Category Archives: Business

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Google Might Remove its Search Engine from Australia

Search engine giant Google (GOOGL) threatens to remove Google search engine from Australia after the Aussie government prepares a new law that will ask the company to share royalties with publishers.

Australia is introducing a world-first law to make Google, Facebook and potentially other tech companies pay media outlets for their news content. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which introduced the new legislation would allow the media to bargain Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) and to enter arbitration if the two parties can’t reach an agreement in three months. The new law would send the tech companies into negotiations with news publishers on the value of the content.

The new code will benefit the local newspapers and broadcasters. Australian newspapers have lost over 70% in advertising revenue since 2005. Big tech companies warn that the new law would end the free content that they offer.

Mel Silva the Google managing director in Australia said that the new law will leave no choice to the company but to stop making Google Search engine services available in Australia.

New York proposes making it easier to use cryptocurrency

New York’s financial regulator on Wednesday proposed new licensing rules that would make it easier for companies to engage in cryptocurrency business — using such digital currencies as bitcoin — in the state.

The New York State Department of Financial Services is asking for the public’s input about the plan by Aug. 10. The initiative stems from the “actual or perceived hurdles” that firms may face in obtaining the state’s “BitLicense,” unveiled in 2015, the regulator said.

New York’s proposed framework would allow companies that want to engage in virtual currency business activity in the state to obtain a conditional license, through which they would collaborate with fully licensed companies, NYDFS said.

New York introduced its BitLicense and initial framework in 2015, when other regulators were still skeptical of virtual currencies. Those currencies are now part of a broader, rapidly growing industry that blends finance and technology, and which leading financial centers are keen to attract.

But obtaining New York’s current BitLicense can be a years-long process, virtual currency companies have said.

The state has granted 25 virtual currency licenses and charters since 2015, NYDFS said.

The regulator on Wednesday also made it easier for companies to offer and use new coins. The regulator will provide a list of pre-approved coins from which licensees can select and then self-certify they are using without having to get additional approval.

Source:Ny post

SEC Emergency Action Halts Brothers’ Cryptocurrency Offering Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2020-137

Washington D.C., June 19, 2020 —

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that it filed an emergency action and obtained a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against two Pennsylvania-based brothers and three entities they control to stop an offering fraud and the misappropriation of investor proceeds.

According to the SEC’s complaint, from at least July 2019 through May 2020, brothers Sean Hvizdzak and Shane Hvizdzak offered securities in a private fund that purported to invest in digital assets by misrepresenting fund performance, fabricating financial statements, and forging audit documents. For example, the complaint alleges that the Hvizdzaks misrepresented in marketing materials that the fund earned 100.77% and 92.90% on its investments during the third and fourth quarters of 2019, when in fact the fund actually lost money in those quarters. In addition, the SEC alleges that the brothers diverted tens of millions of dollars from the fund to personal accounts at banks and digital asset trading platforms, and then transferred the assets on multiple blockchains to themselves and others. 

“As alleged in our complaint, the Hvizdzaks touted exceptional, but false, performance to potential investors when offering their fund,” said Adam S. Aderton, Co-Chief of the SEC’s Asset Management Unit. “Investors should be skeptical of claims that seem too good to be true.”

The SEC complaint, unsealed today in federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, charges the Hvizdzaks, Hvizdzak Capital Management, LLC, High Street Capital, LLC, and High Street Capital Partners, LLC with violating the antifraud provisions of federal securities laws.

On June 16, 2020, in addition to granting a temporary restraining order and an asset freeze, the court ordered an accounting, expedited discovery, and an order prohibiting the destruction of documents. A hearing is scheduled for June 30, 2020, to consider continuing the asset freeze and the issuance of a preliminary injunction.

