Finablr Partners with Samsung Pay for Cross-Border Payment System

UK-based payments platform Finablr and Samsung Pay, the mobile payments service of South Korean tech giant Samsung, have joined hands to pool resources to build a cross-border payment system named “Money Transfer” for its users.

The partnership was announced on October 3rd by Finablr, explaining that the newly added feature will offer seamless and secure cross-border payments to 47 countries by using a variety of payment methods available on the app. Furthermore, United States-based Samsung Pay’s clients reportedly can use their debit or credit cards to send money via the Samsung Pay app.

Currently, there are over 25 million people using Finablr’s services across the globe, and the company has established a presence in 170 countries across the world.

According to the announcement, all the fees and exchange rates are included upfront, allowing users to know in advance what they will be paying. The system’s security also employs tokenized credentials backed by Samsung Knox.

Sang Ahn, the vice president and head of content and services division at Samsung Electronics America, further added that partnership with Finablr is part of a larger plan to expand the reach of Samsung Pay.

“Money Transfer is a first step in our vision to evolve Samsung Pay into a platform that makes users’ financial lives more convenient. The range of services in Samsung Pay, developed in close collaboration with industry leaders such as Finablr, positions us to positively impact consumers’ everyday financial experiences.”

Whilst the Money Transfer feature is now rolled out to the United States userbase, the new service will be expanded to more markets next year, according to the press release.

Meanwhile, last year in December Finablr joined Ripple’s network of banks and payment providers. In addition to that, Finablr’s UAE Exchange is using Ripple’s cross-border payments technology to power remittances to Asia. Some RippleNet members are already using XRP for the base currency for cross-border payments.

The new partnership between Samsung Electronics America and Finablr could potentially benefit XRP, especially if the payment system they’re working on integrates XRP. However, neither Samsung nor Finablr have disclosed whether they are considering the use of blockchain technology or the digital asset XRP.

Samsung is an early supporter of blockchain and crypto assets. The company’s Blockchain Keystore app is available on the company’s new line of Galaxy S10 smartphones, allowing people to store their private keys for Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ethereum-based tokens.

Mastercard Partners with R3 to Pilot Cross-Border Payment System

Mastercard has joined forces with R3 to develop a blockchain-powered cross-border payments system connecting global faster payments infrastructures.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Mastercard said the two firms have signed a deal to develop and pilot the payments solution. The collaboration plan brings together Mastercard’s payment systems assets, brand and distribution with R3’s blockchain expertise.

The partnering firms want to tackle industry issues such as costly payments processing, liquidity management and a row of standardization and connectivity issues between banks and domestic clearing systems.

R3 CEO David E. Rutter said:

“All institutions – large or small – rely on the ability to send and receive payments, but all too often the technology they rely upon is cumbersome and expensive. Cross-border payments can be a particular pain point.”

According to the press release this is part of Mastercard’s plans to strengthen its cross border payments network, expanding on its recent acquisition of global payments company Transfast earlier this year.

The collaboration with R3 is part of the payment giant’s multi-rail strategy, which aims to improve worldwide connectivity in the account-to-account interactions.

The latest deal adds to this by providing access to R3’s Corda ecosystem, which includes more than 300 of the world’s leading financial services firms, technology companies, central banks, regulators and trade associations.

Peter Klein, Executive Vice President of New Payments Platforms at Mastercard, stated:

“Our goal is to deliver global payment infrastructure choice and connectivity as demonstrated through our recent strategic acquisitions and partnerships, including our relationship with R3. It confirms our commitment to innovation, both home-grown and through partnerships and acquisitions, to support advances and innovation in the increasingly complex global payment infrastructure space.”

David Rutter, CEO, R3, added:

“Corda was designed specifically for enterprise use cases such as this, and we look forward supporting Mastercard in bringing blockchain-enabled payments businesses across the globe.”

The R3 agreement comes just days after Mastercard joined the blockchain-based Marco Polo trade finance network. The card firm’s rival Visa is also working hard in the space, recently officially launching its distributed ledger-based, non-card platform for high-value corporate, cross-border payments, B2B Connect.

K-Pop Giant SM Entertainment Plans to Launch Blockchain Platform

Amidst a shareholder battle and a falling stock price, SM Entertainment – one of Korea’s top-three talent agencies – has announced plans for building its own blockchain platform with a native cryptocurrency with goal to power business growth.

According to a report from local media outlet Chosun Ilbo, Joo Sang-sik, director of the company’s technology arm – CT-AI Labs, made the announcement at the Upbit Developer Conference in Incheon on September 4th.

Founded in 1995 by Lee Soo-man, the company is home to some of the biggest names in K-pop – including groups EXO, NCT, Super Junior, Red Velvet and Girls Generation. Last year, SM raked in $518 million in revenues.

SM Entertainment is currently listed on the Korean stock exchange and has a market capitalization of roughly $600 million. The firm has recently gone through a management reshuffle, as shareholders raised concerns about its finances and some of its business decisions. Its stock price has dropped 43% since last November.

According to Joo, the entertainment business currently uses an inefficient payment and settlement systems, therefore he believes blockchain to be the solution that could help address those issues.

Joo stated that the company is aiming to “launch its own blockchain-powered mainnet” and has no plans to use an existing platform. He further explained that the blockchain network would allow fans to be more engaged with the entertainment ecosystem by investing in artists’ work through digital currencies.

SM said it intended to pursue private and public blockchain initiatives and said that it is also currently talking to a number of potential partners regarding the construction of its forthcoming blockchain business.

