an unfair advantage in ATM-related negotiations. VocaLink provides software for the Link ATM network, which covers about 70,000 machines in the U.K. and Europe. The CMA is worried this will result in reduced bidders for future contracts, since the combined Mastercard/VocaLink will leave only Visa as a viable competitor. "The Link ATM network provides an essential service for millions of customers," said Andrea Coscelli, CMA's acting chief, in a release. "It's important that Link has a good choice of providers when it comes to supplying the necessary infrastructure so it can take advantage of the opening up of payment systems to competition." VocaLink also powers Bacs, the clearinghouse that processes most of the U.K.'s government salaries and benefits.The CMA has given Mastercard and VocaLink until Jan. 11 to address its concerns. In a statement, Mastercard said "the CMA noted that it has no concerns related to providing infrastructure services to Bacs or the Faster Payments Service. We're pleased to have the opportunity to address their one concern, regarding the Link ATM scheme, in the timeframe provided. This acquisition promises to bring greater choice and innovation to the payment ecosystem, enabling people, governments and business to pay the way they want to pay."

iStock
iStock

Samsung's 'smart' refrigerators multiply: Samsung made a splash in 2016 with its WiFi refrigerators, luring partners such as Mastercard and FreshDirect, who were attracted to the appliance's ability to order pay for online grocery orders. Samsung plans to up its game this year with six new web connected refrigerators, for a total of ten models. Engadget reports the new refrigerators will come in three-door, four-door and four-door flex models with dual freezers. The technology guts are also getting a makeover, as Samsung updates the operating system to Family Hub 2.0, including a new 21.5-inch LED interface that allows everyone in the house to have a profile along with avatars, photo-sharing, calendars and memos. Engadget also reports the new models will use voice recognition technology, and can run apps such as Spotify, GrubHub and Glympse.

Face and fingers: Sensor company Synaptics has developed a way to combine fingerprint biometrics—a widely used method to secure ID for mobile transactions—with facial recognition, an alternative method that's also rapidly catching on. The Verge reports the Synaptics' method would make fingerprint and facial recognition interchangeable and avoid some hardware work at the same time. Synaptics is incorporating facial recognition processing into the same hardware as the fingerprint sensor, and is integrating the mobile device's built-in camera. Since most smartphones already include fingerprint readers, this new technology will enable an easier upgrade to facial recognition by requiring less new hardware, The Verge reports.

Get vocal: Voice recognition technology deployments are popping up all over payments and financial services, and these early adopters may be in position to catch the worm. Gartner reports momentum for voice recognition function and increasing consumer comfort. Though it does not have formal forecasts for the technology, it notes consumers are actively seeking to use this technology, along with other emerging functions such as virtual personal assistants, attributing the trend to a "fresher user experience." The research firm says this trend comes amid relatively flat growth for more "traditional" consumer gadgetry, as it projects the global shipments of PCs, tablets, and mobile devices will total 2.3 billion in 2017, the same as 2016, with no growth in traditional devices expected until 2018.

From the Web (powered by Wiser)

Volkswagen Financial Services buys mobile parking payment outfit PayByPhone
Finextra
Volkswagen Financial Services AG has acquired PayByPhone, the world's leading provider of cashless payments...

Yes Bank upbeat on using blockchain, to add more processes
The Economic Times of India
The bank will now look at deploying the same supply- chain financing solutions with more clients and is also keen on leveraging the benefits of blockchain solution.

Four Drivers of Change for Financial Inclusion in 2017
CGAP • Greta Bull
Open Letter from Greta L. Bull, CGAP CEO

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