TFU | Jan. 6 – 12

Leading Off

The SEC found new evidence against Telegram in its ongoing investigation of the firm’s ICO; the White House released new principles to guide regulation of AI in the private sector; China’s central bank passed another hurdle on its way to issuing a ‘digital yuan’ token; Travelex was hacked, exposing customers’ personal financial data and leading to a $6M ransom; Tencent and China UnionPay are working to integrate their mobile payments systems; and HighRadius raised $125M at a valuation greater than $1B.


In the News

SEC finds Telegram sold more tokens after ICO.  The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) discovered new evidence that Telegram continued selling its gram tokens months after its 2018 Initial Coin Offering, “undercut[ting] the company’s argument that the offering was exempt from registration requirements.” The SEC has brought suit against Telegram, alleging its ICO was an illegal securities sale.

U.S. releases principles for AI regulation.  The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published ten principles to guide regulation of AI in the private sector, to “ensure public engagement, limit regulatory overreach and promote trustworthy technology.” The OSTP hopes its approach will make the U.S. a global hub for AI and encourage Europe to take a similar approach.

FCA pushes data and analytics in strategy overhaul.  The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants to improve data collection and advanced analytics to “transform the way it regulates and reduce the burden on firms”. The FCA said its new strategy is a response to technological advances and the increasing use of data analytics by firms, and its aim is to deliver “real change” in the next five years.

China takes another step toward ‘digital yuan.’  The People’s Bank of China (PCOB) announced that it has completed the “top-level design, standard formulation, functional research and development, and joint testing” of its planned digital currency.  The central bank hasn’t announced a launch date for its new token, but speculation suggests that a launch is “imminent.”

Amex nears China entry.  American Express moved closer to gaining access to China’s payments market, valued at 190 trillion yuan, following the PCOB’s approval of its application for a bank card clearing business. AmEx has set up a joint-venture with China’s LianLian to process and settle payments in yuan domestically, but still requires a final nod from the PBOC to begin operations.

Travelex hacked, ransomed for $6M.  The Sodinokibi hacker group took credit for an attack on the money exchange company’s servers on New Year’s Eve, which exposed “dates of birth, credit card information and national insurance numbers” and “forced the firm to turn off all computer systems and resort to using pen and paper.” The hackers demanded $6 million to return control to Travelex.

Tencent and China UnionPay to integrate QR systems.  The Chinese tech giant and state-owned bank are working to combine their respective QR code systems for mobile payments. Integrating the systems will allow users of Tencent’s WeChat Pay and UnionPay’s Quickpass systems to easily “transfer and spend money using the same QR codes.”

Citi seeks 2,500 new programmers.  Citigroup said it plans to recruit 2,500 new programmers in 2020 to join its investment banking and trading unit. Citi’s plan is motivated by the changing nature of the business, in which “roughly three-quarters of the company’s trade orders last year were electronic.” “We are focused on making salespeople and traders more effective at servicing our clients,” said Stuart Riley, the group’s head.

PayU takes controlling stake in PaySense.  The Indian payments processor purchased a controlling interest in the Indian fintech, valuing it at $185 million, with the intention of merging it with PayU’s LazyPay credit business. “It’s the largest merger of its kind in India,” said PayU’s global head of credit, noting that the merger will help PayU “solidify its presence in the [Indian] credit business.”

HighRadius raises $125M, becomes unicorn.  The firm, which uses AI-enabled software to help companies automate accounts receivable and treasury processes, raised $125 million in a Series B round that valued the company at over $1 billion. The SaaS provider is used by over 400 firms to improve efficiency and “working capital optimization.”

Starling Bank eyes IPO.  The London-based digital challenger bank said it is on pace to achieve its first full-year profit by the end of 2021 and is considering listing on the London Stock Exchange within the next three years. Despite posting a £26.8 million loss in 2018, Starling’s founder Anne Boden said that the firm is “demonstrating a path to profitability that other digital banks have not.”




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