TFU | Mar. 4-10

Leading Off

Federal authorities arrested the leaders of OneCoin on charges including money laundering and securities fraud; Congress held hearings on whether and how to create a federal privacy law; the Bank of England plans to take supervisory action against Visa for a 2018 European data center outage; Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to ban cashless stores; Ant Financial unveiled a new banking platform; and MasterCard dropped its bid to acquire Earthport.

 

In the News

U.S. authorities arrest leaders of alleged crypto pyramid scheme. Federal prosecutors charged the leaders of OneCoin with wire fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud after determining that the purported crypto firm had “no functional blockchain or public ledger” and was in fact operating a multi-level marketing scheme. Between 2014 and 2016, OneCoin made €3.35 billion in revenue.

Congress considers creating a federal privacy law.  Members of Congress have been holding hearings to inform the proposed creation of a federal privacy bill, which could come before Congress’s August recess. A federal privacy law, which has the support of many large tech companies, would likely supersede all or most state privacy laws and regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Many AI companies are…not.  Venture capital firm MMC conducted a study of 2,830 AI startups in 13 EU countries, finding that 40% of them do not “use artificial intelligence in a way that is ‘material’ to their businesses.” “In 40 percent of cases we could find no mention of evidence of AI,” MMC’s head of research told Forbes, adding that “in most cases . . . they just don’t care to correct the record.”

Philadelphia bans cashless stores. Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to ban cashless stores, hoping to balance the needs of customers without non-cash payments methods with those of merchants eager to embrace technological advances. Critics of cashless businesses note that that such stores will discriminate against consumers without debit or credit cards.

BoE readies action over Visa outage.  The Bank of England (BoE) is preparing to take supervisory action against Visa, following a widespread outage last year that disrupted payments for millions across Europe. The BoE says that it intends to use its statutory authority to direct Visa Europe to fully implement the recommendations of the independent review that occurred last year.

MasterCard drops bid for Earthport, buys Transfast. Visa appears to have won the bidding war for the cross-border payments firm, after Mastercard dropped its bid in favor of purchasing a different money transfer network, Transfast. Transfast operates in over 125 countries and works with more than 300 banks on a variety of payments services.

Chime joins unicorn club after $200M funding round. The U.S. mobile banking startup closed a Series D funding round valued at $200 million, giving the firm a $1.5 billion valuation. The fee-free banking app, which provides an accompanying debit card, will use the new funding “to increase headcount and introduce new products related to short-term lending and credit building.”

Raisin takes over bank. The German fintech, a pan-European marketplace for savings and investment products, is proposing a takeover of MHB Bank of Frankfurt, its long-time service bank. Raisin CEO Tamaz Georgadze, said the “acquisition will enable the firm to grow its services across the entire European Economic Area.”

eToro launches in U.S. The Israeli online “social” trading and investment firm is launching its crypto-trading platform and crypto wallet in the United States. eToro will allow users to trade Bitcoin and 12 other digital currencies, and offers “three crypto-asset CopyPortfolios – bundles of assets under one selected trading strategy, curated by eToro’s own analysts.”

Ant Financial unveils core banking platform. The Chinese fintech giant has launched a new core banking product aimed at supporting the technology services of traditional banks. The Distributed Core Banking Platform (DCBP) is Ant’s first co-developed product, build in collaboration with  software company Hoperun Technology. Over 200 financial institutions now use Ant technology.

Blockchain and crypto debut at SXSW 2019.  The 2019 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, TX, will include a blockchain and cryptocurrency track for the first time. CoinDesk created a guide to noteworthy events.

 

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