Virtual Skinny: We Made It!


Good to Know: ‘Skittles are candy; refugees are people’ – Statement made by Wrigley, the makers of Skittles, after Donald Jr. tweeted a meme comparing refugees to skittles. Add that to the long list of things not to do in politics alongside posting a question to Reddit about how to strip a ‘VERY VIP’s’ email address from archived e-mails.  

skittles refugee tweet


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When You Say Yes to DriveRless …

The Obama Administration just gave a thumbs up to self-driving cars with some gentle guidance. Yesterday, President Obama penned an Op-Ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to talk about it. (Fun Fact: Pittsburgh is also where Uber’s testing out its self-driving fleet).

When This Isn’t A Free for All …

This week, the U.S. Transportation Department issued guidelines on how driverless cars can strike the right balance between being a cool, new innovation while keeping people safe on the road. But, how? The focus is less on specific regulations (Think: seat belt laws) and more on best practices like how driverless cars should respond when the technology fails, protecting passenger privacy, and protecting passengers during a crash. The government’s also looking to get data on companies’ latest systems and crashes that occur. It’s all part of the 15-point safety standard.

When You Hear Something …

That’s the sound of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets advocacy group applauding this move by the U.S. government. Its members are the usual suspects: Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., Ford Motor Co., Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., and Volvo Car Corp. Tesla Motors is noticeably missing.

When You Draw The Line Somewhere…

The Obama Administration made it clear. It’ll leave things like driver’s licenses, car registrations, traffic laws, insurance, and legal liabilities to the states to handle. But, the federal government has marked its territory when it comes to laying down any law when it comes to driverless cars. 

When You’re Looking to the Future …

Director of the National Economic Council Jeffrey Zients said the future will have us all saying ‘look ma, no hands’ while freeing up commuters to relax or get some work done. Way more productive than the occasional road rage. Zients says autonomous cars ‘will save time, money, and lives.’  Ride-hailing service Lyft is right there with him. The company’s president John Zimmer predicts that most Lyft rides will be in self-driving cars by 2021.


When You Hit the Panic Button …

Over the weekend, New York and New Jersey got a major scare. First, an explosion went down in New Jersey near the a charity race (luckily no one was injured). Then, another in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. This time 29 people were injured but not seriously. Authorities sent out a ‘loud’ emergency alert to NYC residents’ smartphones letting them know to look out for the suspect – 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami. He’s since been apprehended. Investigations are under way. Meanwhile, Uber is getting slammed for surge pricing right after the NYC explosion. And, angry Internet users are leaving negative reviews of First American Fried Chicken (Rahimi’s family-owned restaurant) on Yelp.


When There are exceptions to the rules …

Skittles are to refugees as bitcoin is to dollar bills. In other words, the U.S. federal government has been pretty clear that bitcoin isn’t ‘legal tender’ aka ‘real money.’ But, that’s not a hard and fast rule. There’s one exception. Bitcoin is considered money if it’s involved in a financial crime. Anthony Murgio learned that the hard way. Murgio is alleged to have illegally run, a bitcoin exchange involved in the cybercrime ring that targeted firms like JPMorganChase. Prosecutors brought two charges against Murgio. He tried to be slick by using the ‘bitcoin aren’t funds’ argument. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan didn’t buy it and said that Murgio’s charges still stand. 


Let’s get social …

Twitter’s finally allowing its users to send out longer tweets. You’ll still have 140 characters to say what you need to but images, videos, GIFs, and polls won’t count.

Facebook’s showing more signs that it’s getting serious about its #NextBillion users. The company just brought on Anand Chandrasekaran, formerly of India e-commerce startup Snapdeal, to help lead the company’s efforts on Messenger. 

Is It Time for Another Vacation, Yet?

Google Trips is a new mobile app to help planning each day of your upcoming trip a little easier. Need information on day plans, reservations, things to do, or food & drink? It’s gotchu.  

