Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress on Libra and Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans, while several more large companies dropped out of the project; CFTC Chairman Tarbert said the ether cryptocurrency should be treated as a commodity; the SEC halted Telegram’s $1.7B token offering; Robinhood rolled out interest-bearing accounts; BIS and the Swiss National Bank are exploring the potential for a central bank digital currency in Switzerland; and UNICEF established a fund for donations made in cryptocurrencies.
E-Trade followed Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade in dropping its transaction commission fees; PayPal has withdrawn from the Libra Association amid regulatory and legal concerns, and others may follow; the FSB is scrutinizing the concentration of bank services in three major cloud providers; PayPal became the first non-Chinese company to gain a Chinese payments license; and a Wells Fargo study concluded that new technologies will replace 200,000 bank jobs in the next decade.
The House approved a bill mandating FinCEN to study how blockchain and other technologies could improve its operations; Freddie Mac is working with ZestFinance to test AI-enabled mortgage underwriting software; HSBC implemented an automated AML and sanctions screening system; TransferWise launched a service for U.S. banks to allow their customers to make in-app international transfers; and 85 fintech firms have applied to operate in Mexico under the new Mexican fintech law.
Libra faced a new round of criticism at the G-7 summit, while maintaining that it will go live in 2020; Wells Fargo partnered with Plaid to allow customer financial data; Deutsche Bank signed on to the JPMorgan-backed IIN; Wells Fargo plans to pilot a stablecoin; and Stripe raised $250M at a $35B valuation.
The CFPB launched a program to encourage collaboration between state and federal regulators on financial innovation; the London Stock Exchange unanimously rejected the Hong Kong Exchange’s £29.6 billion takeover bid; Switzerland’s financial regulator published new guidance on stablecoins and confirmed that the Libra Association requested an assessment of its Libra coin; Blockstack raised more than $20 million in the first SEC-approved token sale; and Stripe launched a corporate credit card for business customers.
FIN urged Congress to apply BSA standards to crypto firms; Jay Clayton affirmed his stance that crypto products are subject to existing securities laws; China’s proposed cryptocurrency is taking shape ahead of an expected go-live later this year; Stripe launched a lending product for online businesses; Uber is exploring offering loans to its drivers; the Hong Kong Stock Exchange suffered cyber attacks; and U.K. digital banks are expected to triple their customer base over the next year, but likely will remain unprofitable.