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Robinhood Is a Perfect Example of Fintech’s Insidious Power

Biden’s team enters the regulatory fight with one hand already tied behind its back.



This past week, we saw a perfect illustration of financial technology’s power.

To spite “hedge fund bros,” retail investors led a surge in GameStop’s stock price largely through the trading app Robinhood. While progressives relished watching Wall Street’s old guard scramble amid the chaos, fintech firms like Robinhood — apps for lending, investing, and so on — certainly aren’t seeking an end to financial capitalism. Indeed, once Wall Street began shrieking about amateurs beating them at their own absurd game, Robinhood warned against the very market volatility it was facilitating, then shut down trading of GameStop and other memed stocks, leading to at least one class-action lawsuit and Senate and House progressives calling for investigation.

Ultimately, it looks like the hedge fund Robinhood users targeted, Melvin Capital Management, will just be partly bought by a different, larger hedge fund, Citadel Capital Management. A separate company called Citadel Securities — which has the same owner as Citadel Capital Management, Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois — facilitates some of Robinhood’s transactions.

Robinhood itself makes money by selling data on users’ trades to giant Wall Street firms, who then stake their own positions based off what the little guy is up to. The Securities and Exchange Commission also charged Robinhood last month for offering bad trading prices to unsuspecting users, since those trades were routed through firms paying Robinhood. If true, Robinhood’s users were effectively paying a premium on their trades, despite the app marketing itself as “commission free.” This took place between 2015 and late 2018, when Robinhood was growing rapidly, according to the SEC.

You wouldn’t know any of this from Robinhood’s faux-populist marketing about “democratizing finance.” But much like traditional Wall Street and Big Tech firms before it, fintech is building an echo chamber of industry voices and former regulators to ease oversight and permit its predatory practices. These range from, as The Intercept and Type Investigations have previously reported, high-interest lending like Best Egg to legitimately novel efforts (at least, in our lifetimes) to privatize and surveil the basic operations of the monetary system.

Fintech is neither inherently good nor bad; rather, like any technology, its potential impact on society is closely tied to the policy decisions guiding its use — and the next four years could define how much the fintech industry is able to shape the financial system. Left to their own devices, fintech firms could swindle average people through ill-advised day-trading or high-interest loans, usher new systemic risks into the financial system, and develop traceable, privately owned currencies with the potential to replace cash.

Responding to fintech will be a key regulatory challenge for the Biden administration. But it enters this fight with one hand already tied behind their backs. American financial law vastly predates the digital era and is often ill-suited to describing online financial activity. And plenty of fintech firms design themselves to deliberately evade falling under any legal classifications and the regulations that follow them.

8/24/20 Environmental portraits of FSPP Dean Michael Barr.

Michael S. Barr, dean of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, on Aug. 24, 2020.

Photo: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy/University of Michigan Photography

At least three potential Biden nominees have connections to the financial technology industry. Early reporting in January named Michael Barr as Biden’s favorite to be the next comptroller of the currency, a crucial regulator of national banks. Progressive legislators and organizations (including the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, where the authors of this article work) pushed back, citing Barr’s previous bank-friendly record in government and his close ties to fintech. He currently runs a fintech project at the University of Michigan, works separately with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on fintech, and advises a fintech-focused venture capital fund. Barr did not respond to a request for comment.

Barr is also an adviser at the Alliance for Innovative Regulation, a fintech-funded think tank, alongside Georgetown professor Chris Brummer, who has been floated as a potential Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair. AIR’s “manifesto” for digital-age regulation argues that we need to overhaul the system — in the opposite direction, with a digital alternative that leaves as little oversight as possible. AIR’s regulatory manifesto calls for using biometric data in lieu of traditional know your customer requirements, which are the parts of our anti-money laundering regime that require companies to verify that customers are who they say they are when making financial transactions. Brummer did not respond to a request for comment.

Elsewhere, AIR calls to throw out or overhaul practically everything that keeps the regulatory system accountable to the public, such as Freedom of Information Act processes or public comment periods, in favor of surveillance technology.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, which is technically part of the Treasury Department but operates with a great deal of independence, would be positioned to grant this major invasion of individual privacy. The industry claims that biometric data will be far more secure (and cheaper to administer) than traditional anti-money laundering tactics. Lost in the glowing industry press releases is public input into whether people are comfortable having their faces, eyes, fingers, and voices recorded by giant financial companies — and whether the data is stored safely or sold to outside actors. There’s also the question of whether biometric data, once assembled, might be linked to a financial firm’s other activities, most especially lending decisions. Without proper regulations, companies would be able to factor your facial and voice data into its decision to lend to you.

