TFU | Mar. 9 – 15

Leading Off

The NYDFS requested coronavirus contingency plans from its regulated crypto entities; Robinhood faced another service outage, its third in two weeks; Sesame Credit rolled out a new digital bank offering; the Bank of England published a report on how central bank digital currencies; Standard Chartered unveiled a new Hong Kong-based virtual bank; Revolut is rolling out gold trading through its app; the UK’s new budget includes a ‘major review’ of its fintech sector; and Ant is planning a major expansion of its reach and services.


In the News

NYDFS orders crypto firms to submit COVID-19 contingency plans.  In a letter shared with the cryptocurrency firms it regulates [full text], the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) requested coronavirus-related contingency plans by April 9. The letter “outlined nine items that the agency expects cryptocurrency companies to include in the plan, such as how operational disruptions would be handled and what is being done to protect its employees.”

Robinhood experiences third outage in two weeks.  The popular stock-trading app went down for about an hour last Monday, one week after going offline twice last week during one of the year’s busiest trading days. Robinhood said it will “compensate investors impacted by the outage on a case-by-case basis” and offering rebates on subscription prices for premium customers.

Credit Sesame expands into digital banking.  The US credit and loan company announced a new, free digital bank account called Sesame Cash to pair with the company’s core focus on helping consumers consolidate debt and improve credit scores. Adding such banking services aims to keep more customers engaged after reaching their credit goals.

BoE releases CBDC discussion paper.  The Bank of England (BoE) has published a report [full text] on how central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could be introduced into the market and called for responses. The bank is yet to make any decision on whether it would issue a digital currency but confirmed that if it did so, it “would be denominated in pounds sterling.”

Revolut offers gold trading.  Premium users are now allowed to buy physically backed gold, the first offering in Revolut’s new Commodities feature. The gold trading adds to Revolut’s growing product suite which includes crypto in addition to public shares. Gold, however, is not protected through the UK’s Financial Compensation Scheme. 

Libra rival launches new stablecoin platform.  The Celo Foundation launched the “Alliance for Prosperity,” a collection of partners aiming to build decentralized mobile apps using Celo’s USD stablecoin and blockchain platform. Celo has already signed up 50 partner firms, some of which are also members of the Libra Association, and plans to launch its network in April.

Standard Chartered unveils digital bank.  The global bank announced Mox, its new virtual bank offering based in Hong Kong, built in collaboration with local telecoms PCCW and HKT and Chinese travel agency Standard Chartered received regulatory approval from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority last year and hopes the new offering will “help everyone in Hong Kong grow.”

Grab and Wirecard announce partnership.  Southeast Asian tech giant Grab has announced a partnership with Wirecard to facilitate payments and transfers. The partnership will allow customers to use the GrabPay e-wallet for transactions online and offline, for example, for ride-hailing or food delivery, but can also use it to pay for purchases on e-commerce sites or at physical stores.

New UK budget includes a fintech review.  In his first budget as chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak announced a ‘major review’ of the UK fintech sector to be led by Worldpay’s vice-chair Ron Kalifa. Kalifa is tasked with determining how the government can better support growth and competitiveness among fintech startups.

Ant Financial to sign up service providers in platform expansion.  The Chinese fintech giant aims to sign up 40 million service providers to its mobile payments platform as it embarks on a three-year plan to expand beyond financial services into a “one-stop digital lifestyle platform.” The changes will allow providers to offer services such as food delivery and transport via the platform.


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