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

Target's lost weekend

Target experienced outages at its point of sale on both days over the weekend. Saturday's troubles stemmed from an internal tech issue that lasted two hours; Sunday's issue was blamed on a third-party's data center, The New York Times reported.

The two outages were unrelated, the retailer said. It also emphasized that the incidents did not compromise security or result from a data breach.

Target may still be feeling the PR sting from a 2013 data breach that affected millions of cardholders. That incident was attributed to a hack of Target's refrigeration, heating and air conditioning subcontractor.

'Disappointed'

Australia's major banks are rolling out the country's New Payments Platform at a "disappointing" and uneven rate, and the Reserve Bank of Australia is calling for action to boost the pace.

The NPP went live in 2018 and is designed to support transfers in seconds. But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the slow deployment is causing concern among consumers and third parties. The first product, the mobile phone-based Osko transfer service, did not debut until late 2018.

The report, which calls for regular inspections and threatens forcing regulation, also suggests broadening the NPP scheme to participants that aren't authorized deposit-taking institutions, and options to buy shares in projects to bring in more participants.

Youth skills

Amazon Alexa's skills for young people include stuff like grooming tips and how to run a lemonade stand, and now in-skill purchases for premium content through one-time purchases or subscriptions.

The toolkit includes APIs for developers to build premium kid skills, and controls to help manage purchases, such as SMS and/or email notifications for approval.

Amazon has been gradually adding transaction capabilities to Alexa, such as account balance queries and bill payments via the voice assistant.

Polite yet firm

In another advancement for voice-directed financial services, Russian online bank Tinkoff has introduced a voice assistant to help with payments and other transactions.

Tinkoff describes "Oleg" as a man between the ages of 25 and 40, who is funny but can also be "firm" if necessary. Consumers can ask Oleg to perform transfers between Tinkoff and Sberbank accounts, pay for movie tickets and book restaurant and salon appointments.

Voice assistants aren't yet widely used to perform payments, but the fast growth of the technology for general use has made voice a popular venue for financial services and payments companies in anticipation of wider adoption.

Financial inclusion

The African Development Bank has set aside about $120 million in working capital and $400 million in debt financing to build payments tech and general financial services.

The group hopes to take advantage of Africa's high rate of mobile phone ownership, which has already shown an ability to encourage financial inclusion through telco-related mobile money services such as mPesa.

Among the initiatives the ADB is pushing is an interoperable digital payment system for P2P transfers between mobile wallets, and from wallets to bank accounts, reports Finextra.

From the Web

Why B2B Payments Are Stuck In The Past
Forbes | Sun June 16, 2019 - An extraordinary amount of money passes between businesses every day; the Business to Business (B2B) payments industry itself is worth around $127 trillion—but, despite its size, the industry continues to utilize outdated solutions that hinder its efficiency.

The Need for Easier and Faster Payments with Blockchain
Forbes | Sun June 16, 2019 - Since the 2008 economic recession, the financial industry has been unexpectedly shaken and faced with several challenges concerning trust, reliability, and value. Traditional banking is now deemed outdated and somewhat unreliable as consumers and businesses are seeking alternative options for their transactions and assets.

Iceland’s Currency Will Be First in Europe to Be Traded as E-Money
CoinDesk | Fri June 14, 2019 - The Financial Supervisory Authority of Iceland (FME) has approved Reykjavik-based Monerium as its first electronic money institution. The designation means that Monerium has regulatory approval to provide fiat payment services on a blockchain and use it throughout the European Economic Area.

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