Daily Dash: Google Settles Antitrust Case With All 50 US States For $700m

December 21, 2023
Google has settled an antitrust case with all 50 US states, ANZ has launched the first bank-owned PayTo service for billers, and Payoneer has confirmed that a new tie-up with PayPal is coming soon.

Google Settles Antitrust Case With All 50 US States For $700m

Google has published the details of an antitrust settlement it has reached with the attorneys general of all 50 US states, opening the door to direct payouts to consumers.

After an allegation that the company has abused its dominant position in app distribution and in-app payments, Google has agreed to pay $630m into a consumer fund and $70m to the states.

Google will also open up in-app payments to third parties, marking the end of the tech giant’s imposition of its own payment system, Google Play Billing, on app developers.

The states had initially sought $10.5bn in damages from unjustly collected fees, leading Epic Games, which won a similar case against Google last week, to declare the lawsuit a failure.

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, complained the attorney generals’ settlement “endorses” Google’s 26 percent fees on “User Choice Billing”, even though Google has no involvement in processing those payments.

In its own settlement with Google, Epic said it will seek “meaningful remedies” to “truly open up” the Android ecosystem to consumers and developers.

ANZ Becomes First 'Big Four' Bank To Launch PayTo Service For Billers

ANZ has become the first major bank in Australia to launch a natively-built, API-enabled PayTo service for billers.

The ANZ PayTo initiation service will allow businesses to send a payment agreement (a request to debit) to their customers via digital banking platforms.

The biller’s customers can then review and accept the payment agreement, providing authority to the biller to collect the payment. The payment agreement can be one-off or recurring.

“We see PayTo as a game changer in the account-to-account payment space,” said Lisa Vasic, managing director of transaction banking at ANZ. 

“We know payment friction is real and this service will help make collecting payments, and initiating third-party payments, easier and more transparent — while also offering more control over the payments process.”

Payoneer Says New Partnership With PayPal Is Coming Soon

US money transfer platform Payoneer has confirmed that it will soon launch a new integration with PayPal.

“You’ll soon be able to delight your US clients with even more flexibility with an upcoming PayPal payment method,” Payoneer said on its latest product updates page.

“All you need to do is send them the bill, and they can choose PayPal from their payment options. Plus, it comes with competitive PayPal rates when paying via Payoneer.”

The partnership is likely to mean that PayPal will soon be accessible through Payoneer in countries where PayPal is not available.

This will benefit freelancers in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh when billing clients in the US.

Amex Acceptance ‘Skyrockets’ In Australia With Launch Of OptBlue

American Express has launched a new programme in Australia that will see thousands of small businesses onboarded to the network through partnerships with acquirers Fiserv and Tyro.

Known as OptBlue, the programme seeks to bring an end to the question: “Do you accept Amex?" With OptBlue, small businesses will be able to process Amex transactions at a “competitive rate”.

Both Fiserv and Tyro will add Amex to their single solutions for all card types, including a single statement, settlement process, onboarding journey and servicing contact. Other acquirers may also join in the future, though Fiserv and Tyro will be first-to-market.

In the past 12 months, Amex acceptance had already expanded to more than 136,000 new merchants in Australia, primarily in retail and dining.

OptBlue previously launched in the US in 2014, Canada in 2015 and Mexico in 2017. An Amex spokesperson said OptBlue is a “huge win” for small businesses in Australia at a time of “significant economic pressure”.

Circle Launches Euro-Backed Stablecoin On Solana Network

Circle has launched EURC, its euro-backed stablecoin, on the Solana network. Solana is now the fourth blockchain where EURC is natively available — alongside Avalanche, Ethereum and Stellar.

Users and developers can now transact using EURC and USDC, Circle’s dollar-backed stablecoin, on Solana. With higher throughput and higher transactions per second, Circle said that using Solana for EURC transactions will increase efficiency and reduce costs.

Using Circle Mint, a fiat-to-stablecoin on-ramp and off-ramp, businesses can convert EUR to and from EURC and tap into applications in the Solana ecosystem for 24/7 foreign exchange and financial services.

“With plans for EURC to achieve full MiCA conformity as an e-money token, developers and users of EURC on Solana can continue to expect the highest standards of trust, and transparency and reliability,” the company said.

Japan, Cambodia Sign Agreement On Interoperable QR Code Payments

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) have signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) on interoperable QR code payments.

The MOC is expected to “accelerate discussions” towards the implementation of a unified QR code standard that will improve cross-border payments between the two countries and increase tourism spending.

