8.18.17: Your morning briefing

Register now

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:

Alibaba's revenue soars: Alibaba's quarterly revenue grew 56% year over year, reaching $7.51 billion from about $4.85 billion the prior year, or more than the $7.1 billion projection from Thomson Reuters analysts, CNBC reports. Revenue from Alibaba's core e-commerce business made up 86% of its revenue, up from 73% last year, as the company waits for investments in online stores to pay off. The company earlier this year raised its full year revenue growth outlook to 45% to 49%. Alibaba has invested in India's Paytm to take advantage of the fast growth of digital commerce India, and more than $1 billion in Lazada's online mall to expand in Asian markets. The fast growth and investments have caused Alibaba shares to jump 81% this year as China's e-commerce companies in general outperform the market, causing some concern that companies like Alibaba and Tencent may be expanding too quickly. Meanwhile, Alibaba's payments affiliate Ant Financial, which operates Alipay, is furthering its ambitious expansion strategy with a focus on the U.S. and Canada.
Simple restructures: Simple, the BBVA-owned alternative financial institution that has offered digital joint accounts, pursued former Google card accounts, and used myriad payment and transaction technology to lure consumers frustrated by traditional banks, has hit a financial snag. Geekwire reports Simple has cut staff and is reconsidering its place in the financial services market, a move that also includes changes to its management structure. Simple's assimilation into BBVA has not gone smoothly, as the company has struggled to update its technology and move customers to BBVA. Some customers have been instructed to open entirely new accounts, and BBVA, which spent $117 million to acquire Simple, has taken a goodwill impairment charge of $60 million tied to the conversion. Josh Reich, the CEO and founder of Simple, told Geekwire the plan is to get Simple back to its roots as a tech company, saying it has been recently "acting like a bank" recently.

Lunar landing: Travel cards are attracting new investment, with Amex and Mastercard both launching products in the past week. In Denmark, startup bank Lunar Way is launching a card that drops most fees for travelers (including currency exchange fees and ATM fees), which Lunar likened to roaming charges on a mobile plan. Lunar's prepaid Mastercard avoids some fees by handling payments from within its app with Euros, Pounds and Dollars among the available currencies. Users convert their balance to the local currency and conduct transactions as "domestic" payments.

Blockchain broadens its range: One of the earliest cryptocurrency wallets, Blockchain, has added ether an effort to provide users with more asset options. TechCrunch reports that Blockchain, one of the older and more established digital currency software companies, has partnered with digital currency exchanges to build seamless integrations, enabling dollars, Euros and other currencies to be traded for bitcoin, and now ether, through the Blockchain wallet. The distributed ledger Ethereum supports the digital currency ether, which enjoyed rapid growth earlier this year, though the quick expansion caused some capacity issues for trades. The company gets its name from the blockchain distributed ledger system that powers bitcoin.

From the Web

Bitcoin hits record and its market value now tops big tech companies like Netflix, PayPal
CNBC | Thu Aug 17, 2017 - Bitcoin climbed above $4,500 to a record high Thursday, giving it a market valuation larger than that of once high-flying technology stock Netflix. The digital currency rose about 2 percent to a new high of $4,522.13 on Thursday, according to CoinDesk. Bitcoin has a market value of about $74 billion, up $30 billion in August and topping Netflix's $72.7 billion market capitalization. Netflix shares Thursday were more than 1 percent lower amid a broader stock market decline. The stock traded nearly 13 percent below its all-time high hit July 21.

Is 'tap and go' a better way to give to charity?
BBC News | Thu Aug 17, 2017 - In today's fast-paced world, although we may hate to admit it, not many people have time to chat or reel off card details to a stranger for 10 minutes. And figures show that while cash is still very widely used, people are increasingly turning to "tap and go". According to trade body UK Payments, contactless cards are "having a clear impact" on the use of cash in the UK. In a world full of smartphones and contactless cards, having cash on you no longer has to be a priority. And YouGov recently found that 34% of Brits think the UK will be cashless within the next 20 years. So what future does this hold for charity donation buckets, collection tins and clip-board wielding charity reps?

ProtonMail adds Bitcoin support so you can pay for e2e encrypted email more privately
TechCrunch | Thu Aug 17, 2017 - End-to-end encrypted email provider ProtonMail has added official support for payment in Bitcoin. In a blog about the addition, it notes: “Starting from version 3.11 of ProtonMail it is now possible to pay for premium ProtonMail secure email account using Bitcoin.” The e2e email service had already offered unofficial support for users wanting to pay for its premium offering with the cryptocurrency — via a BTC donation address users could manually send coin to.

More from PaymentsSource

Alipay’s plan for North America targets merchants, not rival wallets
China's Alipay already has broad global reach—its mobile wallet is accepted at more than 100,000 retail locations in 70 international markets—but in North America it’s just getting started.

Emerging payment tech levels the field for small businesses
It wasn’t so long ago that huge household brands were the only true global players in retail, but today, the landscape looks different. Technology has enabled the growth and viability of independent brands to grow and make a name for themselves.

Billtrust turns to banks to consolidate business services
Billtrust has long relied on its sales force to approach businesses directly with accounts receivable technology, and it's turning to banks to automate more steps in the process of handling payments.

Altcoins for the alt-right? Charlottesville's consequences for payments
In the wake of this weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Va., payments brands are working hard to disassociate themselves from the myriad groups promoting hate. A question that should come to mind right away is: Why were these hate groups even able to work with banks and payments companies as recently as last week?

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.