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NF Edition #538 - 12/30/16
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Happy New Year!
Highlights this week...

LAST CHANCE: Buy One, Get One Free
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eCommerce Continues To Be The Bright Spot For Holiday Sales
 Forbes | 12.27.16

While the November shopping season was off to a bumpy start as a result of the U.S. presidential election and all the uncertainty that came with it, the holiday shopping season, at least for web retailers, has been incredibly strong. While a significant percent of shoppers in the days following the election said they would cut back on spend due to the election, shoppers nonetheless spent generously during Thanksgiving and Cyber Weeks. Forrester Research predicted early on that online sales for November and December 2016 would be more than $110 billion, a 13% rise over 2015. This prediction appears to now be a reality.

What It Will Take to Make Biometrics Go Mainstream
American Banker | 12.27.16

"We're still in the very early days of using biometrics," said Mark Nelson, senior vice president of risk and authentication products at Visa. "I have four devices — a desktop, laptop, tablet and a phone—and only one of them has biometrics capability. When we talk about true mainstream, and being able to truly use biometrics to eliminate passwords, we're still a long ways off from that." Any smartphone with a camera can handle voice and facial recognition. Fingerprint capture requires biometric sensors (iPhones and some Android phones have this).

Critics Look for Opening to Fire Head of the CFPB
The Wall Street Journal | 12.27.16

May require subscription to read. A battle is intensifying over the future of Richard Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as Republicans search for any past transgressions that would allow President-elect Donald Trump to fire him. Mr. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, is admired by consumer groups and disliked by many GOP lawmakers and financial-industry players for helping build the five-year-old agency into an aggressive financial regulator.

The Carrot and Stick of Data Breaches
TechCrunch | 12.27.16

Data breaches are on the rise. Just recently we saw new reports confirming Yahoo! suffered another large, embarrassing breach (this time of more than one billion user accounts in August 2013). And the story continues to unfold around whether or not Russia breached United States cyber systems in hopes of influencing the 2016 presidential election. It seems like putting personal information in a website today feels a bit like getting into a car 50 years ago — with minimal seatbelts, no airbags and no testing, you just had to hope to avoid a crash.

The Price of Bitcoin is Up $150 Over the Last Week
CoinDesk | 12.28.16

The price of bitcoin keeps on climbing. At press time, the price of bitcoin was roughly $950 on the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index, a figure that was up $20 from the day's opening price and just $70 shy of a three-year high for the digital currency. (The price hit a high of $1,023.31 on 6th January, 2014). However, this total was notably $150 above the opening price observed one week ago on 21st December, when tokens running on the bitcoin blockchain traded for an average of $799.23 across global exchanges.

After Belt Tightening, Venture Capitalists See More Promise in 2017
The New York Times | 12.29.16

Investors who once poured money into the nation’s start-ups with abandon began to tighten their belts this year. The amount of money that flowed into start-ups in the United States fell in 2016 for the first time in four years as the number of deals struck tumbled to their lowest levels since 2011. But the technology world has high hopes that 2017 will prove to be brighter, as the parent company of Snapchat and other highfliers prepare to go public and venture capitalists amass huge new war chests.

Faster ACH Payments Strain Bank Anti-Fraud Systems
BTN | 12.29.16

Faster ACH payments are taxing banks' ability to check for fraud and criminals are taking notice. As of September, credit-based ACH payments are now being settled within the same day. These are transactions where one person or entity is pushing money from their bank account to another person or organization, using the automated clearinghouse. Examples include direct deposit, payroll, person-to-person and vendor payments.

RBI Plans to Boost Payments System
The Times of India | 12.30.16

The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday said it intended to boost the overall payment system in the country to improve its coverage, convenience, confidence, convergence and cost. The statement comes at a time when there is a renewed thrust to boost the payments infrastructure in drive towards a less-cash economy with new digital tools - from electronic wallets to unified payment interface - being deployed across the country. The demonetisation drive has resulted in a large shift towards these new payment options as consumers moved to other payment means to beat the shortage of cash.

Android Pay Confirmed for Android Wear
Ubergizmo | 12.26.16

Back in November there were signs to suggest that Android Pay could be coming onto Android Wear devices. Now thanks to an exclusive interview with The Verge, Android Wear’s product manager Jeff Chang has confirmed that Android Wear users can look forward to using their smartwatches to pay for purchases in the future via Android Pay. However this is only with the upcoming Android Wear 2.0 update which still has no release date yet, but it seems we can expect it in early 2017.

