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Category The Press

By Associated Press


BERN, Switzerland — The Swiss parliament appointed special prosecutor Stefan Keller on Wednesday to investigate former attorney general Michael Lauber for his meetings with FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Criminal proceedings were opened against Infantino in July when Keller said he found “elements that make up reprehensible behavior” linked to meetings with Lauber in 2016 and …

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Washington Post | Sept 23, 2020

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich held secret investments in footballers not owned by his club, an investigation has discovered.


The players included the Peruvian winger Andre Carrillo, who turned out against Chelsea in Champions League matches in 2014.

He held rights in the players through a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

Mr Abramovich’s spokeswoman stressed no rules or regulations were broken.

But former Football Association chairman…. >>> to read the full story click here

BBC News | Sept 21, 2020

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Find out what president Aleksander Čeferin had to say as he reflected on the return of UEFA’s club competitions, including the successful conclusion of the 2019/20 edition of the Champions League in Lisbon.


Aleksander Čeferin reflected on the return of UEFA’s club competitions, including the successful conclusion of the 2019/20 edition of the Champions League in Lisbon, this week.

As well as the Champions League, UEFA and the host associations also organised a successful conclusion to the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Youth League, with the UEFA Women’s Champions League to be concluded this weekend in Spain.

>>> to see the full story click here–president-assesses-champions-league-return/

UEFA | Aug 26, 2020

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A special prosecutor in Switzerland is investigating Gianni Infantino for alleged collusion with the country’s attorney general Michael Lauber


A special prosecutor in Switzerland has opened criminal proceedings against the president of soccer’s world governing body, Gianni Infantino, for alleged collusion with the country’s attorney general Michael Lauber during a Swiss federal investigation into FIFA.

The proceedings, announced by authorities on Thursday, allege that Infantino…

>>> to read the full story click here >>>

WSJ | July 30, 2020

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If any company can take a cryptocurrency mainstream, it is Facebook.

More than 2bn people log into its family of apps and increasingly they want to buy things and send each other money.

Facebook’s answer, according to several people familiar with its secretive “Libra” project, will be to try to launch a “stablecoin”, a digital currency pegged to the dollar.

If successful, the Facebook coin could not only allow payments and transfers within the Facebook empire, but could also be stored on digital wallets and spent in shops, or exchanged into traditional currencies.

“Facebook has all the prospects to propel crypto into everyday lives . . . in the next three to five years,” said one well-known payments veteran, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

But “there are headaches to be worked out,” the executive added, questioning how small businesses that end up with a stockpile of the currency would be able to account for it on their books, for example.

Facebook declined to comment.

Following in footsteps of WeChat

How the digital currency would be backed is as yet unclear, as stablecoins can normally be purchased and redeemed for dollars at a fixed 1:1 ratio. It is also not clear how the coin will be issued, stored or transferred, and what role blockchain technology will play.

Many interpret the move as a bid to follow in the footsteps of so-called “superapps” such as China’s WeChat, that allows users to send money, shop, order taxis and play games without ever having to leave the one platform.

According to an earlier report by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook may encourage transactions by rewarding its users with the currency if they view ads on the platform, in a similar way to the collection of loyalty points.

Experts expect this type of network to encourage Facebook’s vast user base to spend more time and money on the platform. It could address user concerns over Facebook’s advertising business model — but might also allow the company to collect more data on users, such as spending patterns.

Advertising and ecommerce blend together

Mr Zuckerberg has already said that he sees Facebook’s traditional advertising business model blending with e-commerce, with users discovering products from businesses advertising on Facebook and Instagram and then buying them, while using WhatsApp and Messenger to talk to the sellers.

“Between advertising and commerce, it’s really a continuous spectrum,” he said. “As those products that we build help businesses convert better . . . it will be more valuable to them and therefore that’ll translate into higher bids for the advertising.”

Facebook already allows some big brands to sell directly on the platform through a partnership with PayPal, a feature announced earlier this year. At Facebook’s F8 developer conference last month, the company launched a raft of other products and updates designed to facilitate business-to-consumer interaction.

Deutsche Bank estimates the push into ecommerce on Instagram could contribute as much as $10bn in net revenue in 2021.

“My sense is that the pivot to consolidating messaging and driving commerce and in app purchases reduces ad revenue dependence and cools the [negative] rhetoric” around its business model, said Rob Norman, former chief digital officer at GroupM.

Analysts predict the company will create new ad formats, charging a premium. Facebook will be able to pool data and analytics on customer spending habits, helping them to better target advertising in future. This might include mapping out how a user might have found a particular brand in the lead-up to a purchase.

But some advertisers are wary of losing control of data they can access directly.

“If you’re transacting through their website, [Facebook] will retain greater control of the transaction and the data. If you control your website you have greater control,” said Marco Rimini, global chief development officer of Mindshare, a media agency. “They are powerful sales channel, but how much power do we want to cede?”

