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iBEACON GAINS TRACTION, WITH POTENTIAL TO DISRUPT. Slowly but surely, Apple’s iBeacon appears to be gaining traction, a development with disruptive potential for the payments ecosystem. The technology, which uses battery-friendly Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and geofencing to detect nearby devices and exchange data with them, got a major boost with iOS 7.1, which quietly upgraded iBeacon to allow it to communicate with apps even when they’re closed. Last week, chip maker Texas Instruments announced that it would integrate iBeacon compatibility across its BLE product line, “enabling manufacturers to quickly add micro-locationing capabilities to their products.” By the end of 2014, over 30,000 retailers will have beacons installed, one study predicts.

Beacons have the potential to disrupt on several fronts, and iBeacon is in pole position. We’ve estimated that there are over 200 million currently deployed iPhones and iPads capable of acting as or receiving signals from iBeacons. That kind of infrastructure could pave the way for a much-anticipated mobile payment app from Apple, which as we reported last week, could be based on a combination of near-field communication (NFC) and BLE. But PayPal is also racing to get its own beacons in the field. As PayPal CEO David Marcus noted on the company’s blog last week: “The proliferation of BLE chips in devices will enable the industry to create very precise, fast, and secure shopping and payment experiences.” (BI Intelligence)

SQUARE COULD BE LOOKING FOR A BUYER: Square, the company whose mobile card reader is used by over one million merchants, could be up for sale after incurring mounting losses of $100 million last year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Google has apparently discussed a possible acquisition, as have PayPal and Apple, though all companies deny the talks have taken place. The report notes that while Square has been highly successful getting merchants to adopt its hardware, the company operates on razor-thin margins, taking a 2.75% cut of all transactions, and then paying back about 80% of that to the major payments networks. (Wall Street Journal)

FORMER MONEYGRAM EXEC FACES ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ $5M FINE. Thomas Haider, former chief compliance officer at MoneyGram, has been ordered to meet with U.S. Treasury Department officials early next month to face a potential $5 million fine, Reuters reports. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network wants to hold Haider personally liable for compliance lapses at MoneyGram that it says occurred under his watch.

In 2012, MoneyGram admitted it aided in wire fraud and failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, forfeiting $100 million in a settlement agreement. “A multi-million dollar penalty against a person accused of playing a role in an institution’s anti-laundering failures would be unprecedented,” writes Reuters’ — For more information read the original article here.    

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