FU | April 1-7, 2017

Leading Off

The battle for MoneyGram has sparked a lobbying war in Washington, D.C., that promises to test the new administration’s willingness to accept Chinese investment in American companies; JPMorgan reportedly invested $600 million in fintech last year; over 200,000 retail stores in Japan will begin accepting bitcoin this summer; former LendingClub CEO Renaud Laplanche raised $60 million for his new venture; and online lender Elevate Credit IPO’d on the NYSE.

In the News This Week…

Battle for MoneyGram reaches Washington.  The fight to acquire the international payments firm, between China’s Ant Financial and Kansas-based Euronet, has “sparked a lobbying war [that will] test the Trump administration’s view of Chinese investment in the U.S.” Euronet has argued that an Ant acquisition “would present national security risks,” and both firms “have been working the administration and Capitol Hill . . . engaging experienced lobbyists and [PR] firms.”

JPMorgan spent ~$600M on fintech in 2016.  In a letter to shareholders, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon wrote that the bank invested about $600 million in “emerging fintech solutions” last year. The bank engaged in several partnerships with fintech firms in that time, and Dimon suggested that “interesting developments” are on the way “as we integrate our capabilities.”

260,000 Japanese stores to accept bitcoin.  Following the Japanese Financial Services Authority’s  approval of bitcoin as an official method of payment last week, several major Japanese retailers announced that they would launch digital currency pilot programs in stores across the country beginning this summer.

Ex-LendingClub CEO’s new venture raises $60M.  LendingClub founder Renaud Laplanche, ousted by the board in 2016 following a loan-selling scandal, raised $60 million in Series A financing for his new consumer lending platform, Upgrade. The round was led by several prominent Silicon Valley VCs.

Elevate debuts on the NYSE.  Online lender Elevate Credit went public on the New York Stock Exchange after postponing its IPO for a year. Shares were priced at $6.50 and closed at $7.76, up 19% but “still well below the expected range of $12 to $14.” CEO Ken Rees reported optimism about Elevate’s future, despite the financial and regulatory challenges facing online lenders.

Monzo receives full banking license. The London-based digital “challenger bank,” received a full banking license from the U.K.’s FCA following the regulator’s determination that Monzo “has the required technology infrastructure and capital . . . to begin looking after customer deposits on a much-wider and protected scale.”

Kik CEO touts chatbots for payments.  Despite being “written off” by many tech commentators for “failing to deliver on their promise,” Ted Livingston of messaging app Kik remains bullish on the ability of chatbots to improve payments services. “We’ve seen so many killer examples of [bots] unlocking the world around you that we know there is magic there,” said Livingston.

Applying advanced analytics to combat financial crime.  A new McKinsey white paper [full text] discusses how advances in machine learning and AI enable financial firms to improve their fraud detection efforts. According to McKinsey, financial firms must now work to “adopt appropriate processes, [and] develop and acquire the necessary talent” to harness the new technology.

Have a great weekend!
Joe Oehmke and Austin Tuell

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