5 Tales from the Crypto: Why a Bitcoin ETF in 2024 Could Be a Big Deal for Wall Street

5 Tales from the Crypto: Why a Bitcoin ETF in 2024 Could Be a Big Deal for Wall Street

With a spot Bitcoin ETF expected in 2024, crypto investors, traders, and enthusiasts are likely feeling as optimistic about digital assets as they have in awhile.

As the trauma of Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX fades further into the background, the digital asset community has been able to refocus its energies on a number of positive developments in the space – from the surging price of crypto assets like bitcoin to the increasing interest in cryptocurrencies from major financial institutions.

So with the year drawing to a close, here are a few recent crypto- and blockchain-oriented headlines that you might have missed.

BlackRock, Nasdaq, SEC Meet Again on Bitcoin ETF

This week, according to reporting in Coindesk, representatives from BlackRock, Nasdaq, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission met for the second time to discuss the possibility of a Bitcoin-based exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Coindesk’s reporting is based on a published memo from the SEC’s Office of Market Supervision, Division of Trading and Markets. The memo notes the subject of the meeting as “Meeting with BlackRock re: iShares Bitcoin Trust”, lists the meeting participants, and indicates that the conversation “concerned The NASDAQ Stock Market’s proposed rule change to list and trade shares of the iShares Bitcoin Trust under NASDAQ Rule 5711(d).”

What does this mean for a Bitcoin ETF in 2024? Rule 5711(d) refers to a variety of specific criteria required for listing and trading shares on the Nasdaq exchange. But especially noteworthy are aspects of this rule has to do with market integrity and protections against potentially fraudulent activity. We’ve covered the “surveillance-sharing” issue before in 5 Tales from the Crypto, so it is no surprise to find that the SEC is still looking to dot “i’s” and cross “t’s” as we move closer to a potential new ETF product for crypto investors and traders.

Saylor on Bitcoin: “Biggest Wall Street Development in 30 Years”

Michael Saylor, former CEO and current Executive Chairman of MicroStrategy, was interviewed on Bloomberg TV earlier this week. Asked about the potential of a Bitcoin ETF in 2024, Saylor said that the launch of a Bitcoin ETF next year could be “the biggest Wall Street development in 30 years.” He went on to say that he thought that the launch of an institutionally supported Bitcoin ETF could ignite a major bull market in crypto assets as a new surge in demand confronts current (inadequate) supply.

In his comments Saylor compared the emergence of a Bitcoin ETF to the launch of the S&P 500 ETF, popularly known as the SPY, more than 30 years ago.

Headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and founded in 1989, MicroStrategy is a long-time Finovate alum. The company made its Finovate debut in 2013 at FinovateSpring in San Francisco. MicroStrategy is a public company, trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker MSTR. The firm has a market capitalization of $8 billion.

Blockchain-based micropayments company raises seed funding

Swiss-fintech Centi, which offers blockchain-based micropayment solutions, announced the completion of a seed funding round this week. The amount of the investment was not disclosed. The round was led by Archblock and Bloomhaus Ventures, with current shareholders and founders also participating. The company will use the funds to help fuel global expansion.

Centi leverages blockchain technology to address two significant challenges in the payments industry: the inefficiency of micropayments and the issue of financial inclusion. Centi responds to these problems with its proprietary stablecoin technology that facilitates transactions as small as a cent. This creates new opportunities in digital content monetization for merchants, creatives, and others.

The Swiss firm also offers a direct-to-consumer stablecoin that can be purchased with fiat currency. This technology supports financial inclusion by giving unbanked consumers a pathway to digital payments.

“We founded Centi driven by the potential of blockchain for micropayments and financial inclusion,” Centi co-founder Bernhard Müller said. “The name ‘Centi’ itself, derived from our capability to process transactions as small as one cent, encapsulates this focus.”

Connecting crypto and banking pays for Fiat Republic

Europe continues to be the source of crypto funding news this week as Fiat Republic announced a seed extension round of $7 million (€6.4 million). The investors include first-timers Kraken Ventures, Fabric Ventures, Arca, and Inovo Ventures. Existing investors Speedinvest, Credo Ventures, and Seedcamp also participated in the funding. Fiat Republic will use the capital to support growth and expansion, as well as make strategic hires and fortify banking partnerships.

London-based Fiat Republic helps crypto platforms connect with crypto-friendly banks. The company’s platform allows crypto firms to create accounts in multiple currencies and access local payment rails and FX via a single API.

Fiat Republic’s funding announcement comes as the company reports that it has been granted a full electronic money institution (EMI) license by the Netherlands’ De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB). This license will enable Fiat Republic to offer regulated financial services throughout the European Economic Area (EEA). These services include the ability to offer payment services and issue e-money to EEA crypto platforms courtesy of its API. The Dutch license is the second earned by the company; Fiat Republic has held an EMI license in the U.K. for more than a year.

Fiat Republic CEO and co-founder Adam Bialy said that the addition of the Dutch license was a major step for the two-and-a-half year old startup. “Passporting from the reputable and credible jurisdiction of the Netherlands not only boosts our legitimacy in the traditional finance world, but also highlights our commitment to high compliance standards, security, and close collaboration with regulators.”

