Paystand Rolls Out Digital Lockbox For B2B Finance

Paystand Rolls Out Digital Lockbox For B2B Finance

June 25, 2021 at 12:46AM

Paystand, which works in blockchain-enabled B2B payments, is putting out a digital lockbox to help bring on a paperless way to handle finances, a press release emailed to PYMNTS said.

The solution is called Smart Lockbox. It was created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s way of shifting everyone to remote work, which caused ripple effects of trouble for finance departments. The shift made it clear to many companies that the security concerns and manual processes would have to necessitate more digital ways of doing things.

Smart Lockbox offers a “fully digital” accounts receivable experience that can cut down overhead.

The company says there are several features that come with the new solution, including more visibility info cash flow, a remote remittance process, a simple migration experience that’s reduced to one click, a centralized collections process and information available in ERP systems including check information, reconciliation status and transaction details.

“In a post-pandemic world, everything looks very different,” said Jeremy Almond, CEO of Paystand. “Covid supercharged the push for digital transformation across the board for businesses, and there’s no question that this shift is here to stay. Smart Lockbox is the key tool that helps companies seamlessly bring their mission-critical revenue into the digital age. It’s designed to enable finance teams to turn their biggest headaches into a newfound source of power.”

The release noted the difficulty of using paper checks, which can lead to delays and errors, leading to the bottom line taking a hit. The release also stated the cost of processing even just one paper check can be around $4 to $20, which can add up over a year.

But even so, the corporate world has been sluggish on its adoption of blockchain. RowanPay recently announced that it would be launching a blockchain-powered network, intended to work with B2B and cross-border transactions. CEO Carrie Sattler told PYMNTS that this service wasn’t meant to do away with older finance means but instead to add onto increasingly complicated payment rails.

Google Pauses Cookies Upgrade To Give Market Time To Catch Up

Google Pauses Cookies Upgrade To Give Market Time To Catch Up

June 24, 2021 at 11:56PM

Third-party cookies got something of a stay of execution with Google announcing in a company blog post that it will be delaying by two years its plan to deprecate third-party cookies by the second quarter of 2022 as “it’s become clear that more time is needed across the ecosystem to get this right.”

Under the new timeline, Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies over a three-month period finishing in late 2023.

What getting it right seems to mean in this case is giving a not-quite-ready world of publishers, advertisers and web developers more time to catch up to the market and develop reasonable alternatives to the third-party cookies on which they are presently reliant. Alternatives, Google noted, are actually an improvement over cookies.

“We as an industry can help ensure that cookies are not replaced with alternative forms of individual tracking, and discourage the rise of covert approaches like fingerprinting,” the post noted.

Google’s Unsurprising Surprising Move

Google’s decision to delay was surprising to some, given the level of emphasis the search giant has put on getting in line with Privacy Sandbox change requirements. According to a published report, pressure within ad tech companies and publishers have been at an all-time high as Google’s deadline for phasing out third-party cookies was viewed as unmovable. But Google has pushed back deadlines before and finds itself in unique circumstances, caught between a rock and a hard place.

Google at present has two concerns to balance, managing cookies and offering better privacy protections on its platform on one hand versus antitrust concerns that allege removing cookies would damage independent publishers and ad tech platforms on the other.

“Because of the importance of this mission, we must take time to evaluate the new technologies, gather feedback and iterate to ensure they meet our goals for both privacy and performance, and give all developers time to follow the best path for privacy,” Google noted in its blog post, adding that protecting privacy is a critical goal, but not one that ought to be pursued at the expense of “the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content.”

What the Phase Out Will Look Like When It Happens

Even when third-party cookies eventually do start to disappear from Google on the company’s new timetable, it will not be a change that happens overnight. Instead, cookies will begin to fade out over a three-month period.

Currently, third-party cookies can be set to operate for more than a year in some cases. During the three-month phase-out period in 2023, Google will start shortening the maximum duration of third-party cookies from months to weeks to days all the way down to nothing by the end of the phase out in late 2023.

At least that is the schedule as of now — since Google has said it will update the timeline with greater specificity as more data becomes available.

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Walmart’s Green Dot MoneyCard Changes From Prepaid To Debit

Walmart’s Green Dot MoneyCard Changes From Prepaid To Debit

June 24, 2021 at 11:54PM

Walmart’s MoneyCard, issued by Green Dot Bank, is now being offered as a debit card linked to a demand deposit account (DDA) instead of being a prepaid card, per a Thursday (June 24) press release.

