12.26.18 Your morning briefing

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

Credit card-fueled violence
Before a shooting spree, assailants abuse access to credit cards to stock up on firearms, The New York Times reports. In at least eight of the 13 shootings that killed 10 or more people in the last decade, the killers built their arsenals on credit card purchases.

The Times highlights the example of Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Mateen opened six new credit card accounts in the eight months leading up to the shooting spree, spending $26,532 on firearms, ammunition and jewelry, the article says. Prior to this, Mateen's typical spending was $1,500 on a single credit card.

Mateen expected he might be caught by the card issuers or networks; ahead of this spending, his Google searches included phrases like "credit card unusual spending" and "why banks stop your purchases," according to the Times.

Spokespeople for Visa and Mastercard told the Times that the card networks don't police users' purchases of lawful goods.

Payments shutdown
Payments are not untouched by the government shutdown — not even the market facilitation payments to farmers that President Trump announced last week on Twitter.

Those payments will be halted if the shutdown continues, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Soybean farmers stand to be hit the hardest; more than $7.2 billion of the $9.6 billion market facilitation program was earmarked for them, CNBC reports. The U.S. is typically the world's second-biggest supplier of soy and China is the biggest buyer, but China stopped importing U.S. soybeans in November as part of the trade war.

Mobile pay in Pa.
Westmoreland County, Pa., is adding mobile payments to its buses as part of an improvement on its credit card fare payment system, The Tribune-Review reports.

The card system is used by about 61 percent of bus riders, but was found to be unreliable and slow to credit purchases made by riders, the Westmoreland County Transit Authority's executive director told the paper.

The mobile fare app is planned to launch early next year, and the credit card system will still be supported, the article said. The mobile app will be provided by Masabi, which gets an 8.5 percent fee on every dollar spent in-app on fares, the article said.

From the Web
U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Are Strongest in Years, Early Data Show
The Wall Street Journal | Tue December 25, 2018 - Shoppers delivered the strongest holiday sales increase for U.S. retailers in six years, according to early data. Total U.S. retail sales, excluding automobiles, rose 5.1% between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 from a year earlier, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending with all forms of payment.

Crypto Industry is Betting Big on the Future of Stablecoins
CCN | Wed December 26, 2018 - When merchants started introducing bitcoin and similar digital currencies as one of their payment methods, they quickly encountered a significant problem: price volatility. There were instances like a luxury item dealership, which used to accept bitcoins for their products but saw the value their Ferrari cars jump by almost 33% during a test run.

If it's the Social Security Administration calling, it's very likely a scam
Chicago Tribune | Tue December 25, 2018 - Fraudsters have a new wrinkle: impersonating a representative from the Social Security Administration (SSA). AARP has warned of a dramatic increase in complaints from individuals complaining about callers purporting to be from SSA.

More from PaymentsSource
After the holidays, Wirecard eyes opportunity in e-commerce returns
The boom in e-commerce—boosted by mobile devices—is spawning a record number of returns and associated shipping and payment hassles.

Fast-moving startups pressure merchants to add business tools to the point of sale
The new environment requires merchants to support a solid point of sale system, along with other business activities, writes CardConnect's Michael Mertz

Ant Financial said to be in talks to buy WorldFirst
China's Ant Financial, the Alibaba payments affiliate that operates Alipay, is reportedly in the advanced stages of talks to buy WorldFirst, an international payments provider based in London.

A cashless store expands, but the market remains small
Nestled among the waves of tourists and commuters near Grand Central Terminal is a spot were a “no cash” store is working, free from political pressures. But its success still suggests that paperless payments are a niche play.

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