Is Bank of America Going to Cooperate with Ripple?

As we all know, the crypto market is still in a deep recession. The collapse of cryptocurrencies at the end of last year negatively influenced all coins, however, some of them suffer less than others.

One of such coins was Ripple. Not only did it manage to outrun Ethereum in the rating, its blockchain platform keeps being implemented widely by the world’s largest companies in various spheres.

We remind you:

Ripple: 13 Financial Institutions Have Joined RippleNet, Surpassing 200 Customers All Over The World

Recently, there appeared rumors on the Internet, saying that the second largest financial institution, Bank of America, might be considering forming a partnership with Ripple Labs and incorporating the blockchain technology into its system, according to Fintech News.

Currently, the bank is using SWIFT technology for international transactions, which proved to be quite inconvenient, slow and insecure.

It is still unclear whether Bank of America wants to fully apply Ripple technology or create a similar app, but its main intention is to let the customers make transaction between various banks in a safer and easier way.

Neither of the sides have officially commented on the matter so far.

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Chinese Fudan University Opens Up a Research Center Devoted to Blockchain

One of the oldest and most prestigious educational establishments in China, Fudan University, located in Shanghai, is moving with the times. Just like their colleagues from universities in Tokyo, Stanford and other cities around the world, Fudan scientists decided to try out the potential of the blockchain technology.

The university partnered up with a couple major companies in Shanghai, one of them being Shanghai Zhongren Information Technology Co., Ltd, and launched Shanghai Blockchain Engineering Technology Research Center.

The new blockchain hub will function not only to benefit Fudan University, but also for the sake of the whole city.

Professor Lu Haibin, the newly appointed Director of the Blockchain Research Center of Fudan University, introduced it during the official opening:

The Blockchain Research Center will carry out basic research, demonstration of possible application and training talented people with the help of the blockchain technology, strengthen the combination of production, study and research, and serve Shanghai’s economic development.

Frankly speaking, this is not the first time that a Chinese higher educational establishment opened up a similar center. The fintech research department of the Tsinghua University in Beijing cooperated with the blockchain payment solution producer Ripple and established a special scholarship for gifted students in this area called the Blockchain Technology Research Scholarship Program.

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The Recent Filing of Apple to SEC Suggests Its Interest in the Blockchain Technology

It has been detected that one of the latest listing of Apple submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission called “Conflict Minerals Report” mentioned the blockchain technology as one of the methods to deal with the issue stated there.

The issue itself regarded the mining, production and shipment of minerals used to produce smartphones and other electronic devices.

We have covered the topic earlier and informed you about the company Ford that cooperated with IBM and other giants in order to combat child labor in Africa. Their primary goal was to focus on cobalt mines in Congo, where minors were and maybe still are working illegally.

Meanwhile, Apple has some big plans on that cobalt, since this mineral is crucial for the company to manufacture their devices. However, using cobalt from the infamous mines in Congo would mean direct support of the human rights abuse.

Many experts have repeatedly pointed out that the supply chains of Apple were involved in multiple scandals involving the violation of human basic rights. Thus, the company had to make sure it got rid of the “dirty” reputation.

Apple is deeply committed to upholding human rights across its global network of suppliers that support the manufacturing of its mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and related accessories. Apple works to safeguard the well-being of people involved in its supply chain and to protect the places where materials are sourced,” the filing reads.

Conflict Minerals Report was mainly about the work ethics of Apple and the possible ways to ensure the legitimacy of supply chains, using the blockchain technology, as well as educating other businesses how to use blockchain for security purposes.

Thus, we might draw a conclusion that Apple is getting closer to using the blockchain technology, even though it is indirect so far. Bigger step towards using the potential of blockchain might follow soon.

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WSJ: Visa and Mastercard Plan To Raise Fees on Credit and Debit Cards

According to The Wall Street Journal, two biggest card networks in the world, Visa and Mastercard, will raise up fees on credit and debit cards in April this year. The new change relates to interchange fees.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Merchants are financial institutions that maintain accounts for sellers, the biggest merchants in the US are JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citygroup.

Interchange fee is paid by merchants to banks when a consumer purchases any item using a specific card from card network which actually sets that fees. As such fees increase, merchants have to secure their profits, hence, they raise prices for items.

About 1.5-2% from the price of goods and services cover card fees. Consumers often pay for such fees whether they pay in cash or by card, while merchants pay billions of dollars for interchange fees every year.

According to the table on the left, merchants paid about $64 billion dollars last year to Visa and Mastercard for interchange fees on credit and debit cards. The number is 77% higher than it was seven years ago. And this year in April Visa will also push the fees up again.

The representative of Visa said to the WSJ:

“Visa’s network fees are paid by our financial institution clients and used to enhance the safety, efficiency and innovation of our platform, and are set based on market conditions and to reflect the value we deliver.”

