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  • Fri, September 14, 2018 6:14 AM | Deleted user

    To be a leader in digital and innovation Barclays becomes the first UK High Street Bank to allow customers to bring their current account into its mobile banking app.

    Announced on September 12th customers who have personal or business accounts with Lloyd’s, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, RBS, NatWest, Nationwide, or Santander can choose to quickly and securely view their balances and transactions when they log into the Barclays mobile banking app.

    This new feature runs on an open banking API technology. This technology according to Barclays is designed with customer security at a hart and customers will also be able to view all their data permission history for added security and peace of mind. In addition to safety, Barclay looks to make this customer experience seamless by allowing them merely selecting there are other banks from within the Barclays mobile banking app at which point they will be securely redirected to there other bank’s app or online banking page to choose which accounts if any they would like to connect with. Once the account connection is made the user then can disconnect the account at any time.

    When asked about the app improvements Catherine McGrath, Managing Director of Retail Banking at Barclays stated, “Today, lots of people have current accounts with more than one bank, so keeping track of your finances can be tricky as well as time-consuming. Our new feature is designed to solve this problem, offering a simple and secure way to get a clearer picture of your finances, all in the place six million of our customers already go to do their banking.”

    As more UK Banks start to adapt and enable this open banking API technology into their platforms, US financial institutions should pay very close attention to consumer behaviors and trends as they could provide critical data on opportunities and threats of enabling this new technology.

    Source: http://paymentsjournal.com/barclays-enhances-its-mobile-banking-app-with-an-open-banking-api/

  • Fri, September 14, 2018 6:13 AM | Deleted user

    ZenCash is a “proof of work” (PoW) cryptocurrency based on the Equihash mining algorithm. On May 31, the ZenCash network experienced a 51 percent attack, meaning a single party gains control of the majority (51 percent) of the hash rate, enabling them to reorganize the blockchain and reverse blocks. According to a statement from the development team, this attacker was able to double spend two large transactions worth more than $550,000 at current rates.

    According to 51Crypto, the attack on ZenCash cost the attacker around $30,000. That’s still a tidy profit.

    This incident, along with the similar attacks on Bitcoin, Gold and Verge in the last few months, has put emerging cryptocurrencies using a PoW system on notice. Proof-of-work, or “mining,” is a requirement of certain cryptos to define the computation necessary to create a “block” on the blockchain. The “block” is a group of trustless transactions, like a page of a ledger or record book” where transactions are recorded and trust is distributed amongst the miners involved. Mining verifies transaction legitimacy and pays miners with a portion of the transaction as a reward for performing the mathematical work involved.

    The Bitcoin network and most blockchains that require mining are open and not permissioned, meaning they don’t require a third party service to verify them, which can leave them more exposed to potential attackers. A group of people, large organizations or nation-states with the right computational power could take over the 51 percent majority of the network’s hash rate and gain control of which transactions are processed, delayed or even removed from the chain, as occurred with ZenCash.

    At that point it is easy for them to allow their own coins to be spent multiple times, similar to stock fraud “pump and dump” operations. This kind of attack has potentially catastrophic impact on the cryptocurrency, quickly and exponentially decreasing or even negating its value.

    Lines of Defense

    Not only do incidents like these threaten the specific cryptos they attack, they also threaten the credibility and stability of all cryptocurrency. When the chief selling point of cryptos is their security, attacks like these undermine its very foundation. Fortunately, there are certain actions that coin developers could take to prevent or seriously reduce the risk of a 51 percent attack.

    The first is to give up mining of coins altogether and switch to a “proof-of-stake,” protocol. Unlike the “reward for math” system of PoW, PoS determines creators of a new block depending on their wealth, or “stake.” While PoS systems can be cheaper to attack because they require less energy and computation, they are usually deemed safer because transactions are validated through security deposits, or stakes.

    Unfortunately, such a shift requires substantial restructuring, and as such, is unlikely to be undertaken by most coins that already currently use mining. The Ethereum network feels like benefits are worth the effort, however, and is already planning to make the shift to ensure a cheaper distributed consensus and a more energy-saving process.

