Morning Brief 4.24.20: Starbucks, McDonald's pilot China's digital yuan

Register now

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

Digital drive-thru

China has lined up Starbucks and McDonald's as beta partners for its pending central bank digital currency.

The American quick serve giants will be joined by more than a dozen other retail chains that will support the digital yuan. The project also has the support of Ant, Tencent and state-supported digital wallets, reports Coindesk.

China has been working on a digital currency for several years, partly as a counter to Facebook, Amazon and other large U.S. technology firms. The concept of central bank digital currency has also accelerated as governments consider stimulus packages to help businesses recover from the coronavirus outbreak.

In real time

Western Union is extending support for real-time digital wallet payments to more markets, with a goal of reaching 100 countries by the end of 2020, which would double its current real-time digital network.

The company is partly positioning the move as a coronavirus measure, saying it will increase access to its network without requiring visits to agents.

Western Union has been adding more digital services to compete with cloud and blockchain remittance providers, recently adding Amazon's Web Services to bolster its strategy.

Coming to America

U.K. fintech Monzo has applied for a U.S. banking license ahead of opening a new office in San Francisco.

Monzo has its roots as a payment app but has gradually added more digital banking services. It recently hired former Visa exec TS Anil to spearhead its move into the U.S., according to Finextra.

Monzo has also opened a wait list for a debit card and mobile app in the U.S. A banking license would allow it to lend, but the application process could be a difficult one, as fintechs such as Square took years to receive an American banking license.

Facing blockchain

Seoul-based technology company LG CNS has installed a facial payment system in its cafeteria that supports a communal currency for transactions.

Point of sale devices use facial recognition to ID employees, who then automatically pay through a staff blockchain, reports The Korea Herald.

The company hopes to avoid card-linked digital wallets, which rely on smartphones, and more traditional card payments. Both measures would encourage contactless payments and less physical contact for transactions.

From the web

Stripe adds card issuing, localized card networks and expanded approvals tool
TECHCRUNCH | Thu April 23, 2020
Stripe announced that it will now offer card issuing services directly to businesses to let them in turn make credit cards for customers tailored to specific purposes. Alongside that, it’s going to expand the number of accepted local, large card networks to cut down some of the steps it takes to make transactions in international markets.

Card issuers are cutting credit limits without warning
CNBC | Thu April 23, 2020
To mitigate that risk and compensate for less credit overall, issuers are scaling back consumer credit lines, just like they did a decade ago during the last recession. With a lower limit, consumers are more likely to use a greater percentage of their available credit each month (or debt-to-limit ratio), which has negative effects on their credit score and ability to borrow money.

Bundle Launches Social Payments App For Cash, Crypto
YAHOO FINANCE | Thu April 23, 2020
Bundle, an Africa-focused social payments app for cash and cryptocurrencies, formally launched in Nigeria, allowing users to buy, sell, and store both fiat and digital currencies. After closing a prior financing round with Binance, Bundle quickly brought to market its Venmo-like cash and crypto social payments app.

More from PaymentsSource

Coronavirus hamstrings the U.K.’s already stretched farm payments system
The payments landscape for U.K. farmers has long been fraught with inefficiencies at the best of times, particularly when it comes to the government’s processing of financial support payments. Now, with coronavirus wreaking havoc with administrative departments, farmers across the land are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

Crypto is the path to keep convenience stores relevant
By embracing this new payment market and its associated technologies now, convenience stores will attract more customers, improving their bottom line while also preparing for the future, writes DigitalMint's Marc Grens.

Coronavirus drastically alters the landscape for merchant acquirers
Merchant acquiring is a very face-to-face, sales-oriented business. And that culture has to change before any acquirers can convince their clients that they know how to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic.

Plenty of takers for offers to skip credit card, student loan payments
Discover Financial Services and Sallie Mae are both reporting a surge in borrowers seeking payment relief, signaling the start of a new era in which U.S. consumer lenders will have to focus heavily on minimizing their credit losses.

Payments startup Stripe rolls out card issuing for U.S. clients
Financial-technology startup Stripe Inc. is starting a card-issuing service for U.S. clients as it expands beyond payment processing.

Card firm for Victoria’s Secret, J. Crew abandons guidance
Alliance Data Systems Corp., which provides credit cards for Victoria’s Secret and J. Crew, abandoned its full-year revenue and earnings forecasts as a nationwide shutdown cut consumer spending.

Coronavirus quarantine creates a consumer use case for B2B billing tech
Due to the U.K.’s coronavirus lockdown, many British people are socially isolated in their homes, and rely on friends to get their groceries for them. They face the problem of how to reimburse people for their expenses, since cash is no longer acceptable.

Transit systems shouldn't confuse open loop pay with EMV
An interesting observation has occurred to me during industry conferences and articles I’ve read that I felt important to address: Account-based ticketing is rarely distinguished from EMV.

The coronavirus response has already created payments' future
Over the past few decades, digital technology has changed everything, from the way we communicate to how businesses and consumers pay and get paid. But it wasn’t the experts who drove our largest digital transformation in recent history. It wasn’t Silicon Valley startups, Chief Digital Officers, or public demand. It was coronavirus.

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