Data Leak Discovered In Marriott’s Management Company

A cybersecurity research team at vpnMentor has discovered that The Pyramid Hotel Group, which manages Marriott and other hotel brands, underwent a data leak exposing vulnerabilities that could potentially be used by criminals, the company said in a report.

The researchers, Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, found a breach that exposed 85.4GB of security audit logs. Inside, they found the personal identifying information (PII) of employees, dating as far back as April 19 of this year. On that date, the system might have done a reconfiguration or some maintenance that may have opened up the server to public viewing.

The viewable information includes alerts, system errors, policy violations and other cybersecurity events. It also contains server names and operating system details, information on cybersecurity policies, employees’ full names and usernames and other sensitive data.

Those affected include the Temple Bar Hotel in Ireland, Aloft Hotels in Florida, Carton House Luxury Hotel in Ireland, Tarrytown House Estate in New York and other Pyramid Hotel Group properties.

This information is dangerous because it could give hackers access to the hotels’ networks, enabling them to plan and execute a specific attack based on that information.

“In the worst-case scenario, this leak has the potential to put not only systems at risk, but the physical security [of] hotel guests and other patrons as well. Our team found multiple devices that control hotel locking mechanisms, electronic in-room safes and other physical security management systems,” vpnMentor wrote. “Especially in the wrong hands, this drives home the very real danger here of when cybersecurity flaws threaten real-world security.”

The company said the leak could have been prevented if the hotel group had used more secure servers, had implemented the proper access parameters and had used a system that required authentication.

The company said it contacted the hotel group about the breach. “After identification, we reach out to the database’s owner to report the leak. Whenever possible, we also alert those directly affected,” vpnMentor said. “This is our version of putting good karma out on the web – to build a safer and more protected internet.”


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

Yields Yielding (Poached) Customers For Online Banks?

When money leaves accounts, it’s gotta go somewhere – if not for a transaction, then to another account.

It’s no secret that investors like yield. So do folks who park their money in savings accounts. The last several years have been lean ones for those who want yield gleaned from traditional deposit accounts. Rates have risen recently, albeit off a historically low base. Over the last several months, the Federal Reserve has hiked up rates, which means banks follow suit, and charge more for money they lend out. At the same time, rates paid out on savings also go up, although in a lagging fashion.

Some traditional financial institutions may be seeing money movement – but perhaps not the kind they like. News came this week that in one example, JPMorgan Chase is seeing a slowdown in deposit growth, as some consumers are shifting funds away from that traditional banking company, and opting for banks that offer higher rates.

Gordon Smith, COO, took note of the migration, stating that these customers are parking money with high-yield competitors, “whomever they may be,” as reported in Reuters. Yet he contended that most of these customers will still opt to keep Chase as their main institution.

However, as noted by some research from Nerdwallet conducted on behalf of USA Today, across more than 2,000 adults, 21 percent have transferred funds to online banks that pay at least 2 percent interest. That’s up markedly from the 6 percent tally that had funds with online firms, such as Ally, E-Trade or Discover. The average bank has been paying just about 10 basis points on savings, according to Bankrate.

The sample may be small, but there are other anecdotes, too, that online banking – and its relatively higher rates on deposits – has been gaining traction. As noted in past earnings calls for Goldman Sachs, Marcus, its online bank offering, logged $35 billion in deposits last year. As of the latest quarterly report, the firm said deposits across the U.S. and U.K. stood at $46 billion.


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

Synchrony Financial CEO Taking Wait And See Approach With Apple Card

Margaret Keane, the CEO of Synchrony Financial, the biggest provider of store credit cards, said the card industry will be keeping a close watch on how Goldman Sachs handles its partnership with Apple in regards to the newly announced Apple Card.

Bloomberg reported Keane was at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York on Friday (May 31) when she made her comments.

She said that “there were a lot of us” trying to be Apple’s partner, and that “we’re all going to watch and see what happens.”

The card will give users cash back, with 2 percent back on every purchase made with the card, and 3 percent on Apple Store or App Store purchases. The two companies will also have a program that encourages users to pay down debt in weekly and biweekly payments.

“The reality is it’s a startup — they’re starting from scratch,” Keane said. “When you’re doing startups, by the way, there are a lot of upfront costs you have to put up just from pure marketing and set-up perspectives. So you have to make sure you’re doing these deals at the right returns. So we’re not going to win every deal, nor would you want us winning every deal.”

