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Fintech and blockchain for the week of 7 November 2016

Donald Trump and fintech

Given that much of the world’s attention was just focused on the US elections, I would be remiss to omit the topic of the impact of the result on fintech in this week’s article. The WSJ argues that Mr. Trump’s comments on rolling back much of Dodd-Frank, a hallmark of the Obama administration, would be detrimental to fintech as it would free financial institutions to encroach on much of the niche markets that startups have carved. By comparison, S&P believes that Mr. Trump does not have the political capital to enact such reforms and that fintech will benefit from a friendlier regulatory environment.

UK sandbox kickoff

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has announced the first group of participants to its regulatory sandbox. The idea is to allow fintech firms to test their platforms in a live environment without immediately incurring all of the normal regulatory consequences. The first class is composed of 24 applicants ranging from start-ups to established financial firms such as HSBC who will focus on projects related to personal finance, securities and payments.

New Singapore blockchain lab launches

The R3 consortium of financial institutions and the Monetary Authority of Singapore have launched a dedicated blockchain research and development centre. Located in Singapore’s central business district, the focus will be on promoting collaboration in competing blockchain projects and the overall advancement of the technology. The centre will also host visiting experts and business leaders.

Citibank opens doors to developers

In a move to spur collaboration with fintech startups, Citibank has launched an API Developer Portal. Simply put, an API facilitates the use of technologies to help build applications. The portal will grant access to APIs across banking services such account management, money transfers and investment purchases. By opening the gates, Citi hopes to provide fi

ntech companies with the building blocks to develop products that will give it a leg up on the competition. The approach is not dissimilar from Apple’s which benefited from opening its App store to developers in the early days of the ipod.

Blockchain money laundering risks

The virtues of blockchain applications for financial services continue to be extolled. Much of the discourse revolves around the potential to increase efficiency, cut human involvement and reduce costs. Regulators have also jumped on the bandwagon by promising to study the technology and facilitate its implementation. Although a usual proponent of all things fintech, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has thrown some cold water on the hype. In a recently released report, the regulator highlighted some of the risks inherent to the technology, in particular, the anonymity provided by some platforms contributing to criminal activity.

As always, feel free to contact me to discuss these and related topics.

Abraham Tachjian

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