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American card brands lose ground: China's huge card network UnionPay is adding services to accommodate China's growing middle class, and that's also allowing it to gain against Visa and Mastercard. UnionPay now has 43% of the global market, compared to the 37% market share claimed by Visa and Mastercard combined, according to a release from RBR. UnionPay has been the world's largest card network for seven years. However, despite UnionPay's growth, it's still primarily a domestic payments network—99% of its cards are issued inside China. RBR also reports the number of cards globally increased 8% in 2016 to 14 billion and is on pace to reach 17 billion in the next five years.

Bloomberg News

Real-time payments pick up in Europe: A real-time money transfer program in Europe is set to go live in November, reports the European Payments Council, which oversees the Single European Payments Area. Users will be able to transfer up to about $20,000 within 10 seconds in 34 countries under the program, which was created to avoid a fragmented market of different faster payments schemes. Austria, Spain, Finland, Italy and Latvia will go live first with the rest of the countries scheduled to be on board by 2019, handling 50% of all SEPA credit transfers by 2022.

Amazon's Echo exec departs: Amazon Echo is expected to have a major impact on the company's future retail and payments technology, though that future will develop under new leadership. Fortune reports Michael George, who joined Amazon in 1998 and helped oversee the development of Echo and Alexa, has left the company. Sixteen percent of consumers own an Amazon Echo, and of that ownership base, 19% have made a voice purchase in the past year. George was not specific about his plans. Tom Taylor, senior vice president of Amazon Payments, will take over George's job, Amazon told Fortune.

Swiss ATM upgrades start tests: Swiss banks will shortly begin testing software under the SIX Group's ATMfutura project, which is designed to give all Swiss banks the same user interface and guidance on ATMs. The software will be standardized across all ATMs, and will replace the more than 20 different interfaces that currently power ATMs, according to NCR, which is supplying the software for the project. The Swiss banks hope the project will make ATMs easier use, manage and update. The project will also add new technology, such as mobile access via QR codes. The pilot will continue through the end of the year, with full deployment scheduled for 2018.

From the Web

In Urban China, Cash Is Rapidly Becoming Obsolete
The New York Times | Mon Jul 17, 2017 - There is an audacious economic phenomenon happening in China. It has nothing to do with debt, infrastructure spending or the other major economic topics du jour. It has to do with cash — specifically, how China is systematically and rapidly doing away with paper money and coins. Almost everyone in major Chinese cities is using a smartphone to pay for just about everything. At restaurants, a waiter will ask if you want to use WeChat or Alipay — the two smartphone payment options — before bringing up cash as a third, remote possibility. Just as startling is how quickly the transition has happened. Only three years ago there would be no question at all, because everyone was still using cash.

How Enterprise Chatbot Solutions Will Change International Payments
Huffington Post | Sun Jul 16, 2017 - Technology is changing all aspects of modern society, especially the way we conduct business. Enterprise chatbots and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are among the hottest conversation topics because both provide innovative solutions that have the potential to transform entire companies. Chatbots and Bitcoin are bound to affect companies of all sizes, especially big organizations that make international payments on a regular basis. Today’s globalized economy has allowed organizations to conduct business with international providers and suppliers. However, one of the biggest challenges has always been international payments and transactions. Involving numerous financial entities and currencies can become complicated quickly, and cross-border fees tend to be incredibly expensive.

Didn't pay your Macy's bill? Expect a text from Citigroup
Reuters | Mon Jul 17, 2017 - When consumers have trouble making ends meet, bills from retailers that have gone bankrupt or closed tend to go toward the bottom of the pile. The trouble for lenders like Citigroup Inc is that the debt is actually owed to them. Citigroup, the fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets, said on Friday that it is having trouble collecting on store-branded cards, which is leading to higher losses. To reverse that trend, the bank has been stepping up its outreach to shoppers who finance purchases from chains like Macy's and Sears with Citigroup store-brand credit cards which the bank has stood behind for more than a decade. The bank recently doubled the number of text messages it sends to borrowers.

More from PaymentsSource

Connecting real-time payments to old-time technology
Seeing a need for virtual and legacy payments worlds to better connect, Push Payments and partner linked2pay developed a real-time payments system that can function as that connective tissue.

7 robots in digital payments
The concept of digital payments doesn't often cross paths with the concept of robots moving autonomously through our world. But in a few cases, robots have been created to handle payments and deliver goods.

Open APIs will sputter unless security and dependency are addressed
Open APIs can bring speed and flexibility to P-to-P payments, e-commerce and financial services. But there's also identity and performance risks that banks need to address, writes Rahul Singh, president of financial services at HCL Technologies.

What retail funk? Credit cards juice Citigroup 2Q profit
Citigroup’s consumer banking business — fueled by credit cards — was a gem in a mixed bag of a second quarter for the New York company.

Daniel Wolfe

Daniel Wolfe

Daniel Wolfe is editor in chief at PaymentsSource and a contributing editor at American Banker.