8.21.19 Your morning briefing

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India vs. Visa

India and U.S. card brands have clashed over several regulations, such as India's local payments data storage requirements. A second front has opened up over India's move to eliminate merchant discount rates for certain transactions, which is seen as a way to favor government-backed payment systems.

Visa's India and South Asia chief T.R. Ramachandran has spoken out about the rules, saying the logic is "fallacious" because the cost is not free, reports Inc. 42, adding Ramachandran contends stakeholders should be compensated if the merchant, consumer and government are saving on the expense of cash payments by using an electronic rail.

The fight comes amid a backdrop of India's attempt to reduce cash payments, which remain high despite removing large amounts of currency from circulation and other efforts.

Data Breach

A glitch at MoviePass has resulted in the exposure of tens of thousands of card numbers, reportedly because a server did not have password protection.

A Dubai-based security firm called SpiderSilk found the exposed database, reports TechCrunch and other media outlets. The database has more than 161 million records, though a large percentage were general logging messages and not card numbers or other sensitive information.

Other records included about 58,000 card numbers for MoviePass customers that use cards to store balances to pay for tickets. MoviePass' services include a subscription payment system that has changed several times as the company adjusted to a competitive movie ticketing app market.

Processing deals

The financial technology market had a record-setting first half for investments, but the numbers were dominated by a small number of deals.

The three large payment mergers announced in early 2019 — FIS's $43 billion acquisition of Worldpay, Fiserv's $22 billion First Data purchase and Global Payments' $21 agreement to acquire TSYS — totalled about $86 billion of a total investment tally of $120 billion, reports Finextra, citing data from corporate finance firm Hampleton Partners.

Most deals overall are getting larger, as 65% of the deals in the first half of 2019 were $100 million or greater, compared to 54% in the first half of 2018.

Crypto hire

Cryptocurrency veteran Matt Corallo has joined Square Crypto, where he will develop open source bitcoin projects for the payment company's crypto initiative.

Corallo has worked as a Bitcoin Core contributor and was an engineer for Chaincode Labs, a bitcoin technology company, reports Yahoo Finance.

Square introduced bitcoin trading in 2018 and more recently began hiring cryptocurrency and blockchain experts.

Celebrity investors

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriquez have invested in Acorns, an app that rounds up card purchases and invests the extra money in the stock and bond markets.

Acorns has about five million accounts in the U.S., and a bevy of other celebrity investors including Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Durant, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Stash has a similar model, enabling investments in the company the consumer is paying.

From the Web

NatWest and RBS customers hit by credit card glitch
THE GUARDIAN | Tue August 20, 2019
NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland customers have been hit by computer problems preventing them from accessing credit card information, and the bank’s call centres are unable to deal with credit card queries. The glitch is likely to affect a relatively small number of RBS’s 14 million customers, given that few have yet aired their complaints on social media.

In high-tech Japan, cash is still king as long as elderly hold the purse strings
THE JAPAN TIMES | Wed August 21, 2019
Once a pioneer in cashless transaction-related technology, Japan is now lagging behind as the world’s biggest economies increasingly embrace electronic payments — because its aging population still prefers physical money. Four out of five purchases are still made with cash in Japan, despite its reputation as a futuristic and innovative nation.

Exclusive: Alibaba postpones up to $15 billion Hong Kong listing amid protests: sources
REUTERS | Tue August 20, 2019
China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has delayed its up to $15 billion listing in Hong Kong amid growing political unrest in the Asian financial hub, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. While no new timetable has been formally set, Alibaba could potentially launch the deal as early as October, still seeking to raise $10 billion-$15 billion, depending on whether political tensions had eased and market conditions became more favorable, one of the people said.

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