Crypto Comeback? Looking back and leaping forward

There’s a lot for crypto investors, traders, and observers to be excited about as 2024 draws near: renewed bullishness in assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum, continued interest in crypto from institutional players and financial services incumbents … But before we go, here are a few last looks at crypto in 2023.

  • Bitcoin: The Year in Review – Forbes
  • Under the Hood, 2023 Was a Highly Constructive Year for Crypto – CoinDesk
  • Cryptoverse: Bitcoin defies its doubters in 2023 – Reuters
  • 2023 Year Review & 2024 Year Ahead – Crypto.com
  • Reflecting on the Transformative Year of Crypto in 2023 – VanEck

Photo by RDNE Stock project

3 Ways 2024 Could Be The Year of the Regulator in Fintech

3 Ways 2024 Could Be The Year of the Regulator in Fintech

Enabling technologies continue to fuel innovation in fintech and financial services. But what are regulatory bodies doing to ensure safety for consumers and fair competition for businesses?

Here are some of the areas where regulators could make themselves felt by the fintech industry in 2024.

AI: From the EU’s AI Act to Executive Orders in the U.S.

Whether its the boardrooms of Silicon Valley or the halls of Congress, the call for regulating AI technology is only getting louder. As we enter 2024, the focus on AI-based regulations in the U.S. will come from the Executive Order signed by President Biden in October. This order, called the Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, builds on the administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights from last year. The order lists eight guiding principles for the responsible development and use of AI – including the importance of U.S. leadership in this field as well as both support for American workers and protections for American consumers.

The order also set out a series of regulatory requirements that range from establishing AI safety and security standards to the importance of fostering innovation to concerns about human rights and equity. In their review of the executive order, Foley & Lardner analysts Millendorf, Allen, Moore, Barrett, and Zhang note that while it could set the stage for “potentially rigorous regulation,” the order also makes it clear that “the administration is not shy about their desire to promote competition.”

Meanwhile in Europe, we soon will have the chance to see the implementation of the European Union’s enactment of the AI Act. Unlike policy in the U.S., the EU’s AI Act is set to become law early next year. The AI Act comes two years after the EU first proposed a regulatory framework for AI and will mandate new restrictions on the use of the technology. This will include greater transparency on how data is used. The Act also categorizes AI technologies in terms of risk, recognizing everything from “unacceptable risk” systems that involve cognitive behavioral manipulation or social scoring, to limited risk systems such as image generating or manipulating technologies.

There has been some criticism of the EU’s AI Act – for example, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern that the legislation could stifle innovation. But with final details hammered out this week, a new comprehensive framework for regulating artificial intelligence will be among the first big technology headlines of the new year.

Buy Now, Pay Later, Regulate Someday?

According to research from Lafferty, the international Buy Now, Pay Later market will top $532 billion in 2024. And observers of the Buy Now, Pay Later phenomenon – supporters and critics – have known for some time that tougher regulations were coming to the industry. The only question was when.

Is the answer, “next year”? In the U.S., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been studying the BNPL industry since at least late 2021. As such, the CFPB has recognized a number of key benefits BNPL provides relative to traditional credit products, especially with regard to the absence of interest payments, ease of access, and simple repayment structure. At the same time, the agency has also acknowledged a number of potential issues: discrete consumer harms, data harvesting, and overextension.

At this point, much of the CFPB’s impact on BNPL has been minimal. And while some observers believe that regulation is inevitable, few see signs of any specific imminent changes to law or policy with regard to BNPL in the U.S. There has some concern at the state level, with state attorneys general voicing consumer protection warnings. But at this point, “study and recommend” seems to be the approach the agency is taking toward BNPL for the immediate future.

Unsurprisingly, the EU is significantly farther down the path toward regulating BNPL than the U.S. is. In September, policymakers revised their Consumer Credit Directive (CCD) which updated rules for consumer credit and roped in Buy Now Pay Later products for the first time. With regards to BNPL, the revised directive specifies the circumstances under which a given BNPL service falls under the CCD. It also mandates that those BNPL services that are within the scope of the CCD be “subject to license requirements and certain regulations regarding responsible lending.” The new stipulations in the CCD must be implemented into member state national law by the fall of 2025.

Will the Regulators Curtail Crypto’s Comeback?

The price of Bitcoin is up more than 148% year-to-date. Ethereum is up more than 90%. Even the lowly Dogecoin has gained more than 35% from the start of the year through mid-December. After a slow start, 2023 is turning out to be a great year for cryptocurrency asset prices.

So will the regulators show up to take away the punch bowl?

Once again, the EU is the first mover when it comes to major regulation of enabling technologies in fintech. Next year, the EU will implement the Markets in Crypto Assets regulation – also known as MiCA or MiCAR. The first instance of a regulatory body establishing a comprehensive set of regulations for cryptocurrencies, MiCA was established in June. The regulations set new rules for stablecoins, including e-money tokens; require authorization for certain types of services provided by companies deemed crypto-asset-service providers; and introduce new rules to prevent market abuse via unlawful disclosure, insider trading or other activities “that are likely to lead to disruption or manipulation of crypto-assets.”

In the U.S., 2023 seemed like the year when regulators were doing everything they could to make life miserable for the cryptocurrency business. But 2024 could bring better news for the industry in the form of rule changes like the one recently made by the Financial Account Standards Board (FASB). This rule change allows institutions to represent their crypto holdings at fair value beginning late in 2024. Under current accounting rules, cryptocurrencies suffer from something called impairment.