Goldman Sachs said that because it doesn’t have the same legacy costs as many of its competitors, its consumer lending initiative is at an advantage. The bank said its “thrilled to partner with Apple” and that it wants “to disrupt consumer finance by putting the customer first.”

PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster shared her own thoughts on the card in a piece written in April.

“Then there’s the Apple Card, now one of literally hundreds of co-branded credit cards in the market. Co-branded cards, as all payments professionals know, have been around for decades. The first one, the American Airlines card, debuted in 1981,” Webster wrote. “Cash back as a reward isn’t exactly new, either — and Apple’s version, which pays 1 percent cash back on everyday purchases, seems particularly ho-hum. Discover was the first to make a splash with its cash back bonus back in 2006.”

Webster also posited that the card highlights something that could be missing in Apple’s payment goals.

“More to the point, introducing a physical card seems a tacit admission that Apple Pay and contactless mobile payments aren’t moving the needle enough on Apple’s payments ambitions. The launch of the lowly physical card was needed to give it some transaction mojo,” Webster said. “Now, nearly half a decade after the launch of the mobile payments wallet that Apple’s CEO told the world would eliminate the need for consumers to use a plastic card, Apple is embracing it with the hope that consumers will give Apple and payments another look.”


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

Qatar Backs SoFi; Ripple Powers Cross-Border Payments in Brazil

As Finovate goes increasingly global, so does our coverage of financial technology. Finovate Global: Fintech News from Around the World is our weekly look at fintech innovation in developing economies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central and Eastern Europe.

Middle East and Northern Africa

  • SoFi announces $500 million investment led by Qatar.
  • Emirates NBD to leverage technology from Amazon Web Services to build an AI-enabled “bank of the future”.
  • New partnership between Turkey’s Isbank and Yandex.Checkout to support transactions in rubles for Russians shopping online in Turkey.

Central and Southern Asia

  • Strands strikes digital banking deal with India’s Tech Mahindra.
  • BankBazaar to offer financing options for customers of furniture and home products marketplace Pepperfry.
  • Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog, a premier think tank of the Indian government, sees a $31 billion Indian fintech market by 2020.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Brazilian exchange brokerage, Frente Corretora de Cambio, goes live with cross-border remittance solution powered by Ripple technology.
  • World Finance features Sao Paulo among its Top 5 Emerging Fintech Hubs.
  • IMFBlog looks at how fintech can lower remittance costs in Latin America.


  • The central bank of Indonesia, Bank Indonesia, unveils its Quick Response Indonesia Standard (QRIS), a new QR code system.
  • Mastercard and UOB partner to introduce the UOB Retail Business Metal Card designed for APAC SMEs.
  • B2B cross border payments company TransferMate picks up payment license in Singapore.

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Ghana’s ARB Apex Bank reups with Temenos.
  • Titan Trust Bank of Nigeria chooses Oracle FSS for its core and digital banking technology.
  • CNBCAfrica profiles South African payments and merchant acquiring solutions provider Crossfin.

Central and Eastern Europe

  • Lithuania fintech Paysera goes live in Romania.
  • Polish “credit of fintech-as-a-service” innovator raises $1.5 million (€1.3m) in funding.
  • Billon Solutions and Microsoft announce partnership with the University of Warsaw to develop academic use cases for DLT technology.

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Fifth Third Bank has applied for a national bank charter

Wikimedia Commons / EEJCC

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank has applied for a national bank charter as it expands its suite of products and services. On Thursday, the bank said it had filed an application with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to convert from an Ohio state-chartered bank to a national bank. A national charter will ensure …Read More

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Goldman is quickly expanding its digital retail bank Marcus

Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Goldman’s digital-only retail bank, is quickly becoming a full-service financial platform — a threat to both challenger banks and traditional incumbent players. At an industry event in New York on Friday, the company’s chief operating officer John Waldron reportedly said the company currently is building out its online retail bank Marcus to …Read More

Arkansas credit union taps mobile video banking to reach more customers

River Valley Community Federal Credit Union serves 7,200 members out of just two branches in southern Arkansas. Since its membership is spread out across the state and sometimes live as far away as 50 miles from a branch, it rolled out a video banking tool earlier this month to add a more human touch. The …Read More

Backed by $131m, Grasshopper Bank to roll out broadly next month

New York-based Grasshopper Bancorp, which opened for business to a select group of entrepreneurs and investors earlier this month, this week raised $116 million from investors, including T. Rowe Price Group, Patriot Financial Partners and Endeavour Capital Advisors. With $131 million raised to date, the digital commercial bank expects to hold a broader rollout of …Read More

Goldman Sachs COO Teases New Money Management Product

The chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs said the bank is working on a digital money management tool in an attempt to attract more customers from Main Street, according to a report by Reuters.

