As CCPA goes into effect this week, banks face new regulations on customer data

With the start of the new year, banks and fintech companies that do business in California will need to grapple with the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which goes into effect Wednesday.

Although banks’ handling of consumer data is already covered by the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), banks are scrambling to figure out what type of data is covered by what regulation.

“Most banks in the United States never successfully executed a full data classification program,” said Richard Bird, chief customer information officer at the identity security firm Ping Identity. “They’re being asked to protect data, and they haven’t even gone through the exercise of identifying that data and where it’s located within their banks.”

As was the case with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation that went into force in 2018, the new regulation could present challenges for financial institutions that collect consumer data for marketing purposes. The CCPA has an exemption for data covered by the GLBA, or any consumer data an institution obtains to provide a financial service. As banks and fintechs continue to rely on consumer data for marketing, however, they will need to contend with compliance with the new CCPA regulations. 

The CCPA puts much more robust restrictions on the commercial use of consumer data than the GLBA. Under the CCPA, consumers can ask what personal information a business has on them, request to delete that information, and ask to stop businesses from selling that information to third parties.

While the GLBA only applies to data used to provide a financial product or service, the CCPA applies to “information that identifies, relates to, describes, is capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.” This could mean anything from an email address to geolocation data.

An ABA Banking Journal article from August identifies marketing activities as major pain point for banks when it comes to CCPA. Consumer geolocation and social media information, for example, is used by many banks for marketing, and that data will now be subject to CCPA regulatory oversight. Bird said getting banks’ tech stacks to meet the new requirements could take years, and they will rely on manual processes from employees in the meantime, costing banks money and labor. The new regulations make consumers eligible to receive up to $750 for data breaches.

See also: Bankers prepare for GDPR-type regulations to take hold in the US

Bird said California lawmakers have made clear they won’t start regulating the law until the summer, but time is ticking and most banks are still figuring out what data falls under CCPA jurisdiction. Bird couldn’t disclose what banks Ping works with, but a company spokesperson said Ping works with “12 of the 12 largest U.S. banks.”

In a statement, Wells Fargo said it already allows customers to request and delete their data. Although the CCPA does not apply to non-California residents, Wells Fargo will handle data requests from U.S. residents outside of California in the same manner in which it handles requests from California residents, the bank said.

Bird said some banks will take a wait-and-see approach with the CCPA to evaluate how strict regulators act and whether it is worth overhauling tech stacks to meet requirements. “As we realized in 07-08, everything is dependent on [banks’ financial] health,” he said. “I don’t think taking the Vegas approach of shooting dice and hoping ‘it’s not me’ is the best way to mitigate risk.”

Bank Innovation Ignite, which will take place on March 2-3 in Seattle, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. This is an exclusive, invitation-only event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Request your invitation.

UK convenience store group urges LINK to cancel fee cut amid crisis in cash access

UK convenience store group urges LINK to cancel fee cut amid crisis in cash access

The U.K.’s  Association of Convenience Stores is urging LINK, the entity that controls that country’s ATM network, to cancel its next planned fee cut in order to stem the loss of low cost cash access through the reduction in machines. 

ACS says that thousands of free cash machines have been removed due to the cuts in fees paid to ATM operators, resulting in thousands of people across the country being unable to access cash from their bank accounts. 

ACS said the next cut is one year away, and is calling in LINK to return fees to pre-2018 levels. 

“Protecting access to cash is crucial for the millions of people that still rely on it every day,” James Lowman, chief executive of ACS, said in a release from the association. “Communities across the U.K. have been left without a cash machine as a result of LINK’s programme of cuts to interchange fees, with many more only being able to get to a machine locally that charges to withdraw money.”

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which, a consumer organization that has followed the ATM issue in the U.K., said that access to free ATMs is already low in the country, and is urging the government step in to ensure free cash access. 

John Howells, CEO of LINK, responded to the announcement in a statement released to Mobile Payments Today: 

“Cash use is falling and LINK data shows ATM use also declining at over 10% year-on-year,” he said via email. “LINK believes that every community should have free access to cash and so has increased interchange where necessary to maintain a free ATM. Where an ATM isn’t possible, LINK supports the free withdrawal service available at every post office.”