When You’re Still Shopping Around…

Facebook has always got something going on. This time, it’s focusing on hardware. The company just bought California startup Nascent Objects, creators of the ‘first modular consumer electronic platform.’ That’s nerd speak for creating a space where average non-techie folks can design and test out new products at low costs. 

Google snatched up API.AI, a company that helps build Siri-type bots that can have decent chats with humans in 15 languages including English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and German. 

In Other Good News …

Larry Ellison isn’t mincing words. Oracle’s gearing up to take on Amazon in the cloud services game. The company plans to take an aggressive approach. 

School’s back in session. And this fall, 2,000 schools in the U.S. will offer AP Computer Science courses. #ThanksObama 

The United Nations’ released a mini-documentary called Clouds Over Sidra about a young Syrian refugee. The organization quickly found out that virtual reality (VR) headsets are the ‘the ultimate empathy machine.’ VR helps people feel more connected to a subject, then they feel compelled to donate funds. 


AirBnb just bought Barcelona-based startup Trip4Real, offering a marketplace for activities during your next vay-cay. 

South African Internet firm Naspers is getting into the online classified ads game Stateside. It’s going after Craigslist – big time.


The ‘Cloud’: AKA ‘cloud computing’;  Not an actual ‘cloud’ involving condensed water vapor. But rather, the term refers to storing information on servers that are housed in remote data centers. We can access information pretty easily via the InterWebs (think DropBox). And now, businesses are getting in on the cloud because it’s reliable, secure, and cost-effective. Businesses aren’t settling for just storing their information in offsite locations. They’re also moving towards running applications and services directly from the cloud! #TheMoreYouKnow

Virtual Skinny FinTech: Stick the Landing



When You Stick to the Plan …

Even though Britain said yes to Brexit, it’s still got lofty goals to be the center of all things fintech. (BTW, Brexit means that time Britain voted to leave the European Union then immediately regretted it).

When You Keep On Keeping on…

Two years. That’s how long it’ll take for Britain to exit stage left (if it actually happens). It’s also the deadline that Britain’s Competition Market Authority (CMA) is giving British banks to stop being stingy with their customers’ data.

When You Know What’s Up…

CMA is very aware that bank fees can be…excessive. Customers are paying up but aren’t getting what they deserve. Enter fintech companies. CMA is drinking the ‘fintech koolaid’ and wants banks to share customer data with fintech startups and third party apps. Bank customers must approve first of course.

When ‘Many People Are Saying It…’

CMA thinks by 2018, fintech will not only help save British bank customers money and get them better services but also earn the economy the top spot in “fintech” around the world.

When You Need to Watch Your Back…

About that Brexit thing. No one knows exactly how Britain saying ‘bye’ to the EU will play out. But, Germany’s taking full advantage. It’s on a full on recruitment mode to get fintech companies based in London to hop on over to Deutschland. Do you blame them?


Lies, Fairytales, and Fallacies…

Chip and pin cards (we’ve covered this; those cards you dip instead of swipe) were supposed to protect us from thieves. But, it’s not as safe as you think. Payment technology company NCR just unveiled a way for fraudsters to still get at your money. Apparently, they’ve used their genius for evil to figure out how to make chip cards seem cardless. Then, it’s off to the races. Retailers are thinking, ‘more reason not to buy those EMV card reader machines.’ But, it’s not all a lost cause, even with this security flaw, chip and pin cards are still slightly safer than regular ole swipe cards



Thanks to Square Capital aka Square’s lending business, the company’s stock is wayyy up. It should feel blessed. Square Capital doles out loans to the company’s existing merchants in exchange for a piece of merchants’ sales. It’s all love all around (for now). Merchants love that they can get loans fast (within a few days) and low default rates. Investors love it too. But, to keep growing, Square Capital will have to do something else (e.g., handing over $$$ to non-Square merchants). 

