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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 26 November 2018

Daily briefing - 26 November 2018

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The UK and the EU this weekend signed off on the Withdrawal Agreement for the UK, and a political declaration, leaving leaders in various states of sorrow. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was a "sad" day. "EU leaders gave their formal backing to the Brexit deal at a special summit in Brussels on Sunday, after more than a year and a half of painstaking negotiations. But they were adamant that there was no plan B other than a no-deal exit if MPs were to reject it in the House of Commons in a 'meaningful vote' expected to be held on 12 December," reports the Guardian. Theresa May said she would to the UK to "speak directly to the British people". Her own party and supporters are badly divided, with even her recently retired Brexit negotiator declaring at the weekend that no deal would be better that the deal on offer. Mrs May's gamble is that most British people are so sick of Brexit that they are rapidly losing the will to engage. The British press is reporting that Parliament is likely to vote down Mrs May's Brexit plans at first sight, but May's supporters believe that the shock of facing a disorderly no-deal Brexit would then bring the Parliamentarians to their senses.

While Facebook's two-billion strong userbase isn't looking quite so fanatical these days, Instagram is proving popular, having stolen much Snapchat clothing, and WhatsApp is quietly emerging as the real ace in Facebook's deck. This year saw Absa launched the first chatbanking service on WhatsApp, while in India, Whatsapp is at the forefront of payments technology — an interesting development considering that Facebook has fallen foul of regulators with its planned Free Basics service there. "The real deal for WhatsApp is in dealing with life after complying with regulatory requirements such as data localisation — the business of storing vital data in India-based servers to comply with Reserve Bank requirements," notes First Post. "It has to convert its consumer base into something profitable and not be just a lame carrier of Good Morning messages from India that only overload its servers, or proliferate fake news and rumours that get into the headlines for all the wrong reasons." Charged with that task is Abhijit Bose, formerly of Ezetap. "Since Bose has been mandated to build in Gurgaon WhatsApp's first full country team outside of California, there is a good chance that WhatsApp could well be 'acqui-hiring' an Ezetap kind of a team that tailors technology to suit the workflows of businesses. Facebook has its own Workplace business now for collaborative workflows, and Bose's expertise would likely involve a vision that connects the enterprise side of the social network with the payments side."

Big moves in Africa as MTN and Orange, dominant telcos in different parts of the continent, announce plans to offer interoperable payments through a joint venture called Molawi. Previous iterations including mPesa were plagued by lack of interoperability, creating something of a monopoly. It's also emerging at a significant time as regulators look to offer payment licences to non-banks — though regulators will not want to see a re-emergence of one dominant network. "The venture, dubbed Mowali, will make it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost. Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa's 46 markets."

Brazilian regulators are taking a close look at rules for payments networks, according to Payments Source, and investigating firms including American Express, Visa and Mastercard, along with local Brazilian network Elo. Visa said the rule at issue is one that "requires a merchant's bank to receive certain information from payment facilitators," according to the source. "Brazil's payments industry has swelled in recent years, with more than 30 processors attending a meeting with the country's central bank to handle and settle payments," reports Payments Source. "Two such companies — StoneCo Ltd and PagSeguro Digital Ltd — debuted on U.S. stock exchanges earlier this year. Visa said it is cooperating with CADE, which started its investigation on Oct. 15. A Mastercard spokesman didn't have an immediate comment when reached. Amex said it wasn't contacted directly by CADE about the investigation, but will cooperate with regulators."

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