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Fintech weekly: pay with Gmail, blockchain advertising exchange, initial coin offerings and more!

Gmail for payments

Send and request money with Gmail

Google has updated the functionality of Gmail by allowing users to request or receive money via email. As the company explains, the process is as simple as sending an attachment and does not require the installation of a separate payment app. What’s more, the transfers are free of charge for both sender and recipient. The feature demonstrates Google’s commitment to establishing itself as a provider of financial services.

Blockchain based advertising exchange

A new blockchain-based exchange will allow parties to trade advertising contracts. Powered by Nasdaq technology, the New York Interactive Advertising Exchange (NYIAX) “will provide an electronic marketplace for publishers, advertisers and media buyers to buy and sell future advertising inventory”. The project will initially concentrate on digital media and eventually roll-out the product to TV, print and radio.

Initial Coin Offerings gain steam

The first opportunity to invest in a company is typically via an initial public offering where funds are raised by offering equity to the public for the first time. The process is laborious and expensive as professionals such as accountants and lawyers prepare a prospectus, a lengthy document listing disclosures, earning projections and other information useful to investor. A new form of fundraising however appears to be sidestepping these costly requirements. Instead of offering stocks, initial coin offerings sell digital tokens as a means of raising money.

Fintech companies face challenges in Latin America

At first glance, opportunities for fintech startups in Latin America appear ripe. The demographics are favourable: big urban populations, rising mobile penetration, limited competition for financial services and high levels of unbanked. Despite these attractive conditions, fintech startups have difficulty in establishing themselves in the region. Among other factors impeding their growth, regulatory uncertainty may be partly to blame.

Central bank looking at fintech modernization

The Bank of England is investigating technologies in a push towards fintech modernization. Like projects in other countries, the Bank has partnered with startup Ripple to trial blockchain-based cross-border payments to reduce the time it takes to move money. As one fintech executive quipped, it’s "quicker to fly a large transfer of money over from the US than to transfer it." In addition, the central bank will test an artificial intelligence platform to, among other things, detect abnormalities in financial transactions.

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