Despite losing control of our data, Facebook is asking for control of our money with their proposed launch of a stablecoin.
The plan is for Facebook's “Project Libra” or “GlobalCoin” to launch by the end of 2020 and offer its own digital currency pegged to a basket of world currencies that is reflective of Facebook’s 2.4bn global user base - including the US dollar, the Euro, and the yen. Many interpret the move as a bid to follow in the footsteps of so-called “superapps” such as China’s WeChat, that allows users to send money, shop, order taxis, and play games without ever having to leave the one platform.
To move the ball forward, Zuck has been out there chatting up the governor of the Bank of England, traditional payments companies, and even theWinklevoss twins (ironically), who famously sued him for nicking the original idea for Facebook.
While Facebook could certainly help bring cryptocurrency mainstream, it would require consumers to trust a single big tech giant for the custody, clearing, and settlement of their digital money. Such a construct goes against the decentralized ethos that underpins the crypto revolution.
With the Cambridge Analytica scandal and recent revelations that Facebook stored millions of its user passwords in plain text vivid in people’s minds, will consumers have the trust to leap in and get their feet wet with Zuck’s new Internet money?
Facebook: coining it - With 2b users, the prospect of charging small transaction fees on payments could net Facebook billions in revenue. A cryptocurrency could also offer Facebook a new way to monetize Whatsapp and perhaps reduce its reliance on advertising. Read more
Why Facebook wants to launch its own currency - In a secretive project known as "Libra," Facebook plans to launch a stablecoin. While many are excited about the prospect of bringing crypto mainstream, there are a number of issues to be worked out - including how the currency would be stored and issued. Read more
Facebook held talks with Winklevoss twins over new currency - A secretive unit at Facebook has been working on a digital currency for its 2b users to send money to each other and buy goods and services across the Internet. In the process, they've been meeting with cryptocurrency exchanges, including Gemimi. Read more
UK Fintech State of the nation - This report breaks down the progress made thus far in UK financial innovation from online capital formation, to digital banking, to payments, blockchain, and AI. Importantly it also points out where the regulators sit across these thematics too. Read more
Global Payments nears $20bn deal to buy TSYS - Global Payments, is nearing a $20bn deal to acquire rival TSYS, adding to the record-breaking pace of blockbuster consolidations in the payments industry so far this year. Read more
Financial advice gap has widened since 2015, says report - The gulf between those in the UK with and without access to affordable financial advice has widened in the past 4yrs, according to a new study revealing that digital innovations have not been enough to help customers priced out of the market. Read more
After Jack: Alibaba searches for new growth in the post-Ma era - A long FT read on the relationship between the Chinese government and Jack Ma / Alibaba - “When a foreign leader came to China and the first person he wanted to meet was Jack Ma rather than President Xi, you knew the company was going to be in trouble.” Read more
UK challenger bank "Loot" enters administration – The bank has fallen into administration less than six months after it secured an investment from Royal Bank of Scotland and after the bank backed out of acquiring the whole company to roll it into their planned digital bank brand Bo. Read more
Invesco reaps $14bn in funds through Alibaba tie-up - Invesco struck an agreement last year to add a mutual fund to Alibaba's Yu’E Bao wealth management platform which allows the 700m annual users of Alipay to shift money from online bank accounts into investment funds. Read more
Jack Ma is selling cancer coverage for pennies a month in China - Ant Financial launched a healthcare-coverage product Xiang Hu Bao in October and already has about 65 million clients. They pay small monthly fees that are pooled to help cover treatment costs for members stricken by diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and even Ebola. Read more
The number of ATMs around the world has fallen for the first time - The number of ATMs around the world fell for the first time last year as banks closed branches and redirected resources toward digital payments. Read more
London start-up strikes handshake deal with investors - According to the FT the recent financing for Checkout.com was settled between ‘gentlemen’ rather than through term sheets! Read more
Robots that learn are the hottest weapon in the investing arms race - Stormy markets have left quants reeling. Can a new flurry of machine-learning hedge funds whose robots learn from their own mistakes do any better? Read more
Clinc - Michigan based conversational AI platform serving financial enterprises raised a $52m Series B led by Insight Partners. Read more
PayJoy - San Francisco-based startup that enables consumers to purchase smartphones has raised $20m from Greylock Partners. Read more
Robinhood - Robinhood is nearing the close of a funding round from existing investors at a valuation of between $7 billion and $8 billion, according to a person with direct knowledge of its plans. Read more
Wealthsimple - Canadian digital investment advisor raised $75m from Germany’s Allianz, with additional backing coming from early investor Power Financial. Reports are the company is likely setting up for an IPO in the future. Read more
TransferWise - London based remittance startup has completed a $292m secondary sale at a $3.5b valuation, a significant increase from its $1.6b valuation from 2017. The secondary purchases was led by Lead Edge Capital, Lone Pine Capital, Vitruvian Partners, and BlackRock. Read more
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