At least three potential Biden nominees have connections to the financial technology industry.

Barr also previously advised the fintech firm Ripple, which currently faces a multibillion-dollar lawsuit from the SEC. The SEC is charging that Ripple’s cryptocurrency, XRP, the third-largest worldwide, is an unregistered security that serves no purpose other than to funnel sales to Ripple. (Bitcoin, by comparison, isn’t produced by a single company, so it cannot be treated as a security; there’s no underlying asset that gains value if Bitcoin prices go up.) Ripple’s CEO was also interviewed by Brummer last year as part of “DC Fintech Week,” an annual confab between industry, regulators, and political leaders that Brummer facilitates.

In response to the pushback against Barr, The American Prospect reported that the White House is now considering California regulator Manuel Alvarez for the OCC job. Alvarez is even more directly linked to fintech. From 2014 to 2019, he was the chief legal officer at e-lender Affirm, which offers “buy now, pay later” loans at checkout for retail transactions, as well as short-term loans aimed at consumers without credit cards. According to Consumer Reports, Affirm loans can run as high as 30 percent APR.

Alvarez now leads California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, sometimes called “the mini Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” But “innovation” refers to an office specifically set up to communicate with and encourage fintech development in California. Alvarez described the department’s goal to Yahoo Finance last week as to “proactively engage with fintech in a non-confrontational manner, but also in a programmatic way so that we can try and … really develop a more holistic picture of innovation in financial services, and then let that inform the rest of the department’s work — let it inform the supervisory work with respect to even existing licensees like our banks and credit unions.”

In an email to The Intercept, a spokesperson for Alvarez said that he does not support the idea of letting industry players dictate the terms of regulation. “The DFPI is proud to be leading the nation in developing a regulatory framework that balances consumer protection and responsible financial innovation through expanded enforcement capabilities, a market monitoring arm, increased consumer outreach, and early engagement with innovators,” Alvarez’s statement read.

Joe Biden’s administration will also have to set itself apart from the Treasury Department under Barack Obama, which actively encouraged private fintech development. Other parts of the federal government built active fintech incubators, like OCC’s Responsible Innovation initiative and the CFPB’s Project Catalyst. Obama’s chief fintech policy adviser was Adrienne Harris, who is now Barr’s close associate at the University of Michigan and an AIR board member. Harris also founded an online insurance company after leaving the Obama administration.

Obama’s OCC comptroller, Thomas Curry (also on the AIR board), introduced a policy initiative called the special purpose bank charter in late 2016. A charter would bring fintech firms under OCC supervision, but grant them the license to operate nationwide as special purpose national banks with their full suite of financial products and no deposit-taking requirements. Such proposals to charter fintechs would limit states’ regulatory powers and empower fintech firms to partner up with national banks, potentially furthering consolidation of financial services into a handful of too-big-to-fail institutions. Both of Donald Trump’s appointments to the OCC attempted to implement Curry’s proposal despite opposition from state banking regulators. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley opposed Curry’s push and the state of New York sued the OCC in 2020 after Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks reintroduced the fintech charter.

In California, Alvarez has already pushed for other ways for fintech companies to sidestep regulation. A version of the legislation creating the “mini CFPB” that he helped draft, but which was never enacted, called for the state government to specifically encourage fintechs to register in California as industrial loan companies. This somewhat obscure charter would allow fintechs to take consumer deposits without being subject to federal banking regulation at all — a workaround to the OCC’s unwillingness to grant them bank charters. Of course, Alvarez could reverse this if appointed to lead the OCC. Alvarez told S&P Global that his support for the industrial bank charters stemmed from an interest in keeping fintech firms based in California. “We cannot compel interested groups to apply in California,” Alvarez wrote, “but we can certainly provide a glidepath.”

Finally, shadow banking, or lenders that don’t take deposits and aren’t subject to regulatory oversight, are responsible for over 50 percent of the home and personal loan market in the United States. Fintech firms are a major part of this lending boom, representing over a quarter of loan origination in 2015, while offering significantly higher rates than traditional banks and other shadow banking firms. And the lending gets even more dangerous when cryptocurrencies, famously volatile, are the medium of exchange. While still nascent, this development in fintech activity will soon merit firm and appropriate regulatory responses from the CFPB, the SEC, and other relevant actors.

