We have searched around the globe to find you all the latest news on payments.

What the banks have been up to:

National Australia Bank’s equity investment arm, NAB Ventures, has joined with health-technology startup Localz to create a comprehensive digital health-payments system. Medipass Solutions will connect health practitioners, insurers and payment systems such as HICAPS, as well as allow patients to book appointments and receive upfront quotes. NAB says the mobile system will allow customers to claim their benefits immediately after their consultation, meaning they will only have to pay the gap. The system is expected to go live in the second half of the year.
Westpac is also getting into the healthcare market by investing in Surgical Partners, an integrated accounting system that allows doctors to manage patient billings and accounting software on one platform.
The big banks have made a concession in their fight against Apple Pay ahead of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s March ruling on their dispute. The banks have dropped their demand to collectively bargain on fees and conditions but are still seeking access to Apple’s near-field communication (NFC) technology on iPhones.
Macquarie and ING have joined more than 30 other small banks in the Australian market in adopting Apple Pay, as smaller competitors keep looking to technology to disrupt the big four’s market share.
For ANZ customers who have lost or stolen cards, the bank will be able to issue digital replacements immediately through Apple Pay or Android Pay, allowing customers to use their mobile wallet as they wait for a new card to arrive in the mail.


 The RBA is meeting with stakeholders to discuss their submissions to the RBA’s consultation on dual-network cards and mobile-wallet technology. The bank is still to determine its regulatory role in the rapidly growing digital-payment environment.

Mobile Commerce:

Fashion retailers including Ralph Lauren have begun trialing ‘smart mirrors’, an emerging technology to help traditional shops compete with online trading. In the coming weeks, shoppers will be able to purchase clothing from inside the dressing room with Apple Pay or Android Pay. The technology, from San Francisco-based startup Oak Labs, also allows customers to change the lighting, view other items recommended by the retailer, summon salespeople for assistance, and order out-of-stock items for delivery.
Visa is partnering with IBM’s Watson platform to enable commerce on any device connected to the Internet of Things. Visa says the technology will be “moving data and the point-of-sale to wherever the consumer wants it to be”.
Mastercard Instalments, a service that allows customers to select a repayment plan at the time of purchase, has begun rolling out in Europe.
Online trading website Gumtree has launched Gumtree Connect in South Africa, a homeowner-to-tradesperson app taking on task-outsourcing marketplace Airtasker. Gumtree, purchased by eBay in 2005, has partnered with Australian fintech startup PromisePay, which has changed its name to Assembly Payments, to run the payment platform.
TransferWise has paired with Facebook to introduce a bot that enables international funds transfers through the social media site’s Messenger app. The London-based startup says its customers transfer about $US1 billion per month, with the Messenger partnership initially allowing transfers between the US, Canada, the EU and Australia.
The National Payments Corporation of India, in conjunction with Mastercard and Visa, has launched BharatQR, the world’s first interoperable payment-acceptance solution. Customers scan a QR code to pay for transactions rather than swiping their card, allowing small businesses that do not have point-of-sale terminals access to digital payments.
In the UK, carmaker Jaguar has teamed up with Shell to allow customers to pay for fuel from inside their cars. The world-first technology lets customers use Apple Pay or PayPal (with Android Pay still in development). The app enables users to pre-pay their fuel and emails them a receipt.
The parent company of Mercedes-Benz, Daimler AG, has acquired PayCash Europe as the vehicle to launch its new service, Mercedes Pay. PayCash is one of the few payment services that supports bitcoin, as well as all major credit cards and online services such as PayPal.
Samsung has confirmed it will launch a stripped-back version of Samsung Pay, dubbed Samsung Pay Mini, offering online payments on Android phones. A long-rumoured artificial-intelligence feature called Bixby is expected to integrate with Pay on the Galaxy S8.
Mobile commerce is expected to reach $3 trillion worldwide by 2021, driven by younger consumers in key markets including China, the UK and the US. Meanwhile a Juniper report predicts that in the same timeframe there will be nearly 3 billion retail banking customers using digital banking services, expected to jump by more than 50% from 2016.
A study by ACI Worldwide and Aite Group has found that consumers are more confident in the safety of their data stored in mobile wallets than on computers. Interviewing more than 6000 consumers in 20 countries, the study found that while 80% believe that their mobile wallet is secure, fewer than 50% of respondents trust businesses to protect their data.
Apple is reported to be launching 3D facial-recognition technology on its iPhone 8, replacing the current touch-ID system. The technology would enhance security for mobile wallets and create new opportunities for digital commerce. 

Other electronic commerce

E-signature and digital-transaction firm DocuSign has partnered with global-payments platform Stripe to launch DocuSign Payments. The software is intended to allow small businesses to collect signatures and payments in one step. The offering is initially being rolled out in the US before expanding into other markets in the coming months.
Australia has bucked the downward trend in investment in fintech. KPMG says there has been a near-50% slide in global investment in the sector in 2016, but Australian businesses saw $US656 million in 25 deals in 2016, up from $US185 million in 23 deals in 2015.
Western Union has agreed to pay a $US586 million fine for failing to prevent money laundering through its services. The financial-transfer giant came to an agreement with the US Department of Justice, which said the company’s inadequate policies and enforcement saw hundreds of millions of dollars of proceeds of crime funnelled through its system. The agreement includes implementing a strict compliance regime, while the fine will be used to compensate victims of fraud.
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial has acquired US money-transfer service MoneyGram International for $US880 million. MoneyGram has more than 2.4 billion accounts worldwide but has come under pressure in recent years from cheaper digital funds transfer companies.
PayPal has purchased Canadian bill-paying firm TIO Networks for $US233 million. TIO aims to be a bridge into the digital world for “underserved” customers in North America living paycheque to paycheque.
PayPal has also rolled out its first bot, creating peer-to-peer transfer functionality for users of group-messaging app Slack. PayPal says it is joining with Slack to capitalise on growing demand for the service.

Distributed ledger technology:

Bitcoin’s transaction backlog has reached a record high, with about 100,000 payments stuck in the queue as the price of the cryptocurrency continues to rise. Some users say that delays, coupled with the increasing fees on transactions, could threaten the digital currency’s future.
The Queensland government is using Commonwealth Bank’s capital markets blockchain platform to create a “cryptobond” prototype. The first trial of CBA’s private blockchain “makes it possible to increase efficiency and transparency, which will redefine how capital markets operate”, the bank says.
China’s central bank has trialed its own cryptocurrency, becoming one of the world’s first major economies to issue its own digital money. The move will help the country save on the significant cost of printing money for its 1.4 billion citizens, as well as increase transparency and help crackdown on corruption.
Chicago-based custodian Northern Trust has deployed IBM’s blockchain platform to manage the administration of a private equity fund in a new development for distributed-ledger technology. The chain was developed with regulatory approval and enables investors within the private fund to trade stakes among themselves instantly. 

Other items of Interest:

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