“We are developing a digitally empowered mass affluent capability that will leverage our Marcus platform and customer base,” said John Waldron at a bank conference in New York. “We envision an advisor-led and digitally empowered offering tailored to clients across the spectrum of wealth.”

He did not say when the product would be released.

Marcus, the bank’s online banking platform, has had a healthy run, according to CFO Stephen Scherr. Across the U.S. and U.K., he said in mid-April, the bank has logged $46 billion in deposits. “We estimate there are over $4 trillion consumer deposits in the U.S. that are potential customers for online savings accounts, like those offered by Marcus,” he added.

Wealth management will be a component of Marcus as the firm continues to look into introducing new products, and where the market spans $9 trillion held by mass affluent customers in 20 million households. Efforts in that space are in the midpoint of development plans for a “blueprint,” said the CFO at the time.

“For every $10 billion of wholesale funding replaced with deposits, we estimate savings of roughly $100 million in interest expense annually,” Scherr said. “To utilize these deposits, we will continue to migrate businesses, such as foreign exchange, into our bank entities.”

In response to analysts’ questions about strategy and scale, Scherr said Marcus is building scale through “our underwriting algorithms and platforms and in our delivery – not just to scale deposits now, but equally in respect to credit cards.”

Management is targeting growth in the U.S. and U.K. of aggregate retail deposits of $10 billion annually. In terms of technology spend, the company has spent around $1.1 billion across consumer initiatives, Scherr said.


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

eBay Ups Its Digital Automotive Game

It’s no secret that digital technology is bringing historic change to the automotive industry, and the latest example comes from eBay. The online marketplace announced that it has extended its tire installation coverage to some 3,500 shops.

The news comes not only as the connected vehicle ecosystem is developing, but also as digital technology is changing all parts of the automotive industry and experience, from finance to repairs. In this specific case, eBay, according to a statement, has formed a partnership with repair and maintenance platform CarAdvise to  add “3,500 tire shops to eBay’s tire installer network, including top national chains like Firestone, Tires Plus, National Tire and Battery and Tire Kingdom. Thousands of additional brand-name shops within the CarAdvise network are slated to roll out over the coming months. eBay Motors’ shoppers now have access to more than 10 times the amount of current tire listings that offer installation services at checkout, with even more added throughout the year.”

The online marketplace launched its tire installation service in 2017.

The partnership with CarAdvise covers service options and payments. According to the statement from eBay, “Through the collaboration with CarAdvise, auto buyers shop top tire brands and conveniently add professional installation services with their purchase. At checkout, customers are prompted to choose a service provider in their local area and complete the transaction. Following payment on eBay, customers easily select a preferred date and time for their installation appointment, and can even add additional services like a wheel alignment or oil change via the CarAdvise platform.”

Auto Repairs

Auto repair and maintenance services are going increasingly digital. Further evidence comes from Porsche, the luxury car brand.

As PYMNTS has covered, Porsche is using augmented reality technology in an effort to speed up vehicle repairs, a move that could severely reduce the time drivers must spend in dealerships. The car brand has said that Porsche Cars North America has started to roll out its “Tech Live Look” program to some of the 189 Porsche dealers in the United States. “The system connects dealership technicians to remote experts via smartglasses for a live interaction that can shorten service resolution times by up to 40 percent,” Porsche Cars North America said in a statement.

More specifically, Tech Live Look – among the latest augmented reality ideas that have popped up recently to better serve U.S. consumers – “combines computerized eyewear and augmented reality software to allow remote experts hundreds of miles away to see what a service technician is seeing and provide feedback while the technician works hands-free,” the statement said. “The system uses industry-leading components: ODG (Osterhout Design Group) R-7 smartglasses and the AiR Enterprise software platform from Atheer Inc.”

Auto Finance

Auto finance, too, is going through digitally focused changes.

As connected cars – that is, the vehicles that enable deeper forms of mobile payments and commerce than is the case now, including activities that involve fueling, restaurant reservations and the like – move closer to reality, there is fresh attention on what changes that could bring to auto lending and leasing.