These turf fights over individual aspects of fintech or cryptocurrency are all ultimately proxies for a greater conflict: the “war on cash” and the right to a public, nontraceable currency, including on the internet, said Rohan Grey, a professor at Willamette University College of Law who studies financial technology and the history of money, in an email. “Fintech,” he wrote, is just the newest, brightest, shiniest manifestation of a long struggle over public commerce.

“All the debates over ‘fintech,’ once you get beyond the scams and the hype, are really a debate about the future of money,” said Grey. “The recent rise of ‘fintech’ is just the latest saga in a centuries-old struggle between democratic accountability and unaccountable private power, with the latter hiding behind promises of technological innovation.”

Robinhood itself makes money by selling data on users’ trades to giant Wall Street firms, who then stake their own positions based off what the little guy is up to. The Securities and Exchange Commission also charged Robinhood last month for offering bad trading prices to unsuspecting users, since those trades were routed through firms paying Robinhood. If true, Robinhood’s users were effectively paying a premium on their trades, despite the app marketing itself as “commission free.” This took place between 2015 and late 2018, when Robinhood was growing rapidly, according to the SEC.



Fintech Focus For May 3, 2021

Quote To Start The Day: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Source: Robert Frost One Big Thing In Fintech: Robinhood, the free-trading app that helped drive a surge in retail investing during the pandemic, has switched to using JPMorgan Chase to handle crucial money transfers into customers’ accounts. Source: CNBC Other Key Fintech Developments: Apex Fintech has blow-out earnings. Coatue leads Alchemy’s $80M raise. New fintech groups form on scrutiny. Coinbase buying data platform Skew. Cboe Europe receives bank backing. Evolution of European bond markets. Apple is charged with antitrust breach. Fidelity added digital asset analytics. Deutsche Börse, Commerzbank team. Wall Street banks ditch fax machines. Wealthfront eyes a crypto expansion. ICE sold its Coinbase stake for $1.2B. Goldman has quantum breakthrough. Paxos taps $300M to onboard clients. Watch Out For This: If you visited Apollon Nimo at his Detroit-based Parkway Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership, you might have walked out with a damn good deal. In fact, your deal might have been too good to be true. That’s because Nimo was illegally using employee discounts to cut customers good deals, even when those customers failed to qualify for that discount, Auto News reports. In fact, he scammed FCA—now Stellantis—out of about $8.7 million. Source: Jalopnik Interesting Reads: Quick Pitch: Changing LA’s outlook. Crypto’s shadow currency growing. MindMed is now public on Nasdaq. Bridgewater co-CIO talking bubbles. Creators bank selling spreadsheets. Demand boosts rental car startups. Industries being disrupted by Musk. Market Moving Headline: U.S. broad market indices closed the week out flat-to-down after a failed attempt to break higher on Thursday, April 29. Last week’s action suggests participants are looking for more information to initiate a directional move. Key Takeaways: – Policy leaders, creators: Inflation pockets transitory. – Ahead: Data on labor, manufacturing, and earnings. – Markets balancing, positions for directional resolve. In the coming sessions, participants will want to pay attention to where the S&P 500 trades in relation to its $4,186.75-$4,110.50 balance area. Any activity above (below) the balance-area high suggests participants are interested in discovering higher (lower) prices. Any activity within the balance area suggests participants are looking for more information to base their next move; in such case, responsive buying and selling is the course of action. Source: Physik Invest See more from BenzingaClick here for options trades from BenzingaFintech Focus Roundup For May 2, 2021Apex Fintech Solutions Announces Blow-Out Earnings Ahead Of NYSE Listing© 2021 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.