This occurs because of the imbalance between how cryptocurrencies are recorded when they lose value as opposed to when they regain value. According to one observer, TradeStation Head of Brokerage Solutions Anthony Rousseau, this change gives corporate treasurers a potential way to include cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to their balance sheets as a reserve asset. And as we’ve seen with the emergence of crypto ETFs in 2023, institutional adoption of crypto is one of the key leading indicators for potentially greater adoption of crypto throughout society.

Photo by Joshua Miranda

What Will Be the Top Fintech Trend in 2024? Hint: It’s Not AI.

What Will Be the Top Fintech Trend in 2024? Hint: It’s Not AI.

When it comes to predicting the next leap in fintech, you have to risk not only getting things wrong, but also being ok with it. So while I could play it safe and predict that the top fintech trend in 2024 will be AI, or industry consolidation, or even growth in the use of buy now, pay later tools, I’m going to step into less charted territory and say that the 2024 fintech buzzword will be quantum computing.

Why quantum computing?

The concept of leveraging quantum computing in financial services is dated; it has been around since the early 2000s. However, there are three main factors why 2024 may be the year the conversation around this topic really takes off.

  1. Cost savings opportunities
    Banks and other industry players are currently in a wrestling match with today’s economic environment, the expensive cost of capital, and an increase in competitors vying for customer attention. This, combined with an onslaught of new regulatory constraints that not only restrict operations but also result in new costs, has banks looking for new ways to both cut costs and add new revenue streams. Quantum computing’s promise to help firms increase speed, efficiency, and decrease risk appears to be a green field of revenue opportunity for organizations across the sector.
  2. Technological demands
    The financial services industry loves generative AI, but even though it is the hottest topic in fintech at the moment, it comes with its own set of restrictions. Because it relies on enormous sets of data to work effectively, generative AI requires scalable computing power. As the use of AI evolves and data sets become increasingly larger and more complex, quantum computing may become a requirement to train AI models quickly.
  3. Hardware developments
    Developments in quantum computing hardware have been slow over the past few years, making the technology inaccessible and unreasonable, even for larger financial services firms. IBM may be changing this, however. Earlier this month, the computing giant unveiled its latest computing chip, Condor, that has 1,121 superconducting qubits and can perform computations beyond the reach of traditional computers. IBM also released Heron, a chip with 133 qubits that boasts a lower error rate.

    Along with these hardware releases, IBM also unveiled its development roadmap for quantum computing, which pegs 2024 for the launch of its code assistant and platform.
Image courtesy of IBM

What to expect in 2024?

Let me be clear that next year won’t be the year that financial services organizations experience widespread adoption of quantum computing. The industry has a long road ahead when it comes to leveraging the new technology and will face challenges with hardware stability, algorithm development, and security.

Despite these challenges, we will see a small handful of larger firms dabble in quantum computing in 2024. Many already are. Earlier this year, Truist Financial joined IBM’s Quantum accelerator program and MUFG purchased an 18% stake in a quantum computing startup called Groovenauts. And just today, HSBC announced it has implemented quantum protection for AI-powered foreign exchange trading, using quantum cryptography to safeguard trading data against cyber threats and quantum attacks.

These firms’ developments in quantum computing will spark conversation and development plans among mid-market firms. It is the conversation– rather than the implementation– around quantum computing that will burgeon in 2024.

Use cases in financial services

So how will firms end up using quantum computing? Specifically, the new technology will enable organizations to develop better algorithms around risk assessment, portfolio optimization, encryption, and security.

In the coming years, as quantum computing chips become more accessible, we’ll see use cases including faster transaction processing for high-frequency trading and settlement systems, customer behavior analysis and personalized financial services, and financial modeling that can more accurately predict market behavior and economic scenarios.

Photo by Dynamic Wang on Unsplash

Three Reasons Why Elon Musk Will Turn X Into a Financial Superapp (and Two Reasons Why He Won’t!)

Three Reasons Why Elon Musk Will Turn X Into a Financial Superapp (and Two Reasons Why He Won’t!)

Last week, Elon Musk informed his employees that he wanted X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, to become the next big thing in consumer finance starting next year. And while this seems like an audacious plan for the man behind Tesla and SpaceX, Musk is a member of the PayPal mafia, after all. Could he know something about turning X into a financial services superapp that the rest of us don’t?

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why Elon Musk might be crazy as a fox when it comes to turning X into a fintech superapp – and a reason or two why he might not stand a chance.

Payments: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Whether you see payments as the “gift that keeps giving” in fintech or merely the lowest hanging fruit for a platform looking to expand into financial services, the idea of adding payments to X as an initial step in the direction of becoming a financial superapp makes sense.

Moreover, Musk sees payments as not just an initial step, but a key one in terms of not just the success of X but the end of the bank account as we know it.

“When I say payments, I actually mean someone’s entire financial life,” Musk said in an all-hands staff meeting last month. “If it involves money, it’ll be on our platform. Money or securities or whatever. So, it’s not just like send $20 to my friend. I’m talking about, like, you won’t need a bank account.”

As such X has already secured money or currency transmitter licenses in seven U.S. states: Arizona, Maryland, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. These licenses enable X to offer a range of payment services, including crypto payment services. Observers have suggested this means Musk is initially planning on offering a Venmo or PayPal like payment processing service nationwide.

