Morning Brief 4.8.20: Alipay welcomes the return of Wuhan business after shutdown

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As Wuhan emerges from lockdown, Ant Financial’s Alipay mobile payments and shopping app has rolled out a series of initiatives to support commercial activity in the Chinese city hit by coronavirus, according to a press release.

Alipay has created a special landing page on the app showcasing Wuhan merchants as they reopen for business, with plans to spotlight various Wuhan area restaurants and tourist sites through videos appearing on the app in upcoming weeks.

Merchants may apply for loans through Alipay via the “Zero Contact” campaign backed by Ant Financial’s online MYbank along with 100 other Chinese banks. For one month MYbank is waiving interest rates on loans for Wuhan retailers while merchants in the surrounding areas of Hubei province qualify for discounted rates, Alipay said.

Remote control

Coronavirus may help phase out coin-operated laundry machines. Jetz Service Co. this week announced it’s expanding mobile payment capabilities to all washing machines and dryers it operates in 18 states in apartment complexes, colleges, campgrounds and truck stops, the Topeka, Kan.-based laundry machine operator said in a press release.

Jetz had already begun converting about half of its machines to accept Bluetooth-powered mobile payments via an app, using technology provided by Portland, Ore.-based PayRange. But the coronavirus crisis forced the company to accelerate those plans, as local shutdowns made access to collections and service difficult, Jetz said.

Users who link a payment card to the app get their first wash free, and Jetz also is allowing users to do laundry even if they have a negative balance on their app during the coronavirus crisis.

Fresh start

Mastercard is lending a hand to small businesses coronavirus has hurt, by committing $250 million in support that includes extending free access to Mastercard's business tools for millions of companies participating in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.

Small businesses eligible for the SBA’s loan program under the U.S. government’s CARES Act may use Mastercard’s cyber vulnerability assessments and identity theft protection services free for 90 days, Mastercard said in a press release. Participating U.S. small business owners also will have free access to Mastercard’s Local Market Intelligence solution, which provides insights into local consumer spending patterns, the card network said.

Mastercard’s small-business coronavirus support is connected to $500 million the company promised to put toward inclusive growth in response to the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, including financial, technical, product and insight support, the release said.

Reborn

Swedish high school students are creating outfits that pay their own way by adding contactless payments technology to recycled clothing. The project, co-sponsored by Stockholm-based payments startup Fidesmo, aims to showcase how contactless payments can support sustainability, Finextra reports.

Students will design ways to embed NFC chips within second-hand clothes, jewelry and accessories, adding new life to discarded items. Fidesmo launched its services in Germany last year rolling out Fidesmo Pay in conjunction with the VIMPay and Mastercard.

From the web

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Neat, a Hong Kong-based fintech startup, announced today that it has raised a $11 million Series A to help small businesses do cross-border trade. Neat also announced a strategic partnership with Visa, which means that in the next few months Neat will start issuing Visa credit cards to SMEs and startups.

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