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Amazon buys Blink: Amazon is not shy about wanting its cameras in customers' homes to aid with shopping. Devices such as the Echo Show and the Echo Look can help customers coordinate new outfits, and the recently introduced Amazon Cloud Cam pairs with a WiFi-connected door lock to let couriers deliver packages indoors when the recipient is not home. But the real market for in-home cameras is security, and Blink has a much more compelling product catalog for that purpose. Amazon has purchased Blink, according to an announcement on Blink's website that provides no financial details. Blink's products, which were already sold on Amazon's website, include indoor/outdoor cameras and a planned video doorbell. Amazon is likely to attempt to blend its shopping and payments strategies with Blink's technology, though Blink says nothing will change for its own customers right away.

Amazon Prime signage
Bloomberg News

Face ID in the family: Apple has long struggled with how to allow parents to approve or decline purchases of apps and in-app content; before any restrictions were in place, some situations allowed kids to make purchases without additional authentication, leading to a backlash from parents and the FTC. Biometric authentication would seem to help this situation via the "Ask to Buy" feature, which allows parents to use Touch ID to approve purchases requested by their kids. On the iPhone X it's not so simple — Face ID, which replaces Touch ID on the handset, doesn't support "Ask to Buy," Ars Technica reports. Complicating the matter, the iPhone X can store only one face for authentication, unlike Touch ID which allowed users to store multiple fingerprints. Since Apple said Face ID could possibly be confused by relatives who look like the phone's proper owner, some users suspect that Apple's new restriction is meant to address that weakness, but Apple has not provided an official explanation, Ars Technica reports.

We don't take cash: Merchants and card networks may sing the praises of cashless commerce, but it's still a tough sell with consumers. The New York Times visited several establishments — midtown Manhattan stores such as Dig Inn, Sweetgreen, Two Forks, Dos Toros or Bluestone Lane — that accept only cards and mobile wallets, documenting the struggles that cashiers have with customer service. Some consumers still equate credit cards with debt, and are thus resisting the transition to a cashless society, the Times explains. For those patrons, stores might offer to accept exact change, or to comp the meal to keep their checkout lanes moving.

Big spenders only: There's big money in bitcoin — so much that BitPay, a bitcoin payment service provider, chose on Friday do set a new minimum of $100 worth of bitcoin for payments, a huge increase from its previous minimum of $5, Cointelegraph reports. The restriction was targeted at payments to merchants and conversions to dollars; it did not affect P-to-P payments that stayed within the BitPay ecosystem. BitPay cited network congestion and miner fees as its reasons for the new restriction, but apparently those issues were short-lived; by Monday, BitPay had reversed this change, citing payment protocol improvements, the article states.

From the Web

CaixaBank Buys Banco BPI's Card Business
Fox Business | Fri Dec 22, 2017 - Portugal's Banco BPI S/A will sell its card and point-of-sale activities to entities associated with CaixaBank SA for a total of 113 million euros ($134.1 million), the two banks said Thursday. CaixaBank SA holds a controlling stake in Banco BPI. CaixaBank Payments E.P., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CaixaBank, will acquire Banco BPI's credit and debit card-emitting activities for EUR53 million. At the same time, Comercia Global Payments E.P., a joint venture between CaixaBank and Global Payments Inc., will acquire Banco BPI's point-of-sale terminal activities for EUR60 million.

Salvation Army Looks to Update to Cashless Kettles
Chicago Tribune | Mon Dec 25, 2017 - The Salvation Army in Chicago could look into accepting credit or debit cards next year, as it continues to look for ways to keep up with cashless trends. The local Salvation Army's iconic red kettles bring in millions of dollars in donations each year during its holiday fundraising campaign, despite being reliant on cash, the Chicago Tribune reported. However, the organization is working to find an updated version of the kettle that makes helping others more convenient.

Blockchain holds potential to finally modernize US identity systems
The Hill | Fri Dec 22, 2017 - Having your SSN compromised is a nightmare. Identities are stolen, credit is ruined, and money is often permanently lost. Since SSN’s are assigned at birth and changing the number is next to impossible, victims have limited options for restitution or recourse. And if the federal government approaches this threat like other non-defense related technology innovation (see, for example, a decade and $3B wasted to digitize our immigration forms or the ObamaCare website debacle), we’re in big trouble. It’s time for a different approach.

More from PaymentsSource

Blockchain isn't the only way to modernize cross-border payments, Flywire learns
Blockchain technology has uses beyond bitcoin, and many companies see merit in using it to handle cross-border payments. But blockchain isn't the only solution to the inefficiencies of international money movement.

6 inventive mobile wallet marketing ideas
Mobile wallets have always been a hard sell. In many countries, credit and debit cards work well enough that consumers don't want to learn a new way to pay. But banks and technology companies are committed to bringing their wallet apps to market. In an effort to stay competitive, these companies have spent considerable effort to get their wallets to stand out not only against competitors, but against the compelling option to keep using cash and cards.

Ignoring voice biometrics increases payments fraud risk
By deploying voice biometrics, organizations including large banks, government agencies, telcos, and retailers can not only make the process of authentication easier, but also can protect their customers’ identities being compromised in the case of a hack, writes Brett Beranek, director of product strategy at Nuance.

Don't sleep on bitcoin as a payments option
Major retailers accept bitcoin, and BitPay reports that it will process more than $1 billion in payments this year. Even McDonald's is reportedly considering that it will accept bitcoin payments, writes consultant Collin Canright.

Daniel Wolfe

Daniel Wolfe

Daniel Wolfe is editor in chief at PaymentsSource and a contributing editor at American Banker.