Morning Brief 1.14.20: Visa's $5B bid for Plaid

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Visa's big bet

In the battle to control consumer data, Visa has made a major score by agreeing to acquire Plaid, a technology company that Visa — and banks — could have seen grow into a competitor.

Visa CEO Al Kelly acknowledged bank angst about Plaid, for which Visa agreed to pay $5.3 billion. Kelly said Plaid's data aggregation practices shouldn’t get in the way of the soon to be combined company’s plans to accelerate financial services and payments innovation.

“We know some banks prefer Plaid operate different,” Kelly said during a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss Visa's agreement to acquire Plaid. “We intend to address those concerns while not diminishing the value for developers.”

Traditional financial institutions have been at odds with Plaid and other aggregators over data access. An upgrade at Capital One cut off the data aggregator, for example.

Playing fair?

Indian regulators are investigating Walmart's Flipkart and Amazon, alleging the two companies are suppressing competition.

The government says the companies are giving preferential treatment to certain sellers and smartphone vendors, reports TechCrunch. Amazon and Walmart are also being investigated for promoting their own private labels.

Walmart beat out Amazon to acquire Flipkart in 2018, though Amazon has continued to invest billions to build a foothold in India.

Bigger net

Other U.S. firms have also made investments in India, including MoneyGram, which has appointed software and e-commerce technology EbixCash to be its exclusive partner in India.

MoneyGram will use the deal to reach 320,000 locations in 4,000 cities and 75,000 villages, which will boost MoneyGram in rural areas.

MoneyGram will also improve coverage in India, which is frequently the world's largest remittance market, with higher volumes than China, Mexico or the Philippines.

Alerts

Payment and financial technology company Euronet Worldwide will publish missing children alerts on ATMs.

Euronet will partner with AMBER Alert Europe to produce the messages. The two companies tested the system in the Netherlands in 2019. Notifications of missing children appear on screens within a few hours of a missing child report and remain until the child is safely located.

The ATMs are mostly in large traffic centers, such as airports, train stations and city centers, according to Euronet's release.

Blockchain remittance lures investors

UOB Venture Management and Seven Bank are among a group of investors that have poured more than $31 million into Lightnet, a Bangkok-based company that uses a distributed ledger to power cross-border P2P transactions.

The company will use the funds to improve its blockchain, which runs on the Stellar Network, and is designed to help underbanked migrant workers who use older fragmented services in Southeast Asian markets, and "underground" banking, according to a release.

Ripple has made gains over the past few years using blockchain to power cross-border transactions, and large Asian payment firms such as Alipay have made investments in blockchain to improve remittances in the region.

From the Web

UK-linked Enigma Group applies for Singapore digital full bank licence
THE STRAITS TIMES | Tue January 14, 2020
Enigma Group has applied for a digital full bank licence with the Monetary Authority of Singapore through a consortium, the Singapore-based company said. The group comprises Singapore-based companies - cybersecurity firm Qrypt Technologies, app developer 2359 Media and Blockchain Worx.

Russian-linked digibank challenger targets neglected higher-risk clients
THE BUSINESS TIMES | Tue January 14, 2020
The leadership team behind Singapore-based venture capital firm Life.Sreda has applied for a digital wholesale banking licence with the aim of serving "abnormal" customers, or what they call higher-risk clients that traditional banks typically reject. Known as Arival, the digital bank contender wants to meet the needs of tech startups including blockchain or crypto-related businesses, online businesses and entrepreneurs from co-working spaces.

Pilot programs for national digital currency rollout likely this year
CHINA DAILY | Tue January 14, 2020
Monetary authorities will need to find answers to issues beyond the basic design architecture, including the regulatory framework and the competition relationship with the existing electronic payment tools, ahead of the official debut of the national digital currency in China, experts said.

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