Welcome to the PaymentsSource Morning Briefing, delivered daily. The information you need to start your day, including top headlines from PaymentsSource and around the Web:
Crystal clear VR: Banks and retailers have been experimenting with virtual reality as a sales channel, and crystal seller Swarovski is the latest to bring its wares into cyberspace. The VR app allows the user to browse through a home filled with with Swarovski products and purchase any of those items with a Masterpass account, according to Engadget. Though the concept allows users to envision a home stocked with Swarovski vases and night lights, the article laments that it is not quite as personalized as VR apps such as Nike's, which allows users to customize their footwear. Banks such as RBC have also seen value in VR in that the headgear can be used to add security hardware such as iris recognition.
Fitbit Pay's debut: The Fitbit Ionic smartwatch, announced last month without a release date, will formally launch Oct. 1 for $299.95, bringing with it a new wearable wallet called Fitbit Pay. Though the fitness tracking company isn't emphasizing payments in its marketing of its new smartwatch, the feature is notable for being a mobile wallet with much less emphasis on the use of a smartphone. Fitbit also announced a software development kit is launching Sept. 26, allowing developers to design apps for the company's new wearable. Its app partners include Starbucks, a pioneer in mobile payments that accepts 30% of its U.S. in-store payments via its app.
Pinterest in person: Pinterest is working with Target to integrate a visual search technology into Target's mobile apps, TechCrunch reports. Pinterest's Lens system lets shoppers snap a photo of an object and then find similar products for sale at the retailer's stores. The integration will start first with Target's registry, then into its full app and desktop website, the article says. In essence, the photo will substitute for a keyword search, and Target expects visual and voice search to make up half of all product searches by 2020, TechCrunch reports. Target is Pinterest's first retail partner for Lens, which had previously been licensed to be part of Samsung's Bixby Vision, a visual component of its S8 smartphone's digital assistant.
Aussie banks dump ATM fees: Australia's largest four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank, have discontinued ATM fees for non-customers, generally about 2 AUD. The Financial Times reports the move will cost the banks a total of about 130 million AUD, a relatively small amount. These revenues are also likely to shrink as more Australians move toward contactless payments and other non-cash options. The banks' share of ATMs is also relatively small, as other banks and independent operators own more than half of the ATMs in Australia.
From the Web
Alibaba to pay $807 million for majority stake in logistics firm Cainiao
CNBC | Tue Sep 26, 2017 - Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said on Tuesday it invested an additional 5.3 billion yuan, or $807 million, to increase its stake in logistics firm Cainiao Smart Logistics to 51 percent. Prior to the deal, Alibaba held 47 percent of Cainiao, it said in a press release. The deal would give Alibaba an additional seat on Cainiao's board, raising its total to four out of seven seats. The deal is expected to be completed in October. Alibaba added that it expects to invest 100 billion yuan, or $15.2 billion, over the next five years to boost its global logistics network. The company said it wants to fulfill orders on the mainland within 24 hours and within 72 hours globally.
UK regulator rejects Labour call for credit card cap
Reuters | Mon Sep 25, 2017 - Britain’s financial watchdog rejected calls to cap interest rates charged on credit cards on Monday, saying that planned measures to help people avoid excessive debt should be given time to work. “We are not there at the moment,” Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, said in response to calls from Britain’s Labour opposition party for a cap on interest payments on consumer credit card debt. Bailey told the Reuters Financial Regulation Summit that the watchdog has been doing a “lot of work” on consumer credit cards and was finalizing measures following public consultation. “Our general approach is look, we would rather like to see what the effect of those measures is,” Bailey said at the Reuters office in London.
By concealing identities, cryptocurrencies fuel cybercrime
Los Angeles Times | Tue Sep 26, 2017 - When hackers hold their victims' data for ransom, as happened in the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks that spread across the globe in mid-2017, a key to the criminals' success is getting away with the money. That often means they use cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to collect payment, hoping to remain hidden behind a digital mask. The WannaCry hackers went a step farther, though. They converted their bitcoins into Monero, another e-currency designed to offer even stronger privacy. At the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts, we have explored the ways cryptocurrency systems protect users' anonymity. Anonymity in cryptocurrencies is fueling crime by enabling criminals to evade identification by law enforcement. We believe that this problem will get worse as cryptocurrencies evolve stronger privacy protections and become more flexibly programmable. We also believe there's no simple solution.
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