The information you need to start your day, from PaymentsSource and around the web:

Capitalized

Standard, which specializes in autonomous checkout tech, has raised $150 million in a new funding round it plans to use to retrofit up to 5,000 stores with its AI-driven solution in the next five years.

Softbank Vision Fund 3 led the Series C funding round along with existing investors, as Standard readies the rollout of its computer vision technology to stores in Europe and the U.S., including Circle K.

San Francisco-based Standard’s solution relies on ceiling-mounted cameras enables secure, low-touch shopping especially suitable for convenience stores, office buildings and other high-traffic zones, the company said.

Rising stars

Singer Jennifer Hudson appears in a new Mastercard TV spot this week showcasing Black female business owners as part of a broad campaign that includes grants, educational and technical support for these entrepreneurs.

Mastercard is working with Fearless Fund, a VC fund created by and for Black women-owned businesses, which will manage a grant program. Plans call for a road show to cities demonstrating ways to promote an equitable business climate, Mastercard said in a press release.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The effort builds on Mastercard’s plan to support Black communities over the next five years with $500 million through products, services, technology and financial support.

Found money

Gravy has raised $4.5 million in an initial funding round to build a service that helps subscription-based businesses recover “failed payments,” TechCrunch reports.

The growing number of digital subscriptions means many consumers forget to pay and companies don’t know how to reach them. Gravy integrates with companies’ payment processing systems and tracks down consumers via texts and emails to resolve billing issues.

Gravy’s founders devised the solution after discovering the difficulty of collecting on failed subscription payments for an earlier firm it launched and sold called The Rocket Company. Gravy, which launched in 2017, has 300 clients.

Busted

The U.S. has indicted three North Korean computer programmers accused of widespread cyberattacks over several years that aimed to steal more than $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency from banks and companies.

The programmers allegedly hacked into computer networks around the world, sent fraudulent wire service messages, attempted to develop and sell a blockchain platform and conducted phishing campaigns targeting U.S. Defense Department employees in a series of scams beginning as early as 2014, CNBC reports.

The indictment charges Jon Chang, Kim Il and Park Jin Hyo, all members of a North Korean military intelligence agency, with a broad series of criminal acts and hacking; Ghaleb Alaumary, a Canadian-American citizen, also plead guilty to helping the crew with money-laundering as part of the schemes.

From the web

Switzerland’s ‘Crypto Valley’ Has Started Accepting Bitcoin, Ether for Tax Payments
COINDESK | Thursday, February 18, 2021
Ctizens and companies based in Zug will be able to pay up to 100,000 CHF (around $111,300) of their taxes in either bitcoin or ether.

Nigerian-based fintech FairMoney wants to replicate growth in India
TECHCRUNCH | Thursday, February 18, 2021
There are over 1.7 billion underbanked people globally, the majority of which are from emerging markets. For them, accessing loans can be difficult, which is a problem fintechs try to solve.

Coinbase, Readying for Public Listing, Gets $77B Valuation From Nasdaq Private Market
YAHOO | Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which is preparing to trade publicly in the next few months, is being valued at $77 billion, based on trading of the company’s privately held shares on a secondary market.

More from PaymentsSource

How to apply for Most Influential Women in Payments: Next
For many years, PaymentsSource’s Most Influential Women in Payments has been celebrating top-performing senior executives. Now we invite you to take part in a new opportunity to advance the mission of gender parity.

Fintechs give a dynamic twist to static credit card deployment
For decades, credit cards have been sold as a tiered product that allows consumers to earn their way to the top product rungs by spending more. That’s left issuers unable to change premium cards fast enough to address the rapid consumer shifts that have accompanied the pandemic.

Amex launches digital receipts to reduce buyer confusion
The explosion of digital commerce during the pandemic has triggered a surge in calls from consumers to card issuers and merchants seeking more details about purchases appearing on card statements.

Opera’s in-browser wallet an overture to youthful ‘power shoppers’
Norwegian browser Opera Limited has launched Dify, a wallet that will support payments and cash-back rewards through a virtual Mastercard debit card.

Mainstream investors give bitcoin payments a jolt
Bitcoin’s price climbed from $29,000 to just below $42,000 in the first half of January before leveling off in recent weeks. Now, following a $1.5 billion investment by Tesla, many are asking themselves: Is there a ceiling?

Banks want to regain control of consumer bill pay. Mastercard offers help.
Bank-hosted consumer bill payment has been fading in popularity for years, but recent trends are giving Mastercard hope of reversing that trend.

Japan’s surprising lag in mobile pay gives it a unique opportunity
The Japanese payments market has long been something of a paradox. On the one hand, Japan boasts the third-largest economy in the world and is a culture synonymous with high-tech and innovation. Japan even claims to have invented Near Field Communication (NFC) and QR Codes, arguably the two most prevalent mobile payment communication technologies worldwide.

Source