FinTech in Focus
Congratulations Fintech, you made it!
Investopedia has listed Fintech as one of the top 10 new financial terms of 2015, providing the term with a dedicated entry page. Additional new terms from 2015: Smart Beta, Grexit/Brexit, Negative Interest Rate Policy, Exchange-traded Mutual Fund, Unicorn, Intraday Momentum Index, Tactical Trading, Gamma Hedging and Backdoor Roth IRA.
California, Feds put marketplace lending in the spotlight after San Bernardino attack
State and federal regulators are taking a closer look at online lending following reports that one of the alleged shooters in the San Bernardino terror attack borrowed $28,500 from marketplace lender Prosper. After months of preparation, the California Department of Business Oversight launched an inquiry last week into marketplace-lending practices. The inquiry included an online survey sent to 14 lending platforms. The U.S. House Financial Services Committee Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, a panel that was just reauthorized through July 5, 2016, has communicated informally with the Treasury Department on the matter and congressional hearings will likely be held in 2016. These efforts are not meant to blame online lenders, nor should they. They are an attempt to shed additional light on marketplace lending activities and models and to determine whether additional regulation should be considered.
SWIFT announces global payments initiative
In a Dec. 10 press release, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) announced that it will launch its global payments innovation initiative focused on business-to-business payments, in cooperation with participating banks, to drive correspondent banking innovation beginning early 2016. Interestingly, Wim Raymaekers, head of banking markets at SWIFT, said the initiative may also look into the use of blockchain technology for settlements.
What’s going on Down Under?
Unless you were living under a rock last week, you would have heard that media outlets Gizmodo and Wired published evidence suggesting that Australian businessman Craig Steven Wright and Dave Kleiman, the late American computer-science expert, likely were involved in the creation of Bitcoin. More recent news reports indicate that this may not be the case (Gizmodo, Financial Times, MIT Technology Review).
There were a few other headlines emanating from Australia that are worth mentioning. First, the Australian Payments Council released the Australian Payments Plan — which outlines steps needed to prepare for payments innovations and developments in the next decade. The release of the report comes as the prime minister announced Australia’s Global Innovation Strategy, slated to begin in July 2016. The plan includes the creation of overseas innovation hubs called “Landing-Pads” to “assist emerging Australian companies with their approach to identifying and engaging with international opportunities in overseas markets.”
Americans and their gadgets
According to the U.S. National Telecommunications & Information Administration, 52 percent of Americans now use two or more connected devices, up from 41 percent in 2011. Mobile devices are now one of the preferred methods used to connect to the Internet, with 45 percent of Americans using a mobile device, compared to 27 percent in 2011. Of note, the data was collected in 2013, which means that by now the numbers may be even more lopsided. As Americans become more connected through the use of multiple devices, we have also become more comfortable with sharing personal data. According to a recent report from Ofcom, the UK independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, Americans were more likely to “strongly agree” to the question of whether they are happy to provide personal information online to companies, provided American consumers get what they want.
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