Welcome to the PaymentsSource Morning Briefing, delivered daily. The information you need to start your day, including top headlines from PaymentsSource and around the Web:
Samsung joins the contactless team: Samsung is trying to broaden the availability of its mobile payment app as it works to get beyond Samsung Pay's headwinds, such as adding a scaled down version for non-Samsung Android phones, supporting wearable internet access, and introducing marketing capabilities. TechCrunch reports Samsung is now backing the Contactless Companion Platform, which is a partnership with Swedish financial technology company Smartlink and point of sale technology provider Ingenico. The collaboration involves using a small Near Field Communication chip that can embed into a range of non-connected devices to expand where and how payments can be accepted, including wristbands, key fobs, jewelry and other small devices. TechCrunch reports Winwatch and Montfort have both successfully trialed CCP, which can add mobile payments technology to non-smartwatches. Samsung told TechCrunch this technology can be embedded into more types of clothing without requiring the garment's design to change. The platform's challenge is to convince more technology companies to adopt the CCP approach in an environment for wearable technology that's already facing adoption and sales hurdles.
How is digital impacting shopping malls?: Many large retailers are closing stores due in part to the expansion of e-commerce, remote shopping and emerging payments, reports VentureBeat. JCPenney this week announced plans to shutter 138 out of 1,014 retail stores, following announcements by other retailers such as Macy's, Foot Locker, Office Depot and Staples; while Sears faces major financial struggles. This comes amid reports that Amazon is larger than most of its major big box competitors combined in terms of market value. Costar projects retailers are expected to close 1 billion square feet of retail space this year in the U.S, while construction of new retail space lags historical norms. Costar does not give a specific reason for the decline, though VentureBeat attributes it to the influence of online shopping and purchasing, which reduces in-store traffic and sales. At the same time, overall holiday shopping in 2016 hit records, largely due to mobile commerce and online shopping. VentureBeat reports shopping in stores actually declined during the 2016 holiday season compared to 2015. One possible impact of the trend is a threat to shopping malls and shopping centers, since a decline at anchor stores has downstream impact.
Russian cybercrook faces jail: Russian hackers seem to be infiltrating a number of places, but at least one cybercrook may face up to ten years in prison. The Hacker News reports Mark Vartanyan, who was known as "Kolypto," pled guilty in Atlanta to building the Citadel malware that was used in financial crimes totalling more than $500 million. Vartanyan, who was extradited from Norway, built the malware in 2011. It has since infected more than 11 million computers, mostly in financial institutions and government agencies. Vartanyan, who the U.S. government says maintained the malware and uploaded consumer information, will be sentenced in June. Another hacker, Dimitry Belorossov, is already serving a 54 month sentence in connection to the Citadel malware.
But seriously: Cardtronics and I-design are putting interactive jokes in ATMs in the U.K. as part of Comic Relief, a U.K. charity fundraiser that's part of the 2017 Red Nose Day campaign, which is March 24. Finextra reports a national network of 3,000 ATMs will display jokes while consumers wait for their cash. The consumers are encouraged to respond to the jokes by voting on whether it made them laugh, and also access information on the charity and related causes. The campaign will also showcase I-design's on-screen questionnaire function, which has proven to be uncannily accurate in the past. Last summer, it predicted a 52-48 "leave" vote for the Brexit referendum, which turned out to be correct and a much better performance than most of the pre-vote polling.
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