Welcome to the Five at Five, your late look at the payments and commerce news of the day. Coverage includes New York lawmakers seeking to put a cap on ridesharing services, states working to embrace blockchain, Hawaii saving money by converting some functions to digital, new data from the Federal Reserve and Starbucks clearing up the confusion over cryptocurrency.
The New York City Council has finally voted on a long-anticipated move to cap the number of licenses issued to ridesharing firms, including Uber. The industry has been a source of controversy in New York, as it has created major competition for taxis, as well as a lingering issue over driver pay.
As states are moving to find novel ways to make use of blockchain, a number of initiatives have been developed to regulate distributed ledger technology. A pilot program in underway in West Virginia has contracted with Massachusetts-based Voatz to make ballots available for overseas troops via mobile devices. Ohio Governor John Kasich has also signed legislation to boost blockchain efforts.
A six-month test in Hawaii that was designed to encourage the government to be more digital has resulted in a 20 percent reduction in paper use, which could save up to one million sheets of paper. Nine different departments participated in the test and the state calculates that such a reduction could save taxpayers more than $500,000 over a three year period.
Numbers released by the Federal Reserve this week show an annual percentage rate increase of 3.1 percent during the month of June, which is down from 7.5 percent in May. The new figures show a slowdown from 5.1 percent during 2017.
Starbucks, which stirred a bit of controversy after it announced plans to work with Bakkt, will not allow the use of digital currency at its stores. The coffee chain had initially announced plans to work with the firm, which is a digital asset company backed by the Intercontinental Exchange. However, Starbucks later put out a statement confirming that it would not accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment.