Amazon launches palm payment option

Amazon launches palm payment optionPhoto provided.

Amazon is launching a palm payment technology in two Amazon Go stores to speed up the checkout process, simplify the shopping experience and enhance the retail customer experience — and, at some point, plans to sell it to other retailers and companies.

The Amazon One technology, now in play in two Seattle stores, features hardware that captures the tiny characteristic of a person’s palm, such as lines and ridges and even vein patterns, to create a palm signature. The omnichannel retailer said it is treating the palm data as important as any other sensitive personal data.

“We’re always looking for ways to make our customers’ lives better, and one area where we’ve spent time innovating is the customer shopping experience in stores. Today, our physical retail team is excited to introduce a new innovation called Amazon One. Amazon One is a fast, convenient, contactless way for people to use their palm to make everyday activities like paying at a store, presenting a loyalty card, entering a location like a stadium, or badging into work more effortless. The service is designed to be highly secure and uses custom-built algorithms and hardware to create a person’s unique palm signature,” stated Dilip Kumar, VP, physical retail & technology, in a Amazon blog post today announcing the technology.

While launching initially in the two Amazon Go stores Amazon clearly has plans to sell the technology.

“In most retail environments, Amazon One could become an alternate payment or loyalty card option with a device at the checkout counter next to a traditional point of sale system. Or, for entering a location like a stadium or badging into work, Amazon One could be part of an existing entry point to make accessing the location quicker and easier,” wrote Kumar.

It takes less than 60 seconds for shoppers to sign up to use Amazon One. The first step is inserting a credit card into the device and then hovering a palm over the device and following prompts to connect the card with the palm signature created. Shoppers can enroll one or both palms.

“Beyond Amazon Go, we expect to add Amazon One as an option in additional Amazon stores in the coming months. And, we believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places. Interested third parties can reach out through the email address provided on our Amazon One website,” wrote Kumar.

Amazon chose palm recognition as it’s viewed as more private than other biometric options and because it takes an intentional gesture to use the device.

Smartphone users making mobile payments in Japan expected to increase

Over 21% of Japan’s population, 23.9 million people, will use their smartphone to make mobile payments at the point of sale by the end of this year, according to an eMarketer forecast report. This figure is up from 19.1 million in 2019.

The forecast also predicts that the figure will increase to 27.6 million people — 25% of the population — by 2023.

The reasons behind the growth includes the adoption of QR code payment systems and the Japanese government’s cashless rebate program where consumers get rewards for making cashless payments with cash back or points worth up to 5% of their transaction.

“Japan is betting big on QR codes as consumer payment preferences begin to change,” eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu said in the report. “QR codes don’t require huge investments from vendors and it is also simple and easy to use for consumers.”

With the Olympics pushed back to 2021 and the acceleration that COVID-19 has had on digital payments, Liu said to expect the Japanese government to continue to invest in mobile payment technology.

Experian adds face authentication for new accounts

Experian will be implementing facial authentication from Onfido in an effort to upgrade its fraud detection capabilities for new account openings.

The facial biometrics technology will be used as part of identity checks by Experian for customers applying for loans or opening new bank accounts remotely, according to a report in the Paypers.

Remote authentication technology allows customers to prove their identity by submitting a photo of a government-issued identity document and a selfie for biometric matching.

Experian provides identity-checking services to clients including Barclay’s the Co-Operative, HSBC, Lloyds, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Open Banking numbers double in UK

Open banking’s user numbers in the U.K. have doubled to two million in just over six months.

The latest figures from the Open Banking Implementation Entity, the body set up by the Competition and Markets Authority to deliver open banking in the U.K., show a steady increase at a rate of around 160,000 users per month, according to a report in FinExtra.

The increase is due to consumers gaining control over their own data and better managing their finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research sponsored by Nesta Challenges’ Open Up 2020 Challenge, indicates an increase in money management app usage during the pandemic. According to a survey of 2000 UK adults in early July 2020, one in five started they were using online banking apps during lockdown and 54% use them regularly now.