METI said it is also in discussions with other Asian countries on the use of JPQR, Japan’s unified QR code standard for payments (JPQR).

JPQR was created by the Payments Japan Association and is based on EMVCo standards. By unifying multiple QR codes, JPQR allows users to pay for multiple services using a single JPQR code.

UK's Payment Systems Regulator Appoints New Head Of Strategy

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has appointed Dan Moore as its new head of strategy and intelligence, effective as of January 15, 2024.

Moore joins the PSR from the Department for Transport (DfT), where he has worked for nine years and currently serves as director of rail strategy and analysis.

Prior to the DfT, Moore worked for the Competition and Markets Authority for one year and the Office of Fair Trading for ten years.

The PSR said Moore’s role will focus on understanding current and future trends in payments, both in the UK and internationally.

This will inform the delivery of the regulator’s five-year strategy and will identify new areas that the PSR should be focusing on.

Ukraine Eyes SEPA Launch In 2024

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has said it plans to connect the country to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) in 2024, as reported by local news agency Interfax Ukraine.

Andriy Pyshnyy, governor of the NBU, posted an update of the plans on Facebook: “We have carried out thorough preparatory work and next year we plan to initiate the process of Ukraine’s accession to SEPA,” he said.

In preparation for SEPA accession, Pyshnyy said Ukraine has made “significant progress” in improving banking and non-banking legislation for “full compliance” with EU standards.

He also said the NBU will continue to work on easing foreign exchange restrictions, ensuring exchange rate flexibility and returning to inflation targeting.

Hong Kong Digital Wallet App Fined For AML/CTF Failures

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has imposed a fine of HK$1.5m ($224,000) on TNG (Asia) for violation of the Payment Systems and Stored Value Facilities Ordinance.

The disciplinary action, which follows an on-site examination and investigation by the HKMA, found that TNG (Asia) had failed to fulfil the minimum criteria for anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) and prudential risk management.

All offences took place between August 2016 and 2020. The HKMA noted that this is the first time TNG (Asia) has been penalised for non-compliance, which mitigated the penalties imposed.

TNG (Asia) is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based TNG Fintech Group. Not to be confused with Malaysia’s Touch N’ Go, TNG Fintech’s other holdings include Tranglo, a cross-border payment app, and Walletku, an Indonesian digital wallet.

New Hampshire Becomes Latest US State To Legislate Against CBDC

Following similar action in Indiana, Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, New Hampshire has become the latest US state to legislate against the use of central bank digital currency (CBDC).

In New Hampshire, Republican representative James Summers and three cosponsors have introduced House Bill 1232 (HB1232).

If adopted, the bill would prohibit any agency, department or political subdivision of the state from accepting payments using CBDC.

It would also prohibit them from participating in any test of CBDC by any Federal Reserve branch.

In May this year, as covered by Vixio, lawmakers in Florida voted 116-1 to ban the use of CBDC in the state.

The bill, the first-of-its-kind in the US, was signed into law by Florida governor Ron DeSantis later that month.

Russian Director Of UK Payments Firm Quits Following FCA Probe

A Russian citizen who was a director of a UK payments firm has resigned following a restriction order placed on the company by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Mikhail Strogonov, also known as Mikhail Nadel or Michael Strogonov, resigned from his post at Dzing Finance on November 20, according to a Companies House filing.

In October, the FCA imposed severe restrictions on Dzing Finance, after finding that one in five payments received by its users were linked to authorised push payment (APP) fraud.

Previously, Strogonov was the chairman of Asia Universal Bank, the largest bank in Kyrgyzstan. He held the post until 2010, but was convicted of fraud and money laundering in Kyrgyzstan and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment.

Strogonov denied the charges, claiming that he was wrongfully convicted due to political motivations. According to Companies House, Strogonov currently resides in Israel.

IrisGuard Biometrics Partners With Yemen’s National Payments Company 

IrisGuard, a provider of biometric payments technology, has announced a new partnership with the National Payments Company of Yemen (MEPSYemen).

The partnership will see MEPSYemen implement the IrisGuard's EyePay Network, which will be deployed for retail use at banks, shops, post offices and mobile wallet agents, and by government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

"This agreement is a significant step in developing technological services in Yemen,” said Kamal Abdulraqeeb Al-Subaihi, director general of payment systems at the Central Bank of Yemen.

“It reflects the vision of the Central Bank of Yemen, aiming for digital transformation through the implementation of secure and sound payment systems, aligning with international standards.”

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