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  1. Opera for Android 59 advances online payments Opera has announced the availability of Opera for Android 59. The new update comes with a handful of new features including a Payment Request API, improvements to site settings, and other smaller improvements which many won’t even notice but should provide for a more polished browsing experience. The most notable addition to this upgrade is the Payment Request API. The firm said that as more shopping moves online, the need for standards such as the W3C-recognised Payment Request API will increase. This particular API will allow sites to access customer data such as addresses, contact information, and payment details which will save customers time and energy. Opera admitted that this API is not yet in widespread use but by including it in its browser, the foundation for its use is being laid. Also in this update, Opera has taken the opportunity to improve dedicated app handling making it easier for users to decide whether they want to keep the website open in the browser or switch to an external app; this functionality will be helpful on sites like YouTube and Reddit. In order to access this setting, just press the green padlock in the omnibar where you’ll also find settings for controlling permissions and more. It has been removed from the company’s announcement now, but the firm had also included some of the latest developments surrounding cryptocurrencies in its browser. It’s not clear why the information was pulled but it’s possible it wasn’t supposed to be announced today. This news included that those in the UK can buy crypto from inside Opera’s wallet thanks to a partnership with the Ramp Network and that the Dapp store has been launched in partnership with Dapp.com and features “the best & newest Dapps for Ethereum & Tron.” You can head over the Google Play Store to install or update the app to try out these new features. Opera for Android 59 advances online payments
  2. Mastercard Will Let Merchants Accept Payments in Crypto This Year The payments giant plans to support digital currency transactions directly on network. Mastercard is planning to give merchants the option to receive payments in cryptocurrency later this year. According to a source familiar with the matter, the functionality will see Mastercard customers’ digital currency payments settled in crypto at participating merchants, a first for the financial giant. The company has not yet disclosed which digital currencies it intends to support, or where. The details shed new light on CEO Michael Miebach’s Q4 pledge to integrate digital currency payments “directly on our network” in a move the new chief, helming his first earnings call on Jan. 28, said will provide maximal flexibility to customers and merchants alike. Previously, Mastercard supported limited cryptocurrency transactions through its cryptocard partners Wirex and Uphold. But those programs only cover payment, not settlement; the coins are converted to fiat currency well before reaching the merchant. The new initiative promises to upend that dynamic among the store owners and businesses who opt in. They will be able to conduct their business beyond the bounds of the fiat ecosystem, assuming, of course, their customers have crypto they’re willing to spend. That’s hardly a safe bet given the buy-and-hold mantra pervading the world’s largest cryptocurrency. The source pointed out most bitcoin (BTC, +7.39%) buyers primarily treat their coins as investment vehicles, not payment tools. And the source underscored there’s no guarantee Mastercard’s crypto settlement initiative will support bitcoin. Instead, cryptos will be evaluated against Mastercard’s 2019 “Principles for Blockchain Partnerships” framework, the source said. Released in the wake of Mastercard’s Libra exit, the document placed emphasis on stability, consumer protection and regulatory compliance in vetting potential partners. “Many of today’s 2,600 digital currencies today fail to do this,” Mastercard said at the time. Relatively few merchants currently accept crypto, bitcoin or no. Tesla’s stated plans to sell cars for bitcoin remains a hypothetical. A widespread crypto economy is still far from reality. But Mastercard has been laying the groundwork for that future through years of patents around the digital currency space. The company said it holds 89 blockchain patents and is waiting for approval on an additional 285 around the world. In the U.S. those filings have included: methods to keep crypto transactions private, on-chain credit card payment verification, instant blockchain payment processing and how to handle crypto refunds, among others. Mastercard first filed a patent for handling bitcoin payments in 2013 but abandoned that effort in 2015. It began hiring a team of wallet developers and crypto veterans in 2019. The company now hosts a platform through which central banks can test digital currencies. The payments space is rushing to support blockchain-based currencies at a pace not seen since Bitcoin pioneered the concept of stateless, peer-to-peer immutable transactions in 2009. PayPal intends to roll out bitcoin payment functionality later this year. Visa’s CEO said the rival company may add crypto payments in the future. Source: Mastercard Will Let Merchants Accept Payments in Crypto This Year
  3. PayPal is shutting down domestic payments business in India Image Credits: Yichuan Cao/ NurPhoto / Getty Images PayPal is shutting down its domestic business in India, less than four years after the American giant kickstarted local operations in the world’s second largest internet market. “From 1 April 2021, we will focus all our attention on enabling more international sales for Indian businesses, and shift focus away from our domestic products in India. This means we will no longer offer domestic payment services within India from 1 April,” said a company spokesperson. In a long statement, PayPal said its priorities had shifted in India, but did not elaborate why it was winding down the business. A report recently said the company, which has amassed over 360,000 merchants in the country, was struggling to make inroads in India. Indian news outlet The Morning Context reported in December that PayPal was abandoning its local payments business in India, a claim the company had refuted at the time. “With the shift in priorities, some PayPal employees have been reassigned to new teams. Our focus is to always minimize the impact on our people whenever possible. Overall, our workforce is growing in India, not reducing. We are currently recruiting across our sites in India in large numbers,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. Nonetheless, the move comes as a surprise. The company said last year that it was building a payments service powered by India’s UPI railroad, suggesting an increase in the level of investments it was making in the country. Over the years, PayPal also partnered with a range of popular Indian businesses such as ticketing services BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip and food delivery platform Swiggy to offer a faster check out experience. At the time of writing, PayPal website in India appears to have removed all such references. India has emerged as one of the world’s largest battlegrounds for mobile payments firms in recent years. Scores of heavily-backed firms including Paytm, PhonePe, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are competing among one another to increase their share in India, where the market is estimated to be worth $1 trillion by 2023. Several of these firms also offer a range of payments services for merchants. The company, which says it processed $1.4 billion worth of international sales for merchants in India last year, added that it will continue to invest in “product development that enables Indian businesses to reach nearly 350 million PayPal consumers worldwide, increase their sales internationally, and help the Indian economy return to growth.” PayPal has been offering cross-border payments support in India for more than a decade. After entering the country, it allowed consumers in India to pay at online merchants with local currency. The story was updated with additional details provided by PayPal. Source: PayPal is shutting down domestic payments business in India
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