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PSD2 vs. Brexit: For the moment, the lure of open banking from the new PSD2 rules is more enticing than worries over Brexit. Venture capitalists invested a record $2.2 billion in British financial technology companies in 2017, an increase of more than 150% over 2016, and a larger rise than either the U.S. or China, according to CityAM, which attributes the data to Innovate Finance and Pitchbook. U.S. fintechs drew more than $7 billion in investments in 2017, up 21% over 2016; while Chinese financial technology startups drew $1.5 billion, a decrease of 80% from 2016's $7.7 billion, when fintech spending in China was dominated by Ant Financial and other large companies.

London at night
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A Ripple in China: Ripple has been quickly adding partners to boost its cross-border payments share, and this week added LianLian, a Chinese payment gateway with more than 150 million users. The collaboration will allow LianLian to use xCurrent to support international payments between China, the U.S. and Europe. Perhaps more significantly, it gives Ripple's clients and collaborators a connection point for transfers to China, where it can be difficult for external payment companies to establish a foothold due to regulations requiring a physical presence.

Drilling for cryptocurrency: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wants OPEC to back a joint cryptocurrency that will support Petro, Venezuela's government-backed alternative currency, which launched in December following Venezuela's default on some bonds backed by more traditional currency. Al Jazeera reports Maduro will push for a joint currency during meetings in the coming months. The Petro is backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves and is considered a way for Venezuela to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

Google gets pressure on bitcoin ads: Following Facebook's ban on advertisements for cryptocurrencies and ICOs, the chair of Canada's Binary Options Task Force Jason Roy has called on Google to do the same. The Times of Israel reports Roy praised Facebook's move, and asked Google to ban all ads that mention binary options, cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. Google told The Times it already bans "misleading and misrepresentation" across all advertising categories.

From the Web

T-Mobile sued over theft of customer's cryptocurrency
Fox News | Wed Feb 7, 2018 - A T-Mobile customer is suing the carrier over a cryptocurrency heist. Carlos Tapang claims that hackers broke into his cryptocurrency account because T-Mobile was fooled into transferring his account to AT&T. The hackers then used Tapang's wireless account to access his cryptocurrency account and sell virtual currencies for 2.875 in bitcoin. Bitcoin was worth around $8,000 around the time of the account transfer, but reached a high of $19,000 the following month.

Swisscom tightens security after sales partner breached
Reuters | Wed Feb 7, 2018 - Data on around 800,000 Swisscom customers leaked when security at an external sales partner was breached, prompting the Swiss group to tighten access to its files, it said on Wednesday. The breach late last year affected “non-sensitive” data such as customers’ names, addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth. No passwords, conversations or payment data were affected, it said. It came to light during a routine check of operations that showed unknown parties had misappropriated access rights of the unidentified sales partner to see the data. In response, Swisscom blocked the partner’s access and adopted new policies that ban high-volume queries for all customer information and require two-factor authentication for all data access by sales partners.

Alibaba to take $486 mln stake in China retail data firm
Reuters | Thu Feb 8, 2018 - China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will invest $486 million for a stake in a domestic big- data firm focused on hotels and retail, as part of a push to deepen its offline presence. The firm will buy a 38 percent stake in Shiji Retail Information Technology Co via its subsidiary Alibaba Investment Ltd, the data firm’s listed parent said in a filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange on Thursday. The deal is part of a “new retail” strategic cooperation, Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co Ltd said, referring to a shift by Alibaba and rivals to leverage big-data to shake up China’s huge but stalling retail market. Alibaba has been beefing up its retail presence with more than $10 billion of investments into brick-and-mortar outlets amid rising competition in the space from rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.

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