Morning Brief 3.27.20: T-Mobile deepens ties with Apple Pay

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T-Mobile has added Apple Pay as an option for monthly bill payments for customers who are also iPhone users. It's also offering 3% cash back as a lure.

That will open new recurring payments for Apple, and will expand an existing partnership that allows Apple Pay at T-Mobile's retail stores, explains CultofMac.

There are still some limitations, as Apple Pay can't be used to buy handsets or tablets on T-Mobile's website.

Crypto laundering

Autocrats often use cryptocurrency to get around international sanctions, and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro allegedly used cryptocurrency to hide payments tied to drug running, the U.S. government claims.

Maduro, who has touted a government cryptocurrency as a way to counter bond defaults, engaged in "narco terrorism" and operating a $20 billion drug operation, reports Coindesk, citing a U.S. Department of Justice document.

The indictment does not identify the cryptocurrency, though Venezuela's crypto is called Petro.

New hire

MineralTree has hired Fiserv payments veteran Gary Brand to be general manager of financial institution channels, where he'll be responsible for selling MineralTree's white label accounts payable technology to B2B customers.

At Fiserv, Brand was director of payment and communication strategies, where he led strategy for billing, payments and other products for lending, utilities, government and telecommunications.

Vijay Ramnathan, president of MineralTree, positioned the hire as part of a coronavirus response, saying banks are under pressure in a low interest rate environment to draw fees from new products, such as automating B2B payments. MineralTree says there is an opportunity to automate accounts payable for firms that have moved staff to remote locations.

Central digital dollar

The Digital Dollar Project has formed an advisory group to boost its lobbying efforts for a U.S. central bank digital currency.

The project has recruited Accenture, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Riksbank to act as architects and innovation patterns, reports Finextra. Officials from the World Economic Forum and Obama administrations are also involved.

The coronavirus stimulus package briefly included language about a "digital dollar," which would be part of a U.S. CBDC project, bringing new attention to the idea.

From the web

PayPal Poised To Emerge From The COVID-19 Pandemic In A Stronger Position
FORBES | Thu March 26, 2020
For companies like PayPal, which have a big eCommerce business, they could emerge even stronger after the pandermic. That’s the assessment of Macquarie’s Dolev who said investors should use any weakness in the payment stocks as a buying opportunity.

Huabei credit card joins Smart2Pay’s payments portfolio
VERDICT | Thu March 26, 2020
Smart2Pay has included Ant Financial’s Huabei credit solution to its payment methods portfolio. The new feature will give Smart2Pay’ merchants an additional means to tap into the Chinese market.

Tech giants should let startups defer cloud payments
TECHCRUNCH | Thu March 26, 2020
Platform giants such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and other platform providers should let customers pause payment until the worst of the first wave of the COVID-19 economic disruption passes. Revenue has stopped flowing in, capital markets like venture debt are hesitant and startups and small-to-medium sized businesses are at risk of either having to lay off huge numbers of employees and/or shut down.

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