Morning Brief 11.25.19: EU plays catch up in blockchain, AI investment

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

AI battle

The EU has pledged about $110 million to set up an investment fund to push blockchain and artificial intelligence out of concern the U.S. and China may dominate both markets in the years ahead.

AI and blockchain are both major cogs in e-commerce, mobile payments and cryptocurrency. China recently set standards for AI and plans to issue its own digital currency, in part to counter Facebook's Libra initiative.

The European Investment Fund and European Commission have set up the fund and set a goal of up to $2 billion to fund collaborative blockchain and AI projects.

Penalty pay

Grab has set up a refund system for its Grab Pay wallets to cover a fine for overcharging in the Philippines.

The fine impacts about 3 million rides taken from February to May, reports the Inquirer.net, a local news service, adding the total fine is about $460,000.

Grab is not contesting the fine, though it does deny overcharging riders, contending uncontrollable issues such as traffic conditions were responsible for the company falling outside of the country's fare matrix.

E-commerce boost

Softbank has led a $140 million investment in VTEX, a company that provides e-commerce functions like online ordering and inventory management, and counts Walmart among its clients.

VTEX specializes in Latin America, but will use the investment to expand to other markets, reports TechCrunch, adding other investors include Gavea Investimentos and Constellation Asset Management.

VTEX's other clients include Levi's Sony, L'Oreal and Motorola, and processes orders for about $2.4 billion in merchandise for more than 2,500 store locations annually.

Not yet in Pakistan

Pakistan is reportedly not in PayPal's international expansion plans for now, a blow to the government's efforts to bring the payment app to the country.

Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology had hoped to spur cross-border transfers, reports Pakistan Today. A delegation from Pakistan visited PayPal in the U.S. to sell PayPal on the country.

Visa has expanded into Pakistan through a bank partnership. Pakistan is in the midst of a larger strategy to modernize the country's payment system.

From the web

India’s Paytm Secures $1 Billion Investment From SoftBank, Ant Financial
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | Sun November 24, 2019
The parent company of popular Indian mobile-payments startup Paytm said it has secured $1 billion in fresh funds from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and China’s Ant Financial Services Group, giving it more firepower in a fast-growing but crowded market.

JPMorgan Tests Private Blockchain to Track Auto Dealer Inventory
YAHOO FINANCE | Sat November 23, 2019
JPMorgan thinks a blockchain can help it keep track of the automobile inventory it finances for car dealers – and prevent them from pledging the same cars for different loans.

Passwords may be passe as biometrics gain support
THE STRAITS TIMES | Sun November 24, 2019
Using passwords to protect online systems could soon be a thing of the past as other security measures — including biometrics authentication - are gaining favor among tech players.

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