Morning Brief 9.24.19: IBM exec open to working with Facebook on digital currency

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Turning a corner

Facebook Libra's rough start hasn't been limited to politicians — even some of the cryptocurrency venture's partners have hedged as the heat has built.

In a bit of a counternarrative, Jason Kelly, IBM's general manager of blockchain services, told CNBC IBM blockchain is a "team sport" and added IBM's clients are ready to "work with Facebook" and that Facebook's entering the cryptocurrency market lent legitimacy to the underlying technology.

The idea of a partnership is extremely early stage; the IBM exec was speaking generally and Libra doesn't exist yet. But IBM has worked with credit unions and has worked with Ingenico on chatbot technology, two examples of how IBM's history with retailers and financial services could link to a potential crypto partnership with Facebook.

Scaring up business

Mastercard's new advertising campaign uses a horror film-style trailer to draw attention to e-commerce and other online payments.

Produced with McCann Worldgroup and other agencies, the spots feature horror film entertainers who get stranded in a jungle, then later a ghost house, where they fight back against the ghosts. The tie-in to payments is that e-commerce can be used, "no matter the situation," reports TheDrum.

The campaign is initially aimed at Indonesia, where the government has embarked on an effort to expand digital payments. That program has also attracted Visa, which has invested in ride-share company Grab, which has a large market share in Indonesia.

Delay for China crypto?

China's government is deflecting reports that it will soon launch a digital currency to counter Facebook's Libra.

The People's Bank of China referred to a November launch date as inaccurate speculation and added the government will issue an official statement on timing, reports Global Times, attributing its reporting to a government announcement.

The government did confirm the currency project, saying it will be backed by state credit and usable at retailers in China as a payment option.

Insolvent

Glint, a U.K. company that aimed to use gold to back a debit card, entered into Administration, or the British version of Chapter 11.

Glint's troubles come just a few weeks after launching in the U.S., and about a year after its debut in Europe, reports Kitco.

The company's model was to use gold to hedge against inflation by holding it in a Swiss depository. Consumers would own shares of the gold and spend the value through the debit card.

From the web

Alibaba and Tencent Responsible For China's $25.1 Trillion Mobile Payments
BUSINESS TIMES | Mon September 23, 2019
A private-sector study found that annual transactions in mobile payments in China reach 178 trillion yuan ($25.1 trillion). Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent Holdings, with each having about 1 billion users of their payment platforms, is responsible for 90% of the mainland's mobile transactions making them major influencers in this new financial structure.

Labor to oppose cashless welfare card expansion unless it is voluntary
THE GUARDIAN | Mon September 23, 2019
Labor will oppose a government push to expand the controversial cashless welfare card and extend existing trial sites, saying it will only support income management if the scheme is made voluntary.

Alibaba wins approval to restructure Ant Financial relationship
FINANCIAL TIMES | Tue September 24, 2019
Alibaba has won the green light for the proposed restructuring of its relationship with payments affiliate Ant Financial, more than 18 months after unveiling the deal, and just weeks after chairman Jack Ma bowed out. The deal will see Alibaba swap its profit-sharing arrangement with Ant Financial for a 33 percent stake in the group, which was valued at $150bn following a fund-raising in June last year.

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