Other big tech companies are increasingly experimenting with financial products. In March, Apple announced its own credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs. Last year, Uber launched Uber cash, an app-specific credits system. Some firms have launched their own mobile wallets: Apple pay, Amazon pay and Google pay.

Technology and regulation hurdles

Some industry experts have questioned whether Facebook’s blockchain-based payments network can achieve a competitive scale, and whether it could process payments in line with potential growth. Most blockchain projects have hitherto been small-scale. Visa, one of the world’s largest payments networks, can handle up to 65,000 transaction messages
per second.

“The logistics of it — how many [coins] are going to be in existence, what are the implications of that — from an overall company position, the company must give serious  consideration to what would be more profitable,” said Richard Whittle, economics research fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Others point to the regulatory hurdles, arguing that Facebook is not prepared for the high levels of scrutiny it will face. Payments processors need licensing in most jurisdictions in which they operate, for example, and this can sometimes take years. In the US, securities laws regulators are also paying heightened attention to blockchain projects.

“Each time Facebook or its brethren drift into the regulated realm, they soon depart, because the idea of being regulated and operating to the same rules as banks would make it uneconomical for them,” said Richard Crook, former head of emerging technology at RBS and director of Lab577, a fintech start-up.

The company plans to encrypt user’s financial data where possible, according to someone with knowledge of the project. But they may need to share some aggregated and identifiable data with regulators and law enforcement, the person said.

The team has been making compliance hires: this month it hired Jeff Cartwright, formerly the director of regulatory risk at major US crypto exchange Coinbase.

Project needs partners

There are also broader competition concerns. “How desirable is it for one company to expand horizontally across multiple verticals?” said Daniel Murphy, senior associate at the Milken Institute’s Center for Financial Markets.

Analysts expect Facebook to partner with other payments companies, which could also help provide some of the licences, technology and infrastructure for the project.

There are signs that Facebook are trying to do this. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has had discussions with Visa, Mastercard and First Data Corp in a bid to raise $1bn in investment for the project, for example.

Any partnerships would also lend the project credibility at a time when Facebook is facing public backlash, fines and investigations into data breaches, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, analysts say.

“If Facebook tries to do this themselves they are probably going to fail. Because the likelihood of them being successful in all facets of payments — managing regulatory Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved. compliance, security, and building consumer trust — is very low on its own,” said Lisa Ellis, payments analyst at research company MoffettNathanson and a blockchain expert.

“If they are really spearheading in a collaborative way . . . I believe that type of initiative has a huge amount of potential,” she said.

Hannah Murphy in San Francisco and Philip Stafford in London

Financial Times | May 23, 2019

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Ukraine’s tech startups attracted a record volume of investment money last year — $323 million, according to the annual investment report “DealBook of Ukraine.”

The report was prepared by local venture firm AVentures and Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (UVCA), and published on May 14.

The research indicates that investment in Ukrainian tech increased by 22 percent compared to 2017, when Ukrainian high-tech firms attracted $265 million. This means local startups have attracted $1 billion over the last five years, making Ukraine one of the top funding destinations in Central and Eastern Europe.

However, just three firms attracted the most money this year, receiving 70 percent of the $323 million: GitLab ($120 million), Bitfury ($80 million), and ($30 million). And although all three of them have Ukrainian roots and local offices, they’re not considered chiefly Ukrainian, as they work with foreign clients and investors and have foreign headquarters.

The report includes the list of all the tech startups that attracted money in 2018, specifying the stage of investment and the sum raised.

Roughly 90 percent of the money came from foreign investors, with companies in the United States contributing most of the funding. Goldman Sachs, Y Combinator, and Soros Fund Management are among the biggest U.S. investors in Ukraine’s IT startups. The report authors suggest this is the result of the success Ukrainian tech companies frequently have on the U.S. market.

Yevgen Sysoyev, a co-author of the report, thinks this leaves significant room for the development of local early-stage funds. So far, the report names 10 local firms that make early-stage investments, including Digital Future, WannaBiz, AVentures, Genesis, and TA Ventures.

Ukrainian investment firms like Dragon Capital and Horizon Capital typically invest in more mature startups. “These funds are investing in Series B or the growth stage, at tens of millions in revenue and (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) positive business,” Sysoyev told the Kyiv Post.

Measuring the local tech potential, the report counts 172,000 tech people working in Ukraine, and 23,000 new ones graduating every year. Over 50 percent of Ukrainian tech labor works for software outsourcing companies like EPAM, SoftServe, GlobalLogic, Luxoft, and Ciklum.

Only five percent of techies work for information technology startups.

Sysoyev said: “I think the Ukrainian tech ecosystem went through tremendous changes, positive ones, but the next five years will contain new challenges: for founders, to learn how to build (ten-times) larger businesses and compete on a much larger scale with international competitors. For investors, to return the capital from previous funds and create second funds. For the Ukrainian tech ecosystem, to be more integrated into (the ecosystems of) the U.S. and Europe.”

The Kyiv Post’s technology

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