Warren Buffett Sees a ‘Red Hot’ Economy With Creeping Inflation

(Bloomberg) — Warren Buffett delivered a clear verdict Saturday on the state of the U.S. economy as it emerges from the pandemic: red hot.“It’s almost a buying frenzy,” the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chief executive officer said during the conglomerate’s annual meeting, which was held virtually from Los Angeles. “People have money in their pocket and they’re paying higher prices,” he said.Buffett attributed the faster-than-expected recovery to swift and decisive rescue measures by the Federal Reserve and U.S. government, which helped kick 85% of the economy into “super high gear,” he said. But as growth roars back and interest rates remain low, many — including Berkshire — are raising prices and there is more inflation “than people would have anticipated six months ago,” he said.Buffett reunited with his long-time friend and business partner Charlie Munger for this year’s meeting. Munger didn’t make it to last year’s meeting in Omaha, Nebraska — Buffett’s hometown — due to the shutdowns across the country. Some shareholders were relieved to see the duo fielding questions together again.“I really feel that both Charlie and Warren displayed their usual and amazing level of acuity and intellectual energy,” said James Armstrong, who manages assets including Berkshire shares as president of Henry H. Armstrong Associates.Buffett and Munger spent hours fielding questions, from the economy, to climate and diversity, the SPAC boom, taxes and succession. Here’s the lowdown:Climate Pressure:Berkshire faced pressure from two shareholders proposals, one to improve transparency related to its efforts on climate change. The topic was bound to be a feature at the meeting — and it was.When asked about the proposals, Buffett stuck to his previous stance. Measures to produce big reports on diversity and climate for his business lines spanning energy to railroads were, he said, “asinine.” The proposals were later voted down.Buffett was also asked about Berkshire’s stake in oil and gas producer Chevron Corp., which it disclosed earlier this year. Buffett said he felt “no compunction” in the least about its ownership in the company, which he said had benefited society in many ways. While he acknowledged the world is shifting away from hydrocarbons, people on the extreme sides of either argument are “a little nuts,” he said.Greg Abel, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, called climate change a “material risk.” He added that they’re setting targets and spending $18 billion over 10 years on transmission infrastructure.Killer SPACs:Buffett warned investors that Berkshire might not have much luck striking deals amid the boom in special purpose acquisition companies that gripped the market over the past year.“It’s a killer,” Buffett said about the influence of SPAC companies on Berkshire’s ability to find businesses to buy. “That won’t go on forever, but it’s where the money is now, and Wall Street goes where the money is.”Buffett, 90, also spent part of Berkshire’s annual meeting Saturday addressing the recent boom in retail and day trading. A lot of people have entered the stock market “casino” over the past year, he said.Tax:Buffett said President Joe Biden’s proposals for a corporate tax hike would hurt Berkshire shareholders. He added that antitrust laws and tax policy could change things for the company but new tax laws wouldn’t alter its no-dividend policy.Succession:Buffett and Munger, 97, fielded the majority of questions at Saturday’s meeting, but their two top deputies Abel and Ajit Jain, who runs the insurers, also shared the stage. Investors were able to get a closer look at the pair who are considered the top candidates for the job.Munger dropped a little mention of the post-Buffett years that drew speculation on social media about the most likely candidate to succeed Buffett. The CEO was pointing out that decentralization doesn’t work everywhere because it requires a certain type of culture that businesses need to have.“Yeah, but we do,” Munger insisted. “And Greg will keep the culture.”Abel has long been considered the top candidate to replace Buffett, especially when he was promoted to a vice chairman role overseeing all non-insurance operations, which gives him a wide array of responsibilities, including oversight of the railroad BNSF and the energy business.Errors:Buffett offered a few mea culpas during Saturday’s meeting. He noted that selling some Apple Inc. stock last year was a mistake and even said that Haven, the health care venture with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Inc., thought it could fight the “tape worm” of American health care costs but the worm won.“That was probably a mistake,” Buffett said of those Apple stock sales last year. Berkshire still owned a roughly $110 billion stake in the iPhone maker at the end of March. “In fact, Charlie, in his usual low-key way, let me know that you thought it was a mistake too,” he said to Munger, who shared the stage with him.Cash Pile:Before the annual meeting started, the company released its first-quarter earnings, giving investors a dive into the 19.5% operating profit gain during the period.Berkshire ended the quarter with a near-record $145.4 billion of cash on hand as it continued to generate funds faster than Buffett could deploy them. But Buffett also ended pulling back on some capital deployment levers during the period. He bought back just $6.6 billion of Berkshire’s own stock, short of the record $9 billion set in prior quarters, and ended up with the second-highest level of net stock sales in the first quarter in almost five years.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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Fintech App Wealthfront Will Offer Direct Crypto Investing Later This Year

The fintech robo-advisor will likely allow customers to invest as much as 20% of their portfolios in crypto, said Wealthfront Chief Strategy Officer Dan Carroll.




