fintech

Crypto enthusiasts say new products lend bitcoin credibility
Futures considered crucial to gain buy-in from financial industry

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. Those bitcoin futures trade through regulated exchanges and clearinghouses. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images photo illustration)

The cryptocurrency industry is hailing the emergence of complex bitcoin investment products as a needed step to attract new investors while lending credibility to the digital asset and building a pathway to regulatory clarity.

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. And while the launch of these investment products hasn’t convinced everyone that they will lead to buy-in from a skeptical financial industry, those leading the charge say it’s a crucial step.

Cyberattackers lurking longer inside computers, report finds
In 2019, criminals remained undetected for average of 95 days before discovery, 10 more days than in 2018

To avoid detection, sophisticated nation-state attackers tend to operate quickly after breaking into a victim’s computer. But criminals may move slowly, hoping to cause bigger disruptions and collect larger ransoms, CrowdStrike said in a 2019 report. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Online attackers are becoming so good at hiding themselves that they can remain undetected in victims’ computers for months before being found, potentially giving these criminals more time to inflict greater damage than if they were detected earlier, according to cybersecurity research firm CrowdStrike.

Cyberattackers remained undetected for an average of 95 days before discovery last year, compared with an average of 85 days in 2018, CrowdStrike said in a report made public Monday.

Can - and should - an algorithm be ethical when it comes to financial technology?
Fintech Beat, Ep. 35

Can an algorithm be ethical? (iStock, Getty Images)

Algorithms have evolved into to powerful engines of financial technology. But they don’t always live up to the hype, as algorithmic models fail to take account of basic societal concerns like fairness, privacy and bias. Fintech Beat sits down with Michael Kearns to find out what can be done to make algorithms “ethical.”

Voting machine makers say yes to congressional oversight
Top execs of U.S. voting machine makers said they would accept federal regulations regarding disclosure

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., speaks during a House Administration Committee hearing in July 2019.  Lofgren said Thursday to top executives of U.S. voting machine makers that they should disclose cybersecurity practices including how they respond to incidents. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Top executives of U.S. voting machine makers told lawmakers Thursday they would accept federal regulations requiring the companies to disclose how they handle cyberattacks as well as reveal details of ownership and sources of components.

Tom Burt, CEO of Election Systems & Software, John Poulos, CEO of Dominion Voting Systems, and Julie Mathis, CEO of Hart InterCivic, told Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Administration Committee that they would accept a broad set of regulations governing their companies.

Fintech Beat sits down with the former chief of the Federal Reserve’s open banking unit
Fintech Beat, Ep. 34

The Federal Reserve building. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Open banking’s benefits involve using customer consent to develop new financial products to revolutionize financial services. But critics claim open banking can at times bypass customer consent by using digital avatars and other online tools to infiltrate and collect customer data. Fintech Beat sits down with the former chief of the Federal Reserve’s open banking unit to get answers.

The Year in Fintech
Fintech Beat podcast, Ep. 33

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on October 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The fix-up-Congress committee takes on a fresh agenda for 2020
With impeachment done, modernization panel looks at more civility and new technology

Chairman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., right, and vice chairman Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., are seen during a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress in March 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s almost like an alternate universe.

Fresh off the bitterly partisan and acrimonious House impeachment vote, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress approved a slate of recommendations Thursday including some aimed at boosting civility and bipartisanship in the legislative branch.  

Fintech Beat sits down for a one-on-one with Maxine Waters
Fintech Beat podcast, Ep. 31

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., departs from a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Rules, privacy issues loom for fintech industry in 2020
Advocates foresee sparse congressional activity for 2020

Facebook changed the fintech industry's focus this year when the social media giant announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

The nascent financial technology industry started the year faintly optimistic that the 116th Congress would pass bills in its favor. But as 2019 comes to an end without legislation, the industry isn’t even expecting action in 2020. And for that, they’re feeling relieved, not disappointed.

Facebook Inc.’s midyear announcement that it planned to launch a cryptocurrency, Libra, upended the industry’s focus, tilting the legislative strategy from pressing hard for beneficial bills to staying clear of measures aimed at checking the social media giant’s ambitions to transform commerce.

Regulators warn about fraudsters creating synthetic borrowers
Information cobbled together from multiple people used to make fake identities, establish credit

The Federal Reserve has issued warnings about synthetic identity fraud and is expected to release a report in early 2020 outlining ways that financial companies can mitigate the problem. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The financial technology industry that’s upending consumer finance could be the solution to a kind of identity fraud that’s dogging traditional banks and fintech companies alike.

It’s called synthetic identity fraud, where instead of stealing one person’s information, criminals synthesize a false identity using information from many people — usually those unlikely to monitor their credit, like children, the elderly, prisoners or the homeless. Fraudsters then establish a credit history for the fake person over time until they can trick banks or financial technology companies into lending them money.