Morning Brief 8.26.20: Visa adds bitcoin startup to fintech program

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

Lightning Strike

Visa's Fast Track program has added support for LastBit, a Bitcoin Lightning startup, on a project that allows consumers to pay for items in dollars but use bitcoin. The startup plans to add euros in about a month.

Users load bitcoin onto LastBit's app, and access a debit card for bitcoin payments. The payee receives dollars or euros after a conversion, explains Coindesk. The startup hopes the speed of processing will attract consumers to a merchant-agnostic system — retailers don't have to accept bitcoin and may not be aware of the crypto on the front end.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have long struggled to gain acceptance among merchants, so most payment services require conversion.

Playing keys

Standard Chartered Bank Korea and Isreali fintech PayKey are using open banking to centralize external apps, payments and financial services.

Consumers will use a keyboard interface to directly access different banks and products, avoiding distinct log-ins and navigation to different sites. Balance queries, payments and other transactions are available at launch, with plans to add more complex banking services such as trading and investments.

The bank hopes to take advantage of recent regulatory updates in South Korea that create a PSD2-style data sharing standard between banks and third parties.

Number's up

Japan's effort to move people to digital payments during the coronavirus has been so successful the country is running out of credit card numbers.

Japan had about 283 million credit cards in March 2019, a number that started accelerating after government incentives to use cards were introduced in October 2019, reports The Guardian. An additional boost has come over the past few months, creating a potential shortage of digit combinations.

The obvious fix of adding a 17th digit is complex and expensive. It would require trials to ensure security of the cards, and would also likely require the country's existing base of about 300 million cards in circulation to be re-issued.

Non-profit push

Sparkasse has added support for Apple Pay for its debit card, covering more than 400 banks in Germany that operate under the Sparkasse brand.

The deal will increase Apple Pay's reach among non-profit financial institutions in Germany, since most of the banks in Sparkasse's network are owned by local governments or charitable foundations,reports 9to5Mac. Sparkasse is an umbrella brand for more than 400 savings banks, most of which are nonprofits owned by local regions or charitable foundations.

Sparkasse initially added Apple Pay for credit cards in 2019, but the move to debit was delayed.

From the web

Ant Group delivers timely boost to Hong Kong listing market
REUTERS | Wednesday Aug 26, 2020
Ant Group's planned sale of up to $30 billion worth of shares is set to revive fortunes for Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEX) which fell to fifth rank as a destination for initial public offerings (IPOs) in the first half of 2020.

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX acquires portfolio tracker Blockfolio
TECHCRUNCH | Tuesday Aug 25, 2020
FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that offers derivatives, options and other sophisticated products, is acquiring a popular portfolio tracking app, Blockfolio.

Boom or bust? Welcome to the freewheeling world of crypto lending
REUTERS | Wednesday Aug 26, 2020
It sounds like a surefire bet. You lend money to a borrower who puts up collateral that exceeds the size of the loan, and then you earn interest of about 20%. What could possibly go wrong?

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