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The risks of ML/TF (money laundering/terrorist financing) mean the possibility of causing damage to a legal entity and (or) the financial system through illegal money laundering or terrorist financing activities.

ML/TF risk assessment is a mandatory component of a system of internal rules that allows a particular company to clearly define all the procedures and processes for countering ML/TF. Article 21a of Act No. 253/2008 Coll., on selected measures against the legitimisation of the proceeds of crime and financing of terrorism (hereinafter referred to as the “AML/CFT Act”) states that all companies that are subject to this low and must have a written system of internal rules in place are also required to prepare a written risk assessment.

The information in this article applies only to the activities of companies that are registered and operate in the Czech Republic. At the same time, 90% of the information is applicable to other EU jurisdictions.

Requirements for preparing an ML/TF risk assessment

Under the requirements of Article 5 of Decree 67/2018 Coll., on selected requirements for the system of internal rules, procedures and control measures against the legitimisation of proceeds of crime and financing of terrorism (hereinafter referred to as the “Decree on the AML/CFT Act”), company, when assessing risks should always take into account:ML/TF risk assessment: strategy, requirements, solutions

  • the nature of its business activities;
  • the nature of the company’s products and services and the possibility of their misuse for money laundering and terrorist financing purposes;
  • the risk connected with the use of new technologies within its business activities;
  • the risks associated with the distribution channels it uses to offer and provide its products and services;
  • measures taken and applied to manage risks.

Also, when developing a risk assessment system, it is necessary to pay special attention to the global assessments published by regulators and based on statistical data analysis in the AML/CFT area. Companies should consider the volume and types of information sources that will ensure that individual risk assessments correspond with the actual risks of the company. In particular, the Decree on the AML/CFT Act obliges institutions to always take into account:

  • the national risk assessment of the Czech Republic;
  • the European risk assessment conducted by the European Commission;
  • methodological and explanatory materials of the Czech National Bank (ČNB) and Financial Analytical Office (FAÚ);
  • information provided by law enforcement agencies and the FAÚ (records of previous inspections, etc.)
  • information obtained during the identification and verification of the company’s customers.

Who is obliged to prepare a written risk assessment?

In accordance with the AML/CFT Act, a written risk assessment must be prepared by:

  • credit institutions;
  • financial institutions of all kinds;
  • gambling operators;
  • companies authorised to act as a real estate trader or broker;
  • entities providing professional services to legal entities;
  • companies involved in the circulation of virtual assets.

Requirements for the content of the risk assessment

The Financial Analytical Office has not developed or published any risk assessment templates but has posted on its website some basic guidelines to follow when preparing this document.

In particular, the ML/TF risk assessment should include at least:

  • classification of types of clients of the company by risk factors;
  • categorising the risks of products and related services that can be misused for ML/TF.

Also, in the risk assessment, it is necessary to mention examples of signs of suspicious activity included in the system of internal rules. It is important that these signs should be indicative and not just normative. Simply put, signs of suspicious activity should be described and brought into the relevant mandatory part of the system of internal rules. However, these signs should be established from the risk assessment and directly related to the portfolio of products or services offered, on the one hand, and the threats typologies provided by products or services, on the other.

ML/TF risk assessment: strategy, requirements, solutionsThe Financial Analytical Office recommends, among other things, taking into account the risks of certain jurisdictions, both in relation to the origin (citizenship) of the client and regarding the destination of the transaction. Companies also should include the risk factor associated with distribution channels in the risk categorisation of new customers.

A comprehensive risk assessment methodology is considered to be the most effective.

Companies should pay significant attention to risk management and objectively assess measures to mitigate these risks. It is necessary to comprehensively assess how effective the measures applied concerning each identified risk factor are, as well as whether they reduce potential ML/TF risks.

If the applied measures are not enough to achieve the desired result, developing and implementing additional measures is necessary.

The risk assessment should be based on analysing all available quantitative and qualitative information. However, the FAÚ emphasises that in order to prevent ML/TF, risks of different nature should not be mixed: for example, money laundering risks are of a different nature than credit default risks.

System solutions

An ML/TF risk assessment is a mandatory component of the system of internal rules, which is a clear set of instructions. It should set out all the processes, procedures and tools a company needs to fully comply with its AML/CFT obligations under the AML/CFT Act.

In most cases, this document should be in writing.

Developing a system of internal rules and a detailed risk assessment requires highly specialised AML/CFT knowledge and requirements imposed by the supervisory authorities – the Financial Analytical Office and the Czech National Bank. Consequently, the easiest and most logical solution is to commission the preparation of this document to professionals from COREDO, who have many years of experience and understand all the necessary nuances in detail.

The lack of a risk assessment system and a properly designed system of internal rules indicates a company’s non-compliance with the requirements of the AML/CFT Act, which, in turn, can lead to significant fines (up to 130 million CZK), reputational losses and increased attention from fraudsters and terrorists.

For companies subject to Act No. 253/2008 Coll., on selected measures against the legitimisation of the proceeds of crime and financing of terrorism (also known as Anti-Money Laundering Act or AML/CFT Act), it is mandatory to develop and apply in practice a specific system of internal policies, procedures and control measures – hereinafter referred to as “system of internal rules”.

The information in this article applies only to the activities of companies registered and operating in the Czech Republic. At the same time, 90% of the information applies to other EU jurisdictions.

What is a system of internal rules, and what is a risk assessment?

A system of internal rules describes specific processes, procedures and tools related to fulfilling all company obligations to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism under the AML/CFT Act. It is, in essence, a clearly defined instruction for company employees. If properly drafted and sufficiently trained, such guidance should ensure that all of the above obligations are fully implemented.

System of internal rules: features, essence, developmentSuch detailed instructions are compiled into a single document for internal use only. The purpose of the system of internal rules is to ensure that the company’s actions are in full compliance with the AML/CFT Act and to prevent unscrupulous customers from using the company’s services or products for illegal money laundering operations.

Article 21a of the AML/CFT Act establishes that companies must identify and assess the money laundering and terrorist financing risks that may arise during their activities. A risk assessment should be implemented as part of the company’s system of internal rules.

A risk assessment should include a written analysis in which companies should consider all possible risk factors, particularly the type of customers, purpose, regularity and duration of the business relationship or transaction outside of the business relationship, type of product, value and transaction method as well as the risk profile of countries or geographic areas related to the transaction.

It is mandatory to update a system of internal rules regularly, including a risk assessment. All changes must be reported to the Financial Analytical Office (FAÚ) or the Czech National Bank (ČNB). In addition, all employees whose work is affected by these documents must undergo appropriate training at least once a year.

Developing a system of internal rules: procedures

The development of the system of internal rules must be approached with utmost responsibility. In general, the procedure for this should be as follows:
System of internal rules: features, essence, development

  • determine whether the development of a system of internal rules is mandatory for a company, depending on its type of activity;
  • conduct risk assessment;
  • develop specific procedures and tools necessary to combat money laundering and terrorist financing;
  • transfer the developed document to the Financial Analytical Office or the Czech National Bank (if required by law);
  • update a system of internal policy promptly and regularly and report these changes to the aforementioned competent authorities.

Following the AML/CFT Act, a system of internal rules must be developed by the persons and companies listed in Article 2 of the AML/CFT Act. These include credit and financial institutions, gambling operators, companies authorised to act as real estate traders or brokers, legal entity service providers, those who work with virtual assets, accounting and tax advisory service providers, used goods dealers, etc.

It is worth noting that some individuals and companies are not required to have a written system of internal rules and submit it to the relevant authorities but must develop and apply all procedures to comply with their AML/CFT obligations fully. However, as practice shows, even in this case, it is more convenient to have detailed instructions for employees.

The optimal system of internal rules: content

A properly drawn up system of internal rules must, first of all, comply with Article 21 of the AML/CFT Act and the guidelines of the Financial Analytical Office and contain:

  • a list of tools that will allow the company to confirm compliance with AML/CFT obligations in the event of an audit;
  • procedures in line with standards (lists of recognized standards can be found in publications from FATF, ČNB and FAÚ);
  • clear instructions for assigned responsibilities, written in accessible language.

It is also important for the instructions to be flexible enough to consider possible changes in the company’s structure, staff turnover, etc. At the same time, they should not unduly burden either the operating staff or the customers.

Why should a specialist be assigned to develop a system of internal rules?

The development of the system of internal rules requires rather specific knowledge: this includes detailed knowledge of anti-money laundering procedures, an understanding of the international FATF standards in the field of anti-money laundering, and knowledge of the requirements put forward by the ČNB and FAÚ supervisory authorities. Therefore, it will not be easy for an ordinary company employee to cope with such a task. It is much easier to turn to experienced specialists who are professionally involved in developing the system of internal rules for various companies and can guarantee a high result.

What can the absence of the system of internal rules lead to?

If a company, which is legally required to have a system of internal rules, does not comply with AML/CFT regulations, this can lead to:

  • the imposition of a fine of 1 million CZK;
  • reputational losses for business;
  • complaints about the company from competitors.

Moreover, such a company risks attracting the attention of the competent authorities and may be suspected of aiding money laundering and terrorist financing or become attractive to fraudsters and terrorists.

Possible penalties for non-compliance with AML/CFT obligations

  • Fine up to 10 million CZK for failure to identify and verify the customers.
  • Fine up to 10 million CZK for entering into a transaction with an unidentified customer.
  • Fine up to 5 million CZK for failure to provide employees training.
  • Fine up to 5 million CZK for failure to report customers’ suspicious activity.
  • Fine of up to 1 million CZK for failure to prepare the system of internal rules and conduct risk assessment.

Compound Labs, decentralised finance (DeFi) developer, officially introduced Compound III.

For background, Compound was initially developed so that the developers could unlock an environment of open financial applications through algorithms. It is also noteworthy that Compound is an autonomous interest rate protocol.

On the other hand, Compound III is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Technically, it allows cryptocurrency asset supply to become a form of collateral for their clients to take a loan of the base asset. Compound III is also a smooth-running and timesaving edition of the protocol, focusing on a more secure, effective, and efficient end-user experience.

You may check their official website at https://compound.finance/ for more information.

Since this lending platform, Compound III, is targeting to have a more secured and scaled protocol in supporting tokens, they recently launched new governance changes. As publicised by Compound III’s founder in a blog post, the company’s move was to release a short supply of cryptocurrency being used to collateralise the protocol in the lending platform.

Compound III aims for Security and ScalabilityNow, there is the latest iteration from Compound – it was made known as Comet. In Comet, end-users are allowed to take a loan of a United States Dollar Coin, or what is called USDC. It is an individual asset that earns interest through the use of wrapped Bitcoin, or wBTC, together with native cryptocurrency tokens like Chainlink (LINK), Uniswap (UNI) and Compound (COMP), still in the form of collateral.

Further, Compound III is employing Chainlink as its company’s data feed. In the case of Chainlink and Compound III, it is called Price Feed.

Chainlink’s Price Feed for decentralised finance (DeFi) is structured in advance. It aims to give DeFi applications financial exchange data in real-time, including trading rates for cryptocurrency tokens, coins, stock market, fiat currencies, and other financial data.

Chainlink is also responsible for simplifying Compound III’s smart contracts in governance. The objective here is to improve the company’s blockchain security and scalability. This limited edition release of Smart Contract Protocol has a set limit of one hundred million United States dollars (USD 100 million) in total worth of assets or approximately two percent (2 %) of the 3.8 billion United States dollars (USD 3.8 B) worth of Compound II assets.

According to Robert Leshner, the founder of Compound, their newest version, Compound III, enables end-users to take out a loan to hit up for additional cryptocurrency tokens with safer liquidation consequences such as penalties.

In a recent interview, R. Leshner expressed that the structure of version two of Compound has many risks, to the point wherein in just a single lousy asset, the whole protocol can, in theory, be drained. In contrast, the newly developed Compound III is risk-free from plummeting because of this single lousy asset.

Compound’s earlier program was iterated with risk pooling. This allowed the company to support nine cryptocurrency coins such as ether (ETH), dai (DAI), and tether (USDT). 

In the previous version, clients would have to deposit their assets in the crypto lending pool, where the goal was to receive profits. The clients’ deposits will be exchanged with cTokens, representing the worth of the deposits they made. Through these cTokens, the lending company can take out a loan with a particular percentage of the cryptocurrency collateral’s current value.

Compound III’s Blockchain Protocol Forking

Aside from diminishing Compound’s total amount of cryptocurrency tokens they support, they are also bulldozing forks without authority.

Forking means diverging or separating a blockchain into two different trajectories moving forward. If the mentioned platform is into protocol forking, they aim to clone the codes to build a new program design. Forking is usually modifying a blockchain’s initial coding structure. However, other forks from the same company, Compound, seemed to be structured with low efforts; thus, nothing much has improved besides the branding.

Compound III aims for Security and ScalabilityIn the latest coding, the fork is required to have the acknowledgement from communities. The intent of improving this new fork protocol is to ensure that the developed codes are not prone to exploitation.

Compound has developed to be a top-considered forked blockchain protocol in the past years. However, the uncomplicated process of having non-specialist program developers Clonie’s previous editions of protocols resulted in several headaches.

In particular, an exploitation case under Compound’s previous codes brought about an approximate loss of one hundred million United States dollars (USD 100 Million). This unfortunate situation is just one of the recorded exploitations of the decentralised finance environment, wherein codes were the cause of multimillions worth of companies’ losses.

What is more, it is becoming a common scenario in the industry.

As reported by Chain analysis in their recent study, around ninety-seven per cent (97 %) of the total cryptocurrencies embezzled during the first quarter of 2022 (that is, January to March) were affected by fraud from decentralised finance protocols. The scenario was the same in 2021, with approximately seventy-two percent (72 %) of stolen cryptocurrency assets.

Improved governance

Adding up to the secured blockchain Compound III is targeting, they also have the ambition to improve their governance system. That is through what they call “Configurator”, which is a streamlined contract. It is an alternative to the current agreements typically used in the industry that is being commanded individually.

In continuation with R. Leshner’s interview earlier, he emphasised that the basis of the codes is less complicated, and all datasets are managed in just one smart contract for every operation.

Today, end-users will have more control of their assets in the decentralised finance system through this improved governance, and Chainlink’s price feeds.

Over the past years, the fintech and insurance industries have seen drastic changes, mostly beneficial improvements, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and the still ongoing digital transformation globally. However, small and medium-sized enterprises, also called SMEs, have generally suffered greatly. Many of them resorted to taking loans to thrive because they were unable to meet the expensive demands that lockdowns and forced closures imposed on them.

As global inflation rises, SMEs are once again struggling against a rising tide. Banking firms and financial institutions can provide a helping hand in the form of new products and services that can alleviate the difficulties of running a small business during difficult times. But what precisely do they offer?

BIG CORPORATIONS VERSUS SMEs

According to Rob Straathof, Chief Executive Officer of Liberis (a leading global embedded finance platform company), a key distinction between small and medium-sized business banking and big enterprise banking is that SMEs owners frequently act on instinct rather than having a board of directors or multiple CFOs manage the majority of the financial aspects of running a business.

Impact of fintech in small and medium-sized enterprisesStraathof mentioned that SMEs typically require advice around managing assets and capital, getting their bills paid timely, and making sure they have adequate liquidity to pay personnel and suppliers versus their incoming revenue.

He pointed out that there are many options open for SME owners if they need help such as loans, but the issue is that usually, they don’t fully comprehend what the appropriate goods are or whether they will be readily available once they do.

Roger Vincent, currently a managing director in Trade Ledger, a Corporate Lending Platform in Ireland and U.K., indicated that small enterprises often times offer specialized services from their banks given that they have more commonalities with their consumers than huge corporations.

Vincent mentioned that small business owners generally demand the same kind of digital capabilities that they enjoy in their personal lives, and typically, they may even manage their corporate money alongside their personal accounts. On the other side, huge Fintech companies frequently have a greater understanding of this matter than traditional banks, and more crucially, they are agile and technologically advanced. This implies that they can develop fresh goods and services that meet the demands of small enterprises extremely quickly.

FINTECH SERVICES FOR SMEs

Given the distinct demands and requirements when it comes to supporting services, Banks that sell products to large-scale enterprises may not always be a good fit for small businesses. Straathof argued that because fintechs provide cutting-edge tools like cash flow forecasting – which are offered by Tide, Xero, and Nuula, among others – they are typically more suited to assist small firms.

He suggested that through third-party Open Banking providers like Plaid and TrueLayer, Fintech companies may fill the gap to connect lenders to small business owners’ existing systems, data mechanisms, and bank accounts.

Fintechs can offer estimates of cash flow requirements so SME owners can determine whether they have enough money on hand, identify any overdue invoices, and, if necessary, get assistance with collections.

Straatof noted Kolleno as another illustration of a top-notch fintech that supports credit control solutions for small firms.

FINDING APPROPRIATE BANKING SUPPORT FOR SMEs

In most cases, small and medium-sized business owners benchmark and compare banking services and select the fintech that best meets their requirements.

According to Straathof, a firm must ask itself a full range of questions in addition to ensuring that the standard functionality was met. These includes:

  1. Is the bank an Open Banking partner?
  2. Does it work well with their accounting systems?
  3. Does it use computerized cash flow forecasting?
  4. Do they have sufficient SME credit options and services?

Straathof mentioned that many banking enterprises available in the competition do not currently offer SME lending products. He also added that even though most established banking companies do have relevant loan products available, most of them rarely approve SMEs.

Finding the ideal banking partner is not simple. And as mentioned by Straathof, the big question marks that should be asked are the aforementioned items for Open Banking, cash flow forecasting, accounting integration, and finance services.

Although it may be challenging to provide an immediate response to these queries, these should still be asked and answered, nonetheless.

Straathof also indicated that by harnessing and leveraging the data that SMEs have, Fintech organizations like Liberis should be able to work with many different ecosystems to offer the appropriate finance, to the right SME owners, at the right time.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR SMEs AND FINTECH

According to Vincent, if we are going to look at the current trends and directions that retail banking is coursing, we should expect good progress and bright tomorrow for small and medium-sized banking enterprises. He added that digital services that we use on a daily basis are gradually entering the SME space since financial service companies are making significant investments to enhance their offerings to small businesses.

On top of these, a modernized and digital bank with the functionality of a “Super App” that offers products and services such as forecasting, reporting, accounting, payment transactions, invoicing, crypto and stock monitoring, etc., along with lending options available to businesses at the right time – all in one dashboard – is what Straathof calls a “mega-trend” for the next two years.

CURRENT TRENDS IN SMEs

Below outlines the latest trends in small business banking:

  • TIMELINESS – Neobanks offer instant bank account creation, and conventional banks like JP Morgan, Investec, and Marcus are following suit. For companies in need of finance, Liberis may connect to their bank accounts and platforms to grant them access to immediate financing that can be collected in a matter of minutes.
  • DIGITAL PRODUCTS CONSOLIDATION – An overview of things like transactions, liquidity, unpaid invoices, tax return submissions, and financing qualifications is provided via one dashboard that interfaces with accounting software.
  • SUPER APPS – PayPal and Revolut are developing Omni-services within the constraints of their current eco-systems. For instance, users can use Revolut to make purchases, buy pet and travel insurance, and use Open Banking to link to their other bank accounts and view credit card transactions.
  • DIGITAL CAPITAL – To sustain their erratic working capital cycle, small businesses have relied on bank overdrafts or consumer credit cards for such a long time. As a result of the technological development and digital transformation in the lending space, banks, experts, and fintech companies are now developing new seemless finance products that use real-time data processing to determine a borrower’s eligibility for other lending products, including loans, invoice financing, and asset financing.
  • OPEN FINANCE – This makes it possible to collect user information from several financial platforms in a single location. Customers can get a real-time snapshot of their cash position, capture any potential threats to their organization, or spot capital deficiencies before they become serious by having all banking activities, sales transactions, and credit data on one platform.
  • EMBEDDED FINANCE – The capability of financial institutions to integrate their offers into channels run by other third parties. This could imply that a small firm can access a variety of market options through its banking platform.

Digitization has immensely evolved through the years. It has greatly influenced our ways of living and revolutionized how we interact with one another. In our daily lives, digital technologies enabled us to seamlessly communicate and connect even from across the globe.

In the financial landscape, business was considerably changed as we know it. Digital transformation and innovations made business partnerships and transactions easier and have aided the rise of mergers and acquisitions.

Mergers and Acquisitions, often referred to as M&As, is a term generally used to describe the consolidation of businesses or assets through different kinds of financial transactions. These include mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, tender offers, procurement of assets, and management acquisitions.

THE FUTURE OF MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN FINTECHThe recent trend of M&As could be traced to multiple factors, however, technological advancement is undeniably one of the leading reasons. Given the huge global advancement of digital innovations in a short span of time, the cost of system transformation from legacy tools to digitally driven mechanisms have consequently led to more business collaborations and partnerships, with massive businesses cooperating with smaller companies to improve and modernize their technologies.

This business gameplan is often considered as a more efficient and affordable scheme given the less cost compared to building and transitioning to new technologies.

Thanks to the massive growth of fintech itself and the increase in capital funding within the industry, small and medium-sized entities are now able to purchase creative firms that are upending the industry with their disruptive ideas.

According to Marc Kitten, partner at a business management consulting firm called Candesic and the current director of the Imperial College Business School’s Mergers & Acquisitions Executive Education program, the current trend of mergers and acquisitions is just a logical phenomenon in the development of the fintech industry.

These changes in the traditional financial structures were likened by Kitten to what has previously happened with biontech and with the internet. The combination of various digital technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and SaaS migration, sophisticated sensors, and many others have been disrupting conventional financial systems. This is given the fact that investing in innovative people and products rather than trying to build them internally is way more efficient, easier, faster, safer, and cheaper for financial institutions.

Kitten also pointed out that in a highly competitive and rapidly changing industry, digitalization is typically a chance for business owners and investors to cash out. Aside from this, it also helps other industry players by providing access to the consumer base and established competitors’ systems, especially in light of rising regulatory and compliance expenses.

Another factor for why businesses would rather combine than spend money on new technologies is market volatility. Financial institutions become more resilient as a result of the growth they get, especially during times of uncertainty.

According to Vivi Friedgut, CEO of Blackbullion, a digital financial wellbeing platform, the industry should expect that it’s going to be difficult to raise money for the foreseeable future, at least for the next 12 months, given the current push and pull fluctuations in the market. Because of this, Friedgut pointed out that this is a favourable time for businesses to merge and acquire one another.

Friedgut also noted that although fintechs have been preparing for a strategic exit, current circumstances also make it a great time to sell. He indicated that after a few years that Blackbullion have spent establishing its business, they are seeing that now is the perfect time to pick up speed. He sampled that in actuality, Blackbullion could possibly have constructed the product they decided to acquire, but tactically, buying it is more effective given they needed it to move quickly.

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

Being acquired by a larger firm can help smaller brands debut their products in a larger market and soften the shock of a volatile market, but there are some cons as well. For one, M&As may result in a lack of independence for business founders, as pointed out by Michael Buckworth, founder of Buckworths, a UK-based law company that specializes in assisting fintechs and other digital enterprises on a variety of legal and commercial concerns. As a result, these founders may find that the controls placed on them suddenly go much beyond those set by their previous VC investors and affect their budget, strategy, and staffing decisions.

THE FUTURE OF MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN FINTECHBuckworth pointed out that selling and being procured by others entails giving up ownership and being owned by the buyer and, in the case of the original owner, basically turning into an employee of the acquirer. This can be a difficult transition for business owners accustomed to having a lot of operating freedom.

According to him, freshly acquired businesses may also experience focus issues because larger organizations frequently make many acquisitions, which dilutes their attention to each team.

He also pointed out that founders may discover that they must fight to keep the interest of the buyer’s management once the initial focus on implementing the purchased business has passed. This may cause disillusionment and difficulties with corporate expansion.

However, the benefits of M&A are alluring, particularly because they free entrepreneurs from the daily stress of managing the entire organization. For instance, there are more opportunities to concentrate on the company. According to Buckworth, many business owners completely consume their time and attention by constantly raising money.

He mentioned that most often, business owners are divided into multiple departments, such as HR and legal compliance, which frequently come to an end with acquisition. Ideally, teams and processes have been put in place to deal with regulatory, legal, and HR issues. Founders are then free to concentrate on the company’s core operations and specialities.

Marc Kitten also agreed, further expounding that it is highly relative to how well the buyer integrates their smaller acquisition, adding up that many acquirers unintentionally lose value by failing to establish a common corporate culture, which makes the entrepreneurs too dissatisfied to stay. He indicated that the buyer’s strategic priorities frequently shift. Sometimes the procurement served solely to eliminate a technology that was being cannibalized. He added up that some financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs have taken lessons from the past and now operate their own mechanisms, enabling them to see emerging technologies and forge early collaborations.

WILL M&AsCONTINUE TO RISE AS THE INDUSTRY EXPANDS?

The digital transformation has led to an increase in both M&As and strategic alliances and collaborations. Small and medium-sized entities no longer have to be absorbed by larger organizations; instead, they can frequently simply join forces and make use of each other’s markets, products, and services.

According to Marktlink managing partner Jonathon Parkinson, the increase in financial options is one of the major advantages of joining forces with a bigger business. He affirmed that utilizing cross-selling opportunities is a potent strategy for realizing revenue synergies and fending off competition because it allows businesses to expand their market share of current clients and get access to new markets.

Parkinson also noted that while business consolidations and procurement can both accomplish comparable things, partnerships frequently rely on ongoing cooperation and carefully cultivated connections, which makes it difficult to offer the security that supports M&A. However, he explained that the financial risk that M&A investors face inspires a stronger commitment and a long-term drive to succeed.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR M&As

THE FUTURE OF MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS IN FINTECHIn the rapidly expanding space of the fintech sector, five years is a very long time. From one month to the next, fresh modifications seem to completely modify the area. According to some industry experts, the global financial market will likely look drastically different in five years, with fintech dominating the financial services industry and purchasing numerous companies.

Buckworth mentioned that as Fintech gets steps closer to that, the community should expect companies like Revolut and others to absorb all the latest technological advancements and grow into enormous international corporations.

Another development that should be expected is the ownership of traditional banks by fintech companies, with the majority of branches closing.

Buckworth pointed out that, unlike fintech companies, traditional banks face greater costs because of their conventional business locations, in addition to high staffing costs. He mentioned that we should look forward to fintech procuring existing banks, or at least portions of these, as a strategy for gaining consumers.

Lastly, Buckworth indicated that regulators and authorities will be crucial in fostering technological innovation and promoting healthy competition. He mentioned that Open Banking and the Revised Payment Services Directive have previously helped accelerate the adoption of fintech in the UK by enabling interoperations and outside access to data. He added that such actions will aid small and medium-sized enterprises to engage outright competitions with well-established institutions and will guarantee continuous upward trend for M&As.

The purpose of any business is to increase profits and minimise risks. In the context of business security, the concept of due diligence is fundamental. Unfortunately, it is still little understood by many entrepreneurs. In this article, we’ll try to understand what it means and what you cannot do without it.

What is due diligence: etymology and clarification of the concept

In the business environment, the idea of due diligence involves the procedure of independent verification of a particular company, creating an objective and complete view of it and obtaining comprehensive knowledge about the activities, financial condition and status of the business.

The due diligence procedure, as a rule, precedes the purchase of a company, the implementation of a merger transaction, the signing of an investment agreement, etc. Such an in-depth audit is necessary to minimise the risk of unsuccessful transactions; it is worth resorting to before any serious transaction.

The term due diligence has been used in world financial practice for almost a hundred years — it first appeared in US legislative documents in 1933. Then it was explained as “disclosure by a broker to an investor of information about a company whose shares are traded on the stock exchange.”

