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ACT Canada Driving Insights – May 2019

Welcome to the May 2019 edition of ACT News – Driving Insights. This complimentary service is provided by ACT Canada.  Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues.

In This Issue

Features ACT Canada Members Interac Corp and MasterCard


Features ACT Canada Member Gemalto


Features ACT Canada Member Rogers Bank

Features ACT Canada Members Accenture and American Express



Features ACT Canada Member G+D Mobile Security




Features ACT Canada Member Gemalto

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard



Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard

Features ACT Canada Member Flexiti Financial

Features ACT Canada Member Discover

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard

Features ACT Canada Members Kohl's and Walmart

Features ACT Canada Member CIBC

Features ACT Canada Member MasterCard



ACT Canada Partners



Payment Acceptance Solution Provider

Ingenico Group is the global leader in seamless payment, providing smart, trusted and secure payment solutions to empower commerce across all channels, in-store, online and mobile. With the world’s largest payment acceptance network, we deliver secure solutions with a local, national and international scope in 125 countries. For over 30 years, we have been the trusted world-class partner for financial institutions and for retailers, ranging in size from small merchants to several of the world’s best known global brands. Our smart terminal and mobile solutions enable merchants to simplify payment and deliver their brand promise.

Payment Network Partner

Interac Corp. operates an economical, world-class debit payments system with broad-based acceptance, reliability, security, and efficiency. The organization is one of Canada’s leading payments brands and is chosen an average of 16 million times daily to pay and exchange money. For more than 30 years, Interac Corp. and its predecessors, Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation, have facilitated secure financial transactions through the development of innovative and convenient debit and money transfer solutions. A leader in the prevention and detection of fraud, the organization has one of the lowest rates of fraud globally.

Payments SLT: Payment Disruptors
Who is really disrupting payments? Payments disruption has been an ongoing theme for several years now. Rather than eliminating the legacy players, the disruptors of previous years are now industry partners. In order to determine where we are going, we need to first look at where we've been, how the disruption has played out, and what lessons can be applied to future disruptors.
Conveniently, our monthly meetings give you the platform to do just that. The upcoming session of our Payment Strategic Leadership Team looks at disruptors in the industry and what it means for you. Join a team of payment stakeholders on June 12th in Toronto to discuss the nitty gritty of payment disruption. This gives you the opportunity to:
  • hear what other are thinking
  • gain a new perspective
  • share knowledge with others
  • network with other stakeholders while contributing to a published report
If you're a member, it's free! Sign up here now.
ACT Canada Payments Community Meetup
These meetups are to provide a regular meeting place for the payments community to discuss issues facing our industry - our next meeting is July 9th at the Duke of Westminster in Toronto from 4:30-6:30pm.
The format is a 15-20 minute discussion, led by a subject matter expert, followed by drinks and conversation about the topic. These meetups are open to anyone with an interest in payments and will involve many different stakeholder groups.
Members: $10 (+HST)
Non-members: $25 (+HST)
Mar19 II (1)
april membul meet up (1)



General Member

members since 2016


Looking For good people?

There is a lot of movement in the market, so if you are looking for new employees, we are always aware of some great people. Please contact ACT Canada for more details -


Home Hardware

Calendar of Events

ACT Canada Payments Community Meet Up
Duke of Westminster, Toronto
July 9th, 2019

FinTech Canada
Toronto, ON, Canada
Aug 14th, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 20% discount

Mobile Payments Conference
Chicago, IL, USA
Aug 26-28, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 20% discount
ACT Canada Forum 2019
Toronto, ON, Canada
October 7th, 2019

Las Vegas, NV, USA
Oct 27-30
ACT Canada Members receive a $250 discount

Operational Excellence Week Canada
Toronto, ON, Canada
Oct 21-24, 2019
ACT Canada Members receive a 15% discount



Source: PYMNTS (5/22)


MasterCard and Interac, the global and domestic payment networks, announced Wednesday (May 22) they are collaborating to offer customers in Canada a fast and easy way to send money internationally. In a press release, the companies said Interac is using MasterCard Send, a push-payments service to send money cross-border, on the Interac eTransfer platform. That will enable customers to send money from Canada to bank accounts in Europe. MasterCard and Interac said National Bank will be the first bank to pilot the new service for its banking clients.


“Interac e-Transfer is the go-to way to move your money securely in Canada, as represented by the millions of people who use it each day for their personal and business affairs,” said Peter Maoloni, vice president, product and platform delivery, Interac in the press release. “We think this offering with MasterCard and National Bank to offer a cross-border solution that will leverage the trust and reliability of the Interac e-Transfer brand, will be a game-changer in international remittance — making it easier for financial institutions to connect to the networks, and for their customers to move their money internationally.” According to MasterCard and Interac, Canada is a big market for international payments given its diverse population. Numerous businesses in Canada operate global marketplaces. Citing the World Bank, the companies said $25.4 billion in remittances were sent from Canada to other countries. With the firms partnering up, Canadians will be able to log in to their mobile or online banking services and send funds using the Interac e-Transfer brand.


“Consumers and businesses today operate globally. Whether it’s traveling abroad, sending money to family or friends overseas, or purchasing products from a business in another country, the ability to move funds across borders quickly, easily and securely is becoming a must-have,” Ramesh Jayakrishnan, director of push payments for MasterCard in Canada, said in the same press release. “Financial institutions need cost-effective and trusted solutions to meet their customers’ expectations. This new offering will connect banks to MasterCard Send to help improve customer experience and future-proof their cross-border payment service, all while using the existing Interac e-Transfer platform.” MasterCard and Interac said the service will be rolled out to other financial institutions in Canada in which they can enable customers to send money to international bank accounts, and down the road to mobile wallets and cards.


Source: IT World Canada (5/21)


The federal government has unveiled a 10-principle Digital Charter that promises to apply to future legislation and regulation, including the suggestion of unspecified serious fines to the private sector for not protecting privacy. In many ways the proposals would bring federal privacy private sector legislation — the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) — close to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. However, there will be no immediate changes to the federal private sector privacy legislation, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). The government’s legislative agenda is full and Parliament is expected to rise late in June to allow MPs to campaign for the October election. As such the Digital Charter can be seen as one plank in the Liberal Party platform. The government has promised to consult with the private sector before making changes to PIPEDA. It released this document to guide the discussion. (See below).


“It’s important to support innovators who are job creators,” said Bains. “The digital charter will guide us, but government can’t do this alone. We need business, we must do this together. That’s the only way we’ll succeed, the only way we’ll develop trust in our digital institutions”


The digital charter itself has no legal status. The federal official made it clear it is an aspirational document of the government. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who announced the digital charter today before the Empire Club in Toronto, also said as part of the Charter the government will shortly announce steps to ensure the integrity of democratic institutions and reduce threats from hate and cyber bullying. The principles of the charter, which would need changes in a number of pieces of legislation and regulations to be effective, include:


  • Universal access: Canadians will have equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so. This relates to access, connectivity, digital literacy and digital skills;
  • Safety and security: Canadians will be able to rely on the integrity and authenticity of the services they use and feel safe online’
  • Control and consent. Canadians will have control over the data they are sharing, who is using their personal data and for what purposes is it being used;
  • Transparency portability and interoperability. Canadians will have clear manageable access to their personal data and will be free to share it or transfer it without any undue burden;
  • Open government: Canadians will be able to access digital services from the federal government which are secure and simple to use;
  • Level playing field by ensuring fair competition online;
  • Data for good. “We will ensure the ethical use of data to create value and promote openness to improve lives of people at home and around the world,” Bains said;
  • Strong democracy. The government will ensure transparency of political discourse, defend freedom of speech and protect against online threats and disinformation;
  • Commitment that social media platforms will be free from hate and violent extremism;
  • Strong enforcement and accountability. “There will be clear meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles,” said Bains.
  • The government’s goal is that the Digital Charter will apply to all federal legislation and regulation. However, PIPEDA, the federal Privacy Act (which governs the federal government), the Competition Act, the Canada Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) and possibly the Competition Act would have to be changed.


A federal official briefing reporters this afternoon said there are no plans to introduce changes before the October election.


A discussion paper on possible changes to PIPEDA suggests clarifying what information individuals should receive when they provide consent; certain exceptions to consent; adding the right to data mobility; deletion and withdrawal of consent; incentives for certification, codes, standards, and data trusts; enhanced powers for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner; as well certain modernizations to the structure of the law itself and various definitions.


Among the proposals:

  • Requiring organizations to provide individuals with the information they need to make informed decisions, including requiring specific, standardized, plain-language information on the intended use of the information, the third parties with which information will be shared, and prohibiting the bundling of consent into a contract;
  • Providing for certain alternatives or exceptions to consent to facilitate use of personal information by business under specific circumstances, to cover, for example, common uses of personal information for standard business activities. Likewise, adding a definition of de-identified information, along with an exception to consent for its use and disclosure for certain prescribed purposes and penalties for re-identification, could also enable the use of such information for appropriate purposes, while at the same time ensuring that it is otherwise subject to the protections afforded under PIPEDA. Developing such a definition, however, will be challenging given that nearly any information can be personal information.
  • Consent would still be required for those uses that have the biggest impact on individuals. This would of course not encompass those situations where consent is inappropriate or contrary to the activity, such as investigations, responding to subpoenas or other lawful means to compel the production of information.
  • Informing individuals about the use of automated decision-making, the factors involved in the decision, and where the decision is impactful, information about the logic upon which the decision is based. Such a requirement would not extend to revealing confidential commercial information to an individual. As more complex data uses, especially those that do not involve human discretion, such as those supporting the development of artificial intelligence, increasingly move out of research labs and into the marketplace, automated decision-making will become the norm. With it comes the risk of misuse of personal information that can result in undue discrimination and bias. The purpose of shining more light on automated decisions is to assist individuals in better understanding how such decisions are made about them;
  • Requiring enhanced transparency of practices, by explicitly requiring organizations to demonstrate their accountability, including in the context of trans-border data flows;
  • Requiring organizations to communicate changes or deletion of personal information to any other organization to whom that data has been disclosed;
  • Establishing a regime for use of de-identified data in PIPEDA. In other words, if personal identifiers are stripped from data the remaining information would be protected under law. That data could be legally processed and shared without consent when managed by a data trust. However, there would have to be prohibitions against intentional re-identification or targeting of individuals in data, or re-identification as the result of negligence or recklessness.
  • Although the government is only making proposals, Bains said Canada is now “the go-to jurisdiction when it comes to trust.” Businesses will want to come to Canada because of its privacy laws, he said, while the digital charter creates a framework that provides predictability for businesses to succeed.


