Square ended speculation by confirming its banking intentions this week. Chinese mobile wallet provider and payment facilitator Alipay continues its rapid expansion, adding to its stream of expansion and partnership announcements this week. And Mastercard introduced a program for merchants and other businesses looking for help going digital.
Square plans to apply for a banking license this week, the company confirmed to the Wall Street Journal. According to an article in TechCrunch, the company will apply to be an industrial loan company, enabling it to offer loans and deposit accounts to businesses without relying on a bank partner. The company reported 68% growth year-over-year for its Square Capital service during the second quarter of this year.
Mastercard said this week that it is expanding its Digital Vendor Program, an approved list of vendors providing digitization services to Mastercard issuers, to include providers of services to merchants and companies that manufacture Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
The expanded program is called Mastercard Engage. It is intended to help businesses identify technology partners that can help them bring digital solutions to market, the company said.
Alipay’s parent company, Ant Financial, announced a new feature within the Alipay app that connects Alipay users with local merchants. The feature enables local merchant searches, coupon acceptance, appointment scheduling and payments, according to a report in China Daily. It also provides businesses with information on customers’ locations and preferences, the report said.
Alipay also announced a partnership with health and nutrition product provider GNC, enabling the app’s users to make purchases at GNC.com using Alipay.
And finally, the company is trialing facial recognition technology at select China KFC restaurants, according to a report in The Paypers. A camera at the point of sale verifies the identity of users who have signed up for Alipay and enabled the facial recognition feature.
According to a new survey from ACI Worldwide and Aite, mobile payment usage in the U.S. and Europe is gaining ground.
“Mobile wallets really started to grow in popularity after the launch of Apple Pay almost three years ago,” Mark Ranta, head of digital banking solutions, ACI Worldwide, said in a press release. “What we are seeing is a tipping point regarding adoption, which can be attributed to consumers worldwide now almost exclusively using payment-enabled devices, as older models have cycled out, with a few exceptions.”
The survey said that 17% of U.S. consumers now report that they use their smartphone to pay regularly, up significantly from just 6% in 2014. Countries in the Asia-Pacific region were most likely to use their phones to make purchases, with India leading at 56%, Thailand at 51% and Indonesia at 47%. Spain leads Europe in mobile payment adoption at 25%.
“Another important factor in the U.S. is the ubiquity of mobile wallet acceptance,” Ranta said. “With the EMV rollout behind us, most stores are NFC-enabled and the acceptance of mobile wallets is now almost guaranteed by most larger retailers and even many smaller ones.”