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:

PayPal 'freezes' Canadian media payments after Syrian story: PayPal temporarily shut off the account of News Media Canada after Flin Flon Reminder, a weekly newspaper, submitted a story about a family of Syrian refugees in an awards competition, according to The Globe and Mail. The article, "Syrian family adapts to new life," was entered in the annual Canadian Community Newspaper Awards, which the larger media company oversees. The July 2016 story was about the challenges of a Syrian family as it settled in a small town in Manitoba, and the community's willingness to make the family feel welcome. When the newspaper tried to pay News Media Canada the $242.95 fee for the paper's entry, PayPal flagged the payment as potentially out of compliance with its acceptable use policy, then later reversed the payment and froze News Media Canada's account, saying the publishing company may be buying or selling goods or services that are regulated by the U.S. government, according to the Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail also reported PayPal requested details on the transaction and more information about "recent transactions." PayPal later unfroze the account after further investigation, and told The Globe and Mail that it is required to check some details of the transaction as there were details related to "Syria." PayPal has been subject to this sort of controversy before. It froze payments related to Wikileaks in 2010, also saying it was violating its terms of service.

Bloomberg News

The gift of coffee: WeChat and Starbucks are extending their partnership to include gift cards. TechCrunch reports the coffee chain and China's largest messaging app hope to take advantage of a huge digital gifting market in China. The technology site reports more than 14 billion red wallets were shared between WeChat users on New Year's Eve. WeChat also has nearly 770 million daily users. Starbucks and WeChat began the payments portion of their partnership in December, with the expectation that digital gift cards would debut early this year. Starbucks introduced its mobile payment and loyalty app in China earlier in 2016.

"Pepper" arrives in Oakland: SoftBank's robot, Pepper, is already a global traveler, showing up at places like Pizza Hut locations in Asia, where it took orders and accepted Mastercard payments. The robot has now landed at Oakland International Airport, were Robotics Trends reports it's taking drink and food orders at the Pyramid Taproom. Pepper uses a combination of cameras, microphones, vocal recognition and analytics to respond to motion and verbal communication. In the case of the airport, the deployment is challenging, given the mix of crowds and sounds. Softbank hopes to learn from Pepper's experiences in the airport to improve its ability to interact with people around it in anticipation of further uses in retail.

Russians make arrests in 'fake payment' hack: Russian authorities have arrested nine people in connection to a financial theft that allegedly involved malware and phony payments. Finextra reports the suspects are part of a gang with dozens of members, about 50 of which have already been arrested. The government has also seized more than 90 pieces of hardware, about $80,000 and some weapons. Over the course of several years, the gang stole about $25 million from Russian bank accounts, primarily by installing malware and issuing false payment instructions. Of the previous arrests, 19 are in prison and another 27 have been charged.

From the Web (powered by Wiser)

Project Jasper: Lessons From Bank of Canada's First Blockchain Project
CoinDesk • Carolyn Wilkins
Canada's central bank discusses new takeaways from six months of distributed ledger experimentation.

Mobile payments to overtake physical card spends in 2017
The Economic Times of India • Niharika Banerjee
The report further said telcos in 2017 will design digital transformational programmes to enhance customer experience through more digital interaction points.

National Retail Federation estimates 8-12% US e-commerce growth in 2017
Business Insider • B.I. Intelligence
The National Retail Federation (NRF) declared that it expects total retail sales to grow 3.7-4.2% in 2017, excluding cars, gas stations, and restaurant sales,...

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