Morning Brief 3.20.20: Canadian central bank asks stores to support cash amid pandemic

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Defending cash

The Bank of Canada has asked retailers to not ban cash transactions over coronavirus fears, saying many consumers do not have access to other methods of payment.

The move comes as some merchants start to refuse cash payments, reports Reuters, adding stores are increasingly pushing cards and mobile apps.

Canada's central bank says the risks from cash are not greater than other surfaces such as doorknobs and kitchen counters.

The other side

U.K. chain Costa Coffee is refusing to accept cash over concerns paper notes more easily transmit the coronavirus. It's also making other social distancing moves such as removing seating areas and moving to a carry-out only model.

The perceived link between cash and the virus has spurred a move to digital payments and an increase in no-cash policies at some stores. But it also threatens to extend an existing controversy that will likely outlast the outbreak.

Politicians have pushed laws banning no-cash stores, and Amazon Go introduced a cash option after political pressure.

License center

MatchMove has joined the list of fintechs trying to obtain a digital banking license in Singapore, which is using the new licenses to boost financial services competition.

MatchMove, which offers a digital wallet and virtual payment cards, has brought partners in on its license application, reports Finextra. Those partners are Singapura, a fintech that offers lending; Lightnet, a clearing and settlement network; and OpenPayd, a banking as a service platform.

The consortium of fintechs hopes to serve small businesses and gig economy apps with its banking license. About two dozen firms have applied for Singapore banking licenses, according to Finextra.

Fee relief

Processor Shift4 Payments is eliminating fees for digital payments for the next three months as part of its coronavirus relief plan.

The firm focuses on mobile order ahead and digital pay-at-table services for restaurants, which are largely moving to pickup or delivery only during the crisis, reports Verdict.

Removing fees has become a common practice during the pandemic as fintechs try to move money to affected areas faster while building usage of automated payments.

House of Dee

Bangkok-based remittance platform DeeMoney will use Ripple's blockchain to support cross-border payments.

The company provides same-day settlement for Thai bank accounts, explains CoinDesk. DeeMoney hopes to reach Ripple's partner base of more than 300 banks to standardize international transactions.

Thailand is one of the world's largest remittance markets, with more than one million overseas workers, according to CoinDesk.

From the Web

Banking And Cash During COVID-19 Crisis: Some Branches Close, Yet ATM Fees May Be Waived
FORBES | Thu March 19, 2020
Retail banks are scrambling to respond to customer and worker safety concerns as well as to guidance from bank regulators and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Banks are starting to modify or curtail in-person branch services, such as Capital One, KeyBank, TD Bank and Huntington Bank, which have announced changes to their operating hours and practices that are taking effect this week.

Coronavirus Spread Puts Fintech Lenders At Risk
FORBES | Thu March 19, 2020
Among financial technology companies, those lending money to average Americans may be facing the biggest risks, as unemployment grows and any stimulus Congress passes replaces only a portion of lost income. The first and most obvious fear is that people won’t pay back their loans.

Right on the money
BANGKOK POST | Fri March 20, 2020
Cash payment growth in Thailand is expected to shrink in the coming years as digital payment transactions expand exponentially, says Bank of Thailand governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.

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