11.20.18 Your morning briefing

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

Crypto crash
It's not just bitcoin — every major cryptocurrency saw its price drop sharply on Monday, Ars Technica reports.

Bitcoin reached its lowest price since October 2017, dropping below $5,100; and Ether reached its lowest price since July 2017, at $155, the article states.

There isn't a clear explanation for these price drops — just as there was no explanation for their rise, Ars Technica notes. However, the article points out that last week's hard fork of Bitcoin Cash (an event that creates two versions of the currency with a shared history) could be spreading doubts among the greater crypto community.

Putting money into credit cards
Plastiq is bridging the gap for consumers or business owners who want to pay by credit card and the entities that don't take plastic. A $27 million Series C funding round led by Kleiner Perkins furthers this goal, TechCrunch reports.

Plastiq issues a wire transfer, check or deposit on behalf of the payer, which could be a student paying tuition or a merchant paying a vendor. Its latest funding round brings the company's total to $73 million.

Amazon adds Skype
The Skype video-calling service has a history of being associated with payments and commerce, with the latest being an integration with Amazon's Echo speakers, Engadget reports.

It's no secret that Amazon is building out its Echo and Alexa-enabled devices as hubs for voice-controlled commerce, so any service that adds to the usefulness of those devices serves Amazon's broader goal.

Skype was previously seen as a way to enable social payments via PayPal, back when both companies were owned by eBay. Skype and PayPal finally integrated only after eBay gave up its ownership of both of them.

A weighty purchase
Gravity Blanket, a seller of weighted blankets, is working with Sweden's Klarna to offer installment payments.

Specifically, Gravity Blanket will offer the new Slice it in 4 service that allows consumers to pay a quarter of the purchase value up front and the remaining three payments every two weeks, Klarna announced. Gravity Blanket will also offer the standard Slice it service, which enables monthly payments for up to 36 months.

From the Web
Twitter: Bitcoin Scams Came from Third-Party Marketing App
CCN | Mon November 19, 2018 - Last week’s bitcoin “giveaway” scams on Twitter, which saw one of Google’s social media accounts compromised, was the result of a hacked third-party provider and not the social media platform’s system, Twitter has claimed. Twitter’s confirmation comes less than a week after the account of some high-profile brands were hacked on the platform, most notably Google and retail giant Target, in a bold move to promote scammy bitcoin giveaways.

TransferWise Won't Buy Into Blockchain Until More Banks Use Ripple
Fortune | Mon November 19, 2018 - While blockchain—the technology that underlies Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies—has been hailed by companies including IBM and Mastercard as a way to more quickly move money around the world, not everyone is sold. TransferWise, for example, a London-based startup that transfers money between more than 70 countries, has yet to see an advantage to using the technology.

Tencent’s WeChat testing money market fund and score system in bid to catch up with Alipay
South China Morning Post | Tue November 20, 2018 - WeChat Pay has launched a beta version of a new money-market fund as its parent Tencent Holdings seeks to expand its payment services to help diversify business in the face of uncertainties in its gaming segment. Tencent’s Lingqiantong, similar to Alibaba’s Yu'e Bao, was released in beta version last Friday, inviting users to test the platform’s functions.

More from PaymentsSource
Mobile didn't leapfrog contactless. But can contactless still help?
Part of the issue is that in the U.S., contactless cards didn't pave the way for mobile as they did in other regions. Without widespread acceptance of contactless cards, merchants were put in the position of being asked to upgrade their terminals for mobile without any promise that the investment would pay off.

How Ripple's $50M investment in blockchain research could change U.K. payments
Earlier this year Ripple announced that it has dedicated $50 million toward the University Blockchain Research Initiative, partnering Ripple with 17 universities around the globe from the U.K. to Brazil, with the aim of accelerating new innovations in blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Data: China's big spenders
In the past few years the Chinese government has loosened restrictions on foreign travel, enabling millions of its citizenry to visit foreign lands. Along with a greater ability to travel is the enhanced prosperity Chinese consumers have reaped at home — and now bring with them on vacations to purchase foreign goods.

Barclays puts an NFC chip in Costa coffee cups
Starbucks has established itself as a model for mobile payments among coffee drinkers, but Barclays is partnering with a U.K. coffee chain to take it a step further by bringing the coffee cup itself into play.

Visa investment aids BillDesk in India
Seeking a stronger foothold in the growing India payments landscape, Visa has made a minority investment in digital payments platform BillDesk.

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