Wall Street Journal

Retailers large and small, not to mention the head of strategic partnerships at Visa, told the Journal that many more customers are using Apple Pay than other mobile-wallet services, such as Softcard, the mobile-wallet services formerly known as Isis that's backed by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. The reasons: Apple's consumer gadgets are popular; banks and credit unions have been aggressively marketing the services; and consumers' cybersecurity concerns after breaches at Home Depot and Target (which raises the question of how consumers might feel after there's a data breach that involves Apple Pay). Another reason, from banks' point of view, is that Apple Pay isn't "too disruptive" for banks, as all banks have to do is link a customer's credit card to his or her mobile phone. A point-of-sale systems supplier also told the Journal that retailers are clamoring for requests to install Apple Pay support in their stores.

Speaking of Apple Pay, the Journal is the latest outlet to report the rumor that Google is kicking the tires at Softcard (mentioned as a brief side note in the same article about Apple Pay). TechCrunch reports that Google would want Softcard to help it expand its Google Wallet. Motley Fool puts a price tag on Google's potential deal, saying it would acquire Softcard for "less than $100 million."

JPMorgan Chase investors don't need to worry about their dividends, at least for the time being. The "Heard on the Street" column highlights comments by JPMorgan CFO Marianne Lake, made during the company's earnings report, about the upcoming stress-test results. JPMorgan perhaps isn't as disadvantaged by tougher capital requirments as it once appeared, and is likely going to be on a level playing field with other large banks. That means JPMorgan is less likely to be prohibited by the Fed from paying higher dividends or conducting larger stock-buyback programs — again, at least for now. The Journal column throws in the caveat that, in the long term, the Fed may consider higher capital buffers when conducting its stress tests, which would potentially jeopardize JPMorgan's preferred plans for buybacks and dividends.

Financial Times

Spanish bank Santander is going to start offering all of its banking services at the U.K. Post Office's 11,500 branches. It was the last large British bank to extend all of its services at Post Office branches, amid a controversy over access.

Elsewhere ...

Los Angeles Times: Dave McKay, the CEO of Royal Bank of Canada, posed as a wealthy client and slipped into City National branches in L.A. and New York before agreeing to acquire the largest bank based in Los Angeles. "I actually mystery-shopped New York and L.A. branches and found the experience was very, very consistent," McKay told the Los Angeles Times. McKay also said he first approached Russell Goldsmith, City National's CEO, about two years ago to gauge his interest. "We talked about how the two companies together could do something special in the U.S. market," McKay said. "He said, 'But I'm not for sale.'"

Grand Rapids Press (Mich.): JPMorgan Chase is the latest bank to close branches located inside supermarkets. The company will close 37 Chase branches inside Meijer stores in Michigan, starting in March. In November, BOK Financial said it would close all 39 of its supermarket branches.

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