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Samsung stories: Samsung has filed a patent in South Korea for a story feature that would be part of Samsung Pay. Users would share purchases and rate businesses such as restaurants. The Verge reports Samsung may also hire celebrities to market the launch of the stories feature. Samsung's strategy would be similar to that of Venmo, which enables its users to share transactions globally through its feeds, though that has had some unintended consequences. Social sharing is an important part of Venmo's overall model, which is to make a payment part of a much broader experience that is layered and inherently social—Venmo refers to its database as "stories" to emphasize the strategy that a payment without context is little more than a utility. The Verge reports Samsung's story feed may wind up being different than Venmo's in that Samsung sees it as a potential merchant advertising channel as opposed to a simple social feed.

Bloomberg News

$200 in five minutes: The argument that bitcoin is more of an trading asset than an actual coin has certainly held true this week. The cryptocurrency jumped $200 in five minutes on Wednesday, part of a wild trading day in which it passed $11,000 the first time, just hours after passing $10,000. It then fell back to near $9,000 late in the day, reports CNBC, which adds the currency is still more than 200% above its 200-day moving average, which leaves room for a sell-off that doesn't necessarily portend a market crash. The market volatility caused Coinbase to suffer usage issues due to the high volume; and caused plenty of it-depends-on-who-you-listen-to speculation in the media. Hedge fund investor Michael Novogratz, for example, told CNBC that bitcoin could easily reach $40,000 in a year. But Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, was quoted in Finextra saying there are "no fundamentals or technicals" that explain bitcoin other than it being a massive speculative bubble. Ethereum also hit a record on Wednesday, passing $500 for the first time before dipping back below that mark late in the day. Bitcoin was trading at about $800 in January, while Etherium was trading at about $8 at the beginning of the year.

Hackers are getting sharper: Internet crooks are building new tools and techniques, leading to a more dangerous environment for financial transactions, reports Swift, which adds this greater sophistication is making it easier to access users' critical assets. Fraudsters have used Swift's rails several times in the past couple of years to hack banks, leading the cooperative to reassess its digital security standards. It has also launched a customer security program and will shortly begin identifying banks that do not adhere to a set of cybersecurity standards. In Swift's most recent report, it states that despite the increased sophistication of technology on both sides of the fraud fight, crooks are still able to rely on basic security vulnerabilities in most cases and are able to gain administrator rights for operating systems, modify software memory and change functionality to get around authentication.

E-commerce at the mall: Much like Amazon's forays into brick and mortar, smaller e-commerce companies are also considering the need for a physical presence, leading shopping mall operator Simon Malls to develop an outreach program. Called The Edit, the program is designed to boost mall traffic in an age of increased online shopping by providing e-commerce startups flexible terms and space for an in-mall presence. Operating like a pop-up store, The Edit avoids the pre-configured store spaces and ten-year leases that malls usually require, and instead offers a shared space, one-to-six month leases, security, marketing and background music. Simon, which operates 300 malls in North America, is testing The Edit at Roosevelt Fields, a mall on Long Island.

U.K. payments lobby gets help: The U.K.'s Emerging Payments Association has added payments gateway Clearsettle to Project Regulator, a initiative designed to ease compliance for non-bank payment service providers in the U.K. Project Regulator works on behalf of alternative payment companies to streamline regulations and to provide general public input on government proposals. It's one of several efforts in the U.K. to explain the country's often complex regulatory environment for financial technology and payment startups. Project Regulator recently lobbied as part of the Financial Conduct Authority's change to allow the use of the term "banking service," by non-banks, as long as the terms are not intentionally misleading. It also plans to lobby to put passporting on the Brexit negotiation agenda.

From the Web

Amazon Alexa skills to accept payments
Venture Beat | Wed Nov 29, 2017 - Developers and businesses making skills for Amazon’s Alexa will soon be able to accept Amazon Pay for purchases directly within voice apps from the Alexa Skills Store. The news was announced today during the Alexa State of the Union at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas. Among other Alexa news shared today are plans to bring Alexa to Australia and New Zealand in early 2018 and to add $100 million to the Alexa Fund for international investment.

ECB tells banks to embrace instant payments to beat Bitcoin
Reuters | Thu Nov 30, 2017 - Banks should speed up the introduction of instant payments, whereby money is received immediately and around the clock, to counter the allure of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, a European Central Bank director said on Thursday. With Bitcoin zooming past $11,000, cryptocurrencies - which can be used for instant electronic payments - have gained prominence in the financial debate and some central banks such as Sweden’s are even considering the introduction of their own version of them. Yves Mersch, a member of the ECB’s executive board, was dismissive of these digital tokens but he urged commercial banks to provide an alternative.

Fiji moves to electronic payments to reduce carbon footprints
Xinhua | Thu Nov 30, 2017 - Fiji's Ministry for Economy and the Australian New Zealand Bank (ANZ) announced two key steps on Thursday toward Fiji's goal to replace cash with electronic payments in a move to save trees at an event in Suva, capital of Fiji. Fiji's Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum transferred a batch of online payments by the Fijian government over ANZ Transactive, the bank's web-based payments portal in order to reduce Fiji's carbon footprints. The move follows the ministry's decision to use ANZ Transactive for all its payments, reducing the need for cheques and ensuring vendors are paid promptly and efficiently.

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