Visa Deploys First Smart Contract on Ethereum for its “Universal Payment Channels” Platform

Visa Deploys First Smart Contract on Ethereum for its “Universal Payment Channels” Platform for CBDCs and Stablecoins

Payment giant Visa revealed its “Universal Payment Channels” (UPC) platform for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) on Thursday.

In its paper, Visa noted that with a “significant growth” in digital tokens in the form of crypto, stablecoins, and CBDCs, as the number of distributed ledger technology (DLT) networks increases, transacting parties are getting scattered.

Here, the company envisions a future payment network built on top of DLT networks. This is where Visa’s interoperability platform for digital currencies UPC comes into play.

UPC is a scalable, interoperable platform for digital currencies which operates in a hub-and-spoke model, where clients register with a UPC hub to route their transactions to other clients.

Visa ticks cross-border payments for CBDCs and a marketplace for digital currencies as UPC’s use cases. It aims to become a bridge between independent CBDC networks and to connect regulated stablecoins with CBDCs.

“We envision that the development of this technology will significantly expand the utility of digital currencies as means of making digital payment across a network of businesses, consumers, and developers.”

Visa has also deployed its first sample smart contract on Ethereum’s Ropsten testnet. This payment channel accepts both Ether (ETH) and stablecoin USDC. Visa said,

“UPC’s specialized payment channels would be established off the blockchain and leverage smart contracts to communicate back with the various blockchain networks, delivering high transaction throughput securely and reliably and improving speeds overall.”

Visa sees privacy, concurrent transactions, UPC-as-a-Service, and liquidity management on layer 2 in the future of its Universal Payment Channels.

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Author: AnTy

Verifone and BItPay Partnership to Aid Crypto Adoption Among US Merchants

Earlier this week, Verifone – one of the world’s largest point-of-sale(POS) payment service providers – announced a partnership with crypto payment processor BitPay to bring cryptocurrency transactions to businesses, per an official press release.

Crypto Payments for Wherever You Are

The release confirmed that this partnership would ramp up cryptocurrency payments at in-store locations and via online cloud services for e-commerce businesses all across the United States.

Verifone has over 600,000 customers in the United States and processes upwards of $10 billion in annual transaction volumes. The company plans to roll out the crypto payment feature later this year, possibly increasing its user base even more.

Speaking with news sources, Verifone chief executive Mike Pulli explained that the company had been seeking alternative payment channels for a while now. They’ve come to recognize the increased demand that cryptocurrencies have gotten as well, and this seems like a perfect time to venture into the crypto space.

Jeremy Belostock, the company’s head of payments, also explained that the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated the move to mobile payments for many people. This means an increased demand for cryptocurrencies, hence the company’s need to push forward.

The Verifone partnership is the largest for BitPay to date. So far, the company has established itself as the largest payment processor for cryptocurrencies, and it has had some impressive milestones this year.

Earlier this month, BitPay partnered with e-commerce company Shop.com to allow crypto payments. Thanks to the partnership, Shop.com’s customers will now be able to make payments for their purchases using seven digital assets and five stablecoins.

Crypto’s Continued Entry Into Payments

Besides ease of use and access, large payment companies have also been moving more into the crypto space as they look to increase their platforms’ security. For instance, this month saw the bombshell acquisition of crypto analytics and tracking platform CipherTrace by credit card manufacturer Mastercard.

As an official announcement pointed out, Mastercard confirmed that it plans to integrate CipherTrace’s operations into its cybersecurity solutions for cryptocurrencies. The two companies will combine their cyber capabilities and tools to improve Mastercard’s real-time payments and card infrastructure.

Amongst other things, Mastercard executives explained that the CipherTrace acquisition would help ensure that their clients can spend cryptocurrencies easily while maintaining regulatory safety standards.

The move is part of Mastercard’s plan to establish a much broader presence in the crypto space. In July, company CEO Michael Miebach said that they would be looking to become the de facto payment processing channel for intra-country transfers using central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and stablecoins.

