Multinational credit card company Mastercard announced on Monday a new collaboration with the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) as it implements plans to create digital identities and age verification system, a move that will manifest the company as a leading digital identity service provider in Australia.
The Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF) will be a unison maneuver that will put both Mastercard and the DTA under one umbrella. Both entities will investigate a chain of private sector-led pilots alongside the effects digital verification services could impose on the retailer and consumer comprehension and anticipations from online experiences.
Last year, a parliamentary committee introduced a recommendation inquiry setting the first step towards a safer online environment, aiming to prevent minors from accessing online pornography sites. This had a direct affiliation to the DTA’s objectives of becoming the country’s first federal government agency to obtain an online age verification system.
“Australians are increasingly expecting no disruptions between their online and physical lives, and identity is an area that must keep pace with those expectations,” Australia Mastercard President Richard Wormald said in a statement.
“Public-private pilots have the potential to make it easier to use these verified identities security, everywhere they travel,” Wormald added.
The framework’s initial announcement was revealed in December of last year, with three parties initiating the first steps to launch two trials.
The first trial mainly focused on the identity verification process of students’ registration and digital exams at a university campus, while the second trial conducted united Mastercard’s digital ID solution with an already existing verification process in collaboration with the postal services.
Through TDIF, users will have unlimited capacity to gain entry to any government services and benefit by adopting a reusable digital identity approach without the need to show official documentation every time.
In addition, the framework’s influence will reach third-party providers to obtain access to the system as well.
Even though the DTA is hastily working on the implementation plans for TDIF, digital privacy experts are warning of a hazardous downfall that could follow the trusted framework. Analysts warn Australian authorities from deeply indulging in a system that has not been supervised by tech experts and the community.
Trading apps move to get a live person to hear your problems
It’s one of the downsides of apps that make things like ordering food or buying stocks and cryptocurrencies easier: What happens when something goes wrong?
It’s often a frustrating chase, tapping through menu after menu in hopes of reaching a person to fix the problem. It’s also something that upstart companies upending the investment and trading industry are increasingly acknowledging.
Robinhood, the app that helps more than 22 million people trade stocks and cryptocurrencies, announced Tuesday that it’s offering 24/7 phone support for its customers to cover almost every issue. It follows up on an announcement by Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading platform that said last month it would launch 24/7 phone service by the end of the year for many customers.
Before its own stock started trading on the public market for the first time, Robinhood cited “concerns about limited customer support” as one of its challenges. Earlier this year, Robinhood also settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a 20-year-old alleging he committed suicide after his emails to the company’s customer support about a $730,000 negative balance on his account received only auto-generated replies.
To reach Robinhood’s customer support in its early days meant to communicate mostly over email, but it’s been adding more live phone support in recent months.
“It takes a while to build a great support organization, especially in a highly regulated business,” said Gretchen Howard, Robinhood Market Inc.’s chief operating officer. Agents need to be licensed, for example, and Robinhood more than tripled its number of customer-support workers between March 2020 and June 2021 to nearly 2,700.
With so many first-time investors making up its base, many of the customer questions coming into Robinhood are about setting up a bank account or going through tax reporting for the first time. But the demand can vary wildly by the day.
“If someone famous tweets about crypto, our crypto volumes can go up 10x” in an instant, Howard said.
Customers logged into Robinhood’s app can now request a callback from a representative. Through the process, the app will also try to help customers solve the problem themselves, if possible. The company based in Menlo Park, California, is still working on how to get live phone service to customers who can’t log into their accounts.
William Van Horn II, a 30-year-old in Pensacola, Florida, has already experienced Robinhood’s customer service several times. He hasn’t always been pleased.
He said he once accidentally deposited $1,000 instead of $100 into his account. Quickly afterward he sent an email to customer service, hoping to cancel the deposit. He eventually got a representative on the phone who tried to walk him through several steps. But Van Horn said he never was able to cancel the $1,000 deposit, or to at least claw back the extra $900.
Van Horn has other complaints about Robinhood’s customer service, but it hasn’t been enough to get him to stop using the app.
“The customer service is lacking,” he said, “but the interface is still pretty much the best in terms of mobile use.”
