Morning Brief 12.16.19: Paytm picks up $660 million to boost financial services expansion

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Paytm raised $660 million from a handful of investors including Alipay, SoftBank's SVF Panther and T Rowe Price-managed funds, providing more fuel for the payment company's move toward more traditional bank services.

The new raise is embedded in a series of investments in recent months that have brought Paytm's valuation to more than $16 billion. The company has stated an interest in pursuing a license that would allow it to lend directly, mostly to small businesses.

Paytm also faces increased competition in India from Walmart and Amazon, which have both made substantial investments in payment technology in India; and Google, which has added support for Google Pay for small merchants and transportation ticketing.

D.C. express

The Washington Metro plans to add support for Apple Pay and Apple's Express Transit feature in 2020, providing another win for Apple's transit ticketing technology, which has expanded in New York and other cities in the past year.

D.C. commuters will be able to add their SmarTrip fare cards to the Wallet app and pay fares by holding an iPhone or Apple Watch near a contactless payment reader at Metrorail stations or buses.

Apple's Express Transit is a newer feature that's designed to shorten authentication to accommodate a large volume of transactions on transit systems.

Not sold

The Swiss government believes a central bank digital currency would hurt financial stability and also that it would not result in added benefits.

Switzerland is one of several countries considering central bank digital currencies. The move is seen as a way to combat financial crime such as money laundering and counter the influence of Facebook's Libra project. But the Swiss government says these benefits do not outweigh the risks, Reuters reports.

China and Sweden have progressed the most in their digital currency initiatives, according to Reuters.

Walmart loses key omnichannel exec

Andy Dunn, who helped lead Walmart through several digital projects as part of the retailer's battle with Amazon, is leaving Walmart in 2020. Dunn's post doesn't list a destination, though it's largely positive.

Dunn, who founded menswear site Bonobos, became senior vice president of consumer brands at Walmart in 2018 when Walmart acquired Bonobos. Dunn's LinkedIn post mentions work on Walmart projects such as omnichannel retail, online order and advancements in fulfillment.

Walmart has several delivery projects underway, and has partnered with fintechs such as Affirm to diversify payment options. The retailer has also opened innovation labs in New York and Texas to test new payment and shopping technology over the past two years.

From the web

Billionaire Mark Cuban Has One Serious Problem With Bitcoin
FORBES | Sun December 15, 2019
Bitcoin has a lot of problems. While the world's biggest cryptocurrency has doubled in price over the last 12 months, adoption has stalled and regulators are circling. Bitcoin, according to technology billionaire Mark Cuban, is "too difficult to use, too easy to hack, way too easy to lose, too hard to understand, [and] too hard to assess a value."

Binance CEO Hilariously Exposed in Twitter-Bot Gaffe
CCN | Sun December 15, 2019
The founder and CEO of Binance was exposed in an attempt to illegally boost the Twitter profile of his cryptocurrency exchange using Twitter-bots. Identical spelling mistakes reveal use of fake accounts to boost Twitter profile of Binance, and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao. Three separate accounts used identical phraseology when prasing the Binance cryptocurrency exchange.

With Xi’s backing, China looks to become a world leader in blockchain as US policy is absent
CNBC | Sun December 15, 2019
China is poised to take the lead in blockchain after it was given strong backing by the country’s leader President Xi Jinping, experts said. The move could allow the world’s second-largest economy to control the development of the nascent technology in the absence of competition from other regions like Europe and the U.S.

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