The SEC’s investigation, which is continuing, is being conducted by Luke Fitzgerald, Donna Norman, and Andrew Shoenthal of the Asset Management Unit, Donald A. Ryba of the Chicago Regional Office, and Morgan Ward Doran of the SEC’s Cyber Unit. The investigative team was supervised by Corey Schuster of the AMU. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Matthew Scarlato and James Smith and supervised by Jan Folena.

FCA bars Cypriot firms that used unauthorised celebrity endorsements

The FCA has taken action to stop four Cypriot investment firms from continuing to offer high risk contracts for difference (CFDs) to UK investors.

It appears that these firms used unauthorised celebrity endorsements on social media as part of their marketing. The orders require them to stop selling CFDs to UK customers, to close existing positions with UK customers, to return UK customers’ money and to notify UK customers of the FCA’s action.  

The firms are entitled to seek a review of the FCA’s action.

Hoch Capital Ltd (trading as iTrader and tradeATF), Magnum FX (Cyprus) Ltd (trading as ET Finance), Rodeler Ltd (trading as 24option) and F1Markets Ltd (trading as Investous, StrattonMarkets and Europrime) used social media and webpages carrying fake endorsements from celebrities to entice consumers into the scams involving CFDs. 

The FCA estimates that UK investors have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds in these investments.  

None of the firms and their operators have any actual presence in the UK and the firms have addresses in Cyprus. 

The FCA took action because consumers were not provided with sufficient information as to the nature of the investments, some were pressured into making increasingly large investments in CFDs, which referenced bitcoin, foreign exchange, shares and indices, and some were even encouraged to take out credit to make the payments. 

It also appears that the firms had failed to pay money owed to investors, charged customers undisclosed fees and failed to tell them about the risks of trading CFDs.

CFDs are complex financial investments which allow traders to speculate on the movement in prices of underlying assets and can cause heavy losses to unwary or inexperienced investors. 

A number of customers are known to have lost more than £100,000 to the schemes. 

The Cypriot-regulated firms – which were permitted to operate in the UK through a method known as passporting – must now cease all regulated activities with UK consumers. 

It is the first time the FCA has used its power to remove passporting rights from a firm. 

Mark Steward, FCA Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said:

‘The FCA has removed passporting rights for these firms which effectively stops them from continuing to provide these types of products in the UK. We welcome the further action taken by the CySEC. The FCA’s investigations into the sector are continuing.’

Following the FCA’s action, and on the basis of information supplied by the FCA, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) has fully suspended the regulatory authorisations of Rodeler Ltd and Hoch Capital Ltd and partially suspended the regulatory authorisations of Magnum FX (Cyprus) Ltd and F1 Markets Ltd. 

The CySEC action means that Rodeler Ltd and Hoch Capital Ltd must cease all regulated activities entirely. Magnum FX (Cyprus) Ltd and F1 Markets Ltd, may only provide investment services to their existing non-UK-resident clients, and must not promote the provision of their investment services or take on new clients. They are also explicitly prohibited from providing investment services to existing or new UK resident clients

Notes to editor

1. First supervisory notices:

2. The FCA has been closely focused on retail consumer harm associated with the marketing, sale and distribution of CFDs and Binary Options in recent years. 

3. FCA’s Dear CEO letter focused on client take-on in firms offering contracts for difference (CFDs). 

4. FCA’s second Dear CEO letter on the responsibilities of providers and distributors of CFD products on an advisory or discretionary basis. 

5. Consultation paper: Enhancing conduct of business rules for firms providing contract for difference products to retail clients

6. Statement on Binary Options: FCA confirms permanent ban on the sale of binary options to retail consumers

7. Policy Statement: Finalised rules restricting how CFDs and CFD-like options are sold, marketed, and distributed to retail consumers

8. The FCA’s action follows a similar move by the Italian regulator, the Commissione Nazionale per le Societa e la Borsa (“CONSOB”) which recently prohibited Hoch Capital Ltd and Rodeler Ltd from providing investment services and activities in Italy.

