Category Archive : Fintech

Free to Trade: Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and E-Trade Eliminate Commissions

Last week, almost every major online brokerage company – including Charles Schwab (SCHW), TD Ameritrade (AMTD) and E-Trade (ETFC) – stopped charging commissions, making it free to trade.

“For every broker out there, trying to sell services with explicit fees is going to be almost impossible. The next frontier will be centered around providing more financial well-being solutions — expanding beyond just brokerage products,” said Bill Capuzzi, CEO of Apex Clearing, a custodian of securities on behalf of brokerage firms. Read More

Facebook Plans Cryptocurrency Amid CrossFit, Fake Accounts, and Pelosi Controversies




While social media giant Facebook is reportedly moving forward with its own cryptocurrency, controversy surrounds the social networking platform this weekend.

CrossFit, which refers to itself as a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition, has removed its accounts from Facebook and Instagram, calling Facebook “utopian socialists”.

Meanwhile, a video manipulated to make Nancy Pelosi drunk and sluggish has made its rounds on the social media platform. Facebook says the video will remain online.

Facebook has been researching cryptocurrency as part of its entrance into the payments space.
While speaking at F8 last month, Zuckerberg said that sending money should be “as easy as sending a photo.”

The currency, reportedly to be called “GlobalCoin”, has been much discussed, especially as the social media giant brought on blockchain experts from San Francisco-based Coinbase, Mikheil Moucharrafie and Jeff Cartwright to work on compliance.



According to the Financial Times, Facebook met with the Winklevoss twins, who founded crypto exchange Gemini. The Winklevoss twins sued Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea for Facebook.

Facebook, which has invested in at least one blockchain company, has hired payment experts to develop a payment method for its WhatsApp messaging platform.

Plus, when Libra Networks registered its company in Switzerland, it became public that Facebook Global Holdings is a stakeholder therein. The fintech company is set to work on payments, data analytics, and investment activities, as well as house a software lab.

The Silicon Valley-based giant plans on increasing its employees in the European financial centers of London and Dublin.

Its Instagram shopping feature makes purchasing products and managing orders on the photo-sharing app possile, and it makes sense that a native payment solution is in the works.

The US Senate banking committee showed interested. In a letter to Zuckerberg in early May, the banking committee asked for details about the cryptocurrency and how Facebook would protect user data.

CrossFit

Last week, CrossFit accused Facebook of being “utopian socialists” upon leaving Facebook and Instagram. The social network had deleted a group dedicated to a particular type of diet, prompting CrossFit to leave the platforms, claiming Facebook deleted “without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan”, which advocated a diet aimed at eating “food that is as close to its natural state as possible – free of processing, additives, preservatives, and sugar.”

Facebook ultimately re-instated the group, but in the CrossFit statement, it outlines the reason it will remain off the platforms.

“All activity on CrossFit, Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram accounts was suspended as of May 22, 2019, as CrossFit investigates the circumstances pertaining to Facebook’s deletion of the Banting7DayMealPlan and other well-known public complaints about the social-media company that may adversely impact the security and privacy of our global CrossFit community,” the statement read.

Reason 1: “Facebook collects and aggregates user information and shares it with state and federal authorities, as well as security organizations from other countries.”

Reason 2: “Facebook collaborates with government security agencies on massive citizen surveillance programs such as PRISM,.”

Reason 3: “Facebook censors and removes user accounts based on unknown criteria and at the request of third parties including government and foreign government agencies.”

Reason 4: “Facebook collects, aggregates, and sells user information as a matter of business. Its business model allows governments and businesses alike to use its algorithmically conjured advertising categories as sophisticated data-mining and surveillance tools.”

CrossFit even accused Facebook of censorship.

“Facebook’s news feeds are censored and crafted to reflect the political leanings of Facebook’s utopian socialists while remaining vulnerable to misinformation campaigns designed to stir up violence and prejudice,” it wrote.

The workout regimen added that CrossFit is a “voluntary user of and contributor to this marketplace, can and must remove itself from this particular manifestation of the public square when it becomes clear that such responsibilities are betrayed or reneged upon to the detriment of our community.”