    Emerging coins, however, could easily start out with PoS protocol, and help guard against these kinds of attacks, even if the ramp up requires more upfront investment.

    For coins already established on the mining protocol, other methods of defense against a 51 percent attack include:

    Increasing the number of confirmations required – depending on the amount, the more confirmations, the less likely a payment is to be reversed. For amounts under $1,000, 3 is recommended, 6 for amounts between $1,000 and $1,000,000 and, beyond that, the more the better.

    For example, BTC-e responded to a 51 percent attack on Feathercoin by increasing their confirmation requirements to 100 blocks. This will slow down an attack and require more computational power to carry it out, but may not entirely deter it.

    Blacklisting and blocking people/machines/accounts suspected as part of the attack – better safe than sorry, knowing potential bad actors no longer have access to the block before they are cleared of wrongdoing will help assure its stability.

    Foundational security measures built into the coin will also create ongoing protection against all types of attacks. These might include:

    Authenticating identity of devices, users and software

    Binding devices with paired user accounts, encryption keys protecting accounts from unauthorized access

    Multiple layers of advanced computation protect data in transit from end-to-end

    Secure storage – encryption to protect data at rest

    Quantum encryption to guard against quantum computer attacks

    Verifying transaction integrity in case of interception

    Single use keys – ensure secrecy of future transactions by never reusing encryption keys

    Part of the issue is that hundreds of new tokens have entered the market in the last years, and there is no standard for security within the industry yet, and no oversight to verify that a coin is as secure as it claims to be. Criminals have stolen about $1.2 billion in cryptocurrencies since the beginning of 2017, according to a May 2018 report from the Anti-Phishing Working Group, and that number is going to continue to rise, as cryptos are an attractive and lucrative target for theft.

    Proof-of-work and proof-of-stake methods each have their pros and cons, but what is certain is that coins with end-to-end security will eventually weed out the weaker and less stable currencies to strengthen the overall market. Only coins that invest in multi-level encryption and strong validation protocols will emerge from attacks with value intact and enter the mainstream.

    Source: http://paymentsjournal.com/how-can-emerging-cryptocurrencies-prevent-attacks/

  • Fri, September 14, 2018 6:10 AM | Deleted user

    Credit card issuers have a long tradition of using points to reward spending. Special treatment is often afforded to high net worth individuals through premium reward programs and introductory bonuses, but can card issuers compete with some revamps in retailer programs? Retailers aim at the top of the market.

    Retailers say it is worth the extra expense since loyalty members tend to spend more.

    Macy’s gets half its $24.8 billion in annual revenue from 10% of its customers.

    And Nordstrom says loyalty members spend four times more than nonmembers.

    Neiman Marcus Group Inc. was one of the first retailers to launch a loyalty program in 1984. These days, shoppers who spend more than $600,000 a year can choose a complimentary travel excursion and get an array of other services ranging from free in-store dining to fur storage.

    $600,000 at Neimans a year. You’d need income north of $3 million per year to support that. The travel excursion might keep your interest but unless you live in the cold northeast, free fur storage would not seem to be much of a perk. The shopping excursion might take you from your Miami home to Stockton Street in San Francisco.

    Macy’s program might be more suitable for the rest of us. Spend $1,200 on your card each year and you will enter the Platinum level where you can pick a 25% off coupon for all-you-can-purchase shopping spree, 5% in reward back credits, and best of all, special access to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

    Nordstrom has their top program which is far below the Neiman threshold at $10,000 per year in spend; candidates have a wide range of discount and point offerings, plus VIP spa and shopping experiences.

    Credit card issuers focus a wide variety of segments, from secured cards to high net worth individuals. Risk pricing and rewards separate the two, but do issuers need to begin thinking of more personalized rewards to capture more scale?