Elon Musk Has a Payments Pedigree

Although often forgotten amid his achievements with satellites, rockets, and automobiles, Elon Musk is a member of the group that paved the way for PayPal. Known colloquially as the “PayPal Mafia”, the group of 20+ technologists includes a number of entrepreneurs who, like Musk, have gone on to do more great things in the world of technology. These include the founding of companies such as YouTube and LinkedIn.

Musk’s specific contribution to the group was his founding of online financial services and e-mail payment company X.com in 1999. Among the first online banks to be federally insured, X.com merged with online bank Confinity in 2000, which had launched its money transfer service PayPal the year before. Interestingly, it was Musk who has been credited for moving the combined entity away from internet banking and toward a focus on payments. Nevertheless, within a month Musk was replaced as X.com CEO by Peter Thiel. The company took on the name PayPal in 2001 and in the following year generated more than $61 million in its IPO.

Embedded Finance Empowers All

The rise of embedded finance has made it possible for virtually any platform that wants to offer financial services to do so. Writing in The Financial Brand, Jim Marous underscored embedded finance as an “existential threat” to banks that could “divert 50% of banking revenue to other providers.” He noted a projection from consulting firm Publicis Sapient that suggested that revenue from embedded finance will reach $160 billion by 2025.

And while early adopters of embedded finance were fintechs and other financial-adjacent companies, the ability to embed basic, widely used financial services into a wider and wider range of consumer experiences has proved irresistible. From ridesharing and retail to hospitality and social media, the opportunity to boost customer engagement and create new revenue streams via embedded finance is clear. And between Musk’s payments pedigree and his desire to monetize X, the rise of embedded finance could not come at a better time.

Increasingly, the question for platforms will not be “can I do payments with you?” Instead, it will be “why would I want to do payments with you?” In this, a popular social media platform will have some advantages that other platforms will not.

Are Elon’s Eyes Bigger Than His Plate?

Whether or not you are a fan of Elon Musk’s X-ification of Twitter, it is hard to see X as a finished product. Some of the platform’s earliest adopters have left or are considering leaving. This is often due to combination of technical issues, changes in functionality, or an environment that critics have described as “a cesspool.”

How fixable are these problems? Much of X’s technical woes have been attributed to staffing issues – Musk claimed this spring to have cut the company’s staff by 80% – and Musk’s own mercurial management style. And many of the changes in functionality – such as making popular features like Tweetdeck a premium service – are essentially just attempts to monetize a platform that has been undermonetized for years in the eyes of many. As for the debate over how much X differs from Twitter in terms of tone and civility, social media platforms inevitably track the tone and civility of the societies that support them. If X in 2023 is a less happy place than Twitter was in 2013, there’s probably a good reason for that. And it isn’t Elon Musk.

That said, the idea that X could grow from a social media platform with a growing list of unfixed flaws into a trusted and widely used financial superapp does seem to skip a step.

Would You Put Your Trust in Musk?

As the launcher of rockets and the developer of tomorrow’s cars, Elon Musk has earned widespread praise and acclaim. But his tenure at the top of X has been rocky – both in terms of technical issues with the platform as well as the alleged proliferation of unsavory actors. Kara Swisher, a technology journalist and writer who has known Musk for years, astutely pointed out in a recent interview that Musk was surprised that he was not able to immediately parlay his success in the world of technology into the world of media. As such, it is an open question as to whether or not people who trust Musk enough to drive his cars, also trust him enough to safely move their money.

Photo by SpaceX

Remembering Fintech Ghosts: Four Companies That Haunt Our Memories

Remembering Fintech Ghosts: Four Companies That Haunt Our Memories

Halloween is less than a week away, and with the scariest night of the year on the horizon, we wanted to settle in and tell some fintech ghost stories. These ghosts won’t be too spooky– they are more like a walk down memory lane than a visit to a haunted house.

Here’s a look at four fintech ghosts that have come and gone, but still haunt our memories:


Coin was founded in 2012, offering consumers a single, electronic payment card where they could store their multiple debit, credit, gift, loyalty, and membership card numbers. For $50, users could sign up for the waitlist, but many who paid upfront never received their card.

What happened

Coin had a very long waitlist, and while there was much initial excitement about the card, the enthusiasm faded for many after realizing they may never receive their card. The real death knell for Coin was that it only worked 80% to 90% of the time. As Finovate Founder Jim Bruene pointed out in his post about the card, “… no one wants to be that guy holding up the checkout line with his fancy black card.” Coin closed in 2016.


BillGuard suffered a slower death than most fintech ghosts. Founded in 2010, the company offered consumers a mobile app to access spending analytics, credit scores, payment details, transaction maps, and data breach alerts.

What happened

The functionality BillGuard offered was perfectly suited for fintech’s personal financial management (PFM) era. The company had kept up with evolving consumer expectations of the time, adding fraud alerts and personalized offers. When peer-to-peer lending company Prosper acquired BillGuard for $30 million in 2015, the fintech community had high hopes for the tie-up, thinking Prosper would add PFM capabilities and become a Credit Karma competitor. Two years later, however, after rebranding the BillGuard app to Prosper Daily, Prosper shut down the financial wellness app, shuttering all of its potential and erasing users’ history.


iQuantifi was founded in 2009 to enable financial institutions to offer a virtual financial advisor, adding wealth management to their offerings. In 2014, the company launched a consumer-facing virtual financial advisor tool to help users identify, prioritize, and achieve their financial goals with a personalized plan. The company had raised $3.7 million.