“Open Banking used to be the best kept secret in financial services. With 2 million active monthly users and growing strongly that is clearly no longer the case. We can now see that people want to exercise their rights over their data and will do so, as long as you make it simple and secure,” Imran Gulamhuseinwala, OBIE, said in the report. “Open banking enabled products are rebalancing the market in favor of consumers and small businesses. Users are now able to engage more with their finances and getting access to better products.”

No longer the alternative: The approaching future of local payments

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Sberbank changes to Sber, builds home electronics

Russian state lender Sberbank is dropping the “bank” part of its name as it changes directions and launches new products that include a TV streaming box, smart speakers and virtual assistant.

Big tech has spent recent years filtering into the financial services scene, with the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Tencent and Alibaba making various plays to take on banks in everything from payments to lending.

Just this week, Yandex, often called Russia’s Google, made a $5.5 billion move to buy Sberbank’s rival, Tinkoff. Now Sberbank is rebranding as Sber and entering the home electronics market.

The Sber Box turns any television into a smart TV, providing access movies, television, music, and games. In addition, the Sber Portal is a multimedia smart display with a speaker, sensor, voice control, and gesture recognition.

Both have a family of virtual assistants, called Sber Salut, built in. The assistants also work with iOS and Android devices.

Meanwhile, the company is launching its own equivalent of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play. Called SmartMarket, it will enable developers to build their own apps.

Easy money: How digital skimming is robbing your customers

With over twenty years of experience in information security, Ameet Naik, an expert in digital security, explains what digital skimming is and how it can hurt your clients and your business.

Digital skimming is one of the major hidden threats to any business. With social distancing rules still in effect, companies are increasingly interacting with their customers over digital channels such as websites and mobile apps. Even traditional brick-and-mortar businesses such as restaurants are now letting customers pre-order and pay for meals online.

Anytime there is a digital transaction, the business has to collect personal data from the user. This data could include names, email addresses, passwords, phone numbers, payment card data and verification codes. And this data is most vulnerable at the point of entry.

How it happens

Digital skimming, or magecart attacks, as they are more commonly known, steal this information right at the source as the user types it into a web form or a mobile app. The business is often unaware that this happened since the information was skimmed from the user’s computer as opposed to the company’s servers. The lack of visibility means that the attacks often go undetected for weeks or months, while hackers yield a rich bounty of credit card numbers to sell on the dark web. Researchers estimate that the loot from a 2019 magecart attack on a major e-commerce platform could net the fraudsters up to $130 million.

The economics behind such attacks are so lucrative that there are toolkits now available on the dark web that will enable even the most inexperienced hackers to run digital skimming operations. Nation states facing financial sanctions are also trying to tap into this alternate revenue source by launching their own skimming operations.

Digital skimming attacks usually start by gaining privileged access to the admin console for an e-commerce website. The hackers then place a small snippet of code into one of the website scripts. When a user loads the site on their browser, the skimmer code gets loaded along with all the legitimate scripts. As users type in payment card information into a web form, the skimmer code copies this information and transmits it to another server controlled by the hackers. From there, the hackers are able to harvest credit card numbers and sell them on the dark web.

These attacks often use creative means to evade detection, such as using lookalike domain names, or piggybacking on commonly used third-party services like Google Analytics.

Ways to protect your business and clients

Data privacy should be an essential part of any digital experience. With increasing privacy regulations such as the California Consumer Protection Act and the Global Data Privacy Regulation, the stakes are much higher for any business. The largest compliance fine ever levied under GDPR was for a data breach resulting from a digital skimming attack. British Airways was fined $240 million by U.K. regulators for its role in leaking almost 300,000 customer records over the course of two weeks in 2018.

Businesses must incorporate privacy-by-design principles throughout their customer-facing applications and must take steps to protect the data at the point of origin. Client-side application security solutions, like PerimeterX Code Defender, can provide continuous protection against digital skimming attacks and prevent data breaches.

Any business handling payment card data must comply with the PCI-SSC standards for protecting cardholder data. This requires them to ensure that any payment card data is encrypted or tokenized at the source and never stored in the clear. However even a PCI compliant business is still vulnerable to digital skimming attacks that skim the data at the point of entry.

