Brazil Central Bank To Roll Out PIX, A Non-Crypto, QR-Based ‘Near Instant’ Payment System

Brazil’s Central Bank is set to launch a new payment system which it claims will offer near instant fund transfers. The new payment system is set to be released in November, Cointelegraph reports.

The new system will be referred to as PIX, a short form for Brazil’s Instant Payment Scheme. The platform will allow for peer-to-peer as well as business-to-business (B2B) transfers within 10 seconds through mobile phones, selected ATMs and internet banking.

In a press statement released on Feb. 20, all payment and financial institutions that are regulated by Brazil’s Central Bank are mandated to give out the requisite functionalities to their active clients for smooth facilitation of the PIX transfers. The press statement also indicates that QR Codes will be used for execution of transactions. Users can also use identification details like taxpayer identification number, phone number or email.

An Answer To Cryptos

Cointelegraph reports that the head of the central bank Roberto Campos explained that the new platform is set to directly compete with payment systems that are based on distributed ledger. He stated that the idea behind the creation of PIX was necessitated by the desire to have a payment platform that is secure, transparent, cheap and fast. He added that the new system is set to have characteristics as those of Bitcoin and other cryptos.

Campos also stated that the PIX platform will be the central bank’s top priority this year. He went ahead to state that the platform will be instrumental in eliminating the need for individuals to always have physical currencies which leads to a high cost for the society.

The statement also states that the central bank and Brazil’s Treasury Secretariat have already inked a deal which will allow Brazilians to remit their federal taxes through PIX starting from November this year. In addition, the Brazilian government is set to provide various payments like income tax refunds, grants, social benefits via PIX in the near future. The aim is to enhance mass adoption of the platform.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

We Left Facebook Led Libra Association Due Lack Of Transparency: MasterCard CEO

MasterCard’s Chief Executive Officer has said the payment processor abandoned the Libra project, which was led by Facebook after realizing that there were some issues regarding its business model as well as some revolving regulatory compliance.

Ajay Banga, the president and CEO of MasterCard since 2009 recently sat down with the Financial Times and had a candid conversation pertaining to the Libra project. According to Ajay, his attitude towards this project began to weaken when some of the members in this project advanced proposals that would have seen it get linked to Calibra, a proprietary digital wallet.

His problem with this proposal stemmed from the fact that when the idea to develop Libra was first muted, the currency was supposed to be all-inclusive. It was to be accessible to all people across the globe. Banga told the Times that:

“It went from this altruistic idea into their own wallet. I’m like: ‘this doesn’t sound right.’”

Global Financial Inclusion

Banga noted that financial inclusion would imply that governments and other authorities would be in a position to pay its people using a given currency. Once paid, the recipients would be in a position to understand how that currency is used, and would thus be able to use it in their day-to-day lives, e.g., paying for their daily food supplies. He went on to note that:

“If you get paid in Libra [coin]…. which go into Calibras, which go back into pounds to buy rice, I don’t understand how that works”

According to the CEO, the lack of a viable business model also raised some concerns for MasterCard. Based on the proposals being put forward, the proponents of the project had not identified a way in which the Libra Association would start making money after launch, which would then make it profitable.

He noted that when an investor is unable to understand how money is being made, it may end up being made in ways that he or she will not be proud of. Other issues that concerned him was the lack of commitment by the project members to abide by data management, AML, and KYC rules.

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Author: Daniel W

Pornhub To Pay Performers In Crypto Using Tether (USDt) Stablecoin Via TronLink Wallet

Adult content provider, Pornhub has added a new payment option for its actors which includes Tether (USDT) stablecoin, CoinDesk reports. On Thursday, the adult content firm announced that it will now let its performers be paid using USDT and will use TRONLink wallet for all USDT transactions. TRON has been Pornhub’s partner since June 2018 after the firm announced that consumers can pay for content using TRX token.

Pornhub also indicated that the new payment method using USDT which is pegged on the US dollar will allow performers to enjoy instant payments with zero fee.

For the pornhub actors to receive payments in the form of Tether, they will need to download and install TronLink wallet app which can be found in Google Play as well as Apple Store, Pornhub stated. Apart from Tether, Pornhub also announced that it is supporting a fresh payment processor named Cosmo Payment, meant for the adult content industry, comes with prepaid cards in which to receive funds.

