Breaking Payments Stereotypes And Finding New Commerce Avenues

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As we mark an historic IPO anniversary, it’s becoming even more clear that mobile commerce stereotypes need to be overcome. Not only that, but there could possibly be a new way to break what amounts to a paper jam for B2B payments. And the conventional wisdom on alternative lending comes in for a gut check as more merchants learn how to reverse the course on subscription churn.

Data:

$800 billion+: Market cap of Google parent Alphabet.

47.9 percent: Share of millennials who use mobile apps most frequently for planning in-store purchases.

80 percent: Portion of SMBs that still use paper checks for B2B payments.

18 percent: Average current interest rate for credit cards.

26.7 percent: Share of digital media consumers who plan to end their subscriptions within a year.

https://www.pymnts.com/today-in-data/2019/breaking-payments-commerce-stereotypes/

Visa Debuts New Fraud-Fighting Security Suite

https://www.pymnts.com/news/security-and-risk/2019/visa-debuts-fraud-fighting-security-suite/
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Visa has introduced a new suite of security services designed to protect merchants and users from the latest security threats, according to a release.

The new features are meant to help stop and contain payment fraud and to protect the payments ecosystem. There will be no cost for Visa clients; the company said it is one of the many benefits available to Visa merchants.

“Cybercriminals attempt to bypass traditional defenses by stealing credentials, harvesting data, obtaining privileged access and attacking trusted third-party supply chains,” said RL Prasad, senior vice president of payments systems risk for Visa. “Visa’s new payment security capabilities combine payment and cyber intelligence, insights and learnings from breach investigations, and law enforcement engagement to help financial institutions and merchants solve the most critical security challenges.”

Enumeration attacks, one of the most common types, is when ATMs are exploited to release money fraudulently. Another attack is the card-not-present fraud that affects eCommerce, phone and mail orders. Although the latter is not as common, it is responsible for 40 percent of fraud losses as well as operational costs.

Visa noted that its newest security aids help to maintain trust in the payments system. Visa Vital Signs, for example, actively monitors transactions and alerts institutions of potentially fraudulent activity at ATMs. Visa will react either automatically or in tandem with clients to stop the activity or take action.

The Visa Account Attack Intelligence feature uses deep learning to process card-not-present transactions to pinpoint when hackers are trying to guess numbers, expiration dates or security codes through automated programs.

The Visa Payment Threats Lab will test clients’ processing and configuration settings for potential vulnerabilities and ensure they are using security technology in the most efficient way.

Another security feature introduced is Visa eCommerce Threat Disruption, which scans eCommerce websites for malicious payment data skimming software.

All of the new features complement Visa’s Payment Threat Intelligence, which provides reports, analysis and information about potential threats and fraud.

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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/security-and-risk/2019/visa-debuts-fraud-fighting-security-suite/

Deep Dive: How QSRs Protect Their Loyalty Programs

https://www.pymnts.com/mobile-order-ahead/2019/deep-dive-qsr-loyalty-program-fraud/
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Rewards and loyalty programs are becoming more and more popular among QSRs looking to encourage customers to make return visits so they can capture additional revenue. These programs can take many different forms, such as offering one free menu item after several other purchases, a points-based system that customers can mix and match for a variety of perks or a “surprise-and-delight” structure that randomizes rewards to periodically thrill customers with unexpected treats.

Programs like these may seem innocuous, but they are treasure troves of personal data, making them prime targets for hackers, fraudsters and other bad actors. Attacks on rewards programs have become alarmingly frequent, but payments providers, restaurants and third-party mobile ordering apps are taking significant steps to protect themselves and their customers.

What Fraudsters Want, and How They Get It

Rewards programs can hold surprisingly large amounts of valuable data for hackers to exploit. Payment information is an obvious target, but rewards points also hold value, whether hackers spend them or sell them on dark web marketplaces.

Coffee and donut giant Dunkin’ fell victim to a rewards points hack last December. The chain notified customers that it had fallen prey to a credential stuffing attack, in which a hacker enters a large number of acquired username and password combinations to gain access to accounts.

“Third parties who obtained DD Perks account holders’ usernames and passwords through other companies’ or organizations’ security breaches may have used this information to log into certain DD Perks accounts if the account holders used the same username and password for unrelated accounts,” a Dunkin’ spokesperson told ZDNet at the time.

It didn’t take long for the hackers to profit from their deeds: Cybercriminals were selling Dunkin’ loyalty credits for a fraction of their value. “Grab hacked Account Dunkin Donut now with cheap ever price on market!” one listing on Dream Marketplace proclaimed, with the seller offering $25 of Dunkin’ credit for $10.

Rewards program fraud is not isolated to the food and beverage industry, however. Cybercriminals stole the personal information of 350 million Marriott customers, many of whom were part of the Starwood Preferred Guests program, in one of history’s largest breaches last year. The hackers made off with more than five million unencrypted passport numbers.

Hackers are also drawn to rewards programs due to their perceived ephemerality. Customers sign up for them en masse to take advantage of one-time offers and they often forget about them, allowing hackers to run amok before their presence is detected. Such programs are often only protected by passwords, which users recycle from other sources to avoid remembering more than one. 