There is no proposal to add a so-called right to forget in PIPEDA,  a right included in the GDPR to ask organizations to de-index certain information — like a news story on an old criminal charge, bankruptcy or divorce — so it doesn’t come up first in a search. Instead the background paper notes that the federal privacy commissioner has launched a court case suggesting this right already exists in PIPEDA. The government is waiting for a judicial decision.


Federal privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien may comment on the proposals on Thursday when he speaks at the annual Canadian conference of the International Association of Privacy Professionals in Toronto.


His office did issue a statement saying it welcomes the government’s commitment to undertake legislative reform.


“Given the interests at stake for individual Canadians, the Commissioner’s view is that the starting point for modernizing Canada’s privacy framework is to give it a rights-based foundation. We emphasized that position in our response to the government’s digital and data consultation. The Commissioner called for the law to be updated to recognize that privacy is a fundamental right and a necessary precondition for the exercise of other fundamental rights, including freedom, equality and democracy. As we saw in the Facebook-Cambridge scandal, a lack of respect for privacy rights can lead to very real harms, such as attempts to influence voters in an election.” Halifax privacy lawyer David Fraser wasn’t surprised Bains’ announcement lacked detail. “I expected something more fully formed, rather than something reads like a discussion document,” he said in an interview. But, he admitted, that’s because it has come close to the ending of this session of Parliament.


“Many of the things that are in here aren’t new or innovative ideas, but things that have been discussed for several years.”


He did note that the documents make no mention of the federal privacy commissioner’s recent change in guidance that cross-border data transfers need explicit consent.


Source: Gemlato (5/9)


Gemalto, a Thales company, will implement the Canadian Department of National Defence’s (DND) first Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to increase security and reliability in the collection and verification of fingerprint records. A recent initiative undertaken by the Government of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to advance public safety measures has led to the digitalization of biometric records across the country which will allow for faster and more accurate criminal and civil identity checks. Canada’s DND is the latest to modernize their capabilities. Gemalto’s AFIS will provide a central, digital repository which will then be managed and operated by DND. In addition to the storage itself, the system will collect, process, enroll and verify this biometric data for enrollment/hiring, security clearances and policing.


Information collected from existing booking stations, known as LiveScans, across the country will feed into the DND’s AFIS and be submitted to the RCMP central AFIS, also provided by Gemalto. Both systems may support facial recognition, DNA, and other forms of biometric identification in the future. In addition, Gemalto will be installing a Disaster Recovery (DR) site to protect the DND from losing valuable data. “Thales has a long and successful history delivering mission critical solutions to Canada’s Armed Forces. After 19 years of working with Canadian local and national law enforcement agencies to provide biometric security services and solutions, we are proud to deliver this important security capability to the Department of National Defence,” said Rob Cimperman, Vice President Government Programs at Thales. “The addition of an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and Disaster Recovery (DR) site demonstrates Canada’s commitment to protecting its citizens and keeping Canada safe.”



Source: BBC (5/18)


Google-affiliate Sidewalk Labs had big plans for its internet-based smart city. It was meant to be a vision of how we will all live in future - a smart city built from the internet up - offering citizens the chance to experience the very latest technology. That would include autonomous cars, innovative ways to collect rubbish and shared spaces for communities to come together in new ways. Sidewalk Labs, a sister company to Google, had earmarked disused land in Toronto, Canada for this bold urban experiment, which it hoped would become a model for other cities around the world. The fact that it would be collecting a lot of data from sensors placed all around the harbourside development unsettled some. Now many are asking whether a private firm should take charge of urban improvement at all.


Radical mix


The project was announced to much fanfare in 2017 and the partnership between Sidewalk Labs and Toronto Waterfront, the agency charged with revitalising the area, promised great things. Led by Dan Doctoroff, ex-deputy mayor of New York, working with a team of both government and digital experts, Sidewalk Labs promised a radical mix of offices, retail and makerspaces with a green agenda, robots and underground waste disposal. It would be, said Mr Doctoroff, a happy place to live. Mr Doctoroff was due to speak at the TED conference, hosted on the other side of Canada in Vancouver, in April. He cancelled his appearance at short notice. Meanwhile, back in Toronto, a group of citizens called Block Sidewalk held its inaugural meeting. And none of the people attending seemed particularly happy, according to organiser Bianca Wylie. She told the BBC that those gathered had a range of concerns, from the lack of transparency in the way Toronto Waterfront had awarded the contract to Sidewalk Labs, to doubts about whether the firm has a proven track record in delivering such an ambitious project. There were also concern about what the company was planning to do with the area in the long term.


"This group was formed because leaked documents in the Toronto Star suggested Sidewalk Labs had a far grander vision than the 12-acre (48,500-sq m) site it had talked about. We were concerned that we were not getting transparency," Ms Wylie told the BBC. The article she refers to alleged that the Google-affiliate wanted to build a much bigger neighbourhood at Quayside and provide new transport for it. In return for its investment it wanted a share of property taxes, development fees and increased value of city land that would normally go to the city. This has not been disputed by Sidewalk Labs.


Living in a lab


The 12-acre site in Quayside is currently being developed following Sidewalk Labs' contract win. The idea of the increasingly blurred lines between private firm and public government has a lot of people "very worried", said Dr Anthony Townsend, urban planner and author of a series of books on smart cities.


"Has the land-grab of the digital realm now extended into the financial realm? Is Sidewalks Lab going to monetise transportation and mobility from the government? Is that its real business model?" he asked. For Ms Wylie, there are also a lot of questions to answer about plans for the smaller, 12-acre site.


"We have not been talking about the fact that it is normalising massive data collection or even asking whether anyone wants this thing at all. No-one here has asked for a sensor-laden neighbourhood," she said. "Our waterfront must be developed for the benefit of the citizens of Toronto, not the shareholders of a Google-affiliate." Sidewalk Labs told the BBC that it had not yet submitted its proposals to Waterfront Toronto, and said that it looked forward to "continuing to work with Torontonians to get this right", adding that it was "strongly committed to protection and privacy" of urban data.


Smart city 'hype'


The project also faces legal opposition from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), which is suing three levels of government over its plans to build the smart neighbourhood. Its director Brenda McPhail told the BBC that it was "inappropriate" for a firm like Google to design privacy policies to govern city neighbourhoods. "Comprehensive data collection online is harming individuals and groups," she said.


"It is affecting everything from the way individuals are targeted with products to how they are targeted to influence their votes. So we question why on earth we think it is a good idea to import that big data model into our cities' streets. "The smart city model is all about hype. They believe that if we have enough data we can solve all our problems, and we need to be sceptical about those claims." Sidewalk Labs clearly does not agree. "This debate must be rooted in fact, not fiction and fearmongering. It's unfortunate that once again CCLA has chosen to mischaracterise our work and our engagement with the people of Toronto," it told the BBC in a statement. But CCLA are not lone voices.


Last year, the firm's own privacy adviser Dr Ann Cavoukian resigned. "I imagined us creating a smart city of privacy, as opposed to a smart city of surveillance", she said bluntly in her resignation letter. The firm's final plans for the redevelopment are now behind schedule as it deals with the controversies. Toronto Waterfront chairman Stephen Diamond recently told Canadian publication The Logic that he expects them to be a "few months late". As cities around the world embrace technology and engage with tech firms to improve urban efficiency, will the problems Toronto has encountered give them pause for thought? Prof Saskia Sassen, a smart cities expert who teaches sociology at Columbia University, thinks it might.


"In principle, having a private corporation doing public work is fine and a lot of the time it works out. But when you are dealing with them installing a complex system, then chances are they will also do the next steps - thereby further privatising the work," she told the BBC. "Google is already master of the online domain, so having a company affiliated to them as masters of the offline one as well could be problematic."


Source: Rogers (5/21)


Rogers to light up NB-IoT network technology beginning in Ontario in 2019, builds on Rogers LTE-M network technology launched in 2018. New IoT technologies are strategic step in Rogers multi-year technology plan to bring 5G to Canadians.


Today, Rogers announced its plan to launch Narrow-Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT), a network technology that allows stationary IoT devices and sensors to send and receive small amounts of data over long distances, with very low power requirements. This new technology is best used for Asset Monitoring, Industrial Automation, Smart Meters and Smart Cities.


“This is another first for Rogers in our long history of innovation in IoT. We are thrilled to commit to launching NB-IoT for our customers,” said Dean Prevost, President, Rogers for Business. “With the launch of NB-IoT, we are complementing our national LTE-M network, providing choice to our customers, and empowering innovation by enabling reliable, low power, low cost, and secure IoT solutions.” NB-IoT is complementary to Rogers national LTE and LTE-M networks, which are available to IoT customers across Canada, with additional sites continuously being added, starting with Ontario. In addition, NB-IoT will also enable consumer IoT applications such as personal SOS devices and trackers. Rogers recent investments in spectrum, national wireless network, and IoT are setting the table for 5G with the right infrastructure, partners and investments, to put Canada in the lead. Rogers is offering two choices to customers for low power, wide area networks, making innovative IoT solutions more accessible for Canadian businesses, to help them save money and time. Leveraging Ericsson equipment, these two network technologies will play a vital role in Rogers 5G network rollout.


Rogers continues to expand its portfolio of IoT solutions to meet the needs of Canadian businesses and municipalities. IoT solution providers who are interested in working with Rogers are invited to contact us here. “With 81% of medium and large-sized businesses having adopted IoT solutions as of 2018[i], it is clear that IoT has become integral to the workflow of a majority of Canadian organizations. Business leaders are becoming more and more sophisticated about their connectivity requirements for each IoT deployment,” said Nigel Wallis, Vice President, Internet of Things Research at IDC Canada. “Low-power wide area networks enable businesses to rethink their traditional practices by connecting assets and processes that may previously have been physically or financially challenging. This opens the door to making better decisions faster with more accurate data, a critical step to competing in today’s market.”