The war on cash in Boston is on its way. Boston area eateries like Sweet Green, Amsterdam Falafelshop, and Clover Food trucks want to go cash-less. They’ve picked up on the trend that young people are choosing plastic over paper when it comes to payment.cashless But, a little known law in Massachusetts makes it illegal to turn down cash. The law and how it’s enforced is all very wishy-washy. But, seems like shops are willing to take the risk. 

Been Around the World, Uh Huh 

India’s mobile phone game is strong (smartphones are up 220 million making it the second largest market in the world). Should be good news for financial inclusion but not so much. Not many rural and underbanked folks are using their phones for banking or payment. And, taxes for use aren’t helping. But, the Indian government won’t be giving up on this. 

The Nigerian Central Bank likes to walk the road less traveled when it comes to remittances (transferring money across borders from one country to another). The rest of the world wants to cut down costs on remittances. But, no. Not Nigeria. It’s going the opposite way. No secret that Nigeria’s economy is struggling. So to ‘maintain the exchange rate’ it’s up-ing the price on remittances. 

In other news dealing with the continent, the Brookings Institute (U.S. think tank) says more regulations protecting consumers will help grow financial inclusion and innovation in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria. Interesting since, a lack of banking regulations is a major reason money transfer service M-PESA is a success in Kenya … 

Australia’s postal service is looking to the future. It’s looking into applying blockchain technology to the mail – mainly for identity reasons. 

8.3.2016 – Virtual Skinny FinTech: Move It or Lose It


Good to Know: We want to get your thoughts. Take our poll below! 


When You Can’t Beat ‘Em …

Join ‘em. Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Bank of America, and US Bank are all jumping on the instant cash bandwagon.

When You Don’t Really Have A Choice …

Their hands have been forced. In the U.S., moving money between bank accounts is slow AF. Mobile services like PayPal’s Venmo and Square Cash handled the issue…Customers love it … Now U.S. banks don’t want to get left behind. 

When Your Age is Showing …

Banks have tried to pull an Instagram by offering their very own money transfer apps. Think Chase QuickPay. But, it isn’t quite the same ‘copy and paste’ job Instagram just pulled on Snapchat (read more on that later this week in our Internet & Tech edition).  They want customers to believe that their apps are just as ‘hip and cool’ as the Venmos of the world with the help of star-power ads. But, some people aren’t buying it.

When You’re Not Leading From Behind…

The U.S. is playing ‘follow the leader’ with the rest of the world when it comes to faster payments. Note to self: The U.S. is doing the following. So, the Federal Reserve Board’s ‘Faster Payments Committee’ is telling banks to ‘pick up the pace’ on money transfers.

When You Need to Make A Move …

Meanwhile everyone and their moms in the financial ecosystem (including financial OGs like Mastercard and Visa) are in an arms race to build the “payments network of the future.” Mastercard snatched up a huge chunk of Vocalink, a UK biz with a mobile and internet payment network, and Visa’s strategically linked up with Paypal.

When You’re Just Happy to be Here …  

Since people are still using the cash money and writing checks, there’s lots of opportunity to get in on the instant payments action. It won’t be easy for banks to catch up with Venmo and other peer-to-peer apps that are hybrid payment and social platforms. But, at least U.S. banks are making moves.


Now that banks are stepping up their instant payments game, are you willing to give up your current money transfer app (i.e., Venmo, Square Cash, etc) and give your bank’s app a go?


Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That …

The U.S. is still trying to get consumers to dip their credit cards rather than swipe them. Turns out chip and pin cards aka EMV cards aka cards that keep us waiting at checkout for life are way more secure and help cut back on fraud. That’s great and all, but we hear that making just two purchases daily for a year with an EMV card adds up. It’s literally 85 minutes of our lives that we’ll never get back just waiting to check out. No bueno! Even retailers want to avoid installing EMV card readers because long lines aren’t good for biz. Only 28% of all U.S. merchants require dips v. swipes. Shopping at places that take Apple, Android, or Samsung Pay may be a better, faster option. Meanwhile, some of us will continue to struggle with the process.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.32.34 AM

And The Winner Is…

We hope China’s been practicing it’s surprise face and pageant wave. The U.S. Department of Commerce just crowned Asia’s largest economy as the 2017 Fintech Leader. Expect China to lead the world in payment exports. 