How to Stop Bad Actors

Many providers are hardening their rewards programs against cybercrime to prevent such attacks. ChowNow, a third-party online food ordering platform that provides ordering channels to 10,000 eateries across the U.S, is making strides in fraud prevention for its rewards program. ChowNow leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to analyze each transaction conducted on its app and cross-references it with other transactions to determine its legitimacy. If one customer is placing orders in several cities at once, for example, the tool can easily detect fraud. Most transactions, however, are assigned trustworthiness scores based on several factors, including how recently the user’s email address was created and whether the credit card associated with the transaction has been logged in a fraud database.

ChowNow processes $40 million in transactions each month, far beyond a human team’s capabilities. The AI is able to automatically block users that it deems untrustworthy, and users can contest this with human representatives if they believe the system was wrong.

First-party mobile ordering apps are taking other steps to prevent fraud. The fast-casual chain &pizza, based in Washington, D.C., partnered with Stripe to ensure that none of its customers’ payment data would ever reside in its app. Taziki’s Mediterranean Café adopted biometric authentication, which is known to be more secure, allowing customers to log in via facial or fingerprint recognition. Biometric systems can be spoofed, so the chain now also requires customers to enter their credit cards’ CVV codes when ordering.

“Requiring people to enter their three-digit security codes is a feature to make sure they actually are who they say they are by evidence of them having this physical card on their person and being able to prove that at time of order, rather than somehow gaining access to someone’s account,” Taziki’s CEO Dan Simpson said in an interview with PYMNTS.

Regardless of the security feature employed, it’s just as important that customers are made aware of the risks inherent in rewards programs and how to help protect themselves. Customers want their unexpected surprise to be the occasional free pizza – not a stolen identity.

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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/mobile-order-ahead/2019/deep-dive-qsr-loyalty-program-fraud/

HelloFresh To Begin Offering Beyond Meat In US Meal Kits

https://www.pymnts.com/news/retail/2019/hellofresh-to-begin-offering-beyond-meat-in-us-meal-kits/
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With Beyond Meat on the company’s menus since July in Canada, HelloFresh plans to start bringing the vegan burger to its meal kits in the U.S. in mid-September. HelloFresh CEO and Co-Founder Dominik Richter attributes the company’s success to understanding clients, including the newest trends like meatless meat, CNBC reported.

“We know that the appetite for vegetarian or vegan alternatives to meat is definitely a trend that we can pick up in customer sentiment across HelloFresh,” Richter said, according to the report. Those who are aiming to reduce their intake of meat — flexitarians — are behind the plant-based meat substitute trend.

The NPD Group discovered that 95 percent of people who bought burgers that were vegan had also purchased beef burgers in the last year. According to Euromonitor estimates, the meat substitute market is forecast to reach $2.5 billion by the time that 2023 rolls around. HelloFresh U.S. rival Blue Apron announced its own Beyond Meat partnership last month.

The enthusiasm of investors for the potential of Beyond Meat to gain from the trend has sent its stock price rocketing since its initial public offering (IPO) in May but fell amid a wider market sell-off and a secondary share offering. The company has 2.1 percent of the meat substitute market share per Euromonitor. Shares in Beyond Meat rose by 2 percent during morning trading on Monday (August 19).

In separate vegetarian burger news, Burger King’s experiments with artificial meat began in April of this year when it rolled out the Impossible Whopper in restaurants in the St. Louis area. The Impossible Whopper was a standard Whopper made with a grilled Impossible Burger patty.

The magic of the Impossible Burger, according to Impossible Foods, is a mixture of ground wheat and potato protein mixed with “flecks” of coconut fat. The burgers also “bleed” like a proper burger because of the inclusion of the heme compound, which is found in animals and plants.

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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/hellofresh-to-begin-offering-beyond-meat-in-us-meal-kits/

Poor User Experience Can Be Subscription Commerce Deal-Breaker

https://www.pymnts.com/subscription-commerce/2019/poor-user-experience-can-be-subscription-commerce-deal-breaker/
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The subscription commerce model holds appeal for companies, especially considering Amazon keeps growing Prime Members for a reliable stream of revenue. Vehicle subscription services are burgeoning and Uber got into the game last month with Uber Pass.

Is there room for new entrants?

According to the Q2 2019 Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, competition is tight as ever. In the second quarter of this year, seven existing merchants dropped out and four joined the subscription market. The market saw more fluctuation earlier in 2018, though. There were 30 new entrants and nine dropouts in the third quarter alone. The current stability suggests that established providers are riding the wave, while upstarts are waiting on the sidelines.

Figure 1 churn in subscription

PYMNTS calculates index scores on a scale of zero to 100 based on the availability of 47 key features like plan options, messaging, cancellations and the time required to start a subscription.

It might make sense for players in a crowded market to try to differentiate themselves and improve performance. However, the average index score in Q2 2019 was 64.4, just a slight increase from the 64.1 in Q1 2019 yet also a little decline from Q2 2018 (65.1).

Meanwhile, the top 20 providers improved their scores, earning 82.8 in Q2 2019, up from 80.3 in Q1. In certain segments, such as streaming video, index scores have climbed past 90 points. Most providers have seen their scores decline or hold steady since Q2 2018, with the very notable exception of top performers. This suggests that leading companies are getting better, while the rest are becoming mediocre.

