FIDO ED On Google’s Biometric Move Beyond The Password

https://www.pymnts.com/news/biometrics/2019/fido-ed-on-googles-biometric-move-beyond-the-password/
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Step by step on the journey to getting rid of the password — and with Google, now a leap?

Amid a series of announcements, marquee names in tech — Google and Microsoft — have fired shots across the bow of static security efforts that involve your mother’s maiden name or where you went to elementary school.

Google announced via blog post earlier this week that users wielding Pixel phones will be able to log into some of the search giant’s services through the Chrome browser with biometrics, such as fingerprints.

“This new capability marks another step on our journey to making authentication safer and easier for everyone to use,” Google said in the post.

The biometric option leverages the standard known as FIDO 2.0 (or FIDO2), which helps companies bypass passwords for authentication that involves fingerprints or facial recognition.

As noted in this space, in terms of mechanics, the technology makes use of key encryption, which in turn involves the use of two keys: one private and one public. Users can send a message to someone using their public key, and when they receive the message they use their private key to decrypt it.

The Google announcement comes weeks after Microsoft said in May that Windows Hello, the password-free biometric authentication system, has been FIDO2 certified. And it comes after the April news that any phone running Android 7+ can function as a FIDO2 security key (with a global launch earlier this summer). Android was Fido2 certified in February.

This time around, users verify themselves across Pixel offerings through the screen unlock functions.

Google has said that this is the first time that offerings secured with FIDO2 are being made available to web users, though the activity, as  reported, is thus far confined to “step up” authentication activities and not initial logins.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Andrew Shikiar, executive director and CMO of the FIDO Alliance, said the Google move opens up the dialogue a bit on ditching passwords.

“This is the second wave of FIDO adoption,” he told PYMNTS, with a nod to the fact that FIDO has been on market for a while. The first FIDO authentication deployment took place in 2014 when PayPal and Samsung enabled consumer authentication via fingerprints on the Samsung Galaxy S5.

But as he put it, the Google and Microsoft news over the past few months show what he termed the “platformized implementation” of FIDO at scale (and Android and Windows are certainly at scale) in ways that have FIDO2 at the core of their security and user authentication.

“The paradigm is really important,” he told PYMNTS. “The idea that you can use your fingerprint to log in to native applications and web services the same way that you unlock your phone is really critical.” The ease of the user experience also will spur increased adoption.

He told PYMNTS it is “critical” to understand that while there may be concerns among the public about biometrics, and about data housed in the cloud, the FIDO-certified approach that is being embraced by Google, Microsoft and others among the 250 member FIDO Alliance roster means all biometric data is kept ON device. Google, for example, never sees the fingerprints, and the data are never stored in a centralized location.

He said too, that the over the longer term consumers will become more focused on authentication, and privacy will become a distinguishing factor.

“It’s a journey,” he said, of the evolution beyond the password, “and little by little we are moving in that direction.”

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/biometrics/2019/fido-ed-on-googles-biometric-move-beyond-the-password/

TIAA rolls out digital safety deposit box to grow customer relationships

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/retail/tiaa-rolls-out-digital-safety-deposit-box-to-grow-customer-relationships/
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Financial services provider TIAA launched a virtual safety deposit box called that takes the friction out of finding documents like wills, insurance policies, stock and bond certificates and birth certificates by co-locating them in one digital portal. The feature, called Safe Estate, launched this week.

According to TIAA’s chief digital officer Scott Blandford, it’s an effort to deepen relationships with customers by tying all of customers financial information and noteworthy personal documents in one place. “It really came from how we think about people’s holistic financial lives,” Blandford told Bank Innovation. “Your financial life is more than just your bank account, it includes a bunch of these other topics, including estate planning, your will, that that sort of thing. And we see a big need with customers just trying to understand all of it.”

Safe Estate can include documents like tax records, power of attorney documents, financial plans and birth certificates. TIAA customers can currently access the feature free of charge through the company’s online interface, but Blandford said TIAA is considering possibilities to embed the experience into its mobile app. Should customers not choose to store digital copies of documents within Safe Estate, they can add instructions for family members and other trusted contacts on where to find them. The tool is also an entry point for a suite of instructional content on various topics including legacy; life and family; and finances and health.

See Also: TIAA announces the launch of  full-service TIAA Bank

When asked about the security safeguards, Blandford said Safe Estate is protected by additional layers of security and encryption, and customers can enable multi-factor authentication or restrict access as required. When queried about whether TIAA is exploring the future use of blockchain to enhance the security of information and documents, Blandford acknowledged that it’s being considered, but did not offer specifics. “We’re thinking about it, we’ve done some pilots, and we are investing in it,” he noted.

Safe Estate fits into TIAA’s broader digital strategy because it encourages a 360-degree view of financial wellness, explained Blandford. TIAA currently has $1 trillion in assets under management. Its most recent acquisitions include EverBank financial (renamed TIAA Bank) and wealth management tech company MyVest, both completed in 2016. TIAA is also a member of the INV Fintech ecosystem.

https://bankinnovation.net/allposts/biz-lines/retail/tiaa-rolls-out-digital-safety-deposit-box-to-grow-customer-relationships/

Alibaba’s Core Commerce Sales Gain 44 Pct.

https://www.pymnts.com/earnings/2019/alibaba-core-commerce-sales-increase/
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Alibaba posted results that topped expectations as eCommerce sales continued to surge by double-digit percentages, and the company made strides in tapping consumers in less developed areas of the country.

