02.02.17: Your morning briefing

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Welcome to the new PaymentsSource Morning Briefing, delivered daily. The information you need to start your day, including top headlines from PaymentsSource and around the Web:

SoFi makes a deeper move into payments: Online lending company SoFi has acquired Zenbanx, a company that offers money transfers, multi-currency deposits and other payments online and through a mobile app. The acquisition will allow SoFi to offer more transactional and deposit services to accompany its current focus on personal lending. Along with companies such as TransferWise, Ripple, WorldRemit and CurrencyCloud, Zenbanx has also been pursuing the cross-border payment market by offering discounted rates. SoFi did not disclose financial terms of the deal, though The Wall Street Journal reports it's about $100 million.
Bitcoin software NSFW at the Fed: Nicholas Berthaume, a former Federal Reserve staffer, has been sentenced to 12 months probation and fined $5,000 for installing software on a government computer to earn bitcoins, according to The Federal Reserve. Berthaume pled guilty to unlawful conversion of government property in the fall as part of his scheme. He installed the software to connect to a Bitcoin network, and changed security safeguards to access the server from home. He initially denied the allegations when his employers confronted him, then tried to remotely delete the software. A later investigation proved his scheme and he was fired.

Liverpool's own currency: While China is developing its nationwide virtual currency, Liverpool is getting even more localized. According to The Telegraph, Colu, an Israeli startup, is supplying the technology for the Liverpool Local Pound. The currency will be accessible by an app-based service with transactions recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain ledger. Independent Liverpool is introducing the currency, which is aimed at supporting local businesses. Merchants are charged a monthly fee of about $35 to become part of the virtual currency network.

Sunglass pay: Wearables that can make payments are popping up in all sorts of garments, from gloves to rings, as developers look for what makes consumers comfortable. In Australia, sunglasses are getting a test. Business Insider reports Visa is testing the technology at Laneway, an upcoming music festival in five Australian cities. People will be able to make payments by tapping their sunglasses at checkout.(they take their glasses off, instead of bending over). Inamo, a local startup, developed the supporting technology, while Oberthur will handle risk management and Heritage Bank will be the deposit-taking institution.

From the Web (powered by Wiser)

Google to end Hands Free pilot test on February 8, focus efforts on Android Pay
9to5Google • Chance Miller
Google announced to users today that it is shutting down its Hands Free payment service on February 8th. The feature was quietly announced at Google I/O in 2015 and launched to the public in a pilot program back in March of 2016.

AgriDigital pioneers blockchain use with first farmer-buyer agriculture settlement
The Barrel Blog • Julien Hall
History was made on December 8, 2016, when Australian wheat grower David Whillock delivered 23.46 mt to Fletcher International Exports in Dubbo, New South Wales. The transaction was settled through blockchain, the technology underpinning emerging cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

What Target's mobile payments plan says about today's retail trends
Retail Customer Experience • Will Hernandez
CVS, Kohl's and Wal-Mart all added payments features to their mobile apps in 2016. Target now reportedly will do the same.

More from PaymentsSource

Post EMV, virtual cards can become token powerhouses
If mobile wallets and virtual payment cards are to obtain lofty status in the payments industry and build consumer confidence, providers have to deliver on the promise of better security.

Consumers want digital, but still worry about safety
A look at how payment processing will evolve in the next year shows retailers that don't consider consumers' evolving demand for digital payments and security concerns will be at risk.

CFPB fines Mastercard, UniRush $13M for service failures
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday ordered Mastercard and the prepaid debit card company UniRush to pay $13 million in restitution and fines for a service breakdown in October 2015 that left thousands of customers without access to their accounts.

Turkey's Isbank adds P-to-P feature to mobile banking app
Turkish financial institution Isbank has launched Social Account, saying it is the first person-to-person money transfer service available in the country.

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