One recent analysis called it a “new layer of complexity,” at least when it comes to leasing, thanks to connected vehicle technology.

That’s because “conventional leasing models, whereby contract prices are determined by fixed parameters – i.e., mileage requirements, car choice, duration, residual value – will no longer be enough,” according to Daniel Layne, founder and CTO of Quotevine, which sells automated finance technology. “With over-the-air data or software updates, connected cars have the potential to become smarter, and therefore actually increase in value throughout the duration of the contract as new functionalities are added to the car,” he said.

In fact, there is a race going on for control of the data from connected vehicles. As PYMNTS has reported, nearly every new vehicle that is bought or leased is, by default, programmed to share data with manufacturers. Vehicle owners must consent to the data sharing, but they often give their permission unknowingly when signing lengthy or multiple documents at the time of purchase – when consumers are often eager to take the keys and drive off the lot.

No matter the specific area of automotive – tires, repairs or finance – digital technology is fueling massive change in that longstanding industry.


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

Goldman Sachs Seeks To Win Business From Mid-Sized Firms

As part of its strategic plan, investment firm Goldman Sachs aims to win the business of more mid-sized companies. It also plans to spend $4 billion technology this year per John Waldron, the bank’s president, who made the remarks at a Bernstein conference in New York, the Financial Times reported.

Companies with a worth of under $2 billion are one of the major focus areas for the company. Currently, the company is said to have over 3,000 clients of that size, which bring in annual revenue of approximately $2 billion. Waldron said per the report, “We now have a proven track record of serving midsized clients.”

The bank also aims to grow its consumer and wealth management businesses and raise additional client money for its lending and investing division. Waldron, however, aimed to reduce expectations that the company’s trading business would be cut back significantly under the strategic plan. Waldron said, according to the outlet, “We see value in maintaining and increasing our core footprint, we expect to continue expanding our market share in both FICC [fixed income trading] and equities.”

The news comes a few months after Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer David Solomon spoke at a conference in Florida that was hosted by Credit Suisse. At the event, he reportedly delved into Goldman’s plans to expand its corporate services such as cash management as well as diversify its customer base. Part of that effort means expanding in the middle-market community.

Solomon said per a Reuters report in February, “There are lots and lots of companies with value at $500 million to $3 billion.” Solomon continued, “There’s real … expansion opportunity for the firm … to open the aperture of corporations that we bring Goldman Sachs to.” His remarks came after Goldman’s previous announcement that it is developing a digital platform for companies to manage payments and cash receipts across borders.


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

NYC public transit pilot puts contacless payment adoption on notice

The financial services industry and public transit experts across the country are closely watching the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s highly anticipated contactless pilot for the New York subway and bus system, as key industry players say the success of this project could finally kickstart the long wished-for adoption of contactless payments in a critical financial market and, by extension, across the country.

The One Metro New York pilot will test the use of contactless cards and app-based mobile wallets to see whether the massive New York bus and subway system can handle millions of commuters using tap-and-go technology to speed travel between public transit hubs and on city bus routes.

The initial testing will involve station stops between Grand Central in Manhattan and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, the home of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and a major transfer point for connections throughout the borough. The pilot phase also will include a test for bus riders on Staten Island.

According to the MTA, 500 subway turnstiles and 600 buses will get upgrades to the contactless terminals in 2019. MetroCards will still be valid until 2023, however. After subways and buses are upgraded, the contactless network will be integrated into the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad.

Major payment networks including Visa and Mastercard have announced plans to roll out contactless cards through issuing banks and hope that the pilot will not only spur adoption of mobile wallets by commuters, but also will kick start additional use at convenience stores, grocers, restaurants and retailers located near subway stations and bus stops along the way.

“The payments brands will be following the payments trends closely during the initial phases of the MTA pilot,” Randy Vanderhoof, director of the U.S. Payments Forum, told Mobile Payments Today via email. “They will be doing heavy marketing and education to retailers to encourage more tap and pay.”

Card adoption

American Express officials say they believe that contactless use in public transit will help increase overall adoption of contactless cards by consumers.

“We’ve worked with transit systems around the world as they have moved to contactless — from the Tube, trains and buses in London to, recently, Sydney ferries, trains and light rail system — and often see that once consumers experience the speed, convenience and security of contactless payments in their transit system, they are more likely to tap and pay at restaurants, retailers and more,” Liz Karl, vice president of payments consulting at American Express, told Mobile Payments Today via email.

