3.12.19 Your morning briefing

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The information you need to start your day, from PaymentsSource and around the Web:

M-Pesa joins Aliexpress
Kenya's Safaricom, the company behind the M-Pesa mobile money system, has entered a deal with Ant Financial to offer the M-Pesa wallet as a payment option for Aliexpress.com, the online shopping portal run by Alibaba, Reuters reports.

The deal is part of Safaricom's effort to transform its mobile wallet into a global payments platform, according to the article, which notes M-Pesa offers payments, savings and loans to more than 21 million people.

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, operates the Alipay mobile wallet. The deal is reminiscent of Alipay's own ambitions to become a global mobile wallet for Chinese travelers by inking deals with merchants abroad.

Amex's travel acquisition
American Express is buying a digital travel company called LoungeBuddy, which provides airport lounge reviews and access via a mobile app.

LoungeBuddy, founded in 2013, has partnered with American Express since 2017 to feed details on more than 1,200 airport lounges to the Amex app for Platinum and Centurion card members, Amex said in a press release.

The companies expect the acquisition to close in April. LoungeBuddy's founders will stay on to run the company as a subsidiary of Amex.

Touch to confirm
London-based NatWest Bank is readying a pilot to test biometric payment cards that use a customer’s fingerprint to authorize transactions instead of a PIN, The Verge reports.

Customers will be asked to use their fingerprint to verify in-store transactions over £30 (US$40), which NatWest said will increase security and convenience for higher-ticket contactless transactions that currently require a PIN.

Digital security company Gemalto is working with Visa and Mastercard to provide technology for the pilot involving about 200 U.K. bank customers of NatWest, a Royal Bank of Scotland Group division.

Phishers on the hook
Three Romanian citizens have pleaded guilty to a variation of phishing that uses voice and text messages instead of emails, Ars Technica reports.

The "vishing" and "smishing" scams used an IVR system to communicate with victims, either from a cold call or a text message prompting them to call a fake bank number, according to federal prosecutors in Atlanta, Ga.

The trio wound up with thousands of compromised account numbers, leading prosecutors to estimate a loss in excess of of $21 million.

From the Web
IBM Cuts Credit Unions Deal For Blockchain Services In $1.7 Trillion Industry
Forbes | Mon March 11, 2019 - IBM and Denver-based credit union service organization CULedger, have struck a collaboration deal by which new blockchain-based services will be pioneered to help credit unions provide their members with greater efficiencies and an enhanced user experience.

Facebook's cryptocurrency could be a $19 billion revenue opportunity, Barclays says
CNBC | Mon March 11, 2019 - Payments could help Facebook develop an entirely new revenue stream aside from advertising — something “sorely needed at this stage of the company’s narrative,” says Barclays internet analyst Ross Sandler.

The rise of gig economy and how it affects fintech
Yahoo News | Mon March 11, 2019 - Most lenders who are on the outlook to serve the gig economy have a very promising opportunity ahead of them. The fintech venture capitalist had an exceptionally productive period in 2018.

More from PaymentsSource
The Most Influential Women in Payments, 2019
Our annual Most Influential Women in Payments feature, now in its seventh year, highlights the women who are creating change and opportunities in the payments industry. For the first time, the editors of PaymentsSource have also recognized one woman for lifetime achievement.

Lifetime achievement honoree: Visa's Ellen Richey
Two years ago, Ellen Richey became Visa's vice chairman and chief risk officer, propelled to this role by over a decade of work that fundamentally changed how the average consumer makes a payment. Richey plans to retire this summer, ending a 40-year career in law and risk management.

Barclays invests in fintechs to transform its mobile app
Barclays is partnering with digital rewards companies as part of its focus on investing in fintech and developing new business models. Its recent investment in Bink, a U.K.-based loyalty platform provider, marks the fourth company in this field that Barclays has partnered with.

Crypto can't be the future of money if its value is unreliable
For crypto adoption and investment to go mainstream, people have to be sure it has staying power and utility, writes Bruce Elliott, president of ICOx Innovations.

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