NB- IoT: offers ultra narrow bandwidth, 200 kHz and data rates at around 200 / 250 Kbps, without Voice / Mobility Support. This network technology is ideal for IoT devices that generate and receive small amounts of data, have low power requirements and/or have a long life cycle, such as Stationary Asset Monitoring, Industrial Automation, Smart Meters, in-building and Smart City applications.


LTE-M: offers 1.4 MHz bandwidth with data rates up to 1 Mbps, alongside Voice / Mobility Support. This network technology is ideal for IoT devices that are not stationary, for use cases such as Mobile Asset Tracking, Home Security, Telematics, Wearables and Tags.



Source: Forbes (5/13)


According to IDC, 85% of enterprise decision-makers say they have a time frame of two years to make significant inroads into digital transformation or they will fall behind their competitors and suffer financially. Many of the biggest trends and changes to customer experience fall under digital transformation. Companies are seeing the need to focus on creating convenient, digital solutions both internally for their employees and externally for their customers. These statistics show the impact of digital transformation and how digital solutions are a major focus for customers. Digital transformation is the future of customer experience, and companies that don’t embrace changing technology could get left behind.


  • Two-thirds of global CEOs will start focusing on digital strategies to improve customer experience by the end of 2019. *Seagate
  • 34% of companies have already undergone a digital transformation. *Smart Insights
  • 44% of companies have already moved to a digital-first approach for customer experience. *IDG
  • 56% of CEOs said digital improvements have led to revenue growth. *Gartner
  • 75% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history and recommends products based on their preferences. *Accenture
  • More than half of consumers expect a response from customer service within an hour, even on weekends. *Edelman Digital
  • 4 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. *Vxchnge
  • One-third of all purchases during the 2018 holiday shopping season were made on smartphones. *TechCrunch
  • 79% of consumers have made a purchase using a mobile device in the last six months. *Outer Box Design
  • 80% of consumers look up product information, reviews and prices on their smartphones while shopping in a physical store. *Outer Box Design
  • By 2020, 25% of customer service operations will use virtual customer assistants like chatbots, up from 2% in 2017. *Gartner
  • More than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to customer experience by 2020. *Gartner
  • Two-thirds of all customer experience initiatives will use IT by 2022, a jump from half in 2017. *Gartner
  • 60% of companies think they’re providing a good mobile experience, but only 22% of consumers feel the same. *Qualtrics
  • 76% of consumers think companies should understand their expectations and needs. *Salesforce
  • Email is the most commonly used customer service channel, with 54% of consumers using email to contact a company in 2018. *Forrester
  • An additional 34% of companies say they’ll fully adopt digital transformation in the next 12 months. *Seagate
  • 33% of consumers who ended their relationship with a company last year did so because the experience wasn’t personalized enough. *Accenture
  • 43% of Millennials contact customer service from a mobile device. *Microsoft
  • 40% of customers prefer talking to a real human on the phone for complicated issues. *American Express
  • 79% of Millennials are more willing to buy from brands that have a mobile customer service portal. *Microsoft
  • 90% of consumers expect companies to have an online portal for customer service.*Microsoft
  • 66% of consumers have used three or more communications channels to contact a brand’s customer service. *Microsoft
  • More than 60% of Americans prefer solving basic customer service issues through a self-service website or app. *American Express
  • AI spending is expected to total $35.8 billion in 2019, a 44% jump from 2018. *IDC
  • 73% of consumers use more than one channel during their shopping journey. *Harvard Business Review
  • Omni-channel customers spend 4% more in store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. For every additional channel they use, customer spend more money. *Harvard Business Review
  • 65% of consumers research products online before stepping foot inside a store. *Retail Dive
  • 71% of consumers want a consistent experience across all channels, but only 29% say they actually get it. *Gladly
  • 42% of consumers’ total time spent online is on mobile devices. *Stone Temple
  • 53% of people will abandon a mobile site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. *Google Marketing Platform
  • 57% of people won’t recommend a business if its website isn’t designed well for mobile use. *Sweor
  • 63% of Millennials start their customer service interactions online. *Microsoft
  • 72% of customers expect companies to know their purchase history regardless of what method of communication they used, such as chat, phone or email. *NICE
  • 9 out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication methods. *UC Today
  • 84% of customer-centric companies focus on the mobile customer experience. *Vision Critical
  • 63% of consumers are satisfied getting service from a chatbot, as long as they have the option to move the conversation to a human if needed. *Forrester
  • 76% of companies are investing in emerging technology. *Accenture
  • 15% of all customer service interactions will be handled solely by AI in 2021, a 400% increase from 2017. *Gartner
  • 31% of companies have invested in AI in an effort to get ahead of the competition. *Accenture



Source: PYMNTS (5/20)


Mobile commerce might just be the key to saving brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers use their smartphones to shop for everything, everywhere – including using them to help them shop in-store. What’s more, consumers who use their smartphones while shopping in-store visit them more often than consumers who don’t. As much as 81.5 percent of consumers who do say they visit brick-and-mortar shops every day or every week. What’s even more interesting is what they are doing with those smartphones. Some use them to access in-app discounts (46.8 percent do this), some use them to look up product information (43.3 percent) and others simply use them to compare prices at competing merchants (33.6). With smartphones playing such a central role in how consumers shop not only remotely, but also in-store, how can retailers leverage them to increase foot traffic and boost their bottom lines?


In the 2019 edition of the Remote Payments Study, PYMNTS collected and analyzed survey data from 2,300 American consumers to get an in-depth look at how they use an assortment of connected devices — and especially the smartphone — to browse, shop and buy items online and in-store. According to our research, smartphones, laptop and desktop computers are still the most popular ways for consumers to make remote purchases. As much as 37.4 percent of consumers whose last purchase was a retail item bought that item on their personal computers, and 27.7 percent bought it on their smartphones.


Consumers still appear to prefer shopping in stores when purchasing food, though. Just 11.4 percent of those whose last purchase was a food item bought that item via computer, and just 13.8 percent did so via smartphone. Regardless of whether a consumer is shopping in-store or remotely, smartphones are helping make their payments faster and more convenient — mainly by allowing their browsers and mobile apps to store their payment information. In Q1 2019, 26.6 percent of consumers used payment information stored in their browser to process their mobile payments, and 17.1 percent stored it in a mobile app. With this information in place, consumers can browse, shop and buy items online with minimal friction.


Yet, the uses for mobile-assisted payments don’t end there.


Source: Forbes (5/11)


Of all of the announcements and discussions at Facebook’s F8 conference earlier this month, a little-noticed session documenting the company’s efforts to move its AI-powered content moderation directly to users’ phones is perhaps one of the most Orwellian AI-related announcements in recent memory, even by Facebook’s surveillance state standards. Yet, perhaps the most frightening aspect of that presentation was a brief set of remarks by one of Facebook’s engineers that, while not mentioning encryption explicitly, bears heavily on the fate of end-to-end encryption in a world where Facebook need to be able to bypass that encryption to harvest that protected content for its own AI training needs. What does this tell us about the future of AI?


In Facebook’s presentation about its edge AI efforts earlier this month, the company touted the benefits of moving its deep learning-powered content moderation algorithms directly onto users' phones and how in the future that would permit it to prevent unapproved content from ever being shared or communicated to others in the first place.


The problem with performing content moderation directly on users’ devices, according to Facebook, is not the technical issue of actually running the algorithms within the constraints of small power-limited mobile devices, but the fact that it will no longer have its own copy of that content to train better AI algorithms and verify their performance. Today when you upload photos of an intimate family gathering, you’ve granted Facebook the legal right to take all of your photographs for its own commercial benefit and use them to train its next generation of algorithms.


In contrast, if Facebook were to start scanning your photos directly on your phone, if its algorithms flagged one as a violation of its acceptable speech policies, it would have no knowledge that there was an attempted violation nor any copy of the offending content, since the scanning occurred entirely on your phone. The company raises the issue of ideally having your phone send an alert to Facebook that you attempted to send a prohibited message. Yet, even an alert is not sufficient, since it only tells Facebook there was a potential violation but does not give it an actual copy of the flagged content to verify and use as training data to improve its algorithms. The company notes the importance of being able to access content that is stored only locally on your device, such as would be the case with an end-to-end encrypted messaging platform like WhatsApp in which only the sender and recipient of a message have access to its unencrypted contents.


The company raises the dual issues of alerts and access to protected content that the user has taken great steps not to share with the company (and which the user might rightfully assume cannot be accessed by the company due to Facebook’s claims of end-to-end encryption being privacy-protecting) but does not offer any suggestions of how it plans to address either issue. The most likely scenario would be that even in end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp, an attempt to send an encrypted message containing a post that Facebook’s algorithms running locally on the phone flag as prohibited, would result in an alert being sent to Facebook and a copy of that post being sent to Facebook for its review and use in training its AI algorithms.


Given that a user blocked from sending a prohibited post would be unlikely to click “Yes” on a popup asking them if they would be willing to share their prohibited content with Facebook to help train its algorithms, such transmission of the unencrypted content back to Facebook would likely have to be done without the user’s explicit knowledge. Facebook’s terms of service grant it the legal right to do so, but such activities would raise grave security concerns. An alternative possibility would be that instead of sending a copy of offending content back to its central data centers, perhaps Facebook’s deep learning moderation algorithms of the future could be trained in distributed fashion directly on users' devices. Rather than clusters of tens of thousands of GPUs in centralized data centers crunching through two billion users’ private information, that information would be processed at rest across tens of billions of user devices.


When Facebook’s moderation algorithms of the future flag a post as being prohibited, instead of sending a copy back to their central data center, perhaps a training algorithm could run directly on the user’s phone to analyze the content along predefined dimensions. Perhaps moderation algorithms even become personalized through a central model that is customized per-user using transfer learning and local training through some form of additional processing. This raises the question of whether our current approach to building the massive deep learning algorithms that power our digital society could eventually be built using our data at rest on our own devices, rather than requiring our data to be mass harvested and centralized for training purposes. This would be far more privacy-protecting but does not solve the problem that human review and spot checks are still required, especially for edge cases.


