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Cyberpay voyeurs: Venmo's social payment app has been popular with younger consumers for years, and its growth is putting wind in parent PayPal's sails. But there's an unintended use, as people scroll the app's public activity feed to track the buying habits of friends, The Verge reports. Despite media coverage of people using Venmo to track friends' spending, lots of people are making their transactions public, complete with the emojis that have become part of Venmo's trademark. Olivia de Recat, a cartoonist, told The Verge she has used the app's public feed to see what exes are doing. It's not as much the payment, but the context, according to de Recat, who told the technology site that a wink and a beer mug gives an insight into what a person may be doing. Time is also another signal. For example, why would someone order an Uber from a certain part of town at 2 AM? Melanie Aliperti, product lead at Venmo, told The Verge it's "human nature" to be interested in what other people are doing, and payments can be a more meaningful representation of what people are doing than other types of social media posts. Venmo also tries to make it "very obvious" that users do not have to share purchases or other details socially.

Bloomberg News

Square bitcoin: One of Venmo's competitors, Square Cash, has begun testing a feature that gives users the option to buy or sell bitcoin. Forbes reports Square has rolled out this feature to a small group of Cash app customers, and quotes a Square spokesperson who said the company believes cryptocurrency can greatly impact the ability of people to participate in the global financial system. The feature is limited; people can only buy, sell and hold bitcoins, and cannot use them to make payments. Square Cash launched in 2013 as an email-based P-to-P app, and Square has added more features to the product over time to add appeal for merchants. In a bit of horizontal integration, Square users welcomed Square Cash's support for bitcoin positively on Twitter, Square CEO Jack Dorsey's other company.

Android Pay's global march: Fresh off of deals to expand in Australia and extend its reach in remittances, Android Pay has signed deals to enter Ukraine, Czech Republic, Brazil and Slovakia. 9to5Google reports the mobile wallet app launched in Ukraine in early November as a payment option on the Kiev Metro, and is presently launching in Brazil with Ipiranga and Casa do Pão de Queijo, two large Brazilian merchant chains. The launch in Slovakia will happen "soon," according to 9to5Google. Android Pay also recently reached deals to launch in Spain, Taiwan, Canada and Russia.

Apple of N26's eye: As Berlin fintech N26 finishes a large IT project to prep for its launch in the U.K., it's adding support for Apple Pay in several markets. N26 has made Apple Pay available to consumers in Spain, Italy and Finland. The mobile wallet app will integrate directly with N26's bank accounts, enabling consumers to add their Mastercard to Apple Pay inside the bank's app and view payments in real-time. N26's addition of Apple Pay for Spanish customers went live a bit earlier than the other countries, though the startup intends to make the app, and the Siri virtual assistant, available in all of its markets including the U.K., and is adding insurance and other financial services.

Place in line: "Order ahead" is a big part of many mobile payment apps, including Starbucks and Amazon, which use the feature as a way cut lines at retail stores. Placer, a queue management app that allows people to hire others to stand in line for them, has introduced a "buy button" that supports direct payments to the "placers," or the people who do the actual standing in line. People use the app, which is available only in New York, to search and hire the placers, along with events or restaurants, which Placer calls "jumps," and average wait times. Placer, which likens its model to TaskRabbit, lists common uses as restaurants and the TKTS discount Broadway ticket center in Times Square. Users enter the number of people and tickets, if applicable, and link their credit card to the app. The app update, for iOS and Android, reduces the amount of navigation required to pay the line sitters.

From the Web

PayNow to be linked to Thailand’s PromptPay, making it easier to send money between the two countries
Business Insider | Tue Nov 14, 2017 - Singapore’s PayNow system will soon be linked to PromptPay, which is Thailand’s version of the same system to allow individuals to transfer money to each other using a mobile number. The announcement came from Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon on Tuesday (Nov 14) at the Singapore FinTech Festival, dubbed the world’s largest fintech festival. The initiative is one of several Singapore is taking to further its Smart Nation agenda, and will allow people in Singapore and Thailand to remit money to each other.

Why Mobile Payments Are Still So Hard for J.P. Morgan
The Wall Street Journal | Tue Nov 14, 2017 - Many U.S. companies from startups to Apple Inc. have struggled to gain traction in the fast-growing world of mobile payments. The country’s largest bank is no exception. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., run by chairman and CEO James Dimon, has made numerous splashes to promote its mobile offerings, including a television spot featuring a ping-pong playing Serena Williams. But the payoff has yet to come. Banks view mobile commerce as one of their biggest opportunities, but they still largely trail technology firms and non-banks such as Visa Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc. Still, banks are pushing to expand offerings to have them in place for the day when the general U.S. consumer flocks to paying with their phone as much as millennial consumers have begun to do or those in other countries such as China.

Mastercard has filed a patent on its own blockchain-based money transfer solution
TechCrunch | Tue Nov 14, 2017 - In about 2014, most bitcoin companies quickly pivoted to the “next big thing”: blockchain. Among them were the financial and fintech houses that were eager to avoid SEC scrutiny of their cryptocurrency holdings but were happy to use blockchain technology to speed up transaction times. Many of those early efforts are now apparently bearing fruit. MasterCard, for example, has just filed a patent for a “Method and System For Instantaneous Payment Using Recorded Guarantees.” This is, in short, a patent for a blockchain-like system that offers instant payment. It is not a clone, per se, but a patent that assumes that a blockchain-like ledger will be available to store and manage international transactions instantly.

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