    Source: http://paymentsjournal.com/loyalty-royalty-should-credit-card-issuers-watch-retailers/

  • Fri, September 14, 2018 6:09 AM | Deleted user

    Since the start of this year, cryptocurrency markets have lost approximately 80% of their overall value in a series of abrupt price declines. While the crashes have been frequent and their effects have lingered, the jury is still out regarding their causes. According to a discussion on the online forum, Reddit, the latest slump in bitcoin’s prices, during which it lost approximately 16% of its total value in four days, may have been caused due to investor fears about a bitcoin whale moving coins from a wallet. The wallet has an address associated with Silk Road, the infamous dark web store which sells everything from drugs and guns to steroids and medical supplies.

    The Reddit poster calculates that the original wallet had bitcoin holdings worth $844 million translating to approximately 111,114.62 coin holdings of bitcoin and bitcoin cash. Coins were last moved from the wallet in March 2014. After laying dormant for the last four years, the wallet showed signs of activity recently. According to the Reddit poster, the wallet’s owner moved 60,000 coins in 100 coin chunks over the last two weeks. 2980 coins have been moved to a wallet on Binance, the world’s largest crypto trading platform. The wallet’s owner is also attempting to evade identification by moving the coins between multiple nodes.

    Can Bitcoin Whales Affect Cryptocurrency Markets?

    This is not the first time that bitcoin whales are being blamed for a crash in cryptocurrency markets. Media reports had blamed the sale of $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies by former Mt. Gox trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi for a market crash earlier this year. However, Kobayashi later elaborated that he had sold the stash in chunks between Dec. 2017 and Feb. 2018 to avoid affecting crypto prices. Markets were on a bull run in December, which culminated with bitcoin almost touching $20,000. For most of January and February (and the rest of this year), cryptocurrency markets were in bear territory (See also: Bitcoin Bloodbath: $53 Billion Wiped Off Crypto Market Cap). That has resulted in a loss of liquidity as investors cashed out on their investments or shifted them elsewhere. This may make them susceptible to manipulation. (See also: Why Did Bitcoin Whales Sell $100 Million Worth of Crypto?)

    “The main problem of the cryptocurrency market at this stage is low liquidity and, as a consequence, a high degree of susceptibility to manipulation,” said Yuri Adveev, CEO of blockchain platform CINDX. According to him, an increase in the numbers of Tether, a stablecoin, and movement of large amounts of cryptocurrency from “large wallets” has caused an increase in bitcoin prices. Such situations could result in short-term losses for inexperienced market participants, he said.

    Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein.

    Source: https://www.investopedia.com/news/bitcoin-whale-responsible-current-crash-cryptocurrency-markets/

  • Fri, September 14, 2018 6:05 AM | Deleted user

    What if everyone involved in a financial transaction could share the same ledger—and it was always up to date? No need for reconciliations, with simultaneous settlements immediately available to all participants, and instant visibility into accounts receivable, the supply chain and virtually all relevant transactions.

    Formally, blockchain is a digital ledger technology (DLT), which focuses on recording and storing transactions of any type in a shared platform.ISTOCK

    Indeed, what if there was just one, unimpeachable version of the truth? That is the promise of blockchain technology.

    While blockchain is often mentioned in conjunction with cyptocurrency platforms like Bitcoin, the underlying technology goes way beyond those nascent digital currencies. Formally, blockchain is a digital ledger technology (DLT), which focuses on recording and storing transactions of any type in a shared platform.

    What Is a Blockchain?

    As the word suggests, a blockchain is a series of connected blocks, or boxes. Each block contains data involved in a specific transaction. As each transaction occurs, it is stored in a block and added to the chain. Together, the blocks form a distributed database that can hold a growing number of records—a blockchain.

    But unlike a traditional database, in which information resides in unique repositories across multiple partners and must ultimately be reconciled, the distributed blockchain database creates a single, shared digital ledger.

    To protect the integrity of data, each block must be validated by every participant and secured using electronic cryptography. Changes cannot be made without the approval of participants. Think of it as having a notary there to verify every transaction. This chronological chain of transactions thus provides a single source of secured, up-to-date information that all authorized parties can share.

