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The Fintech Files: Are central banks open to open source?

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Welcome to The Fintech Files, your weekly roundup from FN’s fintech correspondent Ryan Weeks, keeping you up-to-date with the latest developments in financial tech and innovation

One of the multitude of technical questions faced by central bankers pondering the development of state-administered cryptocurrencies – known as central bank digital currencies or CBDCs – is whether or not to embrace open-source software.

Open-source is a type of software which is freely available and can be continuously modified and redistributed.

It is what Christopher Giancarlo, former chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the US derivatives watchdog, describes as the “west coast” approach – characterised by open architecture, wide distribution and diversification. The opposite end of the spectrum, the “east coast” way, is all about private companies limiting access to their software.

In January, Giancarlo set up a think tank to lobby for the creation of a digital dollar. Alongside an increasing number of central bankers, Giancarlo’s group has been weighing the pros and cons of open-source. He told Fintech Files: “We’re trying to find an approach that’s more horses for courses.”

Cryptocurrencies run on blockchain, an online system for logging transactions. Over the past few years, a handful of companies have been selling blockchains to private and public sector clients.

One such company, R3, is working on CBDC projects with the Bank of Canada, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Bank of Thailand and the Riksbank in Sweden. Its system, Corda, has also been mentioned in connection with European Central Bank projects, though R3 itself has not confirmed this.

Todd McDonald, co-founder of R3, told Fintech Files: “When we started the company, we had a few things that we used as guiding principles… and a big part of that was that we were committed to an open-core, open-source strategy.”

Supporters of open-source argue it leads to more resilient systems because more people can contribute to them, while sceptics see such systems as more susceptible to cyber-attack, according to John Salmon, a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells.

Teunis Brosens, senior economist at the Dutch bank ING, finds the arguments in favour of open-source the more persuasive. He said: “With open source, central banks are not tied to one provider, as other providers could develop and offer services off the same source code. That is important, because central banks are thinking about an infrastructure that may need to last for decades.”

Central bankers are the first to admit that they are just getting started. A paper published on 1 March by the Bank for International Settlements, the so-called central bank for central banks, explores some of the design considerations faced by developers of retail CBDCs.

It states: “As most projects are still in their early stages, the most important takeaway is that central banks around the world are investigating a rich set of prototypes, spanning almost the full range of potential designs.”

It seems the key advantage of going open-source is that it keeps all possibilities in play.

Then again, observers such as Peter Randall, president and founder of another blockchain firm named Setl, feel that open-source has its limits. He points out that systems like Swift, which underpins much of the world’s payments infrastructure, and the trading systems provided to stock exchanges by Nasdaq, are not open-source.

He said: “In developing critical Financial Market Infrastructure [FMI], much use is made of open-source components… but these are components of a bigger build that as a whole is not open-source.

“It is hard to see how the closed-source ethos can be avoided [in financial market infrastructure] builds, as the essence of FMI is high security, high availability and compliance with a rule book,” he concludes.

So, open-source perhaps, but not too open.

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Get in touch Drop me a note at ryan.weeks@dowjones.com or find me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Got any news tips or feedback (good or bad)? You can also contact the FN news desk via news@efinancialnews.com

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Further reading:

Starting with a scoop from us: Jennifer Arcuri, whose close links to UK prime minister Boris Johnson led to conflict of interest allegations last year, has applied to chair the government-backed lobby group Tech Nation.

Experts have weighed in on JPMorgan’s rumoured move into UK digital banking and are in agreement that the Wall Street titan faces an uphill battle to stand out in an already-crowded field.

The banking software start-up Thought Machine has secured $83m in a round led by the venture capital investor Draper Esprit, according to TechCrunch.

AltFi has laid out a fintech wish list for new chancellor Rishi Sunak’s debut budget.

Sifted brings us news that the Spanish bank Santander is within weeks of launching a new international payments brand named PagoFX.

Finally, Bloomberg writes that Intuit’s planned acquisition of the financial wellbeing firm Credit Karma could spark anti-trust concerns.

