TFU | Feb. 3 – 9

Leading Off

SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce proposed a three-year safe harbor for crypto token sales; Goldman Sachs is reportedly considering building a financial services-specific cloud platform; Cambridge University released a new report on a global study of AI in financial services; Worldline is purchasing Ingenico for $8.6B, creating the world’s fourth-largest payments firm.

In the News

SEC proposes crypto token sale safe harbor.  Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Hester Pierce unveiled a proposal [full text] to give firms “a three-year grace period from their first token sale to . . . pass through the [SEC]’s securities evaluations.” The proposal noted that the “analysis of whether a token is . . . a security is not static and does not strictly inhere to the digital asset.”

Goldman is considering building a FS cloud solution…  Goldman Sachs reportedly is “weighing the potential to build an external cloud platform for other financial services players,” which would be both a new revenue stream and a challenge to cloud providers in the financial services space. Bank executives have discussed “a new kind of cloud . . . specific to the needs of financial firms.”

…and is working with Amazon on lending.  The bank also is negotiating with Amazon to offer small business loans to merchants the its platform. Goldman reportedly is developing “software that would allow it to plug into Amazon’s existing loan platform.” Amazon began lending to small businesses in 2011, using algorithms to determine worthy borrowers and lend up to $750,000.

Cambridge releases study on AI in financial services.  The university’s Judge Business School worked with EY and Invesco to conduct “one of the largest global empirical studies on AI in Financial Services.” The resulting report [full text] highlighted a number of trends, including: differing uses of AI among fintechs and incumbents, concerns about AI regulation, and the impact of AI on employment. 

Worldline to buy Ingenico in $8.6 billion deal.  Acquiring one of its biggest rivals will create a European payments giant and make Worldline the fourth-largest payments firm in the world. The merger comes amid pressure from a new wave of fintech firms in the payments space, and follows Visa’s acquisition of Plaid January.

Brainard discusses changing U.S. payments landscape.  Speaking at Stanford University, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard discussed the “digitization of payments and currency,” including the growth of “BigTechs” in payments services, the advent of real-time payments, and the potential for a Fed-backed Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDB) [full text]. “It is essential that we remain on the frontier of research and policy development,” Brainard noted.

BIS studies cross-country fintech policy responses.  A Bank of International Settlements (BIS) report [link] summarizes fintech policy responses across 31 jurisdictions, identifying harmonized standards for underlying technologies, expertise and resources at regulators to keep up with technology changes, and regulatory cooperation at a local and international level as key challenges.

Remitly launches new banking service for immigrants.  The Seattle-based money-transfer service is expanding beyond remittances by launching Passbook, a banking service aimed at immigrants. With the launch, Remitly is targeting a population of about 1.7 billion “unbanked” people globally across developed and developing markets. Passbook does not require a social security number to sign up.

Finix raises $35M.  The payments infrastructure platform, which allows companies to use, manage, and monetize their entire payments experience, raised $35 million in a Series B funding round. Finix is aiming to provide firms with technology solutions that will allow them to build their own payments processing stack using a series of dashboard reporting systems and basic APIs.

Grab acquires Bento.  The Singapore ride-hailing (and lately, fintech) giant acquired robo-advisory firm Bento Invest to offer retail wealth management and investments solutions. Grab will rebrand Bento as GrabInvest and will offer its products to Grab users, driver-partners, and merchant-partners under the firm’s financial services arm.

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