banking-and-finance

Democrats pan, Republicans applaud Kraninger's tenure at CFPB
Director mum on agency's need to exist

Kraninger was unwilling to say her agency needs to exist. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At a hearing Thursday, Democrats castigated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen Kraninger, who wasn't willing to say that her agency needs to exist. 

Congress looks at taxes, oversight, crime in fintech bills
Lawmakers focus on fostering innovation while ensuring technology isn’t abused

Companies that facilitate bitcoin payments, called merchant services providers, received $158 billion in bitcoin last year, which was just about 1 percent of the economic activity on bitcoin’s blockchain, according to Chainalysis, which analyses such transactions. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images photo illustration)

Corrected 4:25 p.m. | Cryptocurrencies involve cutting-edge technology, but Congress is aiming at age-old problems when it comes to financial technology legislation: taxation, crime and jurisdiction to set the rules.

A review of the latest fintech-related bills by CQ Roll Call shows lawmakers’ latest efforts are focused on fostering innovation by some and making sure the technology isn’t abused by others.

Wall Street czar Linda Lacewell takes on regulation
Fintech Beat, Ep. 38

Linda Lacewell, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

When it comes to regulating Wall Street, perhaps no one person is more important than Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services. On her one year anniversary in office, she talks with Fintech Beat about changes to the BitLicense, the Apple Pay card and her 2020 priorities.

House panel asks whether legislation can keep cash as king
Electronic payments taking greater market share

Rep. Donald Payne, D-Md., is backing legislation to ban cashless stores. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At some uncertain point in the future, printing cash may be a waste of money. As Americans increasingly rely on credit cards, online transfers, mobile apps and cryptocurrencies to complete transactions, a House panel debated Thursday the promise and potential pitfalls of a cashless society.  

In recent years, some stores have decided they’d rather not ask “paper or plastic?” to customers at checkout. Instead, they’ve gone cash free, accepting only smartphone apps like Apple Pay, mobile payments like Venmo, or debit and credit cards.

Courts, without law for guidance, setting value of cryptoassets
Judges determining currency values receive little input from policymakers focused on other issues

Inconsistent classifications and ill-formed definitions of bitcoin and other digital assets are being left to the judiciary to sort out. (AFP via Getty Images)

Bankruptcy judges are used to deciding the value of assets, but for cryptocurrencies, which can halve or double in value in a matter of months, determining how much one party is owed gets tricky.

It’s an issue that could be mitigated by regulators or lawmakers, but despite myriad efforts focusing on digital assets this year, U.S. bankruptcy judges are unlikely to get much guidance, according to several lawyers who track the cryptocurrency industry.

Iran, North Korea and Crypto
Fintech Beat, Ep. 36

Looking toward the North Korean side of the Joint Security Area within the DMZ from Panmunjom, South Korea. (Photo By Niels Lesniewski/CQ Roll Call)

Fintech Beat gives an inside view from former intelligence officials on how sanctions and political gyrations between the Trump administration and Iran and North Korea can impact financial technology, and how these regimes can use cryptocurrencies in nefarious ways.

Crypto enthusiasts say new products lend bitcoin credibility
Futures considered crucial to gain buy-in from financial industry

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. Those bitcoin futures trade through regulated exchanges and clearinghouses. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images photo illustration)

The cryptocurrency industry is hailing the emergence of complex bitcoin investment products as a needed step to attract new investors while lending credibility to the digital asset and building a pathway to regulatory clarity.

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. And while the launch of these investment products hasn’t convinced everyone that they will lead to buy-in from a skeptical financial industry, those leading the charge say it’s a crucial step.

Can - and should - an algorithm be ethical when it comes to financial technology?
Fintech Beat, Ep. 35

Can an algorithm be ethical? (iStock, Getty Images)

Algorithms have evolved into to powerful engines of financial technology. But they don’t always live up to the hype, as algorithmic models fail to take account of basic societal concerns like fairness, privacy and bias. Fintech Beat sits down with Michael Kearns to find out what can be done to make algorithms “ethical.”

Fintech Beat sits down with the former chief of the Federal Reserve’s open banking unit
Fintech Beat, Ep. 34

The Federal Reserve building. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Open banking’s benefits involve using customer consent to develop new financial products to revolutionize financial services. But critics claim open banking can at times bypass customer consent by using digital avatars and other online tools to infiltrate and collect customer data. Fintech Beat sits down with the former chief of the Federal Reserve’s open banking unit to get answers.

Long wait for China tariff exemptions pays off for some
About a third of requests for exemptions from tariffs were granted in first two tranches of tariffs

President Donald Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook, to Trump’s right, tour the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple’s Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, in November. Apple has fared better than most companies in winning exemptions on tariffs on Chinese imports. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

The limited scope of the phase one trade deal with China means that the bulk of U.S. tariffs will remain in place for the foreseeable future, leaving U.S. companies hurt by the duties no other choice but to get in line for an exemption if they want to limit the damage.

The record so far shows that it might be worth a shot: on average, importers have a one in three chance of meeting the standard set by the U.S. Trade Representative and getting an exemption or exclusion, according to an analysis by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.