Sign up to The Fintech Files

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Ryan Weeks

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RMA Paper Outlines Election’s Financial Risk Implications for the U.S. and Abroad

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PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 22, 2020 /CNW/ — With the U.S. Presidential election imminent, The Risk Management Association (RMA) has published a white paper that explores how the possible outcomes are likely to affect country risk factors and, in turn, financial risk across the globe.

The paper illustrates how the risk landscapes in the U.S., China, Latin America, and several other regions and nations are likely to evolve under President Trump or a President Biden. The paper was authored by RMA’s Country Risk Steering Committee, a group of senior professionals from the largest global banks based in the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe who are responsible for their banks’ views on country risk.

Entitled “What the U.S. Election Means for Country Risk,” the paper discusses trade, treaty, tax policy, currency, and other implications. “The U.S.’s economic trajectory and global financial conditions can diverge significantly in different U.S. political scenarios,” the paper says, but regardless of the election outcome, the United States will not return to the status quo prior to President Trump.  

“The clear distinction in the policies and world views of the two U.S. Presidential candidates promises vastly different paths not only for the U.S. but for its many allies and adversaries—paths that will greatly affect the economic risks and outlooks of those countries,” said RMA Global Markets Risk Director Fran Garritt. “No matter who is elected, ‘What the U.S. Election Means for Country Risk’ will leave financial institutions better informed to do business in the United States and globally.”  

About RMA 

Founded in 1914, The Risk Management Association is a not-for-profit, member-driven professional association whose sole purpose is to advance the use of sound risk management principles in the financial services industry. RMA promotes an enterprise approach to risk management that focuses on credit risk, market risk, and operational risk. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, RMA has 1,900 institutional members that include banks of all sizes as well as nonbank financial institutions. They are represented in the Association by 18,500 individuals located throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia/Pacific.

SOURCE The Risk Management Association

For further information: Stephen Krasowski, [email protected], 215-446-4095 Frank Devlin, [email protected], 215-446-4137, http://www.rmahq.org

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Road to Recovery” Global Livestream Event Takes Place on Monday, October 26th at 9AM ET NYSE:VZ

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Speakers Include NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates, Carly Fiorina Enterprises Chairman Carly Fiorina, National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, Host and Former NFL Linebacker Emmanuel Acho, Fmr. White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Rock The Bells Founder & CEO LL COOL J, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat and Many More

Watch a Clip from Bill Gates HERE

NEW YORK, Oct. 22, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Yahoo Finance announced the final lineup of guest speakers for its “All Markets Summit: Road to Recovery” global livestream event, taking place on Monday, October 26th at 9AM ET. The leading business news brand is bringing its signature annual conference to the virtual stage featuring an impressive lineup of over 30 business leaders, policy makers, investing legends, influencers, sports and entertainment stars.

As one of the last major events heading into the pivotal 2020 presidential election, Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit will give audiences the opportunity to hear about timely and significant issues from leading figures across industries including NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates, Carly Fiorina Enterprises Chairman Carly Fiorina, National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man’ Host and former NFL Linebacker Emmanuel Acho, Fmr. White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Rock The Bells Founder & CEO LL COOL J, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, and many more.

Led by Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer and Yahoo Finance’s on-air anchors, speaker sessions will explore the latest on economic recovery, the coronavirus and search for a vaccine, issues on diversity and inclusion, and many other critical topics during a time of profound economic, social and generational change.

The 2020 All Markets Summit is sponsored by the International WELL Building Institute, and in partnership with Edward Jones and Nasdaq, and will be hosted live from the Nasdaq in Times Square. This year’s conference is set to be Yahoo Finance’s largest virtual event since the remotely hosted Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting in May, which resulted in the most-watched livestream ever for the annual meeting with 5.5 million views.