What happened

iQuantifi showed plenty of promise. The company had formed an aggregation partnership with MX to offer millennial users a lower-cost option to managing their finances. iQuantifi even earned a spot to participate in the Plug-and-Play fintech accelerator. In 2019, however, the company was charged with selling unregistered securities to investors that were ineligible to purchase shares in the offering. Between 2013 and 2019, iQuantifi raised $3.5 million from over 50 unaccredited investors. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ordered iQuantifi and its founder to cease and desist from committing violations and pay a $25,000 civil penalty. The company closed in 2019.


ZELF was launched in 2019, right as the digital banking craze was taking off. The fintech was geared toward serving millennial and Gen Z users in the E.U. and U.S. ZELF billed itself as the “Bank of the Metaverse” where users could bank their gaming coins, NFTs, and fiat– all anonymously with no social security, ID, or selfie required.

What happened

ZELF is a good cautionary tale of what happens when you combine crypto, fiat, the metaverse, and anonymity. Because of blatant KYC and Patriot Act violations, the company’s partner bank, Evolve Bank & Trust, pulled the plug on ZELF a day-and-a-half after its official launch day. ZELF closed down in December 2022.

Photo by Daisy Anderson

3 Reasons Youth Banking Tools are Having a Moment

3 Reasons Youth Banking Tools are Having a Moment

Banks have discussed ways to target the youth market for years. Capturing a customer under the age of 18 builds brand loyalty at a young age, increases a customer’s potential lifetime value, leads to cross-selling opportunities as they age, and increases the parent users’ engagement.

While these benefits are well-known across the fintech space, the youth market can be difficult to tap into; banking tools for minors are not yet widespread. Things may be changing, however. Developments in the youth banking market have been peppering the news this year, starting with Acorns’ acquisition of GoHenry in April. Things have really started to pick up this fall, however. Here’s a timeline:

  • August 10: Greenlight launched a new solution to help teens begin building credit.
  • September 22: Invstr launched Invstr Jr., a digital bank and investing account for users under the age of 18.
  • September 25: The Reseda Group partnered with financial literacy platform Goalsetter to offer a white-labeled version of the app for its members.
  • October 3: Acorns announced the launch of a new premium tier that integrates access to GoHenry.
  • October 3: Youth investing platform Stockpile teamed up with Green Dot to offer debit cards to its users under the age of 18.

It appears that youth banking tools may be having a moment. But why now? Below are a few reasons behind the recent flurry of activity in the space.

Transfer of wealth

It’s been well-publicized that the largest transfer of wealth in history is currently taking place. In fact, Cerulli Associates estimates that in the next 25 years, older generations will transfer a total of $84 trillion to younger generations. As a result, these young recipients– many under the age of 18– will need a safe account to hold and grow their newfound wealth. Youth savings accounts and investing tools are a good starting place.

Millennials maturing as parents

A decade ago, much of the discussions in the fintech industry centered around how to serve new millennial clients. Millennials are a digital-savvy generation and now range between 27 and 42 years of age. This mobile-first generation is more likely to seek out banking tools for their kids online rather than take them into a branch to open their first savings account. The recent spate of banking and investing tools all suit the need for digital-first accounts for minors.


Success invites competition. As more companies succeed in gaining users in the youth banking space, more will join in. That’s why we’ve seen not only new players enter into the space, but also established institutions create new tools to serve the market. As these tools continue to generate attention by launching new features, entering new partnerships, and adding new clients, other fintechs will begin to enter the market.

Photo by Monstera Production

5 Tales from the Crypto: Binance, JP Morgan Chase, Quant, IDVerse, and Ripple Make Waves

5 Tales from the Crypto: Binance, JP Morgan Chase, Quant, IDVerse, and Ripple Make Waves

This week’s edition of 5 Tales from the Crypto features a pair of stories from cryptocurrency exchange Binance, concerns over crypto-crime and innovations in tokenization from JP Morgan Chase, and a look at a new product, a new partnership, and a new payments license.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that e-wallet service provider and payment gateway, SticPay will partner with Binance’s payment solution, BinancePay. BinancePay is a contactless, borderless, secure, cryptocurrency payment technology. SticPay will leverage the solution to enhance and streamline its users’ access to a range of leading cryptocurrencies.

SticPay has more than one million users and 5,000 corporate customers in 200+ countries. Courtesy of the new partnership, SticPay users will be able to fund their accounts directly via BinancePay. This will enable them to buy, sell, and send more than 70 leading cryptocurrencies faster and cheaper, which SticPay CEO Sean Park called the company’s mission. “Our users will be able to handle more cryptocurrencies, more efficiently than ever before,” Park said.

The BinancePay news comes just a few weeks after Binance announced that it would sell its Russian business to CommEx. The off-boarding process is expected to take up to a year. Binance said in a statement that the assets of Russian accountholders are safe.

Binance Chief Compliance Officer Noah Perlman noted that the company remained positive on the long-term growth of the cryptocurrency industry worldwide. Nevertheless, he added, “operating in Russia is not compatible with Binance’s compliance strategy.”