The numbers seem to show that despite economic slowdowns and an ongoing trade war with the United States, the Chinese consumer is still spending.

In terms of headline numbers, the company said adjusted earnings for the fiscal first quarter came in at the equivalent of $1.83 USD, better than the $1.47 the Street had expected.

The overall top line was up 42 percent to 114.9 billion yuan; the Street had expected 111.6 billion yuan. Drilling down, the company said total core eCommerce sales stood at 99.5 billion yuan, which was up 44 percent and was better than the consensus of 95.9 billion yuan.

Alibaba said that at the end of the June quarter, the firm had 755 million mobile monthly active users (MAUs), which was up from 721 million a year ago. Annual active buyers across Alibaba’s retail operations were 674 million overall, as compared to the 654 million seen last year and an increase of 34 million over March of 2019.

In remarks during the conference call with analysts, Co-founder Joseph Tsai said the consumption trends are in place despite challenges to the broader economy posed by secular shifts in demographics and digitization. There has been particular strength in the emergence of a middle class in China’s countryside.

Adding a bit more granular detail on the retail activity, the firm said Taobao has been adding users and strengthening engagement in less developed areas. The company said more than 70 percent of the increase in annual active consumers came from less developed areas.

Management also said upon the earnings release that the GMV of physical goods was up 34 percent year over year in the quarter that ended in June, tied to strength in verticals such as apparel, consumer electronics and home furnishings.

Cloud computing gained 66 percent to 7.8 billion yuan.

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/earnings/2019/alibaba-core-commerce-sales-increase/

Fed Names Leader For FedNow Faster Payments Service

https://www.pymnts.com/personnel/2019/federal-reserve-names-fednow-leader/
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The Federal Reserve has announced a leader of the new FedNow service, which was created to facilitate faster payments in the country with interbank real-time gross settlement (RTGS), as well as integrated clearing, according to a release.

First Vice President Kenneth C. Montgomery will lead the development of the project, and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors announced that the reserve banks will offer the RTGS service.

“Ken brings deep financial services insights and technical expertise to his new role,” said Esther George, president and chief executive officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, who is also the sponsor of the Fed’s payments improvement initiative. “He is a natural fit to lead FedNow given his success in previous Federal Reserve technology and business management roles, and his leadership of our payments security efforts.”

Development of FedNow is expected to take a few years, and will be open to public comments on the Federal Register website, where the system was announced. More information will be posted soon on the site.

Once the FedNow system is in place, it will enable financial institutions of all sizes to offer real-time payment services to customers.

“This is an exciting milestone in U.S. payments modernization, as the Federal Reserve works toward fulfilling the payments industry’s request for a service that will support safe and efficient faster payments for all financial institutions – and, by extension, provide the benefits of real-time payments to all Americans,” Montgomery said. “The FedNow team is gathering industry input on desired features and functionality so we can solidify FedNow’s product design and further define the pathway to launch.”

Montgomery will keep his job as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s first vice president and chief operating officer while leading the FedNow project. He is currently responsible for financial and treasury services, strategic planning and information technology in the institution.

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/personnel/2019/federal-reserve-names-fednow-leader/

Boston Fed's Montgomery to lead FedNow faster payments effort

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/boston-feds-montgomery-to-lead-fednow-faster-payments-effort/
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The Federal Reserve announced that Kenneth Montgomery, first vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, will head up the development of the new FedNow faster payments service that was announced earlier this month.

“Ken brings deep financial services insights and technical expertise to his new role,” Esther George, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which is sponsoring the new faster payments program, said in the announcement. “He is a natural fit to lead FedNow given his success in previous Federal Reserve technology and business roles, and his leadership of our payments security efforts.”

Montgomery was previously executive vice president and chief technology officer of the Federal Reserve System, where he led the National Information Technology Architecture and Standards Division. 

In his new position, he will retain his current role as first VP of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.


Topics: Mobile Payments, Regulatory Issues

Companies: Federal Reserve Bank


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UPS Invests In Autonomous Driving Firm TuSimple

https://www.pymnts.com/news/partnerships-acquisitions/2019/ups-invests-in-autonomous-driving-firm-tusimple/
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UPS announced that it purchased a minority stake in autonomous driving company TuSimple. The delivery company also said that it’s been testing self-driving trucks on a freight route in Arizona since May.

Reuters is reporting that the world’s biggest package delivery company has a venture capital arm called UPS Ventures, and that the announcement underscores how much easier it is to develop self-driving technology for freight trucks rather than passenger cars.

While the technology is still nascent and regulatory standards still need to be built, UPS is nevertheless looking to integrate technology like advanced braking systems, sensor implementation and lane departure awareness into its own current fleet.

“From the regulatory perspective there is a long way to go,” said Todd Lewis, managing partner at UPS Ventures. “But the technology has a ton of implications today.”

The size of the investment was not disclosed. TuSimple said in February that it raised $95 million in a round that was led by Sina. The company has a valuation of more than $1 billion, and it’s also working with Amazon on that company’s transportation infrastructure.

TuSimple has also ran tests with the U.S. Postal service running mail through three states in the Southwest. Those results are being evaluated, the company said. 

Right now, autonomous UPS trucks are operating an a stretch of highway between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The trucks are traveling about 100 miles at a time.