Walmart Vice President of Financial Services Julia Unger said that the move is intended to offer convenience to customers, with an improved method of managing finances. The new Walmart MoneyCard includes features such as overdraft protection and direct deposit as well as interest on savings.

New and existing Walmart MoneyCard account holders can tap Green Dot’s online banking platform, which operates similar to a traditional bank account. Customers can manage their finances with Green Dot online or in person at more than 4,500 Walmart stores or at over 90,000 Green Dot locations.

The move to change the Walmart MoneyCard from prepaid to DDA sprung from the desire to extend its customers’ access to enhanced features offered by Green Dot Bank. Walmart said more than one million customers use its MoneyCard.

The new MoneyCard solutions are intended to enable people to seamlessly manage their finances using new tools that will be enhanced over time, according to the release.

“As a financial technology company committed to seamlessly connecting people to their money, we’re always looking for opportunities to modernize products with helpful tools, great value and exceptional customer experiences,” said Brandon Thompson, executive vice president of retail, tax and PayCard at Green Dot.

Walmart CEO and President Doug McMillon said in March that the retail giant is targeting a move toward offering an all-in-one super app, which would be a “primary destination” for its customers — in-store and online.

PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster indicated in April that a super app could encompass a cross-section of services — finance, commerce, healthcare and payments.

In 1988 when Walmart Superstores first rolled out in Washington, Missouri, it took a page from similar retailers in Europe, selling a variety of general merchandise in addition to groceries. Following the company’s fourth 2020 earnings report, the retail giant indicated that it was looking to become its customers’ primary shopping destination, online and in person.

The Walmart MoneyCard Reloadable Debit Card introduced new features for account holders like a 2 percent annual percentage yield on money saved with a connected savings account.

AmTrav Emburse Integrate To Simplify T&E Spend Management

AmTrav, Emburse Integrate To Simplify T&E Spend Management

June 24, 2021 at 11:36PM

AmTrav, which helps companies book travel, and Emburse, a spend management technology and accounts payable (AP) automation firm, are advancing their partnership by rolling out an automatic receipts integration, according to a Thursday (June 24) announcement.

“The word ‘integration’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but the one between AmTrav and Emburse is robust and real-time,” AmTrav CEO Jeff Klee said in the announcement. “Customers who pick AmTrav and Emburse can get a travel management platform that they’ll love, paired with a world-class expense management system, tightly integrated so their travel expense data flows accurately from one to the other to save all users time and headache.”

The connection lets AmTrav transmit expense information and receipt images to Emburse expense wallets from the AmTrav point of sale. Users subsequently have the ability to put these travel expense items on their expense reports by way of a single click. Moreover, the feed includes all types of travel changes made via the AmTrav platform, automatically filling in expense records with information on refunds, change fees or additional fare amounts.

In addition, Emburse users have the ability to have “expense owners” obtain expenses for certain travelers.

Emburse, for its part, provides products such as Emburse Tallie, Emburse Chrome River and Emburse Certify, among others.

PYMNTS reported in June that Emburse has launched its Emburse Pay – B2B Payments integrated payables solution.

“In [business-to-busines] B2B Payments, we have taken what has traditionally been a very cumbersome process and integrated it into our AP solutions’ workflow,” Rajeev Subramanyam, general manager of Emburse Pay, said in a June press release.

And PYMNTS reported in May that Emburse had launched Emburse Audit to help organizations ensure that expense reimbursement is accurate and is in line with policy.

That offering joins machine learning (ML) and a team of human auditors to conserve time, do away with wasteful spending, ensure compliance and lessen fraud.

Deutsche Bank Moves Toward ‘More Holistic’ Anti-Financial Crime Team

Deutsche Bank Moves Toward ‘More Holistic’ Anti-Financial Crime Team

June 24, 2021 at 11:17PM

Deutsche Bank is changing its anti-financial crimes and compliance teams after years of scrutiny and enforcement, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Thursday (June 24).

The changes, effective July 1, “are part of a shift away from fixing specific compliance shortcomings and toward tackling regulatory challenges in a more holistic and efficient manner,” WSJ said, citing a bank memo.

Deutsche Bank has faced substantial fines in the U.S. and Great Britain in recent years. Earlier this year, the bank agreed to pay $130 million to the U.S. government over alleged bribery and commodity-trading schemes.

These changes come after Deutsche Bank transferred responsibilities for compliance functions from its chief administrative officer to its chief risk officer.