Some businesses use third-party payment services such as Stripe or Braintree that run within an iframe, and don’t expose the card numbers to other scripts. Hackers have been able to bypass this protection by creating fake checkout pages that lure unsuspecting users to divulge their credit card information.

Account takeovers and autobots

Account takeover attacks are brute force attacks aimed at gaining access to a password-protected site. Attackers use automated bots to periodically try username/password combinations to log into a website or a mobile app. These combinations could be random guesses or from a dataset of stolen passwords purchased on the dark web. The automated bots are able to run thousands of transactions each second, thus improving the odds of finding a valid username/password combination resulting in an account takeover attack.

Many automated bots are good bots. For example, the Google search engine uses automated crawlers to periodically index the Internet. A monitoring service might periodically load your website to collect performance stats.

Keep in mind that anybody can pay an annual fee and register a domain name if it hasn’t already been taken. Domain registration privacy provisions mean that the owner of the domain can choose to keep their identity private. So outside of law-enforcement, it becomes nearly impossible for anyone to verify if a domain is really owned by the business. This allows hackers to launch phishing as well as digital skimming attacks.

Dealing with clients and businesses now that contactless payments and social distancing has become a way of life. The key is not to let the digital skimmers profit by not taking precautions against entry point data theft.

Fintech daVinci Payments releases study on Canada's future shopping trends

Fintech company, daVinci Payments, released a national study in partnership with theCanadian Prepaid Providers Organization, outlining howCanadians make and receive payments and the resulting effect on future shopping intentions.

The “Future of Payments Canada” study, conducted August 6-7, 2020, pinpoints how shelter-in-place has affected payment habits and the impact those changes will have on the 2020 holiday shopping season and beyond.

“The spike in online shopping and mobile payments driven by COVID-19 is occurring across all ages,” David Josephs, CEO, daVinciPayments said in the release. “Traditional payment methods like credit, debit and prepaid cards are as popular as ever, but swiping physical cards themselves is giving way to new form factors like mobile wallets, apps and contactless payments,” Josephs said.

The study’s release coincides with daVinci Payments’ launch of its Push Pay product in Canada, which enables individuals and businesses to move funds instantly into their bank account via a debit card.

Clearent acquires Wintac to expand field-service management software solutions

Payment-solutions provider Clearent has acquired Wintac, a field-service-management software solution that serves residential contractors providing HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other home-repair services.

Wintac will now become part of FieldEdge, a wholly owned subsidiary of Clearent. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The purchase is to help Clearent grow its market share in the mechanical contractor/field-services-management segment and help FieldEdge expand its current position as a provider of FSM solutions.

“We are happy to welcome Wintac customers to the FieldEdge family,” said Connie Certusi, president of FieldEdge. “We look forward to engaging with these customers in the coming year to understand their needs as they relate to managing their field-service organization, to address those needs through FieldEdge, and to offer a cost-effective and smooth transition to FieldEdge when they are ready.”

Stripe and Mailchimp announce partnership and buy button for small businesses

Stripe announced a new partnership with Mailchimp, allowing Mailchimp users to add a ‘Buy Button’ to their website to sell a product or service with Stripe. With Buy Button, Mailchimp’s users can start selling from their websites, generate more revenue and give their customers a quick path to purchase, according to a press release.

With the Stripe partnership, Mailchimp users can also accept payments in 41 countries, and the integration supports 135+ currencies.

Especially during a challenging year for small businesses, this partnership further underscores the necessity in helping businesses adapt to unique circumstances and start selling from day one.

Holiday mobile shopping projected to hit $314 billion

This holiday season mobile device online shopping is expected to experience a substantial growth, according to a report in Forbes. M-commerce is expected to reach $314 billion in 2020, and will represent 44% of all e-commerce sales, according to data collected by eMarketer.

The pandemic pushed older shoppers to adopt technology due to COVID-19 health concerns and now, a holiday survey by Sezzle found that older shoppers are less likely than before to shop in store as opposed to online.

Additionally, PayPal surveyed small and medium U.S. businesses regarding COVID-19 and the holiday shopping season and more than one third of retailers expect holiday sales to be lower. Stores are generally planning for promotions to start earlier, but for inventories to be lower. Many retailers have already planned to close on Thanksgiving, as opposed to being the prequel to Black Friday sale day.