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word …

Banks in Africa are are like that ex who took you for granted but now wants to make things right. Sure, they did the basics like setting up infrastructure but didn’t go the extra mile to take care of everyone’s needs. Banks on the continent dropped the ball on figuring out mobile money services and left potential bankers out of the loop. Now that fintech startups have stepped in to offer way better services that can help way more people, the banks are seeing the error of their ways. To right their wrongs, banks are teaming up with startups like MFS Africa and Nomanini to reach untraditional young consumers.


Hong-Kong based Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex told us its system had been compromised. Like thieves in the night, hackers allegedly made off with a cool US $65 million in real money. The exchange is looking into the breach. In the meantime, Bitcoin’s value dropped by 7.8 percent earlier this week.

China’s got a trust problem with its charity organizations. Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma wants to use blockchain technology to make sure charities are using donations for the right purposes. Alibaba’s Ant Financial is leading the effort on this. Transparency FTW …

The charity world is pretty old school when it comes to donations. It’s all about those cash money donations. But, you can only give what you have. So, if people are short on dolla bills, charities are SOL. DipJar wants to change that up by allowing people to donate with credit or debit cards for “impulsive, on-the-spot giving.”

While Alibaba’s trying to figure out this blockchain situation, IBM seems to be way ahead of them. The tech company is all set to kick off the first major implementation of the technology for its business. IBM’s figured out how to use the technology to settle financial disputes between partners and customers. #NBD

One last thing on the checkout process, Venmo’s no longer for just easily reimbursing your friends. It’s branching out into checkout services for retail apps. Buying things you probably don’t need just got easier…

Virtual Skinny FinTech Ed: Trending …


Good to Know:  Dr. Craig Wright was trending on social media earlier this week. The Australian entrepreneur claims that his alias is Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of virtual currency bitcoin. Some people are giving him major side eye, but he allegedly has “extraordinary proof.”  Apparently, he’s got receipts.  



When You’ve Moved Onto Something Else …

Dr. Craig Wright had the Interwebs abuzz. But at this week’s Consensus 2016 conference in New York City, execs said yawn. Newsflash: They don’t care about bitcoin.

When You’re TRENDING…

Bitcoin is out. But, the blockchain (bitcoin’s underlying technology aka a huge public ledger that records all bitcoin transactions) is in.

When You’re Not Sure What To Do …

For now, bitcoin as a virtual currency is the only application that works across the globe via the blockchain.  But, we could see other applications popping up as fintech startups and major tech companies like IBM and Microsoft are working on different apps for the blockchain.  How fast these experiments turn into something real comes down to one question: Small scale projects or moonshots? In other words, do companies want to take on a major project all at once or take their time with small-scale stuff?

When You’re Curious …

What’s the better approach? Working on small, achievable applications or taking the risk and shooting for the stars? Tell us in the comments!


Keeping It on the D.L…

While many financial peeps gathered this week in NYC, a select group including NASDAQ, Citigroup Inc., Visa Inc., Fidelity, Fiserv Inc., Pfizer Inc., had a pow-wow on the down low back in April.  Yes, there was talk of the blockchain. But, we heard that digital U.S. dollars as an alternative to virtual coins like bitcoin came up too.  Fiserv Inc. even created a digital dollar for show and tell.


CBS 60 Minutes Lesley Stahl talked fintech on this past Sunday’s episode.  She sat down with John and Patrick Collison, Irish brothers and co-founders of payments company Stripe. The whole point of the company is to allow small businesses to get their online payments from anywhere in the world hassle-free. Check it out here.



Young people are into their Venmo app, and the numbers prove it. It’s grown 154 percent from last year.