In its modern form, due diligence standards were developed in Switzerland in 1977. Representatives of several banks worked on them and documented a unified approach to collecting information about their customers in an agreement called “The Swiss Banks Due Diligence Agreement”. Over time, the developed principles spread to the consulting business, where they began to be used for a comprehensive analysis of the activities of companies by lawyers, auditors and financial analysts.

The concept of due diligence began to penetrate the business realities of the post-Soviet countries only in the early 2000s, and in recent years this procedure has been used more often. It is especially in demand when attracting foreign capital, the company’s entry into international markets, and during the initial public offering of shares. In the post-Soviet space, no legislative framework regulates due diligence. In most cases, this procedure is carried out by the individual requirements of the customer, guided by foreign standards.

The purpose of due diligence can be called the reduction of entrepreneurial risks, including the risk of buying shares at an inflated value, losing money or property, reputational losses, etc.

Who needs due diligence and why?

All market participants may be interested in conducting due diligence. The desire of investors to receive comprehensive information about the acquisition object, its fair value, possible risks and objective potential is quite natural.

The circle of people interested in conducting due diligence also includes the owners and shareholders of the company and its top managers who want to get an objective assessment of the success of the chosen strategy or are preparing for an important deal.

Due Diligence: details about the procedure and its featuresBanks also often resort to due diligence before concluding a significant loan agreement or deciding to restructure a company’s debts. In most cases, due diligence is used to assess a particular asset’s prospects objectively.

The results of due diligence can also be helpful in the case of:

  • preparation for the issue of securities;
  • change of top management;
  • obtaining loans or sponsorship injections;
  • detection of violations during a tax or other audit;
  • decrease in the efficiency of the enterprise, deterioration of competitive positions;
  • occurrence of internal conflicts.

Due diligence procedure: types and stages

There are no clear, generally accepted rules on how due diligence should be carried out and what activities the procedure should consist of. This may depend on the company’s scope, customer requirements, acceptable research sources and other conditions.

At the same time, most experts distinguish such types of due diligence as:

  • Tax. It involves a comprehensive audit of financial and tax reporting for the last three years, identification of obvious, hidden and potential tax risks, analysis of compliance of documentation with legal requirements, etc. Tax due diligence plays a crucial role in assessing the condition and attractiveness of a potential transaction object.
  • Marketing. It involves a detailed check of the business and/or products in terms of compliance with market conditions, an assessment of the adequacy of pricing, product and communication policies, and an analysis of the company’s business reputation. When conducting marketing due diligence, the competitive environment is also often assessed, the competitive advantages of the company/product are identified, and development prospects are analysed.
  • Ecological. This means checking the likelihood of a negative impact on the environment as a result of certain activities of the company, calculating the harm to the environment from a future project and identifying facts of non-compliance with accepted environmental standards and obligations.
  • Juridical (legal). Includes legal, due diligence of all company documentation and analysis of legal aspects of work (for example, registration of intellectual property rights, lawsuits, etc.). As part of legal, due diligence, contracts with counterparties, loan agreements, encumbrances on real estate, trademark documents and much more are checked.
  • Economic (financial). It involves determining the company’s key financial indicators, its assets and liabilities, income and expenses; business prospects are analysed, and its financial stability is calculated. The quality of work of the accounting and financial services and the compliance of documentation with the regulator’s requirements are also assessed.
  • Technical. It is used when concluding transactions with real estate objects, investing in construction, production facilities, etc. This refers to verifying technical documentation and estimates, physical inspection of facilities, engineering and technical consultations, etc.

In Western practice, complex due diligence is often used, which involves a comprehensive check of the company according to various parameters.

The due diligence procedure’s duration depends on the business’s complexity and can range from several weeks to one year.

Due diligence is usually carried out by a team of experts, which includes financial analysts, auditors, and lawyers. If necessary, other specialists, such as engineers, environmentalists, experts in safety, corporate ethics, etc., can be involved in the work. The audit can be performed by the investor’s employees (of course, with the proper qualification) and by representatives of an independent consulting company. Both options have their pluses and minuses.

The result of the due diligence procedure is an objective, comprehensive assessment of a particular company, summarised in the report. In some cases, each expert gives the customer his opinion upon verification, but a general summary report is often prepared with the essential information.

Sources of information for due diligence

Due Diligence: details about the procedure and its featuresIn the process of due diligence, experts can consider any information. The study usually includes:

  • legal corporate documents;
  • financial statements for a certain period (usually for three years);
  • all kinds of reports (results of examinations, technical reports, conclusions of various specialists, etc.);
  • tangible (real estate, assets, etc.) and intangible (patents, trademarks, etc.) assets of the company;
  • contracts;
  • any information from open sources (published reports, product research, etc.);
  • insider information (data received from company employees) and much more.

Successful work requires the ability to operate with large amounts of information and draw the correct conclusions based on them. As one of the axioms of the Harvard Business School says: “Business is the ability to make effective and efficient decisions in the face of uncertainty.” The due diligence procedure will help reduce this uncertainty, reveal information that unfair entrepreneurs could try to hide, and minimise potential transaction risks. Therefore, we can confidently say that its implementation is not a whim, not an excessive precaution, but a beneficial and even necessary practice.

Since financial technology is now expanding globally, a great number of start-up and established businesses are proving that they could flow along with the innovating industry.

It started with intellectual e-commerce products and services that turned traditional financial markets into digital systems such as cryptocurrency wallets and foreign payment solutions. From there, it was revolutionized into platforms that could be operated digitally where one can pay from just a click on their gadgets.

It was really a big leap of innovation from how it was several decades ago, and it did not only allow the payment industry to grow, but also enabled e-businesses and online shopping to step on the spotlight. Further, technological advancement also opened new doors for start-up companies, small businesses, and customers.

Our team has listed the top ten financial technology payment applications to keep an eye on this 2022 as they venture into the innovative markets.

  1. BoltWith a marketing line of “One-click checkout for everyone”, Bolt claims that their service provides fast, secure, and simple payment solutions. Their objective is to democratize the market and is now estimated to be 8.4 billion worth of U.S. dollars. With their one-click payment system, they aim to offer businesses a technological feature mirroring how Amazon was since the year 1997. Aside from this, the fintech company is also ensuring that payments are real and are accepted by incorporating the utilization of payments and fraud solutions. Since they are the very first checkout platform in the world, Bolt is sticking to their fast checkout customer experience and is connecting millions of consumers to business owners globally through single, cross-band network system.
  1. Billd – This is a payment solution that gives contractors access to funds with terms that mirror their repayment cycle. Their headquarters is located in Texas, United States of America and is known to be a financial company that focuses on construction sectors. Billd is partnering up with both regional and national vendors around United States to provide short-term financial solutions to contractors through projects. Since the service is just short-term, they allow contractors to have one hundred twenty days (120) as payment term for commercial construction materials and enables the contractors to have the flexibility for the payment. The financial technology company’s co-founders, Chris Doyle and Jesse Weissburg, acknowledged the challenges of contractors when it comes to lack of capital for their business. Through Billd, this pain the contractors are experiencing while purchasing materials can be removed and can be utilized to expand their businesses.

Top 10 Financial Technology Payment Platforms in 2022

  1. Affirm – Pay at your own pace: No hidden fees, not even late fees – this is the Affirm signature line. It was launched a decade ago, and has a headquarters in San Francisco, California. This United States – based financial technology firm is publicly traded, meaning, it is a corporation whose shareholders have a claim to part of the company’s assets and profits. Affirm is focusing on financial lending which allows their customers to pay in installments. Even though the committee is out on the assessment of the fintech company’s current worth, there are still estimates that their value is ranging from USD 1 billion to USD 10 billion. This placed Affirm in a remarkable spot, and is even leading with regard to the virtual payment market. Further, they are enabling their clients to acquire microloans at the point-of-sale (POS) with the suppliers or vendors they are in partnered with. The company’s objective on this is to offer lending services that could be alternative to credit cards because of its transparency and speedy transactions.
  1. SpotOnWhether one needs a simple and user-friendly mobile payment technology, or a fully integrated restaurant management system, this company will work with you. SpotOn offers customization of tools based on your business needs and is known to be the “partner who listens”. They launched five years ago, and is currently worth USD 3.5 billion. They are proud that they are offering the main objective and without bias digital review web sites. SpotOn is available for free on iPhone and Android gadgets, where clients are allowed to check in at any events and earn rewards called “spots”. These “spots” can then be converted to prizes in addition to their current incentives.
  1. Checkout.com – Payments for the digital economy: Checkout.com aims to grow your business with the help of their flexible payment platform and local expertise. They are now valued at US 40 billion dollars, being considered as one of the leading payment platforms in the world. Checkout.com is standing its ground as a vendor who provides services for international electronic commerce partners. They are also considered as a business with fair-pricing products when set side by side with its competitors. The developers of this platform also integrated electronic-based payment system, as well as analytics, and close monitoring of fraud in just a single and smooth solution. Checkout.com is based in London, United Kingdom and is processing payments for large companies, which includes Pizza Hut, Hennes & Mauritz AB or H&M Group, and Farfetch, and financial technology companies like Coinbase, Klarna, and Revolut.
  1. AeroPay – An expert in moving money through modern bank-to-bank transfers, AeroPay is a payment platform created to offer businesses with cheaper and faster payment settlements, and strengthened security features. It also utilizes settlement process that are patented to allow “smart bank transfers” connecting businesses and their respective clients (C2B) or other businesses (B2B).
  1. Braintree“Boost Revenue with a Global Payments Partner”: This is Braintree’s tagline with their objective to reach more buyers and drive higher conversion with the only payments platform that delivers PayPal, Venmo (in the United States), credit and debit cards, and popular digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay in a single, and seamless integration. To simply put it, they are a payments platform that accepts payment settlements through an application or their website. Braintree intends to be an alternative to the conventional system of having payments and merchants go through several vendors.

This platform is frequently seen to be in comparison with PayPal, however, the difference is that their objective is to have higher e-commerce businesses in volume wherein the demanded service is customized payment system. Contrasting to what others say when compared to PayPal, the latter firm was created as a simple and user-friendly application for merchants to use in e-commerce.

  1. CloverThis all-in-one point-of-sale (POS) platform was launched a decade ago with the objective to help businesses thrive by having a smarter, faster, and easier cloud-based system. They focus on four points:
    • 3.1. Easier payments – Clover accepts any type of payments in a snap—from in-person swipe, chip, and tap, to online payments.
    • 3.2. Tighter tracking – Whether one sells small products or memberships, all purchases are more secure and trackable.
    • 3.3 Happier customers – Clover claims that they provide the best possible customer experience while building loyalty at the customers’ place of business and online.
    • 3.4. More flexibility – Entrepreneurs can manage their business and make a sale from anywhere with Cloud’ dashboard, mobile app, and virtual terminal.

    With these points, this third platform is focused on providing small entrepreneurs the opportunity to introduce themselves as official vendors by just downloading Clover’s application and then open an account through their mobile phones.

    Clover’s headquarters is in Sunnyvale, California and the founders are Kelvin Zheng, Leonard Speiser, Mark Schulze and John Beatty, wherein Beatty is the current Chief Executive Officer of the financial technology company. On the other hand, the company’s owner is Fiserv, a top firm in the same industry, and has a forecasted market value of US 188 billion dollars in 3 years if they managed to continue their current growth rate.

Top 10 Financial Technology Payment Platforms in 2022

  1. PayPalOne of the most recognized and well-established financial technology platform in the world, PayPal’s original founders are Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek and Max Levchin. It was in December of 1998, originally “Confinity”, an institution that was built to develop security software for gadgets. However, that security software business plan failed to be launched; hence, the founders resorted to virtual wallets.Two years after its establishment, in March of 2000, the company still struggled to thrive within the market. Confinity, then, had a merge with another payment platform hoping to be known – X.com which was headed by Elon Musk. It was Musk who became the Chief Executive Officer of the new company – PayPal. Afterwards, there were conflicts on the management side of the company because of leadership issues and that resulted for Thiel to resign from the new fintech company but returned as its chairman.Elon Musk carried on as the CEO of PayPal up until October, 2002, then it was bought in stock by eBay at US 1.5 billion dollars. Currently, PayPal’s value is at 130 billion US dollars and has the four marketing strategies below:
    • 2.1. Shop for the best worldwide – PayPal is in partnership with approximately ten million online stores across more than 200 markets. Consumers can buy quality goods from international stores right from their homes. Once one spots a great deal, they can just click the PayPal button and buy with confidence.
    • 2.2. Consumers purchases are protected – With their 24/7 transaction monitoring, anti-fraud technologies and Buyer Protection, consumers can shop with peace of mind.
    • 2.3. Return shipping is on PayPal – When consumers change their mind about their purchases, they can simply ship the item back to the seller and get a refund of up to USD 20 on the return shipping cost through their Refunded Returns service.
    • 2.4. Pay with preferred card – PayPal works with major banks in Philippines and overseas, hence; consumers can pay with their preferred credit or debit card and continue earning reward points.
  1. StripeMarketed as the “Payments infrastructure for the internet”, Stripe claims that millions of companies of all sizes — from startups to Fortune 500s — use their software and APIs to accept payments, send payouts, and manage their businesses online.It is an Irish-American financial and software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that was launched by Patrick and John Collison, brothers, twelve years ago (2010). Stripe has revolutionized the electronic commerce payment environment through virtual retailers with payment system that is cheaper, smoother, and more efficient.

Patrick, one of the brothers, was only a teenager then, 16, when he received the Young Scientist of the Year in 2005. It was in when he was 21 when Stripe had its launching in Patrick’s bedroom at their home. Now, the company has two headquarters in San Francisco, California, United States and is valued at US 95 billion dollars. Even though it is still awaiting to be confirmed, Stripe is now recognized in the world to have its IPO set this 2022.

The megabank previously launched its own digital challenger bank in the United Kingdom and is now making good progress, quieting down investor concerns, and showing potential global success as the bank eyes international expansion.

Last September 2021, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the America’s biggest bank, piloted a digital lender bank in the United Kingdom under the name “Chase”.

Based in Canary Wharf in London, thousands of miles away from its parent company, Chase has now been making great results in less than a year. It was able to amass more than half a million customers, raised more than 10 billion USD in deposits, and processed approximately 20 million card and payment transactions since its launch.

The objective was not only to enter the U.K. consumer banking market but also to set up a digital banking model that could potentially be scaled globally as JPMorgan eyes expansion to other countries.

Could JPMorgan Chase’s Digital Bank Be a Global SuccessAccording to Sanoke Viswanathan, Chief Executive Officer of the International Consumer initiative of JPMorgan Chase, and member of the firm’s Operating Committee, the launch of Chase U.K. has been a long process. They have been watching multiple international banking markets, hunting for country that is ready for digital-only banking channels, and obviously, U.K. is on-top in this respect.

It is undeniable that Chase U.K. is off to a great start. However, such success has not come easy and cheap. Many banking experts, and even investors have shown scrutiny over the decision to pilot a digital consumer bank in a new market, previously made by Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase.

This is given the recent failures of the firm with Finn, JPMorgan’s rolled out digital bank in the U.S., which lasted for only a year, resulting to millions of losses.

On top on this, the Washington Post indicated that the United Kingdom does not need a new digital bank in its market given the presence of multiple startups fighting its way against traditional firms.

So, what’s the rationale behind the experiment to establish this digital bank? How can Chase change the U.K.’s banking market? Should we expect this to be a global success?

THE FORAY INTO THE U.K. DESPITE INVESTORS’ PUSHBACK

Breaking into international banking markets is not a walk in the park, not even for a megabank such as JPMorgan Chase. Typically, new markets already have deep-rooted firms, and stepping-in requires significant effort and material investments.

JPMorgan initiated its own digital challenger in the U.K., with Fintech being in the limelight and consumer-to-business banking being less favorable. More so, JPMorgan believed an online-only bank would be much cheaper and more flexible for further experimentation.

During the initial phase of the Chase U.K. establishment, JPMorgan observed that securing low overhead is essential in making digital bank in the U.K.

Sanoke Viswanathan specified that the structure of the U.K.’s banking market is such that one should build “economies of scale” — profit is there to amass but high-cost infrastructures will make it hard to work.

Additionally, generating scale needs huge number of investments particularly in technology. This has been one of the major reasons why the Chase U.K. initiative faced serious scrutiny from investors and industry analysts, when CEO Dimon announced that the spending needed for technology-related projects would be heavy.

Could JPMorgan Chase’s Digital Bank Be a Global SuccessIt was previously reported that during that time, JPMorgan’s stakeholders showed major concerns with the firm’s plans to increase the budget for new technological initiatives by around $15 billion.

According to Mike Mayo, managing director and head of U.S. large-cap bank research at Wells Fargo Securities, multiple investors agreed with their presumptions that JPMorgan should better provide transparency on why and where this significant amount will be spent to ensure support from the industry.

Chase U.K. had to take a rocky road in gaining community trust, as it took some time to convince market experts and relieve concerns about digital bank failures, specifically one of JPMorgan’s previous experiments.

Given the previous failure of JPMorgan with Finn, their first U.S. digital bank project, shareholders and industry analysts have been critical and skeptical.

Multiple banks have tried to challenge the digital banking market in the U.S., but most faltered, which analysts attributed to insufficient demand. As estimated by Cornerstone Advisors, JPMorgan’s Finn only had around 47,000 customers during its market presence, which only lasted for about a year.

CHASE’S REASON FOR INVESTMENTS

After JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon announced the firms budget announcement, the industry had been silent and tense for several months, until Viswanathan made another announcement, revealing detailed plans regarding the technological investments for Chase U.K..

It was reported that given the launch of the firm’s digital bank under Chase U.K., JPMorgan expects to lose around 1 billion USD in the following years, and that the boards hopes that the project will breakeven come 2027 or 2028.

The Motley Fool, a private financial and investing advice company, pointed out that around 70% of the allotted cost are expected to be fixed in nature. Additionally, the digital platform would be able to cater multiple products and service millions of consumers with lower marginal cost.

Viswanathan also indicated that once JPMorgan has established the presence of Chase U.K. in the industry, the same amount of investments would not be needed for further expansion to other international market.

In spite of this, there is still some level of skepticism across the community, and this should be expected to remain for some time.

HOW CHASE U.K. SHOULD COMPETE

Almost a year after its launch, JPMorgan has only created a single “purpose-built customer contact center” for Chase U.K., and no other branches were added. This was purposely planned by the firm, similar to most of digital challenger banks in the United Kingdom.

Could JPMorgan Chase’s Digital Bank Be a Global SuccessAs per JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, the firm does not expect its digital bank to thrive and actually compete by building multiple branches in different places.

However, Chase U.K.’s service strategy is more than just a digital banking through mobile application. It began with a simple free-of-charge checking accounts with multiple budgeting and finance management packages.

Afterwards, saving accounts were added to cater demand and cope with economic changes in the U.K.

JPMorgan recently claimed that Chase U.K. was able to raise non-interest-bearing deposits amounting to more than twice from that of other digital banks in the U.K. in less than a year after its inception. The Motley Fool pointed out that this is a great start for Chase U.K., indicating that non-interest-bearing deposits are the best type of deposits a bank can hold, given its sticky nature.

This significant amount of non-interest-bearing deposits that the Chase U.K. was able gather over the year has been a great relief for the investors, helping JPMorgan to better justify its massive budget for technology investments.

On top of this, the firm’s own digital bank was able to attract hundred-thousands of customers and around 30 percent of this were flagged to be highly engaged with Chase U.K.’s products and services, as reported by the firm.

“These are customers that are using our debit cards multiple times a day, [and] making payments in and out multiple times a week, including bill payments in the form of direct debits,” Viswanathan expounded. “They’re making regular credits into their accounts — including salary credits, and they’re putting in substantial savings.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHASE DIGITAL BANK

Looking at the current trend of the progress that Chase U.K. is making, more should be expected on the coming years.

As mentioned by Sanoke Viswanathan, there are boundless of doors and opportunities for JPMorgan and its digital banking ventures.

During JPMorgan’s recent Investor Day, it was reported that the multinational investment bank expects no less than 1.5 trillion USD in revenue that is forecasted to grow at least 6 percent for the following years. Viswanathan indicated that even though banks typically falter when establishing presence in other markets outside its home-base, the firm believes that they are changing the game with digital and online banking.

Aside from Chase U.K., JPMorgan has also made other initiatives in its digital banking ventures. The megabank has recently bought Nutmeg, an online investment management service bank, eyeing 1.5 billion USD of net new money post acquisition.

In addition to this, JPMorgan has also acquired 40 percent stake in C6 Bank, Brazil’s one of the fastest growing full-service digital banks catering more than 7 million customers.

Viswanathan pointed out that JPMorgan’s investment under C6 Bank is expected to be a good resource to break into the Brazilian market, which is deemed to be third biggest retail banking market around the globe, being one of the most aggressive industry in digitization.

Interested in reads like this and more? Visit our page at https://coredo.eu/news/

Mastercard’s new biometric programme called “wave to pay” uses gestures for identification, however, analysts raised concerns on potential security risk

Mastercard’s New Biometric Technology Raises Potential Security RisksWith an attempt to break-in the biometrics industry, Mastercard Inc., a multinational financial services corporation and a global pioneer in payment innovation and technology, has recently piloted its new biometric initiative called ‘wave to pay’ which allows consumers to pay or transact with just a smile or a wave of the hand.

This new biometric technology utilizes gestures and body languages to administer verification processes.

Up until now, current biometric technologies, such as face recognition technology, have long been controversial and have grappled to acquire extensive usage across the Fintech industry. Despite this, Mastercard announced that it was advancing with its new biometric program to cope with the fast-changing Fintech industry and keep pace with its market competitors.

The payment giant claimed that the ‘wave to pay’ technology would be able to accelerate payment transactions, reduce waiting time, and service with better security measures that a normal debit or credit card.

Based on the recent reports released by Mastercard, once consumers are enrolled under the ‘wave to pay’ programme, there would be no need to slow down customer queueing as retailers can simply smile or wave to the camera to successfully pay and transact, eliminating unnecessary searching though bags for their cards.

Mastercard also tried to capitalize on health concerns coming from Covid surges, pointing out that with its new biometric system, transaction would touch-free and sanitary.

However, industry experts have long been raising privacy concerns, highlighting potential security risks related to data storage and surveillance. In spite of this, Mastercard specified that there are multiple researches indicating that 74 percent of consumers worldwide shows affirmative behaviour towards biometric systems.

DATA PRIVARY AND SECURITY ISSUES

With the recent launch of Mastercard’s ‘wave to pay’ biometric system, various discussions about security issues for retailers have been reopened. Many industry experts became skeptical and showed scrutiny towards further expansion of biometric technologies for verification purposes even though consumers are uncomfortable with data on their physical appearances are being utilized in such way.

One good example of this is the recent expression of vigorous dissent from the artists of the Red Rocks Amphitheater, in which hacking issues and improper surveillance were raised as the two main reasons why the artists do not subscribe with biometric mechanisms. This skepticism from the artists became the reason for the theater to drop its Amazon palm scanning system.

Recently, Suzie Mile from Ashfords LPP, a law firm from the United Kingdom providing legal and professional service, said in a statement that Mastercard themselves should be able to acknowledge the existence of data privacy and security concerns that biometrics brought with. She mentioned that risks of security and privacy breach could be much higher with biometric technologies that the current payment systems we have. It would be much difficult to recover from any biometric data breach given that any gesture such as smile and wave cannot be simply changed, unlike passcodes.

There were also previous skepticism coming from the government regarding these biometric mechanisms.

Last August 2021, members of the Senate from the United States of America issued reports raising questions over transactions and security practices in place for payments via biometric solutions. Furthermore, in China, privacy concerns from the authorities recently hindered the launch and adaptation of facial recognition technologies.

Despite this, Mastercard stressed out that security measures will be in place with its new ‘wave to pay’ biometric solution. The giant company pointed out that any physical gestures and languages from the consumers that will be generated would be native to the specific devices, and that personal data would be encrypted using digital templates.

‘WAVE TO PAY’ AS PAYMENT STANDARDS

In the middle of various debates and discussions related to biometrics in general, Mastercard claimed that its ‘wave to pay’ biometric system will potentially create a payment standard that would be able to cater transaction of any size.

Mastercard also announced that its new technology will be supported in a partnership with Payface (a payment system company that uses face recognition technology), Fujitsu and NEC Corporation (both Japanese multinational information and communications technology companies).

This is to ensure that they will be able to establish technology that will provide top-notch performance, with proper privacy and security measures.

Recently, Ajay Bhalla, the president of Mastercard’s Cyber & Intelligence business and is a member of the company’s global management committee, stated that the giant payment company is attempting to accommodate what the industry demands over the broad space of payment services.

He mentioned that the company would ensure to uphold its principles in managing transactions properly, with safe methods and consent from the consumer.

BIOMETRIC SECUTIRY MEASURES CURRENTLY IN PLACE

Biometric solutions have been utilized in the digital banking industry from quite some time now. One of the most used and adopted biometric system in fintech is through fingerprints. With single contact and a tap of a finger in smartphones, payments are easily accessed. Transactions can be operated via that device as long as the verified customer is the one using it.

Another biometric solution currently in place is face recognition. It was first introduced by Apple way back 2016, in which the technology was incorporated in its mobile devices.

More developed face recognition technologies available for digital transaction purposes is available from various technology companies such as NEC Corporation from Japan, Payface from Brazil, and PopID from California.

Cryptocurrency has survived for the longest time without being controlled by the authorities, but now there are proposed laws and regulations about it. Hence, the meaning of this for the crypto industry is currently unclear.

Back when crypto was just starting, it was considered the “wild west” of the financial industry – some kind of lawless system inhabited by suspicious individuals where each person was forced to take care of himself or herself.

Changes can be seen from how it was ten years ago. With all the complex instances where both cryptocurrency and blockchain were dragged into, the promise that a significant regulatory plan for the industry now has a greater chance of possibility.

As authorities start to introduce new laws and regulations to crypto institutions, it is not surprising that people are thinking about how these would affect the crypto environment. Will there be stricter management that will positively make a change in the industry or will it be a strength to hinder the development of crypto’s infinite improvement?

Introducing James Burnie

James Burnie is a financial services regulation and Financial Technology Partner, advising financial institutions on Europe and the United Kingdom financial regulation at a law firm, gunnercooke. They stand for large-scale cryptocurrency and blockchain products and services that are believed to be affected by all laws and regulations that will be implemented in the industry.

However, James does not agree that newly introduced rulings will cause trouble. Instead, he said that a certain level of laws and regulations is necessary.In an interview, topics on the future of the cryptocurrency environment and the regulations that come with it were discussed.

All about Burnie – Background; and how he started in cryptocurrency

James remarked that he is attracted to breaking new ground since regulation is amusing, especially when one is viewing it as something where development may root from.

The start was when he worked on the very first and fruitful establishment of cryptocurrency assets (also known as the initial coin offering) from the United Kingdom. For the reason of its success and just several lawyers in the said country were into the industry as it started, his involvement expanded.

In the course of time, instead of treating cryptocurrency as just a hobby, it became his primary job.

Talking about Gunnercooke and its areas of practice

A company whose focus is on corporate and commercial disciplines, Gunnercooke has approximately five hundred employees around Europe and has an income of GBP 50 million.

They have the United Kingdom’s widest crypto and financial technology service having more than one hundred customers, and a large market in Germany directed by Wolfgang Richter.

Lately, they just launched a practice conducted by Kathryn Dodds which introduced blockchain and creative industries for music, media, and arts.