Karl said that contactless will help merchants, as it provides a preferred payment method; improves efficiency at the point of sale by moving customers more quickly through checkout lines; reduces the need to handle cash; and optimizes operations.

American Express is working with Cubic Transportation Systems to integrate contactless payments with the MTA and to help accelerate similar programs with other systems around the world.

Starting in July, all newly issued and replacement American Express cards will be contactless, according to the company. Currently, customers can request a contactless card through the company’s mobile app, by phone or online at

Contactless upgrades 

JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest consumer banks in New York and a major issuer of credit and debit cards, said it has seen public transit generate consumer interest in contactless use in major international markets.

“Transit has proven to be a tipping point for tap-to-pay adoption in countries like the U.K., Canada and others,” Chase spokesperson Maribel Ferre told Mobile Payments Today via email. “The MTA rollout will help accelerate adoption in the country, making it easier and speedier to get around New York.”

Ferre said that Chase has rolled out 20 million tap-to-pay credit cards to date, and that about half of the bank’s customers will receive a contactless card by the end of the year. She said debit cards will begin rolling out this summer.

Chase customers are getting new contactless cards as they come up for renewal or with a new account opening, she said. Customers can order a new contactless card through the Chase mobile app or by calling a number on the back of their existing card.

Europe embrace

Integrating tap-and-go into public transit systems has promoted increased adoption of contactless in the U.K. and continental Europe, according to Windsor Holden, an analyst at Juniper Research.

He said that in 2018, Transport for London customers logged 872 million journeys using contactless, accounting for more than 50% of all pay-as-you-go journeys. Travelers made 13% of their contactless ticket purchases via smartphone.

“Furthermore contactless card solutions have also been rolled out on numerous transit systems outside the capital and these are also experiencing strong adoption,” he said in an email to Mobile Payments Today. “Clearly the U.S. transport authorities will have taken heed of this and will be anxious to replicate this success.”

Biometrics Tech Firm ID R&D Receives $5.7m Funding

New York biometrics technology provider ID R&D has raised $5.7 million in Series A funding, reports Jane Connolly of Fintech Futures, Fintech’s sister publication.

The round was led by a new investor, GSR Ventures, with participation from an existing investor, Gagarin Capital. This is the New York-based company’s second investment; the first being a Seed round of an undisclosed amount raised in December of 2017.

The investment will be used to meet the increasing demand for its artificial intelligence (AI) based voice and behavioral solutions, along with voice and face anti-spoofing technologies. ID R&D will also be using it to add engineering staff and drive international sales.

“What we’ve consistently heard from our customers is that ID R&D’s technologies and solutions stand alone in offering a vastly simplified user experience that doesn’t sacrifice the security of authentication,” said ID R&D CEO, Alexey Khitrov.

The biometric tech provider aims to meet the demand from businesses for conversational interface (CI) and replace existing password and security question-based authentication processes with quicker, simpler voice and facial recognition solutions that require little or no involvement from the user.

The firm’s passive, anti-spoofing capabilities are designed to thwart fraudsters who attempt to access accounts using synthesized or recorded voices; or with photos, videos, or models of the real user’s face.

“With Grand View Research forecasting the speech and voice recognition market size to reach nearly $32 billion by 2025, businesses are racing to keep up with demand for authentication that works across multiple platforms and is as convenient as it is secure,” added Khitrov.

At FinovateFall 2018, Khitrov demoed SafeChat 2.0, an application that passively verifies a user’s identity throughout the conversation (typing or speaking) without asking a them to do anything special to authenticate themselves. In addition to SafeChat 2.0, the company offers IDVoice, a standalone version of ID R&D’s core voice biometric capability; IDSquared, a tool that validates the user by how they type their login credentials and by capturing their face at the same time; and IDBehave, a behavioral biometrics solution that creates a unique biometric template for each user.

ID R&D has seen rapid growth, doubling its sales contracts last year, growing its customer base by 25% in Q1 2019, doubling its staff, and opening a West Coast headquarters. The firm also added a major biometric integrator and a semiconductor company.

Retail’s Fizzling Store Count

Perhaps at this point it might  be better to ask which retailers, if any, are not shuttering stores.