    For a quick explanation of how blockchain works, read Blockchain and the Future of Finance.

    A Finance Windfall

    The potential benefits for CFOs and their finance teams are compelling: New levels of data transparency, faster access to information and features like “smart contracts” will bring significant changes to financial operations. Among other things, the recent report from KPMG analysts identified the following benefits:

    Increased efficiency: A single ledger that’s continuously synchronized throughout a network eliminates the need for reconciliations. KPMG research suggests as much as a 40 percent increase in efficiency due to straight-through, “single version of the truth” processing.

    Reduced loss and fraud: Immutable records visible to all participants may improve data accuracy and security. This can help reduce the risk of fraud and show compliance through an audit trail.

    Improved customer experience: Using blockchain to share information with clients and vendors may allow companies to serve customers more quickly and even find new sales opportunities. KPMG research predicts a 25 percent improvement in customer experience due to faster processing and use of digital channels.

    Higher availability of capital: According to KPMG analysis, blockchain technology will reduce capital consumption due to quicker settlement of trades, straight-through processing, and and freed-up capital flows.

    A New Future for CFOs

    Blockchain is also going to have significant impact on financial operations. The KPMG analysts who have been studying the technology anticipate these key trends:

    Work with existing systems: Blockchain will not replace current ERP systems overnight. However, it may take time to fully realize the benefits of blockchain's real-time view of data.

    Go private, then public: Finance organizations will start with private blockchains to retain sensitive data, but could eventually add permissioned blockchains for industry partners and even customers.

    Mind the regulations gap: It's going to take time for government regulators to understand the technology and its decentralization of financial activities.

    Evaluating Blockchain for Your Business

    Blockchain will have a big impact on core processes: Quote-to-cash, source-to-pay, and acquire-to-retire processes will all be affected.

    But blockchain is not the latest new cure-all. It’s important for CFOs and executive leaders to address a number of questions about when and how blockchain implementation makes sense for their businesses, including:

    What types of transactions are best handled by a blockchain technology?

    What kind of infrastructure or new equipment will be required?

    Who will manage a blockchain and new participants?

    How can blockchain technology improve risk management?

    What are the regulatory implications?

    Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kpmg/2018/09/11/blockchain-and-the-future-of-finance/#4d3d4b30620f

  • Thu, September 06, 2018 4:13 AM | Deleted user

    The Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA), a sub-organisation of the Ministry of Information Technology, is aiming to increase the number of blockchain projects in the public sector from 6 in 2018 to 12 before the end of 2019. Min Kyung-sik, the current head of KISA's blockchain team said "In the next year, we are considering expanding blockchain pilot projects in the public sector to 12, and plan to support more than three private-led blockchain national projects".

    As per a report in Coindesk, the South Korean government is also planning to add blockchain funding from the current $3.76 to more than $9 million through KISA. In the month of June, the IT Ministry had revealed that it was working in collaboration with all relevant ministries to successfully complete the current six projects in the public sector.

    The projects would be selected from a total of 72 blockchain related ideas submitted by different institutions. As per the ministry, the projects will focus on real estate transactions, shipping logistics, customs clearance, livestock supply chain management, online voting, and cross-border e-document distribution.

    KISA indicated that the 6 ongoing projects in 2018 have received $3.76 million with 3 million dollars coming from the government and the remaining $0.76 from private contributors.

    The Ministry will announce the outcome of the projects in November and after the announcement, KISA will then hold a blockchain hackathon competition before the end of December to select new project ideas.

    Source: https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/cryptocurrency/south-korean-government-to-double-blockchain-trials-in-public-sector-2918751.html

  • Thu, September 06, 2018 4:06 AM | Deleted user

    Biotech is a notoriously risky business. Many biotechnology products do not produce the desired results consistently, while others fail to gain acceptance in the marketplace. Of course, when a biotech product succeeds, investors can make a lot of money.