Fintech Focus For April 29, 2021

Quote To Start The Day: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Source: Albert Einstein One Big Thing In Fintech: Edge Clear, the futures brokerage built by and for traders, last week announced the demo launch of EdgeProX, a customizable, feature-rich, trading execution, and analytics platform. Source: Benzinga Other Key Fintech Developments: StockCharts expands crypto offering. Thomson Reuters taps iComplyKYC. Deserve launches a digital-first card. Current has added a crypto roadmap. German regulator warns on Binance. Coatue co-leads crypto firm’s round. Wealthfront could expand into crypto. PayU: Global e-commerce outlooks. Sterling Trading improves order tech. Visa looks to enter into crypto heavy. State Street appoints chief architect. LendingPoint recognized, gets award. Report: Can a blockchain be green? ChinaFicc selects Genesis for access. Liquid selects Celsius on crypto yield. Public hosting a chat with Lemonade. Rally has raised $57M for innovation. Opera adding decentralized support. Watch Out For This: By 2040, a fleet of more than 30 million self-driving vehicles are estimated to be driving on roads globally. Yet today, even the most advanced autonomous features are limited and require driver supervision. Executives and industry experts say the missing link is cities, which need to be wired to funnel massive amounts of data to cars in order for them to meaningfully drive themselves. Source: CityLab Interesting Reads: Most popular paid subscription sites. Apple has posted a blowout quarter. Uber adds vaccine booking, delivery. Senate to restore Obama regulation. Jamie Dimon has a secret Instagram. Market Moving Headline: The Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept its easy money policy in place despite an economy that it acknowledged is accelerating. Source: CNBC See more from BenzingaClick here for options trades from BenzingaInfluencer Griffin Johnson Talks Unique Conversations, A Chat With ShaqTrader Inspired Brokerage Edge Clear Launches EdgeProX Execution, Analysis Platform© 2021 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Associated Press

China says US increasing military activity directed at it

Activity by U.S. military ships and surveillance planes directed at China has increased significantly under President Joe Biden’s administration, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry said Thursday. As an example, Wu Qian said the Navy destroyer USS Mustin recently conducted close-in observation of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its battle group. Activity by U.S. military ships was up 20% and by planes 40% in Chinese-claimed areas since Biden took office in January over the same period last year, Wu said.

Associated Press Videos

Congressional members react to Biden’s address

Congress members responded to President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress that outlined ambitious plans for jobs-creating spending on early education, child care and other public services. (April 29)

The Daily Beast

Jimmy Kimmel’s Train-Wreck Interview With MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell

ABCWell, it actually happened. The day America has been eagerly awaiting since Mike Lindell accepted Jimmy Kimmel’s invitation during his bizarro livestream event finally arrived on Wednesday, and there was the MyPillow CEO in the flesh sitting across from his supposed late-night nemesis.“Somehow a simple pillow salesman from Minnesota got to the bottom of the deepest conspiracy in the history of American politics,” Kimmel said at the top of his monologue. “It’s so crazy, it’s almost hard to believe.” With the real Lindell presumably watching backstage, the host was visited by his own personal MyPillow guy, comedian James Adomian, who limped on stage wearing a “Who Farted?” tank top and went into a racist panic when he spotted Guillermo seated offstage.The actual interview, which was preceded by an actual MyPillow commercial on the New York broadcast, began with a montage of Lindell’s most unhinged rants about what he still seems to believe was a stolen presidential election. When Kimmel asked his guest if he had been vaccinated, Lindell said no, which helps explain why they were not together in a pillow-filled bed as previously promised. “I meant for rabies,” Kimmel joked.Kimmel suggested that Lindell actually has a lot in common with Hunter Biden, given their shared history of addiction to crack cocaine, and asked him directly about the source of his “paranoia” and the fact that he has apparently been “in hiding” for several months.From Mike Lindell to Elon Musk, Who Deserves a Late-Night TV Platform?“That’s right, I’ve been working hard on this election and the machines,” Lindell said, vaguely. After they got some of his basic biography out of the way, Lindell admitted that he didn’t know anything about politics until he met Donald Trump in 2016.“Some would say you still don’t, Mike, to be honest,” Kimmel replied. Later, he told Lindell, “A lot of people didn’t want you to come on the show. Liberals and conservatives, everybody said, told me, don’t have you on the show, and they told you, don’t go on the show. But I think it’s important that we talk to each other.”Kimmel added, “I don’t think there’s any validity to any of this stuff that you’re saying. And I’ve studied you, I really have.” And while he finds a lot of it funny, the host said, “A lot of these ideas you espouse, I think you could potentially draw a line from those to the riot we had at the Capitol where people were killed and a lot of bad things.”Without skipping a beat, Lindell distanced himself from the riot and continued to rant against “the machines” and Dominion Voting Systems, which is currently suing him for more than $1 billion in damages for his baseless smear campaign. Then the two men started getting bogged down in a back-and-forth of allegations before Kimmel took a step back.“Do you ever think it’s weird, objectively, looking at yourself, going, why is it that the only person in the country who has this evidence is a guy who sells pillows on cable?” Kimmel asked.Jimmy Kimmel Goes Off on Tucker Carlson’s ‘Child Abuse’ Anti-Mask RantLindell couldn’t quite answer that question, showing no signs of self-awareness and prompting Kimmel to express what seemed like genuine concern. “I worry about you,” he said. “I feel like you are maybe self-destructive, that you have lost everything repeatedly so many times in your life.”By the end of the interview, after Lindell denied urging Trump to impose “martial law if necessary” and claimed he never meant for his $50,000 donation to Lin Wood’s legal fund to help bail out Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, Adomian returned to challenge his doppelgänger to a pillow fight at the Minnesota State Fair.Ultimately, as could have been expected, Lindell emerged relatively unscathed, fully in on the joke, and laughing it up with the two comedians as Kimmel cut to commercial.For more, listen and subscribe to The Last Laugh podcast.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