Figure 4

Age plays a significant role in satisfaction levels. Younger consumers are the most likely to abandon their digital content subscriptions, with close to one-third (34.2 percent) planning to abandon a digital content subscription, and 37.0 percent of millennials planning on the same. Generation Z is the segment with the largest intention of canceling a streaming subscription (11.7 percent).

It wouldn’t be completely accurate to characterize the propensity to cancel a subscription as a younger vs. older consumer trait, though. Generation Z and seniors had very similar levels of canceling a digital media subscription, and when taking the youngest and oldest segments out of the equation, the four remaining generations had nearly identical plans for canceling a streaming subscription — from a high of 7.9 percent for Generation X to 7.3 percent for bridge millennials.

Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have created more loyalty than digital media services like Audible and Scribd. Over one-quarter (26.7 percent) of digital media subscribers and 7.3 percent of streaming subscribers plan to terminate their subscriptions within a year.

Price was cited as the top reason for cancellation for both streaming (34.4 percent) and digital media (29.6 percent). A similar number of users say that their plans are not worth it. Affordability could offer one explanation for why younger consumers are more likely to give up their subscriptions. It’s not a stretch to imagine that Generation Z and millennials have lower earning power.

Figure 8

The study also finds significant shares of consumers intending to give up their accounts because their free trials are expiring, cited by 12.4 percent of streaming and 8.9 percent of digital media subscribers. Reasons related to price have more bearing than issues related to content.

Poor user experience, though, can be a true deal-breaker.

Users’ negative experiences with how digital content platforms operate correlate with greater likelihoods of account cancellation — and this starts with registration. A significant portion of subscribers who intend to terminate their subscriptions encountered difficulties both in the registration process and in using their accounts. A little fewer than half (42.4 percent) of those ending their streaming subscriptions consider their registration processes “somewhat easy” at best. Those keeping their streaming subscriptions were much more likely to characterize their registration experiences as “very” or “extremely easy,” with 88.3 percent having this view.

Once registered, the largest friction point centers around retention of payment information. Consumers who plan to end their subscriptions report having to change their payment credentials more frequently. Streaming subscribers who have never or rarely had to update their payment information are much more likely to want to keep their accounts.

Roughly three-fourths (72.2 percent) of those who plan to maintain their subscriptions have either never had to update their credentials or had to do so less than once per year. This compares to 42.3 percent for those who intend to cancel their subscriptions.

This shows just how sensitive digital content subscribers are to friction, both in registering for and using platforms, and how important it is for subscription-based businesses to offer smooth onboarding and payment processes.

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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/subscription-commerce/2019/poor-user-experience-can-be-subscription-commerce-deal-breaker/

Bringing the Future of Finance to Canada

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The Holt Fintech Accelerator has announced the launch of its 2019 cohort, the second in its history. 

Building on the success of the class of 2018, Canada’s only business accelerator devoted exclusively to Fintech welcomes 8 new companies from 5 different countries. This brings Holt closer to its goals of supporting innovation in the global financial services sector, and continuing to help make Montreal, Quebec and Canada a top destination for Fintech talent and innovation. 

“We’re trying to support financial technologies that we believe are needed in the Canadian Market. We are now seeing some institutional players buying into what we’re doing.” said Brendan Holt Dunn, Founder & Managing Partner of the Holt Accelerator. Jan Christopher Arp, fellow Managing Partner & co-Founder added “It’s about investing in Canadian founders, as well as international entrepreneurs who can move and potentially incorporate in Canada. This creates direct benefits for Canadian consumers, financial institutions and service providers, while also enabling Canada to be more competitive globally.” 

“We’re trying to support financial technologies that we believe are needed in the Canadian Market.”

The 2019 cohort is made up of the following companies:

  1. Conatix – a cybersecurity firm preventing fraud and data theft from the inside. Conatix helps banks detect suspicious employee activity, improper behaviour, policy violations and other threats on IT networks with thousands of employees, in real time.

 2. ConfirmU – helping individuals with little or no credit history gain access to financial products by combining financial data and psycholinguistics into an alternative credit scoring system.

 3. HodlBot – a Canadian based customisable cryptocurrency trading bot that enables users to index the market, create and automatically rebalance their cryptocurrency portfolios.

 4. LexAlign – demand for remote deposit capture is skyrocketing. Under current regulation, FI’s must train commercial customers to mitigate the risks of this service, which is not scalable. LexAlign offers an automated solution that acts as a risk rating agency for security and compliance around RDC.

5. Maat.ai – modernising finance by creating new and compliant digital document management solutions. Their digital ID and wallet make secure interactions easy. 

This Mexican Fintech is enabling people and organisations to exchange digital documents safely, easily and efficiently, improving the experience for all parties.

6. Manzil – many of the world’s 1 billion Muslims cannot pay or receive interest on financial transactions, hindering their ability to purchase a home. Manzil offers them a murabaha mortgage, balancing modern business practices and religious obligations.

7. MarketsFlow – tackling the performance gap in do-it-yourself digital wealth management, MarketsFlow offers a portfolio optimisation platform delivering high returns for online investors. This British firm consistently outperforms other robo- advisors available today.

