Morning Brief 1.22.20: Venmo adds extra animation to its transaction feeds

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

Getting animated

Venmo has added what it calls animated stickers to provide extra context to surround transfers on its app.

The PayPal subsidiary has partnered with messaging content firm Holler to build animation for paying, splitting or sharing transactions. Venmo hopes this will enhance its traditional emojis to describe the nature of transfers, which the company says are used more than 90% of the time.

The stickers will appear as GIFs, with images such as people walking around aisles in a store or a restaurant to accompany a related transaction. Venmo has long used social context and emojis as a way to reach younger users, and to draw a contrast with bank-supported P2P transfer apps such as Zelle, which do not use social tools.

Hanging up

Vodafone will not participate in Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency project, joining a growing list of partners to bail on the initiative.

The telco will repurpose the resources it had dedicated to Libra, applying them to MPesa, reports Coindesk. MPesa for years has used its mobile money rails to boost financial inclusion in Africa and other markets.

Libra has faced regulatory pressure in most of the world. Several high-profile partners have departed over the past five months, including PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, eBay and Stripe.

Ripple in Asia

Ripple has expanded its blockchain remittance network by adding Tranglo, a fintech that uses an API to connect local companies in about two dozen Asian nations to larger payment rails such as Alipay.

Tranglo's network includes China, Japan and the Philippines, which rank high among the world's largest remittance corridors. Ripple will add another connection option, reports Daily Hodl.

Ripple has built a market in supporting international small-volume transactions, and has boosted its scale through partnerships, such as its 2019 collaboration with MoneyGram.

Blue wave

Following California's lead, New Jersey, New York and Illinois are considering legislation to classify contract workers as employees, a move that could impact payroll practices and technology.

Democrats have majorities in all three state legislatures, and would cover "gig economy" workers for ride-sharing apps, as well as construction workers, teachers and freelancers.

Uber and Lyft have lobbied against the California legislation, which has already resulted in changes to Uber's incentive marketing.

No cards

India's ICICI Bank has adopted cardless cash access across its network of 15,000 ATMs, a move to encourage use of its mobile app while maintaining an option to use cash for mostly smaller retailers that do not support digital payments.

The bank says many of its consumers do not wish to carry a debit card, and it's part of a broader initiative to add more touchpoints to execute payments.

ICICI recently added incentives to use digital channels to send remittances, and added social tools to add context to P2P transactions.

From the Web

Why PayPal and American Express may be the next hot targets for low-level hackers
FORTUNE | Wed January 22, 2020
Hackers are going after PayPal and American Express usernames and passwords using a phishing scheme that has previously targeted Amazon and Apple, according to research released Tuesday by security company ZeroFOX. An operation on the dark web called 16Shop started selling phishing kits that target PayPal and American Express customers this month, ZeroFOX says.

$445 million in Bitcoin transferred for just $0.25
YAHOO FINANCE | Tue January 21, 2020
Interest in the Bitcoin blockchain’s ability to process hugely valuable BTC transfers for negligible transaction fees has been renewed recently after it emerged several multi-million dollar transactions have been processed for less than a dollar. The latest of these transactions, which totals almost $450 million, occurred yesterday for a tiny fee of $0.25. The origin or recipient of the BTC is unknown at this point.

Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile inch towards digital economy pact
ZDNET | Tue January 21, 2020
Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile have moved a step closer towards inking a digital economy pact that covers various components, including digital identities, data flow, and artificial intelligence (AI). Governments from the three nations say they have wrapped up negotiations for the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) and will now work towards getting it formally signed.

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