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FIME SUPPORTS DEVELOPMENT & ROLL-OUT OF FIRST ANDROID PAYMENT TERMINAL

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FIME SUPPORTS DEVELOPMENT & ROLL-OUT OF FIRST ANDROID PAYMENT TERMINAL

Provides AEVI with consultancy, RF antenna design, EMV kernel development, compliance testing and project management

FIME today announces its successful collaboration with AEVI, a subsidiary of Wincor Nixdorf, to support the development and roll-out of the world’s first payment terminal product based on the Android operating system (OS). The tablet point of sale (POS) device, called ‘Albert’, gives merchants a complete solution to manage a range of business functions and accept a number of different forms of secure payments. The solution is already live and in use by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, since 2015.

Albert offers a wide range of benefits to retailers across industries. Firstly, they can fully tailor their POS device by only running specific applications that are required for their business. Should their business evolve, they can access the dedicated app store to download additional apps, or develop new apps to answer a specific requirement. On top of this, the tablet device accepts all standard payment methods that are compliant with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements: EMV chip and PIN, swipe and sign and near field communication (NFC) contactless payments.

“Albert is a significant milestone in the expansion of cashless payment acceptance,” comments Tomasz Kobylarz, Global Product Manager, at AEVI. “We set out to revolutionize the POS experience and needed a partner with experience across a range of disciplines to support us from the start of the project, right through to certification and launch. We have collectively succeeded in changing how retailers interact with their customers by offering a more powerful, open platform which can adapt to changing needs, and provide real-time analytics and business insights.”

FIME provided consultancy and project management services throughout the development and roll-out of the product. It supported AEVI during the radio frequency antenna design to enable contactless payments acceptance, and the EMV Level 1 payment terminal kernel development.

Amadis provided EMV Level 2 technology in addition to integration services using its Agnos EMV Level 2 EntryPoint Contactless Stack, which covers all major payment scheme kernels. For this project, Amadis also developed a specific Android API to bridge the EMV NFC card payment acceptance services with the Albert marketplace application environment.

Finally, FIME managed the compliance testing of the complete solution, using its qualified test tools, to ensure alignment with a range of international payments standards.

“Delivering a world first is always exciting and it was extremely satisfying to help bring Albert to life,” adds Mikael Berrebi, Vice President of EMEA at FIME. “Lots of companies and departments were involved, we needed to combine a great deal of functionality into one handheld device and something like this had never been done before on Android. Albert represents a pivotal point in POS development; the consumer interface just took a leap forward and we’re proud to have been on the front line.”

Some of Albert´s key features include: the options of e-mailing receipts and invoices, allowing customers to open accounts they can pay off later; recording and tracking daily, weekly and yearly payments; and collecting valuable business analytics and insights.

To find out more about how FIME can support your projects, contact your local office https://www.fime.com/contact-us/global-offices.html.

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers 1

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank is working to standardize COVID-19 vaccine contracts that countries are signing with drug makers, and is pushing manufacturers to be more open about where doses are headed, as it races to get more vaccines to poor countries, the bank’s president said on Friday.

World Bank President David Malpass told Reuters he expected the bank’s board to have approved $1.6 billion in vaccine funding for 12 countries, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Ethiopia, by the end of March, with 30 more to follow shortly thereafter.

The bank is working with local governments to identify and fill gaps in distribution capacity, after they purchase vaccines under a $12 billion World Bank program, and also to standardize the contracts they are signing with manufacturers, he said.

The bank’s International Finance Corp, its private financing arm, has $4 billion to invest in expanding existing production plants or building new ones, including in developed countries, but needs more data on where current production is headed, he said.

“We are eager to be investing in new capacity, but it’s hard to do because you don’t know how much of the existing capacity is already committed to the various off-takers,” Malpass said in an interview with Reuters. New or expanded plants could be used to produce other types of vaccinations in the future, he said.

The bank’s funds could be used to expand plants in advanced economies, if the production was earmarked for developing nations, he said.

Malpass welcomed Friday’s pledge by the Group of Seven rich countries to intensify cooperation on the pandemic, saying it could help jump-start deliveries of vaccines to poorer countries, which are lagging far behind rich countries in getting shots in arms.

Data compiled by Our World In Data, a scientific online publication, showed Israel was leading the world in COVID-19 vaccinations, with nearly 82 of 100 people vaccinated, while India and Bangladesh reported less than one person per 100, Many African countries have not started at all.

Malpass said he was heartened by news about new vaccines coming down the road, and about Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE seeking permission to store their vaccine at higher temperatures, which would ease another obstacle to deliveries in lower-income countries.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion 2

By Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google will evaluate the performance of its vice presidents and above on team diversity and inclusion starting this year, the company said on Friday in one of several responses to concerns about its treatment of a Black scientist.

