Morning Brief 1.24.20: Apple ties gym incentives to wearable payment tech

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

Working out

Apple is pushing wearables at the gym through partnerships with fitness centers. Its initial partners include Orangetheory, Basecamp Fitness, YMCA and Crunch Fitness.

The gyms can join Apple for free, as long as they support Apple's technology. To partner with Apple, gyms must offer iPhone and Apple Watch apps that track workouts and classes, reports Engadget. The gyms must also support Apple Pay.

Apple hopes the gym outreach will boost Earn with Watch, an Apple incentive marketing program that allows consumers to earn gift cards by hitting specific goals. Apple is also asking gyms to support Apple's GymKit, which syncs machines to Apple Watch through Bluetooth and NFC.

Cyber Canada

Mastercard is opening an innovation center in Vancouver to focus on digital security. Called the Intelligence and Cyber Centre, it's part of the Canadian government's Strategic Innovation Fund, with Mastercard investing an added $510 million.

The card brand will employ 380 people at the facility, which will build products designed to be usable across Mastercard's international network.

Initial work will include projects dedicated to machine learning and vulnerabilities connected to internet of things payments.

Taking account

U.K. fintech Revolut has partnered with Flagstone to expand into savings in the U.K.

Revolut hopes higher interest rates will lure consumers, contending there's a potential market for consumers that have had a traditional bank account for more than five years that are getting lower rates than available from fintechs.

The savings account is built on Revolut's Vaults feature, which rounds up card payments and saves the difference. Revolut says more than 2.5 Vaults have been opened over the past two years, with more than $1.3 billion in aggregate savings, reports Finextra.

One step closer

PayPal plans to extend its reach in China through a partnership with the state-operated UnionPay.

Some UnionPay consumers will be able to use PayPal, while PayPal could have access to UnionPay merchants inside China, reports Abacus News.

PayPal's effort to establish a payment market in China is a bit further along than other U.S. companies, such as Visa and Mastercard.


Personal finance firm SoFi is replacing Visa with Mastercard, which will drive a bundle of new products.

The initial launch will be the SoFi Money debit card, supporting mobile check deposit, P2P transfers and other services. Mastercard will add new incentive marketing, airport concierge and other digital features in the months ahead.

The two companies also plan a range of retail experiences at SoFi Stadium, which is opening in Los Angeles this year to house the Rams and Chargers.

From the Web

Central Banks Warm to Issuing Digital Currencies
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | Thu January 23, 2020
More than one-fifth of the world’s population could have access to digital money issued by central banks to pay for groceries, movie tickets and even homes in the next few years, as these institutions accelerate plans to issue official cryptocurrencies. One in 10 central banks surveyed in 2019 said it was likely to offer digital currencies within the next three years, covering about 20% of the world’s population, according to a report from the Bank for International Settlements.

Japan's Mercari buys payments app provider Origami
REUTERS | Thu January 23, 2020
Japanese fleamarket app operator Mercari Inc. is buying rival cashless payments business Origami for an undisclosed sum, continuing consolidation in the fast-growing sector. The Origami acquisition announced on Thursday comes as money losing Mercari looks to make headway in the United States, where it competes with the likes of eBay and Craigslist.

BitPay Taps Simplex to Smooth Cryptocurrency Purchases
FINANCE MAGNATES | Thu January 23, 2020
BitPay today announced that users on their platform will now be able to purchase cryptocurrency directly in the App with bank cards after it has inked a partnership with payment provider Simplex. The agreement will give BitPay a fiat onramp to conduct and settle crypto transactions, a grey area of business where a gauntlet of KYC requirements and other regulations kick in.

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