    You can stay off the roller coaster by looking for companies that have a stable track record, with growth prospects that are reasonable rather than dramatic. Despite the drama that is built into the biotech business, there are companies that proceed calmly and offer investors reliable returns. (To learn more, check out: A Primer on the Biotech Sector.)

    We have selected five top biotech stocks that are poised for growth in the remaining months of 2018. All figures are current as of Sept. 5, 2018.

    Celgene Corporation (CELG)

    Celgene focuses on cancer and inflammatory diseases. The company not only develops its own products – it collaborates with other large drug makers to bring products to market. Revenues have grown in recent quarters, and operating income has increased steadily. Celgene has been a stable company, especially considering that the biotech sector carries high risk.

    The stock started 2017 with steady gains through April but then gave back those gains. At the beginning of June, the stock found support and began rising again. However, Celgene shares declined sharply in October 2017, falling more than 30% over the course of the month as the company canceled studies of a Crohn's disease treatment and reported worse-than-expected third quarter results. The stock continued to tick downward in the first half of 2018, but since posting a 2018 low at under $75 in late May, the shares have recovered by around 23% to current levels over $92. Given Celgene's solid long-term track record, the lackluster year-to-date performance may represent a buying opportunity. (See also: 3 Stocks That May Lead a Massive Biotech Breakout.)

    Average Volume: 5,664,468

    Market Cap: $64.843 billion

    P/E Ratio (TTM): 25.64

    EPS (TTM): $3.60

    Dividend and Yield: N/A (N/A)

    Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD)

    Gilead has been growing at a rate of around 30% for five years. The company is a leader in HIV treatments and has a successful drug for treating hepatitis C. A look at the stock chart shows that Gilead entered a declining price channel starting around May 2016. The shares put in a bottom at around $64, then broke sharply upward in late June 2017. The stock had additional high-volume breakouts at the beginning of September 2017 and then again to start the new year, reaching a 52-week high of nearly $90 toward the end of January 2018.

    Gilead shares then ticked downward in early February along with the broader markets, and the stock saw additional sharp declines after posting lackluster first quarter results in April, but the shares then recovered to current levels of $74.53. Although the recent volatility in the stock could be related to uncertainty surrounding several of the company's products and concerns about declining revenues from hepatitis C treatments, one potential catalyst is a new "shock and kill" HIV treatment combination in the early phases of development. (For more, see: The Biggest Risks of Investing in Gilead Stock.)

    Average Volume: 6,550,806

    Market Cap: $96.616 billion

    P/E Ratio (TTM): 44.52

    EPS (TTM): $1.67

    Dividend and Yield: $2.28 (3.01%)

    Exelixis, Inc. (EXEL​)

    Exelixis focuses on cancer care. It has anti-tumor drugs as well as treatments for kidney cancer. The company has routinely delivered positive surprises on earnings. The stock had a breakout to start 2017 and then began forming a base. It remained in that consolidation phase through the first half of the year. Exelixis stock broke sharply upward out of the base in late June 2017, and after seeing some volatility during the later part of the year, it moved up strongly once again in December.

    The stock continued to see some ups and downs to start 2018 before declining sharply in late February on a lackluster response to fourth quarter earnings, and it has struggled to post gains in the subsequent months, settling at current levels of $18.94. Exelixis entered a licensing deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical (TKPYY) last year that pleased investors, and the company recently reported positive results from a Phase 3 study of Cabometyx for the treatment of liver cancer. (See also: Make Room for Exelixis in Your Portfolio.)

    Average Volume: 4,196,465

    Market Cap: $5.645 billion

    P/E Ratio (TTM): 18.37

    EPS (TTM): $1.03

    Dividend and Yield: N/A (N/A)

    Enzo Biochem, Inc. (ENZ)

    Enzo offers therapies for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. The stock entered an uptrend in March 2016 and started forming a new base in December 2016. Enzo shares broke out in early March 2017 and then saw a second breakout on June 11, 2017. The stock is now in a new base that began forming in late June of last year, and it continued to tick downward year to date. The company recently acquired a new facility in Farmingdale, New York, that it hopes will drive growth for its diagnostics business. However, with a market cap of approximately $215 million, Enzo represents the smallest company on our list, which could suggest even more volatility in a sector that is already known for its ups and downs.