Timnit Gebru, co-leader of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence research team, said in December that Google abruptly fired her after she criticized its diversity efforts and threatened to resign.

Alphabet and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai ordered a review of the situation. While Google declined to share specific findings, the company announced on Friday it will engage human resources specialists during sensitive employee departures.

Pichai in June said that by 2025, Google aims to have 30% more of its leaders come from underrepresented groups, with a focus on Black, Latinx and Native American leaders in the United States and female technical leaders globally. About 96% of Google’s U.S. leaders at the time were white or Asian, and 73% globally were men.

As a result of the investigation, the company also expanded a commitment announced in June to devote more resources to retaining and promoting existing employees, including by expanding a team addressing disputes among workers and their managers.

The diversity component of executive performance reviews was not previously announced, and the company did not immediately share details about what would be measured and how pay would be affected.

Alphabet for years had rejected proposals from shareholders and employees to set diversity goals and tie executive pay to them.

Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who advocated for one such proposal at a 2018 shareholder meeting, said on Friday, “I am pleased that they met our demand from 2018, which was a bare minimum that should have been easy to do immediately.”

Evaluating managers on diversity goals is becoming more commonplace. McDonald’s Corp on Thursday tied executive bonuses to diversity.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Bitcoin hits $1 trillion market cap, surges to fresh all-time peak

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Bitcoin hits $1 trillion market cap, surges to fresh all-time peak 3

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Tom Wilson

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin touched a market capitalization of $1 trillion as it hit yet another record high on Friday, countering analyst warnings that it is an “economic side show” and a poor hedge against a fall in stock prices.

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency jumped to an all-time high just below $55,772, posting a weekly jump of 13%. It has surged roughly 66% so far this month and was last up 6.8% at $55,079.

Bitcoin’s gains have been fueled by signs it is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, from Tesla Inc and Mastercard Inc to BNY Mellon.

All digital coins combined have a market cap of around $1.7 trillion.

“If you really believe there’s a store of value in bitcoin, then there’s still a lot of upside,” said John Wu, president of AVA Labs, an open-source platform for creating financial applications using blockchain technology.

“If you look at gold, it has a market cap $9 or $10 trillion. Even if bitcoin gets to half of gold’s market cap, that’s still growth of 4X, or $200,000. So I don’t know when it stops rising,” he added.

The next milestone will be overtaking Alphabet Inc, currently valued at $1.431 trillion, said Jacob Skaaning, portfolio manager at crypto hedge fund ARK36.

“There will likely be some big fluctuations along the way, but I’m still very bullish and I believe the uptrend will continue for the time being,” he added.

Still, many analysts and investors remain skeptical of the patchily regulated, highly volatile digital asset, which is little used for commerce.

Analysts at JP Morgan said bitcoin’s current prices were well above estimates of fair value. Mainstream adoption increases bitcoin’s correlation with cyclical assets, which rise and fall with economic changes, in turn reducing benefits of diversifying into crypto, the investment bank said in a memo.

“Crypto assets continue to rank as the poorest hedge for major drawdowns in equities, with questionable diversification benefits at prices so far above production costs, while correlations with cyclical assets are rising as crypto ownership is mainstreamed,” JP Morgan said.

Bitcoin is an “economic side show,” it added, calling innovation in financial technology and the growth of digital platforms into credit and payments “the real financial transformational story of the COVID-19 era.”

Other investors this week said bitcoin’s volatility presents a hurdle for it to become a widespread means of payment.

On Thursday, Tesla boss Elon Musk – whose tweets have fueled bitcoin’s rally – said owning the digital coin was only a little better than holding cash. He also defended Tesla’s recent purchase of $1.5 billion of bitcoin, which ignited mainstream interest in the digital currency.

Bitcoin proponents argue the cryptocurrency is “digital gold” that can hedge against the risk of inflation sparked by massive central bank and government stimulus packages designed to counter COVID-19.

Yet bitcoin would need to rise to $146,000 in the long-term for its market cap to equal the total private-sector investment in gold via exchange-traded funds or bars and coins, according to JP Morgan.

Rival cryptocurrency ether also hit an all-time peak of $1,974.99 on Friday, and was last up 1% at $1,958.76, after its futures were launched on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Bitcoin’s surge extended to crypto-related stocks as well, such as Silvergate Capital Corp, which was up 8.2%, cryptocurrency miner Riot Blockchain, 13.5 higher%, and Marathon Patent Group, up 7.3%.

Shares of Overstock.com, an online retailer and blockchain tech investor, gained 4.1%; while MicroStrategy Inc, a bitcoin buyer and business intelligence software firm, advanced 4.1%.

(Graphic: Cryptocurrencies surge multi-fold from March lows link: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/yzdpxwaynvx/Pasted%20image%201613731432324.png)

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York and Tom Wilson in London; Editing by Dan Grebler and Jonathan Oatis)

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