AR, VR & music are on the menu for 2020 courtesy of Mastercard while Visa ponies up $5 billion for a hot fintech consumer app. Interest in biometrics for payment cards may emerge this year after a sleepy 2019. The IRS has crypto-to-crypto transactions on the radar this tax season, according to Bankcenter and CardBuzz.
Senior Analyst Robert McKinley says no doubt 2020 is off to an exciting, robust start for payments technology but the big question lingers regarding the direction of payments volume and performance metrics, as the global economy remains highly volatile.
Visa has inked a big $5.3 billion deal to acquire Plaid, a network that makes it easy for people to connect their financial accounts to the apps they use to manage their financial lives. Plaid’s products enable consumers to conveniently share their financial information with thousands of apps and services such as Acorns, Betterment, Chime, Transferwise and Venmo. Consumers rely on these apps and services to help plan their spending, increase their savings and monitor their investments. For example, when a user sets up a Venmo account, it is Plaid that enables the user to link their bank account to their Venmo account. One in four people with a U.S. bank account have used Plaid to connect to more than 2,600 fintech developers across more than 11,000 financial institutions.
Mastercard, the technology company that happens to be the second largest payments network, is going into the music business. Built on trust and passion, Mastercard is redefining how people interact and recall the brand with the drop of its first-ever sonic-integrated music single. As experiences increasingly define the brand in the eyes of the consumer, Mastercard is collaborating with songwriter and producer Niclas Molinder to engage with up and coming global artists. Introduced in 2019, the company’s sonic melody is a critical component to how people recognize Mastercard today and in the future and was derived with a flexibility that enables it to live across musical genres and cultures while also maintaining familiarity. For its first song drop, Mastercard is engaging with Swedish artist Nadine Randle to organically and authentically integrate the company’s brand values and sonic identity into a first-ever musical output.
AR & VR
Mastercard also revealed plans to offer a new augmented reality (AR) app that lets cardholders see, explore and access the benefits of their Mastercard. The industry-first card benefits app delivers a photorealistic AR experience that transports users to a 360-degree virtual environment, where a series of interactive portals brings their card benefits to life. The app can be white labeled by issuers in the second quarter.
By the year 2040, international travel will be a faster, easier and more ecologically sustainable activity than ever before. According to a report commissioned by Allianz Partners, AR and VR (virtual reality) will play a big role for the travel-related needs of their customers in the future. Allianz offers B2B2C assistance and insurance solutions, delivering global protection and care, and offers dedicated travel insurance services.
Smart Cards ?
More than 20 pilots of contactless biometric-enabled cards are in progress, from North America and the Middle East to Europe and Japan. All of them using Fingerprints technology. Last year saw the world’s first volume order of fingerprint sensors for dual-interface payment cards placed by global digital security leader Thales, in addition to the UK’s first biometric payment card trial announced from Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest with a mission to scrap the £30 payment cap. Ending the year with a bang, Swiss Corner Bank announced the launch of the limited edition Cornèrcard Biometric Gold, the first commercial launch of its kind enabling users to make high-value contactless payments.
Crypto-to-Crypto exchanges are taxable similar to sale of cryptocurrencies. If you had any crypto to crypto exchange transactions during 2019, you would have to check “yes” on the crypto question on Schedule 1. Speaking of crypto to crypto trades, one puzzling question to many crypto enthusiasts is why do you even have to pay taxes when you don’t cash out the proceeds into US dollars? These transactions are very common among crypto traders because some alt coins can only be purchased using other major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH).
Cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX has launched Bitcoin options trading. Options trading volume on the exchange reached $1 million in the first 2 hours. FTX is the eighth top crypto asset exchange based on volume, with $277.8 million traded daily.
Amazon Still Pissed Over Honey
Days before Christmas, at the height of the last-minute holiday shopping rush, an ominous message appeared on Amazon.com. It warned shoppers who used a popular browser extension called Honey that the service, which promises to track prices and discount codes, was “a security risk.” “Honey tracks your private shopping behavior, collects data like your order history and items saved, and can read or change any of your data on any website you visit,” the message read. “To keep your data private and secure, uninstall this extension immediately.” It was followed by a hyperlink where users could learn how to do so. PayPal bought the Honey browser extension this month for $4 billion.