    Average Volume: 146,326

    Market Cap: $215.076 million

    P/E Ratio (TTM): N/A

    EPS (TTM): -$0.09

    Dividend and Yield: N/A (N/A)

    AbbVie Inc. (ABBV​)

    AbbVie is the maker of Humira, which treats autoimmune issues. The company also has products to treat leukemia and hepatitis C, as well as other treatments that suppress HIV. In addition, AbbVie is involved in testosterone-replacement treatments and has drugs for multiple sclerosis. AbbVie shares surged in September 2017, and at the end of that month, the company settled a dispute with Amgen Inc. (AMGN), successfully delaying the competitor's launch of a biosimilar version of Humira.

    AbbVie shares soared to an all-time intraday high over $125 on Jan. 26, 2018, but they have fallen since then. The company experienced a setback in July 2018 when it announced disappointing results in a trial of Imbruvica for the treatment of lymphoma, sending the stock price downward to current levels just above $95. (For more, see: How AbbVie Makes Its Money.)

    Average Volume: 6,208,189

    Market Cap: $144.143 billion

    P/E Ratio (TTM): 23.63

    EPS (TTM): $4.03

    Dividend and Yield: $3.84 (4.06%)

    The Bottom Line

    Investing is not gambling. Although the biotech sector carries risk, it is still possible to find solid companies with reasonable prospects for growth. All of the companies on this list have generally weathered the ups and downs of the industry, and they look like they are ready to come out on top in the remainder of 2018. (For additional reading, check out: Risks and Rewards of Biotech Companies.)

    Source: https://www.investopedia.com/investing/biotech-stocks/

  • Thu, September 06, 2018 3:58 AM | Deleted user

    The growing popularity of fintech and the emergence of competitors in different phases of the cycle, from new banks such as Germany’s N26 to partial service providers such as Revolut and others, or niche competitors such as Shine, highlights not just the inability of traditional banking to compete with them, but even to understand the most basic implications of the phenomenon.

    The banks’ problem is not competing with these types of companies, or at least, not for now. We talking here about vastly different magnitudes, of scale: a service with strong growth like Revolut, for example, expects to reach three million customers by next month, which is nothing to Santander’s more than 113 million customers in more than ten countries worldwide. The idea that fintech companies represent some kind of threat seems absurd, seen in the context of size.

    Obviously, this does not mean that the traditional banks should ignore the phenomenon — and they aren’t. Ignoring change and hoping that size will continue to matter is risky. The big banks are aware that the growth of the fintech phenomenon is mainly due to their own shortcomings, to the strong tendency towards industry isomorphism, and to the need for a replacement highlighted by the fact that fintech attracts younger people. Clearly, if nothing is done, there is a risk that many customers who today resort to competitors from the fintech world for relatively specific needs such as making a transfer or traveling abroad will end up seeing them as a more and more attractive option to the big banks, who are burdened by a specific approach to banking and many years of bad image.

    So what should the big banks do about fintech? Study how they do things and use them as external innovation laboratories. For a traditional bank, the news is not that a fintech closes a round of successful financing or grows its client base, but that it is able to present itself as a “bank without commissions” when in a reality, their freemium service is very limited, and access to a real range of services requires paying between €7.99 and € 13.99 a month. For a traditional banking executive, the idea that those same customers who protest their operation-by-operation commissions every day may consider paying those amounts because “they are not a commission but an extra service” should be very interesting. If we add seemingly more superficial elements to the equation, such as the new tendency towards heavier metal cards than the usual plastic, supposedly higher status, the question seems obvious: is there a demand for a type of client who not only wants a bank that offers traditional banking services, but also “feels” different in some way. Absurd? Image? A mere fad? The point is that a certain number of people go from protesting about daily commissions from traditional banks to religiously paying a monthly or annual fee for a metal credit card, and the banks need to ask themselves why.

