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Crypto AML crackdown down under: Australia's government has been updating its regulations to accommodate new payment technology for most of the past year, and is taking additional steps to regulate digital currencies. Regulation Tommorow reports Australia's Senate has passed legislation that expands anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing rules to digital currency exchanges. The exchanges will have to monitor and report red flag transactions to a government agency that analyzes suspicious financial transactions for illegal activity. Exchanges that trade bitcoin, ether and similar currencies will have to register with the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre to ensure compliance with KYC and other money laundering laws. Australia's Parliament recently recognized digital currency as money, subject to tax, a move that was designed to bring more transparency to digital currency rather than rein it in as China and Russia have.

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Empty handed: Aeon Bank has developed a biometric-based authentication system that supports access to ATMs and automated teller windows without using a card or entering a PIN. Technology company Morfina built the device, which allows people to use finger veins and fingerprints for biometric authentication. The technology company also manages a software library to store and manage finger-based identity. The bank's goal is to power payments and other transactions at ATMs and self-service kiosks without the consumer having to use any device, card or phone—a step beyond the mobile-powered cardless ATMs that have been introduced in some American and European markets. Japan-based Aeon has introduced the system to five branches for a proof-of-concept and hopes to have the system in all branches by October 2018, according to a release.

International B-to-B: Canada's Nanopay has lured business accounts through real-time settlement and is turning to international business transfers as a diversification play. The service will process B-to-B payments between bank accounts, with service between Canada and the U.S. starting in February 2018, with India and China to follow in the second quarter of 2018. Nanopay hopes to serve the fast-growing international payments market, which is getting a boost from businesses that are looking to diversify markets for sourcing. By focusing on U.S./Canada and U.S./China, Nanopay is serving two of the world's largest B-to-B corridors, with a large upside given that most business payments in all markets are still made with checks. Nanopay hopes to cut into that paper-based market by supplying context to payments along with ISO 20022 metadata to power straight through processing without exchanging sensitive bank information.

GrabPay grabs Malaysian e-money license: Grab has aggressive plans to turn its ride-sharing app into a gateway for myriad payment services in Asia and other markets. It's taken a big step by gaining regulatory approval to launch GrabPay, its mobile payment service, in Malaysia. Finextra reports the Malaysian central bank granted the license as part of a government effort to shift away from cash payments toward mobile payment apps and other digital options. The government expects that removing cash handling and services could save the overall national economy more than 1% from reduced payment processing costs. Grab, which will work directly with the government to migrate consumers from cash payments to mobile transactions, says GrabPay will roll out in stages to drivers during 2018.

From the Web

Insider Q&A: PayPal founder talks digital payments, bitcoin
ABC News | Sun Dec 10, 2017 - Max Levchin helped introduce the masses to the concept of a digital wallet when he co-founded PayPal in the late 1990s. These days, he's still trying to use online services to reshape the world of finance. He is currently CEO of Affirm, a San Francisco startup that offers fixed-payment loans through the internet. It's an alternative to traditional credit cards, which can get consumers into trouble because small minimum payments they make each month can keep them in debt for decades. Levchin, now 42, recently connected with The Associated Press to discuss the state of digital payments, computer security and bitcoin, a cryptocurrency whose value has ranged from about $1,000 to more than $19,000 this year as investors have bet on its future prospects.

HMRC bans payments by credit card as deadline looms
The Times | Sat Dec 9, 2017 - HM Revenue & Customs is to stop accepting credit card payments less than three weeks before the deadline for submitting, and paying, self-assessment tax returns. Some 454,000 people paid their tax using a personal credit card last year, with HMRC taking about £12 million a year in commission, which it says it has to pay the credit card companies to process payments. About 10.5 million people are expected to submit a self-assessment tax return by January 31.

Why the end may be near for bitcoin, but just maybe
CBS Moneywatch | Fri Dec 8, 2017 - The latest cryptocurrency excitement seems to stem from word that institutional investors are on the verge of joining in on the bitcoin craze. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange both plan to start trading in bitcoin futures later this month. Yet, I can't help but fear a nasty end. Regulators seem spooked, with South Korea's prime minister fearing "serious pathological phenomena," while the UK plans a crackdown by forcing users to disclose their identities. Russia and China have already leaned against the trend. And in the US, the IRS won a case against Coinbase -- a popular cryptocurrency exchange -- to disclose user information amid a wide gap between the number of bitcoin traders and the number reporting gains for tax purposes.

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