Global Mobile Card Reader Market to Grow at an Impressive CAGR of Over 54% Through 2021, Reports Technavio
Business Wire | 12.28.16

Technavio research analysts forecast the global mobile card reader market to grow at a CAGR of close to 54% during the forecast period, according to their latest report. The study covers the present scenario and growth prospects of the global mobile card reader market for 2017-2021. The report also lists magnetic stripe, chip and PIN, and near-field communication (NFC) as the three major technology segments for the mobile card reader market, with the magnetic stripe technology being the most commonly used technology in 2016

Volkswagen Purchases PayByPhone for Parking
TechCrunch | 12.28.16

PayByPhone, the app that lets you pay for parking (and parking tickets) with a smartphone, has been acquired by Volkswagen Financial Services. PayByPhone is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and operates in Canada, the US, France, Great Britain, Switzerland, and Australia. In 2016, company processed $250 million in parking payments from 12.5 million users. Volkswagen Financial Services had already bought Sunhill Technologies, the largest cashless payment solution in Germany, last year, so PayByPhone expands the company’s parking payment possibilities.

These Three Hot eCommerce Startups Could Have Surprise IPOs in 2017
Recode | 12.28.16

Not a single e-commerce company went public on a U.S. stock exchange in 2016, according to startup data firm CB Insights. But with the new year, there are some new possibilities — even in an industry dominated by Amazon. Here are three young e-commerce companies that could surprise the startup world with IPOs in 2017.

Related: Amazon Beat Competitors in a New Way This Holiday Season: Money Spent on TV Ads

Amazon's Airship Patent Brings Science Fiction Closer to Reality
The Street | 12.29.16

Just when you thought Amazon's two-hour Prime Now delivery was pretty incredible, the e-commerce company has received a patent that will allow it to deliver packages in just minutes. And the proposed system itself is just as unbelievable as its delivery time promise, because it involves a huge flying warehouse. Amazon was awarded the patent back in April, but it was only uncovered this week by tech analyst Zoe Leavitt at CB Insight. It's for an "airborne fulfillment center (AFC)."

Payments 2016: The Year Of Partnership Via API

PYMNTS.com | 12.30.16

PYMNTS consulted 21 payments executives from across the industry to share their insights on the biggest takeaways from 2016 as part of the “Payments 2016, The Year Of…” eBook. We posed the same question to each executive: If you had to answer the question, Payments was the year of …, how would you answer, and how does your answer change your world — and the world of payments, more broadly?

Holiday Inn Parent IHG Probes Breach Claims
Krebs on Security | 12.28.16

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the parent company for more than 5,000 hotels worldwide including Holiday Inn, says it is investigating claims of a possible credit card breach at some U.S. locations. Last week, KrebsOnSecurity began hearing from sources who work in fraud prevention at different financial institutions. Those sources said they were seeing a pattern of fraud on customer credit and debit cards that suggested a breach at some IHG properties — particularly Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express locations.

Government Payday Choke Hold
The Wall Street Journal | 12.28.16

May require subscription to read. For all the coverage of Donald Trump’s Twitter blasts against one company or another, hardly anyone notices that the Obama Administration has spent years targeting entire industries merely because the left dislikes them. Case in point is the onslaught against payday lenders, and a lawsuit presents an opportunity to expose an extralegal cross-agency campaign. In 2013 the Justice Department launched Operation Choke Point, which involves pressuring banks to cut off financial services for payday lenders, no evidence of lawbreaking required.

'Threat Intelligence' Technology Can Fight Big Box Data Breaches
PayThink | 12.29.16

Financial institutions and e-commerce merchants have become targets of massive financial fraud as cyber criminals have used stolen payment card data from major data breaches, such as the ones involving Wendy’s restaurants in 2015, Home Depot in 2014, and Target in 2013 to make illegal purchases online. As brick-and-mortar stores move to EMV chip-based cards to secure payments using physical payment cards, criminals are turning to online fraud using, the less-secure, Card-Not-Present (CNP) transactions.

IRS Fires Back In Coinbase Case As It Seeks Access To Bitcoin User Data
Forbes | 12.28.16

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has responded to a motion filed earlier this month by a Coinbase customer seeking to block the IRS from issuing a "John Doe" summons on Coinbase, a company which facilitates transactions of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The IRS response, which was filed on December 27, 2016, asks the court to dismiss the motion and allow the tax agency to proceed with its "John Doe" summons.

Russian Election-Related Hacking Details Declassified
Bank Info Security | 12.29.16

The Obama administration has announced sanctions against Russia - including the expulsion of 35 intelligence operatives - as punishment for cyberattacks that interfered with the U.S. presidential election. Plus, the administration has declassified technical information on Russian intelligence services' malicious cyber activities to help public and private-sector network defenders - in the U.S. and abroad - identify, detect and disrupt Russia's global campaign of mischievous cyber actions.