Further, they work with transactions involving the blockchain industry, which includes designers and developers, cryptocurrency custodial solutions, blockchain applications, crypto trading, trading through distributed ledger technology (DLT), virtual asset brokers and funds, and financial technology organizations.

Current Laws and Regulations on Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Enterprise

Worldwide, the initial mark where regulations started was from these two primary regulatory regimes:
Regulating the “Wild West” Cryptocurrency

  1. The Anti-Money Laundering Regime (AML regime) – its focus is to prevent illegally obtained money which is usually through transferring from cross-border banks or businesses. The laws of this regime are identified based on the business location.
  2. The Securities Regime – this regime identifies if a crypto token must be managed based on the location of the law where the asset was traded.

Nevertheless, this is eventually turning into a more complicated arrangement. Several examples can be seen below:

  1. Mauritius is starting a wider groundwork for cryptocurrency asset institutions;
  2. The United Kingdom is considering a specialist regime for stable coins; and
  3. European Markets in Crypto Assets law is being legislated.

Hence, one can observe a fascinating exchange among regulators whose objectives are just a single thing, which is to make the right decision regarding cryptocurrency management, but in contrast, have different perspectives on what that implies in reality.

Diminishing risk during volatile season

It is noteworthy that investing is only one of the usages of cryptocurrency assets. Several activities do not include this, and hence, it is not substantial for these activities that virtual assets used for investing are inconsistent.

However, when one looks at these assets like an investment, volatility may not be the issue and it will all depend on what one is obtaining. The principal issue would be the degree of risks and returns.

All of us know that low-risk assets are expected to have a lower return, and high-risk assets tend to give a higher return.

Taking this into consideration, cryptocurrency belongs to high-risk ones. If crypto enthusiasts know this wisdom, they would handle their assets responsibly and that there is no need to be anxious. For instance, it is significant to hold your assets just right, not overly exposed.

Therefore, it was suggested by the Financial Conduct Authority FCA that virtual asset traders should be limited by the law to not exceed ten percent of their overall asset value.

In contrast, one should be more careful of the low-return / high-risk investments because in these transactions investors mistakenly take them as lower risk than they already are.

Is it inevitable that more laws and regulations are being applied to the crypto industry?

As a definition, regulation means that there is a rule maintained by authorities for a certain project or activity. It just plainly suggests that these regulators want to do the “right thing”.

Regulating the “Wild West” CryptocurrencyIn particular, European authorities are prioritizing the rights of each person, as such, they focus on ways to protect their consumers and legislation like EU General Data Protection Regulation. Another is in the United States of America wherein they concentrate on corporation rights thinking that the corporate world is the foundation of their economic system. China, on the other hand, goes with their state, as they consider it as the one who can provide the best decisions for the people of their country.

Thinking about development, people should not think about the laws and regulations as blockers to the industry’s growth. Instead, the concern is how they could turn these regulations as just an objective to how they will be obtained, specifically, the “right thing”.

What’s more mind-boggling is the question of how these could be fulfilled given that there are numerous ways and methods by different parties involved.

At the present time, we can see various authorities discuss the backbreaking demand for crypto’s technological development, and are putting an attempt to balance risk and opportunities in an industry wherein progress is still ongoing.

In the United Kingdom, they have the FCA’s CryptoSprint as a welcoming provision. They just hosted their very first CryptoSprint events in May and June 2022. The objective of the events was to seek industry views on the current market and the design of an appropriate regulatory regime. This is showing that the country’s board of regulations is engaged with the developing pace of the cryptocurrency, especially when it comes to its laws.

The Need for Crypto Regulations

Is it needed? Yes, but to some degree. Why? Because regulations take off the nasty stuff in the industry. It just needs to be on the correct side and recognizes the broadness of the environment.

It can be illustrated by taking a game company as a case. In this illustration, the company rewards the winners of the game with some cryptocurrency tokens and these tokens unlock another level of the game, which in turn grants a different account that offers token-lending services seeking a profit for the investors. Looking into this, any law or regulation concerning virtual assets is required to have sensitivity in the market, should be adaptable, and be open to any change.

Imagining Hope and Expectation

Most cryptocurrency enthusiasts yearn for a standard line of attack when it comes to laws and regulations wherein the main point is to have the sole correct answer to regulatory questions. This will make the legal cost of operation to be reduced, but it is more than just a dream than a reality.

As James commented, his expectation of the regulation runs by having various strategies, though it may seem complex, these variations may provide more positive impacts on the industry than just confusion.

Specifically, every unique enterprise paradigm is anticipated to be drawn to the regulatory regimes that are most suited for that specific business. However, this does not imply that they are competing to be seen as cheaper than other companies because an operation led by a good administration provides consolation to the consumers and co-contractors concerning the stability of the said companies. Hence, the strategy will come up as something to serve their clients a “premium”.

The Value of Cryptocurrency in the Real World

People are now torn between traditional financial methods and the virtual asset world. Just like how it was during the iPad versus computer period, most businesses that are using blockchain on their model, have several things in common with the conventional methods. This brings about the criticism on why someone would change a process that is currently working. However, “working” in this sense only denotes that users have been putting up with it since there is no available substitute, not that it is working well and efficiently.

Supporting this was Burnie’s client some years past. This person never confessed that he only utilized blockchain technology because of the fact that other people considered it unappealing. With this, he just charged one-tenth of the competitors’ rate, while making it more profitable through blockchain.

Another actual example of the advantages of blockchain is transaction reporting. This is by submitting data, which contains information relating to a transaction. These reports are used to detect and investigate suspected market abuse. With respect to the law, trading securities are required to have these kinds of reports.

Having crypto assets being utilized as securities, automation on reporting procedures can be done, cutting down the operational cost. For the upcoming half-decade, it is expected that blockchain technology will spread to all sectors of businesses, and people will not make it something to be anxious about, but instead, a noticeable tool.

Practice what you preach: The importance of accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method

Burnie agreed that it is kind of a “practice what you preach” case because it is hard to accept the concept of cryptocurrency if you do not fully take it into your system. Aside from this, it is also important to perceive where it will eventually head.

Regulating the “Wild West” CryptocurrencyFast-paced industries are going ahead with the developing cryptocurrency curve. This is because crypto is now accepted as payment in several businesses, and major organizations like Microsoft Corporation and financial technology corporation, PayPal. Specifically, they are ready to receive bitcoins (BTCs).

Numerous big economical systems are researching how they could integrate cryptocurrency as a payment method along with the conventional currency. While the inconsistency of the present market fascinates public attention, it is still heading into the mainstream and is highly probable that it will become more extensively accepted in the upcoming generation.

Generally, the concept is also more about following the pace of industrial innovations. However, this is contradictory to the traditional viewpoint that each and every lawyer is not into modernization, since gunnercooke has one of the popular cryptocurrency and financial technology services in the United Kingdom. With this, it is reasonable for the institution to accept crypto as payment.

An increase in the need for both customers and future investors in this industry to make payments via crypto is observed, therefore, it is essential from a customer and business view to have both the traditional currency and cryptocurrency as options.

Several enthusiasts of virtual financial markets expressed their disapproval of the move of Celsius, but some agreed to say that it could be for the protection of their users; ETH plunged to 17%.

Crypto Prices :

  • Bitcoin (BTC): USD 22, 209 (-16.6%)
  • Ether (ETH): USD 1, 193 (-17%)

 

Coin Returns DACS Sector
ETH −16.4% Smart Contract Platform
BTC −16.3% Currency
DOGE −15.7% Currency

Challenging times for Crypto Industry

Venture capitalists had options to compare with in detailing BTC’s plummeting price.

Since December 2020, it sank to its lowest price.

The top cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization plunged to about one-third of its highest value of approximately USD 70, 000 in the past eight months, and less than one-half of how much it was during the first part of 2022.

Аналитики о приостановке вывода средств с платформы Celsius; BTC упал ниже 23 тысяч долларов СШАIn twenty – four hours, it dropped to 16 percent, an uncommon scenario of having a double-digit decrease in the crypto’s value. On the other hand, it was down by about 30 percent from May, having a value of about USD 30, 000 due to the crumbled value of another token, terraUSD (UST).

It was indeed a terrible day for bitcoin, and so did for other cryptocurrencies. Computing their aggregated market capitalization, it did not reach USD 1 trillion. This was a first since 2021, despite having inflation fears and bad news from different protocols, such as crypto lending platform Celsius’ advisory that they would be pausing withdrawals due to the “extreme market conditions”.

Ether (ETH), the second only to BTC by market capitalization, has almost the equivalent decrease in value, around negative 17%. It was during the same time span as BTC’s and its lowest since 2021.

On the other hand, CRO was higher than 20 percent at an instance even with the update that cryptocurrency trading would cut off the 5 percent of its employees, almost two hundred sixty jobs. Tron (TRX) and Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) were also down during the same period.

With all the plunge, market analysts voiced out their views, and some even offered instantaneous consolations:

  • The head of research for 3iQ Digital Asset, Mark Connors, told CoinDesk that this is “a storm”.
  • As per Rich Blake, a financial consultant from Uphold wrote that BTC bears are indeed in “ruckus mode”.
  • Edward Moya, a senior analyst in Oanda, emphasized that even if BTC is striving to build its foundation if the price keeps on going down until below USD 20, 000, the journey might be harder.
  • Hargreaves Lansdown and Susannah Streeter, a senior investment and market analyst respectively, expressed that due to the increase in consumer prices caused by inflation, bitcoin and ether are its “prime victims”, being disfavored as risky investments.

Cryptocurrency’s current adversity tracked the blow of major world stock market indexes, having tech stocks being the most affected. The S&P 500 tumbled down to 3.8 percent, rejoining the bear market – hence, it was at negative 20 percent from its previous value.

Nasdaq, an American stock exchange company, entered the bear market several weeks ago as it plummeted by 4.6 percent. On the other hand, Dow Jones Industrial Average was down by 2.7 percent.

Unexpectedly, the long-established asset – gold, also fell by almost three percent.

Now, investors surely looked out for the United States Federal Reserve’s 2-day meeting, which began last Tuesday and was extensively expected to lead up to a fifty-basis point interest rate increase because of the high inflation. The most updated United States Consumer Price Index report stated that there has been a rise of 8.6 percent, the highest in the last four decades.

Connor of 3iQ positively pointed out that cryptocurrency today is still in the range of its growth band, and corresponds to how it was for the past thirteen-plus years. Further, given the mandate of United States President Joe regarding cryptocurrency regulatory executive order, he emphasized that we are still within the band of volatility for the past 5 years.

However, we can still see that crypto is now in a terrible state, having an uncertain future in the industry.

BlockFi Trading, a platform where you can buy, sell, and trade various cryptocurrency assets, announced that it would reduce its workforce by twenty percent. Rain Financial also laid-off employees, just after Crypto.com and BlockFi’s workforce cut off.

Аналитики о приостановке вывода средств с платформы Celsius; BTC упал ниже 23 тысяч долларов СШАJust this month, Binance, the largest and most known crypto trading platform, paused their clients’ withdrawals for a short time.

Blake from Uphold wrote that virtual assets will now be put to a test if a bigger increase in price will occur. He also said that at this time, extreme market conditions and federal laws are worsening the negative state of cryptocurrency.

Market Prices:

  • S&P 500: USD 3,749 (-3.8 %)
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA): USD 30,516 (-2.7 %)
  • National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ): USD 10,809 (-4.6 %)
  • Gold: USD 1,821 (-2.9 %)

Analysts’ Different Views on Celsius’ Pause on Withdrawals

Celsius, a well-known cryptocurrency lending platform, recently announced the pause of their customers’ withdrawals and trading of crypto products as a consequence of the current “extreme market conditions” in the midst of the economic downtrend.

Crypto tokens like bitcoin lost as much as twelve percent of the total market cap as stockbrokers reacted distressfully to the most recent United States Consumer Price Index review indicating that inflation is continuing to rise since May.

Following the mentioned lending platform’s proclamation was an order in April where Celsius announced that investors who are non – accredited are prohibited from transferring their assets.

The company’s crypto products are sought-after among crypto enthusiasts, and they provide earnings on deposits of approximately seventeen percent. This is larger compared to those offered by most financial institutions such as banks.

Throughout the time when digital asset investors are overwhelmed by the bad news, there were various opinions from different market analysts and observers. Several condemned the firm’s decision; however, others think that it was a move to protect their consumers’ funds.

Аналитики о приостановке вывода средств с платформы Celsius; BTC упал ниже 23 тысяч долларов СШАAccording to the co-founder of Apostro – a “risk management platform that prevents economical smart contract exploits by enforcing safe economical restrictions” – Kate Kurbanova, even if Celsius’ move is not uncommon, it will unquestionably affect the firm’s clients and the company’s goal to utilize centralized financial platform because such occurrence in the centralized financial institution has been happening.

Kate, then, explained that the decision was put through during the 2020’s Black Thursday since cryptocurrencies’ prices dropped drastically at that time and made an avalanche of withdrawals on lending institutions, and their customers lost their investments.

Additionally, Kurbanova emphasized that the clients are choosing whatever risks they think of as reasonable and bearable. These include liquidations that involve risks, and strategies on decentralized applications but with the feature of allowing the users to withdraw their investments at one’s convenience.

Customers even consider utilizing centralized platforms wherein it is more certain when it comes to security, but with a downside of their money being frozen for a definite length of time.

Other industry observers found a similarity regarding the collapse of terraUSD (UST) token during the middle of May, where it drove the prices of other relative cryptocurrencies like LUNA to plummet by around one hundred percent. It also lead the Decentralized Finance’s (DeFi’s) market value to dive by USD 28B.

As per the explanation of the Vice President of WeWay (a blockchain and encryption communication technology company) and Ukrainian entrepreneur, Vadym Synegin, cryptocurrency enthusiasts easily get disturbed every single time negative news or phenomenon about the industry is mentioned.

The businessman furtherly explained that the current cryptocurrency industry responds to the panic scenarios incompetently.

Several crypto analysts suggested that Celsius had options for more competent strategies, in order to offer profit to their customers.

Austin Kimm, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Strategy of Choise.com expressed that looking for liquid assets that can yield a return of USD 1 billion is more feasible than looking for other liquid assets that can make a USD 30 B profit. As per Kimm, the sole answer to the problem is by switching off deposits or moving them into a less liquid form like real estate, or cryptocurrency mining instruments.

At the same time, the Chief Executive Officer of Iconium, a private investment company that invests in digital assets and projects that will lead the decentralized Internet era, Fabio Pezzotti, asserted that Celsius’ decision to pause withdrawals was a proactive move to support the company’s liquidity on staked ether (stETH) token to be stabilized.

Fabio added that there have been rumors regarding Celsius being busted because of Ethereum’s derivative, stETH. According to Pezzotti, Celsius was just forced to pause withdrawals in order to prevent an entire bankruptcy.

For more cryptocurrency news, visit coredo.eu. We also have experts that could help you start with your crypto journey.

Fintech unicorn was once an unfamiliar term in the industry with rare sightings around the world. Ten years had passed, this once-atypical concept had developed immensely, becoming more common with almost 200 fintech unicorns across the globe. These new cohorts of unicorns are changing fintech as we know it, competing with traditional banks, equipped with modern and unconventional economic models.

WHAT ARE FINTECH UNICORNS?

The term “unicorn” per se is nothing but a magical creature, which even in myths and legends are rare to find. The word itself does not ring much of significance in the financial industry. Or so we thought.

In today’s modern financial market, a unicorn isn’t just some mythical creature that we hear from folklores. For investors and business owners, Fintech Unicorns specifically are defined as late-stage startup companies with valued funding of 1 billion USD.

The term Unicorn was first used in fintech in 2013 by Aileen Lee, a U.S. venture capital angel investor and co-founder of Cowboy Ventures, in a TechCrunch article she wrote, entitled “Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion-Dollar Startups.”

READ HERE: https://techcrunch.com/2013/11/02/welcome-to-the-unicorn-club/

At the time the above mentioned article was published, unicorns are rare sightings with relatively small numbers across the globe. However, there were a number of companies who had developed as “super unicorns” as called by Lee, such as Amazon and Google.

Aileen Lee acknowledged in the same article the fact that the term ‘Unicorn’ is not the perfect word to call these companies given that these are actual companies, and unicorns obviously do not exist. “But we like the term because to us, it means something extremely rare, and magical,” Lee explained.

THE SECRET OF BECOMING A UNICORN

Unsurprisingly, Fintech Unicorns which had made the list from CB insights reaching the $1 billion-mark are mostly coming from 4 countries – the United States of America, Republic of China, United Kingdom, and India.

Even though the rest of the world has shown undeniable innovations in Fintech, many countries are still having a hard time catching up in developing proper strategies to build billion-dollar businesses.

According to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, for a nation to successfully nurture businesses that will reached the level of Fintech Unicorns, there are usually four main factors that should be considered:

  1. Attractiveness. To attain global attraction and competitiveness, a Fintech firm should establish and develop edge in the fields of not just finance and technology, but also entrepreneurship.
  2. Capital. Start-ups should ensure proper access to capital, be it from private or public funding, for proper scaling and eventual business growth.
  3. Demand. As the theory goes, more demand means more supply. Being in a country with a well-established name in the market will give an edge for start-ups with an advantage from business-to-customers (B2C) or business-to-businesses (B2B) demand.
  4. Regulations. Lastly, one major element that will help companies to thrive are friendly laws and regulations. Government should impose policies that ensure customer protections and promote business innovation in perfect balance.

THE UNICORN CLUB ‘MEMBERSHIP’ AS A BADGE OF HONOR

Upon creating the term unicorn in her article, Aileen Lee also coined the Unicorn Club which refers to unicorns in general. At that time, the Fintech industry immediately took a grip of the concept.

Рост «финтех-единорогов» и их значение для банковской сферыA number of companies have been called Fintech Unicorns, becoming “members” of the “club”. No need for membership cards or registrations but gives a badge of accomplishment and boost of confidence for businesses.

In today’s market, the population of companies who have reached the “Unicorn-level” in general and in Fintech specifically, have grown immensely, going beyond being called “rare”. As of writing, there are over 1,000 companies who have been listed as Unicorns by CB Insights, divided into different classifications.

READ HERE: https://www.cbinsights.com/research-unicorn-companies

In this recent unicorn listing released by CB Insights, Fintech Unicorns took on the spot with the most number of companies listed, with over two-hundred (200) firms included.

Most of the Fintech firms who had reached this milestone were known to have been large contributors when it comes to financial and e-commerce services such as:

Acorns – a financial technology and financial services company based in the United States of America known for micro and robo-investments.

  • Valuation: $1.90B
  • Date Joined: March 9, 2022
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: Irvine

Betterment – an American financial advisory company which delivers online investments and cash management services

  • Valuation: $1.30B
  • Date Joined: September 29, 2021
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: New York

Rapyd Financial Network – a FinTech Company founded in 2016, which operates globally via regulated regional group companies and several additional local entities

  • Valuation: $8.75B
  • Date Joined: December 19, 2019
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • City: London

Razorpay – a company that specializes in payments solution in India that allows businesses to accept, process and disburse payments with its product suite

  • Valuation: $7.50B
  • Date Joined: October 11, 2020
  • Country: India
  • City: Bengaluru

Chime – a Fintech company which provides charge-free online mobile banking services

  • Valuation: $25.00B
  • Date Joined: March 5, 2019
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: San Francisco

Cgtz – a leading Internet finance integrated service platform in China specializing in business-to-customer (B2C) debt investment portal, providing various investments products for the individual and small and medium enterprises

  • Valuation: $2.41B
  • Date Joined: February 17, 2017
  • Country: China
  • City: Hangzhou

Better Holdco, Inc. – an American company that manages a digital platform for mortgage and related services

  • Valuation: $6.00M
  • Date Joined: September 10, 2020
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: New York

A few companies who have been playing in the fields of Fintech, Buy Now, Pay Later, and Cryptocurrency industries had also made the cut including:

Blockchain.com – a cryptocurrency financial services company which began as the first Bitcoin blockchain explorer in 2011 and later created a cryptocurrency wallet that accounted for 28% of bitcoin transactions between 2012 and 2020

  • Valuation: $14.00M
  • Date Joined: February 17, 2021
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • City: London

Klarna Bank AB – a Swedish fintech company catering digital financial services like online payments

  • Valuation: $45.60B
  • Date Joined: December 12, 2011
  • Country: Sweden
  • City: Stockholm

Amount – a financial institution with a variety of products and services for digital and mobile customer experience.

  • Valuation: $1.00B
  • Date Joined: May 21, 2021
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: Chicago

Plaid – a financial services company that builds data transfer network empowering fintech and related products

  • Valuation: $5B
  • Date Joined: December 11, 2018
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: San Francisco

Anchorage Digital – a crypto-asset platform and infrastructure provider dealing with holding, investing, and infrastructure for cryptocurrency and crypto-related products

  • Valuation: $00B
  • Date Joined: December 15, 2021
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: San Francisco

Kraken – cryptocurrency exchange and bank based in the United States of America, founded in 2011

  • Valuation: $2.92B
  • Date Joined: June 25, 2019
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: San Francisco

Moonpay – also a digital trading platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies

  • Valuation: $3.4B
  • Date Joined: November 22, 2021
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: Miami

There are also a number of names that might be new in our ears such as:

Happy Money – a lending company that develops and delivers financial products and services

  • Valuation: $1.15B
  • Date Joined: February 8, 2022
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: Tustin

MobileCoin – a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency platform founded in 2017 branding itself as the first carbon-negative cryptocurrency

  • Valuation: $1.06B
  • Date Joined: July 7, 2021
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: San Francisco

M1 Finance – an American firm founded in 2015, that offers a robo-advisory investment platform with brokerage accounts, digital checking accounts, and lines of credit

  • Valuation: $1.45B
  • Date Joined: July 14, 2021
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: Chicago

Mercury – a financial firm that offers services for startup companies and investors

  • Valuation: $1.60B
  • Date Joined: July 3, 2021
  • Country: United States of America
  • City: San Francisco

WHERE TO EXPECT MORE UNICORNS

As many countries realize the significant factor the Fintech sector contributes in terms of economic advancement, we may see a future of the Fintech market with an intermixed leaderboard for the top list of Fintech Unicorns. This is also coming from the fact that many of these countries are starting to establish business and economic models that promote further technological advancement and innovations.

Рост «финтех-единорогов» и их значение для банковской сферыWhen talking about rising countries that may alter the course of Fintech leaderboards in the future, there are two nations that experts are looking into – Brazil and Malaysia.

Home to over three hundred (300) Financial technology companies and holding the title of being the second largest fintech hotspot in Latin America, Brazil could soon produce billion-dollar fintech unicorns. According to some analysts, the financial market of Brazil seems to be going into the right track of development.

Innovations could be expected as the Central Bank of Brazil takes proper actions supporting market competitiveness and promoting financial education. The Central Bank has also started the establishment of open banking early last 20, which was deemed as a favorable action for many fintech companies.

On the opposite side of the globe, many finance experts are looking forward to how Malaysia would rise into the future. Given the country’s huge portion with unbanked and underbanked areas, Malaysia is deemed as an opportunity-haven for fintech.

More so, one key factor in the country is its high rates in terms of internet penetration. With the recent data available, almost 50% of Malaysia’s financial sector are companies that specialize in online products and mobile services.

As these countries work on rectifying their economic strategies, it will be a scene worth-to-watch which nation will be the next home for fintech unicorns.

WILL THIS UNICORN BOOM LAST LONG?

The number of unicorns, in general, has been immensely growing since the term was used by Aileen Lee almost a decade ago. As of June 2022, there are over 1,100 unicorn companies under the list by CB Insights.

Based on the recent study made by Crunchbase early this year, the general demand for sound investments attracted businessowners to invest into start-up companies, helping them into becoming unicorns by reaching the 1billion-dollar mark.

This same study indicated that numbers of unicorns show fintech hubs and crypto companies usually rose in valuation during the initial phase of fundings. Based on Crunhbase’s own unicorn list, over twenty Fintech companies reached the $1 billion-mark last 2021 during the early phase, while sixteen crypto hubs did the same.

For now, how the number of unicorn club ‘members’ will change in the future is not certain. A number of studies suggested that the sudden upsurge of unicorns last year 2020 and 2021 was a surprising scene in Fintech, indicating that this might result in a more challenging fund accumulation.

There were also some indications that reaching the unicorn-level of funds may not be as huge as many see it to be. It has been suggested that the mere chance of earning this label might not be enough to draw investors without proper outputs from the companies.

The United Kingdom government is set to release new restriction frameworks for cryptocurrency and related businesses. The rest of the industry hopes that this will provide more clarity to fill in the current gaps and loopholes.

Early this April 2022, Her Majesty’s (HM) Treasury of the United Kingdom publicized that the government’s economic and finance ministry is on its planning phase for a new framework for stablecoin regulations.

Британское криптосообщество жаждет более четкого плана регулирования стейблкоиновThey announced that with this soon-to-be-released restriction package, stablecoins will be regulated under the U.K.’s current payment framework as the beginning of the composite initiative from the government to build a crypto hub with a vigorous compliance process.

What does this mean for stablecoin business providers?

Generally, following the payment regulatory framework created in 2017 would entail that stablecoin providers should be required to register their ventures with the U.K.’s financial regulator called FCA or Financial Conduct Authority. This would mean further compliance with necessary conditions and following restrictions specific to payment transactions and services.

For the Innovate UK Award Winner Kene Ezeji-Okoye, the current President of Millicent (a stablecoin research company from the U.K.), this announcement from the financial ministry could potentially provide the long-waited clarity on how crypto-business such as Millicent could maintain compliance with the government.

The current business model of Millicent is covered under the current regulatory system of the FCA for digital currencies. However, given that the company plans to expand in owning accountability over public’s cryptographic functions, Millicent could then be considered as a crypto-asset company with supposedly different laws and regulations to comply with.

Kene Ezeji-Okoye, together with other companies and the rest of the crypto community, is hopeful that the incoming rules and regulations for stablecoins will soon fill in the gaps for business owner compliance.

A MOVE EMBRACED BY THE INDUSTRY

The United Kingdom government has previously made it clear its goal for the crypto industry – to create a global hub for crypto-related technologies and businesses. Together with this ambition, they have announced a series of projects, including legislations that will acknowledge and legitimize stablecoins as payments for transactions and services, among others.

This ambition received a warm welcome not just from the public, but also from many business providers, even regulators.

For Gemini, a U.K.-based cryptocurrency exchange company and a stablecoin provider, optimistically applauded the U.K. authorities for having the initiative in manufacturing regulatory packages for stablecoins. They pointed out that the upward trend of stablecoin usage in the industry clearly summons the government to do so.

A representative from Tether concurred with this statement from the fellow stablecoin company, adding that the United Kingdom could be one of the pioneering nations to build proper regulatory guidance on this kind of crypto asset.

Correspondingly, regulators have the same positive feedback on this move by the U.K. financial authorities.

Simon Cohen of Ontier LLP, a global crypto law firm, asserted how they greatly appreciate the U.K government for acknowledging the significance of robust restrictions for cryptocurrencies and other related digital assets.

Back in year the 2019, Financial Conduct Authority stated that crypto providers involved in international transactions should comply with payment-related laws, but the digital assets itself would not be covered over by the regulations. This is expected to change with the recent announced legislation by the HM Treasury.

The FCA recently clarified that they greatly welcome any plans by the government in manufacturing new laws and regulations for cryptocurrencies, asserting that they would continue to support the authorities.

STATE OF STABLECOINS IN THE U.K.

Last 2021, Her Majesty’s (HM) Treasury of the United Kingdom has performed various research and consultations on stablecoins, for which results were released together with the recent announcement for future regulatory framework.

