Weekly News Highlights – 4 April 2024

Welcome to the latest in fintech news, where cutting-edge technologies and innovative financial solutions converge to reshape the landscape of banking, investing, and payments. Stay tuned as we explore the trends driving the future of finance!

Fifth Largest Bitcoin Whale Moves $6 Billion In BTC, Here’s The Destination (European Parliament)

A significant Bitcoin whale recently transferred $6 billion worth of BTC across different wallets, catching the attention of the crypto community. The transactions, flagged by blockchain analysis platform Arkham Intelligence, saw the funds split among three new addresses. This move stirred speculation within the community about the whale’s intentions, especially considering the wallet’s previous dormancy since 2019. However, the absence of transfers to exchange-linked wallets has tempered concerns of immediate profit-taking. Separately, BlackRock’s Bitcoin wallet has been accumulating BTC rapidly, fueled by demand for its iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) ETF launched in January 2024. With 243,126 BTC under management, BlackRock ranks among the largest corporate BTC holders, trailing only major exchanges and Grayscale. The sustained institutional demand for Bitcoin, exemplified by entities like BlackRock, has contributed to its price surge, with Bitcoin currently trading around $70,500. Read more

Klarna Launches Page Comparing BNPL, Traditional Credit (Pymnts)

Klarna has revealed Wikipink, a new web page aimed at promoting transparency in the credit industry by sharing data on its buy now, pay later (BNPL) offerings, including repayment rates, late fee rates, and consumer demographics. This move comes amidst growing scrutiny on credit providers, with Klarna seeking to drive dialogue on personal finance. According to David Sykes, Klarna’s chief commercial officer, Wikipink serves as a call to action for the financial industry to prioritize consumer well-being through ethical, transparent, and consumer-friendly options. Klarna’s data suggests that interest-free BNPL leads to better consumer outcomes compared to traditional credit, highlighting responsible repayment behavior among its customers. This initiative follows the recent finalization of a rule by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) aimed at lowering credit card late fees, signaling a broader effort to increase transparency and competition in the credit card industry for the benefit of consumers. Read more

Visa Bolsters Fraud Prevention Arsenal with Three New AI-Powered Solutions (QZ)

Visa has launched three new AI-powered risk and fraud prevention solutions to bolster security in digital payments. Integrated into the Visa Protect suite, these products aim to combat fraud in various payment scenarios, including card not present transactions and immediate account-to-account payments. The solutions include Visa Deep Authorisation (VDA) for CNP payments, an expansion of Visa Advanced Authorisation (VAA) and Visa Risk Manager (VRM) for non-Visa card payments, and real-time protection for account-to-account payments. These innovations leverage deep learning AI models to provide real-time risk scoring and enhance fraud detection capabilities. Visa emphasizes its commitment to security, having thwarted $40 billion in fraudulent activities in 2023. The new solutions will be available to clients starting in the first half of 2024, aiming to address the growing volume and sophistication of digital fraud. Read more

Nigeria’s central bank sets minimum capital base for banks (Reuters)

On March 28, Nigeria’s central bank announced new minimum capital requirements for banks aimed at bolstering their resilience and fortifying the country’s financial system. Commercial banks with international authorization will now have a minimum capital base of 500 billion naira ($353.32 million), while those with national authorization must maintain a minimum capital base of 200 billion naira, and banks with regional authorization will be required to have a minimum capital base of 50 billion naira. To assist banks in meeting these new requirements, the central bank suggested options such as equity capital injections, mergers and acquisitions, and license authorization adjustments. Banks have a two-year window to comply with the new capital requirements. Nigeria currently grapples with inflation exceeding 30% annually, the highest in nearly three decades, exacerbating a cost-of-living crisis for millions of citizens in the continent’s most populous nation. Read more

Spot Bitcoin ETFs Revolutionize the Crypto Market, Attracting Billions in Inflows (BitPerfect)

The introduction of spot Bitcoin ETFs has spurred a significant shift in the ETF industry, with total net inflows surpassing $12 billion. Led by BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT), which attracted $258 million, these ETFs are reshaping cryptocurrency investments. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink expressed optimism, hinting at the possibility of an Ether ETF despite potential SEC challenges. The Hashdex Bitcoin ETF also emerged, holding $377.2 million in Bitcoin. This development revitalized the crypto market, coinciding with Bitcoin’s surge and the upcoming halving event. Promising signs include recent price increases in Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin, and growing mainstream institutional interest, suggesting a bright future for cryptocurrency investments. Trusted sources like CoinDesk, Cointelegraph, and Bloomberg Cryptocurrencies provide further insights. Read more

Microsoft and OpenAI plan supercomputer project worth $100 billion called ‘Stargate,’ report says (Quartz)

The partnership between OpenAI and Microsoft is intensifying, with plans underway for a massive U.S.-based data center dubbed “Stargate,” which could incur costs of up to $100 billion. This supercomputer facility, housing millions of AI chips, is expected to be financed by Microsoft and could launch as early as 2028, representing a significant investment compared to existing data centers. Stargate is part of a broader initiative to develop five installations over the next six years, with Microsoft and OpenAI currently on the third phase of the plan. While Microsoft has affirmed its commitment to advancing AI infrastructure, the partnership has faced scrutiny from regulators and legal challenges from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, an OpenAI co-founder. Read more