The trucks run 24 hours a day with a professional driver behind the steering wheel and an engineer in the adjacent seat. While autonomous tech in trucks has been progressing at a steady pace, it’s much more difficult for passenger cars to do the same thing. On a highway, it’s a straight shot and easier for the technology to take stock of surroundings and handle routine things.

In a passenger car, the technology needs to deal with countless more variables and the unpredictability of urban environments. It requires more mapping as well.

“The economics for a robotaxi are just not as strong as for a truck,” TuSimple Chief Financial Officer Cheng Lu said. “And a lot of investors see it that way as well.”

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/partnerships-acquisitions/2019/ups-invests-in-autonomous-driving-firm-tusimple/

Indonesian Payment Company Artajasa Teams Up With Mastercard

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Mastercard announced it has made a deal with Artajasa Pembayaran Elektronis, an Indonesia-based payment switching company, to work together on the country’s gateway apparatus for payments, according to Reuters.

The deal was given the green light by the country’s central bank in July, and will cover the processing of debit card operations. The national payment gateway system was launched in December of 2017 to ensure that every debit card transaction in the country was handled using Indonesian technology.

Indonesia’s central bank has imposed a 20 percent limit on foreign ownership of any business that offers digital payment services in the country’s system.

According to data from Bank Indonesia, debit card transactions in the country are flourishing and profitable. In 2018, there were 6.4 billion transactions, worth $485.79 billion. Mastercard said the collaboration could eventually include eCommerce payments.

Another Indonesian company, Go-Jek, recently had an ongoing Series F fundraising round, and Visa jumped on board as both an investor and collaborator. The two companies are working together to offer more options for cashless payments and smoother transactions for consumers across Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

“We’ve been humbled by investor support over the course of our current fundraising round, as they have truly shown confidence in our long-term vision of powering the next phase of technology-enabled growth in Southeast Asia,” said Go-Jek President Andre Soelistyo.

Go-Jek’s Go-Pay is Indonesia’s market leader in mobile on-demand services and payments platforms, aiming to accelerate services across the 640 million underserved and unbanked consumers of Southeast Asia.

“We are excited about this partnership because Visa and Go-Jek share common objectives. We both want to make everyday life more convenient, whether it’s how people move around town in Southeast Asia’s fast-growing urban areas, or making it easier for people to pay and be paid all over the world,” said Visa Regional President Asia Pacific Chris Clark.

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/partnerships-acquisitions/2019/artajasa-teams-with-mastercard-indonesia/

Cash won't die in America — it's too darn convenient

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Cash won't die in America — it's too darn convenient

iStock photo

Cash is still king when it comes to buying things like a cup of coffee, pack of gum or a pint of beer in the U.S. Why? Because it’s faster and often more convenient, especially when it comes to the little stuff. 

Those were the results of a report by CreditCards.com, an independent card comparison service. The company commissioned a July survey of more than 2,500 adults in the U.S. According to the study, nearly half of Americans preferred cash for purchases under $10. As for contactless cards and mobile payments, those tended to be most popular among the younger, millennial crowd.

Even among rewards credit cardholders, 43% of them said cash was their go-to payment method while 31% favored debit and a mere 26% preferred credit. 

The biggest reason rewards credit cardholders preferred to pay with cash or debit: it’s easier or quicker. Other popular reasons to use cash or debit for small purchases included concerns over credit card debt, stores having credit card minimums or fees for small purchases. Others said they didn’t have an incentive, and some thought it was rude.

Among rewards cardholders, millennials (ages 23-38) were the most likely to use a credit card for small purchases (33%). The numbers dropped to 24% of gen xers (ages 39-54) and 22% of baby boomers (ages 55-73). Higher earners and those with more education were more likely to reach for a credit card in these instances, the study showed. 

While the biggest gripe with using credit cards for small purchases was the speed of transaction, only 39% of rewards credit cardholders have used a mobile payments service and 14% have used a contactless card. However, those who had used one of these faster methods were less likely to pay with cash (38%) than those who hadn’t (46%).

“Contactless cards and mobile payments are fantastic ways to speed up the payment process without sacrificing security,” Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said in a news statement. “Mobile payments are typically even more secure than chip-enabled credit cards because they usually require biometric authentication — a fingerprint, face or iris scan, for example.”

While contactless cards and mobile payments remain popular abroad and continue to gain momentum in the U.S, more than half of American rewards cardholders claimed they didn’t have any contactless cards and 22% were not sure.  

Other findings in the study:

  • Male rewards credit cardholders were more than twice as likely to have used a contactless card than females (20% vs. 9%, respectively).
  • Forty-four percent of men with rewards credit cards had used a mobile payments service compared to 34% of women.
  • One-quarter of millennials who had rewards credit cards have paid by tapping a card, compared with 15% of gen xers and 8% of boomers.
  • 61 percent of millennials who had rewards credit cards have used a mobile payments service. That’s more than gen x (44%) and boomers (24%). 

Topics: Contactless / NFC, EMV, Trends / Statistics


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Square’s Orders API Lets Developers Build All-in-One Order Management For Sellers

https://www.pymnts.com/news/payments-innovation/2019/square-orders-api-developers-order-management-solution/
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To allow developers to build a solution that lets sellers send and manage orders online, in-person and in-app, Square has announced the availability of Orders API. Orders can be sent directly to a seller that is using one of Square’s point of sale (POS) products – including Square Point Of Sale, Square for Restaurants, Square for Retail or a custom-built POS – as the central point to manage fulfillment, the company said in an announcement.

