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A setback for cryptocurrencies in Europe: It will be a lot harder to use cryptocurrencies for payments in Europe following Visa's suspension of WaveCrest-powered debit cards from BitPay, Cyrptopay and Bitwala, a move that primarily impacts European markets. The Independent reports Visa is closing the cards because of the Gibraltar-based WaveCrest's unspecified noncompliance with the card network's operating rules. Consumers use the prepaid cards to buy bitcoin, ether and other alternative currencies, transfer them to the card and use them for payments. In separate statements, Cryptopay, Bitwala and BitPay all promised refunds and each company said it would work to make prepaid services available in European markets.

Bloomberg News

London calling: Fears over Brexit have not held back financial technology investments in London. Those investments nearly doubled in 2017 to about $3.3 billion, from about $1.75 billion in 2016, reports London & Partners, which notes that $1.5 billion, or nearly half of the investment went to financial technology companies.The U.K. has eased regulations on fintech companies in an attempt to keep development in the country. U.K. technology companies drew four times more funding in 2017 than Germany and more than France, Ireland and Sweden combined.

New U.K. payments regulator: The continued success the U.K. has a center of fintech innovation will rely partly on the work of Charles Randell. Randell has been appointed chair of the Payment Systems Regulator, a London-based subsidiary of the Financial Conduct Authority that was set up to manage the fast introduction of new technology into the payments industry. Randell is a member of the Prudential Regulation Committee at the Bank of England, and will assume his role at the PSR on April 1, replacing John Griffith-Jones.

Facebook makes friends with blockchain: While it's likely not related to Ripple founder Chris Larsen nudging past him on the world wealth list, Mark Zuckerberg's "state of Facebook" speech included a reference to blockchain and a promise to see how the technology fits into Facebook's services. TechCrunch reports Zuckerberg's stand fits in with his long-standing concerns about internet censorship in countries like China and Iran, and could also add virtual currency access to Facebook's transactional capabilities via collaboration and tying payments to customer support.

VC for crypto payments: Coinify has drawn investment to grow its already deep base of users and merchants. VentureBeat reports Nordic Eye led the $4.8 million round, which also included SEED Capital and SEB Ventures. The Copenhagen-based Coinify serves more than 60,000 merchants in Europe, which can use the company's technology to accept cryptocurrencies as payments. In the past three years, several million cryptocurrency holders have added wallets on Coinify's platform and its revenue grew 1,600% in 2017.

From the Web

Fintech firm Previse targets late-payment problem
BBC News | Mon Jan 8, 2018 - A start-up which uses artificial intelligence technology to address the problem of late payments for small firms is to set up a base in Scotland. Previse plans to create 37 data science jobs in Glasgow, following an £800,000 grant from Scottish Enterprise. Its AI technology is designed to enable large firms to pay suppliers on the day they receive an invoice. It plans to start rolling out its first instant-payments programme with several blue-chip multinational buyers. The London-based firm's technology calculates a buyer's likelihood of paying an invoice. It then decides which invoices will be paid, so small suppliers can be paid instantly. Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International worked closely with the company to support its move into Glasgow.

Second-largest cryptocurrency Ripple may have run ahead of itself
CNBC | Fri Jan 5, 2018 - Digital currency ripple has blown past its cryptocurrency rivals largely because it is working with large institutions, which give it an aura of legitimacy and practicality. However, cryptocurrency enthusiasts say that centralization is the exact opposite of what the technology of the digital currencies should be about. "The reason ripple is surging so much is it's a bubble," said Erik Voorhees, CEO of digital asset exchange ShapeShift and a vocal advocate for bitcoin as a way to separate money and the state. "Testing crypto with banks doesn't make sense. The whole idea of crypto is you don't need banks."

Fraud fears over ‘open banking’ revolution
The Times | Sun Jan 7, 2018 - Would you allow a company to access your current account details to work out whether switching to another bank or building society could save you money? The government and the banking industry want you to do just that. In less than a week, Britain’s largest current account providers will, with your express permission, be allowed to reveal information about you to third parties and other banks. They will be able to pass on not just your account number and sort code, but also details about your balance, regular direct debits and how often you go into the red.

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