Morning Brief 12.18.19: The EU tackles anonymity for central bank digital currency

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The European Central Bank is trying to address concerns about digital currency privacy by building an "anonymity voucher" that provides limited privacy while retaining records for anti-money laundering.

A user must hold anonymity vouchers that are equal to the amount of central bank tokens that are part of a transaction, the ECB says, adding the vouchers are time limited and cannot be transferred.

The ECB is one of several central banks that are considering digital currencies, partly as a counter to Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency project. China is also developing a strategy to manage anonymity for its digital currency.

Giving season

Coinbase is collaborating with DustAid to enable cryptocurrency donation payments ahead of Christmas. The charities include NSPCC, an anti-child abuse organization; The Little Edit Foundation, which provides support for rural communities in Romania; and Space for Giants, which works to protect elephants.

DustAid will access Coinbase Commerce, a platform that allows merchants to accept decentralized cryptocurrency payments, to process the transactions.

Emerging technology, such as contactless payments, is often applied to non-profits and donations. It provides a way to boost usage beyond early adopters, who are often looking for a way to contribute to a cause yet are using cash and checks less.

Starting Up

Sync, a multi-currency fintech founded by former Revolut exec Ricky Lee, is close to its launch in Europe.

Sync's primary product is a hub that allows users to link all financial accounts and cards, with services such as currency exchange, cross-border transfers, and personal financial management, reports Finextra. It's a model similar to "all-in-one" card firms. The Sync account comes with a Mastercard that supports payments and ATM withdrawals.

Lee was one of the founders of Revolut, and also helped lead a user experience project at Lloyds.

Can banking get more open?

The Financial Conduct Authority is asking for input on an extension to open banking rules that will include a wider range of services.

Open banking, which generally refers to banks making more information available to third parties such as payment apps, is advancing in the wake of PSD2. The new standard has attracted investment and startups eager to take advantage of easier information flows.

By extending the concept, the FCA hopes to improve access to credit for more firms, as well as boost innovation by adding more competitors to the payments and financial markets. The FCA is taking feedback until March 17, 2020 and will issue a statement in summer 2020.

From the web

Internet Giants, Defied by Bitcoin, Now See Its Tech as a Remedy
THE NEW YORK TIMES | Wed December 18, 2019
Not so long ago, the technology behind Bitcoin was seen in Silicon Valley as the best hope for challenging the enormous, centralized power of companies like Twitter and Facebook. Now, in an unexpected twist, the internet giants think that technology could help them solve their many problems.

The 5 biggest data hacks of 2019
CNBC | Tue December 17, 2019
Hackers have accessed over 7.9 billion consumer records so far this year, with experts predicting that over 8.5 billion accounts will be exposed by the end of the year. The majority of the over 5,000 data hacks this year Risk Based Security has tracked so far consisted of only a few million accounts. Yet there were a few mega hacks that involved hundreds of millions.

The hacker behind your company’s data breach may be sitting right in the next cubicle
CNBC | Tue December 17, 2019
Data breaches regularly generate news headlines, reinforcing the popular image of foreign hackers piercing the defenses of companies and organizations to steal valuable information. In reality, most data thefts are far more mundane: Rather than being a continent away, the thieves are likely to be in a cubicle down the hall, according to a new report.

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