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Walmart's full-court press on Amazon: Walmart's invested a lot of money into building its e-commerce strength while reducing logistical costs, such as via last year's $3 billion Jet.com acquisition, and it faces an increasingly threatening rival in Amazon. Walmart is now putting that investment to work in a multi-channel marketing push against Amazon's model. ReCode reports Walmart will offer discounts for online orders from consumers who agree to pick up their products at a nearby store instead of home delivery. The discounts range from 3% to 5%, and include about one million items that will be phased in between April 19 and June. The discounts are possible because it's easier for Walmart to ship good to its stores than to individual homes, and is part of a broader strategy to use Walmart's nearly 5,000 store network as part of its online ecosystem. The new campaign is a follow up to an earlier initiative in which Walmart offered free two-day deliveries for orders of at least $35.

Bloomberg News

Hong Kong thinks about blockchain: As China builds its own virtual currency, Hong Kong is also exploring the idea. Coindesk reports the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the bank-driven R3 blockchain consortium are investigating how a virtual currency could be used to perform transactions such as interbank and inter-corporate payments in the wholesale market, and how the virtual currency would impact securities settlement. Initial work should be completed by the fourth quarter of 2017, at which time the authority will consider its next steps. R3 is also comparing models for central governments to use when adopting virtual currency, and the HKMA is working on a proof of concept to use distributed ledger technology to power trade finance with Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, Hang Seng, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Deloitte.

One sandbox fits all?: The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority is calling for countries to agree on a framework for financial and payments technology to avoid discord as transaction and payment apps become increasingly international. Finextra reports the FCA is worried about a "wild west" approach, which would include widely varied "sandboxes" that developers use to build new technology. The concern actually starts in the U.K., where the government set up a lower-regulated sandbox in 2015 for startups to test their ideas. This concept has caught on in other countries, though with different version of sandboxes. The FCA is not pushing for standards, but more of a cooperative stance between countries when offering "safe zones" for development, so the companies that emerge are more prepared to comply with different financial and payment regulations in different countries when their products launch.

Brexit bent, but not broken: U.K. technology startups are concerned about the impact of Brexit, though London is holding on to its status as a top international technology city. According to Law 360, London and Singapore are tied as the top international hubs for financial services technology, citing Deloitte. The cities' heft as financial technology centers is determined by analysis from Innotribe, Swift's innovation unit. The data includes local market conditions, future trends and a performance score for how easy it is to develop a fintech business. New York is third in the ranking, Silicon Valley fourth and Chicago fifth. Charlotte and Toronto represented North America in the rankings. The research also noted improving conditions in the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and Norway, which have set up programs to encourage financial technology development.

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