“The changes appear to be an effort to increase the clout of the bank’s anti-financial crimes unit, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with anti-money-laundering and anticorruption laws and economic sanctions, among other regulations, compliance experts say,” wrote WSJ. “Deutsche Bank declined to make an executive available for an interview about the changes.”

The bank is not only more clearly defining responsibilities and identifying who they belong to, but they are also downsizing their councils and committees in the chief administrative office, Chief Administrative Officer Stefan Simon said in the memo.

Deutsche Bank said it will also pay more attention to core areas like risk assessment, transaction monitoring and controls testing to better prevent financial crimes.

Earlier this year, Germany’s central financial regulator, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), ordered the bank to strengthen its anti-money laundering controls. An announcement from the authority said the order was issued “to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing” and that Deutsche Bank must “adopt further appropriate internal safeguards and comply with due diligence obligations, in particular with regard to regular customer reviews.”

Musk: Starlink Not Yet Ready To Go Public Due To Cash Flow

Musk: Starlink Not Yet Ready To Go Public Due To Cash Flow

June 24, 2021 at 11:16PM

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he will wait on taking his Starlink satellite broadband service public until its cash flow can be counted on.

“Going public sooner than that would be very painful,” he tweeted.

Starlink is currently operated by Musk’s SpaceX exploration company. The way such a service would work long term is that customers could connect to the internet via a satellite dish placed on or near their property.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said last year that Starlink could be spun off from SpaceX in an initial public offering (IPO), CNBC reported.

Musk’s new tweet on the topic came after a Twitter user asked the billionaire: “Any thoughts on Starlink IPO we would love to invest in the future.”

In order to provide the speedy internet needed for performing financial transactions even out in remote campsites for example, broadband internet access will need to be dramatically boosted. That’s especially true in rural areas and in such locations as way out to sea or in mid-air.

That’s a goal of Starlink’s network of low-Earth orbit satellites, which CNBC reported “can beam high-speed, low-latency internet to the ground.”

In a March 8 tweet, Musk said SpaceX is working on antennas that can be installed on planes, ships, large trucks and RVs to pull down Starlink’s internet service, no matter where on Earth they are. At the time, he said that the idea was to connect the internet service to those types of vehicles.

Since the launch of the first 60 satellites in the Starlink network on May 23, 2019, SpaceX has blasted more than a thousand of the devices into low-Earth orbit, PYMNTS reported.

While other space-based internet satellites orbit higher than 22,000 miles above the Earth, the Starlink satellites circle at a distance of just 340 miles. This means that the time it takes for signals to travel between Earth-based devices and the satellites is much lower — at least theoretically.

Today In Digital-First Banking: Big Banks Endorse SWIFT’s New Transaction Platform; USALLIANCE To Modernize Cards With FIS System

Today In Digital-First Banking: Big Banks Endorse SWIFT’s New Transaction Platform; USALLIANCE To Modernize Cards With FIS System

June 24, 2021 at 11:14PM

In today’s top news in digital-first banking, SWIFT’s new transaction management system received an endorsement from six global financial institutions (FIs), while USALLIANCE Financial has chosen the FIS Payments One system. Plus, Citi has appointed a new sales leader for Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS).

Big Banks Endorse SWIFT’s Global Transaction Management Platform

SWIFT’s new transaction management system garnered an endorsement from six global FIs, which are preparing to utilize the platform’s new features to allow for new offerings, strengthen efficiency and cut down on expenses when it rolls out in November 2022. Citi and Bank of New York Mellon, among others, confirmed that they are getting ready for the platform, according to a release. “We look forward to working with the wider SWIFT community to drive transformational change and to deliver this substantially improved payments experience directly to our clients,” Citi Global Head of Payments and Receivables, Treasury and Trade Solutions Manish Kohli said in a release.

USALLIANCE To Modernize Card Offerings With FIS Payments One Platform

New York state-based credit union (CU) USALLIANCE Financial has tapped the FIS Payments One platform to simplify and modernize its array of credit and debit card digital payment offerings for its members. USALLIANCE was founded in the 1960s and currently manages in excess of $2 billion in assets for more than 125,000 members. “As we sought to enhance our card offerings to our clients and cardholders, we found the FIS Payments One platform to be unique in the market for its simplicity, flexibility and advanced digital features,” Kevin Randall, EVP at USALLIANCE Financial, said in an announcement.