Justin Sun, TRON CEO, said in a tweet,

The new developments comes just a few days after PayPal terminated its support for actors payouts without a prior warning in November. During that time Pornhub expressed its disappointment with the termination stating that over 100,000 actors who used PayPal services had been affected. The PayPal’s decision left the adult content firm providing payouts through direct deposits in various regions as well as bank checks which are faced with different challenges and scrutiny.

Pornhub has been aggressive in promoting the use of cryptocurrencies on its platform owing to the lack of money trail which many people don’t want to leave. Last year in August, the firm inked a deal with crypto payment firm PumaPay to allow consumers to easily pay through crypto. As Cointelegraph reports, Pornhub also partnered with Verge (XVG) in 2018 to easily accept the cryptocurrency as payment for its premium offering.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Square Crypto Launches Lightning Development Kit ‘LDK’ To Boost Adoption Of The Network

The crypto initiative started by the payment firm Square and called Square Crypto has announced on Tuesday the launch of its first product.

This product is a Lightning Development Kit (LDK) that’s meant to help the integration of Lightning with developers’ Bitcoin (BTC) wallet applications. It includes demo apps, language bindings, an API and many other elements that should make the Lightning integration safe, easy and simple to configure, says a blog post published by the group.

Square Crypto Took a Few Other Projects into Consideration

Square Crypto has mentioned that it took a few other projects into consideration, but that it finally concluded a Lightning-Network integration project for wallets is necessary, as developer are demanding it. This is what the company’s blog posted reads further:

“We spoke with dozens of wallet developers. What we heard was a desire for flexibility when integrating Lightning. Wallets and applications require different key store and backup mechanisms, security approaches, UX tradeoffs, and more. That means the solution is building for more wallets, not fewer.”

The Kit’s Release Not Yet Announced

The tools included in the kit intend to give developers an improved user experience, Square Crypto saying that:

“For bitcoin to become a widely used global currency – one that can’t be stopped, tampered with, or rigged in anyone’s favor – improvements to bitcoin’s UX, security, privacy, and scaling are required.”

It seems the kit is still getting built and a date for its release hasn’t been yet revealed. What’s sure is that today’s Lightning infrastructure is not complete and could sure use some more features. Back in December 2019, Square Crypto announced that it’s offering grants to a Lightning developer working part-time, in order to provide support for his work. Earlier in September, it hired 3 new team members, out of which 2 have experience with Lightning.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Crypto Payment Processor BitPay Adds XRP Support On Apple iOS And Android

BitPay, a crypto payment service which provides users a wallet as well as gift cards which can be bought using different coins, is now making it easy to purchase Amazon cards using XRP. BitPay has entered into an agreement with Ripple’s Xpring to offer support for XRP.

The revelations were made by Tiffany Hayden Casheer Inc co-founder through a tweet over the weekend. Tony Gallippi who is BitPay’s co-founder then retweeted the news which is seemingly a sign of confirmation.

BitPay and Xpring, the investment wing of Ripple signed an agreement in October last year. The agreement show the addition of XRP among the virtual currencies which BitPay works with. The recent development indicate that from next week, BitPay will kick off selling Gift Cards for global’s third biggest crypto-XRP. Crypto holders can use the gift cards in different retail and restaurant outlets comprising of Amazon, GameStop, Burger King, DoorDash, Home Depot and Domino’s.

This is a crucial step that Ripple has taken in its effort to promote mainstream use of the XRP crypto. Sean Rolland, director of products at BitPay, stated that scalability as well as speed of XRP makes it unique compared to others in the fray. He added that the inclusion of XRP in BitPay will help in expanding the blockchain-based solutions in the payments space. He said:

“XRP can offer a payment option that is fast, cost-effective and scalable for BitPay customers.”

Despite the positive developments, XRP’s prices remained unchanged and the crypto still lags below $0.25, U-Today reports.

Ripple has been embroiled in a legal tussle with its early investors who accuse the company of running an illegal ICO and are calling for XRP to be deemed as an unregistered security. The case is yet to be determined but David Schwartz has urged Ripple enthusiasts to remain hopeful and optimistic.