Cover image: iStock.

Topics: ATMs, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments, Region: EMEA, Regulatory Issues, Trends / Statistics

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Puerto Rican neobank FFIBI teams with Seafarer Foundation on multi-currency payroll card

Puerto Rico-based First Finance International Bank Inc. has teamed up with the Australia-based Seafarer Foundation to develop a reloadable multi-currency card that provides digital payroll and card services to workers in the maritime industry. 

Under the program, First Finance, the first digital-only bank based in Puerto Rico, loads payroll from the shipping company through an open and closed-loop system that allows workers to access their funds at any ATM or POS terminal around the world in local currency and no currency exchange markup from banks. 

“This partnership is the result of two years of dedicated efforts by FFIBI and its team,” Michel Poignant, CEO of FFIBI, said in a joint release. “The strategic positioning and regulatory environment of a neobank located in Puerto Rico allowed FFIBI to provide such service to seafarers and thousands of shipping crew members they serve worldwide.”

Seafarers can also send funds to family members through a linked card or pay bills at any one of 600,000 locations around the world. 




Topics: ATMs, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments, POS, Region: Americas, Region: APAC

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With $12b in AUM, Personal Capital bets on a human-digital approach

For Personal Capital, the path to scale is go broad. The company this month hit a milestone of $12 billion in assets under management, which it sees as evidence its digital and human approach is yielding results.

Personal Capital dashboard

“We give people a 360-degree look at all of their finances — it’s a holistic approach,” Porter Gale, Personal Capital’s chief marketing officer, told Bank Innovation. “We believe that the blend of technology and human advice is a perfect mix, and we use technology to create personalized portfolios.”

The eight-year-old company offers investment products and high-yield savings accounts. Meanwhile, its free digital personal finance dashboard is a powerful customer acquisition vehicle. Two million users rely on Personal Capital’s products, according to the company.

Personal Capital has taken a platform approach alongside robo-advisers that have branched out to banking, including Wealthfront and Betterment. But instead of a digital-only approach, the company said tech is a tool to augment a human-centered experience, with advisers available to assist clients as their needs get more sophisticated.

“What you’re seeing throughout a lot of the industry is many of the other folks started with a pure human or pure robo [approach], and now they’re playing catch-up,” said Dan Stampf, vice president of Personal Capital Cash, the company’s high-yield savings product that launched in June.

Personal Capital is reportedly among the more profitable of digital investment startups. It’s using tailored strategies to attract customers from different ends of the income spectrum. For investors early in their careers, Personal Capital’s free personal financial dashboard and high-yield savings accounts introduce clients to the platform.

See also: ‘If we can’t automate it, we don’t build it’: Wealthfront’s Andy Rachleff on ‘self-driving money’

For experienced and high-net-worth investors, the company’s offerings include a smart withdrawal tool, a feature that helps customers close to retirement plan for their future while considering tax and Social Security implications. In addition, this past year, the company partnered with alternative investment platform iCapital Network, offering high-net-worth customers access to private equity funds and hedge funds. Personal Capital, according to Gale, is garnering increased interest from high-net-worth clients.

According to Dennis Gallant, senior analyst at Aite Group’s wealth management practice, Personal Capital’s growth trajectory has been the result of the breadth of its customer acquisition strategy. While its assets under management fees for its wealth management products run between 0.49% and 0.89% — higher than some larger robo-advisers — its diversified revenue streams give it a leg up over some competitors, he noted.

“Personal Capital has been ahead of the curve,” Gallant said. “With client acquisition, which has been a challenge for many robo-advisers, they’ve been able to build assets and grow.”

Looking to 2020, the company plans to continue to improve its technology stack in an effort to serve clients better. Its product roadmap will evolve to serve clients’ overall financial needs, noted Gale, though she declined to specify which products would be launched.

As Personal Capital seeks to set itself apart from other companies in the digital wealth management sphere, it’s also focusing on brand development.

