Morning Brief 6.15.20: Amex plans to clear payments in China by year-end

Register now

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

License to clear

American Express says the People's Bank of China has given it a network clearing license for RMB transactions, one of the largest steps yet for one of the westnern companies wishing to process domestic payments in China.

Amex's joint venture, Express Hangzhou Technology Service Limited, expects to begin clearing transactions later this year, Amex said in a release. Chinese regulators gave earlier clearances to Amex that were less tangible, mostly acknowledging receipt of the payment company's application.

Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and other non-Chinese companies have for years attempted to build domestic payment processing in China, but have repeatedly run into roadblocks. China has long promised to open its financial system to outside companies, often under international pressure, but often shifts requirements quickly, making it hard for these companies to gain final approval.

Less clicks

Google is reportedly trying to broaden its ties to merchants by allowing stores to set up branded buttons inside the Google Pay app.

The buttons would reduce navigation between shopping and payments, reports The Information, adding Google has started approaching merchants to accept the features, pitching it as "one stop" navigation.

The move would partly be a pandemic response, as Google hopes to appeal to merchants adjusting to a spike in online shopping as stores are either closed or partially open.

Mobile wallets have been expanding in the past year, with Samsung recently announcing plans to add a debit card, partly to counter Apple's credit card issued in partnership with Goldman Sachs.

Google is also working on account based products with Citigroup and Stanford Federal Credit Union, Like Samsung's debit card, this is designed to reach a broader audience without managing credit scores. Google did not provide a comment.

Dollar science

As political discussions focus on how a U.S. digital dollar will be distributed and the role of the Federal Reserve and the banking system, the U.S. government has started work on the underlying technology.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $225,000 grant to blockchain company KRNC to design cryptocurrency elements for U.S. currency, reports Coindesk.

KRNC supports a protocol that could allocate cryptocurrencies to traditional money, which could then be distributed to users. This would allow people to interact with decentralized applications without having to purchase cryptocurrencies, thus supporting government-issued money.

Work expenses

Mastercard has extended a deal with EedenBull and will support the Edinburgh/Oslo-based payment company's digital transformation of its corporate spending platform.

EedenBull's QBusiness tracks and processes purchases staff make on behalf of their employer through a mix of cards, an app and integration with corporate accounting systems.

Mastercard will work with EedenBull to boost scale, digital capacity and attempt to add more markets. EedenBull works with 65 Norwegian banks that offer EedenBull to a few thousand small businesses.

Ban on bitcoin

India's government has long been opposed to cryptocurrency, but wants to tighten restrictions through a potential law that would be an outright ban.

Proponents of the law believe it would provide more legal grounds than Reserve Bank restrictions, which have been subject to court disputes, reports Economic Times.

India's stance has cooled plans for cryptocurrency projects such as Facebook's Libra, though Facebook has invested in other payment-related technology projects in India.

Lights out

Knoxville is the latest in a series of cities to suffer a ransomware attack severe enough to knock out parts of the municipal IT system.

The attack came fast enough to encrypt multiple systems, causing the public website and court network to shut down, reports ZDNet. Emergency services such as police, fire and 911 operate on a separate server and were not impacted.

A recent ransomware attack shut Travelex while Atlanta, towns in Louisiana, Baltimore and other jurisdictions have also been hit in recent years.

From the Web

Fintech Startup Synapse Lays Off Nearly 50% Of Full-Time Staff
FORBES | Mon June 15, 2020
Fintech startup Synapse, which makes digital banking software for other fintechs, is laying off 63 people, or nearly 50% of its full-time staff because of the effects on business of the COVID-19 outbreak.

India’s Rumored Crypto Ban May Be Overblown, Say Industry Pros
YAHOO FINANCE | Mon June 15, 2020
Announced Monday, Ziglu allows users to exchange GBP for bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash, with more fiat currencies to be added and a debit card coming in July or August.

JotForm partners PayPal to expand payment options
VERDICT | Mon June 15, 2020
The partnership will integrate the JotForm platform with PayPal to expedite payments for users purchasing through a payment form.

More from PaymentsSource

Starbucks’ coronavirus plan demonstrates the future of fast food
For Starbucks, the pandemic’s emergency workarounds are also a proving ground for a retail concept that could change the way people visit quick-serve restaurants.

Uncertainty calls for flexible accounts payable strategy
Nobody knows what the next six to 12 months are going to look like. That means AP needs to focus on conserving cash while keeping operations moving, says Nvoicepay's Josh Cyphers and Derek Halpern.

Coronavirus creates strong demand for mobile wallets in Latin America
Latin America is seeing a surge in digital wallet adoption as governments seek ways to disburse coronavirus aid to vulnerable citizens, and consumers look for safe alternatives to cash.

MineralTree, TransferMate work to improve global B2B payment options
MineralTree has retooled its platform so midsize corporations may process domestic and international invoices through one channel, and the firm has also formed a partnership with TransferMate to improve users' global currency payment options.

European VCs invest $8 million in APEXX Global
APEXX Global has completed a Series A fundraiser, bringing in $8 million from existing and new U.K. and Scandinavian investors to expand its payments platform.

Mom-and-pop shops left holding bag in consumer card disputes
In her time using Square as a payments processor, Stephanie Rubio’s digital marketing agency had never had a customer challenge a card transaction.

How coronavirus, mishandled data make a mess of AP transactions
Inaccurate payments have plagued accounts payable and receivable departments from the time suppliers' contracts and invoices were stored in boxes and file drawers to the dawn of data-driven digital transactions.

Coronavirus' rush to digital doesn't preclude solutions for cash
In mid-March, SAQ, the Canadian wine and spirits retailer, asked clients to use payment cards only, which was an unprecedented restriction. We’ve seen similar moves on the part of U.S. companies – in late March, signs began appearing in and around Seattle in the windows of Dick’s Drive-In locations, stating, “In an abundance of caution, we ask that you please pay with credit or debit card if possible rather than cash.”

As cash fades, digital needs to be as ubiquitous as paper
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive consumers indoors and online, small and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, are quickly learning that they can no longer rely on physical payment methods to keep the cash flowing. Whether by desire or necessity, consumers are moving their spending online. What’s more, even when the pandemic subsides, many believe consumers may never go back to shopping as they did before.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.