Is Mastercard feeling anxious? The number of times that the company has changed its logo in recent years suggests so. Mastercard (hence to be referred to as the card company whose name shall not be spoken) has dropped the name Mastercard from its logo. It's been a long and slow process from MasterCard to Mastercard to mastercard and finally to nothing. But it's a clear sign that the card company whose name shall not be spoken doesn't see much of a future in actual physical cards. Mastercard thinks that the new "app-like logo" will encourage younger consumers to identify Mastercard as a digital business. "Evolving the logo into an app-like icon also fits in line with how younger consumers are connecting to the world around them," said Adam Adamson of marketing agency Metaforce. Others remain sceptical. "I do not think it is yet iconic enough to successfully execute this new identity, but over time, they will learn if it was a mistake," Pace University marketing professor Larry Chiagouris told wral.com, adding: "Which I think it is." Interlinked circles are more common than Mastercard might think: they form the Olympic logo, the Audi logo, and the Chanel logo, among others.
The new RBS digital bank is called Bó, which, as the Scottish bank surely knows, is also the Gaelic word for cow, which is (a) about as non-digital as one can get, or (b) a clever reference to the traditional measure of wealth in ancient times. We suspect the former. "Bó is currently going through private beta testing and is expected to move to a public beta in the first half of this year," writes the FT. "Britain's banking market is still dominated by a small number of big banks and building societies, but RBS has started several digital initiatives to hold on to its position in the face of growing competition from new rivals." This week we hear that Bo, which will take on the other challenger banks — and offer customers a non RBS-branded bank — is to deepen its partnership with and investment in student-focused app Loot. API-friendly Bo, unlike the RBS's in-house IT system, is designed for the type of aggregation-driven, marketplace banking offered by Starling or Monzo.
While Alipay and Tencent dominate headlines, the Chinese cards network UnionPay has been building a global acceptance network for the soaring Chinese overseas tourism trade — with acceptance far outstripping that of the digital giants. Between them, Alipay and WeChatPay can claim almost two billion users, but don't forget that these numbers pale compared to the more than six billion UnionPay cards in circulation. The combination of both options, meanwhile, makes travelling overseas far less daunting to Chinese tourists and businesspeople. Just like Mastercard, UnionPay is not tied to the physical card: "UnionPay, based in Shanghai, has developed a number of payment services, including the UnionPay app, the mobile QuickPass, the QR code payment and the in-app payment." It has recently opened its platform for developers "to create new applications based on the company's cross-border mobile payment products and other technologies", according to a statement. "Developers will be able to use UnionPay's application programming interface to integrate the UnionPay technology into their own products," reports Mobile Payments Today. The company's UPI has been used to develop UnionPay International Mobile Payment Service and TSP, which allows partners to conduct UnionPay mobile payment services quickly, according to the announcement.
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