The appointment of Gale as chief marketing officer in February was a pillar of this strategy. Under her leadership, it launched an advertising campaign, along with a refresh of its logos, messaging and visual branding in October. Personal Capital also hired a new PR agency, Praytell, this month.

“What we found in our research is that people saw us in a very favorable light, but they viewed us as a tools company — we want to bring the human side of the business to the forefront,” said Gale. “We’re seeing increases in all of our down-funnel metrics [since the rebrand effort]; branding, positioning and messaging can help build trust and confidence.”

Personal Capital has raised more than $265 million in funding to date, including a $50 million Series F round led by IGM Financial in February.

Bank Innovation Ignite, which will take place on March 2-3 in Seattle, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. This is an exclusive, invitation-only event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Request your invitation.

Bitcoin VC Funding is now over 30% of Fintech and catching up fast

Editor’s Note: this is the 7th post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014 – to close out 2019. Happy New Year to our Western readers

To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then). 

As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today!

This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole.

Actually this understates it, but more on that later. First the basics. I looked at data from Coindesk on Bitcoin VC funding and data from CB Insights on Fintech.

The Coindesk data is for Q2 and the CB Insights data is for 2013, so I multiplied the Coindesk data by 4 to get an annual run rate of $960m vs total Fintech over $3,000m. Thus the 30% headline number.

This understates the Bitcoin number. Where would we record the pre-mining that funds a lot of Bitcoin 2.0 start-ups?

However the bigger story is around momentum. Bitcoin startups only started to get serious money in the last 12-18 months. As some of these like Coinbase and Bitpay get real traction, this will pull in more funding. More importantly, the Bitcoin 2.0 platforms such as Ethereum, Maidsafe and Counterparty are getting funded through pre-mining and they are platforms to attack Fintech markets well beyond what we narrowly think of as Bitcoin today.

My guess is that if did the same analysis in Q4 of 2014, the Bitcoin run rate would be closer to 50% of total Fintech. Some time during 2015, this analysis will no longer be useful as most Fintech startups will use Blockchain technology in some way. By 2016, it will be like saying “we use the cloud”.

This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole.

As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today!

Digital lending gold rush to continue through 2023, research suggests

Digital lenders will continue to pursue product diversification strategies as companies expand market share in the coming years, research from S&P Global Market Intelligence concluded. “Digital lenders are keen to innovate their product offerings to cater more specifically to different customer segments,” S&P noted in its 2019 U.S. Digital Lending Market Report. “Term loans and …Read More

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PayPal launches new payments, remittance integration with Mercado Libre

PayPal launches new payments, remittance integration with Mercado Libre

PayPal Holdings Inc. CEO Dan Schulman announced a new agreement with MercadoLibre on a global integration between the payments firm and a Latin American e-commerce site. 

PayPal, which earlier this year acquired a stake in MercadoLibre, will become a payment option on the Mercado Pago online checkout for customers in Brazil and Mexico, allowing PayPal’s 300 million customers to gain access to thousands of merchants on the site.

“This is just the beginning of the great things we can do together,” Schulman wrote on his LinkedIn page. “By working closely, we can jointly leverage our scale and platform capabilities to help drive inclusion and access to the global digital economy.”

PayPal will also be accepted on the MercadoLibre marketplace in Brazil and Mexico for cross-border purchases. Lastly, MercadoPago will be available as a payment option at PayPal merchants around the world. 

Schulman said the agreement will expand the presence of its Xoom remittance service by allowing Mercado Pago users to receive money transfers in their digital wallets, initially in Mexico and Brazil. 

Cover image: Xoom.


Topics: Card Brands, Mobile Apps, Mobile Payments, Money Transfer / P2P, Region: Americas

Companies: PayPal

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Wirex, i2C partner on blockchain-based payments card in Asia-Pacific

Payments firm Wirex and i2C Inc., a digital banking and payment processing firm, announced a partnership to launch a blockchain-based card for travelers using crypto and traditional payments in the Asia Pacific region. 