Visit YahooFinanceAMS.com to watch the entire conference, for more information, and for the full agenda as well as list of guest speakers, including:

  • Adena Friedman, Nasdaq CEO
  • Anne Walsh, Guggenheim CIO of Fixed Income
  • Asahi Pompey, Goldman Sachs Foundation President
  • Beth Ford, Land O’Lakes CEO
  • Bill Dudley, Former New York Fed President
  • Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Carly Fiorina, Carly Fiorina Enterprises
  • Chris Nassetta, Hilton CEO
  • Chris Paul, National Basketball Players Association Pres., Oklahoma City Thunder PG
  • Corie Barry, Best Buy CEO
  • Dany Garcia, XFL Co-Owner, The Garcia Companies CEO
  • David Rubenstein, Carlyle Group Co-founder
  • Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute Allergy & Infectious Diseases Director
  • Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines CEO
  • Ellie Rubenstein, Manna Tree Co-founder and CEO
  • Emmanuel Acho, Fox Sports analyst, ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man’ Host
  • Gary Cohn, Fmr. White House National Economic Council Director
  • Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia CEO
  • Glenn Fogel, Booking Holdings CEO
  • Glenn Hutchins, North Island Chairman, Co-founder Silver Lake Partners
  • Hans Vestberg, Verizon CEO
  • James Hutchins, North Island Ventures Co-founder
  • LL COOL J, ‘Rock The Bells’ Founder & CEO
  • Michael Corbat, Citigroup CEO
  • Nela Richardson, Edward Jones Principal, and Investment Strategist
  • Paul Scialla, Delos Founder & CEO, International WELL Building Institute Founder
  • Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates Founder
  • Rob Falzon, Prudential Vice Chairman
  • Shantanu Narayen, Adobe CEO
  • Wes Moore, Robin Hood Foundation CEO

Be part of the conversation on social using the #YahooAMS. Audiences can also tune in on the Yahoo Finance App, Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, Samsung TV+, Roku and on linear broadcast via Fios.

Follow Yahoo Finance on Social Media:
Twitter: @YahooFinance, Instagram: @yahoofinance, Facebook: YahooFinance, LinkedIn: Yahoo-Finance, YouTube: YahooFinance

About Yahoo Finance
Yahoo Finance is the leading global source of business and finance news and part of the Verizon Media brand portfolio. Yahoo Finance’s expert coverage, content, and daily live programming is available on desktop and mobile web via finance.yahoo.com, as well as the Yahoo Finance app, Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Samsung TV+, Roku and on linear broadcast via Fios.

VERIZON’S ONLINE MEDIA CENTER: News releases, stories, media contacts and other resources are available at www.verizon.com/about/news/. News releases are also available through an RSS feed. To subscribe, visit www.verizon.com/about/rss-feeds/.

Media contact:
Stephanie Perez
stephanie.perez@verizonmedia.com
Elissa Dotzman
elissa.dotzman@verizonmedia.com

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Coronavirus drags 2 million more UK adults into financial troubles – business news

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The pandemic means 2 million more British adults may be struggling to pay the bills, and British regulators want banks to help them.

A Financial Conduct Authority(FCA) survey estimates that shuttered restaurants and empty offices pushed the total number of adults facing financial hardship to 12 million in July, up from 10 million in February.

British borrowers struggling under months of Covid-19 restrictions should still have access to financial help when support measures including interest free overdrafts and payment freezes end Oct. 31, the UK watchdog said Thursday.

The poll of 7,000 people by the FCA in July found 31 per cent of UK adults have suffered a decrease in income during the pandemic, and that percentage is higher for young and non-white people. About 37 per cent of Black and ethnic minority Britons reported a hit to their income, according to the survey.

Tightened local rules on social gatherings have come into force in recent weeks, affecting millions of people in areas including London, Liverpool and Manchester and particularly those working in hospitality. The government’s furlough program is due to be replaced by narrower job support measures at the end of the month.

Banks should consider measures such as suspending or reducing further interest and payments on mortgages for instance, while being clear that it could affect a customer’s future access to credit, the FCA said.

Bank lobby group UK Finance said the industry is committed to providing support to customers facing financial difficulty. It noted in a statement that 4.4 million payment deferrals on mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans were granted since the start of the pandemic, with 323,700 of those still in place.

The UK government pushed banks to keep lending as the pandemic hammered the economy. Some programs, such as the Bounce Back loans for small companies, could face losses running into billions of pounds.

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