Morning Brief 4.3.20: U.S. goes digital for coronavirus stimulus payments

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Not in the mail

The U.S. government will deliver stimulus funds to individuals within two weeks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said during a Thursday White House briefing. The Treasury will send the money via direct deposit to taxpayers’ accounts, and recipients may update or confirm their bank account details on a federal website the government is developing, Mnuchin said.

The U.S. government wants to avoid sending stimulus relief through checks, presumably because of fraud risk. “We want to put money directly into the accounts,” Mnuchin said.

Consumers without bank accounts will have other options to receive the stimulus funds. “There are a few people who are underbanked. We’re working with digital companies, prepaid debit [providers] to make sure people get their money quickly,” Mnuchin said, without providing more specifics. If the government is unable to deliver funds electronically to citizens, it will send a check as a last resort.

Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury secretary, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 2, 2020.
Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury secretary, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

Coupon clipping

Alipay is distributing government coupons that are designed to boost business consumption as China's economy tries to restart after about two months of shutdown during the coronavirus outbreak.

The coupons are sent directly to consumers and can be redeemed at restaurants, stores, travel and hotels, and are customized based on analytics of specific areas or consumer shopping trends.

The Alipay program began at the end of March and is expected to last until May 26. In the U.S., gift cards are emerging as a way for small businesses to try to offset the virus' impact.

XRP gateway

Ripple is developing technology that would expand the ability of the XRP ledger to protect private digital payments.

The technology involves tags that would shield transactions from third parties, thus making the payment private among parties, according to Coindesk, which referenced a GitHub submission. This would be an alternative to the current tagging system, which makes it easier for external parties to identify users.

Ripple late in 2019 raised more than $200 million to expand its blockchain payments technology.

Going digital

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating digital payment strategies in many ways, including e-commerce payments and a boost for contactless transactions.

Part of that is digital ID, or portable consumer-driven authentication. The Financial Action Task Force, which sets money laundering and counter-terrorism financing, is encouraging more use of digital ID and electronic onboarding as a way to mitigate coronavirus-era transaction fraud, reports Finextra.

The FATF says fintech firms have an opportunity to manage coronavirus risks, and moving quickly to remove ID barriers can be helpful to that end.

Open banking

PSD2 compliance is still a pressing issue for banks and fintechs, and as such remains an opportunity for developers.

U.K. fintech Pannovate will collaborate with open banking and authentication company Salt Edge to power digital banking and payment products within PSD2's guidelines, covering improved authentication and data sharing through application programming interfaces.

Salt Edge has more than 5,200 bank integrations in 70 countries, giving it an addressable market as open banking initiatives expand outside of PSD2's European zone.

From the web

44M Digital Wallet Items Exposed in Key Ring Cloud Misconfig
THREATPOST | Thu April 2, 2020
Key Ring, creator of a digital wallet app used by 14 million people across North America, has exposed 44 million IDs, charge cards, loyalty cards, gift cards and membership cards to the open internet, researchers from vpnMentor say.

Credit card skimming is new threat in coronavirus era
FOX | Thu April 2, 2020
Digital credit card skimming happens when malware is injected into a shopping payment page with the goal of stealing credit card information.

Boom time for delivery, e-payments firms in HK as more stay home
THE STRAITS TIMES | Thu April 2, 2020
Business is booming for companies offering delivery or electronic payment services as people practise social distancing and turn to digital transactions.

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