The report further noted that Joo responded positively to questions about the possibility of launching an SM token, however declined to give a definite answer on the matter. The company strongly believes that a token economy built using cryptocurrency would allow artists to create higher-quality content, powered by fan contributions.

According to the report, the entertainment company sees blockchain as a long-term plan, and that fans could expect to see it develop in stages, according to priority.

As previously reported, several smaller South Korean companies have attempted to link the increasingly lucrative world of K-pop to cryptocurrencies with decidedly mixed results. Last year, a platform called Ko-fun was launched with the objective to allow K-pop-related crypto transactions on a blockchain network. For reference, the platform planned to create coins for individual acts such as a BTS Coin.

However, SM would become the first major South Korean entertainment company to try and move into the cryptoverse in earnest. Prior to this, the company had showed interest in pursuing blockhain, and earlier this year joined Sony and several South Korean entertainment providers on an initiative named snowM.

The joint partnership aims to build and develop a blockchain-powered fan community, and will make use of Dunamu’s Lambda256 blockchain platform.

Department Store Chain in Venezuela Integrates Pundi X Point-of-Sale

Traki, the largest department store in Venezuela, has announced a partnership with Singapore-based Pundi X to integrate blockchain-based cash registers in its 49 retail outlets.

According to a press release published on August 22nd, the giant retail store will integrate Pundi X’s point-of-sale device – XPOS – to offer customers a new method of payment in ten cryptocurrencies and tokens.

The XPOS payments systems will support cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Binance coin (BNB), DAI stablecoin, Digix gold token (DGX), NEM (XEM), KuCoin Shares (KCS), Kyber Network (KNC), and Pundi X’s own two tokens – NPXS and NPXSXEM.

Whilst sharing more details about the new partnership, co-founder and CEO of Pundi X Zac Cheah stated:

“Traki has been one of the early adopters of cryptocurrencies in Venezuela, which highlights its commitment to improve the traditional financial system. We hope the XPOS further expands the crypto use cases that customers have come to expect from Traki.”

He further added:

“We made the XPOS with the mission of creating real-life use cases for blockchain technology, and this couldn’t be better represented than Traki shoppers paying for their daily needs with cryptocurrency.”

Founded in 2017, Pundi X is a developer of blockchain-powered devices, which includes the XPOS and blockchain phone called BOB powered by Function X. The XPOS solution has been present in over 25 markets including Argentina, Australia, Colombia, Korea, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan and the USA. The company aims to roll out 100,000 XPOS devices across the globe by 2021.

Following this partnership, Traki is now a part of Pundi X’s global payment ecosystem, which currently has nearly 300,000 users of XWallet, its mobile crypto wallet, and holders of XPASS – its physical transaction card for crypto payments. According to the press release, out of Pundi’s 300,000 wallet users approximately one-tenth are based in Venezuela.

Chief of Crypto Assets Department at Traki Michael Gomez stated that this new partnership will strengthen and establish its goal to make digital currency as easy and convenient to use as fiat in stores.

“At Traki, we aspire to offer the most convenient options for our customers, and cryptocurrency has proven to be an effective payment solution,” Gomez said.

Meanwhile, a long period of hyperinflation and a lack of liquidity in markets has caused the currency to be severely devalued. Pundi X believes digital currency to be a necessary form of commercial trade, and a perfect way to protect the value of liquid assets.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has attempted to create the Petro, a nationally-backed cryptocurrency, as a way to save the Venezuela economy. Maduro recently ordered banks and state-owned companies to use the token, however many still remain skeptic about the project’s legitimacy.

China Close to Launching Its Own Digital Currency

China’s central bank – People’s Bank of China (PBoC) – has announced that is nearly ready to issue its own sovereign digital currency, according to a senior official.

Mu Changchun, deputy director of the People’s Bank of China’s payments department, has revealed that the bank’s virtual currency was “almost ready” for release. The news was announced by Mu at the China Finance 40 Forum over the weekend.

According to the news report, researchers have successfully developed a prototype that adopts blockchain architecture after five years of research and it is “close to being out.” However, details about the launch have yet to be known.

China’s central bank will reportedly launch its digital token through a two-tier system, with PBoC on an upper level and commercial banks on a secondary level as legitimate issuers.

Mu further explained that issuing a digital currency using a pure blockchain architecture would be difficult to achieve in a country as big as China due to the fact that retailers require high concurrency performance. The bank said it wouldn’t rely on blockchain exclusively, and would instead maintain a more neutral stance on which technology it decides to use.

According to Mu, this will improve accessibility, enhance adoption rates amongst the public as well as promote innovation amongst commercial entities. In addition to that, the digital currency is designed to be suitable for small-scale retail high-frequency business scenarios.

Mu has stressed that the institution’s aim is for the digital currency to replace M0, or cash in circulation, rather than M2, which would generate credit and impact monetary policy. The digital currency would also support the Yuan’s circulation and internationalization, he said.

According to patents registered by the PBoC, consumers as well as businesses would download a mobile wallet and exchange their yuan for the digital money, which they could use to make and receive payments. It is further indicated the wallet would store a digital currency issued by the central bank or any authorized central entity that is encrypted like a cryptocurrency with private keys, offers multi-signature security and is held by users in a decentralized way.

Currently, there are 52 patents filed under the name of the Digital Currency Research Lab of the PBoC, with the latest published in October 9th 2018, having been submitted on March 26th 2018.

Meanwhile, the news comes as global central bankers take a skeptical view on Facebook’s cryptocurrency project – Libra. Earlier in July, former governor of the PBoC Zhou Xiaochuan claimed that Libra poses a threat to payments systems and national currencies and he believed it should come under central bank oversight to prevent potential foreign exchange risks and protect the authority of monetary policy.