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Hilton's breach penalty: Hilton has been fined $700,000 and must strengthen its security stemming from two data breaches in 2014 and 2015 that went unreported for months, according to settlements with New York and Vermont. In February 2015, Hilton was notified of a breach that had occurred in November and December 2014. A second breach occurred between April and July 2015, but the hotel chain did not notify potential victims until November. The two breaches exposed about 363,000 credit cards. The two states found Hilton did waited too long to disclose the breach to customers and failed to adequately protect consumer information. New York will receive $400,000 while Vermont will get $300,000, while Hilton will improve security, assign an employee to oversee security, identify risks and perform regular tests. "Lax security practices like those we uncovered at Hilton put New Yorkers' credit card information and other personal data at serious risk," said Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, in New York's settlement statement.

Bloomberg News

Microsoft pushes fintech in Japan: Blockchain and artificial intelligence are making inroads in Japan as ways to enable innovations in payments and other financial services, and Microsoft is deepening its investment in the country through a fintech collaboration with consultant NRI. The companies will lead a consortium of 18 organizations that will build proof-of-concept studies for financial technology. Blockchain, the cloud and AI will be major areas of focus, with other working groups dedicated to advanced data utilization and sharing among traditionally competitive companies. "Through our work together, the consortium will be able to jumpstart innovation in Japanese financial services, driving companies to higher levels of efficiency and optimization through fintech," said Minoru Yokote, senior managing director of NRI, in a release. Other participants include INTEC Inc., Infosys and Japan Business Systems, Inc.

If you can't understand them, join them: Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, a strip that has made fun of the complexity of blockchain in the past, is planning an ICO for WhenHub, a startup that sells "time" to clients, according to the cartoonist's blog, which describes the company's business model and funding. WhenHub offers the time of experts in different subjects, whose time can be purchased for consultation. The time-sharing will use distributed apps that will run on the Ethereum blockchain for smart contracts that will support the service as well as power the billing and payments. Payments will be handled in When tokens, a virtual currency tied to the service that will be automatically transferred to the expert.

Virtual currency card: Singapore's government has approved payment technology company Monaco's cryptocurrency payment card. The card will have a Visa logo and can be used at all Visa acceptance points in the city, with a broader rollout planned. iOS and Android users in Singapore download the Monaco app, select a Monaco Visa prepaid card from five options, and complete an onboarding process to register for a waiting list. The app will enable users to buy and exchange cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and Ethereum. The Visa prepaid cards allow users to spend legal tender currency converted from cryptocurrency without currency exchange fees. "This is an important step towards Monaco’s vision to introduce cryptocurrency to the mass market," said Kris Marszalek, co-founder and CEO of Monaco, in a release.

Game rewards: Video game retailer GameStop is tying its rewards program to a subscription payments service. Called Power Pass, the program costs $60 for six months. Consumers borrow used games at GameStop, and keep the last game they checked out after the six-month period. The Verge reports users have to be part of GameStop's rewards program, called PowerUp, to sign up for the subscription service, though there is a free version of that membership. The service will launch Nov. 13 and can be offered as a gift, as long as the recipient is also a PowerUp Rewards program.

From the Web

Grab, the Uber rival in Southeast Asia, is now officially also a digital payments company
TechCrunch | Wed Nov 1, 2017 - Grab is best known for rivaling Uber in Southeast Asia, but today the company took a major step into becoming a fintech player, too. That’s because the ride-sharing firm, which recently raised $2 billion from SoftBank and China’s Didi Chuxing, rolled out support for its GrabPay service among third-party merchants for the first time today. Grab is present in seven markets across Southeast Asia, but the first merchants it is onboarding are street food sellers in Singapore, where the firm is headquartered.

After conquering China, Alipay and WeChat Pay push payment services to taxis outside the mainland
South China Morning Post | Wed Nov 1, 2017 - Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s two dominant mobile payment platforms, are ratcheting up their expansion plans through separate initiatives that will allow taxis outside the mainland to accept digital payments from Chinese travellers using these services. Alipay, which counts more than 520 million active users, aims to make taxi payments easier for mainland tourists visiting the United States through its strategic partnership with electronic payment transactions specialist Verifone, Alipay North America president Souheil Badran told the South China Morning Post.

An Australian fintech is helping banks fight off eBay and PayPal
Business Insider | Wed Nov 1, 2017 - Trade Ledger, a tech startup which rethinks the way lenders assess cash flow solutions for high-growth companies that struggle to find credit, is set help banks fight off internet giants such as eBay and PayPal. The fintech, based in Sydney’s Stone & Chalk, is out to challenge a financial model that has been around for hundreds of years – that a business credit application is assessed by looking at the assets held by the applicant.

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