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The Nine Fin-Trends💰
The digital transformation in fintech. The clash between the Federal Reserve's FedNow and stablecoins. Twitter rebrands with and X. And, what's with the "Razzlekhan" deal?
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What does the future look like for the digital transformation in finance?
Bank of America predicts that tokenisation, the process of converting real-world assets into blockchain-based tokens, will transform infrastructure and financial markets over the next five to 15 years.
The bank believes that tokenisation has the potential to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, optimize supply chains, and drive mainstream adoption.
It expects the implementation of blockchain technology to accelerate as the opportunity cost of uncaptured efficiencies increases. Bank of America also distinguishes between meme coins like shiba inu and pepecoin, which have no utility or intrinsic value, and other tokens that serve a purpose in decentralized blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
In recent years, crypto and AI have emerged as revolutionary force in the financial industry, capturing the attention of investors, technologists, and governments alike.
What are the 9 trends to keep an eye on?
Cloud-Based Solutions: Banks are soaring to the cloud for storing, processing, and analysing large volumes of data. Cloud-based solutions offer improved scalability, reduced costs, and valuable insights into customer behaviour and market trends.
They're also embracing the cloud's robust security features to protect their systems and data from cyber threats! And the best part? Cloud tech enables them to create innovative digital products like mobile banking apps, digital wallets, and online investment platforms, serving customers better and staying competitive in the market.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) & Chatbots:
Meet your new financial assistants – NLP and chatbots!
These intelligent technologies are revolutionising customer service and automating repetitive tasks, giving you a seamless and personalised experience. Ever wondered how chatbots are saving banks up to 30% on customer service costs? They're here to answer questions, provide account information, and even process transactions.
NLP models like ChatGPT are taking the finance world by storm, generating human-like text to gain valuable insights from unstructured data like customer reviews and social media posts, uncovering the secret to customer sentiment and needs.
Predictive Analytics: Predictive analytics is transforming the financial services industry, unlocking the power of data to identify potential risks, optimise lending and investment decisions, and supercharge customer targeting - predictive models for algorithmic trading, executing market-making decisions within milliseconds, and analysing vast amounts of historical and real-time market data to identify patterns and predict future movements in the stock market.
Other major use cases include intelligent credit scoring, spotting fraud in advance, and offering proactive customer support before issues even arise.
Digital-only banks are stealing the show, offering real-time access to banking and financial facilities through virtual platforms like mobile, tablets, and iPad. This means no more traditional barriers and embracing a seamless digital banking experience that's responsive to a rapidly changing market. Cloud technologies play a key role in supporting their core services, billing, credit, and more, making onboarding and deployments smoother than ever.
Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies:
Whether it's Bitcoin, Ether, or a new currency, these digital assets, combined with the underlying technology, are opening new possibilities for finance.
Decentralisation for financial inclusion.
Fast and low-cost cross-border transactions.
Transparent and secure records with blockchain.
Self-executing smart contracts.
Tokenisation of real-world assets.
Innovation in financial services (DeFi).
Secure digital identity and privacy.
Enable microtransactions and micropayments.
Streamlined financial market operations.
Potential disruption of traditional banking.
Data is the heartbeat of the finance world! Data aggregation is taking centre stage, surpassing screen scraping to provide tokenised and credential-free connectivity for enhanced user experiences - aggregated financial and investment data at your fingertips, providing valuable insights and making data connectivity a breeze.
And that's not all – fintech service providers are leveraging APIs to offer additional services, making your financial journey more connected and satisfying than ever before.
Open Banking Unleashed:
What’s the "open banking" movement? Securely transferring your financial data between organisations with customers' blessings? Absolutely!
The use of APIs to share financial data and services with third parties is referred to as open banking. Third parties typically provide customers of the bank with technology, a service, or an app that makes use of the shared financial data and services.
The shared financial data includes, for example, bank customers' statements and transaction records. This information is not made public and is only shared at the customer's explicit request. The technological infrastructure and legal frameworks for such consent-driven sharing are provided by open banking.
This paves the way for innovative programs and specialised services, giving you greater control over your financial destiny and a myriad of choices.
Digital Wallets & Contactless Prowess:
The digital wallets are here, and they mean business. Behold the prowess of Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, swooping in as fast, safe, and oh-so-convenient alternatives to traditional payment methods. Digital wallets let you save payment card info securely on your smartphone and make purchases with a mere tap on contactless payment terminals. And for encrypted tokens guard your sensitive data from any digital villains.
Embedded finance is a technology that allows non-financial companies to integrate payment and banking services into their products and workflows. This innovation bridges the gap between consumers and businesses by offering convenient payment options and financial services.
Technology providers facilitate the integration of financial services through APIs, while balance sheet providers, usually banks or financial institutions, enable the offering of these services. Embedded finance includes embedded banking, payments, lending, branded payment cards, and insurance.
It streamlines financial processes, eliminates third-party dependencies, and improves customer experience.
The stage is set for an epic clash between the Federal Reserve's FedNow and stablecoins.
