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MPOS on the rise: Payments experts have said the slow start for mobile payments would not last forever, and there are signs of rapid merchant adoption ahead. Retailers are planning to adopt mobile technology in a major way over the next few years, according to a report by BRP, which said 84% of retailers will use mobile point of sale in their stores by 2020, up from the current level of just under half. The research firm also predicts 31% of retailers plan to implement mobile tools for customer engagement in the next 12 months, 89% plan to offer mobile technology their staff for customer service and payments in the next three years, and 70% of retailers say using emerging technology to improve personalization is a top priority for the next year. "Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates is now a necessity to keep up with the customer who has a plethora of information available at her fingertips," said Perry Kramer, a vice president at BRP, in a release. "Associate mobile devices enhance the shopping experience by accessing real-time inventory and customer data and offering the ability to service customers and process transactions anywhere in the store."

Image: Bloomberg News
Image: Bloomberg News

JPMorgan leaves R3: The two year old blockchain consortium R3 CEV has made progress in building uses for the technology such as cross-border payments and trade settlement, but it has also lost several major banks along the way. JPMorgan is the latest big bank to leave, according to Reuters. About 80 financial institutions are members of R3, which is trying to raise $150 million from its members and investors, giving them a collective 60% stake in return, according to the wire service. Reuters did not detail the financial dispute between JPMorgan and R3. JPMorgan wants to pursue a technology path that is "at odds" with R3's membership, according to Charley Cooper, an R3 managing director who Reuters interviewed. JPMorgan is a member of a new blockchain group, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, and is also a member of the Linux-backed Hyperledger Project. The bank also invests in Axoni and Digital Asset Holdings, two blockchain startups. R3 has lost other big banks recently. Banco Santander and Goldman Sachs have left R3 for similar reasons, and National Australia Bank and Morgan Stanley have also departed.

Bitcoin milestone: Less than five years after Bitcoin ATMs were introduced, bitcoin ATM network Coinsource has passed the 100 machine mark. Coinsource, the world's largest ATM network, has added 33 machines since January and now has 103. The company recently installed 14 new machines in New York, including the first bitcoin ATM in JFK International Airport, as well as a pair of two-way ATMs, which allow consumers to sell or buy bitcoin for cash directly from the ATM. Coinsource also has bitcoin ATMs in California, New Jersey and about a half dozen other states. "Breaking triple digits was earmarked as one of our main goals for our five-year business plan, but we’ve reached it several years earlier than expected," said Sheffield Clark, Coinsource's co-founder and CEO, in a release.

ATM group lashes out at cash-reduction advocates: Even as some banks start to deploy mobile enabled ATMs, an ATM trade group is criticizing efforts to reduce cash. The ATM Industry Association has accused what it calls the "anti-cash lobby" of peddling "fake news" to promote card alternatives for financial inclusion. Cash reduction is often sold as a way to increase security be creating a record trail for digital transactions. ATMIA is responding with research from Agis Consulting, which contends cash has played a role in extending inclusion in markets such as Brazil and the Philippines. The crux of the argument is cash does not have prerequisite conditions for access and efforts to encourage financial inclusion should encourage cash rather than discourage it.

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