Британское криптосообщество жаждет более четкого плана регулирования стейблкоиновThe studies made reported that even though not all crypto issuers can comply with all the standard restrictions, there was a general alignment that those stablecoins founded by a single fiat currency should be compliant with the conditions specific for digital payments and related transactions.

The HM Treasury aims to ensure that all crypto issuers will be registered with the FCA, complying with its rules and safety measures. This means that the soon-to-be-released framework would not only alter the current payments regulatory packages, but also the rules for electronic money (or e-money) to expand the scope including stablecoins.

However, the report has not yet detailed out every requirement for stablecoins but mentions that the development will be advanced with the aid of the U.K.’s Bank of England and Payment Systems Regulator.

Based on the Treasury’s consultation report, there is currently a general understanding among providers that stablecoins and related activities should follow the compliance measures set by the Bank of England. For instance, once a company is identified as compliant with the requirements under the Banking Act, the company would then be classified as systemic, which should be controlled under the FCA and the Bank of England.

The report mentioned that all stablecoins backed by fiat currency, either single or multiple, would be under the scope of the forthcoming regulatory framework.

Meanwhile, algorithmic stablecoins, or those founded by assets aside from fiat, should not be covered. These algorithmic coins are decentralized digital assets created to maintain its value using codes and programming, controlling its supply based on its price. In essence, these are expected to be self-sufficient without any collateral.

In relation to this, many experts pointed out that it would really be a great challenge for policymakers to apply or pattern rules from the current regulations to these algorithmic coins, given its complexity and distinctive nature.

STATE OF CRYPTO IN THE U.K

Even with the current pacing that the U.K. government is taking in terms of regulating cryptocurrencies, there is still too much work to be done.

Just early this year, several studies have shown that the United Kingdom was relatively slow in stepping into cryptocurrencies, in comparison with the other nations, especially from both Asia and Middle East.

A spokesperson from YouGov, a global public opinion and research data company, pointed out in a study that even though huge growth is anticipated for crypto space in the U.K. market, further potential is being held back by safety and compliance issues.

In the same study, they clarified that even with the recent news from the U.K government for its plans related to the crypto industry, it is still a question mark whether these would be enough to provide assurance and gain public trust.

THE MISSING PIECE

Британское криптосообщество жаждет более четкого плана регулирования стейблкоиновEven with the recent public announcement by the U.K government on its plans, there is still lack of coherence and clear view on what really to expect, leaving the rest of the industry yearning for more clarity

In the previously released consultation report, the HM Treasury clarified that the plans they currently have in progress will be developed with utmost assurance of flexibility over the regulatory frameworks given that definite descriptions could be rapidly left behind by the fast-changing industry.

Kene Ezeji-Okoye and many other company owners very much anticipate what would the U.K. government provide in the near future, and which questions will be answered favorably.

How would stablecoins be defined? Which coins will be legitimized as a payment method? Which coins would be covered in which set of regulations?

Want to read more on cryptocurrencies and regulatory matters? Visit our page at https://coredo.eu

All financial transactions are regulated by a multitude of laws, legal acts, and rules that all legitimate companies must comply with. All financial systems use certain principles to verify their users and customers, allowing them to fight money laundering and illegal money circulation more effectively.

Understanding the modern principles of how financial institutions work is useful not only for business representatives and bank employees but also for ordinary users. Therefore, in this article, we will analyze in detail what is behind the abbreviations AML and KYC, which are actively used in business.

WHAT IS AML?

AML is a system of laws and principles aimed at preventing and detecting money laundering and terrorism financing. The abbreviation stands for “Anti-Money Laundering”. For most financial institutions, AML is a set of processes and approaches based on the analysis of aggregated data about users and their financial activities.

Simply put, AML is a set of steps financial institutions must take to prevent criminals from using their services to launder illicit money or finance terrorism.

AML is also sometimes referred to as “anti-laundering laws” because they are designed to prevent criminals from “laundering” incomes received by illegal means and financing criminal activities.

AML и KYC: о сложных понятиях простыми словамиVarious tools, internal procedures, and control measures are used for this purpose, such as monitoring financial transactions and detecting suspicious activity.

In particular, automated analytical systems analyze the activities of a particular user and determine whether the available information about the client corresponds to the transactions that he or she performs.

In the case that the system fixes a transaction that does not correspond to the particular user’s standard behavior, it signals the need for verification.

The concept of AML first began to be widely used in 1989, after the intergovernmental organization FATF (Financial Action Task Force) was founded in Paris to develop anti-money laundering measures.

This organization develops international standards related to the prevention of money laundering, helps their implementation in different countries, and counteracts the financing of terrorism.

AML AT THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS

AML principles are being implemented by many states at the national level and in most cases, the recommendations and standards of the FATF are taken as the basis. An important part of the process is the rejection of anonymous financial transactions and instead, fighting for their transparency. That is, financial institutions can and even must monitor the activities of their customers, identify suspicious transactions and report them to the appropriate authorities.

For conducting financial activities in the European Union, it is important to know that since 2015 the EU has adopted a modernized regulatory framework that includes several anti-money laundering (AMLD) directives. The most recent 6th directive, which entered into force in June 2021, includes provisions that increase liability for financial crimes, expand the list of such crimes, imply closer cooperation between European states in fighting money laundering, etc.

WHAT IS KYC?

The abbreviation KYC stands for “Know Your Customer”. This principle obliges financial institutions to identify users before making a transaction.

AML и KYC: о сложных понятиях простыми словамиAccording to the KYC rules, anonymous financial transactions are illegal.

User identification can serve various purposes, namely:

  • helps companies to better understand their clients and their characteristics ;
  • allows companies to monitor all transactions;
  • increases client’s confidence in financial service providers;
  • reduces the risk of financial fraud;
  • helps the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing, bribery, and corruption.

The concept of KYC was implemented in 2016. It was introduced by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency (FinCEN) of the US Department of the Treasury. It was this agency that first suggested the use of formal KYC requirements.

However, even today there are no particular standards regarding what kind of user data should be requested. Each service and each company decides this individually, so the identification and verification procedures (checking the validity of the entered data) often differ significantly.

In most cases, clients are asked to provide:

  • full name;
  • date of birth;
  • contact information (phone number, e-mail);
  • residential address;
  • an identification document with a photo issued by a public authority(passport, driver’s license, etc.).

As a rule, the specified data will have to be confirmed by providing a photo or a scanned copy of the relevant documents, as well as verifying the phone number via SMS. Additionally, online interviews may be conducted. The purpose of all these activities is to collect and verify customer data.

Today, KYC protocols are being implemented not only by traditional financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies but also by crypto companies.

For example, the Binance cryptocurrency exchange and blockchain ecosystem require users to provide their full name, date of birth, and phone number for registration, and account verification requires identity confirmation in the form of a scanned copy of an identification document with a photo (passport, driver’s license, etc.) and a selfie with them.

Differences between KYC and AML

Despite the obvious difference, the concepts of KYC and AML are regularly confused. In a broad sense, KYC is only a part of the measures taken to combat money laundering. Other elements of the AML principles are CDD – Customer Due Diligence, EDD – Enhanced Due Diligence, risk assessment and continuous monitoring of transactions, internal audit and control, and more.

To follow the principles of AML, companies have to use a complex approach, which necessarily means the implementation of the KYC algorithm.

According to international analytics company LexisNexis Risk Solutions, global financial institutions spend more and more money every year to combat money laundering.

So, in 2020 this amount was about $181 billion, and in 2021 it has already increased to about $214 billion (source: https://risk.lexisnexis.com/global/en/about-us/press-room/press-release/20210609 -tcoc-global-study)

USER DISSATISFACTION

Particular dissatisfaction with the introduction of the principles of KYC and AML is expressed by users of blockchain technologies. In their opinion, the need for identification and verification discredits the very basis of their work, as they were initially presented as anonymous. On the other hand, the possibility to make financial transactions anonymously could not fail to attract scammers, which endangered honest users.

AML и KYC: о сложных понятиях простыми словамиTherefore, cryptocurrency exchange services and other players in the crypto industry are forced to agree with the requirements of regulatory authorities and implement the KYC principle for user identification, as well as AML protocols for monitoring suspicious transactions.

Very often users are also dissatisfied with the need to go through multi-stage identity verification due to the length and complexity of all procedures. So, you can regularly meet complaints from dissatisfied customers about an inability to register on a particular service, verify an account, or pass the security control. Financial institutions are trying to deal with these difficulties and disadvantages.

Also, many clients of financial institutions express concerns about the safety of their personal data. Of course, banks, crypto-exchanges, and other services promise to ensure their security, but leaks occur and as a result, private information falls into the hands of fraudsters.

Despite some shortcomings and imperfections of the measures taken, as well as despite the dissatisfaction of users, the fact remains that the measures to combat money laundering and prevent financial crimes do work. Therefore, in the nearest future, they will likely not only be maintained but even tightened.

In nearly two decades, the U.S. dollar and Euro are close to parity for the first time. Here’s what to know and how it would impact the economy.

Due to the recent economic tremors in Europe, the Euro has recently continued with its five-year decline, raising the possibility of parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time in 20 years.

This wrestle between the two largest and most traded currencies globally is now coming to the closest fight after a long time with the recent 7% slide of the Euro against the U.S. dollar.

However, specialists are still divided. Will we really get the long-waited euro-dollar parity soon? How soon is soon? How will this impact the economy, and what will it mean for investors?

The Decline of Euro Causes Nearing Parity versus DollarEarly this May 2022, the value of 1 euro is playing around 1.05 U.S. dollars and eventually slid down to 1.03 U.S. dollars the following week.

This continuous decline of the Euro is deemed to be a result of market disinclination due to public concerns related to multiple economic tremors.

These primarily include the devastating war between Ukraine and Russia, continuous upstream inflation rate, issues in business logistics, lack of growth, and strengthening of financial regulations, which have caused investors aversion, leaning towards traditional and much safer assets, consequently resulting in a much-strengthened U.S. dollar.

On top of this, changes in financial regulations within the U.S. and European central banks impacted this narrowing of euro-dollar parity.

Last May 2022, the U.S. Federal Reserve increased its loan rates by 0.5 % for the second time this year as it expects a rise in the inflation rate.

Recently, the Chair of the Federal Reserve of the United States, Jerome Powell, reaffirmed the central bank’s goal to lessen inflation and pull it down closer to 2 percent. Powell announced that they would continue raising loan rates as necessary until inflation declines to a much more controllable measure.

On the contrary, the European Central Bank has not yet made any increments to their interest rates in spite of Europe’s continuous inflation hike across states. Although the ECB has acknowledged how the unrestrained decline of the Euro impacts market stability which causes price hikes for U.S.-sourced products, there has been no sign of immediate actions in place.

WHAT WOULD FURTHER PUSH THE EURO-DOLLAR PARITY

Aleksandar Tomic, an economist from Boston College, mentioned that the parity between the two currencies might be sooner than most think and could possibly happen within the following months.

Market experts indicated that the way to a euro-dollar parity might need another major decline in the European economy relative to the U.S., something similar to what happened after the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Samuel Zief from JPMorgan pointed out that even though Europe would be shaken by something similar, the supposed parity between the two currencies will be the worst-case scenario.

Zief also noted that the U.S Fed’s hawkish increase in interest rates already covers the supposed hike for the next two years, which does not look good for the Euro.

Specialists from the Canadian Bank of Montreal suggested that aside from changes in monetary regulations between the Federal Reserves and the ECB, there are also the energy supply deficiencies and payment fluctuations that are pulling down the value of the Euro.

 

SURGING VALUE OF THE U.S. DOLLAR

Since the start of 2022, the dollar index has been skyrocketing by around 8 percent, even with the subsequent interest rate increase by the Fed.

George Sarravelos from Deutsche Bank pointed out that the industry is now at the point where further monetary and economic tremors erode the Fed’s predictions. At the same time, the rest of the world, specifically Europe, faces the consequences.

Sarravelos suggested that the European economy will continue to surpass the U.S. and dodge any recession, as opposed to what the majority expects.

The Decline of Euro Causes Nearing Parity versus DollarAlthough the recent study by Deutsche Bank specified that the American dollar is at its highest peak since the pandemic, their predictive data implies that the euro-dollar valuation would not go down to reach parity.

 

THE EUR-USD PARITY

Although many currency specialists are still doubtful that the market will reach the long-waited euro-dollar parity, a massive portion of the industry expects the European market to continue the downstream path.

Several economists noted that the recent aggressive action by the European Central Bank is still not at par with that of the U.S. Fed, insufficient to knock off the inflation hike across Europe.

Some experts suggested that a much less hostile approach should be expected from the ECB, with incremental turns in increasing borrowing rates.

Jonas Goltermann from Capital Economics argued that the constant decline of the European economy with its vulnerability in the local and global market clearly implies further downstream for the Euro against the U.S. dollar. He mentioned that the euro-dollar parity could be expected by the end of 2022, in contrast to the Deutsche Bank’s forecast data.

The European Commission had previously released its proposed set of rules for Markets in Crypto-Assets (or MicA), which is expected to simplify crypto-related regulations.

There is known around the globe that there is a considerable gap in our current financial regulations, specifically on how many crypto-related activities are not covered by the existing legacy restrictions. Europe and other countries worldwide have been exerting efforts to fill these gaps. With this goal in mind, the E.U. Union has recently released its proposed restriction framework for MiCA or Markets in Crypto-Assets.

The suggested European regulation on Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA, was previously discussed in the country’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. MiCA is essentially a set of existing European laws, amplified for crypto-assets and amended for consistency and proportionality. This framework objectifies manufacturing a mechanism that grants an innovative market while addressing risks that new technologies present and warranting a proposition consistent across markets.

The MiCA Framework: Europe's Proposal for Crypto RegulationsThe MiCA project is just a part of the many strategies created to ensure that the European financial industry will adapt to the growing virtual space. This proposal mainly discusses stablecoins which it subcategorizes as “asset-referenced tokens.”

Unlike USDC and USDT, which are only backed by the U.S. dollar, these tokens are built on the foundation of multiple fiat currencies or blockchain assets.

With MiCA, once a blockchain business is given a license in any of the 27 European states, it will be applicable in all other states, meaning the firm could do its venture without additional local approvals. With this, rapid growth for crypto businesses is expected to be vastly simplified.

However, many experts have noted how the MiCA regulations are different from other countries.

For example, although the United States of America has built multiple crypto-related laws in the past years, it has no identifiable one which matches MiCA. On the other hand, the Chinese government has recently banned crypto activities while creating its own central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The European Parliament cleared that the European Union is trying a different approach with its regulations, given the lack of harmony across the Union, with countries having inconsistent financial mechanisms.

The scope of the recent MiCA proposal only covers stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether. Central Bank Digital Currencies or CBDCs, security and deposit tokens, and other crypto-related assets are not in scope.

Even though the MiCA framework might sound enticing for crypto businesses, given that it will allow licenses to be applicable across different states, there have been some concerns from the industry on how it will impact the E.U. crypto market in other manners. Some have specified that even though license and legal assurance sounds attractive enough, stricter rules and mandates under MiCA might impede investments and innovations.

THE CURRENT STATE

With the current prerogative that each European states have, various approaches in terms of crypto directives are being applied in each country. Each state had to create its bylaws and mandates for crypto tokens, in line with a few guidelines that all had to adhere to.

In the past few years, countries across Europe have initiated regulatory implementations primarily compelled by two factors:

  1. The VASP or virtual asset service providers guidance, which was published in 2019.
  2. The Anti-money Laundering law or AMLD5 created by the European Union in 2020.

These two served as guidelines to each state, providing objectives that should be attained but leaving the countries to manufacture laws on their own independently.

These differences each European country has in their crypto-related regulations have confused some industry players. Do they have to apply for licenses in almost 30 different states to be able to venture into Europe? How will they be able to leverage the freedom of movement for business activities?

Bitpanda, an Austrian cryptocurrency exchange company currently ventures across 37 states, has had to tediously work on multiple licenses and approvals locally within Europe.

The European Parliament mentioned that the MiCA initiative targets to guarantee that the European market will be able to keep up with the growing business of cryptocurrencies. They indicated that security for investors and customers should be upheld, with a competent market leveled with enough resources for the industry to understand and comply with.

WHAT MICA HAS TO OFFER

The recently published MiCA framework generally covers digital assets, describing them as virtual versions or characterizations of money value, cached and used in digital transactions through blockchain technology. It subcategorizes these crypto-assets as below:

  • Asset-reference tokens – are broadly defined as tokens built on the foundation of multiple fiat currencies. The most famous example is Libra, renamed Diem, known to the public since 2019 as a stablecoin introduced by Facebook.
  • E-Money Token – pertains to stablecoins created to be valued the same as fiat currencies. Samples are USDC and USDT created under the U.S. dollar.
  • Utility Tokens – assets created to access digital transactions, only accepted by the developer of that asset, like the BAT or Basic Attention Token owned by the Brave, a web browser company.

The MiCA Framework: Europe's Proposal for Crypto RegulationsUnder MiCA, business players of these cryptocurrency categories in Europe should obtain approvals and licenses in their respective local financial government bodies by sending white paper 20 days in advance.

In the crypto industry, a white paper is a business document with an investment roadmap created prior to any business release. The local government will then have the authority to approve and allow the emission of those assets.

Businesses that cater services related to these digital tokens must obtain a license in any European state. Once approval from any local government is obtained in accordance with the European laws, the expansion of crypto ventures will be allowed in other states without any additional licenses. With this, the local custom-made regulations in each state would no longer be applied.

With MiCA, countries with strong regulations and licensing processes for digital tokens will have a much easier and more efficient mechanism, following the new conditions applicable across Europe.

Despite this, the European Union clarified that security measures and compliance would not be neglected.

Based on the assessment by the European Union, the price of a white paper under MiCA would be much higher for crypto businesses, with compliance costs of around 4 thousand USD to 87 thousand USD, depending on complexity and the level of legal interventions necessary.

With this, industry experts raised concerns, pointing out that growing licensing costs might result in investors moving to other states outside Europe.

FOCUS ON STABLECOINS

Back in the year 2019, Facebook (now called Meta Platforms) announced its Libra initiative, a stablecoin supposedly to be founded under multiple platforms and multiple fiat currencies. However, upon its announcement, the U.S. government raised scrutiny and mentioned that they had to study the impact of this project, ordering Facebook to halt the plan. Consequently, the company then announced that the vision would no longer continue but eventually rebranded the project under the name of Diem.

With the proposed MiCA framework, certain conditions and requirements for all stablecoin businesses will be applied, like the required capital funds ownership of 400 thousand Euros for all stablecoin business owners.

The proposal also detailed incremental conditions for “significant” business owners, defined as any business having activities of at least 500 thousand a day and at least 1 billion market cap.

The MiCA Framework: Europe's Proposal for Crypto RegulationsThese so-called significant businesses, such as USDC and USDT, will require additional conditions under MiCA, including having funds equivalent to 3 percent of its reserved assets.

For example, the stablecoin USDT, which currently has 25 billion USD, would need to warrant at least 75 million USD as its capital funds. As of writing, USDT has a net supply of only 72 million U.S. dollars.

Few business players mentioned that these additional requirements for considered significant users seem to be too much.

The MiCA proposal agreed and mentioned cautions with these specific conditions for significant users since these could potentially result in inconsistencies with its objective to secure continuous business innovation in the industry. However, the framework somehow justified this, pointing out the apparent risks to financial freedom and market stability.

However, it is deemed that the MiCA proposal would not be altered as of yet, given the recent issues for global stablecoins in the market. Just recently, USDT and USDC have received criticisms from both U.S. and E.U. markets regarding their unverified reserves.

Currently, most trading partners of Binance with a massive volume of transactions involve a stablecoin. With this, professionals indicated that regulations brought by MiCA would negatively impact the competitiveness of the European market. On the contrary, other specialists countered that the most significant matter is the promise of legal security and should be upheld over the state of stable coins.

With the current state of the MiCA project, effectivity is not expected until 2023. Until then, the status quo will continue, where each state must assess and create its own custom-made laws.

Top 5 Split Management Applications

Whenever a group of friends in a restaurant, on a weekend getaway, or when neighbors in a shared house pay something, dividing bills and computing how much each one owes another can be a dreary and laborious process when a large group of people is involved.

How do you divide the cost? How much should a person contribute? Service charge? Isn’t it complicated? It’s just for small bills such as rent, water, and electricity.

The good news is that we have modern applications to help split the bills. Below are the top 5 listed in The Muse:

  1. Splitwise – it is a free app for both Apple and Android gadgets. Splitwise lets you know how much and what you owe from someone, whether from a grocery run, travel expenses, or others. In just one click, you are ready to pay using PayPal.
  2. Billr – with the tagline “The quickest way to split a bill and calculate at restaurants and bars,” this split expense app lets an iPhone user calculate what every person owes for the food they ate and other shared expenses. However, it’s not for free – Billr costs 99 cents.
  3. Divvy – just a snap, and split the bill. The easiest, as you do not have to type anymore. Using your iPhone, just take a picture of the group’s receipt and drag every item to the one who will pay for it. Just like Billr, it is 99 cents.
  4. Venmo – a reminder to those who owe you. This app lets you send requests to your friends anytime for them to pay you. Venmo is available on App Store and Google Play.
  5. Bank of Me – tracking has never been so easy using this 99-cent app. You can list all your group’s expenses and track a record of your friends’ balances. It could also sync your contacts so you could send a reminder to your friends to pay you back.

Have you tried any of these? Life could be much easier if you do.

Expense Management in Europe

Advanced Expense Management System in the EUIn Europe, expense management has also been modernized. Revolutionized solutions were introduced, which helped build the foundation for modern expense management. These new platforms are known to provide quicker and more transparent payment solutions. Clients are attracted by their unique features, which differentiate one application from another.

Tricount

A worldwide-leading expense application called “Tricount” headed by Jonathan Fallon and Guillebert de Dorlodot stood out from other companies in the industry. This company from Brussels, Belgium, focused on being neutral to whichever bank or financial institution the client would want to pay from. Hence, if you are a Tricount user, you have the freedom to choose a company with cheaper or even zero transfer fees and such.

Unlike other expense management applications, Tricount is not bounded to a number of banks or payment platforms. As per Fallon, they try to be as open and unbiased as possible. This means one does not need to be a bank “X” client to use their application.

Since they started in 2010, Tricount now has 5.2M registered customers and is giving them enough profit. Their clients are spread over several European countries – Belgium, Spain, France, and Italy – allowing users to split expenses among their friends and families. What’s more, the bill is categorized by its type and can be reimbursed for the outstanding balances through different payment systems.

To stand out more from its competitors, Tricount enables its users to make payments straightforwardly from their bank in just one click without requiring IBANs. It started in its based country, Belgium. This was made possible by establishing a partnership with Mastercard, a licensed virtual bank in Europe – Aion Bank, and a cloud-based banking-service provider, Vodeno.

Advanced Expense Management System in the EUAs emphasized by Fallon in one of his interviews, the partnership gave them the opportunity that connects them to an open banking system which is easier in the region due to the revised Payment Services Directive, or PSD2. He also added that they wish to be fully launched with banks across Belgium before expanding to other markets.

Open Banking System in Europe

Since open banking started in 2019 in Europe, it is still viewed as a new approach in the banking industry across the region. As per Fallon, it raised several legal and technical challenges, and action must be taken by such FinTech companies as a Tricount.

Despite all those challenges, entrepreneurs like Fallon believe that open banking has a huge potential. Other than offering just payment processes for reimbursement, there are still many features that the system can offer. One of those is credit provisions.

Fallon explained that, for example, there might be a group of ten tourists who could register in Tricount. These people could use their account to take out loans for plain tickets and split the expense among themselves through their Tricount account.

In continuation, the two founders of Tricount aimed to build up their app’s social feature, creating a more interactive interface that includes comment sections and user interaction in a group.

In addition, they also announced that they would need to expand their business to increase the integration on PSD2 to open more opportunities in the industry.

There are a hundred news today in the Financial Technology world. There are booming startup companies, merger of two established financial firms, cryptocurrency issues, fiat concerns, new banking schemes and payment solutions. We have listed below the current news today that will surely catch your attention and may be make up your mind for a certain financial decision. Check our latest financial technology news today:

An application with Buy Now, Pay Later payment method, Affirm, collaborated with the financial institution, Stripe, in May 31st, Tuesday. The goal is to drive growth by enabling Affirm’s Adaptive checkout feature. On the other hand, the BNPL startup company, Tranch, came out of stealth mode by raising a fund of 3.5M Pound sterling and collaborated with Yobota as well. Regarding crypto and fiat, Merge is now striving to connect the gap between the two.

FinTech News Today

Financial Technology startup, Merge, just raised funding and started using it to further develop its application-programming interface (API) – based financial platforms. This company is doing all it can to connect the gap between fiat and crypto payment systems. The whole project was spearheaded by Octopus Ventures in collaboration with a number of other investors.

This BNPL institution, Affirm, introduced Adaptive Checkout as their tool for financial innovation. It is a payment option that provides a selection of methods for its customers, bringing an even personalized approach.

Further, the Adaptive Checkout utilizes the firm’s smart descion-making engines to optimize its payment installment plans. This includes four no-interest payments that can be done twice a week, monthly payments, or an option to use both.

Those who had early access observed an average of twenty-six percent increase when converted. For more information, visit this link.

BNPL startup company, Tranch, in partnership with cloud-based financial technology firm Yobota, started to give their clients a more flexible and faster payment system. The two companies aimed to provide fast and flexible payment options, as a part of their strategy for driving sales, specifically among Gen Z and millennials. You can find out more here.

They also increased their fund, adding up 3.5 million pound sterling more from investors, which will be used for complex customer financial journey in the United Kingdom. Yobota, on the other hand, offered architecture with more flexibility, and API innovations.
FinTech News Today

  • Tarabut Gateway Partnered with Four Saudi Arabian Banks

This Bahrain-based open banking institution just started a collaboration with four banks in Saud Arabia. These banks are – Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank, Alinma Bank, and Banque Saudi Fransi.

The Kingdom has a present population of thirty five million, and is considered one the largest Middle East countries.

The region, as a brief context, has a ninety-eight percent of internet access and ninety seven percent of smartphone access for 18-75 year olds.

  • Own regulator, New Bill in the US for Big Tech

Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Peter Welch proposed the United States Digital Platform Commission Act of 2022. This bill aims to establish a commission of five people, wherein their tasks is to protect consumers during the era of Big Tech. Further, the bill was formed with the ideas from different bills globally, particularly from those presented in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom.

                 These may be a lot to take in, but it’s not yet all. Visit our website at https://coredo.eu/  for more financial technology news and you might even want to take part in such venture. Our team also has professionals who can help you.

These days, financial institutions are not immune to problems, including bankruptcy and liquidation. For example, the Czech National Bank has recently published information on its website www.cnb.cz that Safe Payments Solutions s.r.o., acting under the Koalapays brand, https://www.koalapays.com (hereinafter “Koalapays”) lost its licence as a small electronic money issuer on 26.05.2022.

Pursuant to the peremptory legal norms, financial companies must fully return all funds to their customers. In practice, however, some customers are now only offered refunds of a small percentage of their deposits. 

Until all funds are returned to their customers, financial companies are under the unrelenting supervision of the Czech National Bank.

What do we offer:

COREDO’s legal team is ready to help you resolve legal disputes with any financial institution. If you have unresolved claims, e.g. those related to Koalapays, we will be happy to offer our services.

Resolution of legal disputes with financial institutions: professional protection of your interests CoredoOur legal team is ready to defend your interests in the most proactive way possible. We will be glad to help you with:

  1. Writing of the official complaint letters, communicating with representatives of the company in accordance with Czech regulations and legislation.
  2. Drawing up complaints and communicating with the Regulatory Authority – Czech National Bank.
  3. Protecting your interests in court.

