Morning Brief 3.24.20: New York, San Francisco dump cash tolls

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COVID-19 takes its toll

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has suspended cash tolls at the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel.

The move is meant to reduce cash handling to deter the spread of the coronavirus, reports the Staten Island Advance. The bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey previously stopped taking cash.

EZPass lanes aren't impacted, and drivers who can only pay with cash will have their license plates photographed and charged by mail. Similar cash suspensions have also been imposed on bridges in the San Francisco Bay area.

AML hit

Law firm Clifford Chance has criticized Swebank's board and management over anti money laundering practices between 2014 and 2019.

During that period, more than $20 billion in payments were processed for clients that were considered "high risk" by Swedish regulators, reports Finextra, adding these regulators have fined Swedbank about $385 million.

The law firm says the bank did not establish clear AML responsibilities and did not "adequately" appreciate the risk of laundering.

Cash crunch

The payment companies that serve small businesses are also pressured to act quickly to reduce the economic damage to their client bases.

U.K. financial institution TSB says it will process payments for small businesses within ten days of the invoicing, waiving longer terms for some suppliers.

The lender also said it will not demand a full repayment or remove an overdraft unless a business has breached its terms of lending.

Supermarket gig

Instacart plans to add 300,000 shoppers over the next three months to accommodate increased demand for grocery delivery due the coronavirus.

The San Francisco-based firm, which has added Stripe to speed payment processing, enables order and delivery from Costco, Safeway, Kroger and others. The shoppers pick up the items at the store and deliver to the user's home.

The firm anticipates a stress on social distancing, along with grocery stores being considered an essential service could challenge its capacity, according to TechCrunch, adding Instacart will provide cleaning supplies and sick pay for the shoppers.

From the Web

New Coronavirus Stimulus Bill In Congress Creates U.S. Digital Dollar
FORBES | Mon March 23, 2020
The newest offer by House Democrats includes a very forward-looking kind of stimulus: the creation of a ‘digital dollar’ and the establishment of ‘digital dollar wallets.’ This signals the U.S. is serious in establishing infrastructure for a central bank digital currency.

Wells Fargo to pay special compensation to front-line workers amid coronavirus outbreak
REUTERS | Mon March 23, 2020
The San Francisco-based bank said all of its domestic full-time employees who make less than $100,000 a year would receive a pre-tax payment of $600 and part-time employees would get a $300 bonus.

Limit for contactless spending to rise to £45 at beginning of April
THE GUARDIAN | Mon March 23, 2020
The contactless limit for in-store spending is to increase from £30 to £45 from 1 April as retailers cut the need for physical contact in shops amid the coronavirus epidemic.

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