Morning Brief 8.25.20: Amazon Go may be coming to Whole Foods

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

Whole checkout

Amazon reportedly plans to deploy the cashierless technology from its Go stores in its Whole Foods chain by the second quarter of 2021, the most aggressive expansion yet for Amazon's checkout-free tech, which has mostly been deployed in smaller, custom stores.

It's one of the final projects for Jeff Wilke, the CEO of Amazon's worldwide consumer division, reports The Verge. Wilke is retiring in early 2021 and will be replaced by Dave Clark. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

Amazon has been working on adding its Go technology to larger stores, a move that could include shopping malls. Amazon is additionally testing checkout-free technology in shopping carts in an attempt to reach larger footprints.

Wide net

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's study of digitizing government money has accelerated with an evaluation of more than 30 blockchain networks to see if any could support a digital dollar.

The Boston Fed is considering both open source and private ledgers and is gauging scalability, privacy and the ability to resist cyber attacks, reports Coindesk. The work is part of a joint project with MIT to build and test central bank digital currency (CBDC) concepts.

The U.S. has not announced it's working on a CBDC, though it's likely, given the advancement in other countries such as China and private sector interest in CBDCs from firms such as Visa.

More than one way

Buoyed by a jump in government disbursement payments during the economic crisis, numerous countries are working on central bank digital currencies, but there are different approaches that rely on the maturity of payments technology.

In countries with a large percentage of digital payment usage and declining cash and checks, central banks are concerned about ensuring access to public sector payments, reports Finextra, citing research from the Bank for International Settlements. For emerging economies, the concern is more about bringing people into the financial system, which is considered safer and potentially more sanitary than all-cash economies.

Central bank digital currencies are also seen as a way to counter large technology firms that produce or collect massive amounts of consumer data. Digital currencies are also a route to improve digital ID.

Wallet debut

The Bank of Ireland has made its initial foray into mobile payments with Google Pay providing the primary support.

The bank will use Google's app to support personal debit, credit and business debit cards, enabling a range of consumers and businesses. Contactless and in-app payments in stores will also be covered, allowing the bank to reach consumers who have moved to digital payments in droves since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The support is part of a broader strategy at the Bank of Ireland to push digital financial services including digital account opening, flat-fee subscriptions that allow unlimited contactless payments and ATM use.

From the Web

Alibaba's Ant Group files for blockbuster Hong Kong, Shanghai dual listing
REUTERS | Tuesday Aug 25, 2020
Ant Group, Alibaba's fintech arm and China's dominant mobile payments firm, filed for a dual listing in Hong Kong and on Shanghai's Nasdaq-style STAR Market on Tuesday and could raise as much as $30 billion in what would be the world's largest IPO.

Mastercard acquired and shut down IfOnly, an experiences marketplace hit by COVID-19
TECHCRUNCH | Monday Aug 24, 2020
Mastercard told TechCrunch that it has folded the tech and team into Priceless — its own experiences marketplace — after initially leading a strategic investment in the company in 2018.

Peter Thiel-backed workplace app Asana files for direct listing on NYSE
REUTERS | Monday Aug 24, 2020
Workplace app Asana Inc on Monday unveiled plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange through a direct listing, adding to a growing number of tech companies debuting this year.

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