Morning Brief 8.7.20: Kroger adds NFC support as contactless pay surges

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NFC now

Kroger is no longer an NFC holdout. In a significant shift, the nation’s largest supermarket chain is piloting NFC payment acceptance at 61 Seattle-area QFC stores, marking the first time the retail giant has enabled mobile proximity-based acceptance of Apple Pay and Google Pay at any locations.

Kroger continues to support its mobile in-app payments option, Kroger Pay, the Cincinnati-based company said in a press release. Though the company made no mention of coronavirus in its announcement, data increasingly suggest consumers prefer contactless options, and a growing number are using NFC-enabled cards and devices to check out at stores to avoid virus exposure.

Kroger until now has been one of a handful of holdouts—along with Walmart—blocking NFC in stores in favor of proprietary QR code-methods. Kroger was one of the core backers of MCX, a retail coalition that piloted a QR code-based mobile payment app called CurrentC, which failed to catch on.

Airborne

Unisys and digital invoicing firm PayCargo have teamed to build a digital payments portal for the shipping industry, attempting to reach airlines looking for added revenue amid a passenger slump.

The gateway will use Unisys' air cargo software to support ACH debits, prefunded accounts or credit card payments. Delta Airlines is among the initial users, deploying the system in its Cargo air freight division.

The payment system enables same-day processing, which in turn allows cargo to be released the same day. A single dashboard is designed to allow airlines to avoid accessing multiple systems to track cargo.

Go to market

Supermarket chain Aldi's German affiliate is putting out feelers for technology that would support a rival to the checkout-free Amazon Go store.

Aldi Sud is reportedly scouting computer vision and AI startups to build a concept store, reports the U.K.'s ChargedRetail. More than two dozen technology companies are developing autonomous retail technology, partly driven by the buzz around Amazon Go.

Aldi's looking for both sensors that are embedded in the store and in shopping carts. Amazon Go uses primarily in-store technology, though Amazon is also testing checkout-free technology on shopping carts.

CU transfer

CO-OP Financial Services and Zelle will co-offer a P2P app for credit unions that are part of CO-OP's credit union service organization network.

The deal potentially opens the bank-led Zelle app to hundreds of additional financial institutions. Credit unions that have CO-OP's account technology will be able to automatically onboard Zelle users. More than a dozen credit unions were live at launch.

Zelle has expanded quickly during the pandemic, routing $133 billion during the first six months of 2020, compared to $83 billion during the first half of 2019, with enrollment increasing 17%.

Hitting the jackpot

Security researchers have discovered new vulnerabilities that allow crooks to trick ATMs into dispensing cash. Rather than the traditional jackpotting attack, which directly targets ATMs, these new attacks take advantage of remote connections, reports TechCrunch.

One vulnerability allows attackers to exploit XFS, or the system the ATM uses to communicate with the card reader or cash dispenser. The bug is in the software layer that connects to the broader network.

Another vulnerability is in remote management software that allows ATM operators to manage an entire fleet from an external location. Both of these vulnerabilities primarily target ATMs at stores rather than ATMs at bank branches.

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