TD Bank COVID-19 survey shows most millennials strapped for cash

A third of millennials say COVID-19 negatively impacted their checking account balance, according to TD Bank’s latest Money Matters survey.

The survey, which polled more than 1,000 U.S. consumers on financial behaviors and credit habits during the pandemic, found millennials are much more likely than Gen Xers and boomers (31% and 17%, respectively) to report decreasing checking account balances, according to a press release on the findings.

The ability to save has also been hindered by the pandemic, as nearly 60% of respondents are not saving money. Of those respondents, more than half (54%) are millennials.

More than 28% of millennials have tapped into emergency savings during the pandemic and one in five (20%) millennials don’t even have a savings account. The study also showed 31% of millennials spent time during quarantine reviewing their finances.

“A healthy savings account is key to planning for milestone moments and unexpected hardships,” Lindsay Sacknoff, head of consumer deposits, products and payments, TD Bank, said in the release. “With COVID-19, many people are experiencing unplanned circumstances. This is a good time to take stock of spending and saving habits, create new financial goals and stick with them.”

Mastercard expanding Digital First Card program

Mastercard is expanding its Digital First Card program in North America by partnering with several payment processors to provide consumers with end-to-end payments options at scale, according to a press release.

By enabling processors with the technology and go-to-market strategy to work with the issuing banks, the consumer is able to apply online and receive near instant issuance and access to card information; make online, in-app or point-of-sale purchases almost immediately; get quick access to card information such as expiration date and CVC2 but eliminating the need for it to be displayed on a card. If a customer wishes a physical card, it can be made available as well.

“The expansion of Mastercard’s Digital First Card program signals an industry-wide shift to providing consumers with end-to-end payments options at scale. By enabling processors with the technology and go-to-market strategy, more and more cardholders can experience the benefits of the Digital First Card Program,” Jess Turner, executive vice president, products and innovation, North America at Mastercard, said in the release.

Through the expanded program cardholders will also be able to manage their accounts, review their transaction history, their balance and more.

“The future of banking is digitally motivated,” Krista Tedder, head of payments, Javelin Strategy & Research, said in the release. “Consumers are increasingly considering how they can use the branch as an extension of digital, rather than digital as an extension of the branch.”

ICX Association names Elevate Award winners

ICX Association names Elevate Award winnersBest Kiosk ICX: Boot Barn RangeFinder submitted by Elo Touch Systems. Photo provided.

The Interactive Customer Experience (ICX) Association presented its annual Elevate Awards during a livestream earlier today.

The winners are:

  • Best Digital Signage ICX: Reebok ZIG Kinetica Experience, submitted by iGotcha Media.
  • Best Kiosk ICX: Boot Barn RangeFinder, submitted by Elo.
  • Best Mobile ICX: Salesfloor, submitted by Salesfloor.
  • Best Entertainment ICX: The Loop Media Consumer App, submitted by Loop Media.
  • Best Restaurant ICX: Integrated Restaurant Reservation and Guest Management Platform, submitted by TouchBistro Reservations.
  • Best Retail ICX: Verizon Wireless Voice Activated 5G Experience, submitted by Reflect Systems.
  • Best Omnichannel ICX: Unified Customer Journeys with TCS OmniStore, submitted by Tata Consultancy Services.
  • Best Emerging Technology ICX: “Holly” Conversational AI Platform, submitted by Valyant Al.

The Lyle Bunn Industry Influencer of the Year Award was presented to Taco Bell. The award is named after the late Lyle Bunn, an influencer and contributor in the digital signage industry.

“Taco Bell has not only been a leader in the restaurant industry but a leader in the digital space as well,” said David Drain, ICX Association managing director, in a press release on the awards. “Whether it be through mobile, web, kiosk, or on social, they know how to engage their target audience and deliver a great customer experience when, where, and how customers want it.”

The ICX Association Elevate Awards are given annually to recognize achievements in engaging customer experiences.

A recording of the livestream is available here.

What's on the horizon for B2B payments?

