October 28, 2021
Paving the Payments Future
Mastercard says any bank or merchant on its vast network can soon offer crypto services

  • Mastercard is preparing to announce that any of the thousands of banks and millions of merchants on its payments network can soon integrate crypto into their products, CNBC has learned.
  • That includes bitcoin wallets, credit and debit cards that earn rewards in crypto and enable digital assets to be spent, and loyalty programs where airline or hotel points can be converted into bitcoin.
  • To do so, the payments network is partnering with Bakkt, the crypto firm recently spun off by Intercontinental Exchange, which will be the behind-the-scenes provider of custodial services for those who sign up, executives at the two firms told CNBC.

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The U.S. Credit System Is Failing Millions of Americans. Here’s What You Can Do About It

Dee Olateru immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 2002 just before her 17th birthday, to attend college. She had no idea what credit was, let alone how to use it responsibly. 

It’s a common issue for many Americans. The easiest way to build credit is through responsible credit use, but that’s difficult when you’re starting from zero or were never taught how lending works. And research indicates that some Americans face larger hurdles than others. 

People of color, those from low-income households, and immigrants across the U.S. may face increased challenges when it comes to building and maintaining good credit. This, in turn, makes borrowing money more difficult and more expensive — leading to issues with debt, difficulty securing housing and employment, and holding many underserved communities back from building wealth.

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The CFPB's data overreach hurts the businesses it claims to help

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is on track to use financial institutions as tools to harvest private data from small businesses. This mandate from Dodd-Frank is a major encroachment of the federal government into private business activities. 

Like most provisions of Dodd-Frank, section 1071 imposes unnecessary reporting requirements on financial institutions and risks cutting off credit access to minorities, women and the respective small businesses they own. The mandate in section 1071 sets the stage for the CFPB, the brainchild of left-leaning Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to insert its authority into every loan agreement between financial institutions and small businesses. 

Signed into law in 2010 as a provision of Dodd-Frank, section 1071 amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to facilitate “enforcement of fair lending laws” and enable “communities, governmental entities, and creditors to identify business and community development needs and opportunities of women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses.”

Chopra’s First CFPB Actions Send Warning on Unfair Competition

Rohit Chopra’s showcasing of his competition regulator experience less than a month into his new job at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is no accident.

The CFPB’s first enforcement action under Chopra was a $6 million penalty and consent order with prison financial services company JPay LLC to settle allegations of excessive fees charged for its debit card products. That was followed by questions sent to tech giants, including Apple Inc., Inc., and Google about how they use consumers’ data from digital wallets, payments apps and other financial tech products.

The actions highlight the CFPB’s focus on how dominant financial market players impact, and potentially abuse, consumers with limited options for products and services. These competition-driven issues are likely to drive much of the financial watchdog’s agenda under Chopra’s watch, agency watchers said.

Employers Showing More Concern Over Workers’ Financial Wellness

Financial wellness in the workplace is no longer a “nice to have” – it’s a “must have,” according to Matt Bahl, vice president and head of workplace financial health at Financial Health Network.

Bahl discussed the latest trends in financial wellness during Tuesday’s portion of the LIMRA virtual annual conference.

Employers are either maintaining or increasing their investment in financial health benefits over the next two years, Bahl said. He pointed to the results of a survey his organization conducted that showed 56% of employers plan to spend the same amount of money on their workers’ financial health and 29% plan to spend more.

A vast majority of the employers surveyed (86%) said they were aware of their workers’ financial health challenges while only about half (54%) have taken steps to incorporate workers’ financial health into their company’s human resource strategy.

U.S Mortgage Rates Rise Again. The Upward Trend Looks Set to Continue…

Mortgage rates were on the rise once more, holding onto 3% levels for just the 4th time since 21st April.

In the week ending 21st October, 30-year fixed rates increased by 4 basis points to 3.09%.

Compared to this time last year, 30-year fixed rates were up by 29 basis points.

30-year fixed rates were still down by 185 basis points since November 2018’s last peak of 4.94%, however.

FTC Puts Businesses on Notice that False Money-Making Claims Could Lead to Big Penalties

Notice of Penalty Offenses can trigger large civil penalties for companies from multi-level marketers to providers of “gig” work

The Federal Trade Commission is putting more than 1,100 businesses that pitch money-making ventures on notice that if they deceive or mislead consumers about potential earnings, the FTC won’t hesitate to use its authority to target them with large civil penalties.

As the pandemic has left many people in dire financial straits, money-making pitches have proliferated and gained special attention. From multi-level marketing companies offering the dream of owning a business, to investment “coaches” with promises of secrets on how to beat the odds, to ubiquitous “gigs” that pitch a steady second income, Americans are bombarded by offers that often prove to be less than advertised.

As a result, the FTC is deploying its Penalty Offense Authority to remind businesses of the law and deter them from breaking it. By sending a Notice of Penalty Offenses to more than 1,100 companies, the agency is placing them on notice they could incur significant civil penalties—up to $43,792 per violation—if they or their representatives make claims about money-making opportunities that run counter to prior FTC administrative cases.

Nearly 10 million borrowers are about to see a change in student loan service—here’s what that means, the good and bad

On Friday, the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office announced a stricter set of standards for student loan servicers, the companies the government pays to oversee the billing and collection of student loan payments. 

“FSA is raising the bar for the level of service student loan borrowers will receive,” said FSA Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray in a statement. “Our actions come at a critical time as we help borrowers prepare for loan payments to resume early next year. The great work done by our negotiating team here enables us to ensure that loan servicers meet the tougher standards or face consequences.”

In the past, servicers have been accused of harassing borrowers, misleading borrowers about their options, mismanaging the public service loan forgiveness program and poor customer service.

MIT expert on work says any boss who thinks employees will return to offices is dreaming

Thomas Malone knows a thing or two about the future of work — he literally wrote the book about it. That was back in 2004, of course, when times were different and corona was just a questionable beer. But the tome — “The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style and Your Life” — was plenty prescient, describing a decentralized work world enabled by sharper digital communication.

The most recent book from the MIT professor is “Superminds,” and it’s about the ways many human minds can come together and receive a boost from digital tools — in business, government or anywhere else.

Malone, a former research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center, is the founding director at MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence, which focuses on sophisticated human-digital collaborations, including superminds. So the minds here at Innovations decided to pick his brain. This conversation was edited for brevity and clarity.

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