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Fintech weekly recap: Robo-advisors, Alibaba acquisitions and more!


Robo-advisors moving in opposite directions

With the growth and maturation of the industry, robo-advisors must find novel ways to distinguish their offerings from a crowded market of peers. To this end, two American companies are adopting differing strategies: whereas Betterment believes that a human element is necessary to complement its robo-offerings, Wealthfront is moving further into the realm of software-only based advice.

The Alibaba train keeps rolling

Jack Ma’s business empire continues to look outside of China for growth. Hot on the heels of the purchase of MoneyGram, the powerhouse e-retailer is leading an investment in a nascent Indian online retailer spun out of Paytm, a leading mobile payment firm. Alibaba is also setting up shop in Melbourne to cover Australia and New Zealand. The moves may not be purely retail focused as they may also present new markets and synergies for Alibaba’s own payment service Alipay.

The state of fintech venture capital funds in Australia

As global investment in fintech continues to remain buoyant, one would assume that venture capital funds would be thriving. That does not seem to be the case in Australia as two large fintech focused funds have shuttered. The situation may not be dire as other large funds, some supported heavily by financial institutions, continue to invest in the region.

Fintech opposed deregulation in the US

The rollback of financial regulation was a key running point during Trump’s electoral campaign. Now in office, the President is living up to his promises. The fiduciary-rule, a hallmark of the Obama administration forcing financial advisors to act in the best interest of their client, appears to be on the chopping block. Democrats have chided the decision and have found an unexpected ally in their fight: fintech companies.

Blockchain and the US travel ban

The recent travel ban to the US for those from certain countries has riled up emotions. At the heart of the issue is a question of identity, specifically verifying the identity of those perceived to pose a threat based on their country of origin. Though Trump’s decision may be akin to shooting a fly with a gun, the issue nevertheless remains. Financial institutions also grapple with this problem with new clients. As this article suggests, blockchain may propose a solution as it provides “a shared source of truth that can be trusted by parties who may not trust each other.”

#alibaba #paytm #roboadvisors #venturecapital #blockchain

© 2020 by Abraham Tachjian

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.