TFU | May 7-13

Leading Off

The parent company of the NYSE is working on a Bitcoin trading platform; Bloomberg created a new index of cryptocurrencies; Apple and Goldman announced they are jointly launching a credit card; Australia is adopting new Open Banking rules; the international body of securities regulators created a “Fintech Network” to enhance communication on global fintech regulation; and stock trading app Robinhood raised $363M, gaining a $5.6B post-money valuation.


In the News…

Wall Street warms to virtual currencies.  The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, is working on an online trading platform that would allow large investors to buy and hold Bitcoin.

Bloomberg launches cryptocurrency index.  The financial intelligence firm is partnering with Galaxy Digital Capital Management, a digital asset management firm led by billionaire Michael Novogratz, to launch the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index (BGCI).

Apple and Goldman Sachs to launch joint credit card.  The planned card would carry the Apple Pay brand and could launch as early as next year. The Goldman-Apple pairing would replace Apple’s current, long-standing offering with Barclays, and would both “deepen the technology giant’s push into its customers’ wallets and mark the Wall Street firm’s first foray into plastic.”

Texas hits crypto schemes with cease-and-desists.  The Texas State Securities Board issued the orders to two bitcoin investment schemes, alleging that they sold unregistered securities and made fraudulent claims to the state’s residents. The regulator claims that the companies promised unrealistic returns and failed to disclose the risks involved in cryptocurrency investment.

Ripple tests XRP for cross-border payments.  The DLT-based currency exchange network said it successfully pilot tested its XRP token as a medium of exchange for cross-border money transfers and remittances. Ripple claims the test “resulted in 40-70% savings on FX exchange rates for participating platforms, and faster settlement of transactions, cutting the time . . . to just minutes.”

Australia to adopt Open Banking rules, enhance data rights.  The Australian government will implement its Open Banking regime beginning July 2019. The new Open Banking rules will include “strong privacy protections and information security for customers’ banking data,” and will force banks to “make banking data available to consumers from the start of . . . 2020.”

IOSCO creates global “Fintech Network.”  The International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) established the network as “a forum for regulators to share experiences and exchange information on regulatory issues, trends, and emerging risks” related to fintech. The IOSCO also created a “Support Framework” to help “clarify the regulatory approach to Initial Coin Offerings.”

Robinhood raises big, plans to build out crypto platform.  The mobile stock trading app announced a $363 million Series D funding round. Robinhood is planning to expand its crypto exchange service to be “the largest or one of the largest crypto platforms out there” by the end of 2018, according to co-CEO Baiju Bhatt Bhatt. With the new funding, the firm is now valued at $5.6 billion.

Kabbage aims to acquire Orchard. The Atlanta-based small-business lender is working to acquire Orchard, which provides “lending data and services,” for an undisclosed amount. Assuming the deal succeeds, Kabbage would plan to integrate Orchard’s technology and analytics into its lending services. Orchard co-founders Matt Burton and David Snitkof are expected to join Kabbage.

Facebook creates internal team focused on blockchain.  Facebook named David Marcus, current head of Facebook’s Messenger, to lead a new team overseeing blockchain and cryptocurrency. Marcus is a former PayPal executive who recently joined the board of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. His appointment was part of the biggest restructuring in Facebook’s history.

The Economist publishes special report on tech and financial inclusion.  The report includes a number of articles discussion, among other issues, how mobile banking broadens global financial access and how blockchain can reduce the expense of remittances.


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