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Fintech weekly recap: Ant Financial moves into the US and lots of blockchain news!

Ant Financial jumps into the US

Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s financial arm has purchased Texas headquartered remittance business MoneyGram. Ant Financial will pay $880 million in a deal that may prove very lucrative for both parties. The move allows Ant to expand internationally by leveraging MoneyGram’s footprint in over 200 countries. MoneyGram also benefits by gaining access to Ant Financial’s massive user base at a time when it’s revenue growth has stalled.

Uptick in blockchain patent filings

News leaked las year that Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed founder of bitcoin, was amassing a war chest of blockchain related patents. As the Economist reports, this trend is on the rise given the significant increase in patent filings from companies attempting to protect unique variations of distributed ledger technologies. Financial institutions are active filers as MasterCard and Goldman Sachs for example are attempting to patent developments related to payments and foreign exchange processing.

Australian financing authority issues blockchain bond

Following in the footsteps of on-line retailer which issued company shares on a blockchain, the Queensland Treasury Corporation issued a bond using the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s blockchain platform. The bond was created in the form of a smart contract which carries out duties typically performed by intermediaries such as distributing coupons to bondholders throughout the term. As the press release states, the news is significant as the blockchain streamlines both the issuance and settlement process.

Chinese banks look to blockchain

Chinese banks are investigating blockchain as a solution to decades old internal IT infrastructures. A push from regulators and the central bank isn’t the only cause for technological modernization: the reliance on human intervention and heavy paperwork has contributed to a proliferation of fraud. The resulting uptick in blockchain interest has led to a hunt for talent as head-hunters and financial institutions canvass universities for recruits. Experienced candidates are also in high demand and have been showered with attractive offers to jump ship.

Bank of England Governor on fintech regulation

The Governor of the Bank of England recently shared his views on the fintech industry. Speaking at a conference in Germany, Mark Carney stated that regulators should focus more intensely on regulation and prudential requirements. “After all, the history of financial innovation is littered with examples that led to early booms, growing unintended consequences, and eventual busts”, said Carney. The Governor also spoke about the hype percolating throughout the industry: “where are we along the cycle from the technology trigger to the 'peak of inflated expectations' and the trough of disillusionment?” How this impacts policy making in the UK remains to be seen.

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