Mastercard announced it will add cryptocurrencies to its network by giving preference to ‘stable coins’ or cryptocurrencies that are linked to fiat currencies such as the U.S. Dollar.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been riding an all time high for a number of weeks now, as the digital payment method made strides in gaining confidence from a myriad of top-tier companies across the board.
“Whatever your opinions on cryptocurrencies — from a dyed-in-wool fanatic to utter skeptic — the fact remains that these digital assets are becoming a more important part of the payments world,” the international payments company said in a statement.
“We are preparing for the future of crypto and payments, announcing that this year Mastercard will start supporting select cryptocurrencies directly on our network,” it added.
The conditions of use
Subsequently, the company set forward four conditions for stable coins to be accepted on its network.
The first involves consumer protections including privacy and security of consumers’ information; while the second relies on strict compliance including Know Your Customer (KYC), a requirement meant to snuff out illegal activity and deception in payment networks.
Third, digital assets must follow local laws and regulations in the regions used and fourth, crypto assets will need to offer the stability people need in a vehicle for spending, not investment.
Whilst those conditions should be met for the process to be done smoothly, Mastercard has already teamed up with cryptocurrency players such as Wirex and Bitpay to launch cryptocurrency cards in the past but noted that those players were previously converting cryptocurrencies to flat currencies on their own.
The initiative is expected to complicate the Indian government’s plans to ban private cryptocurrencies. On 9 February 2021, Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, said that a law on the subject is being finalized and will shortly be sent to the Union Cabinet.
Supporting digital assets
Mastercard highlighted in its statement that its change to support digital assets directly will allow many more merchants to accept crypto — an ability that’s currently limited by proprietary methods unique to each digital asset.
Prior to Mastercard’s move, online payment company, PayPal, allowed users to hold cryptocurrency in their wallets, and more recently, Tesla announced a $1.5 billion purchase of Bitcoin to begin accepting payments in Bitcoin.
As for the benefits of cryptocurrency, they range between the user’s autonomy, discretion of operation, peer-to-peer focus, elimination of banking fees, very low transaction fees for international payments, amongst others.
The cryptocurrency industry in India has launched an online initiative called “IndiaWantsCrypto” to build public support in favor of the digital asset in India.
Japan’s Paidy BNPL credit provider announces partnership with global PayPal
Paidy, a Japanese “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) solutions provider, which serves 700,000 online merchants in Japan, announced Friday the launch of Paidy Link, a new feature that allows users to instantly link digital wallets with their Paidy accounts.
In parallel, under the launch plan, is Paidy’s partnership with PayPal giving Japanese consumers shopping options through PayPal’s 29 million merchants around the world.
Each purchase will be automatically converted into a Japanese yen purchase with Paidy that can be settled each month with Paidy “Atobarai,” the Buy Now Pay Later service, or 3-Pay. This will allow Paidy users to manage their budgets within the Paidy app.
The 3-Pay service gives customers the option to split charges into three equal, interest-free, monthly installments, which the company said has “been very well received.”
Russell Cummer, Paidy founder and Executive Chairman, said, “I am extremely excited to announce the launch of Paidy Link, offering a great new way for consumers to use their Paidy accounts for online shopping internationally,” adding. “PayPal is an amazing partner for us to launch this functionality with and we are sure that our 5 million account holders will be thrilled to take advantage of the combined power of Paidy and PayPal.”
“We look forward to working closely with PayPal to literally bring the world to our Japanese consumers,” the Paidy founder said.
Paidy’s stated mission is to “take the hassle out of your payment and purchase experiences.” It also aims to create an environment where consumers are shopping within their budget limits.
The app allows customers to shop using their mobile phone number and email address, and then pay the accumulated charges the next month.
Peter Kenevan, VP, Head of PayPal Japan, commented, “We are excited about our partnership with Paidy. This partnership allows Paidy users to have access to PayPal’s 29 million merchants — in fashion, gaming, cosmetics and more — from Japan and around the world.”
By linking their Paidy accounts to PayPal, consumers can enjoy much greater freedom and more choices from the comfort of their home,” He added.
Paidy is an innovator with its use of BNPL, offering monthly-consolidated credit to consumers by enhancing shopping flexibility through split payment and purchase experiences.
Paidy uses proprietary models and machine learning to underwrite transactions quickly and guarantee payments to merchants.
BNPL solutions are branded as having the potential to increase revenue for merchants by reducing the number of incomplete transactions, increasing conversion rates, boosting average order values, and facilitating repeat purchases from consumers.
