FOREXMAGNATES: Optimal Payments Plc (LSE: OPAY), the group behind the popular NETELLER payment solution, has just revealed it would buy rival Skrill Group (Sentinel Topco Ltd) for a sum of about 1.1 billion euros in order to expand its online services. Skrill is one of the largest online pre-paid cards providers in Europe with its paysafecard brand. Its shareholders include CVC Capital’s Sentinel Group Holdings SA, Investcorp Technology Partners and others. Back in August 2013, CVC acquired a controlling stake in Skrill for €600m from Bahrain-based Investcorp.
TECHCRUNCH: Amazon’s VP and General Manager of Payments, Matt Swann, who most recently oversaw initiatives including Amazon’s Square competitor called Local Register and Amazon Wallet, has left the company, TechCrunch has confirmed. The move comes shortly after Amazon shut down its beta version of Wallet in January amid mediocre reviews, and an increasingly competitive landscape where Apple Pay and Google Wallet now dominate.
TECHCRUNCH: Paytm, a India-based mobile payments service operated by (now) Alibaba-backed One97, has introduced a big new feature that lets 25 million users transfer money to bank accounts. Mobile wallets, like that of Paytm, have grown in popular in India, where credit card adoption is low and many services, including online retailers, process a lot of cash-based transactions. (Its billion-plus population is estimated to have just 450 million bank accounts, with many unused.) Wallets are at the intersection of that, providing greater reliability than cash, but without requiring users to get bank accounts.
THE FINANCIAL BRAND: According to BI Intelligence, the consumer payments industry will process about $2.7 trillion of card-based payments in the US in 2015. This explains why there is a massive amount of mobile-centric innovation occurring in the payments space and why competition for the consumer’s wallet is so intense.
TECHCRUNCH: Apple CEO Tim Cook offered a quick update this morning on the rapid growth of Apple Pay. Apparently the company’s mobile payment technology is now supported by 2,500 card-issuing banks (up from only six when the product was announced in September), while the number of locations accepting Apple Pay has tripled to nearly 700,000.
FAST COMPANY: Thiago Olson, a 25-year-old founder and CEO of payment company Stratos, is now the focus of attention of the American media because his company has released a plastic card that can replace all bank cards in your wallet. However, Olson is no stranger to media attention: he built a nuclear reactor in his house at age 17.
WIRED: Remeber Coin, the credit card-sized gizmo that promised to streamline your wallet by consolidating all your other, actual credit cards? It raked in approximately a gazillion dollars in pre-orders when it debuted in November 2013, only to become another certified crowdfunding debacle, beset by delays and acrimony. Buyers were initially told it would ship summer 2014; the vast majority are still waiting. If nothing else, the saga proved that there is interest in a wallet-slimming wonder card. Now, those interested have another option to consider. Stratos is more or less the same concept as Coin, just with a slicker design and one other key advantage: Its creators claim it’s actually ready to ship. The question is whether or not it will be relevant once the payment world starts the shift to chip-enhanced cards this fall.
TECHCRUNCH: PayPal, the payments service with 162 million users preparing to separate from e-commerce giant eBay later this year, is announcing an acquisition today to help build out its mobile business targeting physical merchants, and sharpen its focus in competition with other tech payment hopefuls like Apple and Google. It is buying Paydiant, a startup out of Boston that makes mobile wallet technology. That technology, in turn, powers payment apps for large business like Subway, Harris Teeter supermarkets, Capital One bank, and — perhaps most notably — MCX, a merchant-owned network that is developing a payment app called CurrentC.