TFU | Sept. 16-22

Leading Off

Facebook’s Libra digital currency faced a new round of criticism from global regulators at the G-7 summit, while maintaining that it will go live in 2020 as planned; Wells Fargo will work with Plaid to allow customer financial data sharing via Plaid APIs; Deutsche Bank signed on to the JPMorgan-backed Interbank Information Network; Wells Fargo plans to pilot test a proprietary stablecoin for international settlements; and Stripe raised $250M in new funding at a $35B valuation.

 

In the News

Libra gets questioned by global regulators…  Regulators from 26 countries “questioned representatives from . . . Libra in Basel, Switzerland” at a Bank for International Settlements conference on stablecoin initiatives, with a report said to be coming in October. “We took part in constructive dialogue . . . with policymakers during the G-7 conference,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

…and Germany and France seek to block it…  Two of the EU’s most important countries are opposed to approving Libra from operating as a digital currency within EU borders. The German government is reportedly against giving regulatory approval; while French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Libra presents “risks of abuse . . . risks to sovereignty and risks for consumers and for companies.”

…but it’s still on track to debut in 2020.  Despite the increasing scrutiny and calls to halt the project, the intention remains to launch Libra next year, according to Facebook’s digital currency chief, David Marcus. “Until then, we’ll need to address all questions adequately [and] create a suitable regulatory environment,” said Marcus.

(And now, in non-Libra news…)

Wells Fargo partners with Plaid on data sharing.  The U.S.’s fourth largest bank agreed to allow its customers to share their bank-maintained financial data with third-parties via Plaid APIs. “If customers want to share their Wells Fargo account information with a Plaid-supported app to help them better manage their finances, we want to enable them to do so,” said Wells’ head of digital payments.

Wells Fargo developing stablecoin for internal settlement.  The U.S. banking giant announced Wells Fargo Digital Cash, a proprietary, dollar-linked cryptocurrency to settle internal cross-border payments. As well as allowing it to move funds outside normal operating hours, Wells expects the stablecoin to reduce the time and costs associated with transactions. A pilot is due to begin next year.

Deutsche joins DLT-based IIN settlement system.  Deutsche Bank became the first “top tier European institution” to sign up for the JPMorgan-backed Interbank Information Network (IIN), a global, DLT-based payments settlement system. IIN debuted in 2017 aiming to “address delays in cross-border payments,” and now processes over $3 billion in payments per month across its 65 network banks.

GoCardless launches new U.S. debit product.  The London-based firm, which allows customers pay merchants via recurring bank payments, launched a new service in the U.S. to allow users to make debit payments via the Automated Clearing House network. GoCardless says the solution gives flexibility to buyers and helps lower costs for merchants compared to credit card payments.

FS-ISAC and Europol team up on cybercrime.  The U.S.-based consortium the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) partnered with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre to address cybercrime in European financial services. Set up in response to increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, the partnership will facilitate information sharing and training exercises.

Google Pay is on the rise in India.  Millions of Indian consumers are using Google Pay to spend and transfer money, making the app one of Google’s fastest growing products. Google Pay was the most downloaded fintech app in the world last year, outpacing competitors like Venmo and Alipay. Google has advertised heavily and offered cash award incentives to gain a strong payments foothold in India. 

Stripe raises $250M at $35B valuation.  The payments firm raised $250 million in new funding, with participation from top VCs like General Catalyst, Andreessen Horowitz, and Sequoia, at a pre-money valuation of $35 billion. Stripe’s valuation is up 50% over its value in early 2019; it now has passed Airbnb and Palantir on the list of the U.S.’s most valuable private firms.

Transferwise records third year of profit. The money transfer service, one of Europe’s largest fintech companies, announced its third year of profit and increased revenues for the fiscal year ending in March 2019. Transferwise serves 6 million customers globally and processes £4 billion in customer payments every month. A May funding round valued the company at $3.5 billion.

 

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