Carl Perry, Square’s developer platform lead, said in the announcement, “Over the past few years, the Square developer team has released tools that enable developers to build solutions that take payments in-person, online and in mobile apps. Now, our robust suite of APIs takes the platform a step further and enables developers to create full, scalable and buyer-friendly commerce experiences for merchants of all sizes, across a variety of industries.”

Orders API lets developers provide merchants with an enhanced experience. Currently, Square sellers use Square Point Of Sale to ring up an order and take buyer payments. They now have the option to use their POS as an online and in-app order fulfillment as well as a management hub, without the need to deploy multiple devices.

Square Developer Platform now offers a set of APIs and software development kits (SDKs) that let developers build solutions to help sellers manage all aspects of their businesses, including Payments API, Employees API, Inventory API, Customers API and Catalog API.

The company also noted that developers often complained they previously had to use several vendors – including a payment API provider, a hardware device provider, an order management platform, a POS vendor and more – to build complete commerce solutions for sellers. This resulted in a higher maintenance burden and longer development times.

The unified Square platform is said to simplify the process by giving developers access to a complete set of APIs and SDKs in one solution, providing the flexibility to use one platform to build end-to-end payment and commerce solutions for sellers.

Orders API is available in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia and Great Britain.

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/payments-innovation/2019/square-orders-api-developers-order-management-solution/

Electronic Transactions Association names BSA's Kelley as new CEO

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/electronic-transactions-assoc-names-bsas-kelley-as-new-ceo/
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The Electronic Transactions Association named Jodie L. Kelley as its new chief executive officer starting Sept. 3.

Kelley is the current senior vice president and general counsel of BSA,The Software Alliance.

“The payments technology industry is dynamic and expanding and ETA has a vital role to play during this period of growth and innovation,” Kevin Jones, president and chairman of ETA and CEO of Celero Commerce in Nashville, Tenn., said in the announcement. “Jodie is the right person to guide ETA to significant growth and provides enhanced value and a unified voice for our industry.”

Kelley said she is committed to expanding ETA’s already significant advocacy efforts, increasing member education programs and providing more networking opportunities. 

Kelley succeeds Jason Oxman, who stepped down in January to become president and CEO of the Information Technology Council. 

 


Topics: Mobile Payments


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Bitfarms Ltd. to acquire its operating entity Backbone Hosting Solutions

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/bitfarms-ltd-to-acquire-its-operating-entity-backbone-hosting-solutions/
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Bitfarms Ltd., a cryptocurrency computing power company, has officially bought out Backbone Hosting Solutions Inc., which operates blockchain computing centers, according to a press release.

The company will gain 100% ownership of Backbone Hosting by acquiring the remaining 39.3% of the company that it didn’t already own. Bitfarm expects to close the acquisition by Aug. 15.

“We are pleased to announce the consolidation of the remaining ownership in Backbone. This transaction will result in a simplified capital structure, consolidating 100% ownership of cash flow from operations from subsidiaries of the Company into Bitfarms,” Wes Fulford, CEO, Bitfarms, said in the release. “We believe the transaction is accretive to all shareholders of the Company and investors will benefit from the increased public float.”


Topics: Bitcoin, Mergers & Acquisitions


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Merging digital and in-person services for the next generation of banking customers

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/blogs/merging-digital-and-in-person-services-for-the-next-generation-of-banking-customers/
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Merging digital and in-person services for the next generation of banking customers

By Anupam Singhal, SVP and segment head, banking and financial services at Tata Consultancy Services

In today’s digital era of Business 4.0, banking and other financial services organizations are faced with constantly shifting consumer demands and expectations. For the most part, these organizations seem to be leading the pack in meeting these demand, as studies have shown the banking and financial services industry has more leaders in digital transformation than other industries, across the board.

Each generation of consumer brings new hurdles and challenges that banks need to consider when undergoing structural transformations. To-date, these changes have been, for the most part, gradual. For example: millennials somewhat straddled the line between full-digital and legacy services, making innovative transformation a much less daunting task for banks looking to accommodate millennial service requirements. That being said, the next generation of consumers are primed to cause much more disruption than generations prior.

It’s important for banks to understand the demands of Gen Z consumers and plan ahead, in order to provide the services and capabilities that this next wave of consumers have already come to expect. 

Convenience and Timeliness  

Studies have shown that Gen Z consumers are twice as likely to use online-only storefronts and websites than any preceding generation. These shopping habits are integral for banks to take into consideration as well. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of Gen Z consumers are consistently active on social media and even prefer alternative methods of peer-to-peer payment (e.g. Venmo, Cash App, etc.).

Banks need to adopt new, interactive digital services to accommodate this digital preference. Through the use of next-gen technology (e.g. AI, 5G, cloud computing, IoT etc.), banks already have the tools to do so at their disposal. For example, by integrating AI and ML-driven chatbot services online, banks will be able to interact with prospective and existing Gen Z clients — providing them with individualized customer services based on each customer’s self-identified needs. Consumers will be able to open, manage, and maintain accounts with more ease than ever before. Through the integration of 5G and machine learning capabilities, these services will become increasingly realtime, streamlined and personalized.