With more countries looking to digitize their currencies, Mastercard is looking to make it easier for international value flows using these assets. The CipherTrace acquisition will make it much easier.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

AMC Theaters CEO Is Considering Adding Payment Support for DOGE By Year-End

AMC Theaters CEO Is Considering Adding Payment Support for DOGE By Year-End

Cryptocurrencies are gaining mainstream adoption by the day. The latest in a long list of companies is movie exhibition giant business AMC.

American Multi-Cinema Inc., popularly known as AMC, is stirring the market pool once more. This time, it is looking at the burgeoning crypto space.

DOGE Joins AMC Crypto Support

Following last week’s announcement by CEO Adam Aron to accept Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) as payment for online tickets by year’s end, the movie exhibition company is eyeing popular meme crypto Dogecoin.

In a Sept. 21 tweet, Aron sought the opinion of crypto enthusiasts in a poll asking if the company should add support for the parody coin. Users are expected to choose one of four options which show two variants of “Yes” and another two of “No.” So far, over 123,000 Twitter users have responded to the poll, with more than 90% supporting the idea.

AMC has had a bright start to the year after struggling for business during the Covid-19 lockdowns, which characterized most of last year. With the economic impact hitting hard as movie theatre lovers could not meet in groups, the company briefly considered shutting its doors.

Meanwhile, a string of unexpected good fortunes has seen AMC regain most of its lost business. One of its being the GameStop Saga which saw retail investors of the popular Reddit channel WallStreetBets face-off with Wall Street hedge funds. AMC became known as a “meme stock” following its meteoric rise, and the company has seen its stock value surge 2,100% year-to-date (YTD).

DOGE Keeps Making The Rounds

Popular meme coin DOGE has been a revelation and has one of the strongest fan bases in the crypto community. Although promising little functional use in real-world transactions, the first Shiba Inu is known to be courted by the likes of Tesla boss Elon Musk and billionaire investor Mark Cuban.

Even though several critics have pointed out that the DOGE frenzy will die down with time, Dogecoin has continued to grow by the day, momentarily becoming more valuable than Ford Motors and Twitter. The Bitcoin knock-off also led to the meme crypto revolution, with the likes of popular Dogecoin killer Shiba Inu making a full debut.

Given its strong fan base, Dogecoin is one of the most actively supported crypto assets besides Bitcoin and Ethereum. The joke cryptocurrency is available as a payment option on the Dallas Mavericks’ website alongside Newegg.

Also, SpaceX received payment for its Falcon X space rockets entirely in DOGE, with the space company planning to aid wider adoption of the meme cryptocurrency. Alongside this, EasyDNS and airline company AirBaltic are DOGE-friendly companies.

With meme cryptocurrencies becoming a fan favorite these days, Dogecoin might just end up proving its critics wrong.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Jack Dorsey’s Square Chooses Non-Aggression Patent Pact With OIN Membership

Continuing in its stride to engender the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in general, payment facilitator Square has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN).

Square To Engender OSS Growth

In a Tuesday release, Open Invention Network (OIN) – an organization focused on ensuring open-source software (OSS) – announced the recent addition of Square to its community.

According to OIN, Square’s interest in the foundation shows that it is committed to patent non-aggression in OSS.

The cross-licensing platform boasts major backers like Google, IBM, NEC, Philips, Sony, Toyota, and SUSE, enables community members to access patented tech inventions without paying and without the lawsuit.

Commenting on its decision in a Bloomberg special, the US payment giant noted that the step was necessary to avoid the legal challenges that almost toppled the smartphone industry some years earlier.

“We’re in just such a rapid time of growth, so many amazing things are happening without patents,” counsel at Square Max Sills noted.

“We want to avoid long-drawn-out legal battles.”

Square is not new to patent alliances and is a front-runner in the blockchain industry’s first Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance (COPA) formed a year ago. Similar to OIN, member platforms and companies promise not to go the legal route if a fellow member peruses their technology.

Crypto big wigs like Coinbase, Kraken, ARK Investment, SatoshiLabs, and several others have pledged their support for the initiative with the foundation solely focused on engendering blockchain technology.

