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LevelUp 'order ahead' play: Mobile payments provider LevelUp has been approaching the trend toward "order ahead" apps over the past year in part through relationships with digital marketing company Onosys and and online ordering platform LuvJo; and has now deployed a service designed to combine several order-and-pay options. Called Broadcast, the service works as a connection between the restaurants and other services such as Facebook, Messenger, Yelp, Foursquare, Amazon Alexa, Chase Pay, Apple Pay and Android Pay, contending restaurants won't have to create relationships with each digital ordering service. Instead, the restaurant's information uploads to LevelUp, which formats it to suit each platform, creating what it hopes is an easier experience for the restaurants.

Mastercard's vehicle: Mastercard is already working with General Motors on myriad innovations for web connected cars, and is expanding its foray into automotive technology through a collaboration with Here Technologies. The two companies will build mapping and payments technology, using APIs to combine shopping, navigation, marketing and checkout in a single experience from inside the car. Here, which is backed by automakers such as Audi, BMW and Daimler, will join City Possible, a sustainability collaboration, as part of its partnership with Mastercard.

Garmin for runners: Garmin has released Forerunner 645 Music, a running watch with storage space for 500 songs and Garmin Pay, which launched in November, placing the watch amid a market of fitness bands designed for consumers who don't want to take their wallets or smartphones with them while working out or running. Engadget reports the Garmin Forerunner 645 sells for $450 and will arrive within the next three months.

ICOs made easy: Initial coin offerings have different risks that investors may be unaccustomed to, leading the Switzerland-based Crypto Valley Association to develop a code of conduct for ICOs. The non-profit association, which supports the development of blockchain businesses, is calling on organizations that run ICOs to be fully transparent, with disclosures that can be easily understood by people who don't work in the technology industry. There's also guidance on how funds can be used and how the token will function.The CVA's members will have to affirm each year that they did not breach the ICO code.

Buy now, pay later: While Singapore is already awash in payments innovation, combining emerging use cases such as transit and wearables, a local mobile payments company is altering the timing of the transaction. SpherePay has introduced a function that supports advance purchases. Called Advanced Credit, the mobile app offers a form of microloan to users, taking advantage of a payment concept that's existed offline in Singapore for years, reports Finextra.

'Blockchain' tea company ices stock offering: Long Blockchain (nee Long Island Iced Tea Corp) is cancelling its plan to publicly offer new shares of common stock. The company's stock tripled in price last month after it changed its name to include "blockchain" amid the bitcoin market fervor, and said it would use the funds to buy more than 1,000 pieces of cryptocurrency mining technology. Despite the cancellation, Long Blockchain reports it still plans to buy the mining equipment, though it cannot assure it can finance the purchase. Ars Technica reports the 1,000 Antminer machines would cost millions of dollars, given each machine costs nearly $6,000.

From the Web

Ripple Plunges Another 11%, Fed's Kashkari Isn't Too Worried About Bitcoin
Yahoo! Finance | Wed Jan 10, 2018 - Tuesday was a relatively quiet day for most cryptocurrencies in terms of price moves, with Ripple's 11% decline the most notable exception. Although bitcoin (BTC-USD) and most of the rest of the top 10 weren't moving too drastically, there was some major news in the bitcoin and cryptocurrency world today. A high-profile Fed president and notable bitcoin critic Jamie Dimon gave some fresh commentary, and we learned that leveraged bitcoin ETFs could be in the works.

Toy firm VTech fined $650,000 over data breach
BBC News | Tue Jan 9, 2018 - Electronic toymaker VTech will pay $650,000 (£480,000) to settle charges that it failed to protect the privacy of children using its gadgets. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) levelled the charges at VTech following a data breach in 2015. While investigating the breach, the FTC found the firm had broken US laws governing the way data about children is gathered. The FTC said VTech also "failed to take reasonable steps" to secure that data. VTech gathered a lot of data about children via its Kid Connect app that was bundled in with many of the electronic toys it makes. Almost 650,000 children downloaded the app and used it in conjunction with VTech's educational toys. The app collected personal information but did so without seeking consent from parents or telling children what data was being collected and the uses to which it would be put, said the FTC.

Alibaba will consider listing its affiliate companies in Hong Kong
TechCrunch | Tue Jan 9, 2018 - The Chinese e-commerce giant famously snubbed Hong Kong in favor of a record $25 billion listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. Now that the HKEX is adjusting its rules to allow for dual-class shares — an omission that prompted Alibaba to go to New York — Ma admitted it has become a viable destination. “We will consider listings in Hong Kong for Alibaba subsidiaries but we have not decided yet which one,” Ma told Bloomberg in an interview. The most obvious candidate for HKEX would be Ant Financial, the financial services and payments affiliate valued at over $60 million. Ant has long been linked with a Hong Kong IPO, but equally others including local commerce platform Koubei and $7.7 billion-valued logistics unit Cainiao could be outside bets.

More from PaymentsSource

Cryptocurrency opens new doors for small business lending
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Can blockchain improve restaurants' thin margins?
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Dimon says he regrets bitcoin comments, calls blockchain 'real'
The JPMorgan Chase chief executive officer, who earlier called the cryptocurrency a "fraud," said Tuesday he wishes he hadn't dismissed the technology in such broad terms.

Alliance Data to launch Ikea co-branded, private label credit cards
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