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Packing points

JPMorgan Chase said it’s buying Stamford, Conn.-based cxLoyalty, a major credit card loyalty platform, in a bid to enrich its own card loyalty programs when travel resumes following the global pandemic.

Chase will gain a full-service travel agency plus the gift card, merchandise and points-bank operations of cxLoyalty Group Holdings, which will operate as a new Chase business unit, according to the companies’ press releases. Terms of the acquisition, expected to close imminently, weren’t disclosed.

The deal means that over time users of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards loyalty program will have access to enhanced travel experiences through cxLoyalty’s platform, Chase’s release said.

Asian ally

Ripple Labs — which was sued recently by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the fintech improperly sold XRP cryptocurrency to consumers — has a Japanese financial services company in its corner.

Tokyo-based SBI Holdings this week claimed that under Japanese law, Ripple’s XRP is a “cryptocurrency asset” and not a security, Coindesk reports. SBI said in a statement it will continue to expand its use of Ripple’s services locally and internationally.

The SEC’s lawsuit alleges Ripple raised $1.3 billion selling XRP over seven years without registering it as a security. The SEC named Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse and former executive Chris Larsen as defendants, along with the San Francisco-based firm.

Second chance

Some Americans eligible to receive money in the recently approved second round of stimulus payments will obtain payments within days via direct deposit, with the bulk of check and prepaid payments going out early next year, CNET reports.

In the first round of payments this year, about 75% of recipients were paid via direct deposit, while 22% received a paper check and 3% opted for a prepaid debit card, the IRS said.

As with the earlier wave of payments, citizens who aren’t required to file a tax return will automatically receive a stimulus payment. Others who haven’t received a payment by Jan. 15 may claim their stimulus funds when filing taxes.

Mixed grill

COVID-19’s effect on the restaurant industry has been mixed, with certain dining chains’ traffic down while delivery and drive-in spending went up. Overall, U.S. restaurant spending has declined only slightly, according to Zenreach, which collaborated with TOP Data to analyze 1 million U.S. consumers’ spending.

Food-delivery service Grubhub has seen a 56% increase in consumer spending year-over-year since the pandemic began, while spending at the drive-in chain Sonic rose 42% and Chick-fil-A spending rose 23%, San Francisco-based Zenreach said.

The chains where consumers are spending less year over-year-year are Olive Garden, which saw a 33% decline in Zenreach’s spending measurement; Subway, which is down 27%; and Chili’s, where consumer spending declined 17%.

From the web

Rare Small-Business Win Keeps Hope Alive for Payouts
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Owners of restaurants and other small businesses are making slow progress wrestling pandemic-related business-interruption payments from their property insurers.

Estonian proptech Rendin raises €1.2M seed for its long-term rental platform
TECHCRUNCH | Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Rendin, an Estonian proptech startup that wants to improve the home rental experience, including offering a no-deposit feature, has raised €1.2 million in seed funding. Backing the round is Tera Ventures, Iron Wolf Capital, Truesight Ventures, Atomico’s Angel Programme, and Startup Wise Guys.

Coinbase to suspend trading in XRP
REUTERS | Monday, December 28, 2020
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Inc said on Monday it would suspend trading in cryptocurrency XRP after U.S. regulators last week charged associated blockchain firm Ripple with conducting a $1.3 billion unregistered securities offering.

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(Excerpt) Read more Here | 2020-12-29 04:56:00
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