News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

crowd in nightclub, seen from a DJ point of view

1.UK – FinTech   

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published feedback from its call for input on Open Finance. AltFi reports: 

“The call for input, which closed in October 2020, was initially laid out in the FCA’s 2019/2020 business plan and was intended to help drive forward the UK’s adoption of open banking, eventually reaching a point when open finance would be achieved. 

The FCA defines open finance as the re-use of data supplied and created by customers of financial services by a third-party in a safe and ethical environment to improve financial transparency.  

On Friday, the regulator published its feedback to the 169 market responses that it received, including some key insights on the industry’s attitude towards open finance. 

Cost was among the chief concerns, with respondents signalling that “the cost of delivering open banking had exceeded what was originally expected,” and as a result, work needed to be put in place to ensure open finance “could be delivered at a lower cost.” 

Feedback also indicated that, if open finance were to be made the goal, the costs of implementing it would need to be more equitable as the cost for smaller firms was disproportionately large.” 


2. US – FinTech 

Crowdfundinsider on delays to the digital dollar: 

“The US Federal Reserve’s Digital Dollar initiative may be of concern to Wall Street, according to a report from Bloomberg. 

The financial services sector may have to prepare for what might be its most significant disruption during the past few decades, according to the report. The industry will be getting an early preview of what the Federal Reserve has been working on (potentially a new virtual currency). 

However, Wall Street might not be too happy about these plans. Banking institutions, credit card issuers, virtual payments platforms might not be looking forward to a digital alternative to the paper currency notes – which US consumers typically carry in their physical wallets. It’s worth noting that the Fed’s digital dollar project has been a work in progress for many years now. 

But it’s now being reported that as early as July 2021, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which are working on various prototypes for a digital dollar, intend to present the findings of their research efforts, according to James Cunha, who’s spearheading the initiative at the Boston Fed. 

A virtual currency might drastically change or completely transform the manner in which US consumers interact with money. This has led to several financial companies lobbying the Federal reserve and American Congress to slow down the launch of a digital dollar or at least keep them in the loop about what’s going on with the project. 

These companies might be concerned that their revenue may be impacted by the introduction of a digital dollar. Notably, the banks’ primary trade group reportedly told the US Congress that a digital dollar is not really necessary. Meanwhile, payment giants such as Visa and Mastercard are currently working with reserve banks to ensure that these new virtual currencies may be used for transactions on their global networks. 

In statement shared with Bloomberg, Michael Del Grosso, analyst for Compass Point Research & Trading LLC, remarked: 

“Everyone is afraid that you could disrupt all the incumbent players with a whole new form of payment.” 

Policymakers, US Treasury Department officials and the Federal Reserve have not officially  announced the launch date of this US digital currency, which means it might still take a few years or more to introduce a new form of the USD. 

At present, it’s also not clear whether this new digital dollar will be compatible with the current  international payments network. However, the US and many other nations appear to be quite focused on digital transformation efforts including the digitization of their national currencies (provided it’s feasible and necessary). 

The rising popularity and increased adoption of decentralized digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC)Ethereum (ETH) and many other crypto-assets, whose market value is now approaching the $2 trillion mark, might have served as motivation for many of these so-called central bank digital currency (CBDC) initiatives. 

But unlike these permissionless virtual currencies, the new forms of money provided by the world’s reserve banks will essentially be an alternative to fiat paper currency notes. However, many argue that cash won’t go away completely, although its use will most likely decline considerably in the coming years.” 


3. International – FinTech 


AltFi on the latest remarkable trend in cryptoland: 

“An NFT, or a non-fungible token, is a unique digital file that can come in the form of art, videos, audio or even Tweets, and are a form of cryptocurrency that can give a person ownership over them. 

The NFT is essentially a unit of data stored in a blockchain ledger that can only have one owner, cannot be copied and cannot be lost or maliciously duplicated, unlike other forms of cryptocurrency. 

NFTs can be bought and sold with any currency, however, most transactions tend to be completed with Ethereum, so if you don’t have an Ethereum wallet you could be left out in the cold when it comes to spending the big bucks on digital art.  

Maybe it’s boredom from endless lockdowns, or maybe people are just spending too much time on the internet, but it seems as if trends nowadays fizzle out nearly as quickly as they take off. 

Just last month, people were going mad for SPACs (special-purpose acquisition company) and companies were rushing to jump on the SPAC bandwagon. Now, it seems as if NFTs have grabbed the attention of the mass affluent on the internet. 

Simon Taylor, venture director and co-founder of 11:FS, told AltFi that NFTs are getting hyped-up for two reasons at the moment.  

“One: There is a crossover into cultural significance, as major brands like the NBA and artists like Beeple are selling digital collectables for large sums of money. And two: there's clearly an element of hype around the technology too.” 

Hype is definitely playing a huge part in the craze surrounding NFTs. Just look at Beeple, a digital artist who also goes by the name Mike Winkleman, and who sold a collection of over 5,000 works titled “Everydays — The First 5000 Days” for $69m. 

The massive price tag makes his digital art the most expensive NFT sold to-date and also the third-most-expensive work by a living artist.”  


4. International – FinTech 

And Finextra reports on the services growing to support NFTs


“Fintech outfit Circle is bidding to cash in on the NFT craze by launching a platform that helps marketplaces accept credit card and crypto payments for their non-fungible tokens. 

NFTs are cryptocurrency tokens which certify ownership of a unique digital file using blockchain technology. Anyone from the public is able to view the images online, but must connect an Ethereum wallet to enter the bidding.

NFT marketplaces have seen their popularity surge in recent months, boosted by high-profile cases such as the sale of the first ever tweet, by Jack Dorsey, for $2.9 million and the $69 million sale of a piece from digital artist Beeple. Last week another fintech, Curve, got in on the craze by auctioning five pieces of digital art for charity.

But, according to Circle, broad-based mainstream adoption is lagging due to the complexity of payment transactions, which usually require the use of cryptocurrencies.

The firm says its new service simplifies buying and selling by enabling platforms to accept credit card payments alongside crypto, all with a seamless user experience. In the next few months it will roll out support for USDC, BTC and ETH payments, NFT custodial services, and yield-generating Circle accounts for NFT market operators.” 

5. International  - FinTech 

Finextra reports: 

“Ripple is to acquire a 40% stake in Asian cross-boprder payments specialist Trianglo. 

Ripple says the deal will help it to meet growing customer demand in the region and expand the reach of On-Demand Liquidity (ODL), which uses the digital asset XRP for instance money transfers and working capital.

Founded in 2008, Trianglo's global network spans more than 100 countries, 2,500 mobile operators, 1,300 banks/wallets and 130,000 cash pickup points.

Under the agreement with Ripple, Tranglo will play a critical role in supporting existing corridors, such as the Philippines, and introducing new ODL corridors within its current network. RippleNet customers using ODL will also be able to tap the company's latest line of credit offering to free up working capital and scale cross-border payments into more markets using XRP.

Asheesh Birla, general manager of RippleNet says: “Tranglo’s robust payments infrastructure coupled with their unparalleled customer service and quality makes them an ideal partner to support our expansion of On-Demand Liquidity starting with the Southeast Asia region.”

Completion of the transaction is expected later this year. Financial terms were not disclosed.”