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The Facebook coin: What it means for fintech and society
Fintech Beat podcast, Episode 6

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Welcome to Fintech Beat, the intersection of finance, technology, policy and regulation. Facebook is poised to enter and potentially reshape the cryptocurrency landscape. Host Chris Brummer, fintech regulation expert, and guests mull over what this means for fintech and society.

The financial technology trade wars
Fintech Beat podcast, Episode 5

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Exploring the wild, wild west of cryptocurrency exchanges
Fintech Beat podcast, Episode 4

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What's in your crypto wallet? And how to keep it safe
Fintech Beat podcast, Episode 3

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A conversation with the CFTC regulator — Christopher Giancarlo
Fintech Beat podcast, Episode 2

Chris Giancarlo. (Photo courtesy Commodity Futures Trading Commission)

Financial policy and regulation is changing. We’re going to make sense of it for you.
Fintech Beat podcast, Episode 1

Chris Brummer, professor and faculty director of the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown Law, is the host of Fintech Beat — from CQ Roll Call's studios in the heart of Washington. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

Mobile payments up but pace of growth slows
23 percent of smartphone owners used a mobile wallet app in 2018

U.S. consumers spent $64 billion through mobile wallet apps or dedicated apps from a retailer last year. (Courtesy iStock)

Payments made through mobile apps like Apple Pay are rising, but at a slower rate than in past years, according to a report by the Electronic Transactions Association.

U.S. consumers spent $64 billion through mobile wallet apps or dedicated apps from a retailer last year, up from $45 billion in 2017, the ETA said. The 42 percent rate of growth in 2018 was down from 51 percent in 2017. The pace is expected to slow to 37 percent in 2019, resulting in $88 billion in consumer spending by such means.

Global regulators divide on fintech impact on financial system
New reports highlight inability to reach consensus on best approaches

A new report says regulators of the world’s leading economies need to watch how they oversee cryptoassets and be wary of gaps that could undermine investor protections and anti-money laundering efforts. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

Regulators are divided on the potential impact of financial technology on the global financial system and the need for better coordination and oversight.

As leaders prepare to gather for the G-20 meeting in Japan in late June, their finance ministers and central bankers are getting conflicting advice from regulators on the risks and benefits of fintech.

Regulators confront technology that may upend securities trade
Distributed ledgers may remove the need for intermediaries such as stock exchanges.

Distributed ledger technology, including the blockchain system that backs bitcoin, could remove the need for such intermediaries as stock exchanges, regulators and experts say. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images file photo)

New technology could change the way the securities industry has worked for decades by removing the need for trusted central parties such as stock exchanges.

The potentially disruptive technology is known as the distributed ledger, a decentralized database run by its users rather than a single authority. Current and former financial regulators, academics and trading industry experts said during a recent financial technology panel that these ledgers, which in theory can’t be changed, may remove the need for such intermediaries as stock exchanges.

Report to Congress ponders a future of cryptocurrency over cash
Migration away from cash transactions leaves an opening for digital currencies

A man purchases bitcoin from a bitcoin ATM in Boston in 2014. The use of cryptocurrencies to make payments in the U.S. is still “quite rare relative to cash and traditional systems,” a new CRS report says. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images file photo)

Congress may be beginning to contemplate a country where cryptocurrency — not cash — is the coin of the realm.

The Congressional Research Service examined the decline in cash usage in the United States and the potential rise of alternative payment systems, including bitcoin or other digital assets, in the purchase of goods and services.

Futures product to test Wall Street taste for cryptocurrencies
Startup company plans to start trading futures contracts in bitcoin

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have sought clarity from the Commodity Future Trading Commission on guidelines for cryptocurrencies on the futures market. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cryptocurrencies have been viewed skeptically by some old-guard financial institutions — the head of one bank famously called bitcoin a fraud a few years back — but there’s a new plan to offer derivatives based on bitcoin that may show how deeply Wall Street is adopting new financial technology.

A startup company plans in July to start testing futures contracts in bitcoin, and begin trading them shortly after. The products, unlike cryptocurrencies themselves, aren’t designed for the masses. Bitcoin futures are meant for financial firms that want to find new ways to profit from fintech, and launching the futures contracts is essentially a bet that there’s enough demand from the big players.

This government agency wants to partner with fintech firms. But a gift rule is blocking it
U.S. is falling behind in fintech innovation, regulators warn

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Christopher Giancarlo says current rules prevent his agency from working closely with fintech companies. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

If government employees need new software to test how a financial technology project might work — software they lack expertise to write themselves — they can’t get it from the industry because rules deem such software as a gift and block the government from receiving it.

The result, according to regulators, is the rules are slowing down U.S. innovation in fintech, leaving the country to fall behind others.

2 minutes with CFTC Chairman Christopher Giancarlo
Fintech Beat's Chris Brummer talks blockchain, derivatives and Hollywood

Chris Brummer (left) of Fintech Beat interviews CFTC Chairman Christopher Giancarlo in Washington. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

New York regulator’s conflict with fintech firm spills into view
Tensions grow over enforcing rules designed for traditional financial institutions

New York state regulators in April denied applications by Bittrex for licenses to run a virtual currency business and to engage in money transmission activity. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

The battle over the benefits and risks of new financial technology is escalating, in the form of a dust-up between New York state and a Seattle-based virtual currency business that, to the surprise of fintech followers, took the fight public.

The disagreement between regulators at the New York Department of Financial Services and Bittrex Inc., a cryptocurrency exchange, highlights the growing tension between fintech innovators and regulators enforcing rules designed for older, traditional financial institutions.

Fintech lobby spending targets cryptocurrency taxation
Firms lobbying on fintech spent more than $42 million in first quarter

More than half of the 80 firms that reported lobbying on fintech in the first quarter of 2019 listed blockchain and cryptocurrencies among their biggest concerns. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

Lobbying disclosures for the first quarter of 2019 show a wide swath of industries and advocacy groups focusing on financial technology issues, including the Association of National Advertisers, Intuit, Mastercard, Alibaba, FreedomWorks, IBM, the Entertainment Software Association and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

More than half of the 80 firms that reported lobbying on fintech in the first quarter listed blockchain and cryptocurrencies, including tax elements of the latter, among their biggest concerns. Combined, more than 80 firms lobbying on fintech reported spending more than $42 million in the first quarter of 2019.