TFU | Sept. 10-16

Leading Off

The NYDFS approved the creation and trading of two new stablecoins pegged to the U.S. dollar; the NYDFS also sued the OCC over its decision to consider granting national banking charters to fintech firms; several leading crypto firms formed a DC lobbying group to represent their interests amid increased regulatory scrutiny; the consumer-lending firm Blend appointed former U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to chair its board of advisors; and the CFTC’s fintech lab will host global regulators and industry leaders for an emerging trends event on Oct. 3-4 in D.C.


Policy & Regulation

New York regulator approves two stablecoins…  The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) approved the creation and trading of Gemini Trust’s Gemini Dollar and Paxos’ Paxos Standard, two new cryptocurrencies. Both are pegged to the U.S. dollar as “stablecoins” to help facilitate trades and serve as a hedge against volatility.

…and sues the OCC over its “fintech charter.”  The NYDFS  sued the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) over its decision to consider granting national bank charters to fintech firms, claiming the decision was “lawless, ill-conceived, and destabilizing of financial markets.” The OCC responded by saying it would vigorously defend its authority to grant national charters to qualified companies.

Crypto firms form D.C. lobbying group.  Coinbase, Circle, Digital Currency Group, and Protocol Labs partnered to form the Blockchain Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association, to represent their interests “amid increased regulatory scrutiny and action related to the cryptocurrency industry,” according to Politico.

Hacera launches searchable blockchain registry.  The Hacera Network Registry is the first global, searchable database of blockchain projects, allowing researchers and other interested parties to find projects by industry type, project leads, and platform. TechCrunch compares the registry to early internet directories that first allowed users to catalog and search websites.

U.S. Bank rolls out Simple Loan. U.S. Bank recently announced the launch of a new offering, Simple Loan, which will provide small-dollar loans, ranging from $100 to $1000, to existing customers. The move puts the nation’s fifth-largest bank in more direct competition with payday lenders and other financial firms that offer a few hundred dollars on a short-term basis, often at high interest rates.

Skimming malware cased British Airways breach.  Security firm RiskIQ says credit card skimming software installed on British Airways’ website caused a data breach of over 380,000 credit cards in August. Threat researcher Yonathan Klijnsma characterized the attack as “simple but highly targeted.” The hack may be linked to a wave of attacks that have included Ticketmaster, among others.

Mexico updates fintech law and tightens crypto regulation. Mexico published secondary provisions to its fintech law, which includes information on how firms can register as “ITFs”, the financial services regulator’s official designation for fintech firms. Meanwhile a circular from Mexico’s central bank requires all cryptocurrency exchanges or firms dealing in cryptocurrency assets to obtain a permit.

Blend appoints Jack Lew to chair its advisory board. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will become the new chairman of the advisory board of Blend, a Silicon Valley-based consumer-lending technology firm that has raised $160M from investors Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners. Lew will advise Blend “on emerging trends, strategic matters, regulatory issues, and key hires.”

Barclays app integrates current accounts from other banks. The new feature in the U.K. bank’s app allows customers to view balances and transactions from other banks. The service uses the U.K.’s Open Banking rules industry-approved API, which allows other accounts to link into the app securely without customers needing to give out the usernames or passwords for other providers.

CFTC hosts “Fintech Forward 2018,” Oct. 3-4 in D.C.  The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) fintech lab, LabCFTC, is inviting global regulators and industry leaders to discuss emerging technology trends and developments in financial markets, and how they should be regulated. The two-day event is free and open to the public; you can RSVP here.

WSJ profiles the head of the world’s largest crypto hedge fund.  Olaf Carlson-Wee’s fund, Polychain Capital, earned investors 2,303% in returns last year, but has since lost 40% its value. Carlson-Wee views cryptocurrency as part of a long-term shift in the digital economy, but his fund’s short-term outlook has forced him to block investors from redeeming their money immediately.

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