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:

Politics threaten Ant's MoneyGram deal: Ant Financial's bid to take over MoneyGram has always had a political element, given President Donald Trump's hawkish stance on China and a rival bid from Euronet. Reuters reports the tension is impacting stock prices for MoneyGram, which is now trading 12% below Ant's $18 per share offer. Euronet had offered $15.20 per share as a rival bid. This week political pressure from the U.S. became bipartisan, as Rep. Charles Schumer (D, N.Y.) urged Trump to block Chinese investments to push China to pressure North Korea's efforts to develop nuclear weapons capable of striking the U.S. Reuters estimates MoneyGram's initial offer would yield a 32% annualized return, though if Ant's bid is scuttled for regulatory reasons, the lack of rival offers would also likely suppress Euronet's bid, probably to around $13 per share. Reuters reports investors are pricing in this possibility, with an analysis of MoneyGram's slide suggesting there's about a 40% chance the Ant takeover won't happen.

Bloomberg News
Bloomberg News

The Fast and First Data: First Data has been lending its brand to sporting ventures, a strategy that's expanding to auto racing.The processor will be a NASCAR sponsor, including the First Data 500 in Martinsville on Oct. 29. The deal is functional, as First Data's Clover point of sale system will be deployed at Martinsville, the oldest NASCAR facility that's still in use, and other racing tracks in Phoenix and Miami. First Data has made stadium and sports franchises part of its distribution strategy, such as by partnering with the Dallas Cowboys on a merchant acquiring venture. First Data also has a naming rights deal with the New York Mets that includes signage and naming rights at the team's minor league and spring training ballpark in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Singapore's payments committee: Payments innovation is in high gear in Singapore, with forays by Amazon, virtual currency providers, wearable payments and a comprehensive mass transit and municipal digital payments project. To help manage the array of projects, the Monetary Authority of Singapore will form a Payments Council that will have 20 leaders from banks, payments service providers, businesses and trade groups. The MAS' ultimate goal is to create a full e-payments culture in Singapore that covers merchants, government and civilian payments. The council will encourage collaboration among stakeholders and promote interoperability among the different projects. Ravi Menon, the managing director of MAS, will chair the council.

A ransom for small business: It's not surprising that the sort of ransomware attacks that have hit payments and other corporate systems around the world hurt small business more than larger companies. But it's the scale of the pain that's shocking. More than one in five small businesses, or 22%, have suffered ransomware attacks severe enough to completely halt their operations, according to Engadget. The technology news site reports the companies aren't large enough to combat the attacks, and also rely on basic technology and web functions to operate. Citing data from Malwarebytes, Engadget also reports 75% of organizations say ransomware is a high priority, though less than half are confident they could deal with an attack.

From the Web

Online giants tap into new market
China Daily | Thu Aug 3, 2017 - Major Chinese internet players are pumping millions of dollars into building "knowledge-sharing" platforms. They are all scrambling to entice a new breed of online user that is eager to learn, or be entertained, and is willing to pay for the experience. Tencent Holdings Ltd has confirmed it will help "content creators" cash in on internet material via subscription fees on WeChat, the country's most popular social media app with more than 900 million active users. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is also making similar moves overseas. Earlier this year, the internet giant rolled out We Media Reward Plan 2, an India-based content platform. Sina Weibo, which is China's answer to Twitter, also launched a paid subscription feature in December known as Weibo Ask. Users can get the answers to an encyclopedia full of questions for a sliding-scale fee. This trend toward paid content is gathering pace.

Square beats expectations on higher transactions
Reuters | Thu Aug 3, 2017 - Payments company Square Inc, reported a better-than-expected 26 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Wednesday, as larger businesses used its technology to process transactions and it expanded the range of financial products it offers. The San Francisco-based company, led by Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, posted a loss of 4 cents per share on revenue of $551.51 million. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 5 cents per share on revenue of $536.27 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

Bitcoin may just be a 'dangerous pricing game,' says NYU's valuation expert
CNBC | Wed Aug 2, 2017 - If bitcoin does not prove its worth as a usable currency, its massive price surge is a "dangerous" game, according to one respected finance professor. "If you don't believe that bitcoin will ever acquire wide acceptance in transactions, it is time that you were honest with yourself and recognized that is just a lucrative, but dangerous, pricing game with no good ending," Aswath Damodaran, a professor of corporate finance and valuation at New York University's Stern School of Business, wrote in a blog post late Tuesday. "Crypto currencies, with bitcoin and ether leading the pack, have succeeded in financial markets by attracting investors, and in the public discourse by garnering attention, but they have not succeeded (yet) as currencies," he said.

More from PaymentsSource

How mobile threatens self-checkout lanes
Not long ago, self-checkout lanes were seen as an encroachment on traditional retail sales, depriving shoppers of the personal touch that comes with interacting with a cashier. Today, this model is under attack from mobile devices, which are both more high-tech and more personal.

Investors looking to move beyond one-size-fits-all rewards
Enticements such as rewards, loyalty points and coupons seldom face pushback as a marketing concept, but there's been recent concern that these programs are devouring potential revenue from consumers who would be willing to pay full price.

Zelle’s reputation has more silver lining than cloud
In what could be considered a premature verdict, LendEDU has released results from a survey conducted in July to assess awareness of the Zelle payment platform that launched in June. The survey found that only 6.1% of interviewees had heard of Zelle.

Indonesian payments company selling U.S. gift cards via bitcoin
Indonesian online payments company KinerjaPay has opened a gift card center enabling consumers to purchase gift cards with bitcoin from major U.S. merchants including Amazon, Starbucks and Barnes & Noble.