Young people may heart Venmo, but the U.S. Federal Trade Commission won’t be saying “Venmo, me.”  The agency, which is responsible for making sure businesses are on the up and up with their practices, is looking into the PayPal-owned, peer-to-peer payment service for “unfair and deceptive” practices.  BTW, Venmo would appreciate if U.S. users stayed clear of using words like “Syria” and “Cuba” on Venmo on account of it’s still illegal to send money to those countries.

San Francisco startup Varo Inc. is building mobile banking app complete with deposit accounts, budgeting tools, and other services.  For now, it’s looking to partner with banks but eventually wants to be a bank of its own.  New U.S. bank these days? Don’t see that every day.

Android Pay is now an official payment options for your Uber rides.

Virtual Skinny FinTech Edition: The Block Is Hot …


Good to Know:  “ We are actively exploring these issues and their implications.”U.S. Securities and Exchange Chairwoman Mary Jo White putting everyone on notice that she gets that blockchain tech is en fuego and her agency’s got its regulatory eye out. 



When You’re Not About Empty Threats …

Payments company PayPal had plans to set up shop (costing US $3.6 million) in North Carolina (NC). But, not anymore. It’s put the kibosh on that.

When You Need To Get Caught Up …

NC is pretty committed to what could be called its new LGBT discrimination law. Back in March, NC passed a law preventing cities from protecting the LGBT community and banning transgender people from using restrooms or locker rooms for the gender not listed on their birth certificates.

When You Don’t Listen …

The company’s CEO Dan Schulman joined a letter with over 80 other tech execs. The letter listed all the reasons why the then-bill was not a good look. The execs even warned that quality professionals would peace out of the state.

When You’re Back On the Market …

NC ignored the letter, passed the bill anyway, and now PayPal (and other projects) are back on the market and are looking for alternative locations.  NC, say goodbye to what would have been 400 new jobs and US $3.6 million, at the very least…


Still DEL(ly) From The Block …

The U.S. state of Delaware is a fan of the blockchain.  State governor Jack Markell just let the cat out the bag on what the state is calling “the Delaware Blockchain Initiative.”  It’s the state’s way of saying to businesses incorporated there that they need to get up-close and personal with distributed ledgers and smart contract technologies. Kind of a big deal. BTW, if you want to hear more details on this from Markell, catch him giving the keynote at this year’s Consensus 2016 conference, which will be held from May 2- May 4, 2016 in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of…


Check out all the fintech startups for all your banking needs …



When money goes social … PayPal-owned Venmo is now a thing with young people.  And, it’s not all about the money. They just want to know what their friends are getting into on the app.

Owe your co-workers some coins? With the help of startup Current, workplace messaging app Slack will soon offer money transfer services to help you settle your office debt.

The British government just gave the go ahead to Boston-based startup Circle. In other words, for the first time, the government has given an electronic money license to a virtual currency company.  London … Building its Innovation Hub one fintech startup at a time.

Speaking of building empires … Amazon is looking to make some fintech-related purchases.

Virtual Skinny FinTech Ed: Back At It Again With The …


Good to Know: Calling all FinTech social entrepreneurs! If you’re working on solving the financial inclusion problem, Village Capital’s: US FinTech 2016 business-training program is for you.  Learn more here and apply here. Hurry! You’ve got until April 3, 2016. 


When It’s Time To Regulate On ‘Em …

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a top U.S. banking regulator, thinks it’s time for some rules around the growing financial technology (fintech) industry. Traditional banks and fintech startups are here for it.

When You’re For It, Just For Different Reasons …

Traditional banks have long been regulated and want competing startups to join the regulatory party. Startups don’t mind because they actually want to play by new rules so they create and innovate without having to watch their backs like no one’s biz. Could be a win-win?

When It’s Hard to Lead From Behind …

Other countries like the UK have already made moves to put in place a more fintech-friendly regulatory framework (e.g., the UK now allows what it calls the “sandbox model” aka a fancy way to say it lets startups experiment under the government’s watch).  U.S. regulators now want to get on their level…

When You’re Finna Do Something …

Other U.S. regulators have published papers and conferenced on fintech, but the OCC is taking it one step further. On Thursday (Mar. 31), it’ll publish its very own white paper on “responsible innovation” intended to get people running their mouths on the best way to put together new rules and processes. Top issue for discussion? A more systematic way for consumers to complain about new products and services.


