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Walmart Joins Ford and Argo AI on Driverless Delivery, Apple Fixes ‘Zero Click’ iMessage Breach and OpenSea’s Massive NFT Activity Drop Top This Week’s News 

In this week’s news, we saw retail subscriptions at risk when the COVID-19 pandemic ends, while Apple finally closed a longstanding security loophole. The Weekender is here to catch you up. 


Apple Fixes Flaw That Was Causing Software Breach Since February 

Apple this week rolled out a security update that fixes a flaw that caused a software breach that silently infected iPhones using iMessage since February, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Monday (Sept. 13). 

NSO Group, an Israeli cybersecurity firm, has been exploiting the vulnerability for more than six months, WSJ reported, citing research group Citizen Lab, which looks into cyberattacks on “journalists and dissidents.” The intrusion was considered a “zero click” attack, one in which the user doesn’t need to click a link or open a document to be attacked, according to the report.  

Square Sellers Can Accept Payments With Cash App Pay  

Sellers on Square now accept payments through Cash App Pay, a new contactless payment method for online and offline transactions, according to an announcement on its website Monday (Sept. 13). 

Consumers can now pay with their Cash App account at participating Square sellers by scanning a seller’s QR code at checkout or clicking a button on their mobile device. Cash App Pay is free for consumers and will soon be available to all U.S. Square merchants.  

China to Split Loan Business From Alipay, Calls on Ant Group to Turn Over User Data  

Beijing wants to split up super-app Alipay to make a new app for its 1 billion-plus-user loans business as part of its wider plan by China to slow down the Big Tech train, a Financial Times report says. 

Chinese regulators have also ordered Ant to separate the back end of its lending businesses, Huabei and Jiebei, and make them an independent app. Huabei and Jiebei have already been split from Alipay’s regular financial offerings. 

Ford, Argo AI and Walmart Bringing Driverless Delivery to Miami, DC and Austin  

Ford Motor Company, Argo AI and Walmart have teamed up on plans for a driverless delivery service fleet in Miami; Washington, D.C.; and Austin, Texas, using Ford’s autonomous test vehicles to deliver Walmart orders with Argo AI Self-Driving System. 

Walmart plans to begin the initial integration testing later this year. 

NFT Marketplace OpenSea Sees Sales Volume Drop 50% in First Week of September  

Activity on nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea dipped precipitously in the past week, according to decentralized application tracker DappRadar, after a massive trading spree in the weeks leading to Aug. 29. 

Since then, though, the number and aggregate value of trades have plummeted, including a 50% drop in the sales volume to $792 million among its 156,811 traders for the period ending Sunday (Sept. 12), according to Cointelegraph. 

Trackers and Reports 

New Data Cites Flexibility, Discounts As Top Retail Subscription Churn Fighters  

Retail subscription services have seen unprecedented growth since the COVID-19 pandemic began about 18 months ago, with 142% more consumers having at least one retail subscription service than the same time a year earlier, but that growth may be slowing down, according to PYMNTS research. 

Nineteen percent of retail subscribers say in our Subscription Commerce Conversion Index with that they plan to cut back on their subscriptions whenever the pandemic ends, putting up to 17 million retail subscriptions on the proverbial chopping block. Flexibility and discounts could stem that tide, our research that surveyed 2,123 U.S. consumers shows. 

New PYMNTS Data Shows SMBs Adapting To Wage Hikes, Economic Change  

The September edition of PYMNTS’ Main Street Merchant Index: How SMBs Are Faring In Their Recovery Efforts shows that Main Street SMBs have pulled ahead of where they were before the COVID-19 outbreak, although this varies by region. 

SMBs on Main Streets in the South have endured the past 18 months exceptionally well, for example, while those on Main Streets in the Northeast have just recently managed to get back to zero. 

Not only did professional firms see their MSI scores slip less than those in any other industry, but they are also the farthest ahead of where they were in Q1 2020, employing more workers and paying those workers 10% more than they did before the pandemic began. 

Answering Phones And Online Service: The Case For The Human-Centric Digital Bank  

Banking customers are less likely to visit banks now than they were 18 months ago, and nearly all consumers have an online or mobile banking feature at their disposal. The push to digitization highlighted the advantages of online banking, according to the latest Digital-First Banking Tracker®.

Almost half (46%) of U.S. consumers have become “digital shifters,” while 9% of former branch loyalists said they visited a branch more since the pandemic started. Customers are more willing to try new technology, whether it is opening a bank account digitally or downloading a new mobile app.  

Fun, Cool and Otherwise Interesting 

Chivo Bitcoin ATMs Come to 10 US Cities From El Salvador 

El Salvador recently installed 50 commission-free Chivo bitcoin ATMs in 10 U.S. cities so people can send money to friends and family members in the Central America country. 

The cities with Chivo bitcoin ATMs include Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, along with Columbus, Ohio; Doral, Florida; and El Paso, Laredo and McAllen, Texas. 

El Salvador president Nayim Bukele estimates more than 500,000 users have signed up for Chivo bitcoin wallets, which gave citizens with a $30 bitcoin bonus for registering. 

UK Cardholder Could Own First-Ever Mastercard NFT  

Mastercard on Thursday (Sept. 16) announced a raffle for cardholders in the United Kingdom to win the company’s first non-fungible token, created in collaboration with professional soccer manager and former player José Mourinho, head coach of Italian football club Serie A club Roma and Mastercard global ambassador. The NFT features an animated digital football with Mourinho’s signature inscription.  

U.K.-based cardholders can sign up through Sept. 30 for a chance to win the one-of-a-kind item.  

PetSmart Launches BNPL Program With Afterpay 

PetSmart on Tuesday (Sept. 14) announced a partnership with buy now, pay later company Afterpay, designed to give customers the chance to pay for purchases in interest-free installments. 

PetSmart will allow customers to make purchases online and in-store, giving them four installments due every two weeks to pay for their products and services, including grooming and training. 

Australia’s Zip to Allow Merchants to Accept Bitcoin Payments, Adds Crypto Trading 

Australia-based buy now, pay later firm Zip will let its merchants accept bitcoin as a form of payment and is integrating cryptocurrency trading functionality, the Financial Review reported. The company compared the innovation in the medium to the internet in 1995. 

Co-founder Peter Gray said earlier this year that Zip users’ top requests had included crypto trading support and a digital wallet, the report stated. Internal research at the company found BNPL users were 67% more likely to trade crypto than those not using BNPL. 

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