It added: “Common decency demands that we do so, as do our convictions regarding fitness, health, and nutrition, which sit at the heart of CrossFit’s identity and prescription.”

Fake Nancy Pelosi Video

Beyond cryptocurreny and CrossFit, Facebook is also facing criticism over a fake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). The video, which has been viewed millions of times, was apparently altered to make her appear drunk and sluggish. While YouTube removed duplicates, Facebook has said the video will remain on its platform.

Facebook agrees the video is “false”, and Monika Bickert, a company vice president for product policy and counterterrorism told CNN the video was reviewed by fact-checking organizations and the social networking platform than reduced its distribution, but did not remove it.

“We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice for what to believe,” she said. “Our job is to make sure we are getting them accurate information.”

CNN host Anderson Cooper believes the answer is yes and pressed Bickert on her company’s responsibilities.

“You’re making money by being in the news business,” he said. “If you can’t do it well, shouldn’t you just get out of the news business?”

Bickert replied: “We aren’t in the news business. We’re in the social media business.”

But Cooper did not buy into that.

“The reason you’re sharing news is because you make money from it. . . . But if you’re in the news business, which you are, then you have to do it right. And this is false information you are spreading.”

Lawmakers are not happy.

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) told Facebook to “fix this now!”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted: “Facebook is very responsive to my office when I want to talk about federal legislation and suddenly get marbles in their mouths when we ask them about dealing with a fake video. It’s not that they cannot solve this; it’s that they refuse to do what is necessary.”

As well, the company is facing headlines regarding its having deleted 2.2 billion fake accounts from the platform from January to March, which surpasses a record high for the company.

“The health of the discourse is just as important as any financial reporting we do, so we should do it just as frequently,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters on Thursday about the report. “Understanding the prevalence of harmful content will help companies and governments design better systems for dealing with it. I believe every major internet service should do this.”

Google Introduces New Startups To Launchpad Studio, Partners With Four Indian Banks

Google just introduced a new group of startup businesses into Launchpad Studio, the tech behemoth’s accelerator it launched last year that matches top machine learning startups and experts from Silicon Valley with Google – its people, network, and advanced technologies.

While the accelerator’s first group was meant to gather new insights from medical data, this most recent one is meant to shake up well-known financial markets and systems.

Accurately reviewing and analyzing millions of data points tied to locations, demographics, and financial situations will result in information helpful to the financial sector.

Some of the new startups include:

Celo (USA) – growing financial inclusion through a mobile-first cryptocurrency.

GuiaBolso (Brazil) – improving the economic lives of Brazilians.

Starling Bank (UK) – improving financial well-being with a mobile-only bank.

Frontier Car Group (Germany) – investing in the ever-changing process of used-car marketplaces.

Inclusive (Ghana) – verifying identities across Africa.

Aye Finance (India) – remodeling financing in India.

m.Paani (India) – powering local businesses and the next one billion users in India.

India and the United States are the only countries with more than one business in Google’s latest Launchpad Studio accelerator additions – With two startups coming from these countries.

In addition, Google is partnering with four Indian banks to issue customer loans online, as the battle for the $1 trillion digital finance market persists. 

The banks partnering with the search engine are HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, and Federal Bank.

They will offer instant, pre-approved loans to consumers “right within Google Pay in a matter of seconds.”

Google also re-branded its made-in-India Tez app, launched in September, as Google Pay.

The app’s users can take out customized loans and get the funds transferred straight into their bank account.

“We’ve learned that when we build for India, we build for the world,” Caesar Sengupta, vice-president of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative and Payments, said at the “Google for India” meet in New Delhi.

Over 55-million people in more than 300,000 towns and villages have downloaded Google’s payments app to pay for dinner, bus rides, or other services.

In total, Google estimates about $30 billion in annual transactions through the Tez app.

Google also announced that it’s expanding its Google Station internet access program to 12,000 villages and cities throughout the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

The search-engine will add more Indian language content through a publishing venture called Project Navlekha, and will also add a new feature in Google Go that allows users to listen to websites read aloud in English and five different Indian languages.