Citi Appoints Elms To Lead Sales For Treasury And Trade Solutions

Citi has appointed Steve Elms as the new TTS sales head for corporate, commercial and public sector clients. “We have an aggressive growth agenda for TTS. I am confident Steve will champion Citi’s Transformation efforts and Leadership Principles as we continue to strive for excellence, work together to serve our clients, and position Citi to win in an ever-changing world,” Treasury and Trade Solutions Global Head Shahmir Khaliq said in a memo.

Today In Retail: Rite Aid’s Retail Pharmacy Operation Fuels Revenue Growth; Sneaker eCommerce Firm GOAT Lands $195 Million

Today In Retail: Rite Aid’s Retail Pharmacy Operation Fuels Revenue Growth; Sneaker eCommerce Firm GOAT Lands $195 Million

June 24, 2021 at 11:02PM

In today’s top retail news, Rite Aid posted rising revenues from continuing operations, while GOAT wrapped up a $195 million Series F funding round and achieved a of $3.7 billion valuation. Plus, a report indicates that the secondhand market is set to flourish.

Rite Aid’s Retail Pharmacy Business Drives Revenue Growth

Rite Aid reported that revenues from continuing operations increased by 2.2 percent to $6.16 billion. The company, which has over 2,500 retail pharmacy locations, said the rise in revenues for the three months concluding on May 29, 2021 was powered by growth in its retail pharmacy segment that was partially offset by a decline in its pharmacy services segment. As for its overall results, Rite Aid reported $138.9 million in Q1 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) from continuing operations.

Sneaker eCommerce Platform GOAT Notches $195 Million

GOAT concluded a $195 million Series F funding round and attained a valuation of $3.7 billion with the round. The firm has evolved into the “the leading and most trusted sneaker marketplace in the world” since its 2015 founding, per an announcement. “GOAT’s growth is accelerating across every channel and category due to the powerful global technology platform we have developed and the premier customer experience we deliver, which resonates with younger consumers around the world,” GOAT Group Co-Founder and CEO Eddy Lu said an announcement

ThredUP’s Resale Market Projections Spell More Trouble For Department Stores

The secondhand market is poised to flourish, according to a report released by GlobalData and thredUP, with resale alone anticipated to grow 11 times quicker than the wider retail clothing industry over the next half of a decade. The $36 billion secondhand market is anticipated to reach $77 billion by 2025. About $47 billion of that is forecasted to be in resale. And one in three consumers indicate that they care about sustainability presently than they did pre-pandemic, ThredUP and GlobalData found.

Citi Appoints Elms To Lead Sales For Treasury And Trade Solutions

Citi Appoints Elms To Lead Sales For Treasury And Trade Solutions

June 24, 2021 at 10:39PM

Citi has named Steve Elms as the new Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) sales head for corporate, commercial and public sector clients, according to an internal memo, which notes that the appointment is effective immediately.

Elms will be tasked with managing global sales workforces in his new position, including setting the growth roadmap, fueling revenue generation from sales wins and enhancing the client experience.

The executive will also head up all sales initiatives to fuel cross-product client offerings such as treasury management and working capital financing, with the inclusion of trade solutions, in collaboration with the firm’s institutional and consumer workforces.

“We have an aggressive growth agenda for TTS. I am confident Steve will champion Citi’s Transformation efforts and Leadership Principles as we continue to strive for excellence, work together to serve our clients, and position Citi to win in an ever-changing world,” Treasury and Trade Solutions Global Head Shahmir Khaliq said in the memo.

Elms has a long history at Citi through TTS. The executive has served as global head of trade sales as of 2020, and, before that time, he served as Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) head of corporate and public sector sales and marketing. Elms will keep co-leading Global Trade with Adoniro Cestari Neto up to the point that a Global Trade head is named.

In April, PYMNTS reported that TTS launched Citi Service Insights (CSI), which encompasses an integration with SWIFT gpi Case Resolution. In a release, Manish Kohli, global payments and receivables head at Citi, referred to CSI as a “digital, self-service tool that can be used as a dashboard for raising, managing and closing out inquiries.”

“Early data on the effectiveness of Case Resolution has been very promising, showing that inquiries are resolved faster and more efficiently than equivalent non-Case Resolution inquiries,” according to an announcement, as previously reported.

The news comes as PYMNTS reported in January that Citi had named Khaliq as the new leader of TTS.