Experience shows, the first two steps are usually enough for us to protect your interests.

We are confident that we can help you and defend your rights!

The cost of our services:

The protection of your interests will be carried out at pre-agreed rates. The fee consists of a fixed fee, which you pay before we start cooperating, and a % of the amount in dispute, which we will be able to return to you.

Cryptocurrency in UAE

About twenty years ago, United Arab Emirates (UAE) was considered one of the nations to incorporate technology into its economy. They are one of the leading countries in the Middle East to apply digital transformation in the financial and real estate sectors.

As such, blockchain technology is not a stranger to UAE. Restaurants have been accepting crypto coins as payment for their goods and services. Blockchain has been taken at the national level as well. “Dubai Blockchain Strategy” was launched in October of 2016, when His Highness Sheikh Hamdan publicly announced that the said city in the country would be the very first to implement cryptocurrency in government transactions.

Kraken to launch in UAENow, as per Trading Platforms, here are the top 6 crypto exchange platforms in UAE:

  1. eToro
  2. Alvexo
  3. Coinbase
  4. Binance
  5. Coinmama
  6. Kraken

Click the respective platforms for more information. Now, let us focus on the sixth one – Kraken.

What is Kraken?

This major crypto exchange platform can be said to be beginner-friendly. Users can easily buy, sell, and trade among the over one hundred twenty supported coins, which includes the top ones, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).

It was founded in 2011 in San Francisco, California but operates and has offices globally. Kraken also supports both individual and organizational investors.

New cryptocurrency investors may start with the exchange using the main Kraken system. On the other hand, advanced and professional traders may opt to use the Kraken Pro, a lower-cost version with improved futures system features.

The good thing about Kraken is that it is, as mentioned earlier, beginner and user-friendly due to its simple interface. It also has a high liquidity trade and supports about 120 crypto tokens.

However, it has higher trading fees when one is not using the Kraken Pro. Further, there are reported cases of losses due to hacking.

Kraken in UAE

Kraken, aUS-based crypto platform, has just expanded in the Middle East. After securing their license to administer the exchange platform in UAE, a regional Kraken headquarters will be opened in Abu Dhabi.

Curtis Ting, the company’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), expressed during an interview with CNBC’s Mr. Dan Murphy that they are incredibly thrilled and excited to set up their operations in Abu Dhabi Global Market finally.

Once launched, Kraken will be the leadoff crypto trading system to provide straightforward financing and exchange in dirhams (AED) versus bitcoin, ether, and other digital currencies after they obtain an operating license from the country’s regulatory authorities.

Ting emphasized that their main goal is to secure access for the users globally, which is essential to ensure that the investors and crypto traders have full access to their local currencies.

Kraken, which was launched more than a decade ago and is now operating in as many as sixty countries, voiced out that the launch in UAE symbolized a more playful strategy in the money-making region. Based on the report of Chainanalysis, the Middle East is considered a nation with the fastest-flourishing cryptocurrency industry globally, having seven percent of the world’s trading volume.

For the record, UAE now transacts around USD 25B worth of cryptocurrency annually. In volume-perspective, it is 3rd in EMEA, under Lebanon, which is worth USD 26B, and Turkey, which is USD 132.4B. These data were from a study conducted by Chainalysis from July 2020 to June 2021.

In addition, Citi’s global head of financial technology and digital assets, Ronit Ghose, was interviewed during “Capital Connection” on CNBC. Ghose explained that having an increase in entrepreneurs in Abu Dhabi is due to more stable and clarified regulations at ADGM, both in Dubai and from the federal perspective.

Kraken to launch in UAEFurther, he was also amazed that a few of the businesses in the UAE were generated even during COVID, in the past one to two years. As per Ghose, UAE is now being established as a cryptocurrency and Web3 hub.

Kraken VS Competitors

Being known as the top crypto trading platform by volume, Binance has one of the most immense scopes in the Middle East, where digital currency is developing as the mainstream trading system.

It was licensed to operate in Abu Dhabi in the past weeks and is planning to gather about a hundred positions in the nation.

Another trading platform, Bybit, had also been approved to operate and open an office in Dubai last April. FTX, on the other hand, has also been licensed for digital asset operators in the same city and will open an office as well in the future.

Singapore and Hong Kong, financial centers in rivalry with Kraken, are also anticipating to generate an entirely regulated system for crypto exchange, looking to expand regulatory procedures to be appealing to investors and traders in a competitive condition.

On the Grey List

One may think that there is no problem with cryptocurrency institutions in UAE because they are superior. However, they are now under close watch due to growing international investigation for their lack of transparency in their asset flows, which may be considered illegal.

Kraken to launch in UAEIt was reported that cryptocurrency institutions in the country had been overwhelmed with demand to liquidate billion-worth of digital assets since Russia-based investors are looking for protection for their possessions. This includes Dubai’s asset market, during the Russia-Ukraine war.

In April, Financial Action Task Force, the world’s leading anti-money laundering watchdog, also added Emirates to its grey list. Hence, the country needs close observation. The UAE, along with Panama, Syria, and Turkey, is now required to be monitored for threats under money-laundering circumstances.

In the interview with CNBC, Ting agreed that they should be heedful of the Anti-Money Laundering and Know-Your-Customer and all compliance requirements.

Furthermore, Ting advised that trust must be added to the management provisions that the authorities are developing to ensure that if a user is revealed and has full access to the systems that provide crypto products, accountability for each is presented.

Developers from the European Central Bank are set to take a centralized solution in building its digital euro, facing issues on privacy matters.

Multiple central banks around the globe have previously started their preparations to build CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currency), also called digital money. In basic terms, these are digital versions of our regular cash or the so-called fiat currency.

Previously, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it would be starting its preparations for creating its digital euro. This decision has raised concerns and assumptions from the financial community. How would it work? What would be its purpose, and how would it impact the economy? How would it adhere to the fundamental values of the European Union (EU), such as privacy?

The European Union (EU) stated that developing its own digital currency is mainly to attain its strategic independence, which primarily pertains to economic sovereignty and political autonomy.

Rise of European CBDC Its Centralized Solution and Privacy ConcernsThis initiative for a European CBDC was seen as a response by the ECB to a broader change brought by the virtual currencies and digitalization of money. With the fast-changing internet, virtual variants of money are emerging, primarily brought by digital currencies.

PRIVACY CONCERNS

Privacy has always been on top of the list when talking about money in general, more so in digital money. Safeguards and preventive measures are what experts and the financial community mostly scrutinize regarding digital currencies.

Previously, the ECB has ensured the public that privacy will be on top of its priorities. However, in its most recent reports, it seems like this is not the case.

The ECB pointed out that aside from privacy, the public has other competing concerns which might be considered for trade-offs, such as global market acknowledgment and security.

In a recent report, the central bank detailed that they would have visibility to specific data and transactions but ensured that these would not be accessible to anyone. The ECB also clarified that the European government economic committee is not looking for a profit-making business by exploiting private data and guarantee that they will adhere to every existing privacy law.

However, the community has shown concerns about this planned design, with data being centrally handled by the central bank, pointing out that this makes privacy more impossible to achieve. Experts mentioned that the public has the right to ask questions and be bothered by a government having massive control over private information. They indicated that even though the government might have less motive to misuse data, that does not entail there is no danger at all.

Rise of European CBDC Its Centralized Solution and Privacy ConcernsAside from this, crypto developers indicated that privacy measures largely depend on the type of blockchain technology used. Experts suggested that embedding privacy into a digital euro might only be achieved through a distributed system. This way, the central bank would not be able to amass private data, and the risk of misusing this could be lessened.

 

CENTRALIZED BLOCKCHAIN DESIGN

Recent reports from the European Central bank (ECB) mainly lean toward a more centralized design rather than a distributed one. This probably means that the central bank would centrally handle data and assets instead of circulating them freely.

This has raised concerns, not just by experts but also from the public, that this apparent favor towards a centralized blockchain technology would raise various privacy issues. Crypto professionals warned that the banking industry and the current regulatory mechanisms might not be prepared for such. They pointed out that these possibilities would need grave and consequential redesigning of the overall blockchain ecosystem.

Some have expressed concerns that a digital euro might be more of a problem than an economic and business opportunity.

A study by the European Central bank (ECB) shows that many of the public believe that a European CBDC will damage the crypto market, even without a real understanding of what the digital euro entails. The ECB clarified that thorough studies and investigations are ongoing to ensure preparedness and proper safeguards.

Faustine Fleuret, the CEO of ADAN (a crypto company from France), mentioned that a European CBDC poses a considerable threat to innovation, as it might conclude as a replacement, rather than a supplement, to the currently existing European stablecoins, given the lack of flexible mechanisms a centralized has.

U.S. President Joe Biden has recently released an executive order pushing forward studies and development for digital assets.

Since its release, this had garnered attention and different opinions from the public. Most experts have greeted this as a possibility for better regulations and development of the digital asset industry.

But what does this exactly mean for the digital community and the current banking systems? Should we be expecting the long-waited American CBDC soon?

Read More: Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets | The White House

The Two Truths with Regulations

One major thing that many experts have observed from the executive order was the lack of any immediate policies and regulations. Rather, it contains long lists of call-for-action items for multiple branches of the government to operate and perform exhaustive studies from every aspect.

During the drafting period of the executive order, many had expressed scrutiny and concerns, thinking that this would involve excessive regulations that would hinder current digital transactions and activities. But in contrast, the report rather reaffirmed that cryptocurrency is here for us to embrace and deal with.

The executive order reflects how the U.S. is taking the right track for the digital industry, acknowledging its significance for America’s competitiveness in the financial market.

Instead of manifesting some kind of repression for the industry, we received an order directing agencies to responsibly identify issues and perform studies to outline necessary resolutions. This had apparently conveyed the Biden administration’s desire to harness the presented profits while securing a safe industry.

President Biden’s Order on Digital Assets: A Nudge for a U.S. CBDCMany experts have previously called out that the U.S. should start mobilizing its arm s and draft regulations, given that digital assets are greatly taking over the financial sector. Given the amount of change crypto had caused, we should start minimizing any systematic risk as soon as possible.

The crypto market has been growing at a high speed, impacting our traditional financial systems. Based on multiple studies, these are some of the signs that a financial crisis is hitting a market. It is important that we invest in regulations to ensure minimal impact in case of any disruptions.

However, we should be cautious that together with certainty, the public also demands favorable regulations.

This is the exact reason why some experts have expressed concerns that actions from the U.S. government might cause regulatory issues the community might find too exhaustive, resulting in customers shifting to other countries with much more favorable policies.

Regulations while Securing Competitiveness

A quite major portion of the executive order leans towards sustaining the economic competitiveness of the U.S. market by ensuring efficient services while keeping up safe and well-regulated transactions.

However, in reality, things are much more complicated than mere words. There would always be the fear that one day, we might wake up with an industry regulated too tightly.

The Crypto industry was once a self-regulating business. However, in actuality, there would always be interventions from the government, one way or another.

Is the Internet a Trustworthy Foundation for this Critical industry?

Upon the release of Biden’s executive order, Thomas Vartanian, a writer, and a famous banking expert, remarked that most issues we encounter with digital assets are inherent from historical issues we have from the internet, which we are still trying to keep firm grip on .

In his books, Thomas had previously called out for a much more secure internet space. He mentioned that the lack of action over the last decades regarding the matter is alarming. Now, he is troubled by the apparent fact that more forms of digital assets, including CBDCs, will soon transition to the unsecured platform we have – that is, the internet.

As we progress with various studies on digital assets, we should expect that these types of concerns will be addressed. However, some financial veterans have given warnings that these explorations might give us results that are not as pleasing as we want. There are numbers of experts who are sceptical about how the digital industry would impact the overall financial sector, given the limitless number of things that could wrong.

Crypto has been here for more than a decade and we’ve been handling it well so far, however, an awful amount of loss would be ahead of us if we do not continue working with it smartly.

Biden’s Nudge for a U.S. CBDC

Although the recent executive order by the White House does not provide certain directives regarding the establishment of an American central bank digital currency or CBDC, its instructions are clear to mobilize federal agencies for further studies and preparations.

President Biden’s Order on Digital Assets: A Nudge for a U.S. CBDCThe report provides a noticeable sense of urgency towards CBDC and a clear prominence of the U.S. entering the competition. There’s quite an emphasis on the U.S. maintaining its global market leadership, which received different responses and opinions from the community.

Few banking institutions have expressed concerns on how their businesses would be impacted by creating a CBDC, specific to activities such as funding and lending.

Conversely, experts pointed out that the banking industry should not treat CBDC as a competition, but instead leverage it for further service development, given the number of roles private banks could take part in, once created.

The executive order clearly pushes forward the concept of an American CBDC, in relation to the notable slow progress of the Federal Reserves Board in terms of conducting studies. The Fed has been long waiting for a directive from Congress and the executive branch, and with this recent order by the President, we should expect the Fed to act and move forward.

Additionally, the order has provided instructions to the Justice and Treasury departments to perform necessary preparations for any legislative changes needed upon establishing a U.S. CBDC.

Although no words are set in stone, the executive order is an apparent nudge from the White House calling a huge sense of urgency for CBDCs.

Is Urgency for a U.S. CBDC Really Needed?

Although the U.S. government has called the “highest urgency” for CBDCs, the same is not shared by the rest of the community, as many emphasise the risks that this would cause in the traditional systems.

Some banking veterans pointed out that many from the financial sector have the misconception that faster and smoother transactions could only be attained through CBDCs. They expressed their concerns that the U.S. federal should look at the matter with a more careful approach given the huge role the U.S. dollar plays in the global financial market.

Although some other nations are getting ahead in terms of testing and pilots, specifically China with its e-CNY, some experts stated that this shouldn’t be an important consideration for the U.S.

President Biden’s Order on Digital Assets: A Nudge for a U.S. CBDCEven though it might seem like this is China’s indirect attack to put the U.S. dollar down in the global market, experts mentioned that the U.S. shouldn’t confuse it for a need to rush and compete, without proper preparations.

What’s Next After the Executive Order

Although the executive order has clearly shown how the U.S government is leaning towards the creation of CBDCs, one thing that the community agreed on is the lack of any signs that the authorities favor any type of digital assets. So far, the mandate is clear that digital assets in general would be developed and studied.

The executive order has not shown any impact on the current business activities and no noticeable actions are taken by the digital community. The industry continues with its plans but should be more cautious as changes might come faster and sooner than expected.

This order is a good way to spark conversations as we go through the rapidly changing digital industry, however, we should expect that things would get rough once we go into details.

Visit our page at https://coredo.eu/contacts/ for more reads like this!

The cryptocurrency industry in Estonia through the years

Estonia is one of the first countries to venture into cryptocurrency. They are the first member of the European Union to provide standard regulations and exercise control over cryptocurrencies. Hence, Estonia was known to be one of the top crypto-friendly countries in Europe.

Three years ago, in 2019, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a council established to gather suspicious activities of individuals and institutions, released about six hundred licenses for crypto. These licenses are called Virtual Currency Service Provider licenses. When looking into Estonian law, an institution that received its license is required to do business six months after its license has been released.

Come 2020, the regulators further tighten their control by emphasizing that virtual currencies must be treated just how traditional financial firms are. This means they should also comply with Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act.

Having the AML Act in Estonia, is it still crypto-friendlyIn 2021, Estonian authorities revoked about 2000 crypto licenses. The nation’s government made the rules even stricter by adding audited annual reports and due diligence for digital financial institutions.

Today, crypto enthusiasts are required to get a license under the new Estonia cryptocurrency regulation.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act

As regulations are the weakest point of cryptocurrency, authorities are finding a way to combat this. One of the solutions they introduced is by applying Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act in the crypto world.

Now, what is AML Act? Generally, it refers to a series of laws, procedures, and regulations a country has to unmask illegal funds that are disguised as legitimate earnings.

It was a response in the ever so growing virtual currency industry wherein tokens may be used for illegal purposes. This act has requirements that a business must comply with. In doing so, financial institutions may also develop a more sophisticated system of due diligence that would benefit both their customers and their management.

In Estonia, AML Act was applied on the 23rd of February 2022. The biggest updates regarding this are listed below.

 2 New Service Types

  1. A digital currency exchange service refers to one that enables a payment transaction to be electronically executed through a digital cryptocurrency service institution in the name of the main user. Its purpose is to transfer crypto tokens from the original owner to the recipient, despite having a different or same crypto provider, or if the recipient and original owner are the same.
  2. The solution of organizing public or private transactions or offering financial services concerning releasing of digital currency.

These newly introduced definitions are an addition to the current service types the industry has. Since digital currency is defined to be a service in the paradigm where virtual keys are produced for the clients or clients’ encrypted virtual keys, these are very useful in storing and exchanging digital currencies.

It was previously defined that a digital currency exchange service is where an individual’s or firm’s virtual currency can be traded for a fiat one, or vice versa, or against another digital currency.

Now, the two new types of services listed above must be interpreted in agreement with the recommendations set forth by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an institution that implements counselling for anti-money laundering and counters terrorist financing measures. As per FATF, one’s revision is not in compliance with the regulations until they offer the listed services above.

DAO, Defi, and WEB 3.0

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Web 3.0 programs have always been the top concern and are in agreement that real decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) type programs must be maintained beyond the realm of regulations. This concept includes local-based apps, wherein all users must coordinate with another user to have the capacity to provide and move the service, and involves software programmers whose function is to process the verdict of the DAO to execute a role into the crypto protocol.

In the course of the conversation, the Estonian government commented the following: their country’s legislation cannot make up for the window of individuals in decentralized financial services. To emphasize, their regulations do not focus on such services and technological advancements.

The modification must be interpreted in association with the current standard of the definition of the service provider. That is, say, please see below:

  • A service provider must be a single person
  • Commercial activities should be within the paradigm of the professional, economic, or exchange activity of the person

More so, the digital currency institutions are required to be evaluated according to the substantial will of the institution and the type and purpose of their businesses.

Companies’ requirements to hold or apply for a license

The path of these newly introduced laws and regulations is obviously not far from their original drafts. However, they are more compassionate in some sectors. You may find the updates of the new regulation compared to the current ones below:

Having the AML Act in Estonia, is it still crypto-friendly

  1. Cryptocurrency service providers are prohibited from presenting their financial services externally from their determined professional relationship.
  2. A straightforward veto was programmed for accounts that do not have credible information.
  3. Having a travel rule. This means that there will be a responsibility for information to be sent for outbound-going payment transactions. If in case the crypto receiver cannot accept the data sent, the provider shall conduct a course of action to track the data and have a clear analysis of risks.
  4. A cryptocurrency provider shall keep the records related to the travel rule within 5 years after the last day of the business partnership.
  5. More information will be required throughout the licensing period. These include income statements such as balance sheets, and also business plans, and information on the company’s Information Technology (IT) systems and other technological data.
  6. Companies that are licensed are required to have an external and internal auditor.
  7. A minimum amount of € 250,000 for remittance service on share capital, and € 100,000 for the rest.
  8. Funds to be owned are necessary, as well as its liquidity, just like those required for credit companies.
  9. Reached higher education plus a minimum of 2 years of experience in business management.

How much does the license application costs? Currently, it is about € 10000, a great increase from the initial € 3,300 only.

Please take note of the deadlines below:

  • June 15th – Deadline for submission of updated documents for companies who have valid licenses. FIU may extend this for about one hundred fifty more days. Once the updated documents are submitted, licenses will be renewed. Otherwise, they will be revoked.
  • March 15th – First-time application of license which will be within the scope of new regulations.

If you need more help with the licensing, we have financial experts who could help you. You may reach us at Coredo.

History of Decentralized Finance

Decentralized Finance, or DeFi, originated with the hopes of having a financial system that would allow its end users to trade currencies without the need to undergo any government control.

In 2009, bitcoin (BTC) was introduced as the first DeFi asset in the cryptocurrency industry. It was a big hit, especially for crypto geeks, and is now considered one of the major investments a coin holder can have. BTC paved the way for the development of DeFi, in general.

Six years into the technology, in 2015, another coin entered the market – Ethereum (ETH). It gave rise to the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) market which enabled the whole industry to be in the mainstream, being comparable to traditional financial services.

DeFi was further modernized in 2020 due to the pandemic. Since existing firms were pinned down by the lockdown, Decentralized Financial applications were developed to cater to those who cannot be entertained by the traditional firms. Such applications enabled DeFi individuals who lost their jobs to borrow, lend, and invest during the pandemic.

DeFi A threat or being threatenedWe can say that DeFi is like an oasis in the desert of financial instruments. It serves a variety of services which is currently the key to keeping it running.

Institutional Markets under DeFi’s Grasp

Having a virtual peer-to-peer system, DeFi does not pose a barrier to any monetary transaction and is inclusive to all. Hence, they can operate like conventional brokers and banks, but in a digital way.

As such, it keeps on convincing individuals and institutions to invest in them and take DeFi products and services as another form of the trading process.

To back this claim up, three big institutions have invested in DeFi – State Street Corporation, Fidelity Investments Inc, and BNY Mellon.

Learn more: DeFi is taking over the institutional markets

Concerns about DeFi

While it is indeed true that DeFi is evolving quickly and on a positive trajectory, there are still issues that make this industry a cause for concern.

First is its weak foundation in the regulatory system. International Organization of Securities Commissions or IOSCO released a report stating that although DeFi is mirroring the regulations traditional markets have, it is still insufficient. Yes, it is acknowledged that it brings investors several benefits, however, it also possesses multiple risks.

IOSCO reported on the 24th of March that it developed a new team to develop policies to lessen the risks of the fast-pacing industry. The same firm announced that the team will be comprised of ninety-five percent of securities regulators globally. It is intending to have a standard regulation for DeFi.

Another worry is regarding conflict of interest. To provide some background information, the most familiar Decentralized Financial tokens are decentralized exchanges (DEX’s), exchanging crypto, loaning applications, and blockchain programs.

IOSCO’s study, suggests that though DeFi was designed to have a peer-to-peer ecosystem, virtual open markets still have centralized controls. Such markets are project developers, venture institutions, and several financial investors with exceptionally large control of the crypto administration coins which can vote on admin matters. Thus, the issue of conflict of interest arises.

Focusing on Power

Tokens in DeFi are being managed by a smart system called decentralized autonomous organizations or DAOs, either in its starting or advanced phase. Every arrangement is selected through a voting process via a one-to-one, token-vote methodology.

This is where we can see the gap in its administration since most decisions are made by voting, may it be for a minor or significant issue. It, therefore, results in having holders of huge coins even if they only have small votes.

DeFi A threat or being threatenedFurther, even though DeFi claims to be decentralized, changing information and votes makes it centralized in real life. The reason is that investors still communicate through platforms, for example, Discord, which allows them to discuss how the investment will go through, of course, for their advantage. And taking into account that the number of voters is not big, the possibility of conflict of interest emerges.

Aside from that, several individual investors maintain their coins in the care of major centralized trading platforms. This may bring forth an effect for their customers’ coins to be voted, however, in smaller chances.

One more concern is considered when blockchain authenticators reinforce bonds for better practices which permit them to conduct the latest business arrangements toward a blockchain in trade for brand new crypto coin premium. Symmetrical to BTC-based mining with no ecological issues, authenticators are chosen in a random pattern to create more tokens congruent to the amount of what they invested.

In conclusion, a large number of authenticators motivate coin owners to allocate – loans to them, specifically – their coins in a swap for a portion of the premium. This grants them voting powers for those coins.

More so, IOSCO emphasized that multiple large-scale centralized trades give users a clear path towards decentralized financial applications and self-executing agreements. It is also worth noting that others even provide customers with the capability to finance in loaning and investment programs digitally, undoubting the trade’s process.

However, as previously mentioned, there are still remarkable risks which include conflict of interest, unexpected currency fluctuations, potential loss of investment portfolio concerning cryptocurrency-asset management via ownership, and risk in exchange.

DeFi administration also has a minor influence on voters. That is through what they call the “Bribe Protocol” which means that one can pay the industry’s governing body to hold cryptocurrency coins and vote right.

In the Future

As Decentralized Finance is now established, individuals and institutions are encouraged to enter the market. They are risking their savings and funds in hopes to leap into the emerging industry and loan their consolidated possessions to something that has become collected money that is liquid enough to serve both all and no one, simultaneously.

On the contrary, the technological advancement of this new payment system has the promise of a free and inclusive financial process. Yes, there are regulatory issues, and it is still a work in progress, but DeFi is unquestionably a significant competitor of the existing financial institutions the world currently has. Globally, it is also great support for the economic system and capital appreciation.

Thinking about the future, one cannot only think about the amount of money DeFi can provide to the economy. Instead, investors must also consider how this money should be allocated and managed. There is always a threat from central financial institutions, but DeFi is resisting this and is being a threat to them as well.

So, what do you think about this? If you need advice, connect with us at Coredo.

The Czech National Bank has long been known for its devotion to transparency. Just recently, it won the prestigious Central Banking Transparency Award 2022 for its top tier initiatives in terms of programs and initiatives for disclosure. Just in 2021, the Czech National Bank has taken the bar to a new level, by introducing its new Monetary Policy Report, which replaced the old Inflation Report after 23 years.

The Monetary Policy Report is a quarterly publication that discloses issues, processes, and reasoning behind the central bank’s monetary strategies, plans, and programs by using non-technical words and terminologies that can be easily understood. Its launch has been acknowledged by the public as a great testament to CNB’s dedication to promoting transparent banking.

Followed by this new paper, the CNB also recently commenced the release of its attributed minutes, which mainly focuses on the independent dispositions of each board member, together with the bank’s economic forecasts.

This well-established adherence to transparency and proper communication by the CNB has been established through digital and traditional mechanisms, which undeniably aid in maintaining trust from the public and its stakeholders.

CNB’s MONETARY POLICY REPORT

The Czech Monetary Department was the one who inaugurated the creation of CNB’s Monetary Policy Report, which was then highly assisted by the Board members of the bank. It aims to disclose comprehensive illustrations and presentations of monetary issues that were deemed essential by the national bank when they do analyze and make banking decisions.

Czech National Bank is Taking Transparency to a New LevelAn integral part of the report was the inclusion of some components that were missing in the CNB’s earlier Inflation Report, such as economic policy cogitations and deliberations, which before were only published internally. This, together with its concise and straightforward language, make the new Monetary Policy Report way superior and much preferred by the stakeholders to the earlier Inflation report.

The focal point of the report is the discussion of monetary programs and policies taken by the national bank, together with pertinent information that impacted those decisions. It includes comprehensive and elaborative presentations of the overall deliberation that happened, and the factors involved in the process.

Adapted from the earlier Inflation report, these new publications also include timely predictions of future banking positions and provide emphasis on the impact of local and multinational economic issues and development in the bank’s decision making. This significantly helps in sustaining public trust by providing profound awareness regarding the CNB’s current market position, economic predictions, and policy-making mechanisms.

The CNB’s communication division has previously mentioned that with the Monetary Policy report, they purposely altered the level of details and overall construction of the report, with the aim of offering a deeper kind of transparency to the public. They stated that their current goal is to provide reasonings and rationales behind its monetary strategies, together with exhaustive presentations of the bank’s predictions. The choice to use straightforward language is to make the papers more accessible and easily understood by the general public.

ATTRIBUTED MINUTES

Upon the establishment of the Monetary Policy Report, CNB also started its initiative to publish their so-called “attributed minutes”.

The goal of these minutes is to apprise the stakeholders about the arguments and thinking process of the board behind their votes in any particular decisions. These minutes are intricate reports of rationales behind the decisions made by each member of the bank’s board.

