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Echo chamber no more: Financial institutions and payment companies are keeping an eye on Amazon Echo as a potential channel for voice-controlled loyalty marketing and bill payments. Amazon is reportedly addressing one issue with Echo by adding customized voice detection, according to TechCrunch. This will allow multiple users in the same home to have personalized experiences based on voice recognition. Amazon is offering its new technology with Flash Briefings, shopping, music and Alexa's calling functions, with other functionality to be added later, TechCrunch reports. The article notes Amazon is behind Google in this advancement—the search giant introduced customized voice recognition in April, and is marketing it as part of its new line of voice-controlled speakers announced this month.

Amazon Echo
Bloomberg News

Cryptobills: ZenCash is collaborating with digital currency payments company Welto to power ZenCash's virtual currency for bill payments, as well as track payment status. The combined service will support ZenCash payments via an integration of CoinPayments, a gateway system that eliminates the need to use an exchange to convert cryptocurrency to fiat currency, according to an announcement from ZenCash. Users will be able to pay bills in ZenCash, processing in 24 to 48 hours through a link to their ZenCash wallets. Welto additionally tracks the exchange rate of ZenCash to U.S. dollars, which is automatically updated every 15 minutes. Welto is available at the iTunes and Google Play stores, and is also integrated into Amazon Echo devices. "We are confident that this integration will incentivize more users to adopt ZenCash not only as a store of value, but also as a means of payment,” said Rob Viglione, founder of ZenCash, in a release.

Federated ID gets more users in Canada: A Canadian national ID project that covers payments and other services that require personal data and has added another major member. National Bank of Canada, one of the country's largest financial institutions, has joined the ID network, enabling clients to verify not just payments but bank accounts, driver's licenses and utilities, according to an announcement form SecureKey, the company supplying the technology for the ID initiative that uses a blockchain to share attributes. Other partners are BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank and TD. Other participants on the initiative are The Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) and the Command Control and research center Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analytics (CCICADA). The ID project is also part of a broader upgrade of the Canadian payments ecosystem to accommodate faster payments and mobile commerce.

Cash free in six years: Sweden may be totally cash free by 2023 as cards, and to a lesser degree mobile apps, take over. Citing research from the Copenhagen School of Economics, NBC reports 97% of retailers accept cash payments, but only 18% of transactions involve cash, and the amount of cash in circulation has dropped 40% in the past seven years. The trends suggest cash usage will be negligible within six years, though cash will still be in circulation and stores will still accept cash for a few years after that. Unlike India, where the government has been proactive in removing cash from circulation, the migration in Sweden has been more organic, with consumers moving more of their payments to cards, NBC reports. So far mobile payments have not taken off, making up less than one percent of payments in Sweden, though that percentage is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years as consumers get more comfortable with the technology.

From the Web

FastPay acquires media payments company AnchorOps
TechCrunch | Wed Oct 11, 2017 - FastPay has acquired AnchorOps in a deal that brings together two businesses focused on media financing. FastPay’s model revolves around lending money to digital media companies, helping them deal with cashflow issues as they wait to get paid by advertisers. AnchorOps, meanwhile, has built invoicing and payments software for those media companies. In the acquisition announcement, CEO Jed Simon said the deal allows FastPay to create “a single platform to address the full spectrum of customer needs.” He also said the entire 30-person AnchorOps team will be joining FastPay, with founder and CEO David Frogel becoming chief revenue officer. “The AnchorOps team will comprise the core of FastPay’s payment business and we intend to continue investing it and growing the team,” Simon said.

Digital payments to enormously benefit world economy: Research
China Daily | Thu Oct 12, 2017 - Moving from cash to digital payments will provide enormous direct advantages to consumers, businesses and governments, according to a research released by Visa, a leading global payments technology company, on Wednesday. Thanks to technological developments, more and more people have been adopting digital payments in their daily life all around the world. A cashless society, says Michael Busk-Jepsen of the Danish Bankers Association, "is no longer an illusion but a vision that can be fulfilled in a reasonable time frame." The research covered 100 major cities across 80 countries in the world, and found that increasing digital payments across these cities could result in total direct net benefits of $470 billion per year, representing more than three percent of combined GDP of all these cities.

'Crypto Anchors' Might Stop the Next Equifax-Style Megabreach
Wired | Wed Oct 11, 2017 - Security engineer Diogo Mónica put a name to an IT architecture idea that's been technically possible for years, but only more recently adopted in firms that actually need to safeguard troves of sensitive user data: "Crypto Anchors." The system, which Mónica and his colleague Nathan McCauley put into place at the payment firm Square before moving to enterprise software firm Docker in 2015, encrypts the contents of databases with a key that's stored on a separate, single-purpose, hardened computer known as a Hardware Security Module, or HSM. When another computer in the company's network tries to access a database's records—whether it's an innocent query from an employee's PC, or a hacked web server hijacked by intruders to suck out a cache of secrets en masse—that HSM acts as a strict gatekeeper, decrypting each of those records one by one.

More from PaymentsSource

Virtual cards could benefit from even more automation
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Discover plugs into Apple Pay for a digital spin on rewards
Discover joined Apple Pay nearly a year after the mobile wallet came to market, so it has some catching up to do if it wants to be the top-of-wallet choice. Its new in-app rewards feature may give it the visibility it needs.

Amazon rolls out option for teen shoppers
Amazon is giving its Prime members another channel for spending with a service for teenagers to do their own shopping on a household account, subject to parental review.

Data: Tracking EMV's effect on online fraud
It has now been two years since the EMV fraud liability shift took effect in the U.S. for most companies. This is enough time to evaluate the EMV migration's effect on fraud, and whether it can be blamed for anything happening in digital channels.