The parting of ways between Binance and Russia is total. The company noted that it will have no ongoing revenue split from the sale of its Russia business to CommEx. Binance also did not maintain any option to buy back shares in the business as part of the sale.

Sometimes the gods of cryptocurrency giveth and sometimes they taketh away. In recent weeks, JP Morgan has represented both tendencies with regards to its openness to crypto and digital assets.

A few weeks ago, we learned that JP Morgan Chase UK will ban its customers from making crypto transactions, beginning on October 16. The bank blamed a high number of fraud and scam incidents for its decision. Specifically, according to a bank spokesperson, Chase customers will be unable to buy crypto assets using a Chase debit card. They will also be unable to transfer money to a cryptocurrency account from a Chase account.

Chase is hardly the only financial institution to place limits on its customer’s ability to transact in cryptocurrencies. NatWest limited the amount of money customers can send to crypto exchanges back in March, citing concerns over “crypto criminals.” Santander Bank has also moved to prevent its customers in the U.K. from sending real-time payments to crypto exchanges.

At the same time, JP Morgan Chase has become increasingly interested in blockchain technology and the opportunities in tokenization. This week, JP Morgan unveiled its Tokenized Collateral Network (TCN). The new platform leverages blockchain technology to enable investors to use digital assets as collateral and, further, to transfer collateral ownership without having to transfer assets in the underlying ledgers.

The first public transaction using TCN involved JPMorgan and BlackRock. JP Morgan leveraged its Onyx Digital Assets tokenization platform to convert shares of a money market fund into digital tokens. Those tokens were then transferred to Barclays bank via TCN to be used as a security for an OTC derivatives exchange between JPMorgan and BlackRock.

“The tokenization of money market fund shares as collateral in clearing and margining transactions would dramatically reduce the operational friction in meeting margin calls when segments of the market face acute margin pressures,” BlackRock deputy global COO of cash management Tom McGrath said.

The hope for TCN is that the technology will reduce the number of settlement fails and provide near-instant real-time changes in ownership. TCN is live and a number of clients and transactions are reportedly on deck.

Cryptocurrency exchange Birake Exchange has turned to IDVerse to provide identity verification. The platform specializes in Masternode coins and will leverage its new relationship with IDVerse (formerly known as OCR Labs) to provide KYC and secure digital identity verification (IDV) during the onboarding process.

In a statement, the Romania-based Birake Exchange team underscored its belief in the future of cryptocurrencies and the importance of decentralization. “To mitigate fraud risks while fostering public confidence, judicious customer due diligence through identity verification has become a priority for us,” the team said.

Founded in 2018, the Birake Exchange refers to itself as a “white label crypto exchange” because it offers trading technology that enables its customers to build and brand their own crypto exchanges. The Birake Network has its own blockchain, which is powered by the Birake Coin (BIR).

As OCR Labs, IDVerse demoed its technology at FinovateAsia 2017, winning Best of Show. The company rebranded as IDVerse earlier this year.

Blockchain company Quant has introduced a new solution designed to make blockchain-based transactions more secure for financial institutions. The new offering, Overledger Authorise, helps FIs manage and integrate digital asset private keys with their own current enterprise key management systems. The technology covers the incompatibility gap between existing systems and blockchain private keys by managing the signing of blockchain transactions and key generation.

Quant founder and CEO Gilbert Verdian noted that the success of blockchain technology in banking will depend on innovations in other technologies. “We cannot unlock (blockchain technology’s) true potential without robust and future-proof solutions for cryptographic key management and transaction authorization,” Verdian said.

Overledger Authorise has been stress-tested successfully in Project Rosalind. Project Rosalind is a central bank digital currency project conducted by the Bank of England and the Bank for International Settlements.

Headquartered in London, Quant was founded in 2015.

Ripple’s Singapore-based subsidiary, Ripple Markets APAC, secured its Major Payments Institution (MPI) license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The MAS gave Ripple Markets in-principal approval earlier this year. The license paves the way for Ripple Markets APAC to issue digital payment tokens (DPTs).

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse called Singapore “pivotal” to the company’s global business. Ripple established Singapore as its Asia Pacific headquarters in 2017. Garlinghouse referred to Singapore as “one of the leading fintech and digital asset hubs striking the balance between innovation, consumer protection and responsible growth.”

A Finovate alum since debuting as OpenCoin in 2013, Ripple has grown into a major enterprise blockchain solution provider for the financial services industry. Earlier this year, Ripple won a court ruling that its native cryptocurrency, XRP, was a digital token and “not in and of itself a ‘contract,’. As such, the court rules that Ripple was not guilty of selling unregistered securities – as accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2020.

Photo by Pok Rie

The 64 FinovateFall Demo Videos are Now Available to Everyone for Free

The 64 FinovateFall Demo Videos are Now Available to Everyone for Free

If you were among our audience at FinovateFall last month, then you know what the rest of the fintech world is missing out on. Among everyone’s favorite Finovate experiences is watching the live demos.

Starting today, everyone has the ability to watch the 64 demos from FinovateFall for free. To get you started, we’re featuring a selection of the demos our audience voted Best of Show.

For those not familiar with the process, here’s how it works: companies have seven minutes on stage to demo their new technology, live in front of the audience. If the speaker runs over the seven minute time limit, a gong sounds, their mic is cut, and the MC walks on stage to thank them and introduce the next company.




