5.17.18 Your morning briefing

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

Google Wear comes to Poland and Russia
Google Wear OS has added Poland and Russia to the network of countries that can use Google Pay on compatible smartwatches.

The technology is already live in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Australia and Canada.

Google has been aggressively trying to expand availability of its wallet app, formerly known as Android Pay. It was recently made available on web browsers and also updated to support transit payments.
Face and fingers
The National Bank of Kuwait is embracing both finger and "selfie" identification in an effort to reduce cash payments and boost online shopping.

The bank will deploy Mastercard's photo ID system, or "selfie pay," becoming one of the first Middle Eastern banks to use the technology to secure online and offline payments.

NBK also plans to pilot a biometric payment card with an embedded fingerprint sensor. The moves are designed to provide extra security for new services including near real-time mobile payments and a redesign of its online and mobile banking apps.

Circling fiat currency
A growing group of companies is trying to encourage merchants to accept cryptocurrency payments by making the digital coins behave similar to traditional currency.

Circle, which has moved in and out of the cryptocurrency market over the past few years, has introduced a "tokenized U.S. dollar." The coin is supported by the CENTRE open source framework in collaboration Bitmain, which is leading a $110 million equity investment round in Circle.

Circle's USDC enables users to purchase tokens for payments and trading, backed by a "stablecoin" that's governed by CENTRE and is designed to avoid the volatility of the cryptocurrency trading market.

A home for government virtual currency
Digital tokens may have some use for wholesale payments, while the underlying distributed ledgers can bolster financial instruments and markets, according to Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard while speaking at a digital currency conference.

Echoing other U.S. and foreign governments, Brainard advocated limited usage, such as settlements for cross-border transactions and interbank payments, but did not give a blanket endorsement of cryptocurrency, reports Finextra.

For example, Brainard is not in favor of wider use, such as central bank issued crypto coins, saying they're a risk for money laundering and cybercrime.

From the Web

Amazon Expands Program That Lets Users Pay With Cash
The Motley Fool | Wed May 16, 2018 - Amazon has been a major exception. The online leader launched Amazon Cash a little over a year ago, a program that allowed people to add cash to their Amazon account via depositing it through partner brick-and-mortar retail chains. Now, Amazon has added a second way for consumers to add cash to their accounts. It has partnered with Coinstar, the company that makes the change-counting machines found in many grocery stores.

Games and Mobile Payments Power Tencent Earnings
The Wall Street Journal | Wed May 16, 2018 - Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. blew past expectations on Wednesday, reporting a 61% increase in net profit in the first three months of the year on the strength of mobile games and other digital content, and its fast-growing mobile payments business. Tencent’s earnings for the quarter offer a window into the forces shaping China’s consumers, who are increasingly relying on their smartphones for entertainment content and making purchases.

Square Cash app is growing faster than Venmo, getting a boost from bitcoin, analyst says
CNBC | Wed May 16, 2018 - Square Cash, the mobile payment app developed by Square, is growing faster than PayPal's Venmo, according to Nomura Instinet. Since early 2016, Square Cash app downloads have averaged 128 percent year-over-year growth each month versus Venmo's 74 percent, according to a Nomura analysis. With roughly 28 million cumulative downloads, the number of Square Cash downloads is just 1 million below Venmo's levels, analyst Dan Dolev said.

More from PaymentsSource

Barclays and TD Bank battle mobile threats with speed
Card issuers have long feared that third-party mobile wallets would erode their brand power by rendering them an invisible part of the payment process — and issuers like Barclays and TD Bank are finding ways to fight back.

How Wells Fargo plans to beat fintech apps on their own turf
Wells Fargo is doing everything in its power to make its app the go-to choice for any interaction that involves money.

The chargeback problem requires better consumer communication
Merchants and issuers have to step up efforts to slow down the flood of chargebacks, which in many cases could be thwarted by better communication between the two and the consumer.

Wirecard to power Garmin Pay in Europe
Wirecard has partnered with Garmin to enable payment acceptance at contactless-enabled payment terminals across Europe through boon, Wirecard’s mobile payment platform.

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