FinTech Daily: SEC Rejects Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF Bid; Capital One Launches a Gender-Neutral Chatbot
SEC Rejects Winklevoss Bitcoin ETF Bid
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has denied a bid to list a bitcoin-tied exchange-traded fund (ETF), citing the risk of fraud and a lack of regulation among the world’s bitcoin markets. The decision caps a more than three-year quest by bitcoin investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who first sought to list the bitcoin-tied product in mid-2013. The SEC has been weighing a proposed rule change that would pave the way for the ETF to be listed on the Bats BZX Exchange. In that time, the SEC has solicited numerous public comments and punted its decision forward several times. As well, the ETF’s backers have expanded the scope of the offering from an initial $20m to $100m. The agency specified that it believes a mix of regulatory opaqueness and fraud risk should preclude any kind of bitcoin ETF at this time. That said, the SEC left the door open to future exchange products tied to the digital currency. “The Commission notes that bitcoin is still in the relatively early stages of its development and that, over time, regulated bitcoin-related markets of significant size may develop,” the document reads. “Should such markets develop, the Commission could consider whether a bitcoin ETP would, based on the facts and circumstances then presented, be consistent with the requirements of the Exchange Act.”
Capital One Launches Eno, a Gender-Neutral Chatbot
Capital One Financial has developed a "chatbot" named Eno, an automated program that can communicate with the bank's customers via text message to give them information on their accounts and help them make credit-card payments from their smartphone. Capital One's gender-neutral virtual assistant, which is being rolled out as a pilot to a segment of its customers, uses artificial intelligence to respond to natural language text messages from users about their money, the bank said on Friday. For example, customers might ask Eno to show them their recent account balances or pay off a credit-card bill. Ken Dodelin, Capital One's vice president of digital product development, said the bank deliberately chose a gender-neutral name. The predominance of female names among popular digital assistants has provoked criticism recently. Asked if it is a boy or a girl, Eno will reply that it is "binary." Being a banker, albeit a virtual one, its favorite color is green. In a bid to make the experience more human, Eno—whose name spells One backwards—has also been programmed to recognize certain "emojis," the popular messaging icons. Users can prompt Eno to show them their account balance by sending the "bag of money" emoji or can confirm a payment through the "thumbs up" emoji.
Bank of Ireland Announces Opening of startlab NYC
Bank of Ireland is delighted to announce the opening of startlab NYC, an incubation space that will support Bank of Ireland startup customers seeking to scale their business and enter the US market. The collaborative space, located in Manhattan on the 41st floor of 2 Grand Central, is the first offering of its kind from an Irish bank outside of Ireland. startlab NYC offers seven scalable technology companies the opportunity to have access to a free incubation space in New York City for a 12 month period. The Bank has selected innovative Irish tech startups Deposify, Pulsate and Axonista to join startlab NYC and an application process for the remaining four places will open in the coming weeks. In addition to working and meeting space in this central New York location, the selected teams will receive expert mentoring from Bank of Ireland’s dedicated innovation and corporate banking teams in both Ireland and the US to help them develop, grow and scale their business. Bank of Ireland will work closely with the selected teams to help them get on their feet when they arrive, facilitating introductions to venture capitalists, state agencies and relevant intermediaries based in the city. The seven teams will also receive access to WebPort Global. The decision to open startlab NYC was taken in response to demand from Bank of Ireland business customers and represents the next step in the bank’s aim to foster entrepreneurship. The incubator, specifically for scaling startups, is an extension of existing successful Bank of Ireland facilities already available in several locations in Dublin, and in Cork, Limerick and Galway, such as Workbench and startlab.