The road to a cashless society is paved with good intentions, as we have seen in our previous business international news-related article.

Although there might be some bumps in the road, latest industry updates are solid proof that key technology players are on a constant race to bring the concept closer to reality and also gain some market share along the way. Either on an acquisition or new markets expansion spree, industry giants including PayPal, Google, Alipay and WeChat are well-positioned to address the massive global opportunities. Here is how.

Top industry acquisitions

Let’s face it – last week was Paypal’s week and its competitors’ nightmare. The company is at the peak of an acquisition spree, announcing 4 big acquisitions in less than 2 months: after iZettle and predictive marketing platform Jetlore, last week Simility, a fraud prevention platform, and Hyperwallet, a financial technology company, were added to the list.

Taken together, these acquisitions are set to speed up PayPal’s evolution as a commerce platform, not only as a payments company. The Hyperwallet acquisition strengthens PayPal’s payout capabilities, improving the company’s ability to provide an integrated suite of payment solutions to ecommerce platforms and marketplaces around the world. According to Internet Retailer, marketplace sales represented over 50% of global online retail sales in 2017. With Simility, the former eBay division aims to expand global fraud prevention and risk management capabilities for merchants.

In a strategic move, Danish payments platform Nets has also announced that it extends its geographic presence in Europe by acquiring Polish online payment service providers Dotpay/eCard. The company reported that “with this acquisition it gains access to the sixth largest country in EU by inhabitants with a growing economy, solid growth in eCommerce volumes and high growth potential through cash to digital payments conversion”.

Apple Pay expands to new countries

Poland, Norway and Ukraine are the latest target countries on Apple Pay’s list. Mastercard cardholders can now use Apple Pay in Poland with Bank Pekao, mBank, Alior Bank, Getin Noble Bank, Bank Zachodni WBK, Bank BGŻ BNP Paribas, Raiffeisen Polbank. That translates roughly to about 39% of debit and 46% credit cards in the country, according to Piotr Jan Pietrzak, ING Bank Slaski.

Source: “Meanwhile in Poland: Apple Pay launched in a country with no iPhones?” article by Piotr Jan Pietrzak, ING Bank Slaski

Apple has decided to enter a market where different types of mobile payments already exist and do pretty well, as the ING representative also states. For a more detailed analysis, check his well-written LinkedIn article here.

Just one day after Apple Pay went live in Poland, the mobile wallet service was rolled out in Norway. Initially, payment services will be available in Norway for customers with Visa cards from Nordea Bank, Santander Bank and Sbanken (formerly Skandiabanken). Apple Pay will also be available to Nordea’s customers with MasterCard-branded cards.

Apple Pay is expected to come to Ukraine sometime in the June 2018 quarter. Such announcements come at a time when Apple’s share of the market is declining. As Kount’s Mobile Payments and Fraud Survey: 2018 Report indicates, Apple Pay strategies to engage merchants have not proved very successful. So far, in 2018 merchants accepting Apple Pay have dropped from 48% to 35%. However, PayPal acceptance rates jumped from 48% to 64% (YoY), the same report shows.

Visa Europe updates

Last week, Visa submitted the long-awaited official statement to the UK’s Treasury Select committee chair Nicky Morgan, announcing that 10% of 51.2 million transactions across Europe were affected during the outage, which lasted from 14.35 on 1 June until 00.45 the next day. Across the UK, 2.4 million transactions failed to process properly, with 1.7 million credit and debit cards affected by the incident.

As an advocate for a cashless society, Visa is aware of the importance of IT systems reliability, so the company announced that by the end of the year it will migrate European processing to its global system, VisaNet, which is “more resilient in its ability to detect and recover from partial malfunctions of the type that impacted our European system”, as Finextra reports.

In other international news, recent reports indicate that in the UK, debit card payments have overtaken cash for the first time, as contactless technology takes hold on day-to-day spending. In 2017, 13.2 billion debit card payments were made, up by 14% on the previous year, according to banking trade body UK Finance.

Alipay, WeChat Pay and Kenya

Mobile network operator Safaricom has never had to worry about M-Pesa dominance in Kenya. Until now. Kenyan businesses will be able to accept Alipay and WeChat payments, as a result of a partnership between Equitel (Finserve Limited), a mobile virtual network operator, and online payment service provider Red Dot Payment. The long-term strategy is to enable Kenyans to hold Alipay and WeChat Pay accounts through them and thus facilitate international payments. The service is expected to go live within a month’s time and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in terms of competition.

M-Pesa (M for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money) is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya. M-Pesa is often mentioned by the industry as a relevant example that shows the transformative impact mobile money services can have on a country.

Google invests in Alibaba rival

Google has revealed plans to invest USD 550 million in JD.com, China’s technology-driven eCommerce company. According to a press release, Google and JD will work together on a series of strategic initiatives, including the joint development of retail solutions across several regions, such as Southeast Asia, the US and Europe. The 2 companies aim to explore the creation of next-generation retail infrastructure solutions, to enable personalized and frictionless shopping experiences. JD also plans to make a selection of products available for sale through Google Shopping in multiple regions.

Fortune favors the bold, so exciting times lie ahead. Stay tuned for more.

Interested in reading this month`s previous business international news updates? You can check them here:

A Cashless Society – the Near Future or Still a Buzzword?

Card Networks, Digital Banks, Trust and Data

The World after 25 May, Alternative Payments, WhatsApp in India and More

Adriana Screpnic, Content Marketing Specialist, G2A PAY