The Daily Beast

India PM Modi Urges People to Get Out and Vote for His Party Despite Staggering Pandemic and Piles of Bodies

Danish Siddiqui via ReutersIn normal times, the tweet by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telling people to go out and vote would be a routine call to action. But as his country drowns under the worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic the world has seen so far, it is a death wish.“Last phase of the 2021 West Bengal elections takes place today,” Modi tweeted Thursday as India officially logged nearly 380,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 3,000 deaths. “In line with the COVID-19 protocols, I call upon people to cast their vote and enrich the festival of democracy.”50 Million People Allowed at Superspreader Festival so Modi Can Secure the Hindu VoteBut the problem is, there is no COVID-19 protocol strong enough to stop the rampant spread of the coronavirus in India. Hospitals are beyond overwhelmed, medical supplies are severely overstretched, and makeshift crematoriums are being hastily built in parking lots to keep up with the dead. Some are only half-cremated because of shortages in firewood. People are dying in their cars in front of hospitals and collapsing in the streets.And there is no clear plan out. All 940 million adults in the country will be eligible for shots starting Saturday, but health authorities say there aren’t enough doses to go around, and the Serum Institute of India, which produces the made-in-India AstraZeneca vaccine, says they have a backlog of five to six months of orders. India’s immunization program, which started strong with 3 million doses a day a few months ago, has faltered due to shortages. Serum is pumping out about 60 million doses a month, Bharat Biotech is producing around 10 million of its Covaxin shot, and another company will start producing Russia’s Sputnik V later in the year, The New York Times reports. But none of that is enough. “It is like inviting 100 people at your home for lunch. You have resources to cook for 20,” epidemiologist Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya tweeted.Writing in The Guardian, novelist and political activist Arundhati Roy says the world is witnessing a crime against humanity and she believes Modi is squarely to blame. “People are dying in hospital corridors, on roads and in their homes. Crematoriums in Delhi have run out of firewood. The forest department has had to give special permission for the felling of city trees,” she writes. “The system hasn’t collapsed. The government has failed. Perhaps ‘failed’ is an inaccurate word, because what we are witnessing is not criminal negligence, but an outright crime against humanity.”It is little wonder that the hashtag #ModiMustResign is trending. His ruling Bharatiya Janata Party prematurely claimed it had defeated COVID-19, giving people confidence to return to normal. In March, 50,000 fans watched a cricket match in the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. A month later, thousands attended Modi’s political rallies and tried to wash the virus away en mass at the Kumbh Mela festival at group bathing events in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.The situation is only getting worse. The U.S. embassy has even called on all American citizens to evacuate the country, in an unprecedented move generally reserved for Americans in nations at war.But India’s health-care system, which the World Health Organization ranked among the worst in the world well before the pandemic, is now being blamed for the chaos even as Modi fans the fire by refusing to call a national lockdown, likely to ensure people can go out and vote for his party. “Our system is broken even during normal times,” Ruben Mascarenhas, a social activist in Mumbai, told the Los Angeles Times in New Delhi. “We can’t really expect it to work in the pandemic…. Our heart breaks every time a case goes unresolved. It is like a continuing nightmare. You have one in the day. You have one at night. And it keeps going on like that.”Meanwhile, Modi continues to campaign, promising that if his party retains power, vaccines will miraculously be available to all and the crisis will abate. Not everyone believes that, of course. “The crisis-generating machine that we call our government is incapable of leading us out of this disaster,” Roy writes in her Guardian op-ed. “Not least because one man makes all the decisions in this government, and that man is dangerous—and not very bright.”By midday Thursday, millions of voters had lined up to vote in the West Bengal state, which had so far escaped the worst of India’s latest wave, but still had cases at a record daily high. But judging by the lack of social distancing at the polls, that will likely soon change. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