In-Person Experiences  

While banks will certainly need to invest in next-gen digital capabilities to accommodate these Gen Z consumers, there is also an irreplaceable benefit for in-person interaction, and the relationship between a banker and the consumer. Especially with more complex interactions and account conversations, there is a trust factor that cannot be replaced by digital technology for even the most digital-centric generations of consumers. Face-to-face interaction is key in helping establish said trust in the end-user. Additionally, that face-time interaction is important for helping explain more complex services and contractual obligations to consumers — so that they can fully understand what services best fit their needs, and understand the intricacies that exist within each service package.

With all of this in mind, there are ways that technology can help streamline these more personal interactions as well, and banks that successfully integrate said tools will reap the benefits of consumer trust and loyalty. Recent studies have shown that 78% of Gen Z consumers believe that AR and VR will have an overwhelming impact on how we view the world, in just the next five years.

This is where banks should be looking to provide those in-person experiences to a digital audience. AR and VR capabilities can be integrated into online banking processes to help deliver that invaluable in-person experience—without the need to sacrifice convenience or accessibility that comes with online banking. The role of the in-bank associate is not in danger of being removed outright. It is simply changing to accommodate a new wave of consumers whose values and priorities differ from traditional generations of the past.

Banking as a Gen Z Life Coach

AI can be an integral tool for banks to deliver unparalleled experiences at every stage throughout the Gen Z consumer lifecycle — from prospecting, to onboarding, goal setting and reaching, and beyond. For example, potential Gen Z customers can be prospected through hyper-personalized social marketing tactics by utilizing AI to evaluate likes, dislikes, follows and more — finding the right customers and delivering insights into how to best approach. Once a new customer is secured, “know your customer” technology, driven by API and machine learning can help onboard these new customers in a matter of seconds. Once onboarded, “best next advice” capaibilies can be utilized to deliver actionable short-term and long-term goals. Banks can then use AI, geo-location data, and more to help these customers meet their goals through day-to-day savings, whether it be through a recommended prompt based on spending history and alternative cheaper options in the customer’s daily vicinity, or through recommendations based on over-spending and a removal of wasteful daily tendencies. These are just a few of the many ways that technology can help provide Gen Z consumers with the convenience, speed, and consultation that they require — throughout the entire lifecycle of the bank-to-consumer relationship. 

Banks must understand that Gen Z consumers will eventually make or break their success. Though technological adoption has been slowly become more of a priority for these organizations, true disruption and risk-taking innovation is going to be needed to prepare for the next generation of consumers who prefer to operate online and on-the-go. The banks who make the necessary accommodations will benefit tenfold from the investment, and those who choose to ignore Gen Z consumers will ultimately be left behind. 

Cover image: iStock 


Topics: Mobile Banking, Trends / Statistics


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SoFi integrates 529 college savings into SoFi At Work program

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SoFi announced the addition of 529 contributions to its SoFi At Work program, providing employees with the ability to put away funds for college savings. 

The company will offer a 529 selection tool, allowing employees at companies to input data about expected college costs and household information in order to get a personalized recommendation for a college savings plan. They will also be able to link existing 529 plans to the SoFi portal and make contributions from their company payroll.

“To date, SoFi has helped over 250,000 members refinance $18 billion in student loans, continuing our commitment to easing the student loan burden,” Anthony Noto, CEO at SoFi, said in a company release. “More than ever, employees are looking to their employers for financial wellness benefits and guidance.”

SoFi previously acquired Leaf College Savings, which made the 529 program integration possible. 


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Deposit-free rental startup Flatfair raises $11 million led by Index Ventures

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Deposit-free rental startup Flatfair raises $11 million led by Index Ventures

Flatfair founders include CTO Bartosz Alksnin, CEO Franz Doerrr and COO Daniel Jeczmien.

Flatfair, a U.K.-based startup that helps tenants sign rental leases without the need for large security deposits, said that it raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Index Ventures, according to a company blogpost.

Other participants in the round include Revolt Ventures, Adevinta, OneFineStay founder Greg Marsh, former Savillis CEO Jeremy Helbsy and TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus. 

The company allows tenants to sign up for a Flatfair membership fee through an online portal or mobile app, leave a debit card on file, and if there are any disputes at the end of the lease period, the company will arrange an independent arbitrator to resolve the dispute. 

The funding will be used to expand the platform, including a major expansion of staff from about 25 currently to about 100 employees by the end of the year. The company told Mobile Payments Today that it plans to hire new data scientists, engineers and business development specialists to help grow the platform. 

“Like much of Britain’s housing stock, its rental sector is stuck in the Victorian era,” Franz Doerr, chief executive of Flatfair, said in a blogpost. “Thankfully, cutting edge payment technology can boost transparency, build trust and make instant move-ins a possibility.”

The company so far has registered more than 10,000 tenancies and has forecasted more than $18 million in revenue over the next 12 months. 


Cover image courtesy of Flatfair.


Topics: Bill Payment, Mobile Payments, Region: EMEA, Venture Capital


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Retail Sales Spike In July Eases Some Economic Worries

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After a week of uncertainty pushed by lackluster results, particularly among department store retailers, along with uncertainty over U.S.-China trade relations, the markets got some good news in the form of July retail sales figures. July retail sales saw a 0.7 percent increase, according to reports on Thursday (Aug. 15). That result came in far above the 0.3 percent pickup analysts had been forecasting.