8. WealthBlock.AI – US based WealthBlock.AI invites investors to view financial documents via a secure link and tracks the interaction between these investors and the entrepreneurs, to gauge interest and streamline follow ups. 

These companies were selected from close to 600 applications emanating from over 70 countries. Selections were made following July’s Selection Days. The 2019 cohort begins Aug 19, 2019. 

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JLo and ARod invest in Acorns' savings platform

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/jlo-and-arod-invest-in-acorns-savings-platform/
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JLo and ARod invest in Acorns' savings platform

Acorns Grow Inc., the app-based savings and investment platform, has pulled off a celebrity investor coup by snagging a stake from super couple Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. 

Noah Kerner, CEO of Acorns Grow, is a former DJ for Lopez, according to the report and has assembled a series of high-profile influencer investors among the company’s ranks, including actor Ashton Kutcher, singer Bono and NBA superstar Kevin Durant. 

Acorns, which helps users set up automatically set-aside funds for investment in exchange-traded funds, previously raised $105 million in a Series E round led by NBC Universal in January and entered a content deal with CNBC. 

Image courtesy of Acorns


Topics: Mobile Banking, Venture Capital

Companies: Acorns


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UK Finance Firm Launches £40M Recruitment Fund

https://www.pymnts.com/news/b2b-payments/2019/uk-finance-firm-launches-40m-recruitment-fund/
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Skipton Business Finance is putting up £40 million ($48.5 million) to aid U.K. businesses in the recruitment space, BDaily News reported on Monday (Aug. 19).

E-recruitment is a growing segment, but economic uncertainty has recruitment agencies struggling to find the funding necessary to transform.

“Skipton Business Finance is proud to be offering this amount of money for recruitment businesses,” Managing Director Greg Bell told BDaily News

He added, “This scheme can give a business the support it needs to transform and we are proud to be involved in this process. We have assisted a number of recruitment businesses who have opted to use one of our Invoice Finance solutions, subsequently helping their growth.”

Skipton Business Finance offers a variety of invoice financing options, including invoice factoring and discounting, as well as enterprise finance guarantee (EFG) loans.

Invoice factoring is the concept of selling unpaid accounts receivables (AR) to a company with the cash up-front. The funder takes responsibility for running the credit control process and will pursue the debtor for payment. This allows businesses to draw up to up to 90 percent of the invoice value without having to wait 30 or more days for customers to pay.

Factoring can play an essential role in the health of a company, particularly small businesses. As companies struggle to manage longer payment terms, traditional banks will often turn away young firms for lack of reliable credit history and assets to underwrite a line of credit or other loan product. AR financing can provide the working capital necessary to stay afloat while a company builds up revenue streams.

Jack Stieber, president of American Receivable Corp, said companies could find success with their factoring strategies if they find the right partner, emphasizing customer relationships for the AR financing world.

“That’s what factoring is here for,” Stieber said. “It’s bridge financing.”

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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/b2b-payments/2019/uk-finance-firm-launches-40m-recruitment-fund/

 Appetite for Blockchain Along Food Supply Chain

https://www.pymnts.com/news/b2b-payments/2019/appetite-for-blockchain-along-food-supply-chain/
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Blockchain is gaining traction in supply chain management, as evidenced by a series of announcements over the past several days.

As reported in Bitnews Today, in Italy, several retail firms and food manufacturers are getting behind projects that will help trace the food supply chain, with an eye on transparency.

The site said that consumers would be able to identify information on labels through the use of smartphones, where data will be tied to food origin and other factors.

According to the reports, the Italian hypermarket Auchen Retail Italia, working with Big Group and the technology partner Te Food have been tracing the carrot supply chain. Tracking data comes through the use of QR codes contained on project labeling.

The firms aim to trace 40 food products across 19 regions in the country and as many as 1,500 retail outlets. Said the site, the retail outlets will include the Auchan hypermarkets and Auchan, Simply and IperSimply supermarkets.

“And on their shelves, there are 5,000 food products labeled Auchan and 17,000 food products of local producers,” according to the site.

There have been other, similar efforts within the food industry as Carrefour has been tracing 4,000 food products that bear the firm’s labeling in Italy. Other firms include Barilla, which has been working with IBM Italia to track foodstuffs.

In other IBM news, the tech giant and Chainyard have teamed to develop a blockchain platform that streamlines supply chain management. The Trust Your Supplier program, as reported by sdcexec.com, targets improved supplier qualification, validation and lifecycle information management. There are other contributors to the platform, including Nokia, Vodafone and Lenovo.

The partnership aims to streamline manual processes and promote what is termed a “digital passport for supplier identity.”  IBM has said the program would have minimal costs as it can be integrated on top of systems that are already in place.

“Blockchain is still a buzz word among the supply chain industry as little tests have shown impactful results. However, the digital ledger has proven to reduce costs and improve efficiency — something that all companies are looking to be better at,” reported the site.

Elsewhere, CoinTelegraph reported that software engineering and IT consulting services firm EPAM Systems Inc. said it has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (or BiTA) that develops blockchain practices and standards geared toward the transportation, logistics and supply chain industry.