B2B payments have gone through major changes in the past couple of years, and COVID-19 has only sped up that process. In light of this, Mobile Payments Today spoke with Josh Cyphers, CEO of payment invoice technology company Nvoicepay, to get his take on what the current trends are for B2B payments and what’s on the horizon.

B2B payments have gone through major changes in the past couple of years. As payments technologies continue to make it easier for companies to trade checks for electronic payments and mobile payments, companies have also made use of more innovative tools to closely control cash flow.

COVID-19 has also had a big impact on B2B payments, as companies must adjust to new regulations while maintaining both employees and business partner’s safety.

Mobile Payments Today spoke with Josh Cyphers, CEO of payment invoice technology company Nvoicepay, to get his take on what the current trends are for B2B payments and what’s on the horizon.

Q. What are some of the big trends driving B2B payments?

A. Paper checks still reign supreme in B2B payments, but COVID has created a compelling event that is really pushing companies toward fully automating payments. This is a big shift. Over the course of the last 10 to 15 years, check use has been ticking down ever so slowly. According to the 2019 AFP Electronic Payments Survey Report, organizations made 42% of their supplier payments by check in 2019, down from 84% in 2004.

Now that accounts payable departments are working remotely, companies are trying to minimize the amount of manual work that requires trips to the office, or to employee’s homes to get them to sign checks. Suppliers are asking to be paid electronically because they get the money faster and they don’t have to go to the bank. It will be interesting to see the 2020 AFP report and see if the pandemic pushes organizations to finally give up checks.

The other thing that’s happening is an extreme focus on managing cash. Given the economic environment we’re in, a lot of companies are looking for ways to conserve cash. They’re looking at the timing of payments; extending payment terms to suppliers or delaying payments. With an automated solution, all of the payment approvals and workflow are online, and you have visibility into every payment as it moves through the system, and that gives you precision control over cash flow.

Q. What are some innovations you’ve noticed in contactless payments lately?

A. In B2B payments, I would define contactless as not having to do manual work. Cloud-based software is enabling accounts payable departments to automate work they’ve previously had to do manually. That includes the handling of paper checks but also a lot of the work that goes into electronic payments as they’ve historically been done through banks. For example, if you want to do ACH payments, you have to pick up the phone or send out emails and collect suppliers’ banking information and probably manually key that into a system.

For card payments, you have to phone or email to find out who will take a card payment, and then you might have to phone the supplier with the card number, and then they enter it into a terminal. There’s a surprising amount of manual work that has to be done to get the funds to move electronically through the banking system.

The cloud is what is enabling payment automation providers to transform that disjointed process, with all its manual touchpoints, into a single automated workflow.

The cloud also makes implementation very fast and easy, so automating payments is something that an organization can now accomplish in a matter of weeks.

Q. How has COVID impacted mobile payments?

A. Having a cloud-based solution allows accounts payable professionals to make payments anytime, anywhere. But up until COVID, that kind of mobile capability was a nice to have, not a must have for business payments. I’ve never in my finance career seen an AP team that was completely remote.

With everyone in the office, mobile just wasn’t a consideration. The construction industry is one exception; in that industry many of the people who approve payments are out in the field, so mobile capabilities are a real selling point for a payment solution. Now that AP teams have been out of the office, every industry is looking for payment solutions that allow them to work remotely as much as possible.

Q. What do you see as the biggest future trend for mobile payments?

A. B2B payments are about ten times as big as consumer payments, yet adoption of cloud-based solutions is still in the single digits. Given the size of the market, the adoption of mobile payments by businesses is a big trend in and of itself.

Mobile payments have changed consumer life by making payment so easy and convenient that you hardly have to think about it. That has had a huge impact on how we live our lives, and has really sped up commerce and increased our options. When you think about that same kind of frictionless, mobile payment experience becoming widespread in the business world, which it inevitably will, I think it will fuel all kinds of innovation and change.

Tink acquires Openwrks to fortify UK position

Sweden-based Tink has purchased U.K. open banking fintech counterpart Openwrks for an undisclosed amount. Under the acquisition, Openwrks’ aggregation platform will be part of Tink’s offering, according to a report in Business Insider.

