Coronavirus Insights: Contactless Payment Boost, Furloughs at Fintechs

Content from around the web related to the pandemic and its impact on the financial world. Ideas, new tools, information, expert viewpoints and more curated by The Financial Brand's editorial team.

Treasury Considering ‘Coronavirus War Bonds’

Reuters reports that presidential economic advisor Larry Kudlow has said the Treasury Department may look at issuing bonds earmarked to help with COVID-19 relief. They could be patterned after war bonds issued during World War II.

Those securities were frequently pushed at mass rallies featuring war heroes, Hollywood figures and other celebrities. Given social distancing rules, if such events occur they will likely be virtual.

Wells Fargo Hits Lending Ceiling and Halts Paycheck Protection Lending

The San Francisco Business Times reports that Wells Fargo announced April 5 that it had hit a federal asset ceiling imposed in the wake of its sales scandals. As a result it can’t participate further in the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The bank said it was exploring alternatives, including a proposed program of its own that would target firms with fewer than 50 employees.

U.K. Raises Contactless Payment Limit to Avoid Keypad Usage

In a sign of a measure that could be adopted in the U.S., retailers in the U.K. — in addition to discouraging use of cash — began permitting shoppers to purchase up to £45 using contactless point of sale technology. This is to reduce the use of keypads on POS terminals to input PIN numbers. Before the accommodation the maximum contactless payment was £30, as reported by the Independent.

Fintech Companies Begin Furloughing Employees

Some of the biggest names among fintechs and neobanks are announcing furloughs in the wake of the coronavirus’ impact on the economy, according to a roundup of industry announcements by Crowdfund Insider. Among the firms are Kabbage, Monzo and Starling. On the flip side, Revolut, having just raised $500 million, plans no furloughs.

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Google, Facebook and Programmatic Ad Buying Driving COVID-19 Fake News

The robots have taken over the coronavirus information stream — and that’s not good. Australia’s Which-50 website says experts indicate that many scams, fake news sites and generally misleading items are getting play in part due to search engine and social media algorithms and adtech that doesn’t discern fact from fancy. One expert: Brands should turn off programmatic bots and place ads directly with reputable sites.

A Pew Research Center article indicates that the one-in-five Americans who get most of their news via social media say they have seen at least some misinformation.

Coronavirus Is Forcing Bank Annual Meetings into Virtual Mode

The need to socially distance and avoid meetings of any size is driving major banks’ decisions to hold their annual meetings remotely, including voting. Among the institutions making announcements in the last few days: Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, U.S. Bancorp and TD Bank Group.

On the other hand, as of April 6 Bank of America still planned to hold an in-person annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C. However, management suggested that shareholders check the site a week before the April 22 event.

Filene Institute Offers Credit Unions Help on New Coronavirus Hub

Credit unions can find blogs, papers and webinars to help them serve members through the COVID-19 crisis on a new information hub launched by the Filene Institute. The site also includes a survey concerning suggestions for the tailored content the organization is generating.

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