Perhaps such human annotation occurs when an algorithm flags a post that the user disputes as being disallowed. In this case, each time on-phone moderation algorithms flag a post, other on-device training algorithms improve Facebook's moderation algorithms using that post as part of a distributed training process. If the user disputes the violation, they would have to agree to send an unencrypted copy of the post to Facebook for human review, which would yield the subsequent human annotations needed for Facebook's algorithmic training. Such a model could even assist with facial recognition. Rather than building facial recognition models locally, Facebook could train across all of the photographs on a user's phone, including those the user has never shared with Facebook. Only the final facial model would be transmitted back to Facebook's servers or perhaps applied exclusively on-phone, with matches sent back to Facebook. Done creatively, this might even shield portions of Facebook's facial recognition efforts from many data protection laws.


Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.


Putting this all together, Facebook’s research on edge AI reminds us that the company’s public utopian vision of absolute privacy enforced through end-to-end encryption collides directly with its need to mass harvest our personal data to train its massive deep learning algorithms. In the end, rather than governments demanding encryption backdoors, it will likely be technology companies themselves building in those bypasses to ensure the continued flow of our personal data that is the lifeblood of their AI future.


Source: G+D Mobile Security (5/21)


G+D Mobile Security explains why eSIM technology will soon conquer the mass market. eSIM technology promises numerous advantages to the users of smartphones and other connected devices. Many devices now shipping all around the world are equipped with a permanently installed SIM chip on which users can easily download their network operator profiles "over the air". The activation and management of mobile phone contracts will also become much easier for both users and network operators.


When entering a new contract, customers no longer have to order and insert physical SIM cards into their phones. If you are travelling abroad, you can also activate a local/second mobile network provider for voice and data services in just a few minutes. eSIM technology, which has been used successfully in industrial machine-to-machine communication (often considered Internet of Things) for many years and continues to grow dramatically, is therefore set to conquer the consumer mass market. G+D Mobile Security lists below five clear signs that eSIM is on the verge of a broad breakthrough.


  1. Apple relies on eSIM


At the launch of its new iPhones, Apple announced that all three new iPhones support eSIM functionality; eSIM was already supported in the Apple watch and Apple iPad offerings. This announcement has encouraged the advancement of integration of eSIM into other vendors devices. As a result, industry analysts forecasts for the eSIM market (within consumer devices) for the year 2019 were increased almost tenfold.


  1. Other leading manufacturers are active


Many other players are also actively driving the use of eSIM technology. Large and innovative manufacturers like Samsung have already implemented eSIM technology in several product generations of their smartwatches, and Google, as another example, uses the advantages of this technology in its Google Fi service. Leading Chinese and Japanese manufacturers are also already testing and preparing for the technology. The first eSIM-only phone has been available in Japan for several months.


  1. Further device types will follow


In addition to smartphones and smartwatches, manufacturers are increasingly equipping tablets and notebooks with eSIM functionality. It provides these devices with a permanent internet connection, which is increasingly a matter of course for mobile employees and an expectation of the millennial generation. Hence, "always connected" is becoming increasingly obligatory for companies.


4. Network operators are "eSIM ready"


The network operator community is prepared for the broad use of eSIM. Major mobile communications providers worldwide already offer management services for eSIM and are continuously expanding them. eSIM as an emerging topic is also of strategic importance for smaller mobile communications providers who are racing to catch up.


  1. Global standard is ready


A GSMA specification now provides a global standard for remote SIM provisioning (RSP) of consumer devices. This means that all providers in the ecosystem of the mobile industry, be they operators or device vendors, can embrace a framework that enables users worldwide to manage the eSIMs in their mobile devices.


"eSIM technology has reached the mass market – even earlier than expected," explains Carsten Ahrens, CEO of G+D Mobile Security. "The essential thing is to maintain, if not increase, the core foundation of security throughout. Our eSIM solutions combine the highest security levels of the traditional physical SIM card with significantly improved usability."



Source: Forbes (5/15)


It might be a few years until we’re all using global fifth-generation cellular wireless (5G) technology, but experts at Deloitte say that this new iteration of wireless could make an impact by the end of this year. While consumers will likely notice that 5G enables lightning fast downloads, connects millions of “Internet of Things” devices to one another, and removes the lag in their video chats, they may not realize that 5G will also be a key factor in enhancing their banking experience. Here are five surprising ways that 5G will be a catalyst for an optimized, personalized digital banking experience in the years to come.


Instant big-ticket purchasing can finally be seamless.


The arrival of the high-speed, real-time data flow that 5G enables will help streamline cumbersome processes that often accompany big-ticket purchases. Find a car at the local dealership you want to buy today? 5G can speed up the whole process—from application to credit check to personalized financing offer to approval and funds availability in one slick, end-to-end experience. Want to secure a mortgage? 5G will help streamline the digital application process. By leveraging the speed and capacity in this new wireless world, banks that invest in tools to combine artificial intelligence, data and 5G will be able to run many parallel processes in real time. In turn, it could improve the speed and accuracy behind lending decisions and will optimize lending rates to match each unique applicant’s reality. And thanks to 5G’s high-resolution streaming capabilities, customers will have real-time access to video consultations with financial representatives – both virtual and human – who can help them make informed financing decisions.


A reason to abandon a physical wallet, once and for all. 


Nearly 20 percent of senior millennials in FIS’ 2019 Performance Against Customer Expectations (PACE) survey said they’ve recently stopped using cash in favor of mobile payments. As 5G marches toward ubiquity, consumers will experience a newfound uniformity between their phone, watch, wearable and connected car—to the extent that they can rely entirely on digital payments. The ease of use combined with increased transaction speed and personalized offers will make mobile payments more valuable for everyone involved. As 5G enables even more value-added innovations, it could help increase consumer confidence in fully digital payments and help sway more tech-averse consumers to reconsider their payment behaviors.


More accurate fraud prevention.


Customers may notice that 5G removes performance hiccups with payments made via wearables and IoT connected devices. Less visible but equally important will be all the enhancements that 5G brings to other transactions made with a mobile device. For instance, because 5G allows more data to travel across networks in real-time, it will enhance proactive fraud prevention. As soon as a customer initiates a mobile payment transaction, banks will able to more rapidly comb through data like geolocation, transaction amount, and the merchant ID to reduce fraud detection errors. As a result, fewer legitimate mobile wallet transactions will be wrongly declined at the point of sale for (incorrectly) suspected fraud. In turn, banks gain the advantage of fewer irritated customers who stop using their card due to fraud prevention error.


Enhanced security.


In a pre-5G environment, security vulnerabilities detected within an app require an update, often including manual intervention from the mobile app user. With 5G, banks can update and add enhancements in real-time, without bugging the consumer. The arrival of 5G will also promote increased use of multimodal biometric security measures that combine nuances like a customer’s gait and position in which he holds a mobile phone to make a payment to validate a mobile user’s identity.


Improved access for unbanked/underbanked regions.


Direct-to-consumer banks have made it easier for consumers to bank when, where and how they want, and 63 percent of customers who use a direct bank report being “extremely satisfied.” Yet, there remain millions of people around the world who live in rural areas and lack access to high-speed broadband. As 5G becomes more prevalent and affordable, it will help enable a richer digital banking experience through virtual reality-based customer service, financial advice and wealth management support—all of which could improve financial inclusion in historically underserved areas. Consumer demand for better, more seamless digital experiences is at an all-time high and continuing to escalate. And while there’s many technologies that already exist or are being developed to meet those needs, the increased bandwidth of 5G will invariably help financial services (among other industries) to further step their game up.


Source: Forbes (5/21)


In late 2017, while virtually every cryptocurrency was shooting upward, people started gushing about “security tokens,” or digital coins that could represent traditional investment securities. The underlying idea made sense: creating digital versions of paper documents like private real estate investments and company stock would make them more portable and liquid, driving up demand. Many called it the next “mega-trend” in crypto. Conferences sprung up entirely focused on security tokens.


But fast-forward a year and a half, and progress has stalled. More than 100 security tokens have been created, according to Polymath, a startup that helps companies mint coins. But they’re not liquid. In the U.S., just two exchanges exist where these assets trade, and volume is tiny. Openfinance trades only four assets with daily transactions of less than $1 million a day, we estimate. Overstock’s Tzero exchange trades a single asset, its own “Tzrop” token. Many of the barriers to adoption are regulation-related. For U.S. companies to build a trading venue for security tokens, they must register as a broker-dealer with the SEC and get a license for either an exchange or an alternative trading system (ATS), which requires a long and costly process. One crypto CEO says the SEC is dragging its feet on evaluating and granting new ATS applications to digital asset companies. Holding periods are also a delaying factor: After a brand new security is formed and purchased by an initial buyer, it typically can’t change hands for a year due to regulations.


In theory, security tokens could allow for a “global IPO,” says Olga Feldmeier, founder and CEO of Swiss security token exchange Smart Valor. Ideally with these tokens, U.S. investors could just as easily invest in a public company based in Mumbai as they could a New York company, which is far from the case today. But all participating nations would need to agree on a common framework. For example, in Switzerland, securities settlement can already happen on the blockchain, Feldmeier says. In the U.S., it’s controlled by the DTCC, a New Jersey clearinghouse that handles 90 million transactions daily. Over the past year, while the crypto market dropped steeply, it became clear that simply converting an illiquid paper security into a digital asset wouldn’t boost interest. Many people had underestimated the difficulty of generating investor demand for securities. Dovey Wan, a crypto investor and cofounder of blockchain holding company Primitive Ventures, says, “A real estate security token offering should be led by an existing real estate or REIT firm, where supply inventory can be guaranteed, and demand can come from existing channels.”


