The U.S. House of Representatives passed bills establishing a fintech task force and improving coordination on bank vendor examinations; the SEC rejected the Winklevoss brothers’ attempt to list its cryptocurrency ETF on the BATS BZX exchange; Google banned cryptocurrency mining apps from its online app store; the U.K. FCA tightened rules on online crowdfunding; the NYT looked at the rapid funding of Mike Cagney’s Figure and what it says about the #MeToo movement in Silicon Valley; and payments service Flywire raised $100M.
In the News
House of Representatives approves fintech and vendor bills. The U.S. House Financial Services Committee unanimously approved two bills: the first establishes an independent financial technology task force to combat terrorist financing through cryptocurrencies, while the other enhances “coordination between state and federal regulators on examining banks’ third-party vendor relationships.”
CFTC chairman says he lacks tools for proper blockchain regulation. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Christopher Giancarlo testified before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture that legal barriers prevent the agency from working with blockchain firms in a pre-launch environment, leaving it without key tools and putting it “years behind regulators in other countries.”
Winklevoss bitcoin ETF rejected by SEC. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected a second attempt by the Winklevoss twins to list the first-ever cryptocurrency ETF on a regulated exchange. The SEC highlighted market manipulation and investor protection concerns among the reasons for its rejection.
How Silicon Valley became a target of foreign espionage. Politico reports on the growing foreign intel operations in Silicon Valley, primarily conducted by Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, seeking to gain trade secrets and technology access versus traditional political espionage.
FCA to tighten rules for loan-based crowdfunding platforms. The U.K.’s financial regulatory authority is updating its loan-based crowdfunding rules in the face of growing complexity and poor practices since it first authorized trading in the market 18 months ago. The proposed modifications aim to stabilize the market and better protect consumers.
Flywire raises $100M. The Boston-based payments processor raised $100 million in Series D funding led by Singapore’s Temasek and joined by BCV and F-Prime Capital. Flywire provides “global payment and receivables technology,” focusing on the areas of “business, education and healthcare.” The funding will be used to accelerate growth across several continents.
On Figure and the uncertain impact of #MeToo. The New York Times looks at Figure, the new venture of former SoFi CEO Mike Cagney, who was fired by SoFi’s board last year amid claims of sexual misconduct. The piece highlights how the rapid pace of funding for Figure firm calls into question the lasting impact of “the sexual harassment allegations that swept Silicon Valley . . . last year.”
Google bans crypto mining apps. Google, following Apple, banned cryptocurrency mining apps from its mobile app store. The internet giant’s stance has shifted, with Google Play developers coming out and saying “We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices. We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency.”
Square offering loans to eBay sellers. Square Capital, the lending arm of the payment start-up, is now extending loans ranging from $500 to $100,000 to e-commerce sellers on eBay looking to expand their business operations. This effort is part of Square Capital’s entry into the increasingly competitive small business lending market.
Coinbase will offer gift cards converting tokens to cash. The global cryptocurrency exchange is partnering with WeGift to allow “customers in Europe and Australia [to] convert their tokens on their Coinbase account into digital gift cards for popular stores . . . [and] in the U.S., Coinbase also partnered with Shift for a traditional Visa card.”
Barron’s ranks robo-advisory firms. Barron’s published its first ranking of the major robo-advisors, using both performance data and qualitative metrics. Startups like Betterment and Wealthfront “have forced banks and brokers to adopt technology faster than ever before,” Barron’s says.