What’s HIGER Than Being #1?

Japan thinks Asia needs to be the top dog when it comes to blockchain technology.  So, the country is doing its part to get there.  Japan’s got some strict banking laws, but it’s willing to dial things back to encourage more investment in its fintech sector.  The country’s banking regulator, the Financial Services Authority, are putting new laws re virtual currency exchanges on the table. Authorities think that changing the laws will be a good look for its fintech industry.  More collabos between banks and fintech ventures are on deck with these changes (e.g., giving banks the go-ahead to buy stakes in non-finance related companies).

When You’ve Been Traded In For A Younger (FinTech) Model …

Bitcoin could be so yesterday.  The virtual currency and its network are about to be replaced by Ethereum aka Bitcoin 2.0.  Ethereum is taking advantage of the ongoing fight over software within the Bitcoin community.  Things are looking up for the new virtual currency on the block.  Its price is up 1000% just in the past three months, companies like IBM, Microsoft, and JP Morgan Chase are drinking the Ethereum Kool-Aid, and people think it’s better than Bitcoin.  Apparently, it’s not just about its virtual currency network. It can do things like execute smart contracts or programmable transactions. Oh, and not to mention, people have already created applications for it (e.g., managing and paying for electricity, betting on sports, and not so legit things like Ponzi schemes).  It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There’s some concern about Ethereum’s potential security problems.


FinTech brought in the doll-ah doll-ah bills in Feb. 2016. We’re talkin’ $1.5 billion in financing…

fintech chart


How do you reach millennials during tax season? Get Instagram star Pierce Thiot, responsible for the “Will It Beard” trend, to stick money in his beard. Just the latest attempt for small companies (Fishback Tax) and larger ones to reach millennials and their cash. #TaxSwag

Speaking of millennials, roboadvisor company Betterment just raked in US $100 Mill to bulk up on new products and services (retirement guides and account aggregation), which it thinks will attract young peeps.

Will Facebook soon let us make in-app purchases? Potentially. Code has been discovered within Facebook Messenger that’s got people talkin’.

Swiss banks want a mobile payments platform for the country. They’re chatting with retailers on how to make it happen.

Startup Purse wants to be the Bitcoin marketplace version of Etsy. Introducing Purse Markets. Sell anything on the platform in exchange for some virtual coins.

MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative is offering up $100k in scholarship to boost under-repped minorities and women at Consensus 2016, NY-based conference on virtual currency and blockchain technology.

Virtual Skinny FinTech Ed: When It Rains, It Pours …


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When People Are Coming For You … 

The European Union (EU) wants to do more to track how funds are transferred among terrorists.  Looking at you, Bitcoin (and prepaid cards).

Please Tell Me More …

After the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015, the European Commission (being pushed by France) is focused on Bitcoin and prepaid cards for one main reason: identity. Using these services is a good way for bad guys (or anyone really) to hide financial transactions because it’s hard to uncover people’s identities.

When You’ve Already Got Summer Plans … 

The Commission plans to pitch some new rules by the end of June 2016 that would make users reveal their true identity.  We’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.


When It’s Your Time … 

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending had a pretty good 2015 and looks like 2016 may be even better. New companies like Lending Club, OnDeck, Prosper, etc. popped up post the 2008 financial crisis to give people the loans they couldn’t get from banks. P2P lending startups will likely be on the rise this year thanks to things like an increase in interest rates, regulation, market size, and competition. Who knows? Internet companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have probably got next in the p2p lending game.


Stellar, an open-source payment network based in Silicon Valley, wants in on the instant money transfer situation in Nigeria.  It’s teaming up with fintech company Oradian that deals with microfinance systems in the name of financial inclusion. Transferring money may just get a lot easier for underbanked rural Nigerians.