Josh Stein, CEO of San Francisco security token platform Harbor, agrees. “People have realized that yelling the word token is not a substitute for a good investment or distribution channels.” In April, a $20 million security token offering led by Harbor was canceled after the participating real estate firm, Convexity Properties, couldn’t get favorable terms on the loan it was using to finance the deal. Today, Stein says Rhodium Capital Advisors will use Harbor to make $100 million worth of its real estate investments available through digital tokens. Polymath CEO Trevor Koverko believes his company’s new blockchain will provide better security than Ethereum—the platform where most security tokens live today—and will boost adoption. The long-term benefits of security tokens remain compelling. Fred Schebesta, founder of Australian comparison site Finder and cofounder of crypto exchange HiveEx, says that faster settlement for banking transactions is the most important feature, since multiple parties can plug into the same shared ledger. That eliminates the need to send many messages back and forth and pass through various checkpoints, the setup in today’s banking system.


The short-term outlook seems dim. A year from now, we’ll be in “about the same place,” said Philippe Bekhazi, CEO of crypto trading firm XBTO, at the Consensus conference last week. Smart Valor’s Olga Feldmeier thinks it will take five to ten years to build the cross-jurisdictional infrastructure necessary for security tokens to trade across nearly every country. One thing is for sure: if adoption is contingent on regulators making a move, investors will be waiting longer than they’d like.


Source: PYMNTS (5/21)


Biometric authentication enables processes as simple as unlocking a smartphone and as complex as streamlining airport security checks. With that in mind, FIs are currently looking into the technology and considering what role it can play in cracking down on money laundering and facilitating KYC checks. This month’s Deep Dive explores biometrics’ viability in their security efforts.


Onboarding Security


More than 13 billion U.S. records were lost or stolen between 2013 and 2018, thereby driving up application fraud rates and costs. Some estimates project that credit card and deposit account application fraud will cost U.S. banks as much as $2.7 billion in 2020. The banks working to increase application security and cut back on these expenses must do so without introducing frictions that could deter legitimate customers, however. Biometrics could be useful in such a scenario, as it removes traditional passwords and PINs, providing a relatively streamlined onboarding experience. These technologies are particularly successful at thwarting fraudsters, as bad actors can no longer use stolen information-based login credentials or spoofed device IDs to access customers’ accounts.


Individuals without traditional government-issued identification documents can also benefit from biometrics, as the technology essentially gives them a form of identification. This was one of the driving factors behind India’s biometric-based Aadhaar identification project, which provided such services in a country where forged documents had become common and more than half a billion citizens lacked IDs. Banks could accept Aadhaar as a form of ID starting in 2014, and one study suggests the move and other initiatives increased financial inclusion among Indian adults by 20 percent between 2014 and 2015. Greater financial inclusion often makes AML efforts easier, as consumers without bank accounts are forced to rely on difficult-to-trace cash. Enabling these consumers to join the formal, regulated financial system could increase the number of traceable transactions, thereby boosting transparency and making money laundering more challenging. Governments and private providers wanting to promote these biometric services must assure users that they will securely handle their personal data, however.


While it may provide easier onboarding for some consumers, others could view biometrics as a barrier. Diseases such as leprosy can cause damage to the iris and fingers, which impedes eye- and fingerprint-based based scans, for example. Indian residents with similar issues have been denied necessary services after being unable to enroll their data into Aadhaar.


Transactional Security


Biometrics can also impede cross-border money laundering, though. Fraudsters may be able to forge passports, but it is far more difficult to fake biometric credentials such as fingerprints or facial patterns. That is especially true if the security measures mandate liveness detection, which ensures genuine consumers are physically present for transactions rather than holding up photos or masks of their faces. Fraud can also be combatted at biometric-enabled ATMs, at which some banks have installed facial recognition or palm vein scanners. Financial services giant Visa has been trialing its own solution – EMV-enabled credit cards with fingerprint scanners – to allow customers to bypass signatures and quickly verify their identities. Biometrics may help FIs serve individuals with cognitive impairments like dementia, too. These individuals may struggle to remember passwords and PINs, which biometric access removes from the process.


Limits and Considerations


Financial security is a complex issue that biometrics cannot resolve on its own, however – and that’s true no matter how useful and convenient the technology may be. Biometric data must be accurately collected upon enrollment and securely stored and transmitted if a system is to recognize a customer. Businesses must also use robust encryption and other security measures to protect those databases and ensure that fraudsters cannot gain access. A customer can change a password that becomes compromised should a hacker breach defenses, after all, but cannot change their thumbprints or faces should such information be stolen.


It is possible for the human body to undergo temporary and permanent changes, too, meaning stored biometric data may not forever align with what is presented. Fingerprints can fade as people age, for example, making it difficult for scanners to read them. Traditional passwords, on the other hand, will always perfectly match with what a company has on file. FIs looking to improve their KYC and AML processes are debating whether to add biometric solutions to their arsenals, including whether applying this additional layer of security outweighs the risks should something go wrong. No technology is without flaws, though, and there will always be limitations to take into consideration.


Source: Gemalto (5/13)


​Electoral commissions have the delicate task of maintaining reliable and correct electoral registers as part of the execution of the election. To help ensure secure and accurate voter verification before issuing ballot slips, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in the Philippines has appointed Gemalto, a Thales company, and Nextix as technology partners to develop, deploy and support the Biometric Voter Verification System for the 2019 Philippines National and Local Election. The aim is to automate the verification of voters through the use of their biometrics information.


Biometric voter verification equipment


Addressing this need, Gemalto will provide over 30,000 biometric tablets to enable rapid identification and authentication of voters in the designated precincts across the Philippines. With the tablets that feature Gemalto's Voter Verification System, authorities will be able to reduce fraud by verifying voters' identity via their fingerprints. This will also help cut waiting times for the voters and authorities tremendously. COMELEC will use the Gemalto solution to verify the identity of voters. This was put to a test at the first time during the mock elections held on 19th Jan 2019, in preparation for the actual polls in May 2019. Instead of manually checking the COMELEC's voters list, members of the Board of Election Inspectors used the Voter Registration Verification Tablet, a system that removes the need for voters to present their identification card. Thanks to the tablet the electoral board will identify the voter's with his fingerprint to determine if the voter is registered and whether the individual belongs to the certain precinct. If the individual is a registered voter, the tablet will validate the registration and a he will receive the necessary ballot.


Fingerprints serve as a key to avoid duplication. The aim is to ensure that citizens are not able to use several identities to vote multiple times. The Voter Verification System implements a quality control to verify that the data has been captured and verified correctly. Authorities are also able to track voting activity and participation rate via logs and audit reports. These steps will ensure the best possible level of security for elections to take place. "Secure, reliable and comprehensive enrollment and ID verification are the foundations of citizen registration, voting processes and border controls," said Dir. James Jimenez. "With Gemalto's Voter Verification System, we are able to streamline not only the verification but moving ahead, our registration processes bring greater convenience to citizens, guaranteeing the quality and confidentiality of data captured. We are excited to deploy this solution – a first for the Philippines government."


"In today's environment, authorities face numerous challenges. Biometrics serve as the primary data that establishes an individual's identity is accurately collected and verified. We are proud that the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chose Gemalto biometric solution to verify the identity of voters. It is an honor to help COMELEC transform the agility and efficiency of the voters' verification and registration processes." Tan Teck Lee, Asia President, Identity & Biometric Solutions, Thales.



Source: MasterCard (5/7)


MasterCard and Edenred today announced the first regional test of biometric card technology in Mexico. The effort, focused on state benefits programs, features an embedded fingerprint sensor that provides an additional layer of security to conveniently verify the cardholder’s identity for in-store purchases. “The Administration for Sonora state is committed to technological innovation and the introduction of the biometric card for social benefits programs reflects this commitment. Our beneficiaries will experience greater security when receiving and using their benefit, since the cardholder’s identity is protected and only the owner of the card can use it” said Manuel Puebla Espinoza de los Monteros, Secretary of Social Development in Sonora (SEDESSON).


The biometric features can be implemented on any MasterCard card product (credit, debit, prepaid) and work with existing EMV card terminals globally, helping merchants enhance the shopping experience without requiring any hardware or software upgrades. “This trial allows MasterCard and Edenred to support financial inclusion and implement new technology, in partnership with the Mexican state social welfare agency in Sonora, demonstrating the true value of public-private partnerships in delivering meaningful programs. By simplifying a typical purchase transaction, we can demonstrate that this technology works for the benefit of the people who need it the most and ensure that their disbursements are received securely,” explained Jorge Noguera, president, Mexico and Central America, MasterCard.


Issuers can leverage the biometric match data to increase their approval rates and help reduce the potential of card-present fraud. Benefit program providers can glean greater insight into user spending and show their commitment to technology and innovation. “We are very pleased to pioneer this biometric technology with MasterCard in Mexico.  This trial provides significant opportunities in security and proof of identity for the user with the unique form of identification, the fingerprint. Furthermore, this technology will reduce the use of cash payments, improving the user experience, and will help with the allocation of funds, especially within social programs,” said Andrea Keller, CEO, Edenred México.



Source: PYMNTS (5/22)


In fact, the first time must be a charm. No, we are not talking about first dates or so-called “meet cutes” in movies. We are talking about consumer acceptance of contactless payments in the U.S. – specifically, the use of such payments for mass transit in New York City. It’s an unforgiving environment where people are famously told not to look too long at other riders, so you can imagine the frustrations in store if those payments should fail while someone is trying to catch a subway to work.


In a new PYMNTS discussion, Dan Sanford, Visa’s global head of contactless payments, talked with Karen Webster about the May 31 launch of a contactless payments pilot involving the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City and Chase. The MTA, according to Visa, becomes the first U.S. transit agency to implement contactless payments using Visa’s global transit framework. That means riders can use any Visa credential – whether it’s a Visa contactless card, mobile device or wearable – to pay for rides (along with other retail purchases, of course). In reality, and for the time being, this effort is about contactless cards more than other payment forms, but the impact could still be significant. “This is really going to change New Yorkers’ daily lives,” Sanford said.