Last-Minute Spending Surge Lifts U.S. Holiday shopping Season
Reuters | 12.28.16

A jump in consumer spending in the final stretch of December significantly offset a slow start to the U.S. holiday shopping season, and is likely to help many retailers beat sales forecasts, industry research groups said on Tuesday. The December spending boost is in contrast to a muted November, when early holiday promotions and expectations among consumers that deals would always be available took a toll. Spending over the Thanksgiving weekend in November fell 3.5 percent from a year ago despite a strong jump in online sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Jumps to Highest Level Since 2001
Bloomberg | 12.27.16

Consumer confidence climbed in December to the highest level since August 2001 as Americans were more upbeat about the outlook than at any time in the last 13 years, according to a report Tuesday from the New York-based Conference Board. Confidence index increased to 113.7 (forecast was 109) from a revised 109.4 in November.

Deutsche's 2017 Outlook Weighs Trump's Upside Against Brexit Downside
The Street | 12.25.16

For politicos, 2016 was a tale of two populist shocks: Republican real estate mogul Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential race and Great Britain's decision to leave the European Union. In 2017, the fallout from those two votes will play a pivotal role in determining economic growth in much of the western world, according to assessments from Deutsche Bank economists. A stimulus from President-elect Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress should drive expansion by U.S. businesses and consumers, which will, in turn, benefit U.S. trading partners. 

A Robot Debuts To Find Items in Stores, Take Payment, And Cart Goods to the Car
Digital Transactions | 12.27.16

With online sales soaring, physical retailers are faced with the challenge of how to recreate the convenience of e-commerce in a traditional store. On Tuesday, a 4-year-old startup called Five Elements Robotics unveiled a device that promises to help with that challenge by putting robots at the service of consumers. Once in a store, customers can send their shopping list from their smart phone to the company’s self-propelled Dash Robotic Shopping Cart, which will then pinpoint each item in the store and guide the customer through the aisles. A virtual-reality display shows where each item is as the customer walks down the aisle. The customer can then scan and pay for the product at the cart.

Trend Micro, ISMG survey reveals high incidence of ransomware in 2016
The GreenSheet | 12.27.16

Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, today announced results from the “Ransomware Response Study” of more than 225 U.S. organizations, which was conducted in partnership with Information Security Media Group (ISMG), a global security media organization. The survey assessed businesses’ preparedness for ransomware attacks, as well as how organizations have responded to such attacks over the past year.

Ezetap Partners with PAX to Accelerate Cashless Revolution in India
PR Newswire | 12.29.16

PAX Technology, a global leader in the provision of secure electronic payment terminal solutions, has established a strategic partnership with Ezetap, India's premier smart payment solutions company to potentially deploy hundreds of thousands of PAX's mPOS and MiniPOS devices in India. Mr. Abhijit Bose, Co-Founder and CEO of Ezetap, said: "India is shifting rapidly from a relatively opaque cash-based economy to one that is increasingly cashless. Through this partnership, Ezetap's technology leadership and PAX's global expertise and design capabilities will bring products and solutions of global standard to Indian customers."

TSYS to Broadcast Fourth-Quarter 2016 Results
TSYS | 12.29.16

TSYS will issue its fourth-quarter earnings report on January 24, 2017, at approximately 4:15 p.m. ET. A conference call to discuss these results, business trends and future projections will be held on January 24, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. ET. Shareholders and other interested persons may listen to this conference call via simultaneous internet broadcast at www.tsys.com by clicking on the link under "Webcasts" on the homepage.

Mobetize Expands smartCharge Feature
Nasdaq | 12.28.16

Mobetize Corp., a provider of mobile financial services (MFS) technology for the multi-billion dollar business to business (B2B) segment of the Fintech as a Service (FAAS) sector is pleased to announce it has delivered a solution to Tata Communications Canada Ltd. (“Tata”) for a pilot B2B Data Top-up/Gifting through its existing smartCharge API technology.

Hyperledger Wraps up 2016 By Welcoming Eight New Members

Yahoo! Finance | 12.28.16

Hyperledger Project, a collaborative cross-industry effort created to advance blockchain technology, announced today that eight new members have joined the project to help create an open standard for distributed ledgers for a new generation of transactional applications. Last month, Hyperledger announced it reached 100 active members in less than one year, a huge milestone for the open source project, hosted by The Linux Foundation.

Blockchain technologies entered the trough of disillusionment in 2016, but 2017 will be brighter

TechCrunch | 12.30.16

What does 2017 have in store for digital assets and underlying blockchain technology? This is a vital question for those in fintech, especially in light of recent news that Goldman Sachs and Santander left R3 and speculation that bitcoin, the only blockchain protocol in widespread use, is over. Are the doubters correct? Is this the end of digital currency as we know it?

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