TFU | April 15-21, 2017

Leading Off

MoneyGram’s board unanimously approved Ant Financial’s latest bid, topping rival bidder Euronet for the coveted U.S. money transfer firm; robo-advisor Wealthfront launched a secured lending product for its investment account holders; PayPal signed a new deal with Google’s Android Pay, expanding its digital wallet services to physical stores; and the NY Times writes on Canada’s attempt to keep its top AI scientists and startups from being lured away to Silicon Valley.

In the News This Week…

MoneyGram unanimously approves Ant Financial’s $1.2 billion bid. The Chinese financial conglomerate raised its original offer for the U.S. money transfer firm, topping a rival bid from Euronet, a U.S.-based firm which offered nearly $1 billion last month. Ant Financial’s head of international business, Douglas Feagin, said the company is making progress on its CFIUS review.

Wealthfront now offering secured lending product. The online robo-advisor with over $6 billion in assets will provide a line of credit up to 30% of account value for users with at least $100,000 invested in an individual or joint investment account. Wealthfront says the new offering will allow customers to access cash without disrupting their long-term investment strategy.

PayPal signs new deal with Google’s Android Pay. Next month, PayPal customers will be able to use their account balances to checkout at retail locations for Walgreens, Dunkin’ Donuts, and other companies that enable in-store payments through Android devices. The WSJ describes the new agreement as one of PayPal’s “biggest steps to bringing its digital wallet to physical stores.”

Retaining AI talent top priority for Canada. As top artificial intelligence (AI) scientists being lured away to Silicon Valley each year, Canadian officials and technologists are exploring new ways to commercialize their AI expertise. One leading effort, the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, will receive hundreds of millions in funding from Canada’s government and companies like Google, RBC, and Scotiabank.

Wells Fargo tests Facebook chatbot.  The bank announced it is piloting an automated program that uses artificial intelligence to communicate with customers on Facebook’s messaging platform, sharing information on account activity, ATM location, and password resets.  The program will first test with employees, then expand to a few thousand customers later this spring.

Leaks allege the NSA infiltrated the Middle East’s SWIFT network. A hacking group known as the “Shadow Brokers” released data that allegedly shows the National Security Agency has been monitoring financial transactions at some of the biggest banks in the Middle East by gaining access to EastNets, the largest SWIFT bank messaging service provider in the region.

U.K.’s Chancellor of the Exchequer opines on fintech. At the onset of the U.K.’s International Fintech Conference, Philip Hammond of Her Majesty’s Treasury says that as the U.K. prepares for Brexit, its designation as the top place to build a fintech firm “can become an even stronger advantage as we build a global Britain where we can take our talent and ideas to the world.”

Digital Reasoning (DR) names new CEO. The Nashville, Tennessee-based artificial intelligence firm has appointed Brett Jackson as its new chief executive. Jackson previously served as CEO of Digital Harbor, a technology firm offering risk and compliance services to the financial services industry. DR’s founder Tim Estes has transitioned to President after 17 years as the firm’s CEO.

Have a great weekend!
Joe Oehmke and Austin Tuell

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