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

A new crime team in the U.K.
As suspicious payments and financial transaction reports spike, the U.K. government is drafting executives to battle money laundering and other fraud.

The Economic Crime Strategic Board will include C-suite executives from Barclays, Lloyds and Santander; and senior officials from UK Finance, the National Crime Agency and other government agencies.

The group comes as the government reports suspicious activity filings reached a record 463,000 in 2017 and 2018 — up 10 percent from the prior two years, with a 20 percent increase in AML-related reports.
Inventory as an image
Salesforce is trying to entice merchants with an AI-powered mobile feature that makes recommendations based on photos.

The feature is designed to replace manual searches, such as "men's shoes," with an image, reports TechCrunch. Once the shopper takes a photo of a shoe, a visual search algorithm recognizes that shoe and makes recommendations based on that initial image.

Salesforce can also combine the image recommendation feature with its recently introduced cloud-based billing service to add automation to the shopping and payments experience.

Opening up
UnionPay International has launched an open platform that supports access to 18 of UnionPay's cross-border payment products.

Developers can use the platform's API to add UnionPay's technology to their own products, to provide more payment options and channels for UnionPay cardholders.

The move comes as UnionPay extends its service to new markets such as Europe and builds an international lab to test EMV technology.

Paying the refs
Youth sports have complex payment needs that make them an attractive market for financial technology providers.

In a new integration, Fiserv's digital payments software development kit will support Stack Sports to streamline payments to referees and other officials, as well as transactions among coaches, parent and players for team expenses.

From the Web

WeChat is quietly ranking user behavior to play catch-up with Alibaba
TechCrunch | Mon January 14, 2019 - The rating system, which the company calls the “WeChat Payments Score” in Chinese, soft-launched last November across eight cities and has been piloting on a small number of apps. Among them is the Tencent-backed power bank rental service Xiaodian, which waives deposits for users if their points hit a certain benchmark.

Blow To Bitcoin As International Bank Makes Stark Warning
Forbes | Mon January 14, 2019 - Many had expected the 2017 explosion of bitcoin and cryptocurrency prices to mean adoption and usage of digital tokens soared, but a new survey from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has warned take-up of cryptocurrencies remains "trivial."

Bakkt's New Acquisition Will Speed Its Plan to Streamline Consumer Payments
Fortune | Mon January 14, 2019 - Bakkt aims to make Bitcoin trading safe for Wall Street. Now, a new acquisition confirms that the cryptocurrency trading company is speeding its plans to revolutionize the way people pay.

More from PaymentsSource

What the current swipe fee settlement leaves unsettled
In many ways, the declaration of the end of the merchants' swipe fee case against the major card brands last September with a $6.2 billion settlement is not unlike previous efforts to settle the case — in that it won't truly end the antagonism between merchants and the card brands.

To find cashierless tech's ideal market, AiFi goes underground
One of the concerns for no-cashier stores, beyond how well they work, is that they must also be placed in the middle of tech-friendly cities, where retail space comes at a high cost.

ICICI Bank entices remittance senders with rewards
India’s ICICI Bank is rolling out a loyalty program for consumers who regularly send remittances to India via the bank’s Money2India online platform and app.

Mastercard and Visa face fresh hurdles in China
The Chinese government is not formally considering Visa and Mastercard’s year-old application to process payments inside China, another signal of China’s almost constantly changing regulatory posture toward the American card brands.

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