Mahalo Banking

Trust & Will


Photo by Terje Sollie

FinovateFall 2023 in 1,224 Photos

FinovateFall 2023 in 1,224 Photos

FinovateFall 2023 concluded earlier this month, but that doesn’t mean that the excitement has died down. The three-day event was packed with valuable content, meaningful conversations, a reunion of familiar faces, and new connections.

And while speakers and attendees were busy talking and learning about all things fintech and banking, Finovate’s photographer was capturing the event in 1,224 pictures.

We’ve culled a handful of highlights that help summarize FinovateFall via pictures. If you’re looking for a content summary, check out David’s piece titled, FinovateFall 2023: AI, the Fintechification of Everything, and Why Boring is the New Black.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic during his keynote: ChatGPT, Generative AI & The Future For Humanity

Jacqueline Baker, Author of The Unexpected Leader – Discovering the Leader Within You, during her book signing.

FinovateFall 2023 Best of Show Award winners (from left to right)- Mahalo Banking, Trust & Will, Wysh, Debbie, eSelf.ai, and Chimney

Women in Fintech panel conversation moderated by Michelle Tran with Akita Somani, Brandis DeSimone, Baanu Ratneswaran, Trish Costello, and Karen Yankovich

Investor All Stars panel, moderated by Ope Runseewe, with Lindsay Fitzgerald, Alexa von Tobel, Matt Harris, and Kabir Kumar

You can view the entire photo album on Finovate’s Flickr page.

Top Takeaways on Open Banking from FinovateFall

Top Takeaways on Open Banking from FinovateFall

Of all the takes I’ve heard about open banking over the past week, here is a great one I did not hear courtesy of The Finanser’s Chris Skinner: open banking is bad branding.

The core issue is that banking and finance is being ripped open by technologies to ensure better service, data enrichment, machine learning, more knowledge … but to achieve this, the service is no longer delivered by one company: a bank. It is delivered by multiple service providers through apps, APIs and analytics. That’s what Open Banking is all about. It just has the wrong name. We don’t want Open Banking. We want Closed Banking.

A typically heterodox take from Skinner and a prompt I would have loved to put to our open banking panelists at FinovateFall last week.

As it turned out, our conversation revolved around other issues – from the role of regulation to the differences in the evolution of open banking between countries and regions. But the same issues raised by Skinner this week were not far away. See for yourself in our brief summary of the top takeaways from our FinovateFall discussion.

User Experience Matters

One area of major agreement on the panel was that user experience was an undervalued aspect of the appeal (or lack thereof) of open banking. Imran Haider, Director of Product, Intuit Data Exchange, noted that the user experience for a customer connecting to their bank via an open banking flow can vary significantly. He cited the occurrence of everything from cumbersome flows to basic performance issues as obstacles to wider acceptance of open banking. “If we really want to unlock the power of customer permissioned data sharing,” Haider said, “then we need better standards and approaches on the UX side.”

Location Shapes the Market

Appreciating the way open banking is evolving differently across geographies was another key takeaway from our conversation on open banking. Florencia Ardissone, Head of Product, Customer Insights & ChaseNet Analytics, JP Morgan Chase, led with this insight. In places like the U.K., Europe, and Australia, open banking has evolved courtesy of a highly-engaged regulatory authority. By contrast, in countries like India, market forces have tended to lead, with the drive for greater financial inclusion often fueling innovation. As such, we should expect the evolution of open banking in the U.S. – however slow and sluggish – to develop based on the unique features of the U.S. banking system – including the massive number of players.

Open Banking Demands Identity Management

Skinner’s skepticism about consumer appetites for “open” banking is also a great way to understand another key takeaway from our Open Banking conversation: the idea that open banking is integrally linked to identity management. Sasha Dobrolioubov, Head of Partnerships at Persona, made the point that it critical that those financial institutions involved in open banking – the banks, the fintechs – need to have a “strong identity presence” to foster trust between would-be open banking consumers and providers.

Regulation Defines the Opportunity

The funny thing about the evolution of Open Banking in the U.S. is that has taken both the route of market-driven innovation as well as the path laid by regulators, particularly the CFPB. Kevin Jacques, Partner at Cota Capital, noted that the access to account data component of open banking evolved ahead of regulations. Jacques cited innovators – and Finovate alums – like Plaid, MX, and Finicity as examples.

That said, with pending CFPB regulations potentially limiting and restricting collection of account data based on a narrower view on consumer consent, innovation in this aspect of open banking is likely to be impacted.

Photo by Amina Filkins

3 Ways Finovate Underpins Sustainability

3 Ways Finovate Underpins Sustainability

Environmental, social, and governance– better known as ESG– initiatives are hot topics across the fintech and banking sectors. And as a fintech and banking conference, we’ve taken a look at our own operations to improve our environmental, social, and governance practices.

Below is a breakdown of each ESG aspect, and what we are doing at FinovateFall this year to support and promote a healthier environment.

Environmental responsibility

Reducing carbon emissions
We’re reducing carbon emissions not only in the way we conduct FinovateFall, but also in how we travel to the event by carpooling and taking public transportation when possible.

Environmental sustainability content
FinovateFall will host dedicated on-stage content on environmental sustainability in fintech. In addition to featuring demos from fintechs supporting sustainability, we’re hosting a keynote by Greg O’Gara, Lead Analyst, Wealth Management at Javelin Strategy & Research on Climate Change, ESG & Financial Services, What Do Wall Street & Your Customers Want?