    Believe it or not, the new Revolut card’s marketing emphasizes its careful manufacture as if it was some sort of luxury item, while N26’s has no less than an inner tungsten layer. But what they’re really about are services such as cashback systems paid in a cryptocurrency of your choice, special advantages for users of work centers like WeWork, or access to insurance, along with highly customized services for certain customer segments. France’s Shine, for example, is particularly interesting: a specialized approach for freelancers offering services ranging from legal registration to tax payments (a real pain in terms of bureaucracy in France), and with a sign up process pretty similar to a social network’s. For certain groups, a Shine account offers advantages that, whether you’re a Deliveroo runner, somebody offering your services in Upwork or who works directly with your clients, allow you to enter your Shine IBAN on the platform to regularize the entire process, or create a page from which to manage your billing and that allows your customers to pay you with a card. What do we look for in a bank? Increasingly, services far beyond traditional banking operations, and with much higher tolerance for payment derived from a perception of added value, of simplifying a process. Pay for convenience, not by decree, for what we really value, be it a service or a perception. Where can you expect these kinds of trends to start, where is the right place to see and understand them? Not in a traditional bank that launches them as “another project” by someone who competes for the attention of senior management with a thousand similar projects, but in small fintech companies that treat these services as a matter of identity or even life and death.

    Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2018/09/05/what-can-traditional-banks-learn-from-fintech/#175c303f7bed

  • Thu, September 06, 2018 3:55 AM | Deleted user

    A report by ABI Research shows that countries like Singapore, Dubai and London are racing to implement connected infrastructure, testing the latest in smart transportation and energy systems to become one of the first actual "smart cities."

    But before these countries introduce features like self-driving transportation or self-sufficient solar power sources, they must be sure citizens are ready to use simple IoT in their day-to-day lives.

    Mobile payments are the perfect way to ease users into smart city technology and will be essential to lasting innovation.

    By transforming a traditional treasury into a cashless economy, cities will open the doors to wider and faster adoption of more complex smart city innovations. Governments that go cashless can even bring down the cost of managing physical cash or checks, leading to transaction cost reduction.

    This, of course, takes a collective shift of mindsets and habits. Here are three ways that mobile pay platforms will kickstart the future of smart cities:

    Prioritizing secure transactions and a digital ID: Driving a full-fledged smart city starts with generating consumer trust in automated connections and transactions. Many consumers are hesitant to adopt mobile payment platforms due to a fear of getting hacked or a general preference for physical (rather than digital) money management.

    Banks and mobile platform developers alike can encourage the adoption of interconnected transactions by promoting security with a robust digital identification system. If users feel safe transferring funds, depositing checks and withdrawing cash from their mobile device, they’re likely to be more comfortable with future smart city initiatives like mobile document signatures or automated bank clerks.

    Optimizing the future of retail and government services: Both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are curtailing their platforms to cater to an Amazon-like experience, and mobile payment platforms will make it easier than ever for consumers to get onboard. Mobile scan-and-go solutions and app-driven promotions encourage shoppers to opt for mobile pay over cash to get the best deal, and this promotes that critical digital mindset for shopping as a whole. Since cashless transactions depend on a digital identity, it is fantastic way for retailers to implement loyalty programs and gain customer insights. Mobile payment adoption in the retail space will pave the way for advanced smart shopping experiences to become the new norm, such as automated check-out systems or optimized grocery delivery services.

    Changing the way we commute: Mobile payments are already changing the way we commute by speeding up the tedious process of purchasing bus and subway tickets. In fact, London transportation companies have been dissuading customers from using paper for some time by introducing contactless payments into their tube stations. A mobile pay capability for public transportation will not only speed up the commuter payment process, but will give developers more insight into commuter patterns, making it easier for smart cities to implement next-gen features such as traffic management tools, alert systems, and tailored commuter travel paths.

