Morning Brief 2.19.20: Grab financial services expansion heads to the air

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Southeast Asian ride sharing app and payment company Grab is partnering with German air mobility firm Volcopter to study air taxis in cities in the region.

The air taxis would embed with Grab's existing range of mobile travel and financial services, extending an already expansive business model that's taking on Uber, Lyft, Go Jek and other firms around the world.

Singapore and Dubai are the most likely initial markets, with German cities also in the mix, reports TechCrunch.


Government officials in China are using WeChat Pay and Alipay to track transactions as part of the battle against the Coronavirus outbreak.

The data includes online and offline purchases of fever medicine, seen as a way to treat symptoms. These facilities are now requiring ID for specific medications, reports Cointelegraph.

Local authorities near the center of the outbreak are trying to organize relief efforts by curtailing sales at pharmacies and medical facilities, with digital payment trails being the best way to gather this information in a country that uses mostly digital payments.

Trying again

U.K. payment firm Monzo is relaunching a fee-based premium account after scrapping a similar product following consumer pushback.

The fintech says it has studied the first attempt and is relaunching with added scale and a broader product base, reports Reuters. The premium account includes perks such as more ATM allowances and airport lounge access.

Monzo also plans to add about 500 workers to its staff and raise about $130 million from investors, which it will use to build more fee-generating products as part of a strategy to become profitable within the next four years.

On the card

Paytm has extended payments for Uber rides to debit and credit cards. It's an expansion of an existing relationship that supported payments through the Paytm digital wallet, which required separate payments for other methods.

Both companies could benefit, given Uber's enrolled rider and driver base, and Paytm's link to India's United Payment Interface.

The link can also advance both firms' diversification, such as Paytm's adding entertainment ticketing and Uber's deeper moves into financial services.

Health care partners

Open banking technology firm i2c and health care payments firm SmartHealth Paycard are partnering to issue a health care payment card.

The card is designed to manage expenses for high-deductible health plans and other consumer payments for medical care, via card and digital channels.

From the Web

Encoding Stolen Credit Card Data on Barcodes
KREBS ON SECURITY | Tue February 18, 2020
According to the U.S. Secret Service, the latest scheme involves stolen card information embedded in barcodes affixed to phony money network rewards cards. The scammers then pay for merchandise by instructing a cashier to scan the barcode and enter the expiration date and card security code.

U.K. Financial Watchdog Warns of Poor Compliance at Payments Firms
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | Tue February 18, 2020
The Financial Conduct Authority said in a report Tuesday that it is placing additional scrutiny on companies that offer digital wallets because of what it views as insufficient consumer safeguards. Some payments firms are advertising bank accounts to consumers, even though those firms aren’t covered by protections that would allow consumers to submit claims for compensation if the firm fails, the FCA said.

ACLEDA, SCB launch cross-border payment
KHMER TIMES | Wed February 19, 2020
ACLEDA Bank Plc and Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) yesterday launched a cross-border QR payment that enables currency exchange between Cambodia and Thailand. The move allows people to buy goods and conduct payments in their own currency by scanning their code, and will be more convenient for tourists and firms while also strengthening the local currency of both countries.

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