Square Leaning Towards Crypto, Especially Bitcoin

Although Square has been forthwith in its intent to enable a blockchain-driven society of the future, principal founder and CEO Jack Dorsey has been leaning more on the top premier digital asset. A Bitcoin maximalist, Dorsey has not been shy in publicly supporting the high volatile asset and has added Bitcoin to Square’s corporate treasury.

Not satisfied, the social media owner of Twitter has also sought to engender enterprise adoption via conferences, with the most popular being the B-Word which took place last month.

Also, Square is reportedly weighing up launching a Bitcoin decentralized exchange (DEX) platform. According to the payments giant, users will choose from multiple payment options and exchange their traditional fiat for Bitcoin.

The DEX platform is expected to be managed by the company’s Bitcoin division called TBD. Commenting on the company’s DEX plans, project lead Mike Brock noted that stablecoins – digital assets meant to track fiat currencies – would play a crucial role in supplementing payments on scaling solutions like the Lightning Network.

Also, Square is planning to build a Bitcoin hardware wallet. Following a tweet by head of product development Jesse Dorogusker on making Bitcoin custody more mainstream, Dorsey retweeted with a short reply that Square will build a Bitcoin hardware wallet.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Mastercard Adds Crypto and Blockchain Track to FinTech Incubation Program

Mastercard Adds Crypto and Blockchain Track to FinTech Incubation Program

With payment processing warming up to cryptocurrencies more and more by the day, several companies in the former space have been looking into integrating digital assets into their services.

Mastercard has become the latest to bring out a crypto-focused initiative, with the company announcing support for blockchain and crypto companies in its incubator program.

Touching All Areas of Crypto

Earlier this week, Mastercard announced that it would add blockchain and cryptocurrency track to its Start Path incubator program for companies. In a press release, the New York-based payment processing giant explained that the program looks to support fast-growing companies in the blockchain, crypto, and digital asset space.

Mastercard explained that the cryptocurrency track is part of its efforts to support the startup ecosystem – a mission that it has had since the Start Path program launched in 2014. By expanding to include crypto and blockchain companies, Mastercard hopes to capture more facets of the payment and financial innovation space. Companies in this program will get invaluable tools and expertise from Mastercard, allowing them to scale much faster.

The startups will also leverage the program to connect with Mastercard’s ecosystem of banks, merchants, digital payment companies, and other players in the FinTech space.

As for the crypto track, the major pain points that companies hope to address include data privacy and accuracy, asset tokenization, and integration between the traditional and digital economies. With Mastercard’s help, solving identified challenges is expected to be much easier and faster.

Jess Turner, executive vice president of New Digital Infrastructure and FinTech, explained that Mastercard also hopes to forge the future of cryptocurrency. Theis, they will achieve, by bridging mainstream financial principles with digital asset innovations.

The crypto track already has several members. These include Domain Money, a U.S.-based investment platform for retail investors; SupraOracle, a Swiss blockchain oracle for public and private chains; Mintable, a Singapore-based NFT marketplace; and Uphold, a U.S.-based crypto-native digital money platform for payments and investments.

Crypto Cards for Everyone

Mastercard has been doing tremendous work to improve the ubiquity of cryptocurrencies for a while now. Earlier this month, the company announced plans to tweak its crypto cards program to allow traditional banks and crypto companies to issue crypto credit cards to their customers.

With the initiative, Mastercard will partner with crypto businesses – particularly exchanges and wallet service providers – to make it simpler for their partners to convert cryptocurrencies to fiat. Additional players in the FinTech space to join this program include Circle, Uphold, ButPay, Evolve Bank & Trust, and the Metropolitan Commercial Bank.

Under the program, Mastercard will use its massive payments network to make crypto-fiat conversions more seamless and also offer more choices for people interested in cryptocurrencies.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

SWIFT Takes Swipe At Ripple With A Cheaper Cross-border Payment System

SWIFT Takes Swipe At Ripple With A Cheaper Cross-border Payment System

Global messaging network SWIFT has introduced a new service aimed at offering low-value, cross-border payments.

SWIFT GO Launches Live With Seven Major Banks

The new service dubbed SWIFT Go has been launched and is already being used by seven major global banks. The banks include BBVA, BNY Mellon, DNB, MYBank, Sberbank, Societe Generale, and UniCredit.

