banking-and-finance

Crypto enthusiasts say new products lend bitcoin credibility
Futures considered crucial to gain buy-in from financial industry

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. Those bitcoin futures trade through regulated exchanges and clearinghouses. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images photo illustration)

The cryptocurrency industry is hailing the emergence of complex bitcoin investment products as a needed step to attract new investors while lending credibility to the digital asset and building a pathway to regulatory clarity.

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. And while the launch of these investment products hasn’t convinced everyone that they will lead to buy-in from a skeptical financial industry, those leading the charge say it’s a crucial step.

Can - and should - an algorithm be ethical when it comes to financial technology?
Fintech Beat, Ep. 35

Can an algorithm be ethical? (iStock, Getty Images)

Algorithms have evolved into to powerful engines of financial technology. But they don’t always live up to the hype, as algorithmic models fail to take account of basic societal concerns like fairness, privacy and bias. Fintech Beat sits down with Michael Kearns to find out what can be done to make algorithms “ethical.”

Fintech Beat sits down with the former chief of the Federal Reserve’s open banking unit
Fintech Beat, Ep. 34

The Federal Reserve building. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Open banking’s benefits involve using customer consent to develop new financial products to revolutionize financial services. But critics claim open banking can at times bypass customer consent by using digital avatars and other online tools to infiltrate and collect customer data. Fintech Beat sits down with the former chief of the Federal Reserve’s open banking unit to get answers.

Long wait for China tariff exemptions pays off for some
About a third of requests for exemptions from tariffs were granted in first two tranches of tariffs

President Donald Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook, to Trump’s right, tour the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple’s Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, in November. Apple has fared better than most companies in winning exemptions on tariffs on Chinese imports. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

The limited scope of the phase one trade deal with China means that the bulk of U.S. tariffs will remain in place for the foreseeable future, leaving U.S. companies hurt by the duties no other choice but to get in line for an exemption if they want to limit the damage.

The record so far shows that it might be worth a shot: on average, importers have a one in three chance of meeting the standard set by the U.S. Trade Representative and getting an exemption or exclusion, according to an analysis by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

House urges Supreme Court to enforce subpoenas for Trump’s financial records
Delay in subpoenas would be deprive Congress information it needs to secure elections, court filing says

People walk by the New York headquarters for Deutsche Bank in New York earlier this year. President Donald Trump is trying to keep Deutsche Bank and Capital One from acting on congressional subpoenas over his financial records. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

The House cited 2020 election security concerns Wednesday when it urged the Supreme Court not to delay the enforcement of congressional subpoenas for financial records of President Donald Trump and his business from Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial Corporation.

Any harm to Trump for allowing the enforcement of the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees would be less severe than Congress not getting information it needs to protect the elections from foreign influence, House attorneys argued in a Supreme Court filing.

Regulators warn about fraudsters creating synthetic borrowers
Information cobbled together from multiple people used to make fake identities, establish credit

The Federal Reserve has issued warnings about synthetic identity fraud and is expected to release a report in early 2020 outlining ways that financial companies can mitigate the problem. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The financial technology industry that’s upending consumer finance could be the solution to a kind of identity fraud that’s dogging traditional banks and fintech companies alike.

It’s called synthetic identity fraud, where instead of stealing one person’s information, criminals synthesize a false identity using information from many people — usually those unlikely to monitor their credit, like children, the elderly, prisoners or the homeless. Fraudsters then establish a credit history for the fake person over time until they can trick banks or financial technology companies into lending them money.

Big data poses big problems for banks, experts say
Risks to security and privacy cited as products and services develop rapidly

Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer says big data systems generate “astounding” amounts of data. “This is the future, and there’s no going back from here,” he said at a Nov. 21 hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The financial services industry’s use of big data and data aggregation tools has the potential to benefit millions of consumers but also could disproportionately affect the privacy and security of vulnerable populations.

That’s the take of experts who testified to the House Financial Services Committee’s Task Force on Financial Technology last month, hoping to convince lawmakers that more attention is needed on the issue.

Banks see Fed payments proposal opening door to fintech rivals
Banking industry pushes for tight rules on companies moving into banking-like services

Prompted by the Federal Reserve’s plan to build an instant payment system, banks are pushing for tight rules on tech firms moving into banking-like services. (iStock)

A plan by the Federal Reserve to build its own network to transfer funds quickly has pitted technology firms seeking a foothold in the financial sector against banks that have traditionally dominated the payments business. 

Tech firms see the new payment system as an opportunity to get into the payments business, and banks, facing a new rival, are pushing for tight rules on companies moving into banking-like services, according to advocates on both sides of the issue.

Road ahead: Public impeachment hearings begin
Senate set to confirm new Homeland Security secretary

The first open impeachment hearings in over 20 years begin on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The public phase of the House impeachment inquiry begins this week, with three witnesses set to air concerns Wednesday and Friday that President Donald Trump attempted to tie Ukrainian military aid to an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential Democratic rival in 2020.

Much of the attention on Capitol Hill will be focused on the House Intelligence Committee as it opens up to televised questioning and testimony an investigation that so far had been conducted in a secure closed-door facility in the basement of the Capitol.

Fintech Beat explains how open banking is poised to revolutionize financial services
Open Banking 101, Ep. 28

Open banking is shaking up financial experiences for customers across the globe (iStock).

Open banking is set to shake up financial experiences for customers across the globe, enabling customers to allow third parties to access financial information needed to develop new apps and services. Fintech Beat sits down with the head of policy at Plaid, a unicorn fintech sitting in the middle of the revolution, to discuss the process of information sharing and how regulation shapes it.