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Weekly News Highlights – 15 September 2022

Stay up to date with the latest news from fintech! This week, we bring you updates and developments on partnerships, banking, crypto, regulations and more. Enjoy reading!

The Ethereum Merge Is Done, Opening a New Era for the Second-Biggest Blockchain (Coinbase)
The massive overhaul of Ethereum known as the Merge has finally happened, moving the digital machinery at the core of the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value to a vastly more energy-efficient system after years of development and delay.
It was no small feat swapping out one way of running a blockchain, known as proof-of-work, for another, called proof-of-stake. “The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car,” said Justin Drake, a researcher at the non-profit Ethereum Foundation who spoke to CoinDesk before the Merge happened. The payoff is potentially gigantic. Ethereum should now consume 99.9% or so less energy. It’s like Finland has suddenly shut off its power grid, according to one estimate.
Ethereum’s developers say the upgrade will make the network – which houses a $60 billion ecosystem of cryptocurrency exchanges, lending companies, non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces and other apps – more secure and scalable, too. Read more

Clearpay launches instalments for flights booked with Alternative Airlines (Paypers)
UK-based payments platform Clearpay has partnered with booking platform Alternative Airlines to launch ‘Pay in 4’ for flights for UK-based customers. With more than 600+ global airlines to choose from, including British Airways, American Airlines, Norwegian, and more, Alternative Airlines customers based in the UK can now book flights to any destination and select Clearpay spread the cost over four interest free instalments in six weeks. This announcement follows the launch of Alternative Airlines as Clearpay’s first travel merchant in the US where Clearpay is known as Afterpay, in 2021. Read more

JP Morgan to buy payments firm Renovite (Finextra)
JP Morgan has struck a deal to buy cloud-native payments technology firm Renovite Technologies. Financial terms were not disclosed. Renovite will become part of JP Morgan Payments, which combines the bank’s corporate treasury services, trade finance, card and merchant services. Founded in 2015, California-based Renovite has built six proprietary, cloud-agnostic and payment token-agnostic payments products to help its clients to optimise infrastructure, including switch, reconciliation, security, issuing, ATM and testing. The firm has worked with JP Morgan since last year and will now help the Wall Street giant build its next-generation merchant acquiring platform, bolster the its payments modernisation strategy and support its journey to the cloud. Read more

Atom Banks calls off merger with SPAC (Paypers)
Atom Bank has called off GBP 700 million merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) but may still IPO on the London Stock Exchange. The challenger bank is allegedly interviewing investment banks about roles relating to an IPO. The UK-based fintech has been looking to go public for some time, having previously said it was aiming for a 2023 public launch. However, according to different source, the question of where to IPO has followed Atom. There were concerns from the UK that Atom Bank – currently valued at just under GBP 500 million – would go public in New York after reported interest from a SPAC run by Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary under former US President Donald Trump. Read more

Starbucks introduces NFT loyalty programme Odyssey (Paypers)
Starbucks has announced the introduction of Starbucks Odyssey, a loyalty programme that will combine Starbucks’ Rewards with an NFT platform. Launching later in 2022, Starbucks Odyssey is the company’s first incursion into building with web3 technology and it will allow its customers to earn and purchase digital assets that will unlock a broader set of rewards and experiences. Starbucks representatives have stated for TechCrunch that they have been investigating blockchain technologies for the last couple of years but have only started being involved in this project for around six months, with an urge to expand the business and its loyalty program. Although built on blockchain and web3 technologies, Starbucks chose to make NFTs the necessary permits that allow access to this digital community, while making the nature of the technology behind it obscure. This is believed to make the platform more accessible for non-technical customers. Read more

DATA PROTECTION (Esma)
The protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by ESMA is based on Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 and Decision No 1247/2002/EC as implemented by ESMA in implementing rules adopted by its Management Board.Read more

State of play: BNPL (Fintech Futures)
Each month, fintech analyst Philip Benton explores a new topic and assesses the “state of play”, providing an in-depth analysis and understanding of the market landscape. This month we take an in-depth look at buy now, pay later (BNPL). BNPL has become one of the most divisive credit products of the modern age. To some, it’s the future of fairer, affordable and transparent credit, while others claim it’s the next ‘payday loan’ crisis in waiting. In truth, it is likely somewhere in-between, and a topic I’ve been keen to explore in-depth for a while. Read more

Singapore Deputy Prime sees “tremendous potential” in tokenization and DLT (forkast)
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is preparing for the future of finance by exploring distributed ledger technology use cases, such as asset tokenization and cross-border payments, the city-state’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said on Thursday at an event organized by the central bank. Read more

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