Mastercard and Bakkt Partner to Offer Crypto Loyalty Programs

Mastercard and Bakkt announced a partnership to make it easier for merchants, banks and fintechs in the U.S. to offer cryptocurrency loyalty programs.

Mastercard will also integrate crypto into its loyalty solutions, enabling its partners to offer cryptocurrency as rewards and create fungibility between loyalty points and other digital assets. This means that consumers can earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of traditional loyalty points and seamlessly convert their crypto holdings to pay for purchases. Offers a Unicorn Credit Card Powered by AI is a new fintech company that wants to help you improve your credit score with its special credit card powered by AI.

As you buy items on your credit card, Cred will automatically pay them off from your bank account—not instantly (that way, you can still build credit) and not necessarily at the end of the month (that way you don’t float too much debt at any given time, which can also hurt your credit). Even if you autopay your credit card monthly, Cred’s AI can, in theory, do better.

This is old news, but I’m sharing it because the app is now available in the App Store to apply. I applied for the card last night to hopefully review in the future. There is a waiting list unless you have an invite code.

Cash Your Stimulus Check Using This New ‘Venmo’ Feature

Venmo has added a new check-cashing feature to its app rolling out to select users on Monday. It can be used to cash printed, payroll, and U.S. government checks. The company is also waiving its 1% fee for stimulus checks for a limited time.

To be eligible to use Cash a Check, Venmo customers will need to have either Direct Deposit or a Venmo Debit Card enabled on their account, location services turned on, and a verified email address.

Customers who gain access to the feature will then be able take a picture of their endorsed check and send it to the Venmo app to review, much like they would if cashing a check in a mobile banking app.

Report: Some Robinhood Accounts Were Hacked

Bloomberg reports that some Robinhood users had their accounts hacked and investments liquidated. But Robinhood said that the company itself wasn’t hacked.

A limited number of customers appear to have had their Robinhood account targeted by cyber criminals because of their personal email account (that which is associated with their Robinhood account) being compromised outside of Robinhood. We’re actively working with those impacted to secure their accounts.

Your Financial Transaction Data is the Holy Grail for Advertisers

Over the past decade, our financial transaction data has become one of the most sought-after data sets. Credit card processors like American Express, Mastercard, and Visa are at the center of it.

All of this is happening under a veil of secrecy. Credit card companies may acknowledge that they make money from analyzing transactions, but they are vague about what data they actually share […] Even Apple, which prohibits Goldman Sachs from using its card data for marketing purposes, couldn’t get the same concessions out of Mastercard, its card network.

Here’s a link to the study mentioned in the article, where MIT researchers successfully de-anonymized financial data that these companies claim had privacy protections.

Could We See a US Digital Dollar Soon?

So right away, the answer to my headline is “probably not.” The article I’m linking to says language of digital dollars was removed from the final version of the stimulus package. But I think it’s worthwhile to think about.

The bill establishes a digital dollar, which it defines as ‘a balance expressed as a dollar value consisting of digital ledger entries that are recorded as liabilities in the accounts of any Federal Reserve Bank or … an electronic unit of value, redeemable by an eligible financial institution (as determined by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System).’

Now may not be the time to introduce entirely new technologies, especially if they slow the release of the package. But I personally like the idea, although I don’t advocate for a completely cashless society as I’ve mentioned before.

Intuit Could Buy Credit Karma for $7 Billion

Financial services giant Inuit, which has products like TurboTax and Mint, is close to a deal to buy Credit Karma for US$7 billion.

There is a potentially significant business opportunity for Intuit if it completes a deal. For example, Intuit could try to match all the tax data its TurboTax customers provide with the credit-scoring data that Credit Karma holds.

That could let Intuit serve up better customer prospects to credit card issuers — and eventually let Intuit charge lenders more for access to its hoard of data.

This Company Sells Your Credit Card Data

Yodlee is the biggest financial data broker in the U.S., and it routinely sells your credit card data to investment and research firms.

The Yodlee document describes in detail what type of data its clients gain access to, how the company manages that data across its infrastructure, and the specific measures Yodlee takes to try and anonymize its dataset…Once logged into Yodlee’s server, clients download the data as a large text file, rather than interacting with the data in a dashboard or interface that stays solely within Yodlee’s control, according to the document.