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Western Union scores in digital: Western Union has made several moves to ramp up its technology game in the face face of fintech rivals, adding support for mobile payments through Apple Pay and embracing messenger bots in the past year. It's paying off, as Western Union's quarterly earnings reached $0.51 per share on revenue of $1.4 billion, up from $1.37 billion and $0.44 per share the prior year. For the full year, the company raised its outlook to a range of $1.50 to $1.60, from $1.46 to $1.56. In an interview in Fortune, CEO Hikmet Ersek attributes the growth to heavy investments in digital payments, which enables transfers to be made in a few seconds with minimal navigation, adding a technology-driven user experience to the scale it has built up over more than 160 years of business. Western Union has 550,000 retail locations and conducts transfers in 200 countries and 130 currencies. The company has also increased its investments in compliance operations to combat terrorism financing, drug cartels and human smugglers, Ersek told Fortune. The average transaction for Western Union is about $300, and the company collects a fee of three to four percent.

Bloomberg News

Paytm's message to WhatsApp: Paytm is adding a chat feature to its mobile wallet as myriad other payment companies enter the Indian market to take advantage of the country's fast-expanding digital payments industry, reports the Hindustan Times. Paytm, which has gotten a substantial amount of capital from Alibaba over the past year, will have an addressable market of more than 225 million consumers in India, or more than the Facebook-operated WhatsApp, which has about 200 million users in India. WhatsApp will also deploy a P-to-P service in India, putting the two companies in direct competition. Paytm's chat feature will initially be available on Android, and can support video, audio, text, games and transfers, creating the potential for merchants to add marketing and loyalty programs that take advantage of the full set of features.

London calling N26: Berlin fintech N26 will launch in the U.K. in 2018, predicting its branchless all-digital model and German banking license will support a quick geographic expansion, along with pre-existing support for Apple Pay and emerging transaction technology such as the Siri voice assistant. Upon sign up, consumers will receive a Mastercard debit card and a checking account, enabling direct debits, P-to-P payments, card locks and push notifications. TechCrunch reports the company had some IT work to do, building a full integration with the U.K.'s payment system, which operates separately from the rest of Europe. In the future, N26 will offer investment and credit features, either in-house or through partners, according to TechCrunch.

Equifax board clears insider post-breach stock sales: Equifax's board said four executives at Equifax who sold stock in the company shortly after it discovered a major breach did not know about the problem when they made the sale, reports Investors.com, which also reports a Department of Justice probe still looms.The breach impacted up to 145 million Americans and potentially exposed hundreds of thousands of credit cards, along with future risk of payment and ID fraud. Equifax's board determined the four executives did not engage in "insider trading," and noted the finding came from an external committee appointed by the board to investigate the sale. John Gamble, Equifax's CEO, sold $949,000 worth of shares; Joseph Loughran, president of U.S. information solutions, sole $584,000; Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, sold $250,000; and Douglas Brandberg, director of investor relations, sold $251,000, according to Bloomberg. The sales took place at the end of July and the beginning of August. The breach occurred in May and June, was discovered July 29 and reported Sept. 7.

From the Web

Stellar Q3 makes Alibaba upbeat before Singles Day
China Daily | Sat Nov 4, 2017 - An upbeat Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will hold its famed annual Singles Day online shopping festival on Nov 11, having posted its fastest quarterly (July-September) sales growth since its record initial public offering in 2014. Sales surged by 61 percent year-on-year, a historical high, to $8.29 billion, yielding a profit of $2.62 billion, more than double that in the same period last year. Promptly, the $473 billion e-commerce behemoth, which is based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, raised its outlook for full-year growth, saying it expects sales to grow by 49-53 percent, up from the previous forecast of 45-49 percent. Analysts attributed the stellar third-quarter show to strong Chinese consumer spending.

Regional e-commerce hub in Malaysia kicks into gear as Alibaba bets big on Southeast Asia
China Daily | Sat Nov 4, 2017 - The Malaysian government and Alibaba on Friday jointly launched a regional e-commerce hub located near the Kuala Lumpur airport area, as a part of Alibaba founder Jack Ma's vision to create an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) where people can "buy global and sell global." The operation of the eWTP, first of its kind outside China, coincided with the establishment of a joint venture between Alibaba's logistics affiliate Cainiao and Malaysia Airports Holdings (MAH), in which Cainiao will hold a 70 percent stake while MAH retains the remaining 30 percent, according to a filing sent by MAH to the stock exchange Bursa Malaysia on Friday.

Irish brothers quit university to make billions eating the big banks’ lunch
The Times | Fri Nov 3, 2017 - Making online payment systems easy to use is key to their success. According to John Collison, co-founder and president of Stripe: “You shouldn’t give us too much credit.” After all, starting an internet business has become a much more realistic proposition than it used to be. The 27-year-old billionaire from rural Ireland is in London to meet customers of the Silicon Valley online payments company he started with his brother Patrick, 29, which has been valued at $9.2 billion. Apart from grey flecks in his hair, he appears to wear his success lightly, tipping onto the back two legs of his chair like a schoolboy. Launched in 2011, Stripe processes billions of pounds a year for hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world and has just hired its 1,000th employee.

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How e-commerce payments can benefit from Amazon's fulfillment upgrade
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Mastercard adds former CIA deputy director to boost security
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Starbucks pushes Visa co-brand, mobile pay to fuel growth
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