Stimulus checks will hit late holiday mail bottlenecks; crypto processor Simplex joins Visa network

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In transit

Millions of stimulus checks the U.S. Treasury Department plans to begin mailing out in upcoming days will be fighting to reach their destinations amid a record number of packages consumers are returning through the USPS and other channels.

San Francisco-based Returnly, which handles digital returns and post-purchase payments for merchants, said returns hit a peak on Dec. 26, triple the volume of a typical day due to record-setting holiday e-commerce sales, and shipments will continue at elevated levels for weeks.

The USPS, whose workforce has been strained by the pandemic, had slower holiday mail deliveries that delayed the arrival of some time-sensitive materials, Youngstown, Ohio-based WFMJ-TV reports.

Centered

Simplex, which provides cryptocurrency payments infrastructure and credit card processing, this week was named a principal member of the Visa network, enabling the Israel-based fintech to directly issue debit cards to partners across Europe.

The move expands options for Simplex partners including cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers, whose users often face obstacles withdrawing cryptocurrency from various providers, Insider Monkey reports.

Simplex is an EU-licensed financial institution launched six years ago. It joins Wirex, which became a principal member of Visa’s network last week. Mastercard granted Wirex principal membership in July 2020.

Digital expansion

An official with Russia’s central bank suggested that Swift, the Brussels-based global financial messaging network, could become redundant as more countries develop digital currencies.

With regulators in 30 jurisdictions working on “digital dollar”-type initiatives, Swift could be supplanted within the next several years for many international payments, Olga Skorobogatova, first deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, suggested during an online meeting this week, Moscow-based RT International reports.

Swift enables cross-border payments among 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries, but some Swift members have threatened to disconnect Russian banks from the network as part of broader sanctions. The Bank of Russia is developing its own System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS).

Express lane

India’s ICICI Bank and Google Pay have partnered to power a reloadable auto pass enabling drivers to pass through toll plazas without stopping.

Users can order, track and recharge the ICICI Bank FASTag directly from the Google Pay app, the New Delhi-based Business Standard reports.

Indian Highways Management Co. operates FASTag. The state-run National Payments Corporation of India is working with the highway company and National Highways Authorities of India to make national highway tolls across India completely digital.

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