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Wednesday 3rd March, 2021

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Fintech

MoneyGram Suspends Ripple Pact Over SEC Suit

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MoneyGram has suspended trading on Ripple’s platform over concerns about the latter’s litigation with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a Finextra report.

In 2019, Ripple agreed to invest up to $50 million in MoneyGram as part of a two-year partnership that has seen the old-school money transfer player tap the blockchain startup’s XRP digital currency for cross-border payment and foreign exchange settlement.

Ripple has effectively been paying MoneyGram to use its on-demand liquidity service, with the money transfer outfit seeing a “net expense benefit” of $12.1 million from Ripple market development fees in the first quarter of 2020.

However, late last year the SEC filed a regulatory lawsuit against Ripple Labs Inc. and two of its executives, alleging that they “raised over $1.3 billion through an unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering.”

The complaint mentions the MoneyGram arrangement, although not the company by name, saying: “The Money Transmitter became yet another conduit for Ripple’s unregistered XRP sales into the market, with Ripple receiving the added benefit that it could tout its inorganic XRP ‘use’ and trading volume for XRP.”

Reporting its fourth-quarter results, MoneyGram now says: “The Company is not planning for any benefit from Ripple market development fees in the first quarter. Due to the uncertainty concerning their ongoing litigation with the SEC, the Company has suspended trading on Ripple’s platform.”

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Fintech

Facebook And Google Eye Indian Digital Payment Network

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Facebook and Google are teaming up with Indian firms, Infibeam and Reliance Industries on an application to set up a national digital payment network in the South Asian country, according to the Economic Times.

The Reserve Bank of India has invited companies to create new umbrella entities (NUEs) that build payments networks that offer an alternative to the bank-owned not-for-profit National Payments Council of India.

Citing sources, the Economic Times says that Google, Facebook, conglomerate Reliance and fintech firm Infibeam are at an advanced stage in submitting their plan to the central bank.

Google and Facebook (through WhatsApp) are already significant players in the fast-growing Indian digital payments market.

Another American giant, Amazon, is rumoured to have teamed up with ICICI Bank to explore its own NUE play. The Reserve Bank is expected to award two licences.

 

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Fintech

Opera Prepares For Roll Out Of Fintech Banking Service

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Opera, an Internet company is moving into financial services with the launch of Dify, an in-browser cashback service and digital wallet for online shopping.

Launching first in Spain, the initial version of the Dify app ships with a current account, a free virtual debit card issued by MasterCard, as well as Google Pay support for offline spending.

The company intends to expand the service across the EU, where it currently claims 50 million active users.

The business developments that preceded the launch included the January 2020 acquisition of Estonian banking-as-a-service startup, Pocosys and takeover terms for the buyout of Lithuanian digital bank Fjord Bank.

“The total size of Opera’s investment into Dify is expected to exceed $100 million over the next few years, given we scale as expected,” says spokesperson Krystian Kolondra, EVP browsers & EEA fintech at Opera.

“This includes acquisitions, development cost and our marketing and distribution plans.”

The first version of the Dify app will allow consumers to receive eCommerce cashback for purchases made on partner websites accessed through the Opera browser.

Partner brands, which include Nike, Sephora and Asos, will appear in a new shopping-related tab on the Opera browser.

Says Kolondra: “Every day millions of people shop online and make their payments using the Opera browsers. With Dify, we are making the browser and a superior wallet work better, together, to improve users’ shopping experience and also make it financially rewarding.”

In the future, Opera’s plans include offering more wallet services like savings management, credit, investment opportunities and instant cashback.

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Fintech

MasterCard, MTN To Empower African Consumers Through Global Payment Platforms

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MasterCard and MTN Tuesday announced a strategic partnership that would enable millions of consumers in 16 countries across Africa to make global e-commerce payments safely and securely.

Through a MasterCard virtual payment solution linked to MTN MoMo (Mobile Money) wallets, consumers and merchants can engage with brands and businesses abroad through digital commerce, extending their reach to an international marketplace and unlocking a host of opportunities.

Across Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile devices are the primary channel used to connect to the internet.

According to GSMA, by 2025, it is estimated that there will be 300 million more people using their devices to access internet services.

In light of this significant growth, mobile financial services have become the dominant form of digital payments, with twice as many mobile money accounts as bank accounts in the region.

As a result, consumers increasingly expect to have access to a broader range of digital financial services.

However, consumers and merchants are mostly restricted to a local base of online and offline businesses, therefore, curtailing customers’ ability to engage in global commerce.

Through this strategic partnership, MTN customers with a MasterCard virtual payment solution linked to their MoMo wallets can make payments to global online merchants through a seamless and secure digital payment experience on websites and mobile applications.

The service is available regardless of whether or not the customer has a bank account.

The solution will enable consumers to explore and shop at well-known global e-commerce brands and pay quickly and securely for leisure shopping, travel, accommodation, entertainment, streaming services and more.

It will also allow small business owners to purchase from suppliers abroad and pay with the virtual payment solution.

“We are very excited about this partnership with MasterCard, which is another step in realizing our ambition to build Africa’s largest fintech platform, accelerating economic and social development through digital innovation to the benefit of citizens across the continent and beyond,” said MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer, Serigne Dioum.

“This noteworthy partnership is another step to enable our customers to participate in the global economy. We are resolute that accelerated financial inclusion is a potent enabler of socio-economic development that empowers the most vulnerable in society,” he concluded.

Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President for Market Development, MasterCard Middle East and Africa, said: “This significant milestone will enable millions of MTN customers to benefit from global digital commerce and drive digital and financial inclusion across Africa through easy and secure access to financial services.

“At MasterCard, our innovation strategy is based on partnerships and collaboration. This agreement with MTN shows that we can deliver innovative digital solutions that have a far-reaching impact and realize the true potential of inclusive growth across the continent.

“Partnering with MTN allows us to accelerate our global pledge to connect 1 billion people to the digital economy by 2025, bringing us closer to a world beyond cash.”

MTN and Mastercard first launched the digital payment solution in 2018 for MoMo customers.

MTN, the largest mobile network operator, is the ‘Most Admired African Brand’ based on spontaneous consumer responses in Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands 2020 survey and the most valuable telecoms brand in Africa by Brand Finance Africa.

The company will extend the virtual payment solution offering throughout its Fintech footprint. The expansion of this payment solution will play a significant role in driving the growth of digital inclusion and e-commerce thus increasing MTN MoMo customer inclusion into the global economy.

Initially designed to facilitate the transfer of cash between mobile users, MTN’s MoMo offering is now much broader – including loans, insurance, remittances and payments.

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