Square this week announced the launch of a new small business banking service which will complement the company's existing merchant services and small business loan offerings. The San Francisco-based firm will be looking to repeat their success in merchant acquiring, where they made it easy for small businesses, who often had difficulty obtaining a merchant account from traditional merchant acquirers, to accept card payments. With many small businesses also underserved by traditional banks, Square Checking aims to offer a cheaper and simpler solution. With a large existing customer base in the target segment and a track record of success with their consumer offering, Cash App, the service appears to have big potential.
Indian payments company Paytm has filed its draft prospectus with Indian regulators for a proposed initial public offering in which it plans to raise $2.2 billion. Paytm is a leading player in India's burgeoning mobile payments ecosystem, and though loss-making has an impressive list of financial backers, including Ant Financial, Berkshire Hathaway and SoftBank. Paytm offers services over the Unified Payments Infrastructure (UPI) as well as through a proprietary wallet and also operates a payments bank. It claims to have over 100 million active users and 21 million merchants, a significant number in a country with just six million traditional POS terminals. Paytm may also be among the local firms to benefit from the enforcement of a law that requires data on Indian customers to be stored locally. As reported here last week, Mastercard has been banned from issuing new cards in the country, and the fallout could see local card network RuPay and mobile payments providers capturing some of Mastercard's lost business.
Australian outfit Afterpay plans to launch a personal finance app – Money by Afterpay – in its home market. Customers may avail of up to 15 different savings accounts to manage their personal finances more efficiently, with a debit card included. Deposits will attract an interest rate of up to one percent. The service is being developed in partnership with Westpac, which allows Afterpay to use its Australian financial services licence and doesn't have to comply with the more onerous requirements that a banking licence would demand. As more players enter the growing and lucrative BNPL space, the app will help Afterpay differentiate itself from rivals and increase customer engagement. This will also potentially allow Afterpay to reduce payment processing expenses should customers link their bank accounts to the app, rather than repaying instalments by credit or debit cards. Westpac hopes to profit from referrals from Afterpay's large and young customer base for credit products, an area that Afterpay says it does not plan to expand into beyond its flagship offering.
To end, links to some other stories of interest this week...
Russia: Mir cardholders can now use Apple Pay
Spain: Financial sector explores design concepts for digital euro
UK: Challenger bank Starling's losses narrow
UK: Could sharing bank branches help save the high street?
US: Half of credit unions say their core systems are hampering innovation
The Weekly News Digest from Verisk Financial Research highlights significant developments that have recently occurred in payment cards, digital payments, acquiring, processing, retail banking and consumer credit. Our writers and researchers frame these items in contexts such as historical, sectoral and regional trends, adding a layer of value that is often missing from the rolling news cycle.
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