The CNB aims to improve the predictability of the independent policy dispositions of the board members, and the central bank altogether. Some experts have previously raised concerns about possible attempts of attracting favorable attention to make decisions outside the board. However, the CNB stated that no signs of such are seen thus far.

With these attributed minutes, the board members’ judgements and independent points of view are not only available during internal deliberations but are now officially presented to the public. This way, the CNB believes that financial experts are well knowledgeable, and have a better insight in terms of the bank’s policy-making systems.

G3+: CNB’s FORECAST MODEL

Aside from the release of the quarterly Monetary Policy report and the attributed minutes, the CNB has truly raised the bar in terms of transparency, by disclosing a report with a thorough elucidation of its forecasting model, called G3+.

The experience of CNB from the past decades motivated the creation of G3+, with new structural features that allow the bank to attain better prediction accuracy by taking factors of macroeconomic changes, locally and globally.

The report was released back in early 2021 and presents the new stylish features of the G3+ economic model, along with the rationale behind its adaptation. It was published with the aim of maintaining a reliable decision-making process through a transparent and accurate economic forecast.

PUBLIC TRUST IS THE MAIN GOAL

The CNB has undeniably illustrated its great commitment with regards to transparency, and it can be said that the public trust the bank has attained is one of the fruits it is currently reaping. The growth of CNB’s social media accounts is a testament to this.

Czech National Bank is Taking Transparency to a New LevelRecently, the CNB declared that their LinkedIn account has the most followers out of all Czech public organizations. Together with its Twitter and YouTube profiles, CNB has also set up an Instagram account and is also leveraging Facebook, in providing details behind its monetary initiatives. The CNB is now strengthening its digital customer connections through these platforms with various mechanisms to provide information.

The CNB believes that proper mechanisms for data disclosure are prerequisites to sustain public trust and are necessary to provide the bank’s perspective especially now, when the financial market is facing high inflation rates, impacted the pandemic constraints and supply chain issues.

Effective communication has proven to be necessary when the CNB encountered political pressure coming from the government last 2021 Czech elections.

The CNB was urged by the authorities to hold back any increase in rates, justifying that the then-inflation was stimulated by international countries. However, the CNB insisted on the rate increase, believing that the Czech’s economic position was different from other countries. This decision by the CNB was backed by the public’s support and was then proven right with the eventual price hike.

With that encounter, the CNB believes that the bank would serve its purpose by abiding by its mandate. This also convinced the CNB of how important independence and public trust in a national bank are.

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Fintech and crypto experts show support for a U.S. central bank digital currency, but the Fed’s has not taken an explicit stand yet, but instead provided a detailed illustration of  how establishing one in the U.S. could impact American banking.

Central Bank Digital Currencies or CBDCs are electronic or digital tokens like cryptocurrencies, being regulated and issued by a certain central bank. In more basic terms, CBDCs are just digital versions of your regular money or the so-called fiat currency, such as US dollars, Chinese CNY, and Philippine pesos .

Many countries have previously reported that their own CBDCs are under development, and some have even implemented them.

Recently, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board have issued a much-anticipated announcement, discussing the possibility of the U.S. implementing its central bank digital currency.

In this paper, the Board lays out a clear illustration of the direction a federal electronic currency could take, and how it could remarkably impact the future of the current traditional financial systems.

Is the American Market Ready for Its Own Central Bank Digital CurrencyThe report did not provide an explicit stance on whether the United States of America is ready to have its own digital currency and made it clear that the paper is not intended to show support for either side or provide any decision.

Rather, they mentioned that proceeding with an American CBDC is a resolution that should not be handled by the Board, but rather by Congress and the Executives.

The paper focuses on the meaning of “money”, specifically virtual currency, and how its different directions and variations could essentially modify banking. The Board outlined that electronic money that is dollar-oriented might be a simple and basic concept, but is more complicated in terms of usage, application, and future developments.

For example, there could be a CBDC dollar version that would be developed to perform scheduled transactions, which could be executed inside a blockchain without any human touchpoint. This suggests the possibility of micropayments in CBDC.

The Board’s report also detailed some alternatives in terms of policies and provided questions open to the public’s comments and suggestions.

U.S. CBDC Fundamentals

Many experts in the banking and crypto market have previously pointed out that the U.S. is at the back of many other countries in terms of building its own CBDC. For example, China was the first of the nations that had taken action for its own CBDC, named e-CNY.

The Board stated that this undeniably impacts the international image of the U.S. dollar on the global financial market. They believe that the non-existence of a U.S digital currency makes other nations more captivating to the public and that creating one might help protect the huge identity the dollar has in the market.

The Board also explicitly mentioned that a CBDC is a cautious and most protected asset in the digital market, “with no associated credit or liquidity risks.”

In the same report, the Board detailed four factors fundamental to establishing a U.S. CBDC:

  1. Middleman Distribution Model: The paper lays out the clear stance of the Board that it doesn’t envision being involved in between the business of the consumers and banking transactions. Non-government institutions and other private financial businesses would be the ones to provide digital accounts to handle CBDC-related payments and transactions.

The Board stated that a system intermediated by private organizations would provide opportunities to leverage the currently existing processes and privacy protection rules that the private ventures have . This could also pose advantages from the private businesses’ capabilities in terms of innovations and reduce major disrupting impacts to the current U.S. banking.

  1. User Identity Verification: The current U.S. financial system provides substantial anti-money-laundering policies, which is similar to what the Board envisions for a U.S CBDC. This would pose a CBDC with systems that would provide innovation capacities to the private businesses and has requirements built to reduce potential credit risks.

Federal Reserve Board mentions in their report:
“As such, it could provide a safe foundation for private-sector innovations to meet current and future demands for payment services. All options for private digital money, including stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies, require mechanisms to reduce liquidity risk and credit risk. But all these mechanisms are imperfect.”

  1. Protection and Privacy: A balance in providing transparency and user protection is essential to avoid potential criminal abuses. This would create a much more engaging services.
  1. Transferability: A CBDC should be transferable between customers and businesses, providing seamless transactions, and providing the actual liabilities to the Board.

Impacts of CBDC on  U.S. Banking

Although a CBDC might look just like a digital form of a nation’s fiat currency, the impact it’s establishment could have is much more complicated, contingent on its form.

Is the American Market Ready for Its Own Central Bank Digital CurrencyThe Board described CBDC as the best replacement for commercial currencies, and this substitution poses benefits in the banking market. Creating a CBDC could help expand banking financial reserves by bringing down aggregate banking deposits, and consequently reduce liability risks for consumers. The Board also pointed out in its paper that a form of CBDC with interest payments could raise demand from the public.

The paper made it clear that the Board do believe that CBDCs are most probably the safest digital asset and could potentially be a safety net during financial crises.

According to the paper:
“The ability to quickly convert other forms of money — including deposits at commercial banks — into CBDC could make runs on financial firms more likely or more severe.”

Currently, the usual public alternative to insurances and other traditional services in times of financial stress are stablecoins. The Board believes that in its existence, a CBDC would be a more attractive refuge.

Crypto stands still and it is here to stay. However, we have a problem. Compliance is not only the tip of the iceberg, but rather a whole new one we are yet to break-off.

Throughout the years, the crypto market and how we view it had immensely evolved. Now, it is no longer perceived as some mysterious thing from the dark corners of the web. It’s a complicated thing that we have been able to accept and understand better, trying to come to grips with what it is and how it works – and we are continuing to do so.

Crypto Has a Compliance ProblemThe rapidly evolving nature of blockchain has shown great opportunities and potential in changing the financial market. However, the anonymity it provides had also shown the inherent potential of being abused by criminals for various scams and money laundering schemes. This and its popularity in the global market have caused scrutiny from the authorities.

By its very nature, cryptocurrencies are freewheeling, unrestrained from currently existing regulations, posing a problem to authorities who are used to well-defined assets, with clear-cut rules. This is the exact same reason why compliance has been, and still remains, a huge challenge for crypto users and operators.

In terms of regulations and compliance, there had been cases in the past which forced government agencies to take action.

Just last 2021, the Justice Department and IRS (Internal Revenue Service) of the U.S. investigated Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange platform. This is due to some reports of a potential money laundering s which had also been a concern by policymakers from Japan, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Recently, the crypto trading platform BitMEX was prosecuted by U.S. courts for claiming that they will be prohibiting American citizens to trade, but allegedly doing the opposite.

These evidently show that we have a problem and so far, the picture is not looking good.

Compliance is a challenge crypto must face one way or another, the sooner, the better.

THE PROBLEM IS TOO BIG TO GRIP WITH

The digital market has never stood still. It constantly presents new forms of crypto-related assets constituting to a big part of the problem – a sundry of transactions to regulate. And as unbeholden and borderless the cryptocurrencies are, assets and transactions to regulate, and regulations itself, can come from different horizons.

For example, the need to comply with state sanctions creates unproportionate rules across the global market. The U.S. had provided specific controls over digital transactions in Iran and Cuba, forcing Binance to ensure the deactivation of accounts from these countries.

There’s also ConsenSys Academy which banned over 50 Iranian users from the platform, in the fear of legal sanctions from the government.

Now, what should the regulators do in facing this challenge?

In order to minimize the size of the issue, the authorities should try to shift their focus away from regulating decentralized and on-chain applications and concentrate on more centralized transactions. Trying to impose regulations on decentralized applications will most likely be nothing but a waste of time, given that these often provide new alternatives.

By applying more rules to fund owners from centralized businesses, we can ensure better integrity for the market, protection for investors, and provide other safeguards essential in ensuring AML (Anti Money laundering).

Crypto Has a Compliance ProblemBut does this does not mean that we should completely abandon retail investors out? Rather, concentrating on centralized protocols and exchanges would likely help avoid market manipulation by huge businesses, which would prevent abuse to retail investors.

ENACTMENT OF THE TRAVEL RULE

According to the CoinDesk, “The Travel Rule means that providers of virtual assets need to collect and share customer data for transactions over a certain threshold. It simply means crypto providers must stick to international rules that ensure the protection of legitimate finance and prevent illicit finance.

In the U.S crypto market, the Travel Rule was used by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by creating a threshold that once reached, a compulsory collection of information for any international transaction is being imposed, as well as a retention for related transfer of information. This is an attempt by the FATF to prevent the public from choosing the most favorable international compliance rules.

Banking firms were the only ones previously involved in the Travel Rule. But back in 2019, the FATF applied the same to crypto organizations, together with their local rules intended for AML.

With the current FATF regulations, the threshold applied is USD 1,000 for transfers involving the U.S. However, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) have recently brought forward a proposal, adjusting the threshold to just USD 250. This creates a new problem for crypto users.

However, it is very much ideal to fully implement the Rule. Realistically, it would be difficult to determine a definite travel system that would perfectly satisfy the market. Aside from this, there is also the issue of anonymity in the blockchain, presenting a challenge on identifying exact owners and addresses involved in the blockchain.

CUSTOMER VERIFICATION: THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM

One primary problem that most crypto businesses face in terms of compliance is the lack of proper customer verification. This makes them more at risk for scams and abuse, facing fake IDs, documentation, and leaked databases.

With a little bit of research, you will see fake accounts being sold at USD 1 on the internet. There are also verified IDs accessible for only USD 300 coming from intercepted databases. More high-end schemes involve seizing information using Deepfakes and unsecured browsers.

These are just a few examples of the overall picture of the problem the crypto market has. There are more sophisticated attacks out there, where users are directly routing themselves to the traps, creating more complicated issues for the industry.

These issues are also expected to strike banking firms that have been recently entering the crypto landscape. Recent studies have shown that banks devote around 4 to 6 % of their revenues to ensure compliance. However, around 10% of these banks lack proper customer verification process, risking insufficient data protection.

COMPLIANCE IS A SERIOUS MATTER

Crypto Has a Compliance ProblemPaul Brody of Ernst & Young Global recently said: “The only way that blockchains will deliver upon their true promise to the world is if public blockchain networks are the preferred path for enterprises and investors.” 

However, the crypto industry must work on ensuring protection and market integrity. Compliance is a huge challenge ahead of us. There is no way for us but to confront and deal with it head-on. Postponing the much-needed confrontation and overlooking the problems will just lead us to much more complicated challenges down the road.

In the traditional landscape, financial firms are mostly unenthusiastic in scrapping off their profit margin to deal with compliance. Businesses are mostly reluctant and tend to underinvest when it comes to ensuring proper regulations. However, investing as early as possible would likely save us from more issues that could snowball in time

Compliance problems have been here since the birth of the crypto industry. It is a challenge we must solve as soon as possible, or else, more damage might strike us that will be too late to cope with.

We in COREDO provide crypto compliance consultation and services. Reach us through the below link so we can help you.

Contacts

Central banks have been the heart of financial systems since the very beginning. They use a variety of strategies to achieve their countries’ mandates, which we call monetary policies. These banks control the money supply and interest rates, and their actions greatly impact imports, exports, and local and foreign investments.

However, take note that central banks operate with intermediaries and physical offices which require additional fees for its users and salary expenses for the employers, respectively.

Now, cryptocurrency barged in and introduced itself as an alternative to central banks in terms of economic and technological functions. In the case of its top coin, bitcoin (BTC), it allows users to make payments without third-party involvement.

Bitcoin as a traditional bank killerInstead, through “peer-to-peer” transactions, only. This concept gave an upper hand to bitcoin versus central banks as it solves three problems traditional banks are facing:

  1. First, due to BTC’s secured cryptography, it cannot be used for double-spending. Meaning, hacking and replication are avoidable, as one can’t spend it more than once.
  2. Second, given that transaction in bitcoin needs approval from nodes in its global market, it generates trust among clients. Hence, although BTC is decentralized, single disapproval would make a requested payment transfer ineligible.
  3. Lastly, as it is decentralized, it terminates intermediaries in trading different cryptocurrencies. It, then, can streamline transactions into one process which results in a cheaper and faster alternative than traditional financial systems.

Problems with Bitcoin

As BTC poses threat to the financial systems used for decades, several institutions and individuals tried to sabotage bitcoin by naming it a Ponzi scheme, fraud, or an accomplice of criminals and terrorists.

There are also criticisms raised for it being improperly regulated, illegitimate, and anonymous. Further, bitcoin’s standard legal status is still unidentified across the globe and only a few nations recognize bitcoin as a legal tender.

One of the examples was when the Chief Executive Officer of J.P. Morgan Chase, James Dimon, called bitcoin a “fraud” in September 2017. However, even with their efforts to destroy bitcoin, they had no choice but to go with the emerging industry.

As such, J.P. Morgan is now considered as the first bank to offer metaverse, presenting a virtual image of their CEO, Mr. Dimon, in their company’s lounge.

Other banking institutions are now also trying to catch up with the crypto industry and hoping to gain from it. Why? Simple – crypto is what customers want.

Banks’ current struggles

We are at a time when the financial system is longed to be defined. As mentioned earlier, central banks have been the heart of this system. With these banks, payments and the creation of credits have been easy, and without it, monetary transactions could be in chaos.

However, for the past ten years, one cannot deny the fact that even if these traditional institutions tried to block the emergence of technological improvements, the financial revolution still occurred. That is in the case of bitcoin and other virtual trading systems such as “peer-to-peer” lending, crowd-sourced investments, and other financial system innovations.

Bitcoin as a traditional bank killerThis brought about the struggle for the banks since they now have zero option but to go with the booming crypto industry and get out of their bubble.

The concept of banking is that money coming from the deposits of clients is then invested in a loaning program for other customers. They manage the cash flow by working with their countries’ governments. A classic example of intermediaries.

The good thing about bitcoin is that it does not operate with intermediaries. Cryptocurrencies such as BTC work by allowing an individual or a company to trade straightforwardly.

This left the banks currently with no choice but to sprint with the fast-pacing innovations and are even trying to convince regulators to decelerate the crypto industry to make way for laws that would be to their advantage.

Catching up with crypto

Going back to J.P. Morgan, they released a report that there are as many as three hundred banks that will enable clients to trade BTC through mobile applications starting quarters one and two of the current year.

In addition, a Manhattan-based newspaper company that focuses on financial services, American Banker, conducted a survey and showed that forty-four percent of traditional banks will be offering cryptocurrency services before 2023 starts.

Another multinational financial company, Visa, started to provide crypto consulting services in 2021. They also launched a series of apps that offers BTC support to banking institutions.

Mastercard, on the other hand, is now lending a hand to banks in terms of navigation of virtual currencies. This includes basic education for beginners, evaluation of potential risks, and cryptocurrency and non-fungible token strategies.

NYDG, a bitcoin company that is a subsidiary of USD 10B-worth NY-based fund manager, Stone Ridge, collaborated with a big financial tech company, FIS. Their goal is to allow banks in the United States to start offering BTC months from now. Right now, hundreds of banks already signed up for the program.

Simultaneously, more and more banks across the globe are investing in crypto and blockchain technology. To back this claim up, thirteen of the biggest banks in the world have investments amounting to about USD 3B in the said industry.

As per a study conducted by Blockdata, you may find through the below the top investors in crypto companies and their number of investments:

  • Barclays Bank – 19
  • Citigroup Inc. – 9
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – 8
  • JP Morgan Chase and Co. – 7
  • Banque Nationale de Paris and Paribas – 6

Another research from Cornerstone Advisors suggests that sixty percent of cryptocurrency holders prefer to utilize banks in investing in crypto. Some thirty-two percent said that they may do the same, and four percent claimed that they would not use banks in crypto investments.

If you are going to investigate the regulations side, there is good news as well. United States President Joe Biden signed an executive order to further examine the risks and advantages of cryptocurrencies. This made banks become more at ease with the said virtual financial platform.

Now, traditional banks indeed do not have a choice. Right now, all they have is the trust of customers. Technology is not on their side. They need to catch up with these technological innovations in the financial sector and be competitive. Otherwise, they will be swallowed by the waves of cryptocurrency.

Need more crypto advice? Connect with us at Coredo.

What is Bitcoin Mining?

In cryptocurrency, there is a variety of coins to be traded. One of those is bitcoin (BTC). Bitcoin enthusiasts often acquire them through mining. It is the process of producing new bitcoin by solving mathematical puzzles. More specifically, computers are equipped with specialized microchips where the puzzles are loaded. Miners are then rewarded with bitcoin once these puzzles are solved.

NextGen Nordics Top Nordic region newsSince the process depends on electricity, it is harmful to the environment if the source of energy is fossil fuels. Hence, it is highly encouraged to perform bitcoin mining in countries where there are renewable energy sources to reduce its negative impact in the environment which may contribute to climate change.

Bitcoin mining in the Nordic region

The Nordic region is considered to be one of the best places to mine bitcoin. This is because they already use renewable energy sources.

In fact, the majority of the top countries for bitcoin mining are in this region. Further, there are no current restrictions or bans on cryptocurrency mining. Hence, a “Bitcoin’s green haven” indeed.

NextGen Nordics

Now, let us introduce to you a company from the Nordic region which brings together several institutions to provide payments innovation – NextGen Nordics. Their program includes central and banking communities, and both public and private trading beneficiaries to technologically improve payment systems in the Nordic region.

They planned to have a conference on the 27th of April of the current year and you may register through this link.

In line with this, let us give you some top news from the region.

  1. Sweden’s Green BTC Industry

Having been supporting the green movement, Sweden expanded its crypto industry to be on the same track. A Swedish company, Genesis Digital Assets just publicized that it will launch its newest bitcoin mining system in 2024. The private industrial-scale bitcoin miner claimed that the new mining process is self-hosted and is expected to have a 100-megawatt of power capacity. Further, the power to be used will come from 100 percent clean energy resources. Statistically, 54.5 percent is from hydroelectricity, 42.8 from nuclear, and 2.7 from wind energy. You may read more from here.

  1. Denmark’s Neobank Lunar

Neobanks are financial technology companies that provide internet-only financial services. They usually lack physical branches which traditional fintech companies have.

One of the neobanks in Denmark is Lunar. They claimed to offer the country’s lowest priced business account which has an all-in functionality.

Now, this bank increased its capital by up to EUR 70 million while preparing for the roll out of its new trading system and Business-to-Business payment solutions. The whole financing process is an addition to the bank’s EUR 210 million fund in 2021. Lunar, now, has gained a total of EUR 345 million and reached almost EUR 2 billion in valuation.

As per their Chief Executive Officer, Ken Villium, the garnered funds will empower them to keep up the pace in their expansion in the Nordic region.

In detail, they even started a new Nordic platform for crypto at the beginning of 2022 which made their business partners accept and trace card payments through the web. This new offer will allow their users to exchange and liquidate crypto coins like ETH, ADA, DOT, and DOGE via Lunar app.

They are also expecting to have mergers and acquisitions ventures for their Nordic customers.

  1. Visa’s acquisition of Tink

On the 10th of March 2022, the multinational financial company, Visa, announced that they have already acquired Tink.

The acquired company is a European open banking institution that enables financial firms, financial technologies, and traders to create financial goods and services, and transfer money.

Before its acquisition, Tink is already working with over 3400 banks and other financial firms in Europe. Now that the acquisition has been completed, it is expected for the users to deliver significant benefits in controlling their financial experiences which include management of their money, data, and goals.

According to Visa Europe’s Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Hogg, as virtual instruments are now the new heart of the economy, this acquisition will greatly empower financial systems as it will bring forth a better choice and quality for the clients.

On the other hand, Tink’s Chief Executive Officer and cofounder emphasized that Visa would provide them with an increased connection to another 15000 financial companies, and they could also make use of Visa’s reputable image to further improve the financial sector in Europe, and even across the globe.

NextGen Nordics Top Nordic region newsThough Tink has already been acquired, it will still operate independently in the near future having its current management continue with the organization’s leadership.

Check this link for more information.

  1. Cardlay’s capital increased by USD 6 million

A Danish fintech company, Cardlay, has just secured an investment worth USD 6M or DKK 40M. In context, Cardlay offers financial solutions to enable and serve banking and other financial institutions. They intend to provide an easy spending process through their advanced and smart commercial payments system.

Cardlay received its fund from the existing investors they have and is planning to allocate it in further developing their commercial payments solutions, connect with another international bank, and serve an order for a German client.

Further, the financial company also publicized that it would appoint its new Information Technology director, which is Morten Christensen, a previous employee of BankData and Energinet, and the recipient of 2019 European Chief Information Officer of the Year.

  1. Pleo’s new CPO

Another Danish company which specializes in smart cards and automated expense reports, Pleo, welcomes it new Chief People Officer (CPO) – Mette Hindborg Gade.

Before joining her new company, Mette worked at McKinsey and Company as an Associate Partner. She has a background in engineering and a professional in leadership and problem solving. Gade has also been working with Pleo to help build, start, launch the smart company’s new process unit.

This innovation will allow the company to move into fifteen more markets, recruit more than 500 employees across the globe, and improve career growth and inclusion for its current employees, all before 2023 starts.

JPMorgan launches its own virtual world in the metaverse, predicting huge market opportunity in virtual gaming and virtual real estate properties.

Marking as the pioneering bank to set foot in the metaverse, JP Morgan had officially opened its own “lounge” in Decentraland, currently one of the most popular blockchain-based virtual reality gaming platforms. This makes JPMorgan the first banking firm to get involved in the metaverse, as it eyes on huge market opportunities.

The metaverse, is a 3D virtual world that features content for social interaction among its users in augmented reality. Currently, arguably the largest augmented reality platform in the market is Decentraland, which is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Decentraland allows its users to experience and monetize in-game content while exploring its virtual world.

Read More: https://itsblockchain.com/decentraland-complete-beginners-guide/

JPMorgan Launches OnyxJPMorgans’ own space in Decentraland is named Onyx, which features a virtual shopping district called Metaiuku, copied from Harajuku District in Japan. Upon entering Onyx, users are greeted by a tiger that wanders around, with a picture of Jamie Dimon, the Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan. The lounge also currently features videos about the banks’ achievements in the blockchain space and talks about fintech and crypto market.

Money and Opportunities – What JPMorgan Sees

Upon launching Onyx, JPMorgan had expressed how they see “limitless” opportunities and huge market potential that the metaverse presents. The bank’s perception of this 3D augmented reality focuses on how the economy of metaverse offers potential opportunities in various areas and how the dynamics of the offered supply and demanded products drives the people into the market.

Based on the bank’s previous press release, they currently see around US$1 trillion of annual gains in the metaverse. There’s currently no doubt on this given how the virtual and digital market has skyrocketed over the last year.

The Sandbox and its rival, Decentraland, two of the biggest virtual reality platforms, reported almost $500 million of sales for around 90 thousand virtual item transactions in 2021. Second Life, an online metaverse gaming platform, reported roughly $700 million in GDP for the past year.

Currently, NFTs offer a $41 billion market cap. In recent months, six of the biggest virtual platform brought over $160 million of sales on Opensea, one of the biggest NFT trading platforms.

See also: Opensea, biggest NFT market place

Although prices for metaverse properties have skyrocketed over the past year, price is only one factor contributing to the spotlight on metaverse. There’s also the various potential to commercialize virtual properties in gaming, content creation, and other ventures.

With its recent entrance into the space of metaverse, JPMorgan aims to be one of the pioneers in the market by industrializing its own brand in the economy.

Engaging 3D Gaming Ecosystem and Virtual Property Ownership

JPMorgan Launches OnyxAs mentioned in the metaverse statement released by JPMorgan, the firm is ready to traverse the various rooms that the metaverse pose. The bank ensures that the success they will aim to build will be highly contingent on establishing a well-built financial system that allows flexibility to the people in interacting via the 3D digital reality.

The bank mentioned that it’s eyeing to enable a gaming environment that will mirror the global financial economy. They intend to institutionalize a digital landscape with its own in-game items, payment methods, and digital assets, which users can commercialize and monetize. Given its global high-standard banking ecosystem, JPMorgan believes that this is a huge opportunity for them to initiate the same in the metaverse.

Virtual property ownership is also one key opportunity area that JPMorgan seeks to enter. This is in line with the recent rise of virtual real estate prices in the market. Just in six months last 2021, prices for virtual lands skyrocketed, amounting to $12,000 in the month of June.

JPMorgan believes that virtual property ownership would be a profitable area on their end since they have already developed a competitive stance on real-world real estate lending. The bank envisions a virtual real-estate market that will mirror the banking ecosystem and services provided in the real world, such as lending, rents, mortgages, and credits.

However, some financial analysts believe that the Metaverse will require a different type of banking ecosystem and that the current financial foundations might not be as functional in the metaverse economy.

 Inventors Seeing Metaverse as a “Worth It” Venture

Even though JPMorgan had been the pioneering bank to mark its existence in the virtual space, there were multiple investor giants who have already foresees the virtual space as a potential trillion-dollar venture.

JPMorgan Launches OnyxThe rival global banks and investment services companies Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had previously acknowledged the potential of the virtual world. Goldman Sachs believes that the meta-economy poses a global market opportunity with potential gains of $8 trillion, while Morgan Stanley only sees it as a huge investment in China.

Last 2021, Cathie Wood of Ark Invest mentioned that the metaverse will eventually enter different sections of the economy, going beyond the current gaming and virtual property areas. She believes that with its limitless potential, metaverse could be a multi-trillion opportunity.

Grayscale, one of the largest crypto and digital currency investing companies, mentioned in a press release that it foresees more than $1 trillion dollars annual sales for the meta-economy given the potential of blockchains in the digital world.

Multiple bank analysts have also noted that the metaverse market could reach $4 trillion in China alone as it provides a more interactive platform to the public but could go higher than $8 trillion once investors have explored different opportunities like education and real-estate ownership.

Given the huge opportunity it poses, it is expected by most that more banks and investors will probably join the metaverse within the next years.

