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Android Pay's holiday prizes: Android is trying to boost its mobile payment app in the U.K. by embedding virtual "Christmas crackers" into the Android Pay app that are filled with gift cards, according to a company blog post. The crackers will contain more than 100,000 gift cards for retailers such as Costa Coffee, movie chains and House of Fraser. Android Pay launched in the U.K. in May, hoping to take advantage of the more than 460,000 contactless terminals in the country, as well as the fully contactless London transit system. The company did not release adoption numbers for Android Pay, other than saying it was hoping to expand on existing usage. The promotion comes amid reports consumers are becoming more discerning regarding rewards and loyalty programs tied to mobile payment apps.

Blockchain group promises investment: The New York-based startup R3, which develops transaction technology and other use cases for blockchain such as cross-border payment protocols, is closing in on a $150 million investment, CEO David Rutter said Monday, according to TechCrunch. Rutter said the round hasn't closed yet, but he promised it would early next year. The $150 million round would be smaller than the $200 million R3 had originally hoped for. The group has had a bit of bad news recently, as several banks have left the organization, including Santander and Goldman Sachs, which are leaving to work on their own blockchain initiatives.

Parisian tech station draws payment investors: Developers' campuses — where programmers, entrepreneurs, VCs and academics mingle — have proven to be successful in places like Toronto's MaRS Discovery District and London's Level39. Paris is getting in on the act, with Station F scheduled to open in April 2017, reports VentureBeat. Facebook is among the companies that will claim space at the renovated former train station, as will venture capitalists such as Ventech, whose portfolio includes Fintech systems; and Kima, whose portfolio includes TransferWise. The $265 million center, which will be as large at the Eiffel Tower laying on its side, will have 3,000 desks for startups, a retail zone, a kitchen and a bar.

SWIFT-style heist in Russia: Bankers have been on edge since the attacks earlier this year on the international Swift transaction messaging network. In a similar incident, the Russian Central bank reports about $31 million has been stolen from correspondent accounts as part of a cyber attack, according to Reuters. The Russian bank has not released a lot of detail, but Reuters says the thieves faked credentials, similar to the attacks on the Swift network. At the same time, the Russian government claims foreign agents are attacking the country's banking system, an accusation that appears to be a counterclaim to allegations that Russian agents hacked the U.S. presidential election.

From the Web (powered by Wiser)

Best Practices for Adding Mobile Order and Pay to Your App
Business 2 Community • Ashley Sefferman
The ability to use mobile to order and pay for food and drink services is now top-of-mind for the biggest brands in the world. Mobile payments are expected to triple by the end of 2016, with one in every five smartphones leveraging...

Apple Pay helps banks push services
Business Insider • B.I. Intelligence
This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Payments Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here. ANZ, one of four major Australian banks, has seen a “higher propensity” for users of Apple Pay to adopt other bank services, like mortgages.

Paytm founder prepares for his next pivot, which could be the biggest yet
Tech in Asia • Sumit Chakraberty
“Not every day do you get a chance like this,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Alibaba-backed Paytm, says.

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U.S. e-commerce fraud spikes—and there's more to come
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Apple, Blackhawk Network partner on Apple Pay rewards
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