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This time it's checks: Amazon is in discussion with JPMorgan Chase and other large banks about building a checking account for its consumers, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources. The talks are very early and may not lead anywhere, though Amazon is considering a product that would target younger consumers, who often shy away from banking, and the general underbanked population. The sources told the Journal Amazon has no intention of becoming fully-regulated bank. Amazon is aggressively expanding beyond e-commerce, adding more in-home and retail technology through a series of acquisitions and technology projects. And it's already working with JPMorgan Chase and Warren Buffett on a health care project.
Mexico opens up: Shortly after the Canadian government announced it is considering PSD2-style open banking laws that mandate banks share customer data with fintech startups, Reuters reports Mexico is making progress on a similar measure. Mexico's Congress has passed a bill that would enable an open banking environment, requiring banks to access data via application programming interfaces. The bill, which is expected to become law, would also set new rules for cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding. These measures are designed to reach Mexico's underbanked.
Global sandbox gains support: The World Federation of Exchanges is supporting an effort from the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority to export the U.K.'s regulatory sandbox to other countries. The sandbox offers regulatory relief for new financial technology companies while they develop early version of their technology and business model. The global sandbox would be designed to support the growing number of fintechs that address cross-border payments.
Walmart's special delivery: Walmart is upping its game in delivery, and has applied for a patent for an advanced package that would include information such as its location on a blockchain. Part of the application references connectivity to a vehicle delivery system. The retailer does not provide much detail beyond that, but the project could allow Walmart to counter rival Amazon's foray into drone delivery.
Bayou bitcoin: Jeff Landry, Louisiana's attorney general, is investigating his own office's IT team for allegedly using state resources to mine bitcoin. The investigation has been rumored for months, though confirmed only in the past few days. Landry's office has not publicly commented on the investigation and no charges have been filed. The Louisiana Bureau of Investigation, which reports to Landry, has questioned staffers after discovering bitcoin mining hardware.
From the Web
Digital wallets are safe, yet Americans remain wary
CNBC | Sat Mar 3, 2018 - Mobile wallets are clearly the wave of the future. Yet there's a major obstacle standing in the way. Digital payments grew to about $721 billion in 2017, according to Experian. But because of the long-standing reliance on credit cards, mobile payment methods like Apple Pay and Google Pay are being adopted at a slower rate in the U.S. Spending by American consumers just cracked $1,000, on average, for the first time last year according to eMarketer research.
Bitcoin takes on cash, as more places accept the cryptocurrency
CNBC | Fri Mar 2, 2018 - One of the biggest criticisms of cryptocurrencies is that they're trying to be something they're not. None of them, after all, is as readily usable for day-to-day purchases as a currency. "Would you be willing to put bitcoin in your pocket and leave for a one-year trip, knowing you're going to survive?" Aswath Damodaran, professor of finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University, asked during a CNBC interviewlast fall. "We're nowhere near that comfort." Many cryptocurrency experts and developers argue that we don't yet see the currencies readily used in say, the supermarket, because the technology is still in its early stages. "Right now there's no easy way to buy, send or spend cryptocurrencies," said Nick Saponaro, co-founder of The Divi Project, which educates people on the digital tokens.
Virtual Currency Offerings May Hit a New Peak with Telegram Coin Sale
The New York Times | Sun Mar 4, 2018 - It took Facebook seven years to raise $1 billion from investors. Uber did it in five. The messaging company Telegram has been around since 2013, but never tried to raise significant money until late last year. Now, thanks to an initial coin offering, or I.C.O., Telegram is on track to pull in a billion dollars in just four months — long before the product the company is raising money for is even built. When programmers or entrepreneurs launch an I.C.O., what they are really doing is selling their own virtual currencies in order to raise money for software they say they are building. In return for real money, investors receive digital tokens, similar to Bitcoin.
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