Mass Transit Experience


That might sound like PR hype, but think about it from the point of big-city consumers – the rush for a bus or subway is often fraught with anxiety and anticipation, and there are always those times when a closed-loop fare payment method is out of funds right when that rush hour train is pulling into the station, or times when the contact fare technology sputters a bit, delaying the line past the turnstiles and causing people to miss their trains. Indeed, according to Visa statistics, 67 percent of riders have missed a train while waiting in line to reload a fare card. As well, 83 percent of consumers said they’ve had trouble getting their fare cards to work at turnstiles, and 66 percent have left funds on transit cards (the definition of leaving money on the table).


The pilot that starts May 31 involves the 4/5/6 lines between the Grand Central-42nd Station and the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center Station, as well as all Staten Island buses. Over time, all New York City subway lines and bus routes will accept contactless payments, Visa said. But for that contactless future to advance, the technology has to work the first time, a vital step in making contactless payments a daily, even mundane habit for more consumers. Sure, this pilot only applies to big-city residents – and visitors to New York City, of course – but every successful contactless effort pushes the ball (chip?) forward, so to speak. As Sanford told Webster, the best messaging Visa can do around contactless is just directing consumers to places where it’s been implemented – including retail stores, not just mass transit stations – and make sure it works.


Moving Past EMV


The ongoing push toward more contactless payments in the U.S. comes as merchants and payment services providers move past their work of shifting to the EMV payment standard. Globally, of course, tapping to pay with contactless cards has already taken off: According to figures from Sanford during the PYMNTS interview, 48 percent of “face-to-face transactions” outside the U.S. involve contactless payment cards or other contactless payment methods. But the U.S. is moving toward contactless with increased speed, at least according to many observers. Visa recently said that 80 out of Visa’s top 100 merchants by transactions in the U.S. currently offer customers the ability to tap to pay at checkout. As well, 11 out of the top 25 U.S. issuers are now rolling out newly available contactless cards.


For mass transit – upon which tens of millions of U.S. consumers rely daily – the path has largely been set by Transport for London, which operates mass transit for the U.K. capital. When it moved from closed-loop payments to open-loop contactless, Sanford said, “it just blew past everyone’s wildest expectations of just how quickly” consumers would gravitate to such payments in a busy, high-energy, little-room-for-error environment. Now, he said, “New York is leading the charge in the U.S.” Whenever mass-transit systems change over their payment methods, there is often a period of time when station agents need to be on hand to educate consumers about using the new fare options. That could also be the case in New York City in the coming weeks, Sanford said. But success with contactless there – enabling consumers to pay not only for fares, but also such goods as coffee and snacks – could go a long way toward promoting other uses of contactless in other parts of the country.


Source: Forbes (5/15)


Google has today revealed the results of research into website creation and online security which makes for bittersweet reading. On the positive side websites are seemingly easier than ever to design and launch; doing so in a secure manner is another thing altogether.


To mark the one year anniversary of the .app domain that comes with security built in, Google Registry commissioned a survey of consumer security understanding. I can reveal the results of that Harris Poll research today and they don't make for comfortable reading if you are a website creator or even just a web user. How people rated their understanding of online security, how safe they see their own online usage in other words, revealed quite some gap between perception and reality. Some 55% gave themselves an A or B when it comes to being secure online, this in spite of the fact that 64% admitted to using the same password on more than one website. Then there were the 70% unable to identify what a safe URL should look like and the 97% who got at least one question wrong in a basic six question security test. "The security test showed respondents six emails with clickable links to slightly different web addresses" Stephanie Duchesneau, a program manager at Google explained to me. Some of the links were safe, but others used commonplace tactics that are employed by those with criminal intent to trick users into visiting insecure and unsafe sites. "A hacker might put the number 0 in place of the letter O," Duchesneau explains, continuing "in other cases, they may display the correct website in text but hyperlink to another web address, which is only revealed if users take care to hover over the link."


What about the 64% that reuse passwords across sites and services? You might imagine, given the media coverage of major breaches,that awareness of the dangers of doing this was improving. Those numbers suggest it's not improving enough. So what needs to be done to bring password reuse right down? "For human behavior to change this issue needs to become personal one," says Ralph Echemendia who is perhaps better known as "The Ethical Hacker" but is also CEO at mobile security vendor Seguru. "These massive breaches have yet to be perceived on a personal level," Echemendia continues, "we think this is their problem not our problem, but we are the problem and hence we are the solution." Awareness is certainly the answer in my never humble opinion, yet Google's Duchesneau admits that security awareness is still lagging. "The marketing rule of seven states that someone needs to hear a message at least seven times before they take action," she says, "so the more we can spread the word, the better." But Duchesneau also insists that "companies need to build simple tools that automatically protect users effectively, so they aren't required to be experts on things like encryption in order to be safe online." Obviously it should come as no surprise that Duchesneau was keen to suggest Chrome's password manager as being a good example, promoting security "by allowing users to set those unique, complex passwords without having to remember them across sites on their own."


The survey also revealed that 45% of those questioned were planning to create a business website of their own, with 65% considering using something other than a .com domain. That latter statistic is an important one in the drive towards a more secure web. While 90% of traffic using the Google Chrome web browser on Windows is now encrypted, with 89% of the top 100 non-Google sites on the web defaulting to HTTPS, 42% of those questioned didn't even know there was a difference between sites whose address starts with HTTP and HTTPS. As a thirty year veteran of the online world, I can hardly say I am surprised. Most people could care less about the technicalities of the technology they use, they just want it to work. Of course, they also want that technology to be secure regardless. Which begs the question that as websites become ever easier to create, what needs to be done to make creating a secure website the default?


"Site owners have a responsibility to ensure their websites are safe and secure for their visitors," Duchesneau told me, continuing "luckily, there are a lot of tools to make this easier." Ensuring users can access the site over an encrypted HTTPS connection is both "free and easy using Let's Encrypt," Duchesneau says. And she's right, but not every web creation service or platform provides this as an option and many seem to make the whole process unnecessarily complicated and make HTTPS an expensive optional extra. Echemendia agrees, telling me that "making your site SSL-enabled to most is a pain in the ass," as is "maintaining those certificates over time." And therein lies the rub: cybersecurity technologies all too often create solutions in response to problems rather than being proactive and doing so to enhance both the user experience and online safety. "Let's face it most hackers are great at creating problems," Echemendia continues, "but the same mentality cannot be used for creating truly innovative security solutions..."


Which is where the Google Registry idea of automatically adding the entire top level .app,. page and .dev domains to the HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) pre-load list comes into play. This is a list of websites that browsers including Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari can only communicate with by way of an encrypted connection. "What this means for website owners who build on these domains is that they don't need to do the extra work of adding their sites to the list," Duchesneau explains, "the extra security is built-in and their website can never be accessed without an encrypted connection." The notion is spreading beyond the Google Registry domains I'm pleased to say, with. bank and .insurance already having launched as secure top level domains and .music has announced it will do the same when it launches. As Duchesneau concludes, "the choices we make as an industry have the potential to really affect the security of the internet as it evolves..."


Source: MasterCard (5/21)


MasterCard today announced that it will collaborate with Samsung to explore and deliver a better way for people to conveniently and securely verify their digital identity on the mobile devices they use every day. People today are juggling multiple passwords and documents in an attempt to keep their identifying data and money safe.  They have to repeatedly provide large amounts of personal information to numerous agents, and the more it is shared, the greater the risk.  They lack control over their personal identity data and where they do have rights, there is often little transparency.


Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber & intelligence at MasterCard, said: “Our digital and physical lives are merging and we need a digital identity solution that reflects this reality. Without control over how their data is used, people rely on outdated systems that can compromise their security. Our collaboration with Samsung advances a digital identity solution that is bound to a trusted device – the mobile phone – which is used by millions of people every day.” People will soon be able to access a digital identity capability on their devices for interactions in both the physical and digital worlds. This will provide consumers with a more efficient way to interact with businesses and service providers, whether opening a bank account, accessing e-mail and social media, video streaming or shopping online.


“At Samsung, we believe consumers should be in complete control of the privacy and security of their personal identity and we’re excited to work with MasterCard to bring the first digital identity solution to Samsung smartphones,” said Yongje Kim, EVP and head of service business office at Samsung Electronics Mobile Division. The collaboration with Samsung builds on MasterCard's commitment to improve how people manage and use their digital identity, and follows the publication of the company’s model for digital identity in an increasingly connected world.  The model is founded on user-centric principles such as data ownership, confidentiality, consent and transparency, embodies privacy-by-design and does not collect identity data.



Source: Flexiti Financial (4/30)


Flexiti Financial, a leading provider of point-of-sale consumer financing solutions for retailers announced today that JYSK, a fast-growing home furnishings retailer offering products with Scandinavian influence, has signed a long-term agreement to leverage its point-of-sale financing technology. The agreement follows a successful pilot at select JYSK locations across Canada. Flexiti's mobile, fully automated and 100% paperless financing solution provides customers with quick and easy access to revolving credit and flexible payment options, including 0% financing. The application takes only a few minutes and grants qualified customers a private label credit card usable within Flexiti's network of nearly 4,000 retail locations across Canada. Flexiti's solution increases affordability and improves the shopping experience for customers both in-store and online.


"Customers don't want to sacrifice comfort and style for affordability when furnishing their home," said Mohammed Mahabub, Chief Financial Officer of JYSK Canada. "Our partnership with Flexiti offers our customers a convenient avenue to bring their perfect designs to life on terms they can more easily manage." Flexiti's omni-channel financing solution is a proven sales driver with retailers in all verticals experiencing a 200% to 380% rise in financed sales volumes after migrating from previous financing platforms. Flexiti's simple and efficient solution becomes a valuable sales tool for retail staff that increases average purchase sizes, builds brand loyalty and encourages repeat store visits.


"We're proud to be working with a retailer as accomplished as JYSK Canada," said Peter Kalen, Founder and CEO of Flexiti. "We believe our innovative point-of-sale consumer financing technology will support the company's continued growth in the highly-competitive retail marketplace."