The data came this week from Coresight Research that store closures across the U.S. continue to mount, touching more than 7,150 locations announced by a slew of firms thus far into 2019. And, of course, we are not even through the second quarter of the year. The pace already dwarves the 5,524 closures that were seen in all of 2018, as tracked by the same firm. That was down 30 percent from 2017, when store closures totaled 8,139 locations.

The company also said there have been 2,726 openings this year, indicating that the shift has been decidedly to the dark side — as in stores going dark.

The trade war may or may not accelerate that pace, according to some observers, and there are some longer term, permanent structural changes in place. We’re talking, of course, about eCommerce. Companies like Dressbarn are going completely out of business, with 650 locations. Party City will close 45 locations. Each firm that has announced closings has its own set of problems, looking for the right mix of tangible goods and sales done with clicks of a mouse or tap of a screen. Kohl’s, for example, said same-store sales were down 3.4 percent even as digital sales were up double-digit percentages. Pier 1 Imports has said it is closing 45 stores and could close 15 percent of its entire base if it does not meet operating targets.

Beyond that, pressures mount from the geopolitical back and forth of a trade war and tariffs between the U.S. and China (and now, other nations such as Mexico). As noted in CNBC, UBS analyst Jay Sole said in a note that as 25 percent tariffs are in place for a range of goods imported from China “the market is not realizing how much brick & mortar retail is incrementally struggling and how new 25 percent tariffs could force widespread store closures. … We think potential 25 percent tariffs on Chinese imports could accelerate pressure on these [companies’] profit margins to the point where major store closures become a real possibility.”

For now, as tariffs go, so will retail — and the clouds are still gathering.


Erica: That’s a lot of digital assistance. Bank of America said this week that Erica, its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered virtual assistant, has surpassed a few significant thresholds, with 7 million users and 50 million client requests. The firm has also doubled the ways consumers can ask questions, to 400,000.

Big deals: Further confirmation that big payments players in payments want to get bigger … in the third announcement centered on a deal worth tens of billions of dollars, Global Payments and TSYS have agreed to a $21.5 billion merger, focusing on financial institutions and merchants.

CBD’s leap into mainstream? CBD firms have said in the past that (lack of) access to mainstream financial services and basic banking has stymied progress. Now Square is launching a beta program aimed at accepting at least some CBD companies for payments processing.


Amazon suppliers: The guessing game is on. Bloomberg reports that Amazon is seeking to cut costs, “purge” some smaller suppliers, and reduce reliance on bulk orders. Amazon says it is reviewing relationships on a case-by-case basis, a standard practice that remains unchanged. But other reports state the eCommerce giant has not renegotiated annual terms with smaller vendors. Uncertainty reigns, and for smaller companies reliant on Amazon, uncertainty is less than optimal for healthy planning (or top lines).

Apple Card: One vote of no confidence for the tech giant’s consumer-focused credit card (with Goldman Sachs)  comes amid reports that Citi had backed away from supporting the card. The reason? Doubts that the card would be profitable.

Chinese tourism: A casualty of the ongoing trade war, Chinese travel to the U.S. has fallen for the first time in nine years, down 5.7 percent in 2018. That may spell trouble for high-end retailers who rely on such cross-border visits to sell handbags and other luxury items.


Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. TheMay 2019 Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook, aims to help platform payments decision-makers identify and manage the risks and rewards inherent in optimizing their operations and navigating real-time challenges.

Dashlane raises $110M in Series D funding, names Lyft's Howard as new CMO

Dashlane, one of the nation’s largest password management firms, has named Joy Howard, chief marketing officer at Lyft, as its new CMO, according to a press release.

Howard will leave Lyft in August to step into her new role at Dashlane, where she will oversee global marketing efforts and all policy-related initiatives, according to a company press release.

In the same press release, the company announced that it has closed a $110 million Series D funding round led by Sequoia Capital. The funding will be used to enhance Dashlane’s core identity management product, add new capabilities to the product and build “a category-defining brand,” the company said.

“With this new capital and the addition of Joy to our leadership team, we have the resources to increase our product leadership, grow the team and build the brand that will define the future of digital identity protection,” CEO Emmanuel Schalit said in the release.

Besides Sequoia, existing investors participating in the funding round included Rho Ventures, FirstMark Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners. Jim Goetz of Sequoia will join the Dashlane board of directors as part of the new funding agreement.

To date, Dashlane has raised more than $185 million in funding.

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