A press release said that the software firm has identified “21 real-world use cases” to be used across life sciences, transportation, logistics, agriculture, insurance and healthcare, to name just a few sectors. BiTA will purportedly use EPAM’s software engineering to help develop blockchain standards.

In the commentary, Jitin Agarwal, EPAM’s vice president of enterprise products, said “With all the buzz and hype in the market, some companies assume that blockchain is the ultimate be-all, end-all solution for any business challenge. At EPAM, we’re working closely with our customers to help them truly understand how they can utilize distributed ledger technology, in combination with our other solution offerings, to increase efficiency and unlock new business models.”  Earlier this month, Canada’s transcontinental railway, Canadian Pacific, also joined the BiTA to support improvements for supply chain management and logistics rendered through blockchain.

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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/b2b-payments/2019/appetite-for-blockchain-along-food-supply-chain/

Ex BCG Ventures and Apple Head of Talent Michael Curds joins 11:FS

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11:FS, the challenger firm defining and building digitally native financial services through technology, product and design expertise, has announced Michael Curds has joined the firm as Head of Talent.

He brings a wealth of experience in scaling digitally-native business, having most recently led the talent team at BCG Digital Ventures. Curds was employee number two at the firm and helped establish a highly successful business, building and leading a function that attracted and hired the industry’s top talent. Prior to BCG, he held a number of talent leadership roles, including digital media company PERFORM, audio start-up MusicQubed and Apple, where he ran recruiting for it’s EMEA operations.

At 11:FS he will be responsible for the planning and execution of the firm’s hiring strategy as it continues to build out its consulting, media, research and benchmarking, 11:FS Pulse and 11:FS Foundry teams.

Michael Curds

“The work and the approach to client delivery at 11:FS speaks for itself. What really attracted me was the culture that has been built, how it is lived and cultivated the leadership team, and embraced by the entire company,” said Curds. “The opportunity to help scale the firm, while also being focused on maintaining and expanding that culture, is exciting.”

11:FS has delivered digital financial services projects for firms including NatWest’s Mettle business banking service, Standard Chartered, and other firms across Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. It is also building its own modular banking infrastructure, 11:FS Foundry, to deliver secure, digitally native banking proposition to scale and at speed, in association with Norway’s largest bank, DNB.

“When we founded 11:FS, it was with a belief that the talent we work with and the culture we create would set us apart from the current incumbents. Digital has created the shift towards ‘small team sports’ because we know that smaller, diverse team of specialists outperform a larger team of unmotivated generalists,” added David M. Brear, Group CEO of 11:FS.

“For me this means finding, attracting and hiring the best talent on the planet that’s aligned to our cultural values, in what is a highly competitive market. I’m really excited that someone of Mike’s ability, character and passion for talent and workplace culture that makes us proudly different, will be taking our Talent team to the next level. We have incredibly aggressive expansion plans and with Mike leading that team, I believe we will have no problem getting the right talent needed to deliver that growth both in the UK and globally.”

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Igniting Oil/Gas Supply Chain Efficiencies With Online Networks

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Supply chains operate with common goals — to move goods or services from production to end user.

But drill down a bit — in this case, literally — and the challenges in managing a supply chain differ across verticals.

To that end, Achilles Information, a supply chain risk and performance management firm based in the United Kingdom, said earlier this month that it has launched an online supplier network for the oil and gas industry.

The company said the network, Oil and Gas Europe, ties together 6,000 suppliers and 148 buyers into what it dubbed a single supply chain spanning the U.K., Europe and the Nordics.

Among the features of the network, data analytics help boost procurement activities and are linked to 20 years of validated information that is, in turn, held by Achilles.

Kevin Alexander, director of procurement solutions at Achilles, told PYMNTS in a written exchange that, in general, online supplier platforms are trying to help resolve procurement/supply chain challenges in the energy sector, “many of which are not new at all” and may be similar to challenges found in other asset intensive, project and capex supply chains.

But in some respects, and beyond the generalities, oil and gas supply chains do have distinct trends in place, he said, such as regional variations in the nature of demand. In one example, in the North Sea, decommissioning is emerging as a sector/service, which Alexander said has its own service requirements from suppliers. In other areas, acquisition activity means the operational landscape is changing.

He said that in seeking to provide a range of services, Achilles pools resources across two existing communities known as FPAL and JQS, and that “all supplier data is validated and the completed supplier profiles are accompanied by additional tools” that include performance feedback and audits.

Alexander contended the Achilles network addresses current challenges in the supply chain, namely firms’ visibility and access to suppliers outside their own immediate borders. In addition, he said, the Oil and Gas Europe analytics dashboard “provides access to data that provides effective and —  most importantly — actionable insights.

Achilles is ISO27001 certified and has a rigorous data processing and GDPR policy in place, he said. In terms of data security for the Oil and Gas Europe service, he added, “for individuals to access the service, they need to be member of an organization that is a member of the Achilles FPAL or JQS services (Oil and Gas Europe is accessible via those platforms). All Buyer and Supplier Benchmarking reports produced by Achilles are confidential to the buyer or supplier.”

