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A Ripple between UAE and Singapore: Ripple's blockchain, which for years has been building a base of merchants and online markets for cross-border payments, is taking on increasingly large international payment markets as it adds more bank collaborations to its network. Standard Chartered, Axis and Rakbank are using Ripple's RippleNet rails to address the large remittance corridor between the UAE and Singapore. BusinessDigit reports the banks hope the blockchain will bring speed and reduce friction for a $15 billion corridor for both corporate payments and payroll for migrant workers. Axis and Rakbank are also using the technology to support payroll remittance between UAE's large workforce and India, a $12.6 billion annual corridor. Ripple earlier this fall entered into a partnership with Dayli Intelligence to boost similar payments in Asian markets.

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U.K. leans toward PSD2: The pending European data sharing PSD2 rules are expected to impact banks in all markets globally, as the trend moves toward "open banking," or the use of APIs to make consumer information more easily available to fintech startups. Finextra reports The U.K.'s Open Banking project is expanding to include all payment account types that are covered under PSD2, including prepaid cards and electronic wallets. As the first set of PSD2 requirements go into effect in January, the U.K. will deploy a series of releases designed to support easier user experiences for e-wallet and card accounts as they take advantage of open banking. This will include standards for future-dated, recurring and international payments, as well as other digital and mobile payments that are covered by PSD2 and are often the focus of financial technology startups.

Interac's international eye: Canada's national debit scheme, Interac, has been part of many early mobile payment tests and has exported its technology to countries such as Norway. It is taking its international ambition a step further by collaborating with Sequent to reduce the upfront work required for tokenization, or the replacement of traditional account numbers with single-use identifiers, considered a key part of protecting mobile transactions. Sequent will provide tokenization on an "as a service" basis for non-Canadian networks using a white-label version of Interac's contact and contactless EMV specification. In an announcement, Interac mentioned the partnership will be useful for businesses that don't have the time or capital to create internal tokenization protections.

Is it time to worry? For those who believe there may be a bitcoin bubble, consider the following: Former baseball slugger and author Jose Canseco predicts bitcoin will reach $10,000 by New Year's Eve. The virtual currency has certainly been on a roll, reaching a record $9,700 this week after falling as low as $5,600 earlier in November, so the prediction is not necessarily frivolous. Canseco also predicts bitcoin and other cryptocurrency will rapidly become mainstream, enough for "morons" to understand, and will play a role in uniting countries by encouraging collaborative digital finance. As...strange as it may sound for a former bash brother to offer his opinion on cryptocurrency, famous people have been weighing in. While most public figures have been more predictable executives from the world of finance, nonfinancial celebrities have also chimed in, with Dilbert creator Scott Adams having sold tokens for a time-sharing service for experts.

From the Web

Macy's suffers credit card payment glitch at the worst possible time: Black Friday
CNBC | Fri Nov 24, 2017 - Macy's confirmed on Friday it was having trouble with its credit card systems on one of the busiest and most important shopping days of the season. That trouble was resolved by Friday evening. "We have fully resolved today's system issues. We highly value our customers and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience today's system slowdown may have caused during their shopping experience," a spokesperson for the company said. The retailer attributed the processing "delays" to "a capacity-related issue."

Euro zone consumers still addicted to cash when they buy
Reuters | Fri Nov 24, 2017 - Cash still dominates consumer payments in the euro zone, even as many Western economies are rapidly moving towards electronic payments, a survey published by the European Central Bank showed on Friday. The figures indicate that the euro zone is one of the slowest among big Western economies in giving up cash, trailing countries like the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada. Almost 79 percent of point-of-sale transactions were done in cash last year with the rate in Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy, at 80 percent, underscoring German unease over the ECB’s decision to phase out 500 euro notes, a move widely perceived as a first step in moving away from cash.

Initial Coin Offerings Horrify a Former S.E.C. Regulator
The New York Times | Sun Nov 26, 2017 - Members of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s staff have been hearing recently from a former colleague with an urgent question: Why aren’t you cracking down on these initial coin offerings? Initial coin offerings are a relatively new method that entrepreneurs have used to raise money for start-ups, by selling custom-built virtual currencies. The practice has taken off this year, despite the warnings of regulators and the uncertainty of the rules concerning the fund-raising method. Joseph Grundfest, who was a commissioner at the S.E.C. in the 1980s and is now a law and business professor at Stanford, said he had been contacting current commission officials and staff to urge them to bring cases, and fast.

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