SWIFT GO is designed to enable businesses and consumers to send payments quickly and securely anywhere in the world directly from their bank accounts, per the press release.

The service pre-validates data and uses tighter service level agreements between institutions to enable banks to provide customers with a fast and predictable payments experience. SWIFT GO runs on SWIFT GPI (global payment innovation), which deals with high-value payments.

Speaking on the new unveiling Stephen Gilderdale, Chief Product Officer, at SWIFT said:

“SWIFT Go is a further step towards achieving our vision of enabling anybody, anywhere, to send money instantly and securely around the world. The new service is a direct response to the needs of small businesses and consumers for fast, easy, predictable, secure, and competitively priced cross-border payments.”

Besides SWIFT GO, the financial network also plans to roll out a new platform for international payments in November next year.

The new platform, according to SWIFT, would include features such as an extension of SWIFT’s high-speed system to lower-value payments and incorporation of the universal messaging standard for international payments.

Founded in 1977, SWIFT is a global messaging network connecting banks and other financial institutions for cross-border payments. It links more than 11,000 institutions. The company transmitted more than 350 million messages containing financial information last month alone.

SWIFT Enters Ripple Cross-Border Payment Territory

SWIFT’s new move of entering the cross-border payment scene with the SWIFT Go product may be seen as an attempt to compete with Ripple. The Blockchain company is one of the firms that have taken the lead in addressing issues in cross-border payments.

SWIFT’s new product has stepped up the company’s payment system by providing faster settlement times and an ability to track payments. In 2019, 50% of GPI payments were credited to beneficiaries within 30 minutes and almost 100% within 24 hours.

Although it seemed like a great accomplishment at the time, Ripple CEO Bradley Garlinghouse said in a conference that the SWIFT system of transferring money was well out of date. According to him, at least six percent of SWIFT transactions cannot happen without being supervised by human operators.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Mastercard to Facilitate Conversion of Crypto to Fiat through Stablecoins

Payment processor Mastercard announced on Tuesday that it would enhance its card program for cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges to reduce friction in experience by making it simpler for partners to convert crypto to fiat currency.

For this, the payment giant is working with Paxos Trust, which helped PayPal enable crypto buying, selling, and hold service for its users, Evolve Bank of Trust, and Circle, the issuer of the second-largest USDC stablecoin to facilitate the conversion of crypto to fiat through fiat-backed stablecoins.

BitPay, Uphold, Metropolitan Commercial Bank, Apto Payments, i2c Inc., and Galileo Financial Technologies are other partners.

“Working with Mastercard’s pilot to turn digital assets into dollars for everyday spending will accelerate consumers’ use of crypto as a means of commerce,” said Stephen Pair, co-founder, and CEO of BitPay.

Scot Lenoir, chairman of Evolve, believes settlement via USDC and other stablecoins is the next step in modernizing banking for all, while JP Thieriot, CEO of Uphold says, removing friction and barriers to entry are “critical” to ensure the wide adoption of digital payments.

Up until now, when people spent crypto, it all settled on Mastercard’s network, and those planning to launch or expand card programs found it challenging. Now, the company aims to solve this with its new capability that will enable more banks and crypto companies to offer a card option to people wanting to spend their digital assets anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

“Today, not all crypto companies have the foundational infrastructure to convert cryptocurrency to traditional fiat currency, and we’re making it easier,” said Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of digital asset and blockchain products & partnerships at Mastercard.

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Author: AnTy

European Payment Processor Sever Ties with Binance and Suspends GBP & EUR Deposits and Withdrawals

Another European Payment Processor Sever its Ties with Binance and Suspends GBP & EUR Deposits and Withdrawals

700+ Binance users in France and in Italy are forming a group to sue the exchange after they lost money during the May 19 sell-off as they were unable to access the exchange due to an outage.

European payment processor Clear Junction is the latest one to announce that it would no longer process transactions for the leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

The decision has been made following the UK’s financial watchdog, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), issuing a warning against Binance operating in the UK, the London-based company posted on its website.