In the recent past, Ripple has come under sharp criticism from XRP holders and worshippers accusing the company of price manipulation through dumping of large amounts of XRP. However, the firm has insisted that it does not intend to control prices.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Nationwide Survey: One-Third Of Small And Mid-Sized Businesses Accept Crypto Payments

  • 36% of Small and Medium-sized Business in the US offering Crypto alternatives for payment systems
  • Newer business are more likely to take up cryptocurrencies

The Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) commissioned Zogby Analytics to carry out a survey regarding uptake of cryptocurrencies by Small and Medium Enterprises based in the US. They released a statement with conclusive data on their official Twitter account indicating more than a third of Small and Mid-sized businesses in the US have taken up cryptocurrencies as a payment option.

The survey showed that 36% of small and medium businesses have adopted crypto payment systems while a reported 59% has bought crypto for their own operations. The survey also showed that more than twice of new businesses in the US are likely to incorporate cryptocurrencies in their payment systems. 47% of the businesses sampled that accept crypto has been operational for less than half a decade while in comparison to 21% of businesses that were around for more than two decades.

This could be directly attributed to the fact that cryptocurrencies offer an option of faster transaction speeds and low transactional fees.

Drawbacks opened up by cryptocurrency adoption

However, HSB VP Timothy Zeilman was keen to note that despite the advantages offered by cryptocurrencies is more likely to open up the businesses to a new array of problems. This was expressed in his statement

“Cyber criminals follow the money and fraud can be a serious problem. A number of currency exchanges have been hacked or embezzled and millions of dollars were lost.”

Cybercriminals may target such businesses with complex attacks that may be marked by malware targeting information that they could use or sell. Hackers may also infiltrate the company’s systems in an effort to try and divert computing power for recording and verifying cryptocurrency transactions. The regulations put in place for the cryptocurrency may be a bit vague especially when transacting internationally and in case of fraud, the businesses may have nowhere to turn to for help.

All is not lost as the business could take up a few steps as advised by the HSB survey to help prevent exposure to cybercrimes. They could start by learning more about the technologies and how they work before fully embracing them. They could also improve existing security policies if any have been put in place yet.

About the Survey

The survey was carried out by Zogby analytics that provides custom research and insight to leaders of businesses and communities, as well as to individuals. The latter used a sample space of around 509 small and medium businesses based in the US.

It was commissioned by Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) an insurance company that provides inspection, risk management and amongst providing IOT Tech services. It’s a subsidiary of Munich Re, a leader in Reinsurance worldwide.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Facebook’s Calibra Wallet Hiring a Product Manager for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Payment Product

  • A product manager for the launch of innovative peer-to-peer (P2P) payment product
  • The first product will be available in 2020 as a standalone app and in Messenger & WhatsApp

Calibra, the newly formed subsidiary of Facebook is working toward providing financial services that will enable people to access and participate in its Libra network.

The company is still early in the process of developing Calibra and looking for “talented, passionate, mission-driven” people to join their team.

It is currently hiring a product manager for the Calibra wallet who will lead the idealization, technical development, and launch of innovative peer-to-peer (P2P) payment products.

The person chosen for the post will drive product development with a team of engineers and designers and integrate usability studies, research, and market analysis into product requirements.

The manager has to understand the strategic and competitive position of the product and further maximize efficiency in the constantly evolving environment.

The minimum qualification for this role is over five years of product management experience, has demonstrated success in defining and launching products and is a team player. Preferred qualifications warrant BA/BS in Computer Science or a related technical field and experience with customer support or financial services platforms and technologies.

Calibra in every Messenger and WhatsApp

Social media giant’s digital currency project Libra is to create a global financial infrastructure to empower billions of people around the world which is planned to be launched in 2020.

According to an analyst, quoted by Fortune, the introduction of Libra “could be viewed similar to Apple’s introduction of iOS to developers a decade ago.”

Calibra is its first product that will be available in 2020 as a standalone app and in Messenger and WhatsApp. It will allow users to send Libra to anyone with a smartphone as instantly and easy as you’d send a photo or text message at low to no cost.

The company is also planning to offer additional services such as buying coffee with the scan of a code and riding local public transit without carrying cash or a metro pass.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would probably more focus on what this thing really is, which is a new payment system,” David Marcus, Calibra co-founder, told Fortune.

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Author: AnTy

Nationwide Outage Caused by Federal Reserve Network Issues

  • Second disruption to a Fed-run payment service in 2019
  • On the second day of disruption, Fed resolves the issue but “continue to investigate the root cause”

Yet another disruption in payments service. And this time the Federal Reserve is also involved.

It began with a surge of outages reported at Capital One and then other banks’ transactions started experiencing a delay in direct deposits.