“Fairness Metrics” to Aid Responsible AI Adoption in Financial Services

Singapore, 28 May 2020… The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced today that the first phase of the Veritas initiative – a framework for financial institutions to promote the responsible adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) – will commence with the development of fairness metrics in credit risk scoring and customer marketing. These metrics will help financial institutions validate the fairness of their AIDA solutions in the two use cases. More use cases will be identified in subsequent phases of the initiative.

2     Credit risk scoring to assess the credit worthiness of borrowers is a critical function of the financial services industry and impacts most customers of financial institutions. Given the large amount of customer data to analyse, financial institutions are increasingly employing AI tools for this purpose. It is crucial that AI-driven decisions do not systematically disadvantage any particular individuals or groups when determining the credit risk scoring.

3     Customer marketing is another area with significant potential for AI adoption. As marketing processes become increasingly digitalised and automated, there is increasing scope to use AI tools to analyse customer data and match products or services to customers. Hence, it is important that such AI solutions recommend the right product to the right customer at the right time.

4     Two core teams within the Veritas consortium will be taking on the development of the fairness metrics:

  • UOB and Element AI will develop the metrics on credit risk scoring
  • HSBC, IAG Firemark Labs and Gradient Institute will develop the metrics on customer marketing.  

5     The consortium will publish a white paper documenting the metrics and release an open-source code to enable financial institutions to adopt the fairness metrics in these two areas by the end of this year. Financial institutions can integrate the open-source code into their own IT environment to validate the fairness of their AI solutions. The open-source code will also be deployed as a service on the APIX platform . This will allow financial institutions and FinTechs to have access to the service and technology providers on the platform who are able to validate their AI solutions.

6     Since the announcement of the project in November 2019, 8 new members have joined the Veritas consortium. This brings the current membership to 25 members. The full list of members are listed in the Annex.

7     Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, MAS, said, “The responsible use of AI is a prerequisite for the greater adoption of AI in the financial sector.  Veritas is the first industry-wide collaboration to provide a mathematical way to validate AIDA solutions against the principles of Fairness, Ethics, Accountability and Transparency. We hope Veritas will speed up the adoption of AI in financial services in the right direction.”

Blockpass debuts branded WebID version of its award winning digital identity protocol

HONG KONG, May 26, 2020 – (ACN Newswire) – Responding to market demand and an increasingly remote business environment, Blockpass today revealed the launch of the WebID version of its award-winning identity verification protocol, KYC Connect.

The Blockpass KYC Connect console now enables businesses to easily integrate a WebID button that will trigger an intuitive, web-based and merchant branded identity verification and onboarding process for end-users selecting their services.

The WebID service provides a guided onboarding process with full web experience and branding, including an auto-generated branded merchant page with logo, service description and requirements. Businesses can select different levels of identity verification and KYC & AML screening, as well as centralized management and data analytics for regulated industries. This process seamlessly accommodates onboarding of existing Blockpass users via their reusable identity profile as well as new users to Blockpass.

“We are very enthusiastic to reveal this groundbreaking development,” said Blockpass CEO Adam Vaziri. “Blockpass is the ideal identity protocol for an increasingly remote world and regulated transaction environment, where there is a strong need to establish trust via reusable and verifiable digital identity.”

Blockpass continues to be committed to decentralized digital identity (DDI), both through ongoing updates to its mobile identity vault in iOS and Android app stores and its support of the groundbreaking research at the Blockpass Identity Lab at Edinburgh Napier University.

The Blockpass platform is fully automated and hosted in the cloud, with no integration or setup fee. Within minutes, businesses can sign up to the KYC Connect console, test out the service, and start conducting identity documents verification, KYC and AML checks. Sign up for FREE at console.blockpass.org.