Asked by PYMNTS about the compliance issues that are in place that can be tackled through a platform model, Alexander noted that “relative to other sectors, there is huge variation in specification requirements across the sector, and I think there is still more the industry could do to align and simplify across different categories and geographies.” He pointed to the IOGP Audit protocol that has been introduced alongside Oil and Gas Europe as one offering that helps firms comply with industry standards.

“In terms of automation,” of at least some functions, Alexander said, “there are obvious benefits that a platform can bring in terms of making data widely and transparently available for all participants. There are also many practical benefits that a platform can bring, which range from events, scheduling and subscription management, all the way through to APIs and data feeds to buyers that can provide an instantaneous signal when compliance lapses.”

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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/b2b-payments/2019/igniting-oil-gas-supply-chain-efficiencies-with-online-networks/

Alibaba To Launch Sourcing Channel, Boost Wholesale Business

https://www.pymnts.com/news/b2b-payments/2019/alibaba-to-launch-sourcing-channel-boost-wholesale-business/
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China’s eCommerce giant Alibaba is hoping to boost cross-border trade by upgrading its wholesale business and adding a new sourcing channel, The Payers reported on Monday (Aug. 19).

The new channel will help facilitate international purchases and allow Alibaba buyers to get homogenized products instead of tailor-made offerings.

Alibaba also has its sights set on establishing a separate channel for customized offerings using algorithms to distinguish characteristics of buyers. The digital marketplace boasts 150 million worldwide registered users strives to help suppliers reach a global audience.

Speaking at a global suppliers summit in Shanghai, Alibaba Co-General Manager Zhang Kuo said the move complements the existing supply channels and offers global SMB buyers more choices and greater variety.

“This is designed on top of the existing OEM channel, adding a new piece to the fragmented, high-frequency, and personalized procurement ordering puzzle. This is a major trend we need to capitalize on,” Zhang told China Daily.

Alibaba handles transactions in 22 currencies across 56 economies supported by its financial arm Ant Financial supports, Cheng Li, chief operating officer of Ant’s international business, told the news outlet.

Alibaba is also seeking to launch a special digital zone featuring Yiwu, China’s hub for exports of small merchandise, in a bid to smooth cross-border transactions for millions of SMBs. Alibaba posted results earlier this month that topped expectations as eCommerce sales continued to surge by double-digit percentages. The company also made strides to tap 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.

Alibaba 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.

——————————–

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/b2b-payments/2019/alibaba-to-launch-sourcing-channel-boost-wholesale-business/

TikTok Video Platform Launches In-App Shopping Feature

https://www.pymnts.com/news/mobile-commerce/2019/tiktok-video-platform-launches-in-app-shopping-feature/
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Video platform TikTok has launched an in-app feature that allows users to shop for products related to a sponsored Hashtag Challenge.

The feature, called Hashtag Challenge Plus, prompts users to post videos of themselves using a product or participating in some sort of manufactured viral trend. And a separate tab allows users to buy products from the campaign within TikTok itself.

Kroger became the first brand to participate in the campaign last week, partnering with four TikTok influencers — Joey Klaasen, Cosette Rinab, Mia Finney and Victoria Bachlet — to prompt TikTok viewers to post videos of their dorm makeovers using the hashtag #TransformUrDorm. There was also a dedicated brand page where viewers could shop for products, including a popcorn maker, a box of snack bars, a toaster and other items.

Since it launched, the hashtag has received 477 million views across hundreds of videos.

TikTok confirmed to reporters that Kroger was the first to participate in the challenge last week, but would not reveal if other campaigns were in the works.

In June it was reported that TikTok was starting to focus on monetization and advertising. The company already generates some revenue from in-app purchases — about $9 million in May, which is a 500 percent year-over-year growth rate.

The app, which is based in Beijing and owned by ByteDance, has been more focused on growth than revenue. The app doesn’t charge for filters or video effects, but users can purchase TikTok coins to buy gifts for other streamers.

The company is especially focused on India, where it has 200 million users, 120 million of whom are active. TikTok is the most downloaded app in the country, a distinction it took from Facebook in Q1 of this year.  Now, the company wants to get more advertisers. It recently signed on brands like Pepsi, Myntra, Shopclues and Shaadi.com, among others.

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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/mobile-commerce/2019/tiktok-video-platform-launches-in-app-shopping-feature/

Finovate Webinar: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks – Modernizing Print Management in the Age of Privacy

https://finovate.com/finovate-webinar-teaching-an-old-dog-new-tricks-modernizing-print-management-in-the-age-of-privacy/
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September 12, 2019 | 2pm Eastern Daylight Time | Register now

Each year billions of documents are produced by the banking industry in the US and Europe. These documents include statements, notices, correspondence, and bills that are essential to managing relationships with customers. However, many banks still rely on legacy print management solutions that cost millions of dollars in maintenance every year, haven’t been updated in over 2 decades, don’t support modern digital access methods like mobile, and most importantly, they don’t conform to modern privacy and security regulations.

