Morning Brief 3.13.20: Nets buys Polish acquirer PeP

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Polish play

Danish payments operator Nets has acquired Polskie ePlatnosci (PeP), one of Poland’s leading merchant acquirers, for $405 million. PeP operates more than 125,000 POS terminals, according to a press release.

PeP serves a fast-growing base of small- and midsize businesses in a region where card payment usage is seeing double-digit growth after years of relatively low card penetration. Thousands of Polish merchants support contactless payments since local banks launched the Cashless Poland effort in mid-2017.

More than 600 PeP employees will move under Nets’ umbrella in the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020.

Map trap

DomainTools, a Seattle firm specializing in monitoring domain names and cyber risks, said the number of new domain names leveraging “Coronavirus” and “COVID-19” has risen sharply in the last few weeks.

Many are operated by fraudsters looking to plant ransomware on unsuspecting consumers’ phones, according to a press release.

One scam DomainTools uncovered is a new “screen lock attack” dubbed “CovidLock,” which dangles a free map to track new Coronavirus cases. When a victim attempts to download an Android app, ransomware infiltrates their mobile device, demanding $100 in bitcoin or “everything will be erased” on the user’s phone.

Fee-free

Skrill, the London-based cross-border payments firm, is temporarily dropping all fees and foreign exchange charges for anyone using Skrill Money Transfer to send funds to Italy, in response to the critical outbreak of coronavirus in the region.

There will also be no charges for recipients picking up funds through Skrill in Italy, according to a press release. Skrill has not set a date yet for when fees will resume.

The move came after Skrill CEO Lorenzo Pellegrino, an Italian national, explored ways to support people affected by Coronavirus. “By removing all fees and foreign exchange markups, people who are sending money to loved ones in Italy from outside the country will see more of their funds going to the right place,” Pellegrino said in the release.

First aid

AppZen, a San Jose, Calif.-based AI platform for financial teams, is tracking how coronavirus is affecting office expenses.

Beginning in February, about a third of AppZen’s customers in lodging, entertainment and life-sciences industries filed virus-related expenses, while about 20% of companies in logistics, manufacturing, software and finance saw an uptick in expenses related to the crisis, according to a press release.

Canceled business trips are leading global corporate expenses related to coronavirus, followed by masks, costs related to ramping up remote work and cleaning supplies, AppZen’s data indicates. Another category of expenses came from employees who were forced to go into quarantine while traveling for business.

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