About Blockpass

Blockpass is a unique, reusable digital identity (DID) solution for any organizations that participate in regulated industries and in the increasingly remote business environment where trust needs to be verified digitally. Blockpass offers an alternative process to cumbersome, repetitive and expensive Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks through a seamless merchant dashboard that is setup immediately with pay-as-you-go and no initial fee. Blockpass’ KYC Connect(TM) platform enables businesses to select requirements for customer onboarding that can include ID authentication, face-matching, address checking, AML ongoing monitoring and/or screening of sanctions lists, politically exposed persons (PEP), and adverse media. Through Blockpass, end-users easily create a verified portable identity that they can control and re-use to onboard with any service instantly.

Forget toilet paper – everybody just wants to be paid

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. In the 24 hours following that, Earlytrade witnessed $51.4 million of early payment requests from Australian small and medium-sized businesses. This was a 650% increase in Earlytrade’s average daily trading volumes.

The week following March 11, 2020, the company saw over a quarter of a billion of early payment requests made on the Earlytrade marketplace.

“Forget toilet paper, everybody just wants to be paid, ” Guy Saxelby, CEO of Earlytrade said.

Having seen the excessive demand for ethical working capital solutions in the market, Earlytrade has responded to COVID-19 with the launch of new products in addition to its existing core product, the early payment marketplace. These products are mainly designed to support small businesses as well as stimulate the economy and help boost the entire supply chain.

“We have ambitious plans for 2020. Although it is impossible to predict the ultimate cost of the pandemic, we are viewing COVID-19 as an opportunity to innovate and disrupt traditional payment practices around the world using technology,” says Piers Symons, CTO and Co-Founder of Earlytrade.

Earlytrade’s response aims to:

  1. Offer early payment to small businesses for free

There is a huge social need for early payments to small businesses to help them survive as well as sustain them. Making early payments free will be hugely beneficial for this segment of businesses.

To scale this up, Earlytrade is in conversation with policymakers and government agencies to help release billions of dollars in cash flow into the Australian economy and help support smaller businesses by paying them first.

  • Support Small/Local/Indigenous businesses

The first draft recommendation on the ASBFEO review of Supply Chain Finance last month, was the difficulty in defining and identifying small/local and indigenous businesses. As a technology company, Earlytrade aims to launch “Earlytrade Verify” that will disrupt the payment arrangements for these businesses in Australia in the coming few weeks.

About Earlytrade

Earlytrade is Australia’s largest marketplace for early payment. The company was founded by Guy Saxelby and Piers Symons in 2016. It delivers an ethical and robust solution to business payments, helping over 37,000 suppliers across Australia and New Zealand get paid sooner.

Five New Technologies that Can Prevent Everything from Fraud to Future Financial Shocks

  • World Economic Forum identifies five new technologies for financial services which can help prevent everything from fraud to systemic risk
  • New technologies can enhance data-sharing opportunities by allowing financial institutions to analyse data across the industry while maintaining customer privacy
  • These technologies are ready for use in the financial sector but will require the industry to address surrounding barriers such as poor data quality and regulatory uncertainty.
  • Read more on privacy-enhancing technology here

New York, USA, 12 September 2019 –A new white paper, The Next Generation of Data Sharing in Financial Services, from the World Economic Forum has identified new technologies that banks and other financial institutions can implement for privacy-protected data-sharing between institutions. This data-sharing will enable broad analysis, which can be used to identify industry-wide risks and could even prevent future financial shocks.

Beyond system-wide benefits, these newly identified technologies, coined “privacy-enhancing techniques” can also use improved data-sharing to prevent fraud, offer financial advice, and much more. Privacy-enhancing techniques lessen the tensions underlying data-sharing. Instead of threatening customer privacy, this new wave of technology not only protects it but also enhances industry collaboration.

These five technologies include:

While new and novel for use in financial services, these technologies have existed within laboratories for years and are now ready for use in the real world of banking and other financial services. If harnessed, these tools could usher in a new, more collaborative, era of the sector on matters related to risk and product development.