Join this #FinovateWebinar with Nuxeo to learn how your peers are modernizing print management in today’s age of privacy. We will cover how to: 

  • Replace expensive printing and posting with digital delivery and a “mobile first” strategy
  • Modernize antiquated and expensive legacy print management solutions
  • Manage and maintain compliance with regulatory requirements, such as GDPR and the California Privacy Act
  • Delivers consistent customer service for the print impaired ensuring compliance with Section 508, AMA, AODA, the UK Equality Act

Featuring

  • Chris McLaughlin, Chief Marketing Officer, Nuxeo
  • Tim Nelms, Vice President International, Crawford Technologies

Register now >>

https://finovate.com/finovate-webinar-teaching-an-old-dog-new-tricks-modernizing-print-management-in-the-age-of-privacy/

FTC: Facebook Harder To Break Up Now

https://www.pymnts.com/facebook/2019/ftc-merging-instagram-whatsapp-could-make-it-harder-to-break-up-facebook/
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Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons said that if Facebook has plans to merge Instagram and WhatsApp more closely into its ecosphere, it could be harder to break the tech giant up, if it comes to that, according to a report by Reuters

The FTC has been investigating the social media company for possible antitrust transgressions, and Simons said that every potential option was out in the open, even while admitting that if CEO Mark Zuckerberg combined the three properties it would make the case harder to deal with.

“If they’re maintaining separate business structures and infrastructure, it’s much easier to have a divestiture in that circumstance than in one where they’re completely enmeshed and all the eggs are scrambled,” Simons said.

Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and both properties have more than 1 billion users. The company has been under a lot of pressure from regulators all around the globe over its data issues and uses.

Facebook was fined $5 billion in July over privacy practices for its users, and it said it would improve the way it protects user data. In 2012, Facebook violated a consent decree stating it would protect user information when it was involved in a scandal by British political firm Cambridge Analytica, where 87 million peoples’ info was shared without permission. 

Facebook also recently pulled out of a deal to purchase video-focused social media chat app Houseparty over antitrust scrutiny. 

The social media giant was supposedly in talks with Houseparty, but in the end decided the acquisition would be too risky. Massive tech companies are coming under increased federal scrutiny, and the FTC’s new antitrust investigation into Facebook has not made it any easier in that regard.

The Houseparty platform draws youth under 24 and features group video chat. Fortnite maker Epic Games purchased Houseparty in June by for an undisclosed amount.

——————————–

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/facebook/2019/ftc-merging-instagram-whatsapp-could-make-it-harder-to-break-up-facebook/

WhatsApp Payments Eyes Indonesia Expansion

https://www.pymnts.com/digital-payments/2019/facebooks-whatsapp-looking-to-bring-digital-payments-to-indonesia/
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Facebook is in talks with several FinTech companies in Indonesia about bringing mobile transaction services to the country through the WhatsApp chat app, according to a report by Reuters.

The company, which recently made a similar foray into India but was delayed due to regulatory red tape involving local data storage rules, wants to tap into Indonesia’s fast-growing eCommerce economy.

In India, the company would offer direct peer-to-peer (PSP) payments and services, but Indonesia it would operate differently, due to licensing regulations in the country. 

If it’s successful, the initiative in Indonesia could serve as a blueprint for how WhatsApp would operate in other countries, as a way to sidestep regulations. 

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy — and with over 100 million WhatsApp users, it’s one of the chat app’s top-five markets worldwide. Analysts say the country’s eCommerce sector is going to experience explosive growth in the next few years, reaching $100 billion by 2025. The country also has notoriously strict regulations when it comes to electronic payments. 

Because the company isn’t pursuing PSP payments, it’s in talks with several firms, including Go-Jek, DANA and OVO. Deals with the firms are expected to be finalized soon and were supposed to start by the end of the year, but they were delayed because of the pending India deal.

WhatsApp has also reportedly been in talks with Bank Mandiri, a state-owned bank that has its own digital wallet. Earlier in the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that it was going to bring WhatsApp payments to “some countries.”

“As Mark has said earlier this year… we are looking to bring digital payments to more countries,” a Facebook spokeswoman said. “WhatsApp is in conversations with financial partners in Indonesia about payments — however, the discussions are in early stages, and we do not have anything further to share at this stage.”

One source that spoke to Reuters said that it was going to need to get approval from the Bank of Indonesia before it could move forward with the deal. 

——————————–

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/digital-payments/2019/facebooks-whatsapp-looking-to-bring-digital-payments-to-indonesia/

Gemini crypto exchange led by Winklevoss names Damato as CSO

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/gemini-crypto-exchange-led-by-winklevoss-names-damato-as-cso/
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Gemini Trust Co., a cryptocurrency exchange led by the Winklevoss brothers, has named David Damato, the former chief security officer at Tanium, as its new CSO. 

While at Tanium, Damato was in charge of building and managing a team that handled security for major Fortune 500 companies, banks and government agencies around the world. He previously was a member of the leadership team at Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm that was later acquired by Fireeeye. 

“Security is the bedrock of our culture and Dave adds to that legacy,” Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini, said in a company release. “His depth of security knowledge and experience defending global networks will be invaluable as we continue to build the market’s most secure cryptocurrency offering.”

Geminii in June announced that it would open an engineering center in Chicago

Image courtesy of Tanium


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https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/gemini-crypto-exchange-led-by-winklevoss-names-damato-as-cso/

Gemini crypto exchange led by Winklevoss names Damato as CSO

Gemini Trust Co., a cryptocurrency exchange led by the Winklevoss brothers, has named David Damato, the former chief security officer at Tanium, as its new CSO. 

