01.12.18 Your morning briefing

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

Amazon's Dash opens up: Amazon has been gradually adding more technology to Dash, which started as plastic WiFi-connected buttons that people place near household items to automatically reorder when out of stock. Its latest version is a "open" Virtual Dash Button Service, or a software development kit for third parties to place virtual dash buttons on connected devices with screens. Whirlpool, LG and Samsung are already using the service, with Whirlpool saying it will add the virtual Dash buttons to its web-connected refrigerators.
Hyundai's entry to in-car tech: Grab, a car sharing service that rivals Uber in Southeast Asia, has drawn an undisclosed investment from automaker Hyundai. TechCrunch reports this investment follows a $2 billion stake in July from Softbank and other contributors, including Toyota. Grab and Hyundai will work on initiatives including electric cars and onboard technology. Grab has been aggressive in adding payments technology and other mobile services to its ride sharing app.

Faster payments hockey stick: Overall Same Day ACH payments accelerated as 2017 ended, jumping 51% from November to December, according to Nacha, which reports the figures are part of a long line of indicators that faster payments are taking hold. Overall in 2017, the number of Same Day ACH transactions reached 75.1 million, totalling $87 billion, or an average of $1,161 per payment. Same Day ACH debit transactions became available in September 2017, and totalled 18.3 billion by yearend, or $14.5 billion in volume. Consumer bill payments and account-to-account transactions made up 92% of the debit volume, with the rest being B-to-B payments. Same day ACH credits, which have been available since September 2016, increased 47% in the fourth quarter of 2017 over the third quarter.

Lithuania plugs into real-time payments: Lithuania has aggressively pursued new mobile technology, going as far as to launch a Brexit-tied recruitment program to pry companies from the U.K., and it is now adding real-time payments to the mix to support mobile innovation. The Bank of Lithuania has selected the SIAnet fiber optic network to connect to RT1, the European instant payments system that went live late in 2017. Lithuanian banks can access the infrastructure to support payments of as much as about $17,000 in less than 10 seconds at all times. The integration complies with SEPA's instant transfer rules, according to a release from SIA.

From the Web

Cryptocurrencies stage big comeback after trading ban fears wane; bitcoin surges 7 percent from low
CNBC | Thu Jan 11, 2018 - The world may not be ending for digital currencies after all. South Korea's Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said on Thursday that a bill is being prepared to ban all cryptocurrency trading on the country's exchanges, which drove digital currency prices sharply lower. The price of bitcoin tumbled more than 12 percent from its day's high following Park's remarks, according to Coinbase data. The cryptocurrency then rallied more than 7 percent off its low after Reuters reported South Korea's presidential office said the ban plan "had not yet been finalized" and is just one of the things being considered. After the 7 percent comeback, bitcoin was down 5 percent Thursday, according to Coinbase. The news agency added a ban bill "could take months or even years" to pass the country's legislative body.

Desperate to get into bitcoin, investors slip into debt
CNBC | Thu Jan 11, 2018 - Some investors are taking dangerous risks to get into cryptocurrencies. Roughly 18 percent of people who buy bitcoin use a credit card to do so, according to a new survey by loan marketplace LendEDU. Of those, 20 percent have not paid off their balance. The phrase "buy bitcoin with credit" has been trending on Google for weeks. Joseph Borg, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, a voluntary organization devoted to investor protection, said he often hears of people who've made financial sacrifices to own cryptocurrencies.

How Blockchain Could Replace Social Security Numbers
Fortune | Thu Jan 11, 2018 - What about blockchain? Does the new, buzzy technology have the potential to one day replace Social Security numbers? The best answer we have right now is: possibly. Blockchain is the technology behind encrypted, public ledgers for storing data that cannot be erased or changed without leaving a record. It is really good at controlling information and avoiding duplication, which makes it an interesting solution for governing identities. But it’s not a rip and replace for Social Security numbers. In my 20-year career in the technology industry, blockchain is one of the most intricate and unwieldy technologies I’ve seen, so a lot of work must be done to make it a workable backbone for identity management.

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