9.1.17: Your morning briefing
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:
Nets deal: American private equity firm Hellman & Friedman is leading the race to acquire Scandinavian processor Nets, with a deal potentially reaching $5 billion, according to the Financial Times. Nets is working with investment banking advisors including JPMorgan Chase to explore a possible sale. It met in recent days to discuss bids, with private equity and other payment companies both expressing interest. It's also possible Nets will not reach a deal with any buyer, the FT reported. Nets, which has hundreds of banking clients in the Nordic region, told the newspaper on Friday that discussions are still ongoing regarding a potential takeover.
The art of cryptotokens: Pantera Capital, a distributed ledger investment firm and one of the largest bitcoin owners, plans to make an investment in Maecenas, a "decentralized" art gallery that uses cryptographic tokens to buy art. Maecenas plans a public token crowdsale on Sept. 7 that will offer ART tokens that allow users to auction art from Picasso, Goya and others. Maecenas' goal is to provide a more "democratized" low or no-fee alternative to the large auction houses and private dealers that dominate the art market. Pantera Capital has launched a $100 million hedge fund for crypto asset tokens. It has invested in South Korean bitcoin exchange Korbit and altcoins Ripple and Zcash.
Bleep's new ISO: Point of sale manufacturer Bleep UK PLC has launched a new independent sales organization (ISO) and merchant services provider. Called Bleep Payments, the organization will offer card payment terminals that can be integrated with Bleep EPOS, other companies' electronic point of sale systems, or as standalone card processing devices. Bleep's client based is mostly retail and hospitality, though it also offers short-term or flexible contracts for sporting, entertainment or convention events. Bleep's signature deals in the past have included partnerships with Ingenico to power payments for the 2016 European Football Championships in France and the 2012 Olympics in London.
Blockchain 'rockets': Starta, a New York-based accelerator, has rolled out "Token Rockets," a program for startups in blockchain technology. The program will train developers in payments and other uses for blockchain technology, and will support a crowdsale of cryptographic tokens for the startups. The program will start in September and will focus on developers in Eastern Europe, which will be challenged to find ways to introduce cryptographic tokens into business models, such as a way to settle transactions between counterparties. The token sale is designed to fund the startups, and also form a community of blockchain users that can communicate about the technology and can give feedback on new concepts in the future. Starta's founders have already benefited from the model, raising $5 million this summer in a token sale through CrossCoin, a digital currency accelerator that has worked with Ripple.
From the Web
Amazon Web Services Could Pay A Steep Price For Amazon's Retail Arm
Forbes | Thu Aug 31, 2017 - Several years ago I sat on panel where each member was asked to weigh in on whether or not retailers would utilize a payment program conceived and operated by Amazon. A platform that would presumably provide Amazon with key customer information and data that would otherwise be owned by the retailer or a payment processor such as Visa or Paypal. The consensus was no, that would be insane. And in the years since, Amazon has indeed had trouble getting a Paypal-like payment program off the ground. But Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been something else. In rudimentary terms, AWS are servers that host online operations for a variety of businesses, including Amazon's own.
The Most Popular Bitcoin Exchange Is Getting a Ton of Complaints
Fortune | Thu Aug 31, 2017 - The most popular online exchange for trading digital currencies is generating a surge in customer complaints this year even as investors are lured by a dramatic rise in prices. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has received at least 293 complaints about Coinbase Inc., according to data reviewed by Bloomberg. That compares with about six complaints for all of 2016, and makes Coinbase the biggest recipient of CFPB virtual currency complaints this year. The website has struggled to keep up with spiking volume and longer transaction processing times as the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies soared to record highs. More than a third of the grievances came from individuals who said they were unable to access their money when promised. Many people also complained about other transaction or service problems. Accusations of fraud represented less than 15 percent of the complaints.
More Banks Join UBS-Led Blockchain Scheme to Speed Up Settlements
Fortune | Thu Aug 31, 2017 - The roster of banks supporting UBS's big blockchain initiative has swelled with the addition of Barclays, HSBC, State Street, Credit Suisse, MUFG and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The banks join UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander, BNY Mellon and the financial services firm NEX in working on the so-called "utility settlement coin" (USC), which is intended to smooth the way for inter-bank settlements. The USC is a collateralized digital coin that banks could use to pay one another or to buy securities more quickly. While traditional money transfers take awhile to occur, the USC would use a distributed ledger—a blockchain, like the one that underpins bitcoin—to record transactions quickly and allow payment tokens to go straight to the owner of the asset being sold, rather than passing through clearinghouses.
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