3.7.19 Your morning briefing

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

First up
Paytm's fierce battle with Amazon and Walmart has extended to member rewards, with the launch of a subscription and discount program.

Called Paytm First, it is a direct play against Amazon Prime and Flipkart Plus, reports India Today. Paytm First has a yearly subscription fee of about $11, with offers tied to Paytm Mall purchases, movie ticket bookings and Uber benefits.

Paytm has also recently added budgeting tools and multimedia content as part of a broader diversification strategy to better service India's rapidly expanding mobile market.
Swift fines
The Reserve Bank of India has fined about 20 lenders for violating payment guidelines connected to the Swift network. The banks include ICICI and State Bank of India, reports the Economic Times.

The violations were not disclosed in detail, though the paper said it was violations of rules such as counterparty information and other technical issues — or misdemeanors in banking parlance.

However, the new levies, which totalled about $5.6 million, were more likely a signal of tighter controls following a $2 billion credit fraud scheme in 2018 at state-affiliated Punjab National Bank, which made unauthorized Swift-related payment guarantees to Nirav Modi, a billionaire jeweler. That prompted criticism over loose controls, the ET reports.

Sleepwalking cash
The U.K. has vigorously embraced digital payments, but there's been a backlash in the form of political pressure to maintain ATMs and other cash access points to serve the remaining part of the economy that relies on cash.

Natalie Ceeney, former U.K. financial ombudsman, has issued an Access to Cash report that pushes regulators to act to keep the U.K. from "sleepwalking" into a cashless society.

The report calls on the government to establish a "guarantee" for cash access for all areas, and to deem essential services that had to support cash options.

Alternative alternative currency
Google has deployed a new way for Android developers to monetize apps by means other than money or subscriptions.

Called Rewarded Products, it allows users to "pay" with time, reports TechCrunch. For example, a user could receive virtual currency or other benefits in exchange for watching a video advertisement.

The rewarded products can be added to the Google Play Billing Library or AIDL interface, without requiring an SDK integration. Google is also working with AdMob to broaden the range of advertisers to display ads as part of the program.

From the Web

Eight in 10 Britons rely on cash for everyday payments, report finds
The Guardian | Thu March 7, 2019 - Cash is still king across large parts of the UK economy, with more than 80% of people in Britain saying they pay taxi drivers, newspaper sellers, window cleaners and gardeners with notes and coins, according to a major report.

The wallet as you know it may be dying
USA Today | Wed March 6, 2019 - Your physical wallet is on borrowed time. Your phone, after all, increasingly provides the utility in digital form for the many reasons you schlep a Costanza-sized billfold in the first place, from showing off pictures to making mobile payments.

Litecoin Is Rocketing, Boosting Bitcoin And Ethereum--Here's Why
Forbes | Wed March 6, 2019 - Litecoin, currently the world's fifth largest major cryptocurrency by value, has leaped higher today following a steady rise over the last few days, pushing bitcoin, ethereum, and the wider cryptocurrency market higher.

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