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Fintech weekly recap: Blockchain consortium’s surprise announcement, Canadian sandbox, KPMG report o

Blockchain consortium cast doubt on technology

The R3 blockchain consortium seems to be a favorite target of the fintech cognoscenti. Be it the difficulty in reaching its funding goals or the departure of key members, the group’s move rarely go unnoticed. It should come as no surprise then that at a recent presentation, some engineers, developers and researchers put the industry on notice by stating that their flagship product Corda doesn't need blockchain to be successful. The statement came as a surprise given the millions invested by the consortium to date in the technology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, commentators did not hold back, with some characterizing the decision as an admission of defeat.

Fintech cooperation agreement and sandbox in Canada

Although Canadian initiatives to promote fintech may have trailed counterparts, steps are being taken to bridge the gap and make the country a fintech hub. To that end, the Ontario Securities Commission, Canada’s largest securities regulator, announced a cooperation agreement with its counterpart in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Similar to those the FCA concluded with other countries, the agreement provides fintech companies with support in making the leap into another jurisdiction. In addition, a grouping of Canadian securities regulators announced the creation of the first regulatory sandbox, allowing fintech companies to test their platforms in an environment of relaxed regulatory compliance.

KPMG/CB Insights’ report on fintech

The latest issue of “The Pulse of Fintech” highlights an almost 50 percent slide in investments over the past year. The quarterly review prepared by KPMG and CB Insights notes that overall fintech funding reached $24.7 billion in 2016 as compared to $46.7 billion raised in 2017. The report also touches on regulatory trends to promote fintech, predictions on the evolution of the industry in the coming year as well as the growth potential of Regtech and Insurtech.

Ant Financial continues acquisition spree

Jack Ma’s business empire continues its move towards globalization. Hot on the heels of the purchase of MoneyGram as well as leading an investment in Paytm’s e-commerce unit, Ant Financial will invest $200 million in Kakao Pay, a mobile payment subsidiary of South Korean messaging platform giant Kakao Corp. The company also announced its first foray into the Philippines with an investment in Mynt, a fintech company focusing on, among other things, payments, remittance and lending. Although still early to predict what Ant’s future plans are, a pattern of investing in specific sectors is beginning to emerge.

Chinese digital currency

In a move to solidify its role in the digital space and to further assert control over its economy, China’s central bank is preparing to roll out its own digital currency. Among some of the benefits of this move include lowering transaction costs for merchants by eliminating intermediaries that process payments. More importantly, a digital currency may offer the central bank better tools for reinforcing monetary policy and combating money laundering.

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