The card will allow users to pay in more than 150 digital and fiat currencies, including bitcoin, Ethereum, Nano, Euros, British pounds, Australian and U.S. dollars, Japanese Yen and other currencies, Users can pay with debit, credit or digital currencies and earn rewards. 

Patel Matveev, co-founder and chief executive officer at Wirex, said the company partnered with i2C, because it is the only processor that can integrate traditional and crypto currencies on a single platform and have reliable service. 

“Wirex cardholders are now able to travel with multiple currencies to all of the countries they visit using just one card, as well as exchange their crypto to the currency of their choice,” Ava Kelly, senior vice president of product at i2C, said in a company release. 


Topics: Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Mobile/Digital Wallet, Mobile Payments, Region: APAC

Companies: i2c, inc.

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Grab, Singtel form partnership to seek digital banking license in Singapore

Grab Holdings Inc., the largest consolidated ride sharing, delivery and payments app in Southeast Asia, said it is forming a consortium with mobile and broadband provider Singtel to apply for a digital banking license in Singapore, where it is based.

Grab will own 60% of the consortium, which is designed to expand digital financial services to underbanked consumers and SMEs in Singapore. Sintel will control the remaining 40% stake. 

A spokesperson for Grab told Mobile Payments Today that the consortium is currently focused on a digital banking license for Singapore, but noted that the regional opportunity for digital banking was clear. 

“SEA is still significantly underbanked, but mobile penetration is high,” the spokesperson told Mobile Payments Today via email. “Digibanks or virtual banks offer an opportunity to build a mobile-only platform offering deposits, loans, asset management and insurance that is well regulated for consumer protection, without being constrained by the need to establish a large physical branch network.”

After originally launching as a ride-sharing app, Grab has offered the GrabPay mobile wallet since 2016 and has expanded into microlending, insurance and other financial services. Grab has been downloaded 166 million times. Singtel has more than 700 million mobile customers in 21 countries. 


Topics: Mobile Apps, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments, Region: APAC, Regulatory Issues

Companies: Grab

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Facial recognition to grow 12.5% annually through 2024

Facial recognition to grow 12.5% annually through 2024

The facial recognition market is expected to grow at a combined annual growth rate of 12.5% for the forecast period 2019 to 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence. The market was valued at $4.51 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach a value of $9.06 billion by 2024, according to a company press release.

Facial recognition has been gaining prominence in recent times, owing to the benefits it offers over other surveillance techniques. Governments have been investing in the technology with the U.S. and China the leading adopters.

Facial recognition is defined as a method of recognizing a human face through hardware like video cameras. The scope of the study is limited to stand-alone facial recognition solutions and services offered by various vendors.. The hardware components involved for facial recognition services like video cameras, sensors, etc. are not considered for arriving at the revenue estimates during the forecast period.

Presently, around 94% of smartphones feature fingerprint sensors, but this is expected to drop to 90% by 2023. 

The development in 3D cameras is expected to bring advancement and new applications for 3D facial recognition technology, especially the healthcare IT solutions, payments and commerce sectors. For instance, in June 2018, SensibleVision, a Florida-based firm launched its 3DWALLET technology, designed to let retailers replace cash and card payments and eliminate the need for checkout lines through a 3D facial recognition platform that identifies customers automatically and charges them for their purchases.

North America is expected to hold the highest market share. The region offers lucrative opportunities for market growth, exhibiting a massive demand for facial recognition technology for homeland security and criminal investigation.

The biggest facial recognition surveillance system in the region is operated by the FBI. The FBI’s ID system maintains a facial recognition database with images of more than 117 million Americans. The FBI conducts, on average, 4,055 searches every month to identify individuals with facial recognition systems.

Image courtesy of Mordor Intelligence.

Topics: Contactless / NFC, Handsets / Devices, Security, Trends / Statistics

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What kind of year will 2020 be for Bitcoin?