And taking out such volatile segments as auto and gas sales, retail sales were up 0.9 percent.

The areas of major push for increases were online sales, as internet retailers saw a 2.8 increase during the month of July. That big bounce is likely an offshoot result of Amazon’s Prime Day event, along with competing sales, deals and offers made by its retail competitors looking to draft onto the shopping holiday. But even beyond the web, reports indicate sales were up at department stores, restaurants and electronics outlets.

Gas station sales also jumped by 1.8 percent during the month — and that was most likely brought on by a rapid uptick in oil prices in July. Those higher figures, however, will likely recede during this month (August) as oil prices have since returned to normal historical levels.

Numbers were down in auto sales by 0.6 percent, as well as at music, book and sporting goods stores.

The strong sales results paired with a historically low unemployment rate seems to indicate that the U.S. population is, by and large, confident enough about its economic future to continue spending. Whether that consumer confidence will be enough to keep the U.S. out of an increasingly predicted recession will likely depend on a variety of factors.

Chief among those factors may be whether trade relationships between the U.S. and China improve — or degrade — between now and the commerce-heavy fourth quarter.

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The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/retail-sales-spike-in-july-eases-some-economic-worries/

Brewing Coffee Without The Bean

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Americans love their daily cup of coffee. According to Reuters, 83 percent of Americans report drinking coffee, and around 64 percent consumer at least one cup per day. All in, the average American spends about $1,100 dollars on coffee per year, and we drink more coffee collectively than any other nation (though Finland does beat us on cups of coffee per capita).

On the whole, we are a rather caffeinated nation – and growing even more so. The number of Americans reporting daily coffee consumption has been rising annually for the last six years.

That coffee habit is costing consumers, but it is also taking a toll on the planet. Coffee is grown on approximately 10.4 million hectares of land, about half of which is clear-cut to increase production levels to meet growing global demand. Apart from deforestation, the growing of coffee is also linked to the use of millions of gallons of pesticides and water, and it is widely considered one of the Earth’s more ecologically costly crops.

This reality has spurred the creation and expansion of “fair trade” coffee brands that pledge to promote ethically and environmentally sound planting practices. But for the team at Atomo Coffee, merely finding a cleaner way to grow coffee isn’t sufficient to solve the problem, considering that humans consume 1.1 billion cups of coffee a day around the world.

And so, in their words, they “hacked the coffee bean” to develop their product, the world’s first molecular coffee. The pitch? It looks, smells, tastes and brews just like the real thing, but no actual coffee beans are used in the process.

“Atomo’s beanless coffee provides consumers with a sustainable choice while delivering the great taste and caffeine they expect in their morning cup,” said CEO Andy Kleitsch.

Atomo Coffee is the brainchild of Kleitsch and chief scientist Jarret Stopforth, who holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology. “Hacking” a coffee bean entailed breaking down 1.000 or so chemical compounds in a bean in an attempt to replicate the blueprint of the basic taste and smell of coffee.  From there, it was a chemistry experiment to recreate the look, taste and “mouthfeel” of real, bean-based coffee and create a brewable product for sale.

According to Stopforth, molecular coffee as a concept was inspired by the rapid-onset success of the meatless meat industry, and the massive untapped potential of consumers’ willingness to purchase a realistic “fake” in service of a greater social good.

“The acceptance of agriculture alternatives has been proven with meatless meats and dairy-free milks; we want to continue that movement in a category we feel passionate about, coffee,” Stopforth noted.

The brand is still in its very early days, and still very much in the product development process. Its original funding came from a popular Kickstarter campaign in February that managed to attract 693 backers and $25,331 in funds.

Not quite enough to take on Nestle or Starbucks just yet, but enough to attract more serious venture interest. Atomo has managed to secure $2.5 million in seed funding to further develop its molecular coffee concept in a fund led by Horizon Ventures.

Will Americans be ready to go synthetic when beanless coffee hits the market? Even Atomo’s founders don’t think so. Their goal isn’t to shut down bean-based coffee, but merely to slow down the speed at which it is eating up arable land.

Consumers, they believe, will always want a taste of the real thing. But if even a portion of the billion or so cups of coffee consumed each day were beanless, Kleitsch noted, the world would be a greener place without anyone having to sacrifice their morning wake-up routine.

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The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/brewing-coffee-without-the-bean/

Walmart Canada Expands Grocery Delivery

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To deliver groceries to hundreds more communities across Canada, Walmart Canada and Instacart unveiled the national expansion of their relationship. It will bring grocery delivery services that are on-demand from almost 200 Walmart locations across Canada in as soon as an hour, according to an announcement.

“Canadian families are busy. By introducing more online shopping options at Walmart, we’re helping make life easier and more convenient for them,” Walmart Canada President and CEO Lee Tappenden said in the announcement. “Expanding our relationship with Instacart provides our customers with even more time-saving ways to shop at Walmart in their community.”

The expansion is said to build on a pilot of 17 locations in Winnipeg and the Greater Toronto Area, which the company said “has been strongly embraced by Walmart customers.” Now, the service is now available to customers in communities throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Walmart shoppers can begin shopping online or using their mobile device to open the Instacart app before selecting their city/store as well as adding Walmart Canada items to their grocery carts. They can select a delivery window that is as quick as an hour or up to five days in advance for scheduling. A personal shopper will then pick, pack and deliver the order within the timeframe designated by the shopper.

