12.14.17 Your morning briefing

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

Patreon walks back new fees: Artist crowdfunding site Patreon took heat last week when it announced it would change its fee structure to charge patrons, or the people who pay content creators, a levy of 3.9% plus $0.35 per pledge. People complained that would cut into smaller pledges, a charge Patreon agrees with, and as such it will not implement the fee changes. In a statement on Patreon's site, founder Jack Conte said, "we've heard you loud and clear. We're not going to roll out the payment system that we announced." Patreon still has to fix the problems that the changes were trying to address, such as the percentage of pledges that go the artist vs. funds that get absorbed by fees. But Patreon will find another way to do that, Conte said. "Many of you lost patrons and you lost income," Conte said in his statement. "No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless I'm sorry."
David Marcus joins Coinbase's board: Facebook's vice president of messaging products and the former president of PayPal, David Marcus, is joining Coinbase's board of directors. The cryptocurrency company hopes to gain Marcus' insight of mobile technology and digital delivery as Coinbase expands its ability to buy and sell digital currencies, according to a release. Marcus has led Facebook Messenger as it has become more transactional, linking to PayPal's transfer service, as well as forming partnerships with TransferWise and American Express. Marcus was president of PayPal during the digital payment company's acquisition of Venmo parent Braintree, which improved PayPal's overall ability to engage with developers. Marcus also was chief executive of Zong, a payments startup PayPal acquired in 2011.

Laundry goes mobile: Vending machines have been a large part of contactless mobile payments since the beginning, and washing machines are now getting a big push. PayRange has developed an upgrade for Speed Queen and Maytag machines that will enable almost all coin operated machines built during the past 20 years to accept mobile payments. PayRange has also developed upgrades for Dexter, Ipso, Huebsch, Continental, ADC, LG and Milnor. The upgrade takes minutes to set up via installation kits that can replace coin acceptance or work alongside it, PayRange said in a release. Consumers can download a free mobile app from Apple or Google, with payment app options including Apple Pay, Android Pay and Masterpass. PayRange is accepted in more than 300 cities in the U.S. and Canada, and the mobile upgrade has an addressable market of "millions" of machines, according to PayRange.

Bitcoin payroll: As bitcoin's valuation has jumped, most of the activity around the currency has been focused on its appeal as an investment asset rather than using bitcoin to buy things. But there are still some deployments focused more on traditional currency use cases. MeTop reports Japanese web company GMO plans to allow staff to receive part of their salary in bitcoin, an option that will start in February with a gradual rollout to the company's entire 4,000 person workforce. Staff will have a lower limit of 10,000 yen, or $88, and an upper limit of 100,000, or $880 for the bitcoin portion of their monthly pay. GMO is also working on a payment system for bitcoin and a "mining" operation.

Blockchain sustainability: A consortium of banks and fintechs are working with Malawian tea farmers on a project that uses blockchain to manage payments, supply sourcing, financing and other parts of the supply chain. Finextra reports Barclays, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered are among the participants, as are Unilever and supermarket chain Sainsbury's. The pilot has about £600,000 in private and public funding, and will give banks the companies' detailed information about the environmental impact of sourcing, with cheaper costs as an incentive for sustainability. The underlying technology is a blockchain from Provenance and a transaction processing system from Halotrade that converts supply chain data into pricing and financing terms for payments of supplies, with smart contracts and algorithms measuring sustainability. Landmapp will manage land rights documentation and the Focafet Foundation will oversee open source data standards. In addition to pricing, standards and processing efficiencies, the project may also support compliance with labor regulations.

From the Web

India's digital ID sparks debate over human right to personal data
Reuters | Wed Dec 13, 2017 - India launched Aadhaar, now the world’s biggest biometric database, in 2009 to streamline welfare payments and reduce wastage in public spending. Since then, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been keen to mandate the use of Aadhaar for everything from filing income taxes to the registration of mobile phone numbers and booking railway tickets. Campaigners and technology experts have raised concerns about privacy and the safety of the data, the susceptibility of biometrics to failure, and the misuse of data for profiling or increased surveillance. Aadhaar is now mandatory for welfare, pension and employment schemes, despite a 2014 Supreme Court ruling that it cannot be a requirement for welfare programs.

3 reasons to doubt bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and other cryptocurrencies
CBS Moneywatch | Wed Dec 13, 2017 - Bitcoin's euphoric rise has spread, something like cancer, into other "alt coins," pushing up the value of ethereum and litecoin, among other cryptocurrencies. Ask the regular Joe diving into cryptocurrencies via credit cards the difference between regular bitcoin and various bitcoin "forks" like bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold and bitcoin diamonds. Joe probably doesn't care. Price hikes are creating the excitement, not any real currency trading discussions on, say, statement-of-work vs. proof-of-stake. The focus is on whether bitcoin will hit $20,000 on the U.S.-focused exchanges (already eclipsing that mark in South Korea, where the crypto mania is even bigger). Nothing else seems to matter.

Walmart Will Let Its 1.4 Million Workers Take Their Pay Before Payday
The New York Times | Wed Dec 13, 2017 - For decades, Walmart has taken heat for how it treats its workforce, including paying low wages and creating unpredictable schedules. Now, the giant retailer is trying to ease some of its workers’ financial strain, allowing them to receive wages before their next payday. Instead of waiting two weeks between paychecks, Walmart workers can now use an app to access a portion of wages for hours they have already worked.

More from PaymentsSource

Swift works to get more presence in banks' security plans
To help its member banks avoid the nightmare of a data breach, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is requiring they take the necessary security steps to establish a strong baseline of cyber defense.

Accounts payable automation is more than getting rid of checks
Financial technology companies are reinventing every aspect of business finance, starting with payments. Banks have long promised to automate supplier payments for their customers, but have fallen far short, writes Brent Meyers, vice president of national sales for Nvoicepay.

Data: The slow trek to real-time payments in the U.S.
Payments are measured by many attributes — speed, cost, ubiquity, security. Of these, speed is probably the one that has the most room for improvement. In a world where an e-commerce purchase can be made and the product delivered within the hour, it seems more than a little archaic that the time between payment and settlement for many transactions is still measured in days.

Oregon’s TriMet tests virtual transit payments
TriMet is the latest U.S. mass-transit agency to announce a program modernizing its payments and ticketing system.

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