10.27.17 Your morning briefing

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

Robot on aisle five: Walmart is expanding its use of shelf-scanning robots, which check stock levels, pricing and misplaced items. Engadget reports the big box retailer will add 50 more stores to what had been a limited pilot, creating one of the largest deployments of shelf-scanning robots to date. The robots, manufactured by Bossa Nova robotics, use 3D imaging to move around obstacles in the aisles, and can also make notes to return to an aisle later if it's completely blocked. The robots aren't designed to replace human staff, Walmart told Engadget, and humans will continue to stock shelves, since the robots have difficulty grabbing objects. The move is more to "eliminate drudgery" and the expense of manually checking prices and counting the number of items on a shelf.
Picture a purchase: eBay shoppers will be able to use photos they take or store on their phone—or see on the internet and social networks—to order similar products from eBay's catalog. Called Image Search and Find it on eBay, the technology uses computer vision and deep learning, reports TechCrunch. The services could counter Amazon and sites with "buy buttons" such as Pinterest, Google and retailers such as Wayfair—all of which have similar visual search and match capabilities. But TechCrunch reports the size of eBay, which has more than 1.1 billion items in its catalog, could give it an advantage. For example, while Pinterest has more than 100 billion items in its image database, the vast majority of those items cannot be shopped, according to TechCrunch.

Stop and think? Behavioral analysis is one of the toughest anti-fraud techniques because it's designed to spot transactions that are already out of character. Barclays is taking the concept in a different direction by requiring consumers who are making an uncharacteristic transfer to answer questions designed to make the consumer consider whether he or she may be a victim of a scam. Finextra reports the pop-up questionnaires are being introduced as more U.K. consumers are tricked into transferring funds to crooks who pretend to be business contacts. The questions come up right after the consumer makes an unusually large online payment, or a payment from an odd location, etc. If the consumer has concerns about the payment after answering the questions, the system allows them to contact Barclays using a number on the back of their payment card. The bank considers the pop-up questions to be a "stop and think" moment for the consumer to consider the legitimacy of a payment.

The 'threat' is not fintechs: While technology startups have been disruptive, it's the e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Alibaba that pose the greatest threat to banks and traditional payment companies, the Financial Post reports, citing research from McKinsey. Banks have largely weathered the fintech revolution through a series of investments and collaborations that the banks have used to accelerate development of their own products. But it's Amazon and Alibaba's scale and encroachment into the "distribution" side of financial services that poses the much greater threat, the Post reports, adding these moves will help Amazon and Alibaba expand beyond e-commerce and into areas such as asset management, lending and payments. But banks do retain an advantage in consumer trust and data, enabling them to compete with the larger e-commerce platforms.

From the Web

Chinese fintech firms set for flurry of IPOs in US, HK
China Daily | Thu Oct 26, 2017 - The phenomenon of "Chinese companies lining up for an IPO in the United States or Hong Kong" has re-surfaced recently, Tiger Brokers, an online brokerage helping Chinese investors trade US- or HK-listed stocks, told chinadaily.com.cn Thursday. Several fintech companies in China are indeed preparing for IPO in the US or HK, Economic Information Daily also reported Thursday. "There will be a new wave of China concept stocks after these two to three years' quietness," said Tiger Brokers research team. The companies planning an IPO could be aided by BAT (Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba), just like ZhongAn was or in a sector whose benchmarking company has already got listed and accepted by overseas investors, according to the report.

Singapore aims to finish its own cryptocurrency trial next year
CNBC | Thu Oct 26, 2017 - Singapore will conclude its experiment with blockchain technology and its own digital currency next year before deciding whether to commercialize the trial, the country's regulator has told CNBC. In 2016, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced "Project Ubin," an exploration of blockchain or distributed ledger technology. The project is split into five phases. The first, which looked at establishing a proof-of-concept design to conduct inter-bank payments using blockchain technology, was completed earlier this year. The second phase, which finished earlier this month, saw the development of three different models for inter-bank payments using blockchain. Now, the MAS trial is looking at delivering securities, cross border payments and, finally, using a digital version of the Singapore dollar to carry out real transactions and buy assets.

Equifax Ignored Warning of Breach, Says Researcher
Fortune | Thu Oct 26, 2017 - A security researcher claims to have warned Equifax of major vulnerabilities to its computer systems last December. If true, this contradicts the company’s claim to have only learned about the problems this spring—and provides more evidence Equifax could have prevented a catastrophic data breach that affected at least 145 million Americans. The new allegations, reported by a security reporter at tech news site Motherboard, say the unnamed researcher scanned servers and public-facing websites, and discovered it was easy to access troves of personal data of Equifax customers. In at least one case, a website that appeared to be an internal employee portal for looking up customer information could be accessed by anyone on the Internet. Overall, the security vulnerabilities appeared to have offered easy access to a staggering amount of sensitive data.

More from PaymentsSource

KeyBank teams with fintech to bring automation to insurance payments
Insurance claims are one of those tough to crack payment categories, where paper processes linger despite ample options from technology vendors.

Inventory overages should be enough to automate B-to-B payments
Automated business payments is key to right sizing inventory purchases, writes Matt Clark, COO of Corcentric.

Has EMV issuance already run its course?
Now two years on from the U.S. EMV liability shift, chip cards are commonplace in American wallets. But the benefits of EMV cards — a longer five-year lifespan and a reduced need to reissue in the event of fraud — have muted the demand for new cards.

Issuers need to get personal to reclaim interchange revenue
Financial institutions should consider personalized campaigns and offers designed to convert customers to their debit or credit card, writes Bob Koehler, executive vice president of project management for SRM.

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