8.13.19 Your morning briefing

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The information you need to start your day, from PaymentsSource and around the Web:

Ask the bank

Voice-assisted technology is advanced enough to perform financial transactions, though consumers may still need convincing before they jump in.

Natwest is taking the temperature of voice-directed financial services, testing a system that allows users to directly ask Google Home smart speakers to perform banking tasks.

The initial services will be basic commands to find out balances, pending and latest transactions, though the bank's intent is to add transfers and payments by speaking to Google devices, reports The Guardian. The bank will use a voice PIN that is different from the user's debit card PIN.

Makeover

MoneyGram has relaunched its website in an attempt to make it easier to find locations, send money online and check the status of pending transactions. The money transfer service is also making it easier to access and track incentive marketing programs such as loyalty perks and rewards.

The company is brushing up its web capabilities as it responds to fintech encroachment onto its traditional lines of business, pressure that's also being applied to its traditional rival, Western Union.

Both Western Union and MoneyGram are stocking up on mobile and digital features, and MoneyGram recently drew investment from blockchain company Ripple to enhance cross-border payments technology.

Getting paid

New Zealand has legalized cryptocurrency salaries, which also opens crypto payroll to taxation.

The new tax rules require the crypto salaries be tied to an employment contract, and must be exchangeable for a traditional currency, reports CoinDesk. The crypto must also be pegged to the value of one or more traditional currencies.

Salaries are a relatively new use case for cryptocurrency, but the flexible, decentralized nature of crypto is considered a natural fit for the gig economy.

Deliveroo exits Germany

U.K.-based food delivery app Deliveroo plans to stop its service in Germany on August 16, and will focus on expansion in other markets.

The startup was already scaling back in Germany, cutting out most smaller cities, TechCrunch reports, adding it's looking to expand its business in the Asia Pacific region, as well as other parts of Europe.

Deliveroo recently drew an investment of about $575 million from Amazon to expand services in the U.K. and develop innovations such as delivery-only super kitchens.

Outage in Mexico

Consumers weren't able to make card payments for several hours due to a data center outage on Saturday.

An electrical fault at payment processor Prosa's data center in Mexico City was behind the broader payment outage, reports Mexico News Daily, adding banks affected included HSBC, Banorte, Santander, Scotiabank and Banjercito.

Bank customers were also unable to make online purchases using credit and debit cards. The outage was repaired by Saturday evening.

From the Web

Korea Prepaid Card Invests in Blockchain Startup Bezant
CoinDesk | Mon August 12, 2019 - Korea Prepaid Card has made an investment in Singapore-based Bezant, becoming the blockchain developer’s second largest shareholder. Since April 2019, Bezant has been offering Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) using Hyperledger Fabric technology. It also has a cryptocurrency of its own, BZNT.

Thailand-based Velo Says Blockchain Will Revolutionize Remittance in South East Asia
Fortune | Mon August 12, 2019 - Cross border remittance is big business in Southeast Asia. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, over $65 billion is remitted into the region each year, with an additional $18 billion worth of annual transfers carried out locally too. Velo, a blockchain-based remittance service founded in Thailand, wants a piece of that market.

Ackroo launches AckrooPAY
Yahoo Finance | Mon August 12, 2019 - - Ackroo Inc., a loyalty marketing and gift card technology and services provider, announced that they have launched AckrooPAY, Ackroo’s payment services product. As a soon to be registered ISO, Ackroo now offers in-store and online credit and debit transaction processing for their client list.

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