Are you interested to learn more about metaverse? We have experts that can help you!

In any business, the basic rule is simple – how you provide your service dictates how satisfied the customers would be. Is the transaction fast? Are the requirements easy to acquire? Or the is process too complex?

In the current financial market, many companies have already transitioned their processes to a more modernized and digitized way to better cater their customers.

Applying for a bank loan? Of course, you would expect to know whether it was approved or not immediately.

Getting a new credit card? You would want to receive updates in real-time.

Financial companies are now expected to provide every detail in the palm of your hand – transaction records, purchase statuses, and historical summaries should be instantly accessible.

Most financial transactions are now digital for customers, but the supporting procedures pose vast room for optimization. The underlying processes involved in these transactions are usually still manual which are most likely negatively impact the end-to-end experience of the consumers.

This exact thing is the ultimate challenge for most companies who have relied on traditional practices and are now trying to evolve their processes. It involves great pressure created by the demand for a more digital experience in order to compete.

To be able to keep pace in the competition, financial institutions should take a look into the “paradox” of modernizing their rigid traditional processes.

Digital KYC: Might be a Double-Edged Sword

Since the birth of FinTech, the market has rapidly transitioned to digitalized processes in providing services to the consumers. This caused over-the-roof expectations from the public when it comes to financial services. At the forefront, you can say that these digital solutions are seamless.

Customer Satisfaction in FinTechHowever, the underlying steps and procedures involved are still, in most cases, manual.

For most complex processes, there are most likely supporting procedures that are being manually completed at the back end. These pose a disjointed end-to-end user experience leading to customer dissatisfaction.

Normally, companies rely on technology solutions when it comes to process improvements. This commonly involved automation which include applications that are supposed to manage data and step-by-step processes from a manual to a digital form.

These type of streamlining come as project initiatives with a team as oversight to the overall transition, matching and mapping, lots of testing and loads of meetings, just to improve a single process. These, of course, usually require resources and huge efforts.

You might think that these kinds of projects should greatly lessen manual tasks and the overall workforce needed. However, it’s the opposite that usually happens. In most cases, tool improvements have led to an increase in the human workforce.

Humans are usually not eliminated, but rather, given new tasks that relate to the connection of the manual and digital procedures. These tasks usually include compliance checks and are usually more complex, hence, need more staff. One example of this is the bank giant ABN Amro which has previously shown a great increase in its compliance workforce. In 2013, they have around 1,000 staffs. Come 2019, the number skyrocketed by thrice of this.

It is undeniable that digital automation give companies the opportunity to re-engineer their processes, with the aim of providing much smoother services to the customers.

However, if not done right, digitalization could be a double-edged sword. Aside from the fact that it would most likely increase cost, manual complex processes could also lead to an increase in waiting time and longer retention, leading to unsatisfied customers.

Recalibrate and Break the Paradox

To ensure that a process change would likely provide benefits to the company and drive customer satisfaction, businesses should start with a thorough assessment of all manual steps involved in a specific process. With this, it could be determined whether that certain process could potentially be transformed to drive a positive impact.

Customer Satisfaction in FinTechThe first thing you can consider is to assess whether that specific activity could be completely removed. Take a look into its essence and identify if it is really necessary or is it something you can streamline or better, eliminate.

If not, further analyze and ask the question, is it something that can be automated?

There are many existing technologies that do not require advanced knowledge in programming. You can leverage no-code applications involving machine learning and data processing that once developed, do not need any manual intervention.

With these no-code platforms, you can instil technical capabilities to your staff even though they do not have a great foundation in IT. This could potentially lead to creating a work environment that highly promotes and values digitization.

By performing proper examinations to the company’s day-to-day practices, businesses would be able to transform complex tasks and procedures into highly efficient processes.

Appropriate streamlining and automation could help break the potential of digital processes in creating unsatisfactory services, and instead provide a better end-to-end user experience.

What is bitcoin?

Created in 2009, Bitcoin (BTC) is a digital currency operating through peer-to-peer technology. Unlike the traditional currencies we know, it does not rely on bank or government operations, but instead, on cryptography.

To those who are interested in the convenience of transacting through the internet, BTC is a big help since it was designed with the ambition of being an alternative to the existing remittance systems we currently have. Even better, it is free from central control but functions as fine as traditional currencies.

Problems with BTC

More than a decade passed, and bitcoin has now become one of the top financial assets the public considers. However, there have been multiple criticisms with regard to the crypto coin. These include the virtual currency’s regulations, safety, and anonymity.

Is-Bitcoin-AnonymousIn this article, our goal is to focus on the issue of BTC being referred to as “anonymous”. Meaning, can criminals use it for their advantage?

Well, let us tell you right now. The answer is no, they are not anonymous. The law can trace bitcoin and illegal activities can’t be covered.

Sample Case

There are many cases involving bitcoin. There are hacking situations, fraudulent acts, and illegal use of bitcoins in private institutions, including on and offline transactions. Let us focus on one of the top cases in the field.

In the Republic of Korea (ROK), there is a man named Jong Woo Son. He runs the largest child porn site ever caught by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Welcome to Video”. The law enforcers raided Son’s house and saw 250000 tape recordings as evidence. He was then declared guilty in 2019 and will also be indicted in the United States should he flee into the country.

How did the Federal know about this case in the first place? Well, because of bitcoin. With its blockchain, the criminal had profits coming from as much as one million bitcoin locations. Take note that each virtual address or location is unique. Now, since the blockchain is transparent to each user, the enforcers bought and sent the payment to the porn site’s crypto wallet.

They, then, traced to which crypto trading platform it was transferred to and for the record, it was Coinbase. On this platform, Mr. Son was forced to comply with anti-money laundering control by providing his self-identification credentials.

Taking off the Disguise

We mentioned earlier that bitcoin is not anonymous. Instead, it is something that rhymes with said word – pseudonymous. What is a pseudonym? It refers to someone or something that uses a fake or fictitious name, a disguise we may say.

This gave an upper hand to the authorities in tracing bitcoin. How? It is via the two different key codes a single BTC has – public and private.

For a background, public code refers to crypto being identified on a blockchain. The latter refers to those who have the necessity to transfer crypto from one virtual pocket to a second one.

This 2-key code structure made the online payment process possible for every digital coin by allowing them to be sent straightforwardly without any intervention from financial companies or banks. Meaning, the process cuts off the 3rd party involvement from a transaction, only relying on the two main parties who sends and receives the payment. Therefore, this does not involve any trust to both parties as every transaction is recorded on a blockchain.

Having this concept being publicly known prevents double-spending — which is a scheme where an individual uses a single cryptocurrency more than once. Hence, its anonymity is indeed not true since the crypto coin can be traced from when and where it was acquired until when it will be transferred.

The problem is that its owner will still not be disclosed during the tracing. It will be, though, when a person’s identification credentials will be required through a privatized key code. The said code is for one-time use only and will be burned once used. After so, a current one will be released when the new owner receives it. Thus, both people in the trade will not have any idea of who sent it or received it, but there will still be evidence that a cryptocurrency settlement has been done due to the blockchain.

We said that the owners are not disclosed, rather, they are covered by the publicized key codes that are accompanied by privatized ones- a pseudonym it is.

However, it is also worth noting that though there are private key codes, they are different from rightful or legally recognized owners.

Nevertheless, several cryptocurrency holders get away with this. For example, Monero is a private cryptocurrency company that is considered to be the best at hiding transactions. The secret is that they mix business solutions and split the arrangement string by sending BTCs from a certain class of separate holders and then trading them in a random sequence.

Finding the Exit Lane

Cryptocurrency tokens such as BTCs are convertible to cash. However, remember that the process involves taxation and of course, a 3rd party broker. To explain this clearly, the 3rd party will act as the intermediary between the exchange of your coin and the money to be sent to your bank account. These 3rd party vendors require identification proof before an individual can withdraw and it usually takes two to three business days to process the request.

Take note that this meticulous requirement got the trust of experts of the field because of its safe and reliable fund security.

This made it possible for the criminal we mentioned earlier to be caught. The Korean criminal got out of his hiding when he intended to cash out his acquired bitcoins.

Is-Bitcoin-AnonymousAnother case where bitcoin is involved is of the couple Heather and Ilya Lichtenstein. They were caught when they tried to checkout a USD 500 worth Walmart card via cryptocurrency. Based on the investigation, they plundered USD 4.5B of crypto from Bitfinex trading in the year 2016 and were taken into custody on February 8th of the current year.

We can also look into another case where a person was tracked down since he used an e-mail address that is connected to a virtual wallet.

See how the law enforcers took bitcoin as their trump card? Online trading may be possible with crypto, but it is difficult to use it illegally in our society without intervention from a 3rd party. This is because there is a thing called “Know-Your-Customer” which requires people to submit their identification credentials to those licensed money transfer institutions.

The only way to skip the legal process is by letting your money be handled by criminals.

Studies in tracing illegal blockchain activities are not yet done. In fact, it is just starting. Experts and regulators are highly invested in how the industry works – from small details to general information. Patterns are also being observed to solve the puzzle of its complexity.

The good thing is, they are now identifying the hacks and secrets of crypto, even before platform designers and hackers do.

Have you ever thought about why Decentralized Finance (DeFi) emerged quickly in the financial technology world? Well, let us explain to you what the hype is all about.

DeFi-is-Taking-Over-the-Institutional-MarketsFirst off, let’s get to know Decentralized Finance or DeFi per se. DeFi is a system that provides financial services without the need for intermediaries.

For better understanding let’s look at its opposite, Centralized Finance. In Centralized Finance, your money is within the banks or institutions, and hence, the control is theirs. For example, you purchased a bag using your credit card. It will be charged from the seller to your bank, and will then be forwarded for payment.

The difference is that, in DeFi, asset and business owners are allowed to control their own transactions using the said technology. It promises that it can do almost all the things a normal financial institution can do, but even better. They claimed that since intermediaries and normal paper works are no longer needed, the transactions within DeFi are also faster.

The way it works is through a computerized peer-to-peer ecosystem, which does not have any barrier and is open to all. Meaning, it is like a digital option to brokerages and venture banks such as Wall Street or the City of London, but since it is digitized, there are no added costs for office spaces and employee salaries.

With all these benefits of DeFi, its Total Value Locked (TVL) blew up from USD700 million to about USD20 billion in a period of only one year and is currently assessed to be as much as $200 billion based on this link.

In fact, DeFi’s first project, Maker, has been a topnotcher with regards to TVL of ether among all DeFi systems ever since it started. For a little background, it is a permissionless loaning platform that created DAI, the very first Ethereum-based decentralized stable coin.

This emerging system definitely keeps drawing people and other financial institutions to even consider DeFi products as a form of exchange. To back this claim up, the United States (US) has just announced that stable coins will be offered as income returned on the users’ investments.

Institutions Drawn by DeFi

According to Dexalot’s COO, Tim Shan, three major enterprises namely State Street Corporation, Fidelity Investments Inc, and BNY Mellon, have now put their money into the digital currency industry and started offering services of the same.

State Street. This $40 trillion-worth custody bank already began to have crypto-based services as its investment approach to their private-reserve clients by launching their digital division for the past year.

As per Shan, even the most traditional Repurchase Agreement (Repo) markets started to lend on bitcoin, from their usual transactions using treasuries, securities, and bonds.

Though DeFi started with its goal of only having services like loaning and to be used in a proof-of-stake process, others are optimistic about its progress.

James Taylor, the Chief Business Officer of Unizen, a line that caters to both central exchange and decentralized trading, emphasized that DeFi is undoubtedly drawing businesses since it presents improved credit risk management and higher return of investment than the usual bonds, and therefore gives more confidence to the clients.

Regulations

Global regulators are now more engrossed in this financial technology due to its fast-paced progress. It has been emphasized by the Chairman of United States (US) SEC and former investment banker, Gary Gensler, that DeFi isn’t exempted from surveillance. More so, it is worth noting that one of the main concerns is its legal organization type.

Filling in the spot of the business’ regulatory system, United States’ Congress has formed a paradigm to regulate it in the country. The said framework consists of specified roles for its different agencies.

As for the global framework of cryptocurrency and computerized assets, the ex-chief of BIS Innovation Hub, Benoît Cœuré, spilled that talks about the issue have intensified because of the emerging DeFi industry.

In addition, UDHC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Steven Becker, compared DeFi to oceans. In his view, even though you can’t control oceans, you can still control ports and shipping systems. Hence, the company’s main point of business is now on decentralized finance with regard to government laws.

Educational development, and operation and user-friendly approach. These are the suggestions of a governing body at HyperDex, Stefano Jeantet. Jenatet claimed that developers must break the information barrier and thrive to have an operation that is less intimidating for customary investors.

In conclusion, more input from regulators must be obtained in order for the public money (i.e. pensions, taxes, etc.) to be funded in DeFi freely.

Answers from Institutional Markets

Several institutions have answered questions thrown at the industry. First is VALK. This end-to-end digital transaction platform in United Kingdom (UK) is included in UK’s Financial Conduct Authority’s regulatory sandbox. This allows them to have goods and service testing in an environment with controlled parameters.

DeFi-is-Taking-Over-the-Institutional-MarketsVALK created a digital wallet that authorizes companies to be in charge of their DeFi fund on a single environment using one account. This is called Merlin. It is one of those programs that is indeed an answer to the flourishing DeFi system.

Another one is from Aave. This $12 billion worth of TVL enterprise has introduced “flash loans”. It is one of their flagship products that allows clients to get loans without collateral, the first in the said financial industry.

Where are we now?

According to VALK’s study, DeFi holds 30% of the investment in the global market and is anticipated to add 39% further in the next six months.

However, it was also identified that investors are worried on the regulation side, which is about 54%, and 52% on being secured.

As a whole, 84% of the participants are still waiting for the regulatory system to be improved in 3 years, and 12% for the bank-related aspects.

Antoine Loth of VALK and Mr. B. Mahoney of Alkemi, a liquidity network company, have the same perspectives. They expressed that since DeFi is quickly emerging, it must be transparent and liquid, just as what financiers are looking for.

What’s next?

It was found out through VALK’s research that 69% of funders are into DeFi through web browsers as their digital wallets, 48% through tangible ones, and about 43% through custodians. On the other hand, 27% of them are into privacy-preserving computation, and 83% are on merging-based programs.

In conclusion, decentralized finance (DeFi) has really evolved rapidly, but its journey is still long. One cannot say yet that it is already a replacement to the traditional institutions we have in the financial world.

Got questions about this article? We have experts at Coredo who are more than glad to assist you.

Diving in with the NFT craze this year? Here’s the top 5 NFT projects that are best for your investments.

Have you ever heard of NFTs? Who am I kidding, of course you have. Over the years, cryptocurrency has immensely changed our view of finance and investments. Its unprecedented rise in the market shocked economies, to the point that it’s difficult not to know or at least hear about it, for which NFT is not an exception.

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, can be anything. It can be a photo, an art collection, audio or an in-game item and it has been paving the way for blockchain adaptation through the years. Based on a study made by  nonfungibletoken.com,  spending on NFTs last month of May 2021 amounted to over $75 million. As you might have guessed, only an upward trajectory is expected in the following years. Given its natural adaptability and capacity to evolve, the limit is out of the horizon, and only growth is anticipated.

Currently, a variety of NFTs are on their way to stardom. These have differing types of projects, platforms, and concepts per se. They differ depending on what specific blockchain is involved, markets and areas they target to capture, and even the type of NFT or “products” involved. It can be in a form of digital arts you might want to collect, or short videos that excite you.

Given NFTs’ current popularity in the market, we know that you might want to broaden your knowledge and most probably invest in such. If so, you may want to check below top 5 NFT projects that we think is best for your investment.

TOP 5 NFT project this 2022:

CRYPTOPUNKS

Top on the list is one of the most popular and more unique NFT projects in the current mainstream market – CryptoPunks. CryptoPunks is a collection of pixilated digital arts being monetized as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) living under the ETH (Ethereum) blockchain. It has been one of the pioneers in this concept since its first rise in 2017, and currently, there are over 10,000 “punks” collectables available in the market.

The idea was inspired in the age of the English punk scene, featuring various forms. Some are monkey-like, human, alien, with different features making each punk unique and cannot be replicated. These NFT collectibles being crazed with all over the internet is available in two of the biggest NFT platforms, Larva Labs and OpenSea.

Same with other NFT collectibles, CryptoPunks are usually utilized as investments that can be bought and sold, with its own risks and benefits. Although there‘s no guarantee for future returns, being backed by a huge community is a solid reason to believe that these are of great value as investment assets. As of writing, the most expensive cryptopunk collectable ever sold amounted to $11 million.

Twitter Account: @larvalabs

Website: https://www.larvalabs.com/cryptopunks

Read More: https://nftnow.com/guides/cryptopunks-guide/

 

BORED APE YACHT CLUB (BAYC)

If you have spent a specific amount of time watching TV or browsing Twitter, you have most probably seen a Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT. Many famous celebrities, such as Jimmy Fallon, Eminem and Stephen Curry, have already joined the hype for this. Bored Ape Yacht Club, also an NFT project inheriting from Ethereum blockchain with punk-related concepts, have been successful through the years from an internet sensation turning to an influential NFT brand.

TOP 5 NFT PROJECTS TO INVEST IN 2022Same with CyptoPunks, each “apes” has different items building its rarity. Currently, there are only a total of 10,000 apes existing in the market, in which the highest selling item went for almost $3 million. This limited supply might be perceived as a disadvantage to make investors back out, however, given the popularity, the large community it had developed, and a number of celebrities and brands joining the craze, that fixed supply could be anticipated as more valuable and profitable.

Twitter: @BoredApeYC

Website: https://boredapeyachtclub.com/

Read More: https://nftnow.com/guides/bored-ape-yacht-club-guide/

 

MUTANT APE YACHT CLUB (MAYC)

As you might have guessed from the name itself, this one is basically a “mutated” spin-off of Bored Ape Yacht Club. Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC), which started as a project to support investors who could not afford BAYC NFTs, is also now a huge hit among investors and mimicking the success of its “forefather”.

Mutant Ape Yacht Club’s success propelled through the months of year 2021, and now consists of 20,000 mutated apes. This project basically introduces an entirely different NFT collection which is exclusively available for traders at OpenSea. Anticipation and continuous success are deliberately expected by the market as more and more brands and celebrities get involved in this project.

Twitter: @babymutantape

Website: https://opensea.io/collection/mutant-ape-yacht-club

Read More: https://www.finder.com/mutant-ape-yacht-club

See also: Opensea, biggest NFT market place

 

Cool Cats

Cool Cats, also a take on digital arts concept of NFT, has considerably grown ever since its drop last July 2021. One can say that it launched on a perfect timing, taking advantage on the early rise of Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC). Cool Cats is also built on-top of Ethereum blockchain, which consists of cat-like collection of 9,999 NFTs. These collections feature unique traits in each cat, with various items, outfits, and color, some making the cat rare.

One main reason why Cool Cats have remained on top is due to the various perks that the project provides to its owners. It claims to give back at least 20% of ETH raised in the market to the community via airdrops. Investors have chosen to hold their cool cat NFTs due to the occasional contests and giveaways the project has.

However, since it hit the market, there has been a considerable decrease in prices. But don’t worry, there are still various reasons to believe that Cool Cats could continue to grow given the solid community of holders it has created. There are also many celebrities and prominent collectors getting involved in the craze.

Twitter: @coolcatsnft

Website: https://www.coolcatsnft.com/

Read More: https://nftnow.com/guides/cool-cats-guide/

 

DECENTRALAND

Aside from the realm of digital arts, one of the best use cases of NFTs is in online gaming. This concept has provided to have huge growth capabilities and has been in the mainstream market over the years. One of the first blockchain-based games to pioneer this field is Decentraland.

Decentraland, powered by Ethereum blockchain, is a virtual reality (VR) gaming platform which allows users to experience and monetize in-game items and contents. It is perhaps one of the most popular NFT games in the virtual land platforms. In this game, you can buy and sell 3D land within its virtual reality universe, in which you can control with your own creativity.

Owning a land will allow you to build all sorts of things such as galleries, arenas, or whatever you desire, which you can explore and create content with.

Twitter: @decentraland

Website: https://decentraland.org/

Read More: https://itsblockchain.com/decentraland-complete-beginners-guide/

 

Interested to learn more about NFTs? Let our team in COREDO help you! We have blockchain experts ready to assist you!

Have you ever thought of how blockchains can directly connect with each other? Like, how can they operate to vitally enable crypto owners to exchange their data and multiple cryptocurrencies without compromising the time and cost for the said trade?

The answer? Bridge protocols. These bridges work by taking a fund in crypto using one currency — let’s say, for example, Solana (SOL), and then putting it in stake in a bridge protocol, resulting in a token that can be used on the second blockchain of your choice, in this case, for example, Etherium (ETH).

This makes bridges a very important part of crypto settlements, in particular, decentralized finance (DeFi). However, as crypto industry spreads past decentralized application (DApp) platform Ethereum up to multiple driven blockchains, including metaverses, non-fungible token (NFT) markets, and lending programs, crypto-proprietors are currently being siloed in blockchains that can’t straightforwardly speak with one another. They are at risk.

What’s worse is that hackers have been very active, making as much as $1 billion since last August.

For a breakdown, the thieves got $425 million for three bridge protocols in the last two weeks. Then, another $612 million from the case of Poly Network in August (though for the record, Poly hacker returned everything back).

Nonetheless, bridges still want to be in the market, more so, being ambitious. For example, the Polkadot blockchain bridge empowers clients to automate the trading operation and add information to the exchange. As a result, one could take crypto tokens from the 100-sub blockchains it will host and then send them directly to another blockchain, let’s say DeFi lending or borrowing program, and even add commands to invest the tokens in a specified loaning pool to gain interest.

Cross-Chain Crypto Payments: Is it Safe or NotThis will add convenience to the exchanging activity, plus it could likewise successfully transform the siloed crypto blockchain industry into one system. Consequently, a major objective in the business will be accomplished.

The Problem

Looking at the recent crimes below, let’s explore the problem.

  • Wormhole’s $325 million theft, Jan. 27
  • Qubit’s $80 million loss, Feb. 8
  • $4.4 million attack on Meter Passport, Feb. 5.

First, being just online. Sender’s tokens must be typically stored into the bridge protocol straightforwardly. Meaning, they are kept on the web, and subsequently, considered as the powerless “hot wallet”.

Second, minting is the way these tokens generally get through the cross-chain cryptocurrency swap. “Wrapped” renditions of the beneficiary’s tokens are what’s being exchanged. Therefore, if a hacker can mint these wrapped tokens, they can redeem them for TKTK, and then can send them off right away to their private wallets and coin mixing services.

The catch is, if bridge protocols are ripped off, it’s not the cryptocurrency exchange or DApp development company that suffers. It’s the huge number of individual clients who took a chance with their cash completely all alone.

In contrast, the investment firm which backs Wormhole, Jump Crypto, “replenished” its funds with $320 million worth of ether. This strategy is effectively keeping their investment from being bankrupt and is accepted to be reimbursed over the long run.

The Theft, Explained

Binance Smart Chain (BSC)-based Qubit’s QBridge protocol was hacked on January 27. The hacker took advantage of an imperfection which convinced the DApp’s shrewd agreements in minting 77,000 wrapped ether tokens, qXETH, without actually using any assets. It was worth $185 million. They then, at that point, reclaimed the tokens for 207,000 of BSC’s Binance Coin (BNB) token, worth $80 million. After running away with the cash, both the developer and thousands of clients were exhausted.

February 11. Mound, which is Qubit’s development team head, declared that they can never again pay any further work on Qubit or Bunny Finance, another bridge convention. Instead, they would change over concentrated ventures into DeFi protocols managed by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). In this case, they left with nothing.

Cross-Chain Crypto Payments: Is it Safe or NotAs for the Meter Passport hack, $4.4 million was stolen. It began when entertainers utilized a trick to mint wrapped ether (wETH) and BNB tokens. To make matters worse, the attacker sold the BNB on SushiSwap, a top DeFi trade, right away. It then resulted in BNB’s local price crashing. This attracted individuals to purchase the crypto coin efficiently and afterwards use them to take out credits on the Hundred Finance loaning platform.

To put that into perspective, the said loaning stage acknowledged them at the ordinary worth, and were exchanged for other unaffected tokens. Since BNB had to be returned, the lenders were left with uncollateralized loans, costing them millions of losses. To reimburse its users and Hundred Finance, Meter set aside $4.4 million of its local MTGR tokens.

With the same scam strategy, the Wormhole hack also caused a bridge to create wrapped tokens and reclaim them for genuine ether. To be specific, it was through the Solana-to-Ethereum bridge.

Lastly, returning in August was the Poly Networks hack. The hacker, who was nicknamed “Mr. White Hat”, found a vulnerable spot on the bridge and let him move all of the $612 million worth of cryptocurrency into his own wallet. Take note that this money was from the individuals who had involved it as a security to purchase wrapped tokens. Luckily, Mr. White Hat returned everything back following half a month.

As such, just like any other investment projects to which people entrust their money with, faith is key. Bridges are indeed strong now, but what if there comes a time that they seem to be vulnerable?

The United States of America is the most attractive country for doing business. America cannot be called offshore, but the taxation system here is quite adaptable and developed, one of the most progressive in the world. Consequently, if you are planning to set up a business in America, you need to understand the taxation mechanism of this country.

What you need to know about taxes

The primary feature of the US tax system is its three-tier structure. It means that people in business must pay taxes at several levels:

  • federal;
  • state ;
  • local administration.

Federal and local taxes are independent. They can’t influence each other. Moreover, the federal government cannot interfere with the system that the state institutes. District authorities establish only those fees that are prescribed by the legislation of every state. In general, US companies pay the following charges:
• at a profit;
• sales tax;
• for real estate;
• for capital gains.

There are different types of taxes depending on the classification of the company.

What taxes do firms pay in the USA?

Corporation taxes in the US are set by both the house and state authorities. Companies are obligated to repay four main types of taxes. These are corporate income taxes, sales, real estate charges. Furthermore, capital gains are likewise taxed. Not only that, but payroll taxes are required at the federal and regional levels in America, and the quantity relies on the state.

As said before, taxation in the US exists at the local and regional levels — in these cases, taxes fluctuate. It can be an environmental tax or charges on the property or retained earnings.

In addition, do not forget about the benefits. Despite the rigidity of the US tax system, tax breaks are also present in it. For instance, the government offers massive bonuses to farms — in drought years, these benefits can reduce the taxation of farmers in America to zero.

Types of US companies available for registration to non-residents

There are two types of organizations available for non-residents in the USA.

The first is an LLC, and the second is a type C corporation, abbreviated as C-corp.

C-corporation

A C-corporation is a lawful entity that pays state income tax and federal income tax. First, the corporation pays corporate tax on its profits, and then its shareholders also pay income tax on two levels.

Most often, this type of company is chosen by large businesses or IT startups. Almost all major American corporations, including Google and Apple, are C-corps. And even if your business is still far from Apple, you should still think about organizing a business in the form of a C-Corporation.

Limited Liability Company

Limited Liability Company — successfully combines the advantages of taxation at the owner level (as in partnerships) and limited liability of participants (as in corporations). The simplest and most beneficial form is an LLC with one owner, the so-called single-member LLC, or the transparent structure. With one owner, the company will not pay tax, and it will be paid by the individual who owns this company. The earnings of the company are estimated to be the income of a person.

Corporate Income Tax

The amount of this tax primarily depends on the type of company. So, S-corporations do not pay this charge on their behalf. All gains, losses, and surcharges are divided between the members of such a corporation.
C-corporations pay federal income tax in America, and regional taxation differs from state to state. For instance, in Iowa, you will have to pay 12%, and in Delaware — not a cent.

