12.05.17 Your morning briefing

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

Cashless biz for a low cash country: India's dramatic move to recall most of the cash from circulation in 2016 has turned the country into a testing ground for myriad new financial technology from outside companies. It's also giving rise to startups such as FTCash. TechCrunch reports the company has already signed up 25,000 merchants, and attributes much of the fast growth to the removal of cash from India's economy. FTCash usually processes about half of the merchant's payments once they've signed up, given many of the merchants do not have a pre-existing point of sale system. FTCash allows any merchant with a feature phone and a bank account to accept cards, mobile wallets and PayPal after a short setup. FTCash also powers collections via WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook and other social networks; and offers a merchant credit program through a financial partner that offers an interest rate of 18%. While that's relatively high, the company contends most of the merchants would otherwise have no access to credit or would be forced to turn to loan sharks.
Apple Pay Cash rolls out a bit more: Apple's counter to Venmo, Apple Pay Cash, started rolling out to users Monday afternoon following an automatic Friday evening update that caused the app to show up on some phones. The app entered public beta testing in early November, and showed up in some iOS devices after midnight on Dec. 2 as part of an automatic upgrade. Late on Monday, Dec. 4, Apple began formally activating the app, reports The Verge, which adds the app is available only in the U.S. and was loading slowly for some users. Apple Pay Cash requires users to log in through the cloud and add a debit or credit card before sending funds via a collaboration with Green Dot. The app has plenty of competition including PayPal's Venmo and the bank-led Zelle P-to-P app, but it should benefit from Apple's brand recognition, which could draw new users to mobile transfers. Apple is also expected to make Apple Pay Cash available on the Apple Watch this week.

Sun crypto crowdsource: One of the more interesting parts of the cryptocurrency wave is the diversification of individual cryptocoins for specific industries. A startup called The Sun Exchange is attempting to boost power in underserved locations through a mix of small investments and cryptocurrency. The investors cover installation costs and gain a share of revenue from the deployment over time. Sun partners with solar companies in mostly desert areas, then seeks out locations that are underserved by electric power. The information about the deployment is put online, and people can buy a piece of the project with a number of investment size options available, along with a cryptocurrency option. The projects usually take about two months to get up and up and running, and operate like a utility once online. Sun manages the electric bill payments and disbursements of virtual currency or cash to investors.

Payza supports altcoin purchases: Online payment processor Payza has already shown an openness to virtual currency, and expanding further through a new service called Buy Altcoins. This feature supports purchases of bitcoin alternatives through Payza accounts using traditional cash or other virtual currencies. It follows an earlier release, Sall Altcoins, that supported members' selling altcoins such as Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, Monero and ZCash to Payza, which supports about three dozen altcoins. Payza members will still need their own external wallet to hold altcoins purchased through Payza, though it is working on a feature that will allow members to hold altcoins, with Dash being the first coin available for that service.

SEC ICO investigation unit takes action: The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges a Canadian company ran a fraudulent initial coin offering, a bit of bad news for an otherwise hot market. The SEC has obtained an asset freeze against Dominic Lacroix and his company, PlexCorps, alleging the company has been marketing and selling securities called PlexCoin, reports The Financial Times. Lacroix allegedly told potential investors they would receive a 1.354% return in 29 days. The SEC also charged Sabrina Paradis-Royer, Lacroix's partner, in the ICO scheme. Lacroix has been repeatedly accused of fraud by Canadian regulators in the past, The Financial Times reports. The charges were the first to come through an SEC unit formed in September to investigate ICOs and internet trading.

From the Web

Mastercard Unveils New $4 Billion Share-Repurchase Plan
The Wall Street Journal | Tue Dec 5, 2017 - Mastercard Inc.’s board approved a new $4 billion share repurchase plan, the company said Monday, to take effect after its current $4 billion buyback is finished. In a news release, the global payments company said the current program has $1.5 billion remaining. In addition, Mastercard’s board declared a quarterly cash dividend of 25 cents a share, a 14% increase over the previous 22 cents a share. It will be paid on Feb. 9 to shareholders of record of its class A common stock and class B common stock as of Jan. 9.

BOJ's Kuroda calls for reforms to better use fintech
Reuters | Mon Dec 4, 2017 - Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Monday urged financial institutions to reform their business structures to make effective use of financial technology, which is triggering big changes to global financial markets. Fintech can contribute to raising growth potential and addressing social challenges not only in emerging but developed nations, Kuroda said in a speech at the Europlace financial forum.

5 Bitcoin Rivals That Are Rapidly on the Rise
Fortune | Mon Dec 4, 2017 - Like it, love it, or confused by it, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become impossible to ignore. Chicago’s two main exchanges, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange have announced plans to launch bitcoin futures contracts, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has already given them the green light. Nasdaq may be jumping into the bitcoin futures race as early as second quarter next year, Bloomberg reports. Bitcoin advocates are hoping the exchanges can help stabilize the highly volatile currency. Despite the growing number of detractors warning of a bubble, bitcoin mania shows no sign of abating and its competitors are also gaining traction, all rushing to become the main purveyor of a future cashless world. Here’s the low-down on five of the most popular bitcoin rivals, all of which had a market value of over $5 billion Monday according to coinmarketcap.com.

More from PaymentsSource

Startup puts security investments under the microscope
Companies put in place multiple fraud prevention tools to scan and analyze transaction data — and an Israeli company called empow wants to put those anti-fraud products under the same scrutiny.

To keep safe, get card information out of the 'store'
Most merchant processors’ current point of sale software allows you to send the credit card information once and you capture a token versus the actual credit card number, writes Michael Lewis, CIO of Copper State Communications.

Is CVS’s Aetna acquisition enough to inoculate it from Amazon?
The announcement that the pharmacy chain CVS was merging with the health insurer Aetna was no great surprise — the company has been telegraphing as much for months.

ICO issuers must mind the gap in regulations, or pay later
Regulations around ICOs are still murky, but issuers should still practice solid compliance and due diligence, writes Gordon Harrison, an ICO expert at Jumio.

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