TFU |Oct. 29 – Nov. 4

Leading Off

The WSJ profiled the increasing use of “alternative data” to track people and their financial choices; the world marked the ten-year anniversary of the invention of bitcoin; the NAC revealed a scam involving California ATMs; Monzo achieved unicorn status after raising an additional £85M; Coinbase raised $300M in new funding and is now valued at $8B; and Quartz commemorated the tenth anniversary of the invention of bitcoin with an investigation into its mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.


In the News

Financial firms are using “alternative data” to get ahead.  The Wall Street Journal describes how analytics firms are using data from smartphones to track the flow of people and their money to inform investment decisions. One firm, Thasos, sells its data to hedge fund clients, and will start to offer it on Bloomberg terminals this month. Such data could also inform urban planning and disaster recovery.

Bitcoin turns ten.  Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the “birth” of bitcoin, the WSJ explores its present state and legacy. The article notes that bitcoin has not become what it was intended to be — a payments network — due to persistently low transaction speeds and high volatility, but that the idea has nonetheless spawned thousands of other digital currencies and created a new asset class.

Hong Kong regulator considers sandbox for crypto.  The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) wants to implement a sandbox environment for crypto exchanges, part of a wider change in the regulatory approach to virtual assets. Hong Kong’s changing approach to crypto assets is a response to the “significant risk” posed by investors flocking to unlicensed crypto exchanges.

Hacking scam targets California ATMs.  The US National ATM Council (NAC) is warning cash machine operators of an emerging scam in which criminals reprogram an ATM terminal to dispense notes even when a transaction is denied. The NAC noted that the “scam appears to be taking advantage of an unencrypted communications link . . . between the wireless modem and the ATM terminal.”

Coinbase raises $300M at $8B valuation.  In a Series E funding round led by Tiger Global Management, the prominent cryptocurrency exchange raised $300 million, giving it a post-money valuation of over $8 billion. The company will use the new funding to “continue its global expansion, building the infrastructure between fiat and crypto in markets around the world.”

Monzo raises £85M, becomes unicorn.  The U.K. challenger bank closed an £85 million investment round, valuing the firm at £1 billion. Monzo recently achieved one million customers and claims to account for 15% of all new bank accounts opened each month in the U.K. “I think the blockbuster moment is coming for the big banks and they’re just starting to wake up,” said CEO Tom Blomfield.

On Berkshire Hathaway’s two, large fintech plays.  Warren Buffett’s firm has departed from its standard investment profile this year by investing approximately $300 million in each of Brazilian payment processor StoneCo and India’s largest mobile-payments service, Paytm. Buffett previously has said his firm must find new sources of investment opportunities, with global fintech a key target.

Deutsche Börse partners with RegTek.Solutions for regulatory reporting hub.  The New York-headquartered compliance company’s pre-validation platform will be added to the approved reporting mechanism (ARM) provided to executing entities by the Frankfurt-based stock exchange. Deutsche Börse hopes that pre-validating data will lead to a significant improvement in submissions.

Quartz “profiles” Satoshi Nakamoto.  The online news magazine explored what’s known (and not known) about Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of bitcoin. Ten years after publishing a white paper online called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” the author’s real identity and whereabouts is still unknown.

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