Morning Brief 3.6.20: South Korea charts a path to regulate cryptocurrency

Register now

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

New rules

South Korea's National Assembly has passed legislation to provide a path to legalize cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges. The framework will cover oversight, anti-money laundering and other regulations.

It's a reversal for the county, which had previously cracked down on cryptocurrency, explains TechCrunch, adding the government's posture has contributed to market volatility.

Cryptocurrency is widely used in South Korea, enough for Seoul to launch a project to develop its own crypto, according to TechCrunch. The vote comes ahead of elections, allowing lawmakers to campaign on payments and financial innovation.

No contact

Helsinki has launched a three-year project to add EMV contactless card and mobile payments on all transit modes, a deployment that will extend to other cities in Finland.

The transport authority has hired technology firm Littlepay and will cover bus, tram, metro commuter rail and ferry services. About 50% of travel in Helsinki is via transit, higher than most European cities. New York's percentage, by comparison, is 56%.

Helsinki is also focused on environmental improvements, offering an app that shows the carbon footprint of payment choices. This creates a potential link between transit payment technology and other transactions, a common goal of transit payment upgrades.

New market

Apple Pay added a number of countries in 2019, reaching most of Europe, and it is expanding its reach in the Western Hemisphere as well.

The mobile wallet may soon be available in Mexico, reports MacRumors, attributing its reporting to users who were able to add local Mexican bank cards after setting their region to the U.S. That means the card can be added, though Apple Pay has not formally launched in Mexico.

Mexico would be the second Latin American country to support Apple Pay, following Brazil, which launched Apple Pay in 2018.

Credit for credit

Allectus Capital has made an undisclosed investment in Singapore fintech hoolah, which offers a range of payments technology and point of sale credit.

Hoolah will use the investment to fund its expansion in Malaysia, and will launch a multi-channel product that allows e-commerce and in-store purchases, reports Business Times.

The company's credit product supports 33% of the cost with the remainder coming in two interest free installments.

From the Web

Cannabis Payments Are Ripe For Fintech Innovation
FORBES | Thu March 5, 2020
Considering that cannabis is still illegal under federal law banks, many of which are federally chartered, do not allow companies in the cannabis space to have bank accounts. This is a perfect opportunity for fintech companies to provide services in payments and compliance to help cannabis companies manage their finances and operations in order to keep growing sustainably.

U.S. Bank will take over State Farm's key banking services
STAR TRIBUNE | Thu March 5, 2020
U.S. Bank will take over the deposit and credit card operations of State Farm's banking business, in an alliance announced Thursday as part of the insurance company's ongoing exit from the banking business. Financially, the arrangement represents a relatively small addition to U.S. Bank's deposit base, but it nearly doubles the Minneapolis-based bank's geographic reach with consumers.

Mobile banking app Empower Finance just closed a $20 million Series A round
TECHCRUNCH | Fri March 6, 2020
Empower Finance, a San Francisco-based company that’s headed up by former Sequoia Capital partner Warren Hogarth and which just closed on $20 million in Series A funding from Icon Ventures and Defy Ventures. The company has an overall offering that crunches through account holders’ bank and credit card accounts, and recommends how much they save into which account, how much they should spend given their overall picture, and various ways they can cut cost, among others.

More from PaymentsSource

Retail industry upheaval poses challenges for Alliance Data
The last year has been rather tumultuous for Alliance Data Systems, the Columbus, Ohio-based credit card issuer that specializes in the mall-based retail sector.

Mastercard debuts remittance-linked checking for migrant workers
As part of its financial inclusion campaign, Mastercard has partnered with Moneytrans to launch remittance-linked checking for migrant workers with a goal of obtaining 1 million users by 2025.

Afterpay partners with Marqeta to expand payment features
Afterpay, whose online installment loans are seeing strong growth in the U.S. apparel sector, has partnered with Oakland, Calif.-based processor Marqeta to develop additional payment products and services.

Early payroll pact expands access to wages at ATMs
Advance wage access company Branch has partnered with Cardtronics’ Allpoint ATM network to provide surcharge-free cash access at all Allpoint ATMs across the U.S. to its customers.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.