With the acquisition, Tink will strengthen its position in the U.K. and enhance its product offerings. Openwrks handles over one-third of the U.K.’s active user base for account aggregation. Its offerings include providing financial institutions with open banking applications to help users manage their money, repay funds and lending.

This marks Tink’s third acquisition in 2020; it already purchased Instantor and Eurobits Technology.

Report finds European fintech stable for now, but fallout expected

Finch Capital recently released its State of European FinTech report, which revealed that 2020 is looking up for fintechs, but there will be a fallout in 2021. The main reason is that governments provided support for fintech startups, but in 2021 this report will dry up, according to a press release.

Although funding for fintechs by firms was down by 10% in the first quarter, overall fintech funding is up by 20% due to government funding. The report suggest that the next year will be difficult for many fintechs as fundraising becomes more selective and sporadic.

“A shakeout of the European FinTech is not necessarily bad. In the last five years Europe has seen 100,000s of new companies raise massive amounts of capital, build and start selling new products to meet a market need,” Radboud Vlaar, managing partner, Finch Capital, said in the release. “Sometimes hundreds of companies are trying to solve a similar problem in different countries. This creates an opportunity for investors to consolidate and back winners at attractive prices and make profitable companies, these companies then can become acquisition targets for private equity firms and large industry incumbents.”

The report also found that the fintech market in Europe has been held back by both a lack of large buyers and fragmentation.

Google Pay adds NFC contactless support in India

Google Pay has added NFC-based tap-to-pay for users in India. With this tool, users can add their credit or debit card as a payment method and use it for tokenized card payments at NFC-enabled terminals, according to a report by Android Central.

“We’re committed to offer the most secure payments experience to our growing base of users, and tokenization helps tor replace sensitive data such as credit and debit card numbers with tokens, eliminating any chance of fraud,” Sajith Sivanandan, business head, Google Pay and NBU, India, said in the report. “We are hopeful that the tokenization feature will further encourage users to transact securely and safely in the current times, and expand merchant transactions both online and offline.”

Currently this feature is only available to users with SBI or Axis Bank cards.

Sovereign Union, Apollo Fintech announce partnership

Blockchain companies, Sovereign Union and Apollo Fintech, have announced a partnership to bid and acquire blockchain-related government contracts across 26 Pacific island countries. The pilot program will begin in Palau and Micronesia, according to a report on Yahoo Finance.

Pacific governments have been exploring ways to become independent jurisdictions and issue their own sovereign electronic currency. The partnership between Sovereign Union and Apollo Fintech will enable pacific governments, through customized solutions, to have a secure digital nation.

Currently, a majority of Pacific nations use physical U.S. dollars for daily settlements and don’t have access to modern banking systems or infrastructure. National authorities are extensively studying central bank digital currencies as a way help the under-banked communities move toward a cashless society, and eventually, create their own sovereign currency.

“This exciting partnership brings communities in the Pacific the ability to utilize a cashless economy without the traditional barriers of ePayments, allowing any nation to take part in the cashless revolution,” Tridib Nandy, founder, Sovereign Union said in the report. “Frictionless commerce via digital stablecoins will empower economies across the Pacific to create new prosperity and to achieve a better economic future.”

Barter and Booth CEO to invest in Israeli fintech

Mohammed Al Beloushi, CEO of Barker and Booth Commercial Agency LLC in the United Arab Emirates, announced he will be investing in Israeli fintech startup, Fintica. Beloushi plans to develop Fintica’s capabilities and bring it to states within the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to a press release.

Fintica creates AI financial technology solutions, including self-learning technology, to gain more detailed market reports by organizing and categorizing the data available to support asset allocation and decision-making processes.

“Fintica is delighted and honored to embark on this historic partnership with our UAE counterparts, and together to work on expanding our impact in the investment market. Our two nations have begun a new era of cooperation, yet the world’s markets remain volatile and turbulent,” Philippe Metoudi, CEO of Fintica AI said in the release. “The ability to achieve a deeper understanding of changing market structures and conditions is crucial, and our agreement will help Fintica offer our unique solutions and technologies to investors around the Gulf.”