Morning Brief 12.23.19: Spain tests a real-time blockchain payment system

Register now

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

Blocking out

A handful of Spain's largest banks plan to test payment platform that would use a blockchain network for real-time interbank transactions.

The banks include Banco Sabadell, Banco Santander, Bankia, BBVA and CaixaBank, reports Finextra. The institutions will work with Iberpay, which manages Spain's payment system, to execute instant transfers through smart contracts.

Iberpay's goal is to expand the automatic payment types after the initial test, which involves a fictitious business case.

Social critique

Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency project has faced lots of criticism and political heat, with the latest input suggesting Facebook's social network structure could give it an unfair advantage.

Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank, is concerned Facebook can promote Libra and lock other stablecoin companies out of its digital platform, reports Coindesk, citing a Lagarde's letter to European Union officials.

The European Central Bank is developing a potential central bank-supported digital currency that could counter Libra. Other central banks are also working on digital currencies to address a concern that Libra may operate outside of central bank control.

Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank
Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank.

New defense

In an interview with Fortune, David Marcus, who is leading the Libra project, gave a fresh defense, saying he should have initially positioned Libra as a "payment" system and not a new currency.

Marcus contends the view of Libra as a currency drew a more emotional response from the public and from politicians.

Marcus, who at one time was president of PayPal, joined Facebook initially to manage Facebook Messenger. He later moved to a blockchain project at Facebook before becoming the face of the Libra initiative.

Ant's Vietnam deal

Ant Financial, which has just restructured its leadership, has purchased a stake in eMonkey, a Vietnamese e-wallet, part of an aggressive acquisition strategy in Southeast Asia as the company looks to expand its Alipay and Alibaba businesses.

The deal will give Ant access to an addressable market of about 100 million people, reports Business Times, adding Vietnam has one of the highest e-commerce growth rates in Asia.

Alipay has previously established partnerships with banks in Vietnam to gain entry into the market.

What Brexit?

London payments startup plans to triple the size of its headquarters and double its staff by the end of 2020 to about 600. raised $230 million earlier this year to fuel a global expansion, which will include a new, much larger office in London, reports Yahoo, adding the company's new location is near a cluster of technology companies.

Despite Brexit, the company remains "committed to London," Yahoo reports, adding views the Financial Conduct Authority as a forward thinking regulator, and London as having a high quantity of engineering talent.

From the web

PayPal Continues to Scout for Potential Takeover Targets
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | Mon December 23, 2019
PayPal Holdings Inc. will continue to pursue potential takeover targets in 2020 amid robust deal activity in the payments sector. “There’s a lot of opportunities to acquire companies inorganically,” Chief Financial Officer John Rainey said.

Alibaba spinoff Alipay surged past 1 billion users in 2019
YAHOO FINANCE | Fri December 20, 2019
The world’s most valuable private tech unicorn isn’t WeWork, Airbnb, Juul, Palantir, or Stripe. It’s Chinese payments firm Ant Financial Services, a spinoff from Alibaba that is valued at an eye-popping $150 billion.

Ripple Raises $200 Million as Part of Bid for XRP Adoption
FORTUNE | Fri December 20, 2019
Ripple, a San Francisco-based company that uses cryptocurrency to move money across borders, announced a massive funding round that values the company at $10 billion.

More from PaymentsSource

Why PNC’s friction with Venmo is not likely to go away soon
PNC Bank has made it more difficult for its customers to use Venmo, and although competition plays a role, the bigger issue is the expanding risks financial institutions face when sharing data with third parties.

FIS, Fiserv and Global Payments are larger, but so is the fintech threat
More than $100 billion in deals turned the payment industry upside down over the past year. Now that the dust has settled, these new companies are set to spend the next 12 months and beyond battling each other and a dynamic market of technology challengers that have also gotten larger.

Ripple draws $200 million from investors to expand blockchain payments
Investors including Tetragon, SBI Holdings and Route 66 Ventures have poured a fresh $200 million into Ripple Labs, which has become a major player in cross-border payments over the past few years.

Open banking's security isn't ready for prime time
The European Union’s Second Payment Services Directive requires banks to share customer financial and transaction information with third parties. But there are big questions about whether third-party fintech companies and even major banks are using APIs that are properly secured to transmit such sensitive information.

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