Morning Brief 2.25.20: WeChat boosts its international merchant network

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

Merchant pickup

WeChat Pay will expand its merchant network in the Middle East through a deal between parent Tencent and Network International, an e-commerce firm with a large presence in the Middle East and Africa.

WeChat and Alipay have built large markets outside of China through a series of partnerships with individual merchants, airports and merchant networks, providing an "own currency" option for travelers from China.

That market has been large enough for both firms to not need to build domestic payment operations outside of China; and has also been an overall boost for merchant technology as the need to support multiple channels and options proliferates.

Sweetening the deal

Lithuania is among the European countries trying to entice fintechs to relocate as a Brexit hedge, offering a fast-track money transmitter license and a sandbox, a combination that's already lured companies like Revolut.

Lithuania's central bank is adding an open banking API that's designed to improve regulatory technology and aid firms in complying with reporting rules, reports Finextra. Open development is considered a key element in streamlining B2B payments in the uncertain political environment.

There's also a competitive play for Lithuania, which faces pressure from other cities as a post-Brexit destination. Among those cities, Dublin is considered to have a strong regulatory technology industry.

Path to profits

Paytm contends it can be profitable within the next three years following a diversification strategy and a cost-cutting regime.

Shekar Sharma, who founded Paytm and runs its parent firm One97, says the combination of QR code payments had led to the commerce and cloud division becoming profitable, while its gaming and Paytm Mall are close to profitability, reports Asia Times.

Paytm has also raised more than $600 million over the past year from investors including Softbank.

Garden state

New Jersey Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, a Democrat, has introduced legislation that would license cryptocurrency and other digital assets.

Called the Digital Asset and Blockchain Technology Act, it would cover virtual currency, digital securities, and assets recorded on a distributed ledger or similar structure, according to Coindesk. There would also be disclosure requirements for firms.

Neighboring New York was one of the first states to offer a cryptocurrency license, and has since formed a task force to update the law to accommodate recent changes.

From the Web

Is A Cashless Society Good For America?
FORBES | Mon February 24, 2020
The popularity of online shopping and the increase in alternative payment methods has pushed many consumers to eliminate cash from their lives. But while there are many perks to going cashless, 82% of Americans still carry cash because it is tangible, quantifiable, and reliable.

Secretive Digital Fiat Project Emerges With New Partner as CBDC Chatter Grows
YAHOO FINANCE | Tue February 25, 2020
Utility Settlement Coin (USC), the blockchain-based payments system involving commercial and central banks, will be working with ConsenSys-backed startup Adhara. The USC is commercial bank money, as opposed to a pure CBDC, which is issued and backed by the domestic central bank and carries sovereign risk.

PayPal accounts are getting abused en-masse for unauthorized payments
ZDNET | Tue February 25, 2020
Hackers have found a bug in PayPal's Google Pay integration and are now using it to buy products online and incur unauthorized charges to PayPal accounts. According to screenshots and various testimonies, most of the illegal transactions are taking place at US shopping stores, and especially at Target stores.

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