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Weekly News Highlights – 5 January 2023

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

Governments, International Bodies Ramp up Crypto Tax Regulations ( Fintechnews Switzerland)
Over the past year, governments and regulatory bodies from around the world have increased their focus on the taxation of the cryptocurrency industry, a trend that comes on the back of increasing investment, adoption and innovation in the space despite collapsing prices and high profile business failures, a new report by consulting firm PwC says. PwC’s 2022 Global Crypto Tax Report, released earlier this month, looks at the state of crypto taxation globally, exploring emerging trends and key developments that have occurred over the past year. According to the report, 2022 has been marked by increasing tax regulation targeting the crypto sector, a trend that was prompted by major steps being taken by governments and international bodies like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union (EU) and the US. Read more

Atom bank set to make four-day week permanent in 2024 (Global Fintech)
Atom bank has revealed it plans to push forward with a permanent four-day week for all its employees in 2024, after a successful trial period this year. According to Finextra, in November last year the bank took a lead in becoming the first uK bank to move employees to a four-day working week. In an update in August, the bank said the measure had proved overwhelmingly positive in terms of both job satisfaction and productivity. One aim of the introduction of a four-day week was to attract and retain talent more effectively. Atom reported a 49% increase in job applications in January 2022, compared to January 2021, and headcount growth from 461 in November 2021 to 480 in June 2022, thanks also to a reduction in the number of departures. Read more

Coinbase reaches $100M settlement over background check failures (Tech Crunch)
New York financial regulators have found that the popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase violated anti-money laundering laws by failing to conduct adequate background checks. Coinbase will pay a $50 million fine to the New York State Department of Financial Services and is also required to spend $50 million on improving its compliance program. Coinbase disclosed that this investigation was in progress in its annual 10k filing in 2021. State regulators first noticed problems at Coinbase in May 2020 during routine supervisory examinations. The Department of Financial Services found what it called “significant deficiencies” in various compliance programs, including customer due diligence procedures, transaction monitoring systems, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) programs and anti-money laundering risk assessments. Upon closer examination into potential legal violations, regulators also found issues with Coinbase’s “retention of books and records” and reporting to the state department. Read more

Crypto Broker Genesis’ CEO Tells Clients It Needs More Time to Sort Out Finances (CoinDesk
The interim CEO of Genesis Global Trading, the cryptocurrency brokerage and lender forced to halt withdrawals in November, said it needs more time to sort out its tricky financial position. “While we are committed to moving as quickly as possible, this is a very complex process that will take some additional time,” Derar Islim wrote in a letter sent to clients on Wednesday. Genesis and CoinDesk share the same parent company, Digital Currency Group (DCG). In wake of the FTX collapse in November, Genesis locked up $900 million of funds from clients of retail crypto brokerage Gemini. Amid reports of an imminent solution or even a bankruptcy filing, Genesis in early December said some sort of resolution would likely be a matter of “weeks” rather than days. Read more

Fintech Companies Join Forces to Tackle Human Trafficking (The Fintech Times)
Freedom ID is launched by a consortium of global fintech, regtech, cybersecurity and Identity providers. They have joined forces to bring technology to the fight against human trafficking and provide support to individuals seeking safe passage and refuge. Freedom ID was initially developed to help protect Ukrainian refugees and now has the goal of becoming the global standard in safeguarding vulnerable people displaced as a result of any crisis. Zenoo’s digital onboarding platform which powers Freedom ID is used by some of the world’s largest companies including NASA, Experian, and the London Stock Exchange to streamline identity verification, mitigate risk, and accelerate customer acquisition. This same technology has been harnessed to support potential victims of human trafficking and other criminal acts and help fight against these crimes. The platform is integrated into both government databases and commercial technologies that are used for onboarding customers in banking, travel, e-commerce, and other industries. Read more

Digital euro to get thumbs up or thumbs down in 2023 (Finextra)
The European Central Bank says it will finalise the the overall design of a digital euro in the second half of next year as it publishes its second progress report on the project. The central bank says it will assess a further number of design and distributions options before presenting a full report to the Governing Council later next year. The ECB says the Governing Council will review the outcome of the investigation phase in autumn 2023 and decide whether to proceed to a realisation phase. Should the project get the green light, EU citizens are unlikely to get their hands on a digital euro until 2026 at the earliest. Read more

Visa, Enfuce and Epassi Collaborate to Support Refugees in France (The Fintech Times)
Enfuce, a Finnish cloud-powered fintech, has partnered with Visa and French social enterprise Welcome.Place, to distribute prepaid Visa cards to refugees who arrived in France in 2022. The Welcome.Place pilot project initially focuses on Ukrainian refugees who arrived in France after the start of Ukraine’s war. According to the United Nations, an estimated eight million people have fled Ukraine since. Around 120,000 of those have arrived in France registered under official national assistance programmes. Welcome.Place’s ‘Welcome Package’ is distributed to newcomers in France. Refugees and immigrants receive a prepaid Visa card to facilitate spending on necessary items and services during their first weeks in the country. Welcome.Place was established in 2022 as a community-driven neobank. It aimed to provide simple, inclusive and accessible financial solutions for all newcomers to help them settle quickly. Non-government organisations (NGOs) and companies are able to offer their newcomer community banking and financial solutions provided by Welcome.Place and its partners. Read more

Crypto exchange Bitvavo says it aims to recoup 280 million euros from DCG (Euronews)
Dutch cryptocurrency exchange Bitvavo said on Saturday it is trying to recover 280 million euros ($296.30 million) from U.S.-based Digital Currency Group (DCG) and its subsidiaries. Bitvavo said it had lent the money to DCG subsidiary Genesis Global Capital in order to offer Bitvavo’s own customers a product where they received interest on their cryptocurrency tokens. Genesis froze withdrawals in November following the collapse of FTX. It said in a letter to clients in early December it was crafting a plan to preserve assets. FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11, leaving an estimated 1 million customers and other investors facing total losses in the billions of dollars. The collapse reverberated across the crypto world and sent bitcoin and other digital assets plummeting. Read more

Cashless Denmark records a year without bank robberies (Finextra)
Denmark’s transition away from cash has seen the country record its first ever year in which it experienced zero bank robberies. In 2000 Denmark saw 221 bank robberies, according to the country’s finance workers’ union, Finansforbundet. Since 2017, there have been fewer than 10 a year, until 2022 when the number fell to zero. Finansforbundet says that the fall has coincided with many banks completely closing their branch cash registers. Denmark, like countries around the world has seen declining cash usage in recent years as people move to electronic alternatives, notably contactless payments. The trend accelerated during the Covid pandemic. Finansforbundet deputy chairman Steen Lund Olsen hailed the milestone: “It is nothing short of fantastic. Because it is an absolutely extreme strain on the affected employees every time it happens.” Read more

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