“With advancing privacy-enhancing technologies, financial services have the ability to work more closely together on a range of important challenges and opportunities, from combating illicit financial transactions to identifying material risk exposures across institutions, to developing more personalized financial advice and products,” says Matthew Blake, Head of Financial and Monetary System Initiatives, World Economic Forum. “Privacy-enhancing techniques open a range of possibilities for enhanced risk management and financial innovation with benefits for customers, regulators and financial institutions alike.”

These technologies, used separately or in conjunction, greatly reduce the risks associated with data sharing and have the potential to fundamentally redefine the dynamics of data sharing in financial services. Opportunities from these technologies include the ability to:

· Better detect and prevent fraudulent activity: Federated analysis could be used to create shared fraud detection and prevention models across institutions without sharing the personally sensitive information about specific customers

· Identify system-wide risks and prevent financial crises: Secure multi-party computation could be used to conduct aggregate analysis on financial institutions’ risk exposures without breaching their institutional competitive secrets, allowing for an advance warning on systemic risks and exposures such as those that led to the 2008 financial crisis

· Enable new forms of personalized digital advice: Leveraging differential privacy in the analysis of transactions across an institution’s customer base could enable sophisticated and specific “people like you” recommendations without exposing individual customers’ spending habits

· And more, as explored in The Next Generation of Data Sharing in Financial Services




One of the key learnings from the financial crisis was that system-wide risk exposures were not properly quantified and understood by enterprises as well as financial supervisors. This was partly due to inadequate management information systems that did a poor job of aggregating risk exposures across institutions as well as too narrow a focus by supervisors on the risk of individual financial firms rather than the interconnections between institutions and the broader system.

Competitive dynamics also played a part; it is perilous for a financial institution to make explicit its risk exposures because other actors may take advantage and profit from that level of transparency. Enter privacy-enhancing techniques, which make sharing granular information across institutions possible – allowing for transparency without unveiling too much, presenting new possibilities for collaboration between institutions, supervisors and customers.

“It is important to note that these technologies are not a magic wand. Using them requires financial institutions to address surrounding issues such as poor data quality, legal uncertainties and siloed data infrastructures,” says Bob Contri, Principal, Deloitte United States; Global Financial Services Industry Leader. “However, addressing these roadblocks and using privacy-enhancing techniques can propel the financial services industry into a new era of collaboration and value delivery.”

According to the World Economic Forum, financial services executives should take a concerted look at these new techniques and where they might best be deployed. Bringing these technologies into practice will require a degree of experimentation and technological expertise. Nonetheless, the benefits of widescale adoption are clear and speak to greater alignment and action among key stakeholders on issues of systemic importance.

Role of Forensic Accounting in Trading

What is ‘Forensic Accounting?’

Forensic accounting described as the integration of accounting, auditing and investigative methods to conduct an investigation into a company’s fiscal reports. Forensic accounting provides a financial analysis suitable for court. Forensic accountants are both a finance expert and a professional investigator who trained to look behind the accounting figures and deal with the business reality of a situation. They are frequently used in fraud cases by businesses, law firms, law enforcement agencies, investment companies and insurance agencies.

Alan Zysman, a noted forensic accountant since 1987, states, “Forensic accounting provides an accounting analysis that is suitable to the court which will form the basis for discussion, debate and ultimately dispute resolution”

Forensic Accounting in Trading

In today’s complex financial markets world with very complex financial instruments trading around the globe, investment firms, banks, hedge funds regulatory bodies and exchanges are often victims of financial crimes such as money laundering, employee theft, embezzlement, spoofing, price manipulation and insurance or securities fraud.

Forensic Accounting in trading can help a company investigate price fixations, stock market manipulations and at times even manipulation of the financial figures by the company’s Board to window dress the financial statements and profit and loss account figures to hide real facts from the shareholders and investment community, for the funds misused or misappropriated by the top management.

The real need for Forensic Accounting came in 2001-2002 with huge corporate financial frauds coming to light, like Enron, and World com.The forensic accountant should be well versed with all business and investment laws (MIFID II) at national and international level as financial fraudsters have become more intelligent in their activities exploiting loopholes in the statutes and laws across major financial centers.