Sustainable development

Sustainable Fintech Scholarship
With our demo scholarship program, Finovate will spotlight underrepresented founders and startups tackling climate change, diversity, and financial inclusion. The program will also help us expand our demo line ups to include more voices, more perspectives, and more cutting-edge thinking within fintech.

Sustainable development goals
Our aim is for FinovateFall to promote long-term sustainable development – in the way that we run the event but also in how it’s implemented in the market as a whole. We are committing to: 

  • Using our content to support the sustainability of the fintech market
  • Developing close partnerships with charities, companies and associations and giving them a platform to promote their work in the field
  • Facilitating discussions on pertinent topics including diversity and inclusion, gender balance, sustainability trends, the impact on the environment, and more.


Operation Backpack
We are supporting Operation Backpack, a Volunteers of America non-profit that provides brand new backpacks and grade-specific school supplies to children living in homeless shelters throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Please help us support this important work by making a donation. Even a small contribution will help!

Diversity and inclusion content
We’re hosting a fireside chat on diversity, and one on financial inclusion. Jim Perry, Senior Strategist at Market Insights will discuss why diversity matters and Melissa Koide, CEO of FinRegLab will talk about driving purpose and profit through financial inclusion.

Startup Booster
FinovateFall’s Startup Booster program offers smaller fintechs a voice in front of a large investor audience. The program is limited to fintech and tech startups who are less than five years old and have raised, at most, Seed capital. Participants will attend a 60-minute reception that will offer face time with investors, as well as a dedicated cocktail table and sign at the event.

Our driving force

Overarching all of this is our initiative called FasterForward, our parent company Informa’s program that embeds sustainability into everything we do and aims to help our customers do the same. With FasterFoward, we are striving to achieve nine specific goals:

  1. Become carbon neutral as a business and across our products by 2025
  2. Halve the waste generated through our products and events by 2025
  3. Become zero waste and net zero carbon by 2030 or earlier
  4. Embed sustainability inside 100% of our brands by 2025
  5. Help and promote the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through our brands
  6. Enable one million disconnected people to access networks and knowledge by 2025
  7. Contribute $5bn per year in value for our host cities by 2025
  8. Contribute value of at least 1% of profit before tax to community groups by 2025
  9. Save customers more carbon than we emit by 2025

Photo by Google DeepMind on Unsplash

7 Things to Know about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Novel Activities Supervision Program

7 Things to Know about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Novel Activities Supervision Program

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve (Fed) rather quietly released a letter that addresses what it is calling the “creation of novel activities.” Signed by Michael S. Gibson, the Board’s Director of the Division of Supervision and Regulation, the letter is titled, Creation of Novel Activities Supervision Program.

If you’re a fintech or a bank, the contents of the letter will likely apply to you. Here are 7 highlights of the newly created program.

Who is impacted

The letter applies to all banking organizations supervised by the Fed, including those with $10 billion or less in consolidated assets. Organizations will receive a written notice from the Fed if their activities will be subject to examination. Those who are still in the exploration phase will be “routinely monitored” for active engagement.

What is it for

The program will focus on activities related to crypto-assets, distributed ledger technology (DLT), and what the Fed is calling “complex, technology-driven partnerships with nonbanks” that deliver financial services to end customers.

The target

The letter explains that the Fed will “enhance supervision” over the following categories:

  • Partnerships where a non-bank provides banking products and services to end customers via APIs that provide automated access to the bank’s infrastructure.
  • Activities such as crypto-asset custody, crypto-collateralized lending, facilitating crypto-asset trading, and stablecoin issuance and distribution.
  • The exploration or use of DLT for issuing tokens or tokenizing securities or other assets.
  • Organizations that provide traditional banking services to crypto-related companies.

How will it supervise?

The program will leverage existing supervisory processes and will use the Fed’s existing supervisory teams instead of creating a new portfolio to monitor activity. The supervision will be risk-based, meaning that the intensity of the scrutiny will vary based on each firm’s engagement in novel activities mentioned above.


The Fed is seeking to strengthen its existing oversight of banks’ third party fintech partnerships. In the letter, Gibson reasons that innovation can lead to rapid change in banks and in the financial system in general, and that it has the potential to generate risks that can impact banks’ safety and soundness. “Given the novelty of these activities,” he states, “they may create unique questions around their permissibility, may not be sufficiently addressed by existing supervisory approaches, and may raise concerns for the broader financial system.”

Future plans

The Fed explained that it will continue to “build upon and enhance” its technical expertise to stay abreast of fintech trends, the risk associated with the trends, and appropriate controls to manage risk. In addition to increased supervision, the letter explains that the program will help shape supervisory approaches and create guidance for banking organizations engaging in the use of these “novel” technologies.

So what?

The Fed is making it clear that the lack of regulation for fintechs and the Wild West environment of the crypto realm is a thing of the past. This means that fintechs– especially those engaged in crypto– will need to be ready to answer not only to banks, but also to the Federal Reserve. On the flip side, banks will need to be ready to ask a lot more questions before engaging with fintechs, formalize partnership processes, and document all that they can regarding potential risk.

Questions about the letter can be sent via the Federal Reserve’s website..

Photo by Jewel Tolentino