As per the move, both GBP and EUR payments are suspended, and the payment processor won’t facilitate deposits or withdrawals in favor of or on behalf of the crypto trading platform.

“Clear Junction acts in full compliance with FCA regulations and guidance in regards to handling payments of Binance.”

Last month, the FCA said that Binance Markets Limited, a separate Binance entity that operates in the UK, is not licensed to do business there but did clarify that the UK customers can continue to use Binance.com.

Still, since then, a growing number of UK banks, including Barclays, Santander UK, NatWest, among others, have limited their account holders’ ability to access Binance or other crypto exchanges in the name of keeping their customers’ money safe.

Binance is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange with no official headquarters and has been under the scrutiny of global regulators.

Amidst this, Binance users in two groups – one in France working with 700 people and one in Italy are looking to sue the exchange after they lost money during the May 19 sell-off after they were unable to access the exchange due to an outage leading to them getting liquidated.

However, due to no headquarters, they are trying to figure out just whom to petition.

Binance says it “took immediate steps to engage with users affected by the outage” and to provide compensation, which involves three free months’ worth of Binance’s VIP platform.

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Author: AnTy

Allied Payment Network to Put BTC on Balance Sheet & Allow Bill Pay In Bitcoin

Allied Payment Network to Put BTC on Balance Sheet & Allow Bill Pay In Bitcoin

Allied has partnered with NYDIG to offer Bitcoin services. According to its CEO, providing access to Bitcoin is a “game-changer.”

Fort Wayne-based Mobile digital payment services provider Allied Payment Network has partnered with NYDIG to become the first bill payment provider to allow its customers to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin.

Allied will also add Bitcoin to its corporate treasury.

This partnership helps financial institutions meet the growing demand for Bitcoin, whose adoption has increased 207% over the 10-year period beginning July 2010. Ralph Marcuccilli, founder and CEO of Allied, said,

“Allied’s primary focus is to make it easier for financial institutions to provide value-based technology that differentiates them in the marketplace, attracts new depositors, retains through high engagement, and generates revenue.”

“Providing access to bitcoin does just that, and is a game-changer for many community institutions that are struggling to compete.”

Customers meanwhile get a secure, easy-to-use alternative to transacting with unregulated bitcoin entities. Allied and NYDIG will also provide additional capabilities for customers, such as the ability to make digital payments funded by BTC.

Recently, the Bitcoin service provider, which is a subsidiary of Stone Ridge, partnered with Fiserv, Q2, and enterprise payment giant NCR as well. As we reported, NYDIG’s banking infrastructure partnerships are estimated to let them offer bitcoin services to about 70% of US banks.

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Author: AnTy

NASCAR Driver Becomes the Latest Athlete to Accept Payment in Cryptocurrency In Voyager Sponsorship

NASCAR Driver Becomes the Latest Athlete to Accept Payment in Cryptocurrency In Voyager Sponsorship

NASCAR driver set to fully be paid in cryptocurrency. The sports world is heavily embracing digital assets.

In yet another case of an athlete being linked with cryptocurrencies, NASCAR driver, Landon Cassill accepted to be fully paid in cryptocurrencies, becoming the latest athlete to join the bandwagon. The driver entered into a 19-race sponsorship deal with Voyager Digital and will see the majority of his sponsorship paid in Litecoin (LTC) and Voyager Digital native token, VGX.

The statement also confirms a part of the sponsorship will be paid in Bitcoin (BTC). The sponsored car is fielded by JD Motorsports and will participate in the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series. Steve Ehrlich, CEO of Voyager said,

“Through innovation, Voyager continues to demonstrate crypto’s multiple use cases, from being a valuable and efficient form of payment to an investment asset class fuelling a new technology revolution.”

Landon joins an illustrious list of athletes accepting cryptocurrency as payment. In a statement to CoinTelegraph, he welcomed the idea of being paid in crypto – having used them in the past.

“Crypto is changing the game for so many people, and is the reason I’ve accepted this sponsorship 100% in cryptocurrencies and will be representing Voyager this season.”

“There are a handful of pilots who like crypto, but I am probably one of the ones who has been around long enough and I am quite comfortable with how it works.”

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Author: Lujan Odera