While we’re on Nigeria, fintech startup Interswitch is about to make it big! It’s CEO isn’t talking, but we have it on good authority that the digital finance infrastructure (think platforms used for processing payments) may soon make its debut on the London Stock Exchange and become Africa’s first tech unicorn (meaning its worth at least a billion dollars). Kind of a big deal…

Ex-JPMorgan Chase exec Blythe Masters is keeping it in the family. Masters’ startup Digital Assets and the bank are playing on the same team for a blockchain trial run on how to make trading faster and more efficient. Oh, and Goldman Sachs and IBM also want a piece of the company for about $8 million combined.

Bitcoin and blockchain are blowing up in Asia. Here’s the rundown: Japanese VC firm SBI Investment pours money into bitcoin exchange Kraken; Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Tokyo’s largest bank, has got its own digital currency, “MUFG coin.” Add South Korea’s Central Bank to the growing list of entities looking into blockchain technology.




The Virtual Skinny FinTech Ed: Reverse, Reverse …


Good to Know: The Virtual Skinny is out with a weekly newsletter on what’s going on in financial technology aka FinTech. Sign up here! And, please don’t forget to tell you friends about us. Happy Friday!


Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Bitcoin, the virtual currency network, is going mainstream. And you know what they say: Mo’ money, mo problems.

What’s the Problem?

It really comes down to how many financial transactions the network can handle. Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto initially put a temporary limit on the number of transactions to protect computers on the system.  But, to compete in the big leagues along side companies like PayPal and Visa, the Bitcoin network would need to process more transactions. So, to increase the number of transactions on the network or not? That is the question.

Is It Really That Serious?

When the question came up last year, two camps quickly formed: One in favor of the increase and the other against it. Points of contention over technical capabilities and financial interests have added to the mounting tension between both groups. Some Bitcoin developers have even received death threats, ultimately leading them to bow out of the whole Bitcoin system all together.


To settle the score, the group favoring the increase peeled off and created software allowing for more transactions called Bitcoin XT (XT). But shortly after XT’s release and endorsements of the software from the likes of CoinBase and others, a hacker released Bitkiller, a malicious software, to take down computers running XT. The hacker claims he was paid off to get rid of Bitkiller.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Since then, the Bitcoin community has gotten together twice to try to reach a better compromise but no answers yet. It’s pretty unclear where things are headed. Oh, the drams!


Party’s Over … 

China’s not the place if you’re trying to get your Fintech company off the ground.  The government’s taking “corrective actions” that’ll force Fintech startups to either consolidate or simply fold. This is a 180 from the Chinese governments initial outlook.  At one time, It was all about Fintech startups so they could compete with Chinese e-commerce companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. But, now China has changed its mind. Thanks to things like new regulations, unsustainable business models, and low return on investments (ROIs), these startups will struggle this year.  E-commerce companies aren’t safe either. But, you know who will be? The banks, of course. If things go as planned, banks in China should reclaim their power in no time.

When You’re All About It …

Wall Street is embracing Fintech companies with open arms. Fintech can mean a lot of things but basically covers services and apps that help make financial transactions happen. Banking vet and Silicon Valley Bank’s Head of EMEA & President of the UK branch Phil Cox thinks that Fintech “winners” will be companies that can offer solutions to major problems like improved customer service from banks. Seems like a no-brainer …

If Only We Knew What You Were Talking About …

Nasdaq, the New York Stock Exchange, and the entire capital markets crew wants to know how they can make blockchain technology work for them.  So, what’s stopping them?  According to one study, the talent just isn’t there.  In other words, there just aren’t people that understand both blockchain technology and the ins and outs of capital markets. Also, there’s the other issue that blockchain technology may not pair nicely with existing IT infrastructure of capital market firms.


Messaging app Snapchat wants to do more than just make sure that your sketchy pics don’t last.  It wants to help manage your funds by getting into the robo-adivsor biz.