The new year will shape up to be one of the brightest years for Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry. Not to be misunderstood, this is not a price prediction. I expect 2020 to be a year the industry matures at an accelerated pace. On the crypto-native side, we will see continued innovative technical breakthroughs. On the institutional side, we can expect an increase in sophistication, in terms of education, infrastructure and more attractive product offerings. Bitcoin has demonstrated the ability to bounce back from almost anything. The first decade was defined by Bitcoin, but the next will define which cryptocurrency emerges to rival traditional currencies. 

Ilias Louis Hatzis is the Founder at Mercato Blockchain Corporation AG and a weekly columnist at

For those of you that don’t follow the ups and downs of Bitcoin, you probably missed how terrible 2018 was, with the price falling by 83 percent from a historical all-time high in late 2017.  This year has been a rebound year, After the first three months of the year, we’ve seen a steady recovery take place, with increasing optimism returning to the market.

As we are about to start the new year and Bitcoin’s second decade, let not forget that in its first decade, Bitcoin has been the best performing asset making unimaginable returns for investors.

What we’ve seen in 2019 is a continued evolution, that’s been happening for some years now. While the crypto industry is still in a prototype state and doesn’t scale well for the most part, we are now starting to see the beginning of scaling. These last 10 years have really been about developing a sufficient amount of bridges, roads and tunnels, the underlying infrastructure to make cryptocurrencies available to more and more people.

We now have the infrastructure to launch scalable decentralized applications on blockchain. We have blockchains that can handle large user bases, with low latency, little friction and zero fees. Now we can build just about anything on blockchain, that we can build on the traditional Internet. We are entering a period where the focus will shift to building services and protocols on top of the existing Bitcoin layer, by a new crop of entrepreneurs and startups.

The big event that’s coming up in May 2020, the “halving”, will be different than in the past. Every four years when the halving happens, the block reward shrinks by 50 percent. But this time it will be even more important, because of the level of maturity the industry has compiled. The diminished new supply of coins will mean that the supply and demand equation will improve. But because investors already know when it’s going to happen, there’s already been some movement in preparation, so I don’t think it will have the impact that most people think it will.

I feel more excited, much more than anytime in the last 18 months, because it feels like we are picking up momentum. Bitcoin is up this week, although it’s been down over the last month or so, but I think we are seeing a level of momentum that’s been building up for the most part of 2019. Detractors have become advocates, big money has been coming in, big tech is taking its first stab at it and governments are fueling their rockets. It feels like everyone’s putting on their jumpsuits, getting ready to take off, something we haven’t seen since 2017.

While 2017 was a crazy year with projects raising absurd amounts of money through token sales, 2018 was a down year and in 2019 it became much harder, resulting in less and less garbage. While there is some still out there, investors are getting much more discerning, being able to spot the good from the bad. I expect token sales and IEOs will rekindle this year, but with the bottom chunk of the market dropping out and less projects raising money this way, the good one’s will be in a much better position to reach their goals.

In 2020, we will continue to see cryptocurrency payments gain momentum. More governments and big businesses will announce their own cryptocurrencies, and while this legitimizes the industry, we should be skeptical. Poorly executed crypto projects will continue to be weeded out. We’ll see more and more cryptocurrencies that popped up in 2017 fade away, going to zero. Bitcoin’s halving in May could spike the price. By now Bitcoin has proven itself as a long-term investment and store of value, so expect people that believe to continue to HODL, regardless of price fluctuations.

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What will trigger Wall Street Adoption of Bitcoin?

Editor’s Note: this is the 6th post on Daily Fintech, written in 2014 – well before the ICO wild days of 2017.

To give our authors a break over the holidays, we are re-posting from our archive of over 1,000 articles. Rather than pick favourites we elected to simply repost the first 8 articles (as that was over 5 years ago you may have missed them; we were pretty unknown then). 

As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today!

This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole.

Bitcoin is:

1. A payment network

2. A currency

3. A store of value.

So far I have focused on 1 & 2. In this post, I am focused on 3.

Call it a currency or call it a commodity (as the IRS does), the store of value question is simply “will I get a better risk-adjusted total return than other alternatives?”

