Weekly Update

TFU | Mar. 16 – 22

Leading Off

Former Coinbase CLO Brian Brooks became the OCC’s new COO and deputy comptroller; Square was approved by the FDIC and Utah state financial regulator to open a ILC bank subsidiary; JPMorgan Chase plans to close 1,000 branches in response to the global coronavirus pandemic; and TransferWise announced a partnership with Alipay. 

In the News

OCC gets a new Deputy Comptroller.  Brian Brooks was tapped to serve in the number-two role at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and will also serve as its Chief Operating Officer, effective April 1. Brooks most recently served as chief legal officer at Coinbase, and previously was executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at Fannie Mae. 

Square wins FDIC loan charter approval.  Two and a half years after submitting its Industrial Loan Charter (ILC) application to the Utah Department of Financial Institutions, Square received approval from the Utah regulator and the FDIC to open a new state-chartered bank subsidiary. Square Financial Services Inc. is expected to launch in 2021 to originate small-business loans to Square’s customers.

JPMorgan to close 1,000 Chase branches amid coronavirus pandemic.  The Financial Times reported that JP Morgan is closing approximately 20% of its branch network in response to the global Covid-19 outbreak. JPMorgan is the first US bank to take this kind of drastic action; although Canada’s “Big Six” banks have jointly committed to a coordinated wave of branch closures and reduced operating hours.

TransferWise partners with Alipay.  The London-based international money transfer service partnered with the Chinese payments giant to allow its customers to transfer money to users on the Alipay platform: the deal will enable TransferWise users to instantaneously convert and send “Chinese yuan from 17 currencies to users of Alipay . . . simply [with] the recipient’s name and Alipay ID.”

Monzo launches business bank accounts.  The U.K. challenger bank officially rolled out business banking after a 12-month trial period with 2,500 business customers. The bank is offering a paid option (“Business Pro”) and a free option (“Business Lite”), which will differ in the features available to customers, including integration with accounting software, multi-user accounts, and in-app invoicing.

Revolut launches “Junior” service.  Targeted towards kids aged 7-17, Revolut’s newest product integrates with parents’ accounts, allowing them to make immediate money transfers to their children and monitor and manage their spending. Parents can also block certain types of spending and receive notifications when their child is using the card.

. . . and loses its CFO.  The British challenger bank’s current CFO, David McLean, is stepping down after only six months in the role, with former Standard Life Aberdeen CFO Bill Rattray taking over on an interim basis. The change comes as Revolut looks for ways to further expand its geographic reach and the scope of its service offerings while dealing with regulatory challenges. 

Bakkt closes $300M round.  The crypto platform, which offers physically settled bitcoin futures, announced $300 million in new funding amid tumultuous swings in the crypto market. The capital will be used to acquire a software service from its parent company and launch an app, expected for this summer. Meanwhile, former CEO Senator Kelly Loeffler is under fire for dumping stock amid the virus outbreak. 

Visa’s rise to the top.  The Economist looks at the rise of Visa, which recently overtook JPMorgan as the world’s most valuable financial services firm. Its dominance in an entrenched payments oligopoly has proved stunningly lucrative. Competition looms, though, less so from fintech startups and tech companies than from e-commerce giants like Amazon, Tencent, and Alibaba that are adding payments systems.

MatchMove seeks Singapore digital bank license.  The Singaporean fintech is leading a consortium in applying for a digital banking license in the country. Partnering the payments company are Thai-based blockchain venture Lightnet, U.K. fintech OpenPayd and Singapura Finance Ltd. Singapore plans to issue up to two full digital bank licenses with winners decided in the summer.

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