NEW YORK (AP)
Google kills plans for financial service Plex
Google’s plans of extending its horizon into financial services in collaboration with the banking sector have reached an end as the search engine kills off its Plex service before the initial launch, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Mountain View company stunned its users with news of halting the development of its banking service as Google Pay subscribers were eagerly anticipating it. Google’s plans to deliver its users a bank account service could have set the first official stone to compete with Apple’s credit card feature.
However, the company’s efforts to terminate the release of its banking service will indefinitely end Google and its parent company’s efforts from entering the financial sector until further notice.
Earlier in 2019, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. informed its subscribers of a futuristic plan of releasing Google Pay, a digital wallet allowing the platform’s userbase to sign up for superior checking accounts and debit cards with a bundle of financial establishments.
Currently, Google Pay is the Android maker’s leading financial service provider serving users with the ability to send and receive money, store credit card, debit card data on the platform, and use the information stored on their devices for in-app payments, be it online or in-person.
Initially, the digital wallet service was labeled as Cache, later changed to Plex.
In terms of functionality, Plex would synchronize with Google Pay digital dashboard, where users indulge in various purchasing activities. The banking service would include built-in savings targets to assist users with monetary savings.
In a partnership with investment banking company Citigroup and Stanford Federal Credit Union, the Big Tech titan fixated its glare on these firms as an extensive number of Google’s employees bank there.
Originally, based on Google’s initial plan, Plex’s official launch was tapped for 2020. However, with COVID-19 overtaking the global economy, the company pushed back its deadline until it completely dropped the project in September.
As an alternative approach to stay in the department as a financial service provider, the company chose to maintain its sole focus on “delivering digital enablement for banks and other financial services providers rather than us serving as the provider of these services,” a Google spokesperson informed The Wall Street Journal.
For a company as ambitious as Google, it seems very unlikely that the killing of its banking service will be the end of its maneuvers in the digital financial sector as experts are firm believers that the fintech industry will maintain its exponential growth in the upcoming years.
China’s Ant Group to share credit data with central bank
China’s central bank will soon have access to the private credit information of hundreds of millions of users of Ant Group’s online credit service, in a move signaling more regulatory oversight of the financial technology sector.
Huabei, Ant Group’s credit service, said in a statement that consumer credit data it has collected will be included in the People’s Bank of China’s financial credit information database.
“The inclusion of Huabei’s credit information into the credit reporting system will help users’ credit information be more comprehensive,” Huabei said.
Consumers who do not authorize the sharing of credit data with the central bank will not be able to use Huabei’s service.
The company did not give a timeline for when it would provide all of its customer credit data to the central bank.
The move is part of various stricter regulations for Ant, which has been ordered to end its monopoly on information and behave more like a bank.
Ant Group, the financial affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba, operates many digital payments, investment and insurance services and has over a billion users worldwide. In China, about 500 million people use its online credit and consumer loans services.
Financial regulators have grown increasingly concerned at Ant’s financial services business, abruptly halting its planned $34.5 billion listing days before its stock debut.
Previously, Ant Group’s private credit-scoring system would assess a user’s creditworthiness. Those deemed trustworthy enough could use Ant’s credit and loans services including Huabei, which was popular among consumers as it gave them access to online credit in a country where it is difficult to get a credit card.
Ant Group would connect creditworthy users with banks that provided the credit, while taking a cut of the fees in the process. Banks were thus left to shoulder most of the credit risk.
Ant’s trove of customer data has long been seen as an important advantage for the company, allowing it to design financial products to suit its users.
Regulators have accused the firm of anti-competitive behavior, defying regulatory compliance requirements and engaging in regulatory arbitrage. Ant Group was ordered to hold minimum capital requirements as part of risk management measures.
According to Huabei’s statement, data such as a user’s credit lines, amount of credit used, repayment statuses and account creation dates will be shared with the central bank, while information such as individual purchases and transactions will remain private.
Huabei said it would strictly follow the regulatory requirements.
“The credit reporting system is the foundation of the country’s financial sector. As society progresses and improves, more and more users will come into contact and better understand credit reporting,” it said.
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