Data Dive

The Summer Of Love (Or Not) Edition: CapOne & IDs, Android Pay & PayPal And Walgreens & (Maybe Not) Rite Aid

The summer is here!

Okay, the summer is almost here. Just one week more and Memorial Day is upon us, and with it summer’s unofficial beginning. Given the bang — or, more accurately, series of bangs — 2017 has gotten off to in its first half, it is easy to imagine some — if not all — of us are ready to settle into a beach chair, seaside, with only the sound of the surf and a good book to while the time away. (We’d highly recommend Matchmakers.)

But before you get to packing those bags, grabbing that sunblock and renting that beach chair, there is this week to get through, and this week’s Data Dive.

In the hopper this week, CapOne released digital authentication APIs, PayPal and Android Pay took commerce to Chrome and the FTC tapped the brakes on the Walgreen’s/Rite Aid merger.

Here’s what to watch.

CapOne Tests Making Authentication Easier

Capital One is currently beta testing a set of APIs designed to enable third-party websites and applications to authenticate the identity of users against identity information that Capital One has stored.

“We have been building digital identity products and technology for years in order to serve our tens of millions of customers,” Matthew Thompson, director of Digital Business Development at Capital One, said in a report. “What we’re doing that’s new and exciting is providing those same underlying digital identity capabilities as a service to partner websites and applications.”

The technology, when in wide release, will allow a Capital One customer signing up for the new app or online service that is integrated with the Digital Identity API to enter their Capital One account credentials and be verified as a user — as opposed to having to create an entirely new account with new credentials.

The new Digital Identity API program currently being piloted is the first time Capital One has made its digital authentication tools available outside of the bank — but Thompson noted that making the entire ecosystem they operate in more secure is in the bank’s interest.

“Trusted identity information is not only critical to our business, it’s critical to the entire economy, and we think there’s a lot of good we can do by externalizing these trusted identity solutions into the broader market in order to enable the future of commerce. It’s a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ approach to improving trust online.”

PayPal and Android Pay Collaborate (Some More)

Why compete when you can collaborate? That seems to be PayPal and Google’s joint motto in 2017 — as the two firms this week announced they were expanding the deal they announced about a month ago that made PayPal a payment option inside of Android Pay wherever Android Pay is accepted — in-store, in-app and online.

Doing Android/PayPal users one better, the partnership now means that Android Pay users who link their PayPal accounts to their Android Pay accounts will be able to pay at any one of the 16 million merchants that accept PayPal today.

Oh — and they will also be able to carry out that shopping via the Chrome mobile web browser and use TouchID to authenticate and check out. Users will need only their fingerprints to authenticate — no username or password necessary.

“The new facet of the [Android Pay] partnership is really two things,” PayPal COO Bill Ready told Karen Webster in an interview shortly after the news was announced. “The first is that Android Pay inside of Chrome will have tight coupling with PayPal. And importantly, when a user adds PayPal to Android Pay, we are going to allow those Android Pay users to shop at our PayPal merchants.”

Ready also noted that getting this functionality up and going for a merchant is identical to what they needed to do to enable OneTouch: exactly nothing. Users have only to link their Android and PayPal accounts — and then they too are ready to roll.

“Mobile checkout remains one of the biggest sources of friction in the commerce experience, and we’re excited to collaborate with PayPal on enabling streamlined checkout experiences for all Android Pay and PayPal users,” Pali Bhat, VP of Payments Products at Google, said.

The service is coming soon to an Android phone near you in the U.S., and fast. Ready estimates that the roll-out will happen over the next few weeks — yes, weeks on Android.

Desktop users and iOS users are out of luck — the service is only for Chrome for Android.

For now anyway. Might be well worth staying tuned.

Speaking of staying tuned.

FTC to Take a Closer Look at Walgreens/Rite Aid Deal

Finalizing a $9.7 billion acquisition deal is not quick work — something Walgreen’s and Rite Aid have learned over the last two years, as they’ve been trying to finalize their merger.

A deal which has hit yet another roadblock — this one shaped like a series of FTC questions.

According to reports this week, the FTC is tapping the brakes on the deal so they can gather more information regarding both the merger and divestiture of 1,200 stores.

Some are saying that this action, known as a Civil Information Demand (CID), could potentially result in a lawsuit to block the deal from moving forward. The central problem at issue in the case is that if Walgreen’s were to complete the deal, it would become the largest drugstore chain in the nation and would have sufficient market share to possibly raise drug prices.

While Rite Aid’s shares rose 4 percent this past Monday to $4.11, it’s still down 10 percent from the past month. It has also fallen 56 percent since January. Of its 1,200 stores, Rite Aid has already agreed to sell 865 of its locations to the Fred’s chain.

Observers have begun to question the FTC’s conduct in the Walgreen’s/Rite Aid case — given that it has been scrutinizing it for the last 19 months.

“It’s odd the FTC is still gathering info,” one unnamed source told journalists.

Still, the CID is not necessarily proof positive the government agency plans to block the deal with a lawsuit — they are occasionally asked for as a prelude to nothing.

But, the issue is getting increasingly heated.

On May 8, Walgreen certified compliance, a move that gives the FTC until July 7 to sue or clear the merger.

The filing of CIDs “is all consistent with bringing a case,” one person close to the matter said. “It tells you the FTC is still very concerned about this deal.”

So, once again, stay tuned.

What did we learn this week?

The best stories this summer may not be at the movie theaters, because they’ll be in payments and commerce. We’ll save you some popcorn.

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