12.20.17 Your morning briefing

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

Amazon runs into trouble in France: Amazon has made several moves in the past year that threaten retailers in the U.S., such as its acquisition of Whole Foods, its Key home entry delivery system, and its Go cashierless store. But it's now running into trouble with French regulators. Amazon faces a fine of EUR10 million, which would be a record, for mistreating suppliers via one-sided contracts, reports Engadget. The terms are so bad that some sellers may face bankruptcy, Engadget reports, citing the office of France's economic minister, Bruno Le Maire. Amazon allegedly forces sellers to take responsibility for damaged packages, unfulfilled deadlines, and delivery problems. Amazon also changes terms overnight and can suspend dealers at any time, Engadget reports. The city of Paris has also complained about Amazon, contending the e-commerce company could destabilize the Parisian economy. But Amazon is the most popular e-commerce company in France among consumers, with more than 3.5 million daily users. Amazon did not comment to Engadget and did not return a request for comment from PaymentsSource by deadline.
Smart contracts arrive in Italy: A network of Italian banks is building a blockchain to improve payments reconciliation for transactions between banks. FTSE Global Markets reports the Italian Bankers Association's innovation lab (ABI) will use R3 Corda's distributed ledger to improve older reconciliation steps that require too much time and labor; and will also address the challenges that come from managing bilateral data sources. The project will explore how much time it can shave off identifying mismatched payments between banks, the lack of standards for communications, and poor transparency in payments. R3, a consortium of dozens of international banks, technology companies, trade groups and regulators, backs Corda, which uses DLT and smart contracts to execute transactions while protecting privacy and security.

Swiss bank for virtual currency? Crypto Finance has raised EUR13 million to fund its efforts to obtain a Swiss banking licence, reports TechEU. Crypto Finance offers cryptocurrency asset management storage and other facilities, offering an alternative to traditional Swiss banks that have not embraced bitcoin and other virtual currencies, even as banks in other parts of the world start to warm to cryptocurrency. Investors in the funding round include former banker Rainer-Marc Frey and asset management specialist Philipp Cottier, who will join Crypto Finance's board. The Swiss banking license would allow the company to offer a full range of financial services such as payments, savings and credit products. Crypto Finance formed in June and will launch two cryptocurrency investment funds in early 2018 and a storage solution in April.

PCI council names new executive director: Payment technology and card network veteran Lance Johnson is the new executive director of the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), effective January 2018. Johnson, who will be responsible for leading the council's strategic direction, comes to PCI SSC from Sequent Software, where he was COO. Before Sequent, Johnson was with Visa for 20 years, serving as a senior leader for global risk management, security, fraud detection and control, and global payment data and device security. "As new payment platforms are developed and adopted at a remarkable rate, it is more important than ever that payment security standards keep pace," said Johnson in a release. "The opportunities that lie ahead for the PCI Council are enormous and I look forward to leading this next chapter in payment security standards development."

From the Web

The price of the bitcoin bubble: Patent trolls are digging into the blockchain
CNBC | Tue Dec 19, 2017 - The surge in the price of bitcoin has brought attention to the blockchain, the technology that underlies digital currencies. Banks and other corporations are interested in the blockchain as a new method of executing transactions. Patent trolls are also moving in. Erich Spangenberg, who made a name for himself working on drug patents with hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, has put together a company to seek blockchain patents.

Fintech Startups Seek to Shake Up Money Transfer Industry
The Wall Street Journal | Tue Dec 19, 2017 - Remittance startups aim to reduce time, cost required to send money internationally by using the latest technology. The race is on to become the top global app for international money transfers. Fintech startups including WorldRemit Ltd., TransferWise Ltd. and Remitly Inc. are pulling ahead of the pack of the dozens of companies trying to disrupt the remittance industry, using the latest technology to send money internationally.

Payments regulator urged to prevent 'ATM deserts' in parts of UK
The Guardian | Wed Dec 20, 2017 - The UK payments regulator is being urged to intervene in the row over changes to the Link network that has led to fears that parts of the UK could become “ATM deserts”. Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP and chair of the Treasury select committee, has told the Payment System Regulator (PSR) that it is responsible for ensuring that the needs of consumers are not jeopardised by the proposals to cut the fee that card issuers pay to machine operators when customers use their cards.

More from PaymentsSource

How ICOs are bringing bitcoin's worst problems back to light
Over the last few weeks the SEC has clamped down on two Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) — and in doing so, raises questions about whether shady ICOs are a byproduct of other avenues for cryptocurrency fraud being closed down.

E-commerce needs more than digital transactions to handle holiday spikes
Bandwidth, sophisticated content and store locators can all help retailers draw and keep consumers as digital shopping and payments become mainstream, writes Herman Yau, CEO of Tend.

Why even low-value data requires a strong security response
Stolen payment card data is a bad investment. There's just far more stolen payment credentials available than the "market" will bear.

Chase urges card users to pay with its mobile wallet—or someone else’s
JPMorgan Chase & Co. will soon kick off a cash-back incentive for credit card customers who pay with a mobile wallet, and it doesn’t matter if the transaction is handled by its proprietary Chase Pay platform or Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay.

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