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UnionPay builds support for mobile app: China UnionPay has linked to more than 30 local banks and payment companies to support Mobile QuickPass, which is designed to link the country's banks in a centralized mobile payment app. Its model is similar to the U.S. bank-led Zelle mobile transfer network, which works across a group of participating banks. The QuickPass app provides an open platform for consumers to link their cards, manage bank accounts, access contactless and in-app mobile payments, and perform real-time P-to-P transfers. By integrating payments through a bank network, the venture hopes to improve the user experience by removing the need for consumers to learn to use different mobile payment apps. UnionPay debuted QuickPass this past summer, adding QR code support to supplement its original use of Near Field Communication and Host Card Emulation to execute contactless payments. UnionPay plans to expand the service to other countries near China.

Another coffee innovator: While Starbucks is well known for gaining quick and robust adoption of features on its mobile app, an Italian coffee seller is using artificial intelligence to micro-segment its consumers to improve the user experience. Lavazza is using machine learning from iCoolhut to analyze data from social media posts, likes and comments to draw a broad picture of consumers that goes beyond order histories and sentiment analysis to include customers' preferences away from coffee, and their ability to influence followers to make purchases. For example, does a consumer hike, go swimming, listen to popular or classical music? This information is combined with purchase histories to tailor marketing, offers and recommendations. Lavazza can also use the information to determine which consumers best fit the retailer's "brand" profile for added loyalty or offers. "Using technology to build relations with an 'insider audience' of coffee lovers is key to the Lavazza strategy," said Lucy Morena, iCoolhut's co-founder and CEO, in a release.

Where do breaches wind up? Responding to and preventing data breaches has become big business for retailers, merchant acquirers and financial institutions, which are all trying to mitigate downstream threats from older incidents. And now, there may be a massive new trove of stolen credentials to worry about. Medium reports there's a huge resource of 1.4 billion clear-text (unencrypted) credentials in an underground forum that hackers can access to steal identities. The credentials come from more than 250 previous data breaches, ranging from LinkedIn to sites that trade bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The list is aggregated and interactive, and can be easily used for account takeover attacks on most social media, e-commerce and banking websites, according to Medium. The data is also organized alphabetically and offers examples on how people create and reuse passwords to help hackers analyze trends in password creation over time.

Mastercard's millennial play: In an effort to attract more millenials, a common theme among payment companies, Mastercard has launched Assemble, which it calls a prepaid innovation hub that issuers and other parties can access to build money management products. Balance queries, budgeting tools, savings goals, real time payments and P-to-P are all potential product cases, according to Mastercard. The first product to come out of Assemble will combine a digital prepaid account, mobile app and a virtual or physical payment card. Mastercard Assemble bundles the products, and also enables faster prepaid deployment. Issuers can offer existing and new payment products though a white label, or can integrate functions into their own user interfaces through an API.

From the Web

Bitcoin Is Soaring. Here's Why It's Not Ready for the Big Time
Wired | Tue Dec 12, 2017 - “To the moon!” The phrase is the battle cry of true believers in cryptocurrency bitcoin—and charts of its price in recent weeks point directly heavenward. Yet beyond a batch of newly minted crypto-millionaires, the digital asset’s recent bull run has also exposed long-standing weakness in the underlying technology that could crimp bitcoin’s long-term viability.

Airbnb Drops Controversial Payment Card in France
Reuters | Tue Dec 12, 2017 - Short-term rental website Airbnb has agreed to withdraw a controversial payment system in France after government officials, including finance minister Bruno Le Maire, met with its managers on Monday. The French government had asked tax authorities to look into the system, suspected of facilitating tax avoidance, after it was revealed that Airbnb was allowing its hosts to use the prepaid Payoneer card. The card allows homeowners to receive payments for their rentals without money transiting through bank accounts.

Scammers use PayPal's trusted reputation to trick Craigslist sellers
ABC News | Tue Dec 12, 2017 - A warning to anyone looking to sell their items on Craigslist or another online marketplace. Scammers have found a way to turn a legitimate payment portal into a device for their schemes. Like the latest iPhone update, scammers are also upgrading their technology with trusted tools to fool you into forking over your hard-earned dollars. “I use PayPal, we advise people to use PayPal,” said Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving greater Maryland. However, she says not to always assume that the transaction is safe. Sellers are quickly finding out that there are several ways the payment system can be manipulated so that you never see your funds.

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Citi adds speed and markets as cross-border battle heats up
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