Source: Discover (5/7)


Only 35 percent say they are very satisfied with their annual fee credit cards; 37 percent report closing a credit card because of its annual fee. A new survey from Discover suggests that paying an annual fee on a credit card does not always guarantee satisfaction with it. The collected data showed that 70 percent of consumers are very satisfied with their credit cards with no annual fee, while in contrast, only 35 percent of respondents said they are equally satisfied with their credit cards that require an annual fee. The survey found that 66 percent of consumers said a credit card’s annual fee factors into their selection of it, and similarly, 60 percent said having no annual fee is a very important factor when they choose a card. Most people who pay an annual fee reported paying between $51-100.


Among consumers actively considering switching credit cards, the number one reason – 54 percent – is to avoid paying the annual fee. Older consumers are more likely to consider switching to a new credit card because they do not want to pay the annual fee – 78 percent of pre-boomers, 67 percent of baby boomers and 58 percent of Gen X, compared to 46 percent of millennials and 41 percent of post-millennials. “Our survey found that the most popular benefits for paying an annual fee are to receive cash-back rewards (52 percent) and travel benefits/rewards (48 percent),” said Andrew Hopkins, senior vice president of marketing at Discover. “We don’t think our card members should have to pay a fee to get great perks, which is why we provide a full suite of credit cards with a variety of benefits, all without annual fees.”1


When it comes to paying annual fees, younger generations are more likely to participate, as 59 percent of post-millennials and 52 percent of millennials have a credit card with an annual fee, compared to 47 percent of Gen X, 43 percent of pre-boomers and 41 percent of baby boomers. Thirty-seven percent of overall respondents said they have closed a credit card due to the annual fee, and about one-third, 32 percent, said their one-year anniversary with the card is typically when they regret paying the annual fee. “The twelve month mark seems to be a crucial moment in time for the relationship between many of the surveyed card members and their credit cards,” said Hopkins. “One year usually gives card members a good ‘test drive’ period with their card, when they can get a sense of their card’s benefits and features. For new Discover card members, it’s also a time when they see their Cashback Match; when we automatically match all the cash back they have earned at the end of their first year.”



Source: MasterCard (5/15)


New Lyft Direct MasterCard Debit, supports economic security for drivers with improved payout experience and a No-Fee bank account offering. One-third of the U.S. workforce earns at least part of their income through the gig economy. Today, MasterCard announced an expanded partnership with Lyft to bring Lyft drivers the tools they need to thrive in the ever-changing gig economy. Lyft Direct Debit, a new co-branded debit card and bank account issued by Stride Bank and powered by Payfare, strengthens drivers’ economic security with hand-picked benefits, including immediate access to their earnings, secure, no-fee bank accounts and cashback on everyday purchases. The program will first launch in eight U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tampa, and Washington D.C. 00-debit-page-hero-illo


“The growing gig economy creates an exciting opportunity for us to leverage our tech infrastructure, digital payments expertise and data-backed insights to help gig workers achieve better and more secure financial futures,” said Sherri Haymond, executive vice president, Digital Partnerships, MasterCard. “We are proud to partner with Lyft to empower drivers with the tools they need to bolster their economic security.”


“Today, we continue to build on our commitment to drivers with the launch of Lyft Direct, part of our broader Lyft Driver Services program, offering drivers accessible financial solutions and savings opportunities,” said Ashwin Raj, vice president, Payments, Lyft. “We are thrilled to work with MasterCard, an industry leader in financial products and a thought leader in financial inclusion, to help drivers with everyday expenses.”


The Lyft Direct program provides tailored benefits with gig workers’ needs in mind, including:

  • Instant Access to Earnings: Today’s worked need flexible ways of earning more money while choosing their own schedule. To manage their finances, they need immediate access to their earnings.
  • No-Fee Bank Accounts: Americans pay an average of $163/year in bank fees* and the rising costs of maintaining a bank account disadvantages gig workers. Now, Lyft drivers who participate in the Lyft Direct program will have access to secure, no-fee* bank accounts.
  • Cashback on Everyday Purchases: Designed to save drivers money on gas, groceries, select restaurants and other purchases, the Lyft Direct program will give drivers up to 4% cashback on the things they’re buying every day.
  • Built-in Savings Accounts: The Lyft Direct program will help drivers automatically set aside earnings to help them save toward their goals, whether that’s some extra income for an emergency or a vacation.
  • Extensive ATM Network: Cardholders will benefit from access to a wide, no-fee network of 20,000 ATMs so they can have free access to their money, no matter where they are.
  • MasterCard ID Theft Protection™: Cardholders will enjoy peace of mind with access to MasterCard ID Theft Protection™, which monitors their personal and business information and offers a team of identity theft resolution specialists available online 24/7/365.


MasterCard's commitment to helping gig workers unlock their financial potential is a key pillar of its inclusive growth program in North America, which offers specialized products and services for gig workers and next-generation workers. The program leverages MasterCard technology and expertise to address the challenges of workers who juggle multiple jobs, variable paychecks and inconsistent benefits in three key areas, including digital solutions to manage finances and speed payments, government services for greater innovation and efficiency, and smart cities for a more digitally inclusive future.



Source: Forbes (5/20)


According to a May 2018 article on Vox: "By the end of this year, a quarter of U.S. smartphone users over the age of 14 will make an in-store mobile payment. More than 40% of them will have done so through Starbucks’s mobile payments app. The Starbucks app, which launched before the other three top payments apps—Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay—has long been the most successful payments app. It’s likely going to maintain that lead over the next few years."


That might be. But a year later, Starbucks has lost its lead in terms of mobile app adoption. The new leader? Walmart. A new study from Cornerstone Advisors and StrategyCorps reveals that more than 58 million Americans have the Walmart mobile app on their smartphone. Just over 44 million Starbucks customers have the company's mobile app on their mobile device. Not surprisingly, considering the prevalence of Amazon Prime members in the US--52% of the survey's respondents are Prime members, and half of those who aren't said they might join--Amazon is in second place with 54 million mobile app customers.


The Generational View


Thirty-one percent of both Young Millennials (21-29) and Older Millennials (30-38) have the Starbucks app on their smartphone. That percentage declines to 24% of Gen Xers and just 14% of Baby Boomers. Among Young Millennials, 30% have the Walmart on their mobile phone. That percentage goes up to 36% for Older Millennials and Gen Xers. About a quarter of Baby Boomers have the Walmart app on their mobile device. The leader among Young Millennials is Uber: 41% of 20-somethings have the Uber app on their smartphone. The leader among Older Millennials is Amazon: 40% of consumers 30 to 38 have the retailer's app on their phone.


Mobile App Share of Customers


Looking at the top-level adoption numbers can be misleading. After all, not every merchant has the same geographic reach. Another approach is to look at the percentage of each merchant's customer base that has installed its mobile app. Among Uber customers with a smartphone (how can you be a customer without one?), three-quarters have the ride-sharing company's app on their device. Half of Amazon's smartphone-carrying customers have its app on their phone. Starbucks is not far behind at 48%.


Locked and Loaded


One of the keys to Starbucks' mobile payment success is getting customers to load funds onto the app to use for purchase. Among Starbucks customers with the app on their smartphone, 21% say they frequently load funds on the app. Another one in five Starbucks mobile app customers "rarely" load funds--but maybe they put a lot of money into the app when they do.


Walmart isn't far behind: 20% of its mobile app customers load funds "often."


If you have this merchant's mobile app on your smartphone, how often do you load funds onto the app?

Often   Rarely   Never

Amazon                24%     18%     57%

Starbucks             21%     20%     59%

Walmart               20%     19%     60%

Dunkin' Donuts    12%     15%     73%

Chik-Fil-A             12%      13%     76%

Kohl's                    11%      13%      76%

Uber                      11%     23%     66%

CVS                       10%     15%     74%

Wendy's                7%      14%     79%

Panera                   7%      13%     80%

Source: Q2 2019 survey of 2,506 US consumers, Cornerstone Advisors


Uber only recently launched Uber Cash to give its customers the ability to load funds on the app. According to Dave DeFazio, a Partner at Nashville-based StrategyCorps: Uber, with massive adoption of its mobile apps, has an advantage vis-a-vis Starbucks who had to convince its customer base to download its mobile app. Like Starbucks, Uber's average transaction size is pretty small, so it should be easy for Uber users to give Uber Cash a try and “deposit” a few bucks to the app." Uber's 5% off offer to customers who use Uber Cash won't hurt.


Merchant App Adoption is Bad News for Banks


Consumers' adoption of merchant mobile apps isn't good news for banks as it causes: Deposit displacement. In Q2 2016, Starbucks said there was $1.2 billion sitting in customers' mobile app accounts. It must be four times as much today. As merchant app adoption and reload behavior grows, more money will be coming out of consumers' checking accounts and flowing into merchant apps.


Interchange erosion


After years of failing to attack interchange fees through the MCX consortium, merchants wised up and followed Starbucks' lead with mobile app design. The end result is an on-going reduction in interchange fees paid out by merchants, meaning less interchange revenue for the banks issuing debit and credit cards. What can banks due to counter the tide of merchant apps? StrategyCorps' DeFazio advises banks that: App-based payments with stored funds isn’t a fad.  Retailers with a high volume of low dollar-size transactions will continue copying the Starbucks road map. Banks should create campaigns to ensure that their cards are in the “card-on-file position” for the stored-value payment apps. Capital One did this a couple of summers ago, when they offered to pay half the monthly subscription fee to Spotify users who switched their monthly payment to a Capital One card."



Source: CIBC (5/13)


CIBC SmartBanking for Business boosts efficiency for business clients through collaboration with Intuit Canada, Xero and Ceridian. CIBC today unveiled a first-of-its-kind banking platform in Canada designed to help small and medium-sized businesses run and grow their companies. Called CIBC SmartBanking™ for Business, this digital solution gives business owners a comprehensive view of their company's finances, including accounting and payroll insights, and makes it easier to manage their business.


CIBC-CIBC unveils first banking platform for SMEs that integrate


CIBC SmartBanking for Business uses secure, two-way data integration between CIBC and cloud accounting platforms to reduce manual data entry, simplify reconciliation and improve accuracy. Through a single interface, a business owner can see their complete financial dashboard including upcoming payroll details, pending invoices and receivables, as well as access their day-to-day banking to manage upcoming payments and optimize their cash flow. "Business owners are faced with simultaneously managing every facet of their business," said Andrew Turnbull, Senior Vice-President, Business Banking, CIBC. "We are introducing a valuable business intelligence tool to help clients manage their banking, accounting and payroll in one place, saving them time so that they can focus on achieving their growth ambitions."