In the blue corner, we have the ambitious Federal Reserve's FedNow, offering instantaneous settlements for dollar payments round-the-clock. And in the red corner, stablecoins – the fast and nimble contenders with a lot of tricks up their sleeves.
The news of FedNow's launch triggered a temporary "existential crisis" for stablecoin users. But, Stablecoin supporters quickly realised that FedNow isn't a direct competitor. It may be great for US banks, but it's not the superhero the unbanked and underbanked communities were hoping for.
Stablecoins' Secret Weapons: Cross-Border Remittances
Stablecoins have a powerful advantage – their potential for seamless cross-border remittance payments at a fraction of the cost and none of the delays of traditional bank services. While FedNow applies only to US banks, stablecoins have their eyes on the global prize.
FedNow aims to modernise the financial infrastructure, offering faster and more convenient everyday payments. However, users need a bank account, and there are upward limits on transactions. Stablecoins, on the other hand, are the agile contenders with crypto-to-crypto exchanges and no bank account required.
Tether (USDT) and USDC may seem small compared to traditional banking, but they pack a punch in the crypto arena. Despite FedNow's entrance, stablecoins aren't backing down. And with concerns over a potential US CBDC, stablecoins could continue to thrive.
FedNow may have entered the ring, but it's not the end of the story. Private market competition, with options like Real Time Payments (RTP), adds another twist to the battle.
Gather 'round and hear the tale of Heather "Razzlekhan" Morgan and her partner in crime, Ilya Lichtenstein.
These two New York lovebirds found themselves in hot water after being accused of laundering funds from the infamous Bitfinex hack.
Here's what we know:
Heather "Razzlekhan" Morgan and Ilya Lichtenstein, a married couple from New York, were accused of laundering funds from the Bitfinex crypto exchange hack in 2016.
They faced allegations of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
The U.S. Attorney ordered them to forfeit billions of dollars worth of bitcoin, ether, stablecoins, and other cryptocurrencies, along with cash from their bank accounts upon conviction.
In February 2022, Morgan was granted bail, but Lichtenstein was not, as the defense argued the case against her was weaker and her health issues necessitated a release.
The couple was accused of laundering roughly 25,000 BTC and had access to another 94,000 BTC stolen during the exploit, worth approximately $3.5 billion at the time.
Federal officials seized the 94,000 BTC when the couple was arrested in early 2022.
The pair initially intended to fight the charges, but signs of a plea deal emerged in March 2022.
Ilya Lichtenstein, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen, renewed his Russian passport in 2019.
The couple traveled to Ukraine in 2019, where they allegedly created and updated various files in online accounts related to money laundering, although the defense claimed it was just a vacation.
A woman named Kristy Lynn Felkins with a sinister plan to hire a hitman on the dark web to take out her ex-husband.
This is not your average murder plot - she tried to pay the hitman with Bitcoin.
In 2016, she sent 12 Bitcoins, worth $5,000 at the time, to a shady site called Besa Mafia on the mysterious Tor network. They claimed to offer murder-for-hire services. Those Bitcoins would be worth nearly $360,000 today.
For four suspenseful months, Felkins exchanged messages with the Besa Mafia website administrator, giving them detailed information about her ex-husband's whereabouts - his home address, vehicle, and even his work schedule. She wanted to make his murder look like an accident, but she wasn't willing to pay the $4,000 upcharge.
Twist: Besa Mafia turned out to be a scam. No murder happened, and Felkins never got her Bitcoin refunded.
Fast forward to her sentencing - her ex-husband was in shock when he learned about the whole murder-for-hire scheme. He even described her as a "wonderful mother" during the trial. But despite their seemingly amicable divorce, he believed she deserved some sort of sentence for her actions.
Felkins had told the Besa Mafia administrator that she stood to gain from her ex-husband's death - his retirement, their house, and possibly a hefty life insurance payout. But at the sentencing, she was thankful that the hitman was nothing more than a scam artist.
Elon Musk, the mastermind behind so many cool things, has gone on a rebranding spree with Twitter.
So, get this – he officially replaced Twitter's iconic bird logo with an "X."
No more tweeting birds, folks; it's all about the "X" now.
And it's not just a small change – it's part of a sweeping rebrand that Elon announced in style.
Elon, the tech genius who acquired Twitter for a whopping $44 billion, teased us with his plans over the weekend. He posted, "Sayonara, twitter brand, and bye-bye birds!"
Elon envisions transforming Twitter into an "everything app" - with audio, video, messaging, payments, and even banking.
But wait, there's more! In this X-ified Twitter world, tweets will now be called "x's" – a real X-factor! But the big question is, what will retweets be called? Elon's got us pondering, "concept should be rethought," he wrote.
TTD Surfer 🏄
Crypto payment processor Alphapo's hot wallet was hacked, resulting in the loss of $23 million in various digital assets.
Americana, a vaulting platform backed by OpenSea and venture capital firm 776, is making its "phygital" vault service available to the public.
Indonesia has launched a national crypto asset exchange to create a "fair and just" trading environment, prioritizing investor protection.
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