GoTab Offers Restaurants Digital Flexibility For Unpredictable Circumstances

GoTab Offers Restaurants Digital Flexibility For Unpredictable Circumstances

June 24, 2021 at 10:29PM

While customers may be returning to restaurants, growing comfortable with the prospect of onsite dining, restaurant operators, especially independents, are still facing significant headwinds. Labor shortages and supply chain disruptions are forcing many restaurants to find ways to do more with less. With data showing that restaurants are operating with leaner staffs, even as customers are ordering more, it becomes essential for restaurants’ staff to be as efficient as possible.

To that end, restaurant technology provider GoTab, which creates contactless ordering and payment solutions, recently announced a new “smart tipping” feature to incentivize waitstaff to be more hands-on.

“What we’re trying to do ultimately is make tips more equitable, meaning that they are good for those who work hard and provide good service, and they’re less good for those who don’t,” GoTab CEO Tim McLaughlin told PYMNTS in an interview. “So it’s really a performance-oriented incentive, which humorously everybody tends to think that the tips are performance-oriented but the data wouldn’t support that.”

The feature allows restaurants more flexibility in their tipping structure, providing the ability to pool tips or to apportion tips per item ordered. Along with this feature, the company also announced its “dynamic pricing” feature, an important tool as prices fluctuate amid shortages and supply chain disruptions. After all, no restaurant should be charging pre-shortage prices for, say, chicken wings right now.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

With the smart tipping feature, if a bartender takes a customer’s drink order, a different server takes the entrée order, and the customer orders their own dessert through the company’s digital ordering tools, restaurants can choose to allocate tips accordingly, with tips for self-ordered items going into the pool for all servers. By compensating servers each time they sell a menu item, the feature encourages staff to be on the lookout for sales opportunities.

“The whole point of the server on the floor is to help the guests to interact with the guests, and candidly to upsell the guests, as much as plenty of hospitality people say they don’t want to upsell,” McLaughlin explained.

He added that, with waitstaff checking in more often on customers with, say, an empty glass, the restaurant will either drive more sales or prompt customers who are done with their food or beverage to leave, opening up an opportunity to serve the next customer waiting for the table.

This feature has been in the works since well before the current labor situation, with the idea initially floated in 2019. McLaughlin noted, “We’re kind of academic nerds — we’ve always thought this would be a better way to do it.”

The Price Is Right

Just as the smart tipping feature was not initially created in response to the current labor shortage but nonetheless proves a valuable tool right now, so too did the dynamic pricing feature predate the current restaurant price fluctuations. In fact, the feature already existed through the company’s order rules engine.

McLaughlin noted that this rules engine “lets you really apply any parameter,” allowing restaurant orders to vary price by time of day, by calendar period, or by who is placing the order, among other conditions, with 11 total parameters that can be combined and overlaid.

“It’s a feature we’ve never actually disclosed publicly because no other systems have it, and so we’ve never really had a good way to describe it,” said McLaughlin. Now, however, with the widespread demand for increased flexibility, the company has made the feature known to the public.

Operations on the distributors’ side may be slowed down by the industry’s notoriously old-fashioned methods. As Jordan Huck, chief executive officer of restaurant supply chain technology company Notch, told PYMNTS in a recent interview, “The problem on the distributor side is, their order desk is offline — they receive orders via email, text, phone, fax machines, carrier pigeons.” However, with the ability to adjust prices quickly and easily, this GoTab feature at least allows restaurants to respond as nimbly as possible on their end.

Uber-Like Menu Changing

The feature allows restaurants to adjust menu prices in response to demand, like ridesharing apps’ surge pricing models.

“That’s actually what [operators] were asking for,” recalled McLaughlin. “They said, ‘Hey, can you do this? We want to charge, a quarter more for a margarita on Friday and Saturday night.’”

This sort of pricing, if it catches on across the restaurant industry, could mark a dramatic change in how consumers fit restaurants into their routines. After all, while the first few use cases may be this sort of weekend upcharge (or mid-week discount, depending on how it is framed), as operators grow increasingly accustomed to the technology, the price changes may become increasingly granular. Soon, consumers may be incentivized to visit their favorite restaurant at 3 p.m. on a Monday, just to get mealtime prices.

“The biggest challenge at the restaurant is, if you were to look at our revenue curves or payment curves, they’re so heavily tilted to Friday/Saturday night,” said McLaughlin. “If you can get people to spread out that consumption, it’s a heck of a lot easier to fulfill, and you already have people in the restaurant anyway to staff it.”