3.14.19 Your morning briefing

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

5G facial fares
Using the speed of a 5G network, a subway operator in Shenzhen, China, is testing facial recognition as a way to charge commuters for travel, The Verge reports.

It's not as seamless as the scenes from "Minority Report" — consumers must go to a specific screen to scan their faces, much like they would have to scan a fare card at a turnstile, according to the article.

Though it seems invasive, The Verge notes that this is probably tracking the same data already provided by users' fare cards; and that major Chinese cities already have heavy surveillance systems.

Amex's product mix
American Express is in a highly competitive market for credit card rewards, and its reliance on transaction fees comes with some risk, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Though Amex's costs for rewards as a percentage of consumer spending came in lower than rivals such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, it also draws significant revenue on products such as charge cards, which don't allow users to carry a balance and thus don't allow Amex to charge interest, the article notes.

This, coupled with increased lending on traditional credit cards, increase Amex's exposure to an economic downturn, the Journal states.

Debit downer
MoviePass — which offered cheaper, subscription-based movie tickets by relying on Mastercard's Honor All Cards policies — has lost its relatively new day-to-day executive, Khalid Itum, Engadget reports.

Itum's departure is the latest in a series of setbacks for MoviePass, including other leadership departures and an issue with overstating its subscription revenue by counting suspended accounts in its reporting, the article states.

MoviePass has always had a troubled business model, as its ticket service ran over the objections of movie theater chains like AMC, which were initially required to accept its debit cards despite not agreeing to sell discounted tickets.

Taking flight
Blackbird — basically a version of Uber or Lyft for planes — has raised $10 million in a Series A round led by NEA, TechCrunch reports.

Blackbird is currently limited to California, and allows flyers to purchase their trips in bulk by paying for credit in advance and earning a discount of up to 25%.

Companies in the ride-sharing (or in this case, flight-sharing) market typically branch out into financial services and payments, such as Uber's in-app credit card management and Grab's financial services operations.

From the Web
Ysplit wants to make it so you never owe your friends money again
TechCrunch | Wed March 13, 2019 - Ysplit, a company launching out of Y Combinator, wants to make it so you never have to owe anyone ever again. It works by creating a virtual card that automatically deducts money from everyone’s bank account.

Payments processor Network International plans London listing
Reuters | Thu March 14, 2019 - Network International, the largest payment processing firm across the Middle East and Africa, said it planned to list on the London Stock Exchange

More UK retailers to accept Chinese mobile payment giant Alipay
Yahoo Finance | Thu March 14, 2019 - AliPay is currently accepted in some UK shops, restaurants and hotels but Barclaycard says it will now offer software that will enable retailers to update their existing point-of-sale systems to support Alipay.

More from PaymentsSource
Faster Zelle integration on its way, but capacity's limited: Jack Henry
Jack Henry & Associates has overcome an obstacle that delayed banks and credit union integration with Zelle, with a hub to streamline the onboarding process. But the new system’s first bank doesn’t go live until May, and the hub won’t hit full stride until next year.

How Mastercard's Ethoca purchase could appease chargeback-weary merchants
Merchants are often the last in the payments ecosystem to know when card fraud occurs, and their losses tend to escalate in the meantime.

Green Dot targets social media influencers in banking-as-service push
The digital lender and payments platform is tailoring its affinity banking services for a new market.

OpenWay, Gemalto integrate for multichannel payment security
Digital payment processing software provider OpenWay has integrated its platform with a Gemalto hardware security module to make it easier for clients to migrate to multichannel payment services.

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