Associated Press

Cheney: ‘Wishful thinking’ by Trump she won’t seek 4th term

Speculation by former President Donald Trump that she won’t seek re-election next year is “wishful thinking,” Liz Cheney said Wednesday. Trump suggested Tuesday that Wyoming’s congresswoman would become a lobbyist or “maybe embarrass her family by running for president” to save face amid criticism for her vote to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Cheney struck down any such ideas in a call with Wyoming reporters.


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Fintech Focus For April 22, 2021



Fintech Header

Quote To Start The Day: Big Brother is watching you.

Source: George Orwell

One Big Thing In Fintech: Apart from supporting firms like Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc, and Microsoft Corporation, from their earliest stages, Nasdaq offers numerous other products and services, all of which increase market access and transparency for both institutions and retail participants.

One service is the Nasdaq Fund Network, or NFN, which collects and disseminates performance, NAV, valuation, and strategy-level reference data for over 35,000 investible products.

“The goal of the Nasdaq Fund Network is to provide transparency and distribution for IRAs, asset managers, and both institutional and retail investors,” said Devin McCarthy, NFN managing director. “We work with the issuers of mutual funds, collective investment trusts, unit investment trusts, and we register those instruments and apply, whether it’s a five- or six-character ticker symbol, and then we publish that market data to over 400,000 different financial platforms.”

Source: Benzinga

Other Key Fintech Developments:

  • Welcome Tech closes $35M round.
  • Cathie Wood analyst talking crypto.
  • BMO has partnered with Hope Trust.
  • Telos has bridged to Binance’s BSC.
  • Coinbase is committing to innovation.
  • Okra raises $3.5M for fintech portal.
  • Apex Clearing CEO on doge trading.
  • Fintech Revolut to hire 300 for hub.
  • Austin Capital launches fintech fund.
  • Bank of Queensland is going digital.
  • Archax appoints new head of sales.
  • Karura integrating Chainlink’s feeds.
  • CME adds Refinitiv, IHS messaging.
  • Alto Solutions raises $17M funding.
  • Neuravest Research intros Refinery.
  • Deutsche Börse, BMP partnered up.
  • What BitGo’s custody insurance is.
  • Why VCs are investing in NFT tech.
  • Ampleforth launches FORTH token.
  • Prometheum raises proposed deal.
  • Digital Asset raises $120M Series D.
  • Welcome Tech raises for ecosystem.
  • BornTec, team.
  • Cloud9Techn, Glue42 partnering up.
  • Plastiq, Billfire partner on payments.

Watch Out For This: The news cycle may have moved on from the Ever Given, but the Ever Given still hasn’t moved on from its holding spot in the Great Bitter Lake in the middle of the Suez Canal after almost a month. The crew still stuck on the ship is very concerned about this, as there seems to be no sign that an agreement will be reached between Egypt and the Ever Given’s owners any time soon. Until there is an agreement in place, the crew is stuck there, and they could be for years.

Source: Jalopnik

Interesting Reads:

Market Moving Headline: JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou noted that the last few times they witnessed such negative price action in Bitcoin, buyers returned in time to prevent deeper slumps. This time, they’re worried.

If the largest cryptocurrency isn’t able to break back above $60,000 soon, momentum signals will collapse, the strategists wrote in a note Tuesday. It’s likely traders including Commodity Trading Advisers (CTAs) and crypto funds were at least partly behind the buildup of long Bitcoin futures in recent weeks, as well as the unwind in past days, they said.

“Over the past few days Bitcoin futures markets experienced a steep liquidation in a similar fashion to the middle of last February, middle of last January or the end of last November,” the strategists said. “Momentum signals will naturally decay from here for several months, given their still elevated level.”

Source: Bloomberg

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