    Smart cities are destined to change the way we live, but the payment processes behind each smart innovation must first evolve to keep up with these technological developments. To establish a strong foundation and therefore drive adoption of new smart initiatives, smart city planners should prioritize implementing a mobile payments platform that ensure seamless experience for citizens.

    Source: https://www.paymentssource.com/opinion/mobile-payments-can-help-automate-entire-cities 

  • Thu, September 06, 2018 3:49 AM | Deleted user

    Uber’s latest app update adds a stored-value account that incentivises riders to dive deeper into the Uber ecosystem — and away from their bank or mobile wallet provider.

    The setup is reminiscent of a rewards program Amazon introduced a year ago called Amazon Prime Reload, which provides 2% cash back when shoppers use a debit card or bank account to load an Amazon stored-value account. The Uber Cash feature, announced Wednesday, provides up to a 5% discount on rides or Uber EATS orders by preloading value to the Uber app.

    The benefit to the merchant is substantial: It binds the user into the provider's broader ecosystem (Amazon Prime Reload requires an Amazon Prime membership) for captive spending, and in Uber's case it reduces operation costs on smaller-ticket ride purchases, which are growing in some segments with industry competition.

    For example, for lower-cost ride options like UberX, Uber Pool and the company's new Jump electric bicycle rentals growing, transaction fees represent a higher proportion of Uber's total payment cost, and Uber can cut costs by eliminating the fees through aggregated payments, Uber said.

    Uber Cash is more than an imitation of Amazon's cash back rewards. Uber is known as a trailblazer of the gig economy, in part for making payments as invisible as possible for riders and drivers. Uber Cash now serves as a funding hub for other Uber payment activities within the app, including buying gift cards and redeeming local offers and Uber Visa Card points, and enabling users to pay for other Uber services including bikes and scooter rentals in some cities.

    By creating an ecosystem for users to load, redeem and pay for various services with the app, Uber has created a veritable digital wallet with the opportunity to build a war chest of stored-value cash.

    For Uber — which reported a slight slowdown in revenue growth last month — there's a clear need to make its app more sticky and expose more riders to its full range of services. If successful, Uber could recreate the Amazon Prime effect of getting consumers into its system for one perk (i.e., two-day shipping or an exclusive TV series) and then piling on incentives and services to keep them engaged.

    During a pilot, riders liked the stored value option for the discount and additional control. Uber users select Uber Cash in the same way as any other form of payment, with the option to fund it using credit, debit, PayPal, gift cards and Venmo.

    "Consolidating spend into one item on their credit/debit card statement was more intuitive and helped people better track their spend," said Rob Daniel, Uber's financial products lead.

    Uber also faces pressure from within the gig economy. Grab, the Asian ride-hailing company whose mobile app launched in 2017, supports broader payment and funding options including P2P, bill payments, mobile and retail payments.

    Uber has had significant success with its Instant Pay service for drivers—also provided by with other ride-hailing services like Lyft—giving cash-hungry drivers immediate access to funds throughout the day via debit push payments.

    Uber notes that users of the Uber Visa card may earn points by refilling their Uber Cash balance as the funding source. That card, issued by Barclays, enables riders to earn points on non-Uber spending and redeem the rewards for purchases within the Uber app.

    By providing multiple Uber-sanctioned payment options, Uber could draw customers away from the likes of Apple Pay and Google Pay, which provide the ride-sharing providers with little of the customer data that they crave.

    The Uber Cash stored-value feature could also add further efficiency for Uber if it cuts a favorable deal with the likes of Chase Pay—as Starbucks has done—to lower the cost of consumers loading funds to the app from certain payment cards.

    “Starbucks essentially created a new tender type with the stored-value feature of its mobile app, which has generated billions of dollars in prepaid revenue,” said Richard Crone, a payments industry analyst and Starbucks watcher.

    Uber is working with Bancorp to issue and secure funds within Uber Cash, the company said.

    Source: https://www.paymentssource.com/news/uber-cash-borrows-amazons-most-alarming-payments-feature?brief=00000157-2f43-d6a6-a9f7-ffcf013e0000

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