The Banks in Canada Employ Hackers to Test Out Their Security Systems

One of the banks in Canada, Toronto-Dominion, chose an interesting technique of testing the proficiency of their security structure. The bank management hired real hackers and asked them to break into their system.

The initiative started out last year by the cyber threat management department. A whole team of cybersecurity experts was hired by the bank and is occasionally trying to hack accounts or networks on behalf of their employers.

We’re doing it exactly how our adversaries would do it … So if we find a weakness or something like that, we can close it or address it before a real attacker,” said a bank representative.

The creative idea was soon adopted by multiple large financial organizations all over the country.

Canadian banks hope that such measures will help in preventing hacker attacks on banks and exchanges that are getting more numerous, intricate and harder to battle by the day.

We remind you:

Two Groups of Professional Hackers Carry Out 60% of All Crypto Attacks

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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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Report: Blockchain Investments Cannot Overcome Fintech Funding

European blockchain companies set a record in 2018, however, they are unable to overcome funding that comes to financial technology companies.

Blockchain boom in 2018

At the end of 2017, the rate of Bitcoin skyrocketed to incredible price of $19,000. As the first cryptocurrency began gaining popularity, people started to wonder about the technology that stayed behind. After that people understood that blockchain can be used not only in crypto, but also in other spheres of life.

Some companies began to create their own blockchain and implement it into financial sector, political sector, etc. For example, Western Union supports cryptocurrency and blockchain, and it seeks the ways of their implementation; LG Uplus released a blockchain cross-border payment system.

After the cryptocurrency prices collapsed, the blockchain technology remains to be quite popular topic on different IT conferences and summits.

Blockchain investments cannot overcome fintech funding

According to Innovate Finance’s ‘2018 FinTech VC Investment Landscape‘ report, blockchain and cryptocurrency industry in Europe has witnessed a series of significant deals, but notably just four deals amounted to over $300 million. These deals include such projects, as Paxos (Bankchain), Dfinity, SEBA Crypto, Bitfury. They raised from $65 million to $103 million in different periods of the year.

Analysis shows that fintech companies are much more popular among investors than blockchain. European challenger banks Revolut and N26 alone raised $461 million across 7 deals. They closely followed by personal finance and wealth management ($333.61 million), and alternative lending and finance ($306.64 million) industries.

Fintech’s big picture

If we take the investments of all financial companies all over the world, we will see that they raised $36.6 billion from venture capital investors.

The leader in fintech investments is China, Chinese company Ant Financial set a record for  both fintech and venture capital, raising $14 billion. In overall, China led with $18.9 billion invested across 90 deals.

Next place is taken by the United States; it has raised $10.6 billion across 1,042 deals. The United Kingdom followed on in third place with $1.7 billion invested across 261 deals.

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The Most Dangerous Crypto Crimes: What About SIM Swappers?

Cyber attack and crypto crimes in every shape and form are quite abundant on the market of digital assets right now. They all have different goals and different levels of harm. The careful and thorough analysis of such attacks will make it possible to predict them and protect sites, platforms and companies from breaches and money losses.

However, there is a weird tendency going on among the analytical reports, which we will try to explain down below.

Two major cyber security companies Chainalysis and CipherTrace released their analytical statements at the end of last year. Both reports contained statistics on hacker attacks and crypto crimes and an outline of current trends.

The main focus of CipherTrace was different money laundering techniques, cryptocurrencies that are the easiest targets for crypto criminals that choose this path, AML regulations and other related info.

Whereas Chainalysis told its readers on the scale and profitability of such Ethereum scams as phishing and various Ponzi schemes.

Surprisingly, there seems to be nothing about the infamous SIM-swapping.

Just to remind you, SIM-swapping is a kind of a cyber attack aimed at money theft. Simply speaking, a hacker convinces the phone provider to “swap” the number of a victim to a new device. In such way, criminals get full access to the personal information of their victims, still their identity, and later money.

SIM-swapping scams have been involved in multiple scandals with the biggest cell-phone providers of America, the crimes involving this technique resulted in huge money thefts and loud arrests of witty hackers, yet very few reports actually mention it.

However, this still does not diminish the dominance of SIM-swapping over many other types of crypto crimes. In order to fight it, we not only need more coverage from the mass media and analytical firms, but also the cooperation from the cell phone companies to protect the users, their info and their money.

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