According to Capital One, what happened was network issues at the Federal Reserve that was causing curtains transactions to be delayed.

The 10th largest bank in the United States by assets, Capital One said it is working with the Fed and will make sure transactions are posted as soon as the issue is resolved.

“Bitcoin up time since 2013? 100%” is Dan Held, Director of Business Development at cryptocurrency exchange Kraken’s response to this outage.

Disruption in FedACH Services

Capital One and other banks’ customers on Twitter have been complaining that their direct deposits have been delayed.

The Fed in the meanwhile navigated the second disruption in 2019 of a payments service. Jean Tate, a spokeswoman at the Atlanta Fed, that host central bank’s Retail Payments Office, said in an emailed statement,

“The FedACH service, which processes transactions for commercial banks, is currently operating normally after experiencing delays in processing yesterday afternoon and early this morning.”

Automated Clearinghouse Service (ACH) is a national system that processes electronic fund transfers of social security benefits, payroll, and tax refunds among others. She added,

“Some customers experienced delays in receiving confirmations of yesterday’s transactions. Federal Reserve technical staff continue to investigate the root cause of the issue.”

A Fed website dedicated to the central bank’s payment processing services put up a notice at 9:57 am. New York time on Thursday stating, “the FedACH Services application began experiencing disruption on December 18 at 3:30 p.m.” Wednesday.

Now the notification says “resolved.”

This has been the second disruption to a Fed-run payment service this year. Before this, it has been FedWire interbank funds transfer services that went down for three hours on April 1st.

At that time, the Fed blamed the outage on “an internal technical issue,” without any further detail.

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Author: AnTy

Celo Labs Hires Ex-DOJ and Capital One AML Expert To Lead Its Regulatory and Compliance Matters

Celo Labs is a budding mobile crypto payment startup that is building user-friendly mobile crypto payment tools. The firm has announced today that they have hired Jai Ramaswamy, former chief of asset forfeiture and money laundering at the U.S. Department of Justice.

As the chief of AML compliance at DOJ Ramaswamy played a pivotal role in prosecuting financial institutions for violating sanctions and money laundering.

The interest of Celeb Labs towards Ramaswamy is understandable given his vast experience in monitoring the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities and prosecutions surrounding it. Given the complexities surrounding crypto regulations in the United States, having someone on board from the DOJ is a big bonus.

Ramaswamy also worked extensively in the private sector after his stint at DOJ. Before joining Celo labs he has worked at Capital One and prior to that he worked at Bank of America.

Celo Labs hired Mr. Ramaseamy for his vast experience in the regulatory sector and most importantly around AML compliance. He said,

“I’m interested in helping [Celo Labs] understand its overall risk profile, ”

“The industry is trying to figure out how to deal with this technology in ways that traditional regulation has potentially not thought about or where principles have to be extended in areas that are somewhat novel,”

Celo Labs, on the other hand, looks to have something interesting up its sleeve as it has over 60 backers worldwide including World Bank Group and the UN; Google, Square, Microsoft, Apple, PayPal, and Morgan Stanley. In addition, they have MIT, Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley on board.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Mercury FX To Use Ripple’s Platform To Reach Inaccessible Markets, Joins RippleNet

The international payment company MercuryFX has recently joined Ripple in an effort to make quick transfers with a low value around the world. The goal of the firm is to be able to reach markets that were too expensive to access before.

As Mercury FX’s clients are very wealthy people and big businesses’, they often want very low fees and have plenty of options to choose from, so it is a very competitive market. By using the technology provided by Ripple, Mercury FX can offer payment methods that will meet this demand.

The company’s CEO Alastair Constance informed that high-value transactions were the “sweet spot” of the firm, but that now the executives see some space to grow in the area of cross-border payments as well. This is partly because Ripple can enable these payments to be at least 100 times faster than they were before using RippleNet.

With its On-Demand Liquidity product (known before as xRapid), Ripple was able to create a connection between the USD and Mexico. Previously, it was considered an “arduous” process to send money to Mexico, but now people can do it easily and with really low fees.

Constance believes that this will open up new payment channels and really start to make these transfers economically viable. The price to send money went from $50 to $2 USD, for example. This will greatly benefit big companies that are clients of Mercury FX.

Now, the company is expected to continue using Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity product to reach other countries. There is interest to create payment routes to the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines, for instance, which are two countries that have a demand for this kind of service.

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Author: Gabriel Machado