Instacart Chief Business Officer Nilam Ganenthiran said in the announcement, “Instacart is proud to have grown its partnership with Walmart Canada to help make it even easier for valued customers to get the groceries and household essentials they need quickly and easily.”

Ganenthiran continued, “Our expanded collaboration shows that demand for online grocery delivery continues to grow in Canada, and we’re proud to work with Walmart Canada to extend their delivery reach into new regions and give customers more ways to access Walmart Canada’s everyday low prices.”

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/walmart-canada-expands-grocery-delivery/

Bringing Dairy-Free Snacks (And Digital Recipes) To Subscription Boxes

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Family can help inspire some entrepreneurs to start companies that serve consumers with specific dietary needs or preferences. Be Free Co. Founder Tasha Rickard, for instance, discovered that her children both had allergies to dairy and milk products. Her journey into food sensitivity and food intolerance was difficult.

“I had no idea where to start,” what to buy, how to read ingredients labels or what to look for in the grocery store, Rickard told PYMNTS in an interview. “It was really overwhelming.” Sometimes she would sit down in the middle of a grocery store aisle on her phone and Google ingredients.

Over the years, however, she learned more and became talented at discovering new brands in grocery stores. And she saw that many people were starting to notice that they had problems with dairy and they were lactose intolerant. And they started coming to her for advice. They wanted to know what they should buy, where they should shop and how they should read an ingredients label. “I was talking to so many people every day,” Rickard said.

It just seemed like the world was going nuts, Rickard says, and nobody could have dairy. But “there’s a whole world out there” of dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan food that people don’t know about, Rickard said. And, while one can get a subscription box for pretty much everything these days, she didn’t see one that catered to a dairy-free or gluten-free market. She thought it would be good to have a subscription box to introduce consumers to new brands of food that they could test out before they went to the store.

Rickard ended up starting the Be Free Co., which she describes as a “really cool way for people to get introduced to new snacks, goodies, pantry items” every month. The company offers a few different plans ranging from a dairy-free only membership to a dairy-free and gluten-free membership. It also offers a vegan membership as well as a vegan and gluten-free version. Shoppers can visit her company’s website and choose one of her plans to sign up for a box. The platform also offers credit cards and PayPal as payment options during its checkout process for shoppers.

The Subscription Box

Each box is 99 percent soy-free, and customers receive seven to 10 (and sometimes more) snacks in each box. Items inside of the boxes can range from crackers to chips, nuts, cookies and muffins. The idea is to have all the bases covered and have something savory such as chips and crackers along with something sweet such as cookies, banana bread or muffins. There is usually a pantry item so that shoppers can make something. When it comes to the company’s target market, Rickard feels the box can touch on many people.

That market could include dietary-restricted people who need to be dairy-free because they are allergic or lactose intolerant. It could also include people who need to be gluten-free because they are intolerant or celiac. And it could also serve consumers who want to be dairy-free or gluten-free because they are health conscious. It could also serve people who live a certain way for ethical reasons (such as vegans or vegetarians). Rickard said she feels there is a “wide range of people who it would be good for or who it would reach.”

Digital Content

Members also receive a digital download of dairy-free and mainly gluten-free recipes. The recipes include ones she made over the years and those from her family. They also include recipes she found over the years and turned into her own in addition to recipes she made as written and credits the author. “It’s 47 pages of dairy-free recipes” for dairy-free living to help people learn to cook with whole food ingredients and at home, Rickard said.

There are recipes for dishes like macaroni and cheese, Alfredo sauce and pizza. (In essence, the recipes cover foods that people think they would not be able to eat while living a dairy-free life but actually can enjoy.) The membership also comes with a private Facebook community where sneak peeks of what’s coming into Be Free and more recipes are shared.

With the help of online communities and memberships, eCommerce subscription services are connecting those with a restricted diet discover new foods and recipes that meet their nutritional needs.

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/bringing-dairy-free-snacks-and-digital-recipes-to-subscription-boxes/

Commerzbank and LBBW Execute Landmark Trade Finance Transaction via Logistics Provider

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LBBW and Commerzbank have once again executed a trade transaction between Voith and KSB SE, via the Marco Polo trade finance network, built on R3’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform, Corda.

This time, besides the two companies involved, logistics provider Logwin AG was incorporated into the digital process chain – directly, and in real time. This represents a milestone in the expansion of the digital trade finance ecosystem. In the transaction, order and delivery data were agreed upon between the companies via the international Marco Polo trade finance network.

Payment terms were secured by an irrevocable payment commitment, triggered through automated matching of trade data. For the first time, automatic matching of trade data was achieved with involvement of the executing logistic provider, in this case Logwin, which entered the relevant transport details directly into the network.

An important objective of the Marco Polo network is to obtain all trade data necessary for a transaction as directly as possible, from the original data source. This also includes external third parties such as logistic providers. The data transfer for this transaction was executed via the DLT platform simultaneously to the settlement of the real trade transaction.

Gerald Böhm, Head of Guarantees and Trade Finance at Voith, said: “For the first time, we have processed the purchase and delivery of special hydraulic couplings from Germany to Taiwan using blockchain technology. We executed this transaction with KSB, the leading pump and valve manufacturer, via the Marco Polo network. We are delighted that this pilot transaction marks a further important milestone in the development of Distributed Ledger Technology for more efficient trade finance processes.”