The forensic accountant in trading and investments uses all modern techniques and tools in gathering all the data necessary and relevant for his purpose. The various techniques and tools include data mining, finger print identification, order book analysis, laboratory analysis, forged cheques and altered cheques identifying tools, electronic surveillance, email communications etc.

Forensic accounting also requires a great deal of creativity, since one must often explain complex financial concepts (derivatives, forex, cryptocurrencies) to an audience that lacks basicaccounting knowledge. It is not surprising that the American agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)confirmed that ‘one key element was the creation of a standardized, professional investigative support position known as the forensic accountant in 2009’.



Forensic Accounting in trading may be subdivided in four categories:

1.Litigation support

2.Investigative and assisting in the disputes

3.Frauds Detection and finally

4.Forensic Data analysis

The litigation support is provided to lawyers by giving support of documentary evidence to support or rebut a claim. Also assisting in designing relevant questions to be asked at the time of trial in courts of law.

Under the second category the Forensic Accountant helps in minimizing future damages and risk of loss. Because of their financial expert knowledge he is effectively used in fraud detection.

Today Forensic Accountants have become part of all major accounting firms, and all big investment companies such as banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, brokers specializing in fraud detection and prevention and helping the courts of law by giving evidence of the financial crime. Courts depend on the expertise of forensic accountants in all financial litigations and disputes.

The important skills needed for the role of a Forensic Accountants includes:

They should understand the business and the technology used in the organizations, the software used, as he is dealing with the management as well the technical and software departments of the company.

Should have sound technical knowledge to get the source of required information from the storage and other computer equipment’s and for following the trial of information needed for investigation.

Forensic Accounting in trading role not only includes unearthing a fraud but also to find out why the fraud occurred.

Helpful Resources

  1. Forensic Accounting Careers – Careerherd.com
  2. Forensic Accountants to the Rescue – Strategic Finance
  3. How Forensic Accountants Fight White Collar Crime
  4. The Advantages of Having a Forensic Accountant Within an Organization | Chron.com

How much should you contribute to an RRSP?

The day you receive your first pay cheque is always a momentous one. There’s so much you want to do with that money. If you’re like most people, you likely spent your first pay cheque on food, clothes or entertainment. Not many people put aside cash from their first cheque towards a retirement fund. However, when you get your last pay cheque, you’ll likely wish you saved more. It is never too early to start saving money in an RRSP (registered retirement savings plan).

There is no firm rule on how much you should contribute towards your RRSP. However, since RRSP’s were designed so that the contributed amounts would be tax-deductible, there is a maximum contribution limit. The main objective of setting up this account is to save enough money to have a comfortable retired life without having to compromise on your lifestyle.

The amount you need to contribute depends largely on how luxurious you would like your retired life to be. To calculate a rough idea of how much you need, check out an RRSP contribution calculator. This tool uses many factors such as your current age, RRSP contributions to date and assumed rate of interest to calculate the sum you will receive at your desired retirement age. The amount you contribute each year will vary based on your income and lifestyle. For example, if you have young children, taking care of them will be your top financial priority. However, in your fifties, when your children are more independent, you will likely have more money available to contribute a higher amount to your RRSP. If all goes well, your income will also increase substantially over the years. That means when you have more money you can also take advantage of unused contributions that carry over from year to year. Unused contributions refers to the difference between the maximum contribution amount and the amount you have contributed towards your RRSP. At the end of each financial year, the government calculates this amount and allows you to carry it over to the next year. Thus, even though your income may not have increased drastically, you can put aside more money. You can also over contribute up to $2000 towards your RRSP. If you cross this limit, you will be charged a 1% penalty fee each month on any excess contributions.

So, plan your finances wisely. If you do this today, your future self will be eternally grateful.

This post contains sponsored links from Sun Life Financial.