In addition, she said that the new price changes will have an influence on fees which Visa has not adjusted for about three years. Mastercard, in his turn, declined to comment on this statement.

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JPMorgan Develops Its Own Cryptocurrency To Speed Up Transactions: Details

One of the biggest American banks, JPMorgan Chase & Co, announced that it developed its own digital coin, JPM Coin, to speed up payments between customers. The statement also said the coin is based on blockchain, that is why improvement is about to come.

Why would the bank create JPM Coin?

JPMorgan explains that clients often faced trouble with the speed of transactions. Sometimes, it takes much longer time to send money than they expected, therefore it is an urgent problem for bank to solve. The head of digital treasury services and blockchain, Umar Farooq, said:

“Many of our clients move money in different ways and they’re looking for a more real-time way to move value around.”

The amount of payments JPMorgan moves every day accounts for more than $5 trillion, thus a number of client demanded to develop digital coin on blockchain to implement instantaneous value transfer. The bank started the development of JPM Coin about a year ago.

Main details of the coin

JP Morgan has become the first American bank to introduce its own digital coin in public. However, it is not a usual cryptocurrency in its true sense.

Ordinary cryptos usually use public blockchain technology that is in open access to everyone. Yet, a JPM Coin uses private blockchain of JPMorgan Chase & Co, and the price of the coin is pegged to one U.S. dollar.

The company said:

“When one client sends money to another over the blockchain, JPM Coins are transferred and instantaneously redeemed for the equivalents amount of U.S. dollars, reducing the typical settlement time.”

It is still unclear when the launch of the JPM Coin will be, all we know, there will be a small number of coins in a few months to test the technology.

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A Major Japanese Bank Is Developing a Blockchain-Based Payment Network Due in 2020

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFG) is on the most prominent financial institutions in Japan, moreover, it is the world’s fifth largest bank in the world. Located in Tokyo, MUFG has branches in 50 countries all over the globe and over 150 thousand employees.

The financial group provides services in the various fields like leasing, asset management, commercial banking, credit cards, securities and others. It also constantly collaborates with the largest banking establishments in America, Europe and Asia.

MUFG and blockchain

Following the example of its competitors and partners, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group decided to involve innovative technologies in order to upgrade and advance its payment systems.

According to the official press release of the bank, it is partnering up with the Massachusetts-based company Akamai Technologies, which is a leading provider of content delivery and site accelerating services.

MUFG and Akamai Technologies, Inc. (“Akamai”) announced today that they have agreed to strengthen their strategic alliance towards the full-scale launch of a new payment network business and establishment of a joint venture, Global Open Network, Inc.,” is mentioned in the press release.

The main purpose of the collaboration, the development of a blockchain network for payments, is planned to be launched in 2020.

As stated by the bank representatives, they want to experiment with “diverse payment schemes” which will allow to expand their range of services.

We remind you that another global financial establishment, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, is also working on implementing cutting-edge technologies and launched a financial management app.

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Coca-Cola Will Release New Flavour: Stock Prices Have Popped Up

Worldwide brand Coca-Cola announced its release of a new flavour on February 25. It is the first release in more than a decade. Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar will be available only in the US.

Source: www.coca-colacompany.com

The company has considered three other favours – rasberry, ginger, lemon – but, in the end, it chose orange and vanilla taste. Coca-Cola brand director, Kate Carpenter, stated:

“We wanted to bring back positive memories of carefree summer days. That’s why we leaned into the orange-vanilla flavour combination – which is reminiscent of the creamy orange popsicles we grew up loving, but in a classically Coke way.”

Such a big event inevitably had an effect on brand name and its stocks. According to the second-largest stock exchange in the world, Nasdaq, the beverage behemoth popped 5 percent in the last two weeks.

Coca-Cola Company (The) Price and EPS Surprise
Source: Nasdaq

Moreover, the stock prices are expected to rise even more after Coca-Cola’s report on earnings which is supposed to be published on February 14. The company often exceeds analysts’ expectations in terms of earnings; the company’s volumes have been improving year-by-year as Coca-Cola improves its beverages.

In 2018, Coca-Cola was seen declining revenue trends, as of February 10, 2018 the company stock was rated as a “buy” by 13 out of 24 analysts (or 54%). As of the end of the past year, the price was increased to $51 for one stock, implying a potential rise of ~5%. Since the start of 2019, Coca-Cola stock price has raised 4.5%.

Carter Worth, head of technical analysis at Cornerstone Macro, said:

“What I find interesting is that this sell-off [into the Dec. 24 lows] basically comes down and finds support, plus or minus, and comes to life. Finally, if you leave the bottom trend line on and put in a descending upper line, you have the set-up that I think is, ultimately, the breakout. Simple chart, simple breakout bet, earnings coming, and I like Coke long.”

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