AT&T confirms 73 million people affected by data breach (MalwareBytes)

AT&T has confirmed a significant data breach affecting 73 million current and former customers, exposing sensitive information such as names, addresses, mobile phone numbers, dates of birth, and social security numbers. The breach, discovered a few weeks ago, was traced back to a hacker known as “MajorNelson,” who claimed to have stolen the data from AT&T three years ago. While AT&T initially denied responsibility for the leak, it has since acknowledged that the leaked data contains “AT&T data-specific fields.” However, the company has yet to determine the exact source of the data. It is estimated that 7.6 million current customers and approximately 65.4 million former account holders are affected by the breach. AT&T is taking steps to address the issue, including reaching out to affected individuals and resetting passcodes for impacted customers. Personal information exposed in the breach can be exploited by cybercriminals for identity theft and scams, emphasizing the need for affected individuals to remain vigilant. Measures such as changing passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and monitoring for suspicious activity are recommended to mitigate risks associated with the breach. Read more

Ripple to Launch USD-Backed Stablecoin, Boosting XRP Ledger (Fintech Magazine)

Ripple, a leading blockchain and crypto solutions provider, plans to launch a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar (USD), backed by USD deposits and other assets. This initiative aims to enhance utility and liquidity on its XRP Ledger. The stablecoin will be audited by a third-party firm and initially available on the XRP Ledger and Ethereum blockchains, with expansion to other platforms planned. Ripple’s move into stablecoins follows its partnership with the Axelar Foundation to improve interoperability across blockchains. Read more

Rakuten looks to merge fintech, banking units (Mobile World Live)

Rakuten Group announced plans to consolidate its fintech subsidiaries and listed banking unit into a single business entity to enhance collaboration. The move comes as the parent company seeks to address continued losses following significant investments in its mobile unit since 2020. Chair and CEO Mickey Mikitani stated that the companies have signed an MoU to initiate discussions regarding the reorganization of its fintech business and Rakuten Bank. The fintech unit encompasses various services, including credit cards, online payments, securities, and insurance. The reorganization is slated to take effect in October, pending discussions, approvals, and regulatory licenses. Rakuten Bank, of which the group owns 49.3 percent, will also engage in further examination and discussions regarding the reorganization. The company emphasized the importance of data integration and AI utilization in delivering innovative financial services and enhancing customer value. Despite Rakuten Mobile’s operating loss in Q4 2023 decreasing by 35.8 percent year-on-year, the parent company recorded its second-largest annual loss of JPY339.4 billion in 2023. Read more

Central banks and the FinTech sector unite to change global payments space (Fintech Global)

The BIS, in collaboration with seven major central banks and private financial firms, has launched Project Agorá, aiming to explore tokenisation’s potential to enhance global monetary system efficiency. The project involves central banks like the Bank of France, Bank of Japan, Bank of Korea, Bank of Mexico, Swiss National Bank, Bank of England, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York, along with private financial entities convened by the IIF. Project Agorá aims to integrate tokenised commercial bank deposits with tokenised wholesale central bank money using smart contracts, seeking to address cross-border payment inefficiencies caused by disparate standards, time zones, and redundant procedures. The BIS Innovation Hub will issue a call for private financial institutions to join the project, facilitated by the IIF. Read more

Emerald Bay Risk Solutions launches with Bain Capital Insurance backing (Fintech Global)

Emerald Bay Risk Solutions, backed by a significant investment from Bain Capital Insurance, is launching to transform the insurance industry. With a focus on integrated solutions and disciplined underwriting supported by proprietary data-driven technology, the company aims to revolutionize the program insurance market. By fostering collaboration with managing general agents (MGAs) and reinsurance partners, Emerald Bay seeks to deliver tailored insurance solutions and long-term partnerships. Initially targeting Excess & Surplus (E&S) markets, the company plans nationwide expansion. Led by CEO Dave Ingrey and CRO Miles Allkins, Emerald Bay prioritizes mutual accountability and transparency, aiming to align interests across the value chain. With a strategy emphasizing meaningful risk retention and profitability optimization, the company aims to meet market demand for consistent underwriting performance. Matt Popoli, Global Head of Bain Capital Insurance, expressed support for Emerald Bay, highlighting the team’s expertise and differentiated operating approach. Read more

MAS launches transformative platform to combat money laundering (Fintech Global)

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched Cosmic, short for Collaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing Information and Cases, as the first centralized digital platform dedicated to combating financial crimes on a global scale. Enabled by the Financial Services and Markets (Amendment) Act 2023, Cosmic allows participating financial institutions (FIs) to exchange customer information to identify potential suspicious activities while maintaining strict confidentiality safeguards. Developed in collaboration with six leading commercial banks in Singapore, including OCBC, UOB, DBS, Citibank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered, Cosmic enhances industry-law enforcement collaboration and reinforces Singapore’s reputation as a well-regulated financial hub. Participants view Cosmic as a significant step in ramping up anti-money laundering efforts and improving the banking sector’s ability to combat financial crimes effectively while ensuring legitimate customers’ access to financial services. Read more


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