Morning Brief 9.19.19: Starbucks unwraps pen payments in Japan

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Pen number

Starbucks' innovations, such as its mobile-only store, often start in Asia, with its latest idea being a pen that can make contactless payments.

The pens are being sold through Starbucks Japan's Touch product line, which doesn't focus on coffee as much as it does on NFC and web-connected devices, according to Engadget. The pens use FeliCa, a contactless technology that supports payments in much of Japan.

The pens, which are called The Pen, will sell for about $40, and join other products in the Touch line, such as The Hug, an NFC-enabled purse.

Waking up

Another public official has weighed in on Facebook's pending Libra cryptocurrency, though with a take that's less angry than most other politicians.

Benoit Coeure, an executive board member of the European Central Bank, called Libra a "wake up call" to central banks, which should collaborate on central bank-backed digital currencies, Finextra reports.

Speaking in Luxembourg, Coerue spoke less directly about Libra, and more about the general threat of cross-border multinational "private currencies" to monetary sovereignty — arguing collaboration among central banks was needed to address that threat.

When in Rome

Contactless transit payments in Italy have expanded quickly beyond a recent deployment in Venice, moving on to Rome.

Payment technology company SIA has added contactless cards, smartphones and wearable devices to pay for tickets directly at turnstiles on Rome's metro and commuter rail stations. Milan also recently adopted contactless payments in its metro system. The technology additionally allows riders to calculate the best fare based on the rider's itinerary.

Italy's deployments join numerous cities globally that have updated their transit systems to make payments more open and digital.

On spec

Web-connected glasses maker North has released a showroom app that allows users to pick, order and pay for its line of Focals specs without an in-person appointment.

The company is using augmented reality and the technology behind Face ID to support the service, reports TechCrunch. North Focals will retain physical stores in Toronto and Brooklyn.

North has added the AR showroom as it also upgrades the services available on the glasses, which allow users to obtain directions and order cars from ride sharing apps, among other features.

From the web

Google chases businesses to maintain its payments lead in India
TECHCRUNCH | Thu September 19, 2019
Google said today it is bringing its mobile payments app — Google Pay — to businesses in India as the Android-maker rushes to maintain its lead in one of its key overseas markets before its global rival Facebook sets off its payments play in the nation.

Multifactor Authentication Can Stop Hacks but Annoy Employees
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | Wed September 18, 2019
Multifactor authentication provides an extra layer of security on top of a username and password. With multifactor—typically two-factor—authentication enabled, users are prompted to enter an additional piece of information before they gain access to an account. Companies should streamline how they use it to limit hits to productivity, cybersecurity experts say.

California governor signs gig economy labor bill into law
REUTERS | Thu September 19, 2019
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a controversial labor bill, AB 5, which spells out when companies must treat “gig economy” contract workers as employees. The new law has been opposed by companies that depend heavily on independent workers, including ride hailing and delivery services.

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