“For the first time, we have processed the purchase and delivery of special hydraulic couplings from Germany to Taiwan using blockchain technology.” – Gerald Böhm

“Now, an independent third party – in our case the logistics provider – is able to trigger a payment obligation in favour of the supplier This significantly enhances the value of the payment commitment”, explained Matthias Heuser, Head of International Trade and Payment Solutions at LBBW.

“As a buyer, together with our bank we can ensure that the payment commitment becomes effective only if the goods are actually in the hands of the logistics provider, and on their way to the delivery destination”, explained Ralf van Velzen, Head of Export Financing at KSB SE & Co. KGaA.

“For Logwin, participation in the real-time transaction with parallel data transfer has shown just how much potential there is in the DLT technology – how it helps to significantly simplify and accelerate the processes – on the part of the logistics partners as well as their customers”, confirmed Managing Director Lars-Erik Poths and Key Account Manager Konstantin Wunsch at Logwin Air + Ocean Deutschland GmbH.

“The goal for future development is to expand the Marco Polo network, bringing additional relevant parties for trade transactions on board – such as insurance companies, inspection authorities, local chambers of commerce, etc. In this way, the entire supply chain can swiftly and digitally be mapped”, added Enno-Burghard Weitzel, Commerzbank’s Global Head of Trade Finance Products.

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Should Unstaffed Stores Be Shelved?

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Automation promises many benefits in retail, including the potential to reduce costs and improve the customer experience. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, though.

The July Automated Retail Tracker examines the latest cashierless efforts in retail and finds which are experiencing uptake and which may fall flat.

Even though Amazon Go locations are still small in number – currently, there are 13 stores open in four cities with four more in the works – this automated retail concept spurred retailers at home and around the world to experiment with this emerging concept. So far, the results have been mixed; in China, the market appears to be deflating, while in the U.K. it is just taking off.

Last fall, it was reported that Amazon might open 3,000 Amazon Go locations by 2021.

What’s the reality so far?

The U.S. Isn’t Only for Big Brands

In the U.S., this seemingly high-tech format is being adopted (and adapted) by smaller, regional stores without Amazon-sized budgets.

Giant Eagle recently launched a pilot in one location in partnership with startup Grabango. The technology, similar to that of Amazon Go stores, uses computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify what customers take from the shelves. Customers can use credit cards or cash or go completely cashierless with Grabango’s payment app.

Another regional grocer, H-E-B, has begun piloting a scan-and-go solution, which lets customers scan products with their smartphones during their shopping trip, bag them and pay via generated QR code before leaving.

Farmhouse Market, a much smaller player in Minnesota, shows how automated retail can be adapted outside of big cities and tech hubs. The natural foods store uses mobile self-checkout and is membership-based to allow customers 24/7 keycard access.

Zippin, a cashierless convenience store, launched last year, also in San Francisco, with the goal of reducing typically long lines. Shoppers log in with an app, pick up goods and can walk out. Notably, the store now takes cash since San Francisco banned cashless businesses.

“We expect pretty much all stores to be checkout-free,” said Zippin CEO Krishna Motukuri in an interview with PYMNTS. “Once they’re used to this experience, customers won’t want any kind of self-checkout, or anything where they’re required to do a lot of work.”

Standard Cognition, a startup that has developed autonomous checkout technology that’s used in two stores in San Francisco (and five in Japan), raised $35 million in funding last month, indicating that cashierless checkout is still a hot commodity in the U.S.

China Is Changing Course

Amazon has a far smaller presence in China, so the unmanned store boomlet that swept the country – in Q3 2017, China’s cashierless stores attracted one billion yuan (roughly $156 million) in funding – wasn’t necessarily in reaction to Amazon.

In 2017, Alibaba launched a supermarket chain called Freshippo, also known as Hema Xiansheng, to much fanfare. By the end of that year, approximately 200 automated shops had opened – but, according to a new report, many of these unstaffed stores have been closing since 2018.

Just last July, online retailer JD.com announced plans for 5,000 small, unmanned shops using smart shelves. By the start of 2019, those plans were scrapped.

Buy-Fresh Go, an automated store upheld as an exemplary model, closed after about one year, and i-Store, the first local unmanned convenience chain, now has just three locations left, down from a peak of nine.

What went wrong?

Some blame the difficulty of selling produce and fresh food in this format. In China, fresh food is responsible for higher margins, but many of these stores focused on stocking packaged goods. Operators also might have overlooked the value of customer service for shoppers.

England Stands a Chance

The U.K. is often ahead of the U.S. when it comes to online grocery shopping, delivery and self-serve payments. A tiny 3 percent of U.S. grocery spending occurs online, compared to the U.K.’s roughly 10-15 percent of online grocery penetration.

British supermarket Tesco partnered with Israeli automated retail startup Trigo Vision to create a checkout-free store and launched a trial Tesco Express location in June. Like Amazon Go, Tesco is using AI technology, shelf sensors and cameras to track customers’ purchases and charge them as they leave. The technology is intended to combat shoplifting and improve inventory tracking.

Sainsbury’s is also gunning for a cashierless future. The U.K.-based supermarket opened the country’s first checkout-free store in April, where shoppers can make payments via an app. The checkout area has been removed and replaced by a help desk to assist customers who don’t want to pay using mobile, though early reports stated that 82 percent of transactions have been cashless.

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/automation-cashless-payments-innovation/