Mastercard, Geidea team up to bring contactless payments to Saudi Arabia
Global financial services company Mastercard, and Geidea, the largest fintech company in Saudi Arabia by market share, announced earlier this week a strategic partnership agreement to accept Mastercard payments using a Tap-on-Phone solution in Saudi Arabia.
Geidea is the first fintech company to roll out contactless payments acceptance technology across the Kingdom, which will enable businesses to use smartphones as payment acceptance devices.
Tap-on-Phone is an innovative, intuitive, and cost-effective app-based solution that allows small businesses to quickly embrace electronic acceptance through their smart mobile or tablet device.
With smart phone penetration of more than 70 percent in the Kingdom, Tap-on-Phone has the potential to reach over 300,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and merchants in the first year alone.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a shift in consumer behavior towards digital and contactless payments channels, making it imperative for businesses to adapt and shift to a more online based model. We are therefore proud to partner with Mastercard and provide businesses with a relevant solution that offers the ability to accept safe, secure and seamless contactless payments through Tap-on-Phone technology,” said Abdullah Al-Othman, the Founder and Chairman of Geidea.
Presently, the Geidea network provides payment and e-commerce solutions to more than 100,000 merchants – covering 600,000 payment terminals and ATMs within the Kingdom.
As one of the many use cases, Tap-on-Phone enables more SMEs to accept secure card payments on delivery, in lieu of cash-on-delivery (COD) which is often the only on-delivery payment option.
According to Bain.com, around 62 percent of MENA online shoppers choose COD as payment method when buying online, compared with less than five percent in the UK and France. Cash conversion is key to developing a new payment landscape and improve consumer experience.
“Through our partnership with Geidea, we can help small businesses expand their ability to accept digital payments and grow their earning potential. The solution will also help Saudi Arabia to transition safely into a secure digital payment ecosystem, without the risks associated with a large cash pool,” said J.K. Khalil, Country Manager, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain & Levant, Mastercard.
Tap-on-Phone makes it easier for SMEs to use their compatible smartphones to accept quick, easy, and secure, payments from their customers for goods or services. It saves businesses money and time, because all they need to receive electronic payments is an NFC-enabled Android device on version 7.0 or newer.
Geidea also recently became the only non-bank institution in Saudi Arabia to be granted an acquiring license from Saudi Central Bank (SAMA). The license enables the fintech company to process secure, fast, and seamless end-to-end payment solutions directly to merchants.
Facial recognition for payments to reach 1.4 billion users by 2025
Contactless payments have been one of FinTech’s most prized innovation, silently growing in popularity within all types of commerce and shopping, with the pandemic skyrocketing its adoption across the board.
As such, facial recognition for payments is on track to become the new norm of payment methods as the number of users of software-based facial recognition to secure payments will exceed 1.4 billion globally by 2025, from just 671 million in 2020, a new study by Juniper Research found.
This rapid growth of 120 percent demonstrates how widespread facial recognition has become; fueled by its low barriers to entry, a front-facing camera and appropriate software.
“We identified the implementation of FaceID by Apple as accelerating the growth of the wider facial recognition market, despite the challenges to facial recognition during the pandemic with face mask use,” the research highlighted.
Seeing that technological innovation tend to trickle down toward other uses, all indications point toward the inevitable growth toward facial recognition for payments.
However, researchers at Juniper recommend that facial recognition vendors implement robust and rapidly evolving AI‑based verification checks to ensure the validity of user identity, or risk losing user trust in the authentication method as spoofing attempts increase.
Fingerprint sensors dominant, facial recognition growing
The new research – called ‘Mobile Payment Authentication: Biometrics, Regulation & Market Forecasts 2021-2025’ – found that fingerprint sensors will feature on 93 percent of biometrically equipped smartphones in 2025.
This compares favorably to hardware-based facial recognition, with just 17 percent of biometrically equipped smartphones featuring these capabilities in 2025.
“Hardware-based facial recognition is growing, but the ability to carry out facial recognition via software is limiting its adoption rate. As the need for a secure mobile authentication environment grows, smartphone vendors will need to increasingly turn to more robust hardware-based systems to keep pace with fraudsters’ evolving tactics,” research co-author Susan Morrow explained.
Voice recognition for payments growing, but limited in scope
In parallel, the report also found that the use of voice recognition for payments is increasing, from 111 million users in 2020, to over 704 million in 2025. The research identified that, at present, voice recognition is mostly used in banking, and will struggle to grow beyond this, due to concerns around robustness.
“Juniper Research recommends that vendors adopt a multi-method biometric strategy, which encompasses facial recognition, fingerprints, voice and behavioral indicators to ensure a secure payment environment,” the report authors noted.
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