Let’s parse that question for Bitcoin:

  • “Total return”. This means capital appreciation PLUS Interest (Bonds) and Dividends (Equity). You receive no Interest or Dividends if you hold Bitcoin. Indeed the cost of Cold Storage makes it a cost to own Bitcoin.
  • “risk-adjusted”. Bitcoin is more like Gold, which also pays no Interest or Dividend and you pay to store it in a vault. Gold has thousands of years of price history, Bitcoin about 5. It is inconceivable that Gold value will decline to zero. It is possible that Bitcoin will decline to zero; unlikely but possible.
  • It is inconceivable to forecast a 10x or 100x return for Gold but one can paint many scenarios in which the price of Bitcoin will be 10x more than it is today (which makes it a 100x return for early speculators and miners).
  • So, you might lose everything or you might get a 10x or 100x return. Does that sound familiar? Or course it does, this is like investing in tech startups.
  • If this is like investing in startups, what stage is the deal? Is this Seed or Series A or B or C or is it IPO stage? I don’t think it is Seed stage. That was investing in Bitcoin in 2010. Today it is more like a Series A deal. You probably won’t lose everything at a Series A stage (a lot of the risk has been taken out by the time a venture gets to Series A). So the upside is also more constrained. Some ventures do get a 100x return from Series A valuation but 10x is a more reasonable expectation.

It is easy to paint the scenario in which Bitcoin declines to zero. Merchant adoption stalls and a better cyber currency emerges to replace Bitcoin. To paint the 10x or more picture, we have to imagine things like:

  1. People in a significant sized economy with a failing currency (think Argentina, more than Zimbabwe which is too small an economy to make a difference) decide to use Bitcoin rather than US$. This sounds plausible enough until you try to imagine the actual scene where the black market guys exchange tourist dollars for Bitcoins and then the tourist offers Bitcoins to the vendor.
  2. Rich people worried about taxation, store their money offshore in Bitcoin rather than in US$. Again this sounds plausible, except for one inconvenient fact, which is that this is viewed as money laundering in most jurisdictions i.e. illegal. If somebody does this illegally, they won’t want to keep it in Bitcoin, they will want to turn it back to Fiat and get Interest and Dividends.
  3. Gold bugs become Bitcoin hoarders. Despite a libertarian bent to both communities, I see this as unlikely. Gold bugs love the fact that it is physical and has thousands of years of history.

If any of the above scenarios pans out, fast money such as Hedge Funds and retail currency speculators will pile into Bitcoin and then there will be “meltup” in price. That will lead to more hoarding and so more price rises.

What I find hard to see is what sort of investor will feel drawn to this type of risk/return. If you like 10x or 100X upside with the possibility of 100% loss, you will be drawn to investing in startups.

If Bitcoin succeeds as a payment network, it won’t have much impact on the price, it will just be an enabler for lower cost payments. For bitcoin to succeed as a currency it needs to become boring and non-volatile, floating up a down compared to Fiat currencies like USD floats up and down compared to EUR. Speculators will find something else to play with.

For Wall Street to get really comfortable with investing in bitcoin, they will want an ability to short bitcoin. That of course will help to stabilize the price and ensure that it is less volatile, which will make it less attractive to speculators.

Of course, the reality is that Wall Street does not need to get comfortable with investing in Bitcoin, they just need others to get comfortable. If Wall Street firms can earn fees and commissions from selling Bitcoin, they will do so and many will become rich from doing this even if investors actually lose money (“where are the customer’s yachts?”). These periods of irrational investing last longer than a rational person might expect, but they do eventually implode.

Personally, I prefer the risk/reward of tech startups and I think that Bitcoin the payment network and bitcoin the currency is fundamentally at odds with the volatility that speculators love. If Bitcoin does become a viable currency, it can be traded just like any other currency and will have similar levels of volatility, which still leaves plenty of room for intra day trading to make money.

This is one of a series called Explorations down the Bitcoin rabbit hole.

As we close out 2019, make a resolution to be smarter about Fintech in 2020 by subscribing for just US$143 a year (= $0.39 per day). You will get all our fresh daily insights and participate in our forum. You can also read our archives with over 1,000 articles, an example of which you are reading from over 5 years ago.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Daily Fintech membership community today!

