11.20.17 Your morning briefing

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

Walmart battles Amazon for home access: Walmart has expanded its delivery heft as a counter to recent Amazon moves such as its Amazon Key service for consumers who aren't at home. Walmart is partnering with online service Deliv to offer same-day delivery, reports TechCrunch. The service is starting in the San Jose area, where consumers can shop and schedule deliveries between 8 AM and 8 PM. One difference with Amazon Key is the consumer can request to have the Deliv courier put groceries away, where Amazon Key couriers are instructed to leave deliveries just inside the consumer's door. Walmart has also partnered with Lyft and Uber on home delivery tests, though TechCrunch reports the retail giant is more focused on curbside pickup service for online orders, a process that is considered less expensive and more in line with Walmart's customer base. Amazon also made a new move to boost home delivery, partnering with mobile app EatLove to produce personalized meals for delivery as part of AmazonFresh, according to Engadget.
PayPal does its bit for Twitch: Video game streaming service Twitch has added PayPal as an option to accept "cheers," or Twitch's version of tipping content streamers through a virtual currency called Bits. Gamers use Twitch to broadcast streams of gaming sessions and communicate with fans. Twitch users can fund their Bits accounts or subscribe to streams through PayPal, according to the Twitch blog, which notes PayPal will be available in markets where it's supported by Google and Android for in-app purchase. Users click on a "get Bits" button to select bits on Twitch, and PayPal will appear as an option along with other services such as Amazon, which owns Twitch. Users can also change payment services on the Twitch app.

Heavy Metal: The status of cryptocurrency in China is in a state of flux because of regulations, but the market is still drawing participants. Metal, a blockchain-based system that uses 'proof-of-processed-payments' to identity users and process rewards for converting fiat currency into cryptocurrency, has made itself available on Huobi.pro, a Chinese cryptocurrency exchange and one of the largest exchanges in Asia. Metal offers Metal Vault, a crypto wallet for storing Metal, Ethereum, ERC20, and Bitcoin. "This integration is a landmark achievement for Metal’s expansion and development," said Metal CEO and cofounder Marshall Hayner in a release. "Metal embraces the Chinese market, and we look forward to growing our community here. This listing advances our mission to make cryptocurrency easy to use, economical and rewarding."

Is Europe next to crack down on cryptocurrency? Ewald Nowotny, a governing council member for the European Central Bank, said legislators and central bank officials are considering stronger regulations on cryptocurrency, similar to China, reports Reuters. China recently banned initial coin offerings, expressing concern over risk and volatility, though critics contend the Chinese government made the move to exercise tighter control over currency. Reuters quoted Nowotny as saying the cryptocurrency market is not large enough to destabilize all financial markets, but investors need more time to study cryptocurrency and its volatility, noting that in the past week alone, bitcoin lost more than a third of its value in a four day span, then largely recovered after a sharp rebound.

Ripple pushes ledger tech for governments: Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse boasts central banks will use distributed ledger technology to settle high-value interbank payments within the next five years, reports Finextra. Ripple has focused mostly on smaller cross-border payments for e-commerce companies and online merchant communities, selling distributed ledgers as a way to take costs and time out of transactions by avoiding third parties such as correspondent banks. Traditional financial institutions have warmed to using blockchain and other distributed ledgers for international payments, despite an early concern that the technology competes with mainstream financial services. Garlinghouse's take is understandably bullish, though government officials in some countries have expressed doubt about the technology's ability to handle larger transactions on national scale. On the other side of the argument, some central governments such as Hong Kong and China are studying use cases for distributed ledgers, including the issuance of government-backed virtual currency.

From the Web

Norwegian banks to combine payment units Vipps, BankAxept, BankID
Reuters | Fri Nov 17, 2017 - DNB, banking group Eika, Sparebank 1 Gruppen and other Norwegian banks said on Friday: Norwegian banks agree to combine payment units Vipps, BankAxept and BankID Norge to improve product offering and prepare for competition against global tech firms. Deal is preliminary, and ownership stakes are still being negotiated. Also aim to promote their products abroad. Today, the three companies are active in different stages of payment transactions.

Square shares rise after Evercore ISI says bitcoin test is innovative, upgrades stock
CNBC | Fri Nov 17, 2017 - Square's bitcoin testing adds to the company's innovative reputation and could spell earnings success down the road, according to one Wall Street analyst. Evercore ISI upgraded shares of Square on Thursday, citing the company's new lineup of payment technology and rapid revenue growth. Square's stock jumped 5.4 percent Thursday after the company said it was testing support for bitcoin through its Cash payments app with a small number of customers. The stock was up more than 2 percent in early trading Friday.

Alibaba invests $2.9B in hypermarket operator Sun Art to continue its offline retail push
TechCrunch | Sun Nov 19, 2017 - Alibaba is continuing its expansion into offline retail after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought up more than one-third of one of Chinese most prolific operators of hypermarket stores. The firm announced today it has spent HK$22.4 billion (around US$2.88 billion) to acquire of 36.16 percent in Sun Art Retail Group, a Hong Kong-listed business that operates 446 hypermarkets across 224 cities in mainland China. The deal makes Alibaba the second largest shareholder in the business, which has a market cap of over US$10 billion. Ruentex, the shareholder that sold to Alibaba, will retain a 4.67 share while French retailer Auchan Retail owns a dominant 36.18 percent.

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