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Will Warby Parker See Its MPOS Plans Through?

Welcome to What’s Trending In Payments – a weekly look at the most popular, irreverent and important stories the payments industry had to offer over the past five days. Which companies grabbed the most headlines – for better or for worse – this week, and which topics have the industry abuzz with intrigue, laughter or disbelief? Featuring breakdowns from the PYMNTS.com staff and commentary by Karen Webster, here’s our take on what all of you payments peeps thought.

TREND ONE: Warby Parker Eyes Its Own MPOS Solution

Why It’s Hot

The pun-laden headlines write themselves. Apparently dissatisfied with options from 30-plus POS vendors they explored, online glasses retailer Warby Parker revealed this week that it’s planning to release its own mobile point of sale system.

“Even though we felt like we found the best vendor, we realized it just wasn’t going to be a long-term tech partner for us, and the only way we were going to be able to get what we needed was to build it ourself,” said Kyle Ashley, director of retail at Warby Parker, as we covered here.

Clearly, a case of someone having way too much time on their hands.

Karen’s Commentary

This sort of reminds me of the story of Cinderella’s glass slipper. As you’ll recall, Prince Charming ran all over the place trying to find the lovely little foot that would fit the beautiful glass slipper that Cinderella lost running from the ball at the stroke of midnight. The Prince persisted and finally found his soul-mate Cinderella, and they lived happily ever after. In the case of Warby Parker, my guess is that they’ll rue the day that they gave up trying to find the solution to fit their mPOS needs and tried to build and maintain one from scratch. But, hey at least they don’t have the ugly stepsisters to contend with.

Top Tweet

@davidbivins: Warby Parker making own mobile point-of-sale: They’ll look into your brain with Google Glass and crack your hashed credit card #.

A prime example of consumers misunderstanding the security that comes with mPOS and mobile payments. This is clearly a man who needs to learn to see the world through rose-colored glasses.

TOPIC TWO: Banks And Cigarettes: The French Connection

Why It’s Hot

“Next time you visit the local tobacco shop to get your daily pack of cigarettes, why not sign up for a new bank account while you’re at it?”

That’s the first line in EMEA editor Chanel Smith’s piece we ran this week about an idea that’s equal parts weird and genius: a company in France that will allow customers to apply for a credit card and open up a bank account at local tobacco shops.

Now, as your standard unworldly American, I find this idea bizarre. I’ve only been to Europe twice (once to visit Mobile World Congress – thanks Karen!) and have not yet found myself in France, so there was a bit of a disconnect for me when I first read this piece.

But the more I read about this … er … innovative idea, the less crazy it became. As Chanel points out, there are 27,000 independent tobacco shops in France, compared to 38,000 bank branches. And the company, which will be called Société des Paiements Electroniques SAS, is slated to launch in October and has already raised $3.9 million in funding.

Interesting. Weird, but interesting.

Karen’s Commentary

Well, I think this is a great example of bundling. The French love to smoke – thus the gazillions of tabacs in the country. So, why not kill two birds with one stone? What is perhaps most surprising is that there is an entrepreneur gusty enough to want to actually build a company (and wealth) in a country that will take something like 75 percent of what he earns in taxes if he’s successful. Who cares if people smoke like chimneys if it starts a wave of entrepreneurial activities in France???

Top Tweet

@gregoryswagson: The bank is closed and I have no money on me. I’m going to kill someone if I don’t get a cigarette soon.

I picked this tweet because I feel like it really exemplifies a scenario where this crazy French banking scheme could work. Here’s a man clearly frustrated by the hours his traditional bank branch operates, and who clearly enjoys smoking. Could he be lured into an alternative bank account while buying his next pack of Lucky Strikes. Perhaps.

Also, all of the real tweets about this story were in French.

TOPIC THREE: Diamonds Are A Traveler’s Best Friend

Why It’s Hot

Qatar National Bank, in conjunction with MasterCard, launched the first “diamond-embedded” credit card this week. The press release used to describe the release is incredible, and makes Donald Trump seem modest by comparison.

The official name of the card is the “QNB Private World Elite MasterCard Credit Card,” and its designed to “to meet the lifestyle needs” of … well, I don’t know, like six people on Earth?

The card delivers rewards and benefits to users and is specifically focused on appealing to “VIP travelers.” Not to worry, though: the card is issued by invitation only, so the odds of mixing up this card with your friend’s when you’re splitting a tab are pretty slim.

But here’s a thought … VIP travelers can get this card, and attach it to their PayPal Galactic accounts when they’re making those @gregoryswagson: The bank is closed and I have no money on me. I’m going to kill someone if I don’t get a cigarette soon.

Karen’s Commentary

Let’s see – silver ring with NFC chip … diamond-encrusted credit card. It’s not even close. I so love it that plastic is going glam. Thank you MasterCard and QNB for helping to restore that once youthful look in a 60-year old plastic credit card chassis.

Top Tweet

@sevendotzero: QNB targets jet-set with diamond-embedded credit card sdz.im/58 … it’s all about market differentiation!

Well, when your credit card is worth more than the GDP of a few small island nations, that sure is one way to differentiate!

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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out the February 2019 PYMNTS Digital Fraud Tracker Report

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