Tribe Payments launches Bankbox to improve access to banking systems

Tribe Payments, a team of industry experts dedicated to delivering the future of payments, has announced the launch of Bankbox. Bankbox is an API-led, agnostic module that provides issuers and acquirers access to banking systems and rails such as Faster Payments in the UK and Automated Clearing House in the U.S.

Part of Tribe Payment’s modular platform ISAAC, Bankbox is designed to help programme managers – who have card services or a digital wallet – and acquirers – that are accepting payments on behalf of a merchant – add banking services to their products. The module works in conjunction with Tribe’s Digital Wallet module for issuers or its Acquirer Processing module for acquirers. Alternatively, the stand-alone module can be easily integrated via APIs into existing payment systems.

In addition to easing access to banking systems, the launch of Bankbox helps programme managers accelerate their Open Banking efforts. Payment companies – and the merchants and consumers they serve – are looking to capitalise on Open Banking payments. Open Banking payments are authenticated directly between consumers and their banks. This means unlike with card schemes and direct debits, merchants can avoid chargebacks generated due to fraud or an inability to capture funds, as well as dramatically reduce processing costs.

“Programme managers need access to banking systems to create powerful propositions. But even in the Open Banking era organisations are struggling to capitalise. Connecting is frankly like wading through technological treacle,” said Suresh Vaghjiani, CEO of Tribe Payments. “Bankbox aims to standardise access to banking systems, cutting out complexity and unnecessary middlemen. With a single integration Tribe can now connect a programme manager that is accredited to access these rails so they can provide their customers with choice, expand their reach, and reduce costs.”

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‘If we can’t automate it, we don’t build it’: Wealthfront’s Andy Rachleff on ‘self-driving money’

In 2019, a chorus of digital investment platforms branched out into checking and savings accounts. Throughout the year, Wealthfront continued on its trajectory of becoming a central hub for all of its customers’ financial needs.

Co-founder and CEO Andy Rachleff said the company is on pace to automate all of its customers’ financial needs, a vision he calls “self-driving money.”

Since its establishment in 2008, Wealthfront has become one of the largest independent digital investment platforms. According to the company, 90% of its clients are under 40 years of age. It more than doubled its assets in 2019, with more than $22 billion in assets under management.

Wealthfront’s offerings include investments, savings and digital lending products. It’s working with Green Dot to support debit card and direct deposit capabilities. The company has also signaled its interest in offering mortgages in the future.

Bank Innovation spoke with Rachleff on the company’s priorities for 2020. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Wealthfront is aiming to become a full-service financial platform, moving beyond investing and into banking products. What was a major milestone in 2019?
By far the highlight for Wealthfront was the launch of our FDIC insured high-interest cash account. We’d heard from our clients that they wanted us to build this product, but we had no idea how wildly successful it would be. The cash account introduced an entirely new segment of our target audience to Wealthfront and propelled our growth.

Where is your game plan taking you next year?
About half of our clients have told us that they want to replace their bank with Wealthfront and make us their main financial relationship. So next year, you can expect to see us continue to launch products similar to what you get from your bank — a debit card, direct deposit and automatic bill pay. These features will be built on top of our high-interest cash account so you can earn more [returns] on all of your money.

Wealthfront has always supported automation instead of humans. Has that changed at all?
We are all in on automation and delivering a completely digital service because that is what our clients want. They quite literally tell us, “I pay you not to talk to me.” We’ve consistently respected that preference. If we can’t automate it, we don’t build it.

The audience we’re focused on is a subgroup of millennials who are achieving great success in their careers and amassing meaningful savings. We estimate there are about 20 million people in this group in the U.S. alone. They don’t want to go to a bank branch; they want to take out their phone and manage their money in the same way they order an Uber.

See also: Inside Wealthfront’s lifelong customer loyalty strategy

This past year, Wealthfront acquired the technology and team from financial platform Grove. How will this contribute to Wealthfront’s vision?
We were incredibly excited to add Grove’s co-founder and CEO Chris Hutchins to lead our advice automation team. Its work will be crucial to deliver our ultimate vision of what we refer to as “self-driving money.”

