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The cold never bothered them: E-commerce has taken a firm hold on Black Friday and the holiday shopping season, and its momentum is carrying beyond traditional shopping days. Verizon's Holiday Retail Index found e-commerce traffic volume was up 15% on New Year's Eve 2017 over 2016 and traffic spiked 32% on New Year's Day 2018 over Jan. 1, 2017. Verizon's analysts attributed the spikes to year-end promotions, and also to the biting cold spell between Christmas and New Year's Day for most of the U.S. That led more people to shop at home than in stores, according to Verizon.

Bloomberg News

Taxing Crypto: European Central Bank governing council member Ewald Nowotny took a strong stand against bitcoin this week, calling the currency a venue for speculation and money laundering. The Daily Mail reports Nowotny said governments should regulate and tax bitcoin and that all parties involved in payments or investments in bitcoin should reveal their identity, a move that would hit at the heart of bitcoin as a decentralized largely private means of transferring value. The comments show the wide range of opinions among government officials on bitcoin, with some central governments planning to issue their own cryptocurrency while some officials still call for heavy regulation or an outright ban on exchanges.

India's automation test: The competitive market for payments innovation in India continues to accelerate, with online facilitator PayUmoney rebuilding its dashboard to lure small businesses and larger merchants. The features include a Test Mode, which allows businesses to test checkout flows before integrating PayUMoney into their sites with tests for invoices and payment buttons. The move is designed to address the pressure the pace of new technology places on retailers and merchants.

Betting for bitcoin: As bitcoin becomes more mainstream, it's finding its way into areas such as real estate, auto financing, and now fantasy sports. FanDuel will run The Bitcoin Bowl, a marketing campaign that will coincide with the NFL Playoffs. It features a contest in which the winners will receive a bitcoin payout. Contestants will enter either a free or $3 contest, which has larger payouts, and will receive their winnings in bitcoin regardless of the cryptocurrency's market value, since the contest is not pegged to dollars. The FanDuel contest is unrelated to the discontinued college football Bitcoin Bowl in St. Petersburg.

From the Web

Digital currency stellar jumps 60% into sixth place by market capitalization
CNBC | Wed Jan 3, 2018 - Stellar soared 62.6 percent Wednesday to a record high of 91.85 cents, briefly marking a more than 150 percent gain for the year already, according to CoinMarketCap. The digital currency now ranks sixth by market capitalization. The surge in stellar and several other "alt-coins" come as bitcoin's gains remain muted. "There has certainly been a change in the thinking of crypto hedge fund managers in what will give them the best return," said Joe DiPasquale, founder and CEO of BitBull Capital, a cryptofund that invests in other cryptofunds.

The Cashless Society Has Arrived— Only It’s in China
The Wall Street Journal | Wed Jan 3, 2018 - Payment via mobile-phone services such as WeChat is sweeping the country. After gaining a beachhead as a means to buy things online, mobile payments moved on to store purchases and are fast becoming the way many people in China pay for just about everything. Though the U.S. saw $112 billion of mobile payments in 2016, by a Forrester Research estimate, such payments in China totaled $9 trillion, according to iResearch Consulting Group, a Chinese firm. For Alibaba and Tencent, the payoff isn’t just the transaction fees they make from merchants, typically 0.6%. It’s also the consumer data collected, which can transform their apps into marketing platforms for an expanding array of services, from bike sharing to travel.

China central bank extends hours for large-value payment system
Reuters | Wed Jan 3, 2018 - China’s central bank has issued a notice to extend the operating hours of its large-value payment system to improve efficiency for cross-border transactions, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. Starting from Jan. 22, the payment system will run 21 hours, from 23:30 pm to 20:30 pm the following day, from Monday to Friday, the sources said. The clearing window for the system will be open from 17:15 pm to 20:30 pm, they said. The central bank’s Accounting Data Centralized System will record transactions that occur between 23:30 pm and 24:00 pm on the following day’s account and will not affect the regulatory review of the previous day’s reserve requirements, the sources said. The extended hours will allow overnight transactions for large value payments and benefit the internationalization of renminbi, said one of the sources.

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