Daily Dash: Epic's Surprise Victory In Google Antitrust Case A 'Win for All Developers'

December 13, 2023
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Epic Games has emerged victorious in a key antitrust case against Google, Santander has warned of a doubling in Facebook vehicle scams, and the European Central Bank has touted the green credentials of cash.

Epic's Surprise Victory In Google Antitrust Case A 'Win for All Developers'

In a surprise victory for Epic Games, a federal jury in San Francisco has found that Google operated illegal monopolies across its Google Play store and in-app billing systems.

The jury took four hours to come to the verdict, and US District Court Judge James Donato must now decide how Google’s practices have to change to comply with the law.

“Today’s verdict is a win for all app developers and consumers around the world,” Epic Games said in a statement.

“It proves that Google’s app store practices are illegal and they abuse their monopoly to extract exorbitant fees, stifle competition and reduce innovation.”

Since its inception, Epic Games argued, Google had managed to impose a 30 percent “tax” on app developers simply by preventing viable competitors from offering alternatives.

Epic Games added that the case demonstrates the “urgent need” for legislation and regulations that address Apple and Google strangleholds over smartphones, including in the UK and EU.

Santander Issues Urgent Warning To Customers As Facebook Scams Double

Santander UK has urged customers to proceed with caution when purchasing items via Facebook Marketplace, after new data shows that certain types of scams have almost doubled in 2023.

The bank is particularly concerned about fraudulent vehicle sales, where criminals use stolen photos and videos of genuine vehicles to advertise cars that they do not own.

After convincing a buyer to purchase the vehicle, the fraudster does not respond or blocks the buyer after they have transferred the funds.

This year nearly half a million (£479,964) has been reported as lost to Facebook car scams, up 93 percent from last year.

To protect themselves, Santander has told customers that they must make sure they have seen the car and have it in their possession before making any payment.

ECB Talks Up Green Credentials Of Cash

The European Central Bank (ECB) has published an environmental footprint study of euro banknotes as a payment instrument. 

It shows that the average environmental footprint for payments with banknotes was 101 micropoints (µPt) per euro area citizen in 2019.

This is equivalent to driving a car for 8km, or 0.01 percent of the total environmental impact of a European citizen’s annual consumption activities.

According to the ECB, the main factors contributing to the environmental footprint of euro banknotes as a means of payment are the energy consumption of ATMs and transportation. 

Further, the long lifespan of banknotes and the fact that they are used for many payments means that the impact of banknote production is lower than that of transportation and distribution, the study revealed.

Almost Nine Out Of Ten Canadians Oppose CBDC, Survey Finds

new survey by the Bank of Canada has found that 86 percent of Canadians have “strong criticisms” of central bank digital currency (CBDC).

In a survey of 1,000 Canadians, conducted for a consultation on a digital dollar, 86 percent of responses were categorised as “net negative”, while only 5 percent were categorised as “net positive”.

More than half of respondents (52 percent) said they think CBDC is a bad idea, have no intention of using it and hope that a CBDC is not issued.

One in five respondents (19 percent) voiced concerns about excessive government control over their money and transactions, and another one in five said that existing payment methods are sufficient.

“A digital dollar sounded great until we saw the federal government freeze private bank accounts of its own citizens for supporting a political movement it disagreed with,” said one respondent.

“I cannot imagine a CBDC being compatible with our values of liberty and privacy,” said another.

Westpac Expands Merchant Choice Routing To E-Commerce

Australia’s Westpac bank has become the latest of the "Big Four" to enable merchant choice routing for online payments. 

With merchant choice routing, businesses can opt to route card-not-present transactions via eftpos, Australia’s low-cost domestic scheme, rather than Visa Debit or Debit Mastercard.

“Merchant choice routing is an important industry initiative that supports competition and helps give businesses more control over their costs,” said Mandy Rutherford, managing director of cash and transactional banking at Westpac.

“Expanding merchant choice routing to online payments gives our customers more choice in how they manage their transaction costs, and is part of our commitment to make it easier for businesses to do their banking.”

Merchant choice routing has been available for Westpac customers for in-store payments since 2019, and is currently the default option for all new customers on simple pricing plans.

Circle, Nubank Partner To Increase USD Stablecoin Access In Brazil

US stablecoin issuer Circle has announced a new partnership with Brazil’s Nubank that will allow Nubank customers to access USDC, Circle’s dollar-backed stablecoin.

USDC support will initially be rolled out as part of Nubank Cripto, providing Brazilian users with access to buying and holding digital dollars.

“We continue to see strong demand across Latin America for access to dollars, specifically in Brazil, which has emerged as a driving force for digital currency use and adoption in the region,” said Jeremy Allaire, CEO and co-founder of Circle.

“Our partnership with Nubank marks a significant moment in expanding the global reach of USDC, and an important step towards building the new internet financial system.”

Nubank is the world’s largest neobank by number of customers, serving more than 90m customers across Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.

Amazon Ends Partnership With Venmo 

Amazon will discontinue PayPal-owned Venmo in the new year, it has emerged

“Due to recent changes, Venmo can no longer be added as a payment method,” a statement on Venmo’s website says. 

Venmo has confirmed that it will remain available to users who currently have it enabled in their Amazon wallet until January 10. 

Online shoppers have been able to use Venmo to pay for Amazon purchases since October last year. 

The mobile payment service has been used in the US since 2009 and operates more than 90m accounts.

It has, however, courted controversy due to privacy and cybersecurity concerns. In 2018, for example, the company settled with the US Federal Trade Commission over misleading customers. 

UK Regulator Consults On Access To Cash Rules

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has proposed new rules to maintain reasonable access to cash for personal and business customers across the UK. 

This follows new powers granted to the FCA by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023.

The consultation is open until February 8 and the FCA expects to finalise the rules by Q3 2024.

Under the proposals, designated banks and building societies will be required to undertake cash access assessments when changes are being made to cash access services to understand whether additional services are required to meet local gaps.

Firms will also need to respond to requests from local residents, community organisations and representatives to consider, assess and plug gaps and deliver reasonable additional cash services to fill gaps in provision where assessments show that there is or will be a significant local gap.

Further, firms will need to ensure they do not close cash facilities, including bank branches, until any additional cash services identified are available.

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