Moneybox, a U.K. startup coming to us soon, wants to make sure that you save and invest some of your coins. It just pulled in US $3 Mill to help make its dreams a reality.

CoinDesk, an online publication about all things Bitcoin, just got bought out by the Digital Currency Group, an industry leader.

Is PayPal drinking the Bitcoin kool-aid? Likely story. The company just brought on bitcoin entrepreneur Wences Casares to join its Board of Directors.

It’s a good time to be in the payments biz.  The 10-year-old payment startup Adyen is worth about US $2 billion, but no one’s heard of it. The startup wants to change that and is looking to cause a media frenzy by taking its financial situation public (even though it’s still a private company). Interesting…

The Virtual Skinny FinTech Ed.: Get Those Paypers…


Good to Know: 2015 is on its way out … ICYMI, here’s what FinTech can look forward to in 2016. 


Thinking In the Alternative… 

Tech companies and banks are banding together to build their own version of the blockchain, the underlying technology behind virtual currency bitcoin. The project is called the Open Ledger Project.  Think alternatives to the blockchain like the Ripple network.

Tell Us More…

Nonprofit Linux Foundation is overseeing this alternative-blockchain movement. And, IBM, Intel, Cisco, the London Stock Exchange Group, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and State Street are in.  The goal is to build something similar to the blockchain that will help increase transparency and automation across the business world. Think stock exchanges and financial markets, specifically.

If You Build It, They Will Come … 

Yes, improving services in the business world is good and all. But, this move seems to be a lot about control. Currently, the current bitcoin network is decentralized just like the Internet.  In other words, no one person or entity can claim the bitcoin network.  With the Open Ledger Project, the participating companies can have a say in how the technology is built and operated. Word on the street is companies involved in the project want to ultimately keep this new blockchain-type technology open and non-proprietary.


Starting Things Off Right … 

In what will be a relatively light week on Wall Street on account of the holidays, things are looking up for tech and the financial sector.  Not so much for energy stocks, which are trailing behind.

If It’s Broke, Fix it … 

Global nonprofit organization Kiva is re-working its playbook for the U.S. market.  The organization’s lending platform,, has been a hit in when it comes to helping finance small biz in emerging markets, but it’s not so popular in the U.S. One reason? It’s just easier and cheaper to access capital. So, what’s the new angle? Kiva’s offering what it calls the Kiva Zip platform so small biz owners can bank on their friends and family to help fund their operation. We’re talking –  raising $10k with 0% interest and zero fees and terms for three years. Not bad …

By Any Means Necessary … 

We all heard about the massive data breach at JP Morgan earlier this year leaving 76 million homes vulnerable.  Now, banks are shaking in their boots and are spending racks on racks on racks of cash to secure their systems. They’re also sending fake “phishing” aka “spear phishing” emails internally to see how employees react.  Turns out employees are falling for it.  In addition to training employees on what to do if they receive “phishing” emails, banks are also doing things like banning employees from using their work email address for play, using “out of office” emails or voicemail message, and from using portable devices like USBs.  Anything for security. Speaking of … this year, entities dropped $75.4 million in the cybersecurity market.


UK mobile wallet app Yoyo has gone stealth mode in the U.S. The mobile wallet is quietly entering the market via a few chosen partners. It hopes to make things official during Q1 2016.

Investors are looking to Israel’s fintech market, which is hot, Hot, HOT! Turns out the country’s progression in cybersecurity makes it ripe for a fintech boom.

First Walmart, now Target.  The retailer is getting into the mobile payments biz. Things are all very early stages, and the company says that it’s keeping its options open.

Breaking into the Chinese market.  That’s top of the list on Apple and Samsung’s list of New Year resolutions.  Both companies are looking to check that off their list with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay by collaborating with UnionPay.  Chinese Internet company Alibaba’s already got a strong hold on the market with AliPay so we’ll see how this goes.

The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission gave the A-OK to Overstock on its plans to use the blockchain to dole out stock.