We are building a service where our clients can direct deposit their paychecks with us and we can take care of the rest. We’ll automatically pay your bills, make sure you have enough in your emergency fund and invest the rest — true financial nirvana.

Is Wealthfront a challenger bank?
We are building a next-generation banking service that will be the central financial hub for our clients. The number one difference between what we’re building compared to what challenger banks like Chime, for example, are building is the audience we’re focused on.

How is your audience different from the so-called challenger banks?
Chime has done a wonderful job solving the pain points of folks living paycheck to paycheck with features like getting your paycheck two days early.

But for our audience of young professionals, getting paid two days early doesn’t solve a problem they have. They are concerned with optimizing their savings through products like a high-interest savings account and being able to manage multiple accounts through one service with seamless money movement. So our service will inherently look different because of our focus on a different audience.

A number of robo investment platforms are getting into cryptocurrencies. Is this something Wealthfront is considering?
No. We believe that crypto is a speculation not an investment, and we only apply best investment practices that are academically proven.

Wealthfront’s marketing strategy has been focused on word-of-mouth referrals instead of paid digital advertising. Is this how the company will continue to spread its message?
We’ve always been a product company first and foremost, which means we grow by launching delightful, value-added products that inspire people to tell their friends about them. This is how all great product companies have grown. You never saw an ad from Netflix or Amazon — you heard about it from a friend. This is a core piece of our strategy and will continue to be.

Bank Innovation Ignite, which will take place on March 2-3 in Seattle, is a must-attend industry event for professionals overseeing financial technologies, product experiences and services. This is an exclusive, invitation-only event for executives eager to learn about the latest innovations. Request your invitation.

Australia's Groupee launches bill splitting app for mobile purchases

Australia's Groupee launches bill splitting app for mobile purchases

Australian fintech Groupee has launched what it calls the world’s first real-time payment app that allows groups to share the cost of a purchase, like a meal, gift, tickets or other items. 

The fintech uses a prepaid Visa card that can be embedded in a smartphone to enable groups to share the cost of purchases among multiple users. 

“In 2019, people don’t want to pay for their friends, simple as that,” Jarred Baker, CEO of Groupee, told Mobile Payments Today via email. “People do want to be able to share experiences with each other.”

Groupee launched in 2016 as an app focused on splitting the bill at restaurants, but has evolved to allow groups to split the bill for different types of purchases. 

The app can be used on any phone or bank in Australia. The app is not currently available in other markets, but the company does have plans to expand overseas. The app is currently available for download on the App Store for iPhone, however, it will soon be available on Google Play for Google Pay and Samsung Pay mobile wallet users.

Cover image: Groupee.

Topics: Mobile Payments, Money Transfer / P2P, Region: APAC

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Bakkt chief product officer to succeed Loeffler as new CEO

Intercontinental Exchange Inc. said it named Mike Blandina as the new chief executive of Bakkt, succeeding the company’s founding CEO Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate from Georgia to replace the retiring Johnny Isakson.

Blandina, a former executive at OneMarket, Westfield, PayPal and Google, joined Bakkt earlier this year as chief product officer. Meanwhile, Adam White, a former Coinbase executive and chief operating officer at Bakkt since 2018, has been named president of the company. 

“As CEO, Mike will chart Bakkt’s strategic direction, payment products and markets, as well as overseeing the regulatory and financial performance of the company,” Jeffrey Sprecher, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, said in a company release. “His more than 25 years of experience in payments across product, engineering, strategy and operations will continue to serve us well.”

He said that White, in his new position, will focus on digital assets, custody and trading as well as the company’s strategic direction. 

As previously reported, Starbucks will be the launch partner for a consumer crypto rollout from Bakkt in 2020. 

Bakkt earlier this week it set a record of 6,226 physically delivered Bakkt Futures contracts traded at ICE Futures U.S., according to the release.


Topics: Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Mobile Payments, Online Purchasing

Companies: Starbucks

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