02.13.18 Your morning briefing

Register now

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

YapStone shopping: Online marketplace payment gateway YapStone has raised $71 million from investors including Mastercard and Accel. YapStone, which competes with a mix of companies such as PayPal, Stripe, Adyen, Dwolla and WePay. TechCrunch reports the $71 million is part of a larger $100 million Series C round, and will bring YapStone's total valuation to $471 million. YapStone may be doing some investing of its own, using the funding to pursue mergers and acquisitions, along with product and market expansion.
'You're on your own': While stopping short of banning most cryptocurrency, as China has, government authorities in Europe and the Middle East are warning about the risks of cryptocurrency while suggesting they provide no institutional protection for individuals. The European Securities and Markets Authority, the European Banking Authority and the Occupational Pensions Authority say buying and holding virtual currencies is dangerous because they are not guaranteed by a central bank or authority and aren't managed by EU law. And in Saudi Arabia, the Capital Market Authority contends investment and speculation in digital currencies are risky, prone to fraud and highly volatile. And since the trades happen outside of government control, there is little the Kingdom can do to protect investors.

Nano hack: There have been several cryptocurrency hacks recently, with claims that North Korea is behind some of the hacks to get around sanctions. Over the past couple of days, Italian crypto-exchange BitGrail has disclosed a loss of Nano, a coin that used to be called RaiBlocks, reports TechCrunch, adding the loss totalled about $170 million. The exchange confirmed the hack and said it's working with Italian authorities and law enforcement.

Ripple deal: Ripple has built a network of banks and other partners to power cross-border payments by using distributed ledger technology to sidestep correspondent banks and other third parties. As part of a geographic expansion, it has added a major partner in the Middle East through a collaboration with UAE Exchange. The exchange, which has users in the Middle East and Asia, will use Ripple's blockchain network for payments, messaging, clearing and settlement.

Hong Kong banks on the QR bandwagon: Eight banks in Hong Kong will support QR code payments through the Jetco Pay merchant service, including Bank of Communications (Hong Kong), Bank of East Asia, Chong Hing Bank, Dah Sing Bank, ICBC (Asia), OCBC Wing Hang Bank, Shanghai Commercial Bank and Wing Lung Bank. Consumers can make payments through their mobile phone number, with the transaction is linked to the user's bank account.

From the Web

Alibaba Affiliate Ant Financial Seeks Up to $5 Billion in Funding
The Wall Street Journal | Mon Feb 12, 2018 - Chinese technology company Ant Financial Services Group is aiming to raise as much as $5 billion in a new funding round, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would bolster the company’s financial position as it weighs an initial public offering. The Hangzhou-based firm, an affiliate of e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Inc., is in talks to pick advisers for the new equity placement, the people familiar said. Ant’s last fundraising round was in April 2016, when it secured $4.5 billion from a slate of investors, including sovereign-wealth fund China Investment Corp. and private-equity firm Primavera Capital Group, as well as large Chinese state-owned banks and insurers. The deal valued Ant then at about $60 billion.

Domain Theft Strands Thousands of Web Sites
Krebs On Security | Mon Feb 12, 2018 - Newtek Business Services Corp., a Web services conglomerate that operates more than 100,000 business Web sites and some 40,000 managed technology accounts, had several of its core domain names stolen over the weekend. The theft shut off email and stranded Web sites for many of Newtek’s customers. An email blast Newtek sent to customers late Saturday evening made no mention of a breach or incident, saying only that the company was changing domains due to “increased” security. In reality, three of their core domains were hijacked by a Vietnamese hacker, who replaced the login page many Newtek customers used to remotely manage their Web sites with a live Web chat service. As a result, Newtek customers seeking answers to why their Web sites no longer resolved correctly ended up chatting with the hijacker instead.

Alibaba's 'Digital Free Trade Zone' has some worried about China links to Malaysia
CNBC | Mon Feb 12, 2018 - An Alibaba-led digital trade zone in Malaysia, which is part of Beijing's ambitious infrastructure project, is expected to boost trade between Southeast Asia and China, but some fear it could hurt Malaysian firms. The "Digital Free Trade Zone," or DFTZ, is designed to make cross-region shipments more affordable for Malaysian small and medium-sized companies — the majority of businesses in the country. A core element of the scheme is an electronic world trade platform (eWTP) which is designed to ease trade between Malaysian and Chinese firms. The virtual platform, due to take effect in 2019, will connect businesses, manage cargo authorizations and assist on customs. A brick-and-mortar facility in the Malaysian capital will also help with logistics.

More from PaymentsSource

After eBay snub, PayPal sees a growing role in freelance
EBay's recent decision to favor Adyen over PayPal doesn't spell doom for PayPal, which sees itself playing a key role in the nascent gig economy. But other payment networks also seek a slice of that pie.

Consumer demands for 'instant gratification' require right-now payments
As an industry, we owe it to our customers and end users to deliver banking and payments that function in real-time and meet their expectations, writes Paul Kobos, senior vice president of banking & payments for Gemalto.

U.K. consumer spending slumps again at the start of 2018
U.K. consumer spending had its first January decline in five years last month, dealing another blow to the hopes of retailers after an inflation squeeze sapped demand in 2017.

Swedish startup pushes a streamlined model for health care payments
Amazon recently made headlines by teaming up with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway in a collaboration that might use e-commerce tools to wring inefficiencies out of the companies' health care coverage. It's an idea that's already underway in Sweden.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.