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Essential Fintech Reading: Dec 5-11

Central Bankers Creating Their Own Digital Currency?

In response to the rise of bitcoin, central bankers across the globe are exploring the possibility of issuing virtual money backed by their governments. The Wall Street Journal reports that a Dublin-based startup, eCurrency Mint, has been meeting with central banks and marketing a technology that would allow them to issue their own digital cash. Jonathan Dharmapalan, founder and chief executive of eCurrency Mint, says that they have discussed this technology with 30 central banks, piloted it “in multiple countries," and received commitments from two central banks. However, there are no indications that the U.S. Federal Reserve is moving in this direction.

Wal-Mart Launches Own Mobile Payment Solution

Wal-Mart Stores launched its own mobile payment service, Walmart Pay, on Thursday, in an apparent abandonment of a mobile wallet that it had been co-developing alongside other retailers in its MCX consortium.  CurrentC, whose developers included Wal-Mart, Target and BestBuy, was envisioned as a payment solution that could be used across many retailers and integrate their loyalty programs.  However, Forbes' Mark Rogowsky notes that Walmart Pay "could easily signal a death knell for MCX and CurrentC. MCX’s requirements for exclusive deals were limited in duration, and some early signees like Best Buy and Kohl’s have already begun offering Apple Pay and/or Android Pay." 

Bank of America: Millennials Use Mobile, Are Still Affected by Crisis

Bank of America published an end-of-year report showing the attitudes of millennials in 2015. According to the study, 59 percent of millennials use a mobile banking app (compared to 48 percent of total respondents) and 72 percent of those user access the app at least a few times a week or more. Millennials are also still shell shocked by the financial crisis, causing 94 percent to be uncomfortable about going into debt and 88 percent to be uncomfortable about making risky investments.

Google Wallet Now Lets You Send Money w/ a Phone Number

After the latest update, you can send payments in your contact list as long as you have a phone number. Recipients don't have to have a Google Wallet account to get the sent money. This update is indicative of the increasingly dramatic shift in the payments space. Expect to see more players (Apple?) follow suite.

Venmo Use Extend Beyond Payments

Speaking of payments, Business Insider writes about how Venmo users check in to see what their friends are up to even when they aren't sending someone money. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman says that Venmo's social component is the app's secret sauce. "Venmo users open the app four or five times a week. But they only do transactions a couple of times a week," he said. "It's because everyone is looking at the feed to see, 'What did you buy?' 'What icons did you put on your feed?' 'Why did you go and buy that?' The secret sauce on Venmo is one, the ease of use, but two, that it's tied into your social network. So that payments becomes a sharing experience."