01.31.18 Your morning briefing
The information you need to start your day, from PaymentsSource and around the Web:
Facebook slaps bitcoin: Facebook is banning ads that promote bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to prevent the marketing of financial products that have "misleading" practices. That cuts out ICOs and ads from businesses that are otherwise promoting virtual currencies, as well as pitches to invest retirement funds in cryptocurrencies. Violators will be banned on Facebook's app and in venues where Facebook sells ads, such as Instagram and Audience Network.
Western Union's robotics: Western Union is opening a technology center in Pune that will specialize in, among other things, robotics. The 125,000 square foot facility will employ more than 1,000 people. Digitizing remittances is a big part of the strategy, as Western Union hopes to grab a larger share of a $67 billion received in 2017, according to the World Bank. Western Union also hopes to stave off mobile-focused competitors as India's financial system quickly goes digital following the removal of most of the country's cash in 2016.
A new face: Apple's new 11.3 update this spring is expected to enable Face ID for "Ask to Buy," a feature that allows "family organizers" to approve purchases through the app store, reports Ars Technica. The new user experience replaces the need to manually enter passwords on the iPhone X (which lacks a fingerprint sensor) to approve a request from a child to download an app or make an in-app purchase.
Fintech in Cape Town: The South African Reserve Bank has formed a three-person fintech unit to monitor the fast uptake of digital technology as the country migrates away from a cash-heavy economy. Finextra reports the unit will monitor new deposit, payment, lending, insurance and investment technology, addressing concerns the government has that these sectors are automating too quickly. South Africa's fintech industry is still small, but startups such as Discoverye Bank, Bank Zero and Tyme have emerged in the past couple of years, according to Finextra.
From the Web
Spendesk raises $9.9 million to build your next corporate card
TechCrunch | Tue Jan 30, 2018 - French startup Spendesk just raised $9.9 million (€8 million) from Index Ventures with Michael Benabou, Laurent Asscher and Showpad cofounders Louis Jonckheere and Pieterjan Bouten also participating. Spendesk is a service that combines prepaid cards with an expense report solution. After signing up, each employee receives a personal card. Companies can top up their global Spendesk account with a normal transfer to a good old IBAN. Then you can define different sets of policies to limit your employees’ expenses. As for employees, Spendesk centralize all expenses in a modern interface. You can track your expenses and upload receipts. Spendesk will pre-fill information and help you match invoices with expenses thanks to a mobile scanning feature. You can finally export all expenses to a format that is compatible with accounting software.
South Korea says no plans to ban cryptocurrency exchanges, uncovers $600 million illegal trades
Reuters | Wed Jan 31, 2018 - South Korea’s finance minister said the government has no plans to shut down cryptocurrency trading, welcome news for investors worried that authorities might go as far as China’s tough action in blocking virtual coin platforms. The comment by Kim Dong-yeon on Wednesday comes as traders at home and around the world have been spooked by conflicting comments from government officials in South Korea, a major hub for cryptocurrency trade, that Seoul was planning to ban local digital coin exchanges.
Outgoing American Express CEO Ken Chenault is joining General Catalyst
TechCrunch | Tue Jan 30, 2018 - Ken Chenault, the outgoing CEO of American Express, is quickly building a platform in the startup world. Chenault announced plans to leave his position as the head of Amex last October, ending a 17-year run, and this month he’s bagged a trio of top positions within the tech/startup world. Facebook appointed him to its board on January 18, last week Airbnb said he’s joining its board, and on Monday he was announced as chairman and a managing director of General Catalyst.
More from PaymentsSource
Multichannel marketing is falling short
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Amex's Mezi acquisition keeps focus on mobile, digital
American Express has acquired artificial intelligence technology provider Mezi, which has powered the AskAmex application in the past to help card members find and book travel, dining and entertainment through messaging via iPhones.
Pelican offers European faster payments to North America
Global payment and fraud prevention provider Pelican is bringing its faster payments system to the North America market after working within the European SEPA Instant Payments scheme last year.
Pot banking crackdown is a step backward
Retracting an Obama administration policy that shielded banks servicing marijuana companies threatens financial firms and makes the pot industry too reliant on cash.