While at Tanium, Damato was in charge of building and managing a team that handled security for major Fortune 500 companies, banks and government agencies around the world. He previously was a member of the leadership team at Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm that was later acquired by Fireeeye. 

“Security is the bedrock of our culture and Dave adds to that legacy,” Tyler Winklevoss, CEO of Gemini, said in a company release. “His depth of security knowledge and experience defending global networks will be invaluable as we continue to build the market’s most secure cryptocurrency offering.”

Geminii in June announced that it would open an engineering center in Chicago

Image courtesy of Tanium


Topics: Bitcoin, Security


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Cleveland-based legal startup launches mobile document, payment portal for law firms

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/cleveland-based-legal-startup-launches-mobile-document-payment-portal-for-law-firms/
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Cleveland-based legal startup launches mobile document, payment portal for law firms

Connective Counsel, a Cleveland-based technology firm, said it is beta testing Connectivity, a mobile app that helps law firms share documents,messages and set up digital payments from clients. 

The startup firm, which evolved out of an internal project within the law firm of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, is currently being used by several firms, including the aforementioned, and is designed to help streamline information sharing and billing between law firms and clients. 

“Developed within a law firm based on real feedback from lawyers, administrators and clients, Connectivity has vast potential to improve legal clients’ experience and build transparency, loyalty and trust,” Jennifer Hart, CEO at Connective Counsel and at attorney at KJK, said in a company release. 

The app is $100 per client, per year during the beta testing period.

Image: Courtesy of Connective Counsel 

 


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https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/news/cleveland-based-legal-startup-launches-mobile-document-payment-portal-for-law-firms/

Lawmakers take a hard look at cryptocurrency

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/articles/why-is-cryptocurrency-seen-as-a-natural-security-issue-2/
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With Facebook’s announcement of its cryptocurrency Libra, cryptocurrency has gotten a lot more attention recently, and not all of it is positive, especially from U.S. lawmakers

In fact, President Donald J. Trump tweeted out his disapproval of Facebook’s Libra and Bitcoin alike.

“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity,” Trump said in a tweet.

U.S. lawmakers have also been heavily suspicious of cryptocurrency, with members of Congress calling for Facebook to halt development on the cryptocurrency until they can examine it closely. And then, two weeks ago, representatives and Senators grilled Facebook executive David Marcus about it.

“They’re motivated by one thing: surely their own bottom line,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, said in a statement. “Allowing Big Tech companies to take over the payment system or position themselves to influence monetary policy would be a huge mistake.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said during a CNBC interview last month that he would make sure, “Bitcoin doesn’t become the equivalent of Swiss-numbered bank accounts, which were obviously a risk in the financial system.”

From these comments, it seems that many lawmakers view cryptocurrency as being a national security issue, and there are a variety of reasons for this perspective.

“It’s no surprise to see certain US officials align with President Trump on the subject of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies have boxed technology, economic and governance matters all together,” Christophe de Courson, CEO of asset management fund Olymp Capital, said in an email. “Thus, Facebook’s Libra is seen as a  major threat to the US dollar’s supremacy and the role the FED plays in the U.S. economy. “

Jose Llisterri, co-founder of cryptocurrency trading platform Interdax, said in an email that a project as large as Libra’s could potentially disrupt the U.S. dollar as a global reserve currency, which would certainly qualify as a national security risk.

On the other hand, Courson believes that regulators are mainly worried about the potential for cryptocurrency to be used for illegal activities and are not looking at the bigger picture of crypto’s benefits. However, some experts view this complaint as just being a cover for big banks.

“The conflation of cryptocurrency with criminality has become the standard position of big banks because it is their last rhetorical line of defense against a new technology that threatens their stronghold of global financial power,” Sky Guo, CEO of blockchain platform Cypherium, said in an email. “Steve Mnuchin, a second-generation career banker and former CIO of Goldman Sachs, has criticized cryptocurrencies in the same week that a shipment owned by his former bank was seized by U.S. Customs authorities for containing over one billion dollars in cocaine. This is far from earnest criticism of our technology.”

However, not everyone agrees with this assessment. Lars Seier Christensen, chairman of Concordium, a blockchain network said in an email that is only natural for regulators to take a close eye at the cryptocurrency space.

“Regulators would not be doing their job if they did not try to clarify the risks implicit in the cryptocurrency space. Clearly, there are major flaws in the ability to do appropriate KYC and AML monitoring and this has to be a concern for the authorities,” Christensen said.

There is a possibility that an early wave of regulation could kill off early adopters, according to Christensen. However, this wave could help the U.S. government nail down the key differences between cryptocurrencies and blockchain and pave the way for mainstream blockchain acceptance.

“Blockchain is the real deal, while cryptocurrencies are an accessory oiling the wheels of blockchains. When the cryptocurrency becomes the main item — like placing the cart in front of the horse — it falls victim to excessive speculation and sometimes criminal use,” Christensen said. “It is essential that we get the message through to politicians that blockchain is a massive growth driver and that with an appropriate design, ID/KYC issues are manageable and in fact, more traceable than in most current business models.”

https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/articles/why-is-cryptocurrency-seen-as-a-natural-security-issue-2/