The ground breaking digital platform provides financial insights to help make real-time business decisions. To accomplish this, CIBC integrates information from cloud accounting software companies Intuit Canada and Xero, and payroll software company Ceridian – services that are widely used by business owners, bookkeepers and accounting professionals – to help businesses make quick informed decisions, reconcile transactions and balance books.  "SmartBanking is the latest way we are innovating for business owners to make their lives easier," added Mr. Turnbull. "With two-way data integration, this is the most advanced digital banking platform on the market and underlines the commitment we've made toward the future of business banking." CIBC SmartBanking for Business is available online and exclusively for iPad to download free on the App Store, with no monthly access fee.  The design includes an interactive dashboard with accounting data from Xero accounting software, access to powerful cash management services, such as wire payments, alerts and eStatements all within the SmartBanking app.


Delivering innovation with leading accounting and payroll companies


Collaborating with market leaders was key to bringing CIBC SmartBanking for Business to fruition -- from building API integration, creating secure sign on for easy navigation between applications, to developing mutual client consent models -- the platform was built with the support of organizations who know and understand the needs of today's accountants, bookkeepers and business owners. "By combining CIBC's powerful banking capabilities with critical insights from QuickBooks, small businesses can make smarter and faster decisions about the financial health of their business," said Martin Fecko, Country Manager, Intuit Canada. "With 64 per cent of Canadian small businesses admitting to struggles with cash flow for their business, this collaboration with CIBC demonstrates how companies can come together for the financial benefit of Canadian small businesses, saving them time and finding innovative ways to tip the odds in their favour."


"Working together with CIBC to integrate our Powerpay Plus payroll solution into SmartBanking is a win for our shared customers," said Warren Perlman, Chief Information Officer, Ceridian. "Business owners can toggle between platforms with one click, receive key insights about their payroll runs, and ultimately help manage their finances and payroll more efficiently and with greater ease." "By collaborating with CIBC, we're thrilled to offer customers the ability to activate direct bank feeds and have access to timely and secure financial data," said Will Buckley, Director, Canada at Xero. "Business owners will have clear insight into their financial position through Xero and CIBC SmartBanking for Business, which empowers them to make better-informed decisions to run their business."



Source: Master1pCard (5/16)


Sonic Drive-In will be first to pilot the new innovative voice AI powered ordering and dynamic menu experience at their drive-in locations. MasterCard announced a partnership with ZIVELO, a leader in self-service kiosk technology, to enhance the drive-in and drive-through ordering experience for quick service restaurants (QSRs) with a first-of-its-kind AI-powered voice assistant and personalized dynamic menu. Sonic Drive-In will be the first partner to pilot the new experience at selected Sonic locations in the U.S. this year. The technology will first be showcased at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago from May 18-21, 2019.


Upon arrival at the QSR’s drive-in or drive-through, consumers will be prompted to order from an AI-powered voice ordering assistant, which will integrate with a dynamic menu display. The menu will automatically update using a proprietary AI solution developed by MasterCard, which will allow the display to be customized either for a specific customer or for external factors such as weather, time of day, seasonality and location. “We are excited to be partnering with ZIVELO to help QSR merchants further enhance their ordering experience to provide even more contextual interactions with their customers and ultimately allow them to get their food faster,” said Stephane Wyper, senior vice president, new commerce partnerships, MasterCard. “This builds on MasterCard's continued focus on leveraging our payment, loyalty and analytics capabilities to innovate within the retail space alongside our merchant and technology partners.”


“We see facets of our brand, our restaurants, and AI technology converging in a way that makes for a special customer experience.  Sonic is known for a fun environment and a full menu with extensive customization options that allows guests to personalize every meal,” said Jon Dorch, vice president of integrated customer engagement. “Voice AI promises to provide carefree conversational ordering that complements the overall experience.  We anticipate AI integration will also provide opportunities to streamline repeat orders, personalize suggestions based on data, and offer rewards that are truly relevant.” The artificial intelligence engine that powers the voice ordering experience to provide a dynamic menu was developed through MasterCard Labs and can be adapted for the needs of each specific merchant partner. The solution is built on OakOS, ZIVELO’s software operating system for public computing experiences, and relies on ZIVELO’s expertise within the self-service display industry, having successfully deployed tens of thousands of kiosks in restaurants to date. MasterCard also provides innovation support through an off-the-shelf voice AI solution for merchants that can be designed, developed and launched without significant effort, allowing them to quickly deploy the experience in-market.


“Drive-thru accounts for 70% of QSR transactions, yet the experience has remained more or less untouched by innovation,” said Healey Cypher, CEO of ZIVELO. “As customer expectation continues to move towards faster, personalized, and contextual experiences, we are excited to partner with MasterCard to bring this transformative solution to market and hopefully exceed those expectations.” The voice ordering experience and dynamic menu solution was designed by MasterCard and ZIVELO to be flexible for each unique quick service restaurant environment. Additional partners will pilot the technology as it continues to roll out in 2019.


Source: SkyNews (5/3)

Steps to protect cash for those unable to go cashless are under way, meaning copper coins survive. Cash is here to stay - for now. The humble penny has been saved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has pledged to safeguard the future of cash. Despite long-standing speculation that 1p and 2p coins may be scrapped, Philip Hammond announced there will be no changes to the mix of coins and notes. He also safeguarded the future of the little-used £50 note.

Concerns have been raised over access to cash as more and more people opt to use cards, phones and watches. Free-to-use cash machines are disappearing at a fast rate with more than 1,000 ATMs converted to charge fees in March alone, according to the consumer group Which? However, 2.2 million people are estimated to be almost entirely reliant on cash in their daily lives. The elderly, vulnerable and those in rural communities are thought to be most at risk if access to cash declines.

Did you know you can only legally pay for something with just one penny coins to a maximum of 20p?


Mr Hammond said: "Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, making it easier and quicker to carry out financial transactions and pay for services. "But it's also clear that many people still rely on cash and I want the public to have choice over how they spend their money. "I'm also setting up a group which brings together the Treasury, Bank of England and the regulators to safeguard the future of cash and ensure its availability for years to come." Natalie Ceeney, chairwoman of the Access to Cash review, which recently described the cash system as "on the verge of collapse", said: "Cash use is falling rapidly, but digital payments don't yet work for everyone. "We need to safeguard the use of cash for those who need it, and at the same time work hard to ensure that everyone can participate in the digital economy."

Other steps being taken by the government are:

  • Support the Bank of England's work to ensure cash is properly distributed across the country
  • Develop a coin checking system to remove counterfeits
  • Support new digital methods of payment while safeguarding access to traditional cash

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: "The Chancellor has shown he is listening to the small business community today." He added: "Keeping 1p and 2p coins in circulation is the right call. The freedom to use pennies is still important to a lot of small firms. "For many, being able to charge prices that end in 99p rather than a round pound figure can be enough to tip intrigue into a sale, particularly where lower-value items are concerned."


Source: SkyNews (5/10)


Shares in the ride-hailing app were down amid concerns about whether such companies are able to turn a profit. Uber began trading as a public company at $42 (£35) per share on Friday, nearly 7% below its initial public offering price. The US ride-hailing firm had priced its IPO cautiously at $45 (£34.50) a share, giving it a market value of $82.4bn (£63.1bn) ahead of its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO price was already almost a third less than what investment bankers had predicted last year, with Uber settling for a lower valuation amid a series of investor concerns including profitability and the lukewarm reception for rival Lyft's market debut.


Lyft went public six weeks ago - but its share price has tumbled by more than 20% from its IPO price set in late March. Drivers are unlikely to benefit from any windfall. By the close of trading on Friday, Uber's share price had settled on $41.57. Uber, which had a targeted range of between $44 (£33.80) and $50 (£38.40) a share, was the most anticipated IPO since Facebook's market debut seven years ago. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Uber employees were expected to become millionaires - on paper at least - in the share sale.


Although the company's co-founder Travis Kalanick was ousted as chief executive two years ago, his outstanding stake in the business was expected to be worth $5.3bn (£4.1bn). He was spotted on the trading floor of the NYSE as the bell was rung in the presence of his successor, Dara Khosrowshahi. Uber says Travis Kalanick's family has suffered an "unspeakable tragedy". A windfall for drivers may not be forthcoming, however. Earlier this week, Uber workers in the UK and US went on strike, with some drivers claiming they struggle to make ends meet despite working long hours. Uber has faced several controversies in recent years - including claims of sexual harassment within the company and allegations that it stole self-driving car technology.


The firm was also accused of covering up a computer break-in that stole personal information about its passengers. Some Uber drivers have also been accused of assaulting passengers, and one of the company's self-driving test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year while a back-up human driver was behind the wheel. Uber has been trying to make amends with drivers. On Thursday, the company said it had reached a settlement with tens of thousands who claimed they had been improperly classified as contractors, at a cost of up to $170m (£130m). As well as ferrying passengers around, Uber delivers food to its 91 million customers. More than 5.2 billion trips were completed using Uber last year - delivering food and giving rides to its 91 million passengers.


Despite this, the California-based company has lost about $9bn (£6.9bn) since its inception and has warned it could be years before it makes a profit. Sky News US correspondent Hannah Thomas Peter was in New York for the launch and said there was "high interest but real investor concern about whether or not Uber is going to be able to make itself profitable". She added: "There are big challenges in the way - it has to drive its costs down, it has to push for the driverless car experience and all of those things are difficult to do while still growing "But the headline is still that there was a great deal of excitement here, that this is a major milestone for Uber, which just opened 10 years ago and has changed the face of travel and has ambitions to change all sorts of other things too."

ACT Canada helps members understand complex issues and filter truth from market noise for current and emerging commerce trends.  Through a consultative approach with all stakeholder groups, the association provides knowledge and expertise to help members leverage opportunities, confront challenges and advance their businesses. Please visit or contact our office at 1 905 426-6360.

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Andrea McMullen

President | ACT Canada
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