The EU's competition authority has fined five banks a total of more than one billion dollars for colluding to rig the vast foreign exchange market in the years following the northern financial crisis. "Citigroup was hit with the biggest fine of €311m, followed by RBS with €249m, JPMorgan at €229m, Barclays at €210m and MUFG with €70m," writes the FT. "UBS also participated but avoided a €285m fine as it was the first to alert the EU to the cartels. The other banks settled the charges, and all but MUFG also applied for leniency which reduced fines by between 10 and 50 per cent." The recidivist activity came from banks that had been at the heart of the financial crash only months previously. Regulators have been investigating the crimes for five years but it appears that once again few people will be prosecuted. It can't be long before regulators wake up to the solutions offered by digital disruptors challenging the forex manipulators.
But banks won't be sitting around inviting disaster. Indeed, several of these same major players are collaborating to launch a bank digital coin. "The previously disclosed project, known as the 'utility settlement coin,' was first proposed by Swiss bank UBS Group AG and London-based technology startup Clearmatics in 2015. It aims to develop a system to make clearing and settlement in financial markets more efficient." The project is dubbed Fnality, in the new style of swapping letters to indicate coolness. This month has already seen new businesses called Spedn, which seems be a reference to hodl (hold on for dear life) digital assets.
Is Amazon belatedly joining the tech giants piling into digital assets? Amazon already offers extensive blockchain services but a new patent filed this week suggests that it's also looking at Merkle Trees and Proof of work systems. "Sound familiar? Well, that's because Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchains use a very similar system," writes Ethereumworldnews. "Funnily enough, however, the patent did not mention 'cryptocurrency', 'blockchain', or 'Bitcoin' at all, and instead described the Proof of Work system in immense detail, specifically touching on how it could be used to mitigate DOS (denial of service) attacks from bad actors. Indeed, Proof of Work was once proposed as a way to ensure emails aren't spam."
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