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Delivery sans person: Autonomous cars conjure up images of shopping on the road, though Toyota is taking a different turn. The world's second-largest automaker has hatched a plan to launch see-through vehicles that drive themselves around cities delivering packages, food and people. The Verge reports Toyota's e-Palettes will be fully automated battery-powered electric vehicles that will support mobility as a service, or apps that people can use to order goods or a ride, only with no driver. The vehicles look like a larger, more rectangular version of a small van.

Bloomberg News

Crypto geyser: Venezuela plans to launch the "Petro," or a cryptocurrency backed by oil—each unit of currency will be covered by one barrel of crude, reports CNBC, which adds it would be unusual in that there's little if any cyrptocurrency backed by either a government or a natural resource. However, some experts are bearish on "Petro," both in terms of its chance for success and whether it's even an actual currency. Deutsche Well contends Venezuela lacks the gold and diamonds that it's promising to backstop the currency, and also contends Venezuela is not producing as much oil as in the past, giving Petro less potential value.

Mexico streaming: Carrier billing provider Bango's international ambition has reached Mexico, where the company is collaborating with Netflix to support billing for subscriptions. The collaboration will have an initial addressable market of more than 12 million users. It's also a big gateway for Bango, given Netflix's 70% market share of the paid television market in Mexico, according to The Competitive Intelligence Unit. Credit cards have an only 25% penetration of the Mexican market, according to the World Bank.

Tax bill: Vermont may soon collect taxes on cryptocurrency if a new bill becomes law. The bill would allow the state to classify companies as digital currency liability companies requiring a tax when a new cryptocurrency is created, traded or transferred. Cryptocurrencies would be exempt from other taxes. As cryptocurrencies have become more mainstream over the past year, other locations have considered taxes, including the European Union.

From the Web

TransferWise begins private launch of its consumer borderless account and bright green debit card
TechCrunch | Mon Jan 8, 2018 - Money transfer company TransferWise has begun a private launch of its “Borderless account” for consumers. It marks the first time the European unicorn has offered a debit card, a move that is bound to draw further comparisons with newer fintech upstarts such as Revolut. Initially rolling out to a thousand customers, with several thousand more to be invited in the coming weeks and a full public launch pegged for Q1 this year, the online banking account gives you local bank details for the U.K., U.S., Australia and Europe, and lets you hold and convert 28 currencies. It is targeted at people who need to receive and spend money abroad and who want to take advantage of TransferWise’s low exchange rate and transparent fees when doing so.

Tap and donate: How a cashless society is creating jobs for the homeless
Reuters | Mon Jan 8, 2018 - Tapping into the increasing use of contactless payments for everything from commuting to rounds of drinks, social enterprise TAP London is offering work for the homeless as charity fundraisers, all without any cash changing hands. Homelessness is on the rise in England, with at least 4,100 people sleeping rough on any given night in 2016, according to the homeless charity Crisis. At the same time, use of contactless payments more than doubled last year, according to trade group The UK Card Association. All of TAP London’s vendors are homeless and telling their personal stories often persuades people to donate.

Barclays legal row holds up credit card payouts
The Times | Tue Jan 9, 2018 - Tens of thousands of subprime credit card customers could be denied compensation for a mis-sold debt waiver product because of a legal spat between Barclays and the US company that bought the card business a decade ago. CCUK, a British subsidiary of a company based in Atlanta, has appealed to the High Court to try to force Barclays to make compensation payments to some 80,000 affected individuals, who took out cards with a payment break protection (PBP) add-on. The product has come to be regarded as similar to payment protection insurance as it was widely mis-sold to customers who did not understand it or could not have benefited from it. CCUK bought Monument, a credit card business, from Barclays in 2007.

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