The tax system can treat an LLC company as both an S-company and a C-corporation. This tax is growing. That is, its size grows step by step, depending on the amount of gross income. It is essential for smaller companies with low revenues. So, for the first fifty thousand dollars of payment, the company pays at a rate of 15%, for the next twenty-five thousand — 25%, for another 25 thousand — 34%, for the received more than 235 thousand dollars of income — at a rate of 39%. Finally, 34% income tax is payable on all gains of more than $335,000.

Income Tax

Income tax in America is levied on any income that an individual earns in the US. The average US income tax ranges from 10% to 39.6%. Income tax in the United States is paid on:

  • wages;
  • bonus payments;
  • compensation payments.

Opening your business in America, if desired, is real. The procedure consists of several stages: choosing the state and the optimal type of company, registering a company, opening a bank account, obtaining a tax number, selecting a tax strategy, etc.

It will be easier to draw up a plan, optimize assets, and keep track of all tax liabilities with the help of professionals. For more information about doing business in the USA, contact the company’s specialists.

 

An extremely unpleasant situation with the worldwide pandemic has affected businesses and economies of many countries. Other victims of the coronavirus are supply chains – many enterprises had to revise their logistics routes and some of them failed to satisfy the needs of many clients. But during the next year, the same companies and organizations faced an increased demand for ADR changes in Singapore so the goods could be delivered on time.

In normal conditions resolving a conflict according to the law will take more time and assets. The situation has become worse when some governments decided to activate extremely strict measures and created some kind of a blockade to prevent spreading the virus.

One should know that now if a person is trying to create a company in Singapore, they can only meditate. It is the only way to settle a commercial dispute according to Singapore and many other countries’ laws.

SIMC Protocol

SIMC Protocol is the solution that is aimed to make the process of resolving disputes easier. At first, this protocol has been created as an addition to the legislation. It is aimed to completely prevent legal actions from any party that started a dispute. This protocol provides an opportunity to resolve a conflict without the help of a court.

If any businessman decides to create a company within Singapore territory, they can exploit SIMC protocol in the following situations:

  • A dispute has been initiated because of the coronavirus situation.
  • If the described protocol could be used to resolve a conflict.

If the Protocol can be used any party can apply for meditation in Singapore and to do that they pay 250$ (the standard fee is 10000$).

After transferring the fee parties can agree to meet online at any time (10 business days is the limit). Taking into account the amount of the dispute, all parties have to transfer the following fees:

  • Around 3000$ in SGD currency.
  • 6500$ or 0.3% of the disputed sum in SGD currency.
  • 10000$ or 0.13% of the disputed sum in SGD currency.

SCM

Why Singapore system of resolving international disputes is the best? It is because SCM has been created and signed on the territory of this country. In 2019 46 states signed the agreement and another 6 states joined later. The main aim of the SCM was to make international disputes easier and more efficient.

Experts from COREDO are always there for you to provide with more information or giving an advice about business in Singapore. 

 

All matters concerning TM registration in Italy are handled by the TM and Patent Office. The main legal source of TM regulation in Italia comes from the Industrial Property Code but also does not exclude international agreements and conventions.

According to the Industrial Property and Civil Codes, unregistered TMs can be protected too. Protection is given to the owners of valid IP rights and secures them against acts of unfair competition (only in the area of TM use). When it comes to foreign ones, once the TM owner is able to prove that the Italian public is familiar with their product and they are planning to launch the products in Italy, a foreign TM can be protected as well.

Benefits of TM registration

Registering a trademark in Italy provides the following advantages:

  • Protection from being confused or associated with other TMs
  • Protection in whole Italy for five years
  • In case of losing its distinctive character, the TM keeps the protection (unregistered TMs lose it)
  • The owners can exercise rights related to other similar TMs registered later.

Use of TMs

In Italy, there are no extra criteria about being an applicant for a TM – anyone can do it. The applicants are not even required to conduct the business. It is the reputation of the brand that makes a TM known and reserves the name and the right to use for the creator. There are many things that can be registered as TMs such as words, names, sounds, number, and many others. The registration is possible if those features make a product distinguishable and identifiable.

Registration process

The first step is to start the application process. This requires the applicants to:

  • Appoint a qualified representative
  • Define what class of products or services their mark belongs to
  • Settle the registration fees
  • Provide official proof of their TM distinctiveness.

The process of TM registration in Italy typically takes about a year. This period is used to make sure that a TM really can be registered, compare it to the other ones, confirm that no laws are violated. Once the registration is granted, it comes into force from the moment of decision published in the registration authority’s bulletin. In case of any disagreements, third parties can challenge the new TM registration for 90 days. The TM protection can be used for 60 months. However, the protection period is doubled – 120 months and can be renewed for the same period of time.

It is interesting to note that the application can be canceled at any time. Or the whole process can be done electronically.

Experts from COREDO are skilled to provide you with more information on IP and TM protection in Italy and other European countries.

Acquiring a business is always a complex and multiple-step process. Buyers need to evaluate all risks connected to the deal as precisely as possible to ensure the profitable results. Among many other aspects to analyze, tax due diligence is often disregarded when evaluating a target company.

Especially in the case of share purchases overlooking tax due diligence can place the buyer in high risk. With a share purchase agreement, the buyer gains responsibilities and liabilities of the acquired company even if they were discovered after the purchase.

 Why is it so important?

Depending on the scope and reach of the activities, all companies work as a part of their local tax regulatory regimes. In addition, international businesses must also comply with tax regulations in all regions where they are present. This is a part of the difficulty for the buyers: each jurisdiction has an uncountable number of taxes for different company types. That is why buyers struggle to efficiently assess whether a potential target company truly complies with al needed tax laws to the full extent.

Once there are any tax issues discovered after the purchase, it significantly and quickly degrades the deal. To illustrate, these issues can be non-filing exposures, overstated non-capital losses, underreported tax liabilities, or others. The goal of tax due diligence is to find out about these problems before the purchase takes place. Basically, it helps the buyer to:

  • Define the structure of the deal
  • Determine agreement terms
  • Make informed purchasing decisions
  • Obtain support for negotiation.

Processing tax due diligence

Traditionally, tax due diligence is processed by accountants or lawyers who have experience with corporate tax. Their job is to evaluate different types of tax exposures imposed upon a target company. Crucially, the experts do not only review corporate tax returns but also focus on high-risk areas such as:

  • Foreign affiliates
  • International business activities
  • Transfer pricing.

Typically, tax diligence also involves a review of tax and legal documents including foreign reporting forms, objections, past audits, any pre-closing tax structuring steps.

Does tax due diligence seem like a difficult process to you? We will be happy to do this work for you. Experts from COREDO are true specialists in this field and have been performing such tasks for multiple years now.

 

Financial planners sometimes have a dilemma: should we add a securities license to the portfolio of our current services? The truth is, this service is quite requested by clients nowadays and can be very lucrative. By adopting this qualification, companies can be a one-stop-shop of financial services.

However, it is important to prepare for the process of obtaining a securities license. First of all, it is necessary to have a sponsorship from a broker-dealer, then study and pass the exam. But even after achieving the license, you must continue the education to fulfill the license requirements. This why it is so important to evaluate and compare the benefits of obtaining the license against the struggles it brings.

Choosing the right platform

At first, the company should decide whether a securities license will be a part of their first or second business line. Regardless of the choice, they need to find a broker-dealer who would be prepared to sponsor their new incentive. The decision should be based on several factors like the level of payout on gross commission or the goods and services the potential sponsor offers. Generally, there are retail and independent broker-dealers.

Retail companies

In retail firms, brokers who are technically independent contractors work as employees. A manager oversees their activities. Also, they receive corporate support features like health insurance, an office, and others. In return, brokers in return firms face higher amounts of work and receive a lower commission. Retail firms are a good option if you are starting your financial industry path: they are able to provide you with all the necessary tools.

Independent firms

When it comes to independent brokers, they are traditionally able to combine multiple financial planning practices. This is the main reason why professionals with an established practice usually prefer to work with independent broker-dealers. Nevertheless, it is still important to take time and find a firm with a suitable offer of products and services to fit your clientele as well as possible.

The studying begins

Once the decision about the sponsor is made, you need to start studying right away to pass the securities and insurance exams. This stage can be unpleasant but is necessary. Typically, retail brokerage firms provide you with an in-house training program and pay you a salary. It is based on the previous income you received before studying began. As for independent firms, they are known to provide less support. But sometimes they have an agreement with a training provider which gives you a discount for study materials.

Obtaining a securities license can be an overwhelming and effort-consuming task. If you are truly dedicated to this goal let our experts help you. Specialists from COREDO specialize in assisting in obtaining different kinds of financial licenses including a securities license.

Capital is a crucial part of economic growth. However, some countries cannot meet their capital requirement. This is when foreign investments come and help. The most common ways of investing in other countries are foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign portfolio investment (FPI).

With FDI, investors put their money directly in the productive assets of a foreign economy. When it comes to FPI, we speak of investing in financial assets like stocks and bonds that belong to entities overseas. In some terms, both of these investment types are similar. Yet there are clear differences between them, too. For retail investors, it is vital to be informed about the differences between them. Mainly, it is important to know because markets with high FPIs tend to be heightened and highly volatile at uncertain times. Meanwhile, FDI is considered to be less volatile.

Examples of FPI and FDI

Let’s imagine a situation where a multi-millionaire from Germany is deciding whether to invest in company acquisition in a foreign country that produces industrial machinery or to buy a large stock of the company that makes machinery. The first option is an example of foreign direct investment and the second – of the foreign portfolio investment.

It is thought traditionally that FDI is a privilege of big investors who have enough capital for investing directly into a foreign economy. Meanwhile, an average investor would probably choose FPI. Basically, buying foreign stock and bonds, mutual funds or exchange-traded funds means becoming engaged in FPI.

Attractiveness of investments

Capital is always in demand and is very mobile. To evaluate the level of its desirability, investors use standard criteria:

  • Political factors – government’s approach to business, political stability
  • Economic factors – GDP trends, currency risk, inflation, the strength of the economy
  • Motivations for foreign investors – tax incentives, taxation levels, property rights
  • Other factors – local competition, skills and education of the labor force, and others.

Key differences

The first difference between FDI and FPI is the level of control the foreign investor obtains. Typically, FDI investors are active participants and decision-makers in the companies they invest in. When we speak of FPI investors, they are usually quite passive and are not involved in the daily activities of the company. Unless FPI investors have a controlling interest in the company, they do not engage in strategic planning either.

The second difference is the timing. FDI investors take a long-term approach to their investments since it may take years before the project is completely launched. As for FPI, investors can profess in the long run but more often invest in a shorter timeline. In other words, in the case of economic turbulences, FPI investors can quickly leave the nation and liquidate their assets. But for FDI this procedure may not be this easy.

For more investment consulting visit our website and leave your contact details. COREDO experts will be happy to schedule a personal meeting with you.

 

 

 

South Korea does not consider cryptocurrencies legal. While exchanges are deemed legal, they still need to obey a set of strict regulations. Since transactions in crypto cannot be viewed either as cash or financial assets, they are not taxed which makes crypto taxing a grey area in South Korea. Nevertheless, the local government has stated its intention of levying taxes on cryptocurrencies in the nearest future and plans to issue the framework in 2022.

The regulation of crypto exchanges in South Korea can be judged as quite harsh considering the mandatory government registration and other rules dictated by the Financial Supervisory Service of South Korea (FSS). In 2017, the local government forbade financial institutions in South Korea to host Bitcoin futures transactions and restricted the use of all anonymous crypto accounts. Moreover, the reporting requirements for banks with crypto exchanges became stricter in 2018.

According to the new laws, a trader must create a real-name account with the same bank as their cryptocurrency dealer. In other words, cryptocurrency trading is restricted to “real-name bank accounts” and this is the only way to use e-wallets. Also, there are AML/CFT rules that oblige the bank and the dealer to authorize the trader’s identity.

This new legislation was published in 2020. It extended the AML/CFT conditions that cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea must comply with. In addition, it orders all South Korean exchanges and requiring companies to gain an operational license from the Financial Intelligence Unit which is part of the Financial Services Commission by the end of September 2021.

Who do the regulations apply to?

The new regulations in South Korea apply to Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) who perform these activities:

  • Administrating or keeping virtual assets
  • Transmitting cryptocurrencies
  • Trading cryptocurrencies
  • Performing crypto-to-crypto transfers.

These operations include cryptocurrency exchanges, Initial Coin Offering (ICO) projects, and custodian wallet providers.

The key novelties

So what are the changes for all crypto service providers in South Korea? After the implementation of the new legislation, they all are obliged to register with the local financial regulators and upgrade their AML/CFT systems. Even though these conditions are not completely new as they were published in 2018, it is only recently that they became mandatory.

From now on all VASPs are required to:

  • Open a corporate bank account and offer real-name accounts with the same institution
  • Put in place enhanced AML/KYC processes
  • Obtain a certificate of an Information Security Management System from the Korea Internet and Security Agency
  • Give the company’s data including the bank account information to the financial intelligence unit.

The transition period is still ongoing and will end in September 2021. The punishment for not having an approved bank account can be extremely strict and include prison detention or fines up to 43,000 USD.

Are you planning to enter the South Korean market as a crypto exchange? COREDO is here to help with complying to all necessary requirements or applying for a license.

 

Nowadays, prepaid cards allow people to have direct and fast access to their money, yet they do not have to be carrying any cash around. There are a few options for companies to choose from when they plan to issue prepaid cards to employees, customers, or others.

One of the options is white labeling. The process goes like this:

  • One company develops a product, for ex. a prepaid card
  • The use of that product is sold to another company
  • That second company puts its branding and logo on the product.

The pro of this approach is the fact that a company does not need to build a card from scratch. Meanwhile, it can take advantage of using reloadable prepaid cards.

Advantages of white label prepaid cards

Using the white label method of issuing prepaid cards has many benefits. To illustrate, here is a list including some of the advantages:

  • Easy setup

White label prepaid cards save your company efforts and time because you do not need to research the best strategy and technology to bring the product to the market. You only put your logo and the rest of the product is created by another company.

  • Customization

Prepaid cards can be customized when it comes to color and design. Moreover, you can also define who is able to use the cards: customers, contractors, employees, etc.

  • An additional stream of revenue

The fees always depend on the settings put into the prepaid cards. For example, your company can receive a percentage from every sale and get the fee that was charged when a cardholder used the ATM. These opportunities represent an additional source of revenue.

  • Optimized payroll

Your company can save a lot of money and time thanks to prepaid cards because they really streamline the payroll process. This characteristic especially applies if a business has a large workforce. Once the prepaid cards are connected to employees’ earnings, the process becomes automated. In addition, no extra money spent on paper checks.

  • Higher customer loyalty

Prepaid cards can be a way of offering customers rewards like cashback and bonus points. Thus the customer is motivated to choose your company among others and builds personal loyalty to the brand.

Are you already thinking of offering prepaid cards to your employees or customers? Are you looking for an additional revenue stream? COREDO can help you issue prepaid cards using white label technology.

Generally, codes, source code, programs, and all related software are protected by copyright law. Not only the database structure but also its content must be thoroughly protected. The reason for this is the expenses spent on the financial, material, organizational, and other aspects. However, costs like these are assumed once the number of materials reaches ten thousand elements.

Defining a database

What is a database? Independent materials of various types can be collected and presented in one set that is designed to be systematized in a certain way. In order for a database to be useful, the materials must be available to search and be processed by a computer. People who create a database and collect, process, and situate all the elements are called database manufacturers.

Registering copyright in Hong Kong

There is no specific copyright registration regime stated in Hong Kong. Automatically, copyright is assigned to every original and tangibly recorded work. Holders of copyright have an exclusive right to create copies of their work and to distribute it publicly. Surprisingly, under the Copyright act in a special administrative region in China, software and databases belong to the category of literary works.

Copyright protection

The protection of copyright basically consists of punishment for its infringement. Perpetrating copyright is considered a civil liability. Moreover, if someone unrightfully uses the work of the copyright holder for example for sale, they can even carry criminal liability.

Patent registration

Besides copyright protection, there are special regulations for protecting innovations by granting their creators with a patent. In Hong Kong, a patent can be registered for usage in the industrial domain and must not be a part of the excluded invention classes. Traditionally, patents are divided into short-term and standard. In a special administrative region of China it is necessary to apply for a patent registration at one of the offices:

  • UK Patent Office
  • EU Patent Office
  • State IP Office of China.

When it comes to patenting software, the successful patent registration depends on whether:

  • The software is new
  • It has an inventive nature
  • It solved a specific technical problem.

The final word

Thanks to this short post we have discovered how databases can be protected in Hong Kong. Firstly, it can be protected under copyright law since it falls under the category of literary works. Also, they can be protected by obtaining a patent under the condition that the software complies with the patent requirements.

For a more detailed consultation on copyright protection do not hesitate to contact COREDO. We are happy to provide you with a free consultation.

 

It is such an easy concept if you think about it. But let’s put in words its real definition and discuss different types of companies. A company is a legal entity that is created to operate a business. The creator can be either a group or a sole individual who would like to conduct commercial or industrial business. The jurisdiction of every state has predefined corporate laws that dictate the variety of company organization ways including rules for taxing and financial liabilities.

The creators of a company can choose a type that suits their needs and future activities as of partnerships, proprietorships, or corporations. Another way of distinguishing companies is deciding whether it is private or public. Each type involves different regulations, financial reporting, and structures of ownership. What is a similar characteristic for all types is that they are aimed at earning profit.

Explaining the basics

How does a company work? Well, basically it is an artificial person. Corporate personhood given to a company is what mainly differentiates from individuals who are a part of the company. As mentioned earlier, companies are traditionally made for earning a profit, yet there is an exception which is nonprofit charities.

Although countries have specific regulations regarding the definition of company types and their organizations, many similarities can be found around the world. It is also important to mention that companies have very similar rights to the ones an individual has. For examples, we can take the right to pay taxes, hire employees, enter into contracts, or borrow funds.

When it comes to finding benefits of starting a company, we can talk about certain freedom that is given by an opportunity of income diversification, visible correlation between effort and reward, flexibility. However, there are disadvantages as well: responsibilities for staff, legal liability, financial responsibility, and possible long work hours.

Company types

In this part, we will discuss basic the basic company classifications. It diversifies:

  • Partnerships – formal arrangements of two or more parties who manage and operate a business together;
  • Corporations – legal entities that are separate from their owners, have their own corporate personhood;
  • Associations – any group of individuals who create a legal entity together for social, business, or other purposes. The structure and purpose dictates the rules of taxation for this type;
  • Funds – businesses involved in pooled capital investing;
  • Trusts – a third party holds assets on behalf of beneficiaries.

Do you need to create a legal entity for your business intentions? Do not hesitate to entrust this administrative process to the team of COREDO.

 

The procedures Know Your Customer and Customer Due Diligence can seem similar at a first glance. Nevertheless, we can spot differences between them. KYC aims at creating a risk profile of a customer: before starting any kind of business relationship, it is useful to retrieve the customer’s information. Alternatively, CDD is a way of confirming that the customer’s data is truthful and correct. In addition, CDD consists of background and utility ownership checking.

To define the main difference, KYC puts emphasis on financing. CDD also includes the financial part, but it generally is carried out in a continuous way. It represents a continuous framework of assurance serving especially organizations that have numerous transactions on daily basis as for example real estate companies or banks. Institutions like these use advanced programs that are set to monitor moves of funds in order to identify suspicious transactions. Thus a well-processed KYC can serve as a great basis for maintaining quality CDD, and altogether they can guarantee that the institutional systems are not being misused for money laundering purposes.

Nowadays, Customer Due Diligence is a crucial part of the AML routine. It is regularly performed in certain time intervals. The check-ups include control of geographical distribution, amount of money, or transaction volume. In our modern age, the software runs the monitoring automatically, However, the automated systems must be updated regularly.

It is interesting to mention that previously used KYC procedures were considered not effective enough, which is why those procedures have turned into automated CDD applications. This novelty helps to reassure CDD during the whole business relationship. This is vital because a customer’s risk profile can change drastically over time.

In COREDO we assist our clients with creating risk profiles, compounding CDD and KYC. Write us a quick message and get your free consultation.

When a group of companies and customers concentrate around one certain niche and become all interconnected, they basically create a vertical market. Vertical markets have specialized needs: companies customize their goods and services according to those needs and normally do not serve broader markets. An opposite of a vertical market is a horizontal market where companies offer their goods to various industries.

It is typical for vertical markets to have high entry barriers and their own business standards. For companies, it may be hard to become a part of a vertical market, but entering it gives them an opportunity to realize higher profits while focusing on a narrow customer base which eventually makes their marketing campaigns more cost-effective. Companies in vertical markets get very competitive, they also can be characterized as highly experienced and specialized in their market’s specifics, terminology, and regulations.

Specifics

Unsimilar to horizontal markets, vertical markets create products and services for niche customer groups. That is why companies in vertical markets do need to choose a completely different strategy in comparison to the ones in the horizontal markets. The managers of vertical market businesses decide whether they would focus on certain industries or demographics.

However, focusing on one industry and specific demographics does not mean that a customer base must be small. This customer can be wide and at the same time provide a great revenue opportunity as the demand for a specific product rises.

Advantages

The possibility of having a comparative advantage is definitely a positive for vertical market operators. They can choose a segment and gradually grow expertise within it which means they become professional with the respective terminology, regulations, etc. Given that all companies behave like this, the competitiveness among them grows as well.

Another benefit of participating in a vertical market is an opportunity of saving marketing expenses. Operators only need to target a smaller group of customers instead of reaching out to wide masses. This is also the reason why their campaigns can be focused and concrete. Vertical market operators know their customer base very well, therefore they are able to adapt their goods, services, and approach in general.

In COREDO we assist our customers with their investment decisions which among other aspects includes processing market analysis of different types. Leave us your contact and we will be happy to arrange a consultation for you.

The year 2021 is marked to host another M&A forum in Japan. A series of interactive panel discussions is planned for September, but we can discuss Japanese M&A already now. Let’s take a closer look at the procedure of mergers and acquisitions and how they are done in Japan.

Typically, the process contains the following stages:

  • Signing an NDA
  • Processing the due diligence of a target company and assets
  • Optional conclusion of an MOU
  • Negotiating and signing a final agreement.

Depending on the size, structure, and complexity of the deal, the timing of the procedure may vary. Normally though, it takes about three to six months. More time can be required if the transfer involves share exchange, business transfer, or corporate divestiture.

Regulation of M&A

In Japan, the Companies Law is the main piece of legislation applicable to company acquisition. Potentially, purchasers also need to comply with other regulations:

  • AMA
  • BRA
  • FEFTA.

It is also important to mention that all documentation including acquisition agreements must comply with the local Japanese laws. In fact, business transfer agreements or purchasing of shares can be ruled by laws of other jurisdictions, yet they are typically regulated by the Japanese one.

Ownership acquisition

It is typical of buyers to purchase the whole ownership of shares and assets issued by the company. In case certificates of shares are issued by the company, issuing share certificates becomes the way of transferring shares. Alternatively, shares can be transferred through a transferring agreement between buyers and sellers. This kind of agreement requires the consent of counterparties and creditors, which is what makes it different from the acquisition agreement.

Purchasing shares

When a company sells its shares, the shareholders must agree with it. Sometimes minority shareholders can disagree with such a decision. In this case, majority stakeholders can repurchase their shares. However, it must be added that this action has to be approved by the BoD and should not happen without notifying the minority stakeholders. In Japan, the whole process of forcing minority stakeholders cannot exceed a twenty-day period.

COREDO would be honored to assist you with the M&A procedures taking place in Japan. We will help with planning and carrying out all needed transactions.

In order to match the level of returns one expects from their portfolio, it is necessary to rebalance the portfolio on the regular basis. Basically, rebalancing means buying some stocks and selling some bonds or vice versa – a similar maintenance procedure like visiting a dentist regularly. This procedure also helps match the asset portfolio with the level of risk you are ready to take. Rebalancing is a part of the long run of the passive investment strategy.  If rebalancing is approached in a disciplined way it can increase long-term returns by preventing the investor from making panicked moves.

Asset allocation

The percentage of different investments in the portfolio is defined as asset allocation. Investors predefine their target asset allocation which can only be reached by regular portfolio rebalancing. Let’s say you hold more stocks. This way the value of your portfolio will be more volatile due to the market swings, therefore you will be taking on more risk. However, stocks usually have higher performance than bonds in the long run. That is why investors tend to expect a bigger part of their returns from stocks.

Typically, rebalancing involves selling stock and reinvesting the money into bonds. It might seem that it is more beneficial to hold 100% of the portfolio in bonds. Yet it is not so from the viewpoint of emotions that every investor has. For example, seeing a retirement account go down due to the decline in the stock market can force an investor to make poor rushed decisions such as selling stocks at a loss. On the other hand, rebalancing portfolios with bonds that are more stable can help keep the portfolio on track to the target allocation and match the desired risk equivalent.

How to rebalance

Although there is no optimal frequency for rebalancing strategy, there is the main principle of how it should be done. Rebalancing mainly represents selling overweight assets.

To take an example, we can imagine that an investor holds 70% stocks and 30% bonds in their portfolio. When a stock market does well, the portfolio value represented by these stocks goes up from 70% to 75%. It seems like a positive change, but in fact, the portfolio becomes riskier. To avoid taking a higher risk, the investor should sell that 5% of the stock and invest that money in buying bonds. That way the portfolio becomes rebalanced.

Without a doubt, selling the stock at the moment when its value grows can be challenging from a psychological point of view. Nevertheless, it is crucial to remember:

  • Stocks could go low and bring bigger losses that you were prepared to take;
  • Rebalancing in such situations means buying low and selling high which is the desired outcome;
  • The process of rebalancing typically involves lower percentages.

Do you need any help with managing your finances? Our team of exceptional specialists are ready to assist. We will be happy to see you at COREDO headquarters.

Large corporations and even small businesses often have problems with protecting their intellectual property. We will mainly focus today on protecting IP in the United States. Protecting intellectual property is not only ethics but even modern-day politics. The reason for this is that materialized ideas are valued extremely highly.

The United States, being a very individualistic society, actively promotes the importance of the intellectual property. It is given by the thought of ideas processed by the human mind being a part of the comparative advantage. This is why the intellectual property protection systems in the US are among the effective ones in the world.

Protecting IP rights in the United States

All original inventions are recommended to be immediately filed for a patent application in the US Patent and Trademark Office. Once the certificate is granted, the copyrights are valid for 20 years. It should be mentioned though that the validity term of IP protection varies for each type and can actually be renewed in the future.

Another way of protecting intellectual property is registering a trademark. All the identification details used for product or service marketing including names, logos, or symbols can be protected under the trademark rights. After the TM registration, trademark protection in the US covers it. There are other examples:

  • Colors
  • Smells
  • Slogans
  • Logos and corporate designs
  • Sound signals or melodies
  • Words or phrases.

Although, the US federal protection automatically applies to creative works without the US Copyright Office registration, registering your work can be helpful as it enhances one’s rights.

The problem of rightsholders abusing TM rights is still relevant in the US. Those people register trademarks with the only aim – restricting marketing competition. An example of such activity is the artificial extension of copyright protection term by retroactively including a co-author after the original author’s death.

Conclusion

Protection of IP in the US and generally in the whole world remains a high priority. It can seem premature maybe for startup processes, yet in the future, this aspect can influence the accessibility to get funding or preventing unfair competition.

In case you are planning to reinforce IP protection on your valid assets, contact COREDO to receive a detailed consultation.