Thursday, May 18, 2017

New York Times Makes Me WannaCry


Believe it or not, the New York Times is now blaming North Korea for the hack attack, and you really do WannaCry because this has become so laughable my stomach hurts.


"Visitors at Washington’s Union Station got an X-rated surprise when pornographic videos began streaming on a digital advertisement board there. Beverley Swaim-Staley, president and CEO of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, says an ad board near the Metro train entrance played pornographic videos Monday. The video lasted for a few minutes before someone was able to turn the board off. Swaim-Staley said they’re working with the company that leases and manages the property to determine if the display was hacked. Until they’re able to identify the cause, the screens will remain off."

Also seeChelsea Manning leaves prison

Going to cut an album with Amanda Palmer (rumor is it is going to be a bit of heavy metal mixed with some love ballads), before doing an ad for Cumby's.

Hopefully she can find some Zen-like peace:

"SoFi to acquire Zenbanx, allowing it to be more like a bank" by Nathaniel Popper New York Times   February 02, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — The financial startup SoFi is getting closer to its ambition of being able to replace your bank.

SoFi, or Social Finance as it is officially known, announced Wednesday that it was acquiring a company, Zenbanx, allowing SoFi to offer checking accounts, credit cards, and international money transfers to its customers.

SoFi, based in San Francisco, began in 2011 by refinancing student loans taken out by graduates of elite universities. Since succeeding in that niche, the company has expanded into personal loans, mortgage lending, asset management, and even life insurance. But until now it has not been able to accept deposits, one of the most basic functions of a bank.

Zenbanx was founded by the former chief executive of ING Direct, Arkadi Kuhlmann. It has built a clientele for online savings accounts that allow customers to move easily among different currencies, while using ATMs to get access to cash.

SoFi is tiny compared with even midsize banks — it currently has about 225,000 “members,” as it calls its customers. But it has announced its Silicon Valley-grade ambitions to take on the biggest banks with advertising campaigns — including one during last year’s Super Bowl — that use the tagline “Don’t Bank. SoFi.”

SoFi has found a way to continue expanding its business at a time when most other online lenders have had to scale back their ambitions.


Many online lenders pulled back early last year at around the same time that the leading player in the field, Lending Club, announced that it was parting ways with its founder, Renaud Laplanche, after discovering accounting irregularities and other problems.


SoFi has set itself apart from other online lenders with a more personalized business model that offers customers more than just loans. Services like career advice and even dating events have kept customers engaged beyond the initial transaction.

The latest acquisition will allow SoFi to extend those relationships further. By making it easy to move money among currencies, Zenbanx could be attractive for SoFi’s more elite, cosmopolitan clientele.

Let's face it, it is a richer's world right now -- or pre$$ at least.

Given SoFi’s frequent criticism of mainstream banks through such means as interviews, blog posts, and ads, it has faced many questions about whether it could eventually become a bank itself.

The Zenbanx acquisition would appear to give SoFi a way to offer the basic functions of a bank without needing a bank charter.


"Big banks launch Zelle to take on Venmo" Bloomberg News  February 22, 2017

NEW YORK — For years, banks have watched as their youngest customers split restaurant checks, shared utility bills, and pitched in for parties using third-party payment apps such as Venmo. Now, they’re trying to take back the person-to-person payments business by launching their own app.

Nineteen banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, are teaming up to start Zelle, a website and app that will let users send and request money much like Venmo does. Bank of America says it is the first to incorporate all of Zelle’s capabilities — including the ability to split bills between users — into its own mobile app, starting Wednesday. A standalone Zelle payment app should be available to anyone with a debit card, regardless of where they bank, by the middle of the year.

Zelle has some stiff competition from Venmo and its parent company PayPal Holdings Inc. Venmo, which started in 2009, processed $17.6 billion in transactions last year, a 135 percent increase from the previous year. 

The CIA keeping an eye on your $pending?

In the common vernacular, ‘‘to Venmo’’ means to move money to and from friends and family. That’s a huge advantage, said Michael Moeser, director of payments at Javelin Strategy & Research. When presented with another option, ‘‘An avid Venmo user is going to ask, ‘Why do I need something else?'’’ he said.

Zelle’s not-so-secret weapon is its connection to the big banks where millions of Americans keep their money. Request $40 from a roommate over the Zelle network using Bank of America’s app, and the money shows up in your account within minutes of when he agrees to send it. On Venmo, that $40 would show up in your Venmo wallet right away, but then it stays there. To get the cash in your hands, you need to log into your Venmo account, cash out your balance, and wait — sometimes days — for the money to show up in your bank account.

Venmo is trying to accelerate that process. PayPal made deals with Mastercard and Visa to move money over their debit card networks. By the middle of 2017, it should be possible to cash out a PayPal or Venmo account instantly, according to PayPal Holdings spokesman Josh Criscoe.

Zelle was built by Early Warning, a bank-owned company that also runs the clearXchange payment system. It’s no easy task to build an app that syncs with 19 large banks, four payment processors, and two card networks. Each has its own legacy technology, and many already have person-to-person payment tools, such as Chase’s QuickPay, that are popular with some customers.

To launch the new app without disrupting the old systems, Zelle is being rolled out in phases: In the first, underway now, bank payment apps will incorporate Zelle’s options and basic design without any Zelle branding. Banks can add these features whenever they’re ready. Later, bank apps will tout Zelle branding, and, sometime in the first half of the year, a standalone app will launch.

Bank of America’s person-to-person payments will be free. Though members of the Zelle network will have the option to charge, it’s not clear if any banks will even try to do so when Venmo and other payment apps cost nothing.

But once hooked in with them they make it expen$ive to leave, no matter what criminal $kim $cheme mi$takes may have been made.

The lack of an obvious revenue opportunity may be one reason why it’s taken so long for banks to launch a serious competitor to Venmo. Moeser summarized the attitude of banks until recently: ‘‘Do I really care about two 18-year-olds sending $20 to each other? Maybe not.’’

But the people designing Zelle imply their goal is much bigger than just helping college students split a pizza bill. ‘‘This is a great time for us to move [person-to-person payments] from millennials to mainstream,’’ said Lou Anne Alexander, Early Warning’s group president for payments. The use of mobile banking apps is growing exponentially, creating many more opportunities for people of all ages to send and request money. ‘‘Any place we see checks and cash, that’s our target,’’ she said.

Towards a ca$hle$$ society and total corporate-government control.


I don't mean to rush you, but can I see your card?


Wall Street clearing house to adopt Bitcoin technology

Business giants to announce creation of a computing system based on Ethereum

Who owns blockchain? Goldman, BofA amass patents for coming wars

As usual, banks are at the bottom of everything.

Shadow Brokers the first salvo?

"State Street to pay $64m in criminal, civil penalties in trading case" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  January 18, 2017

State Street Corp. has agreed to pay more than $64 million in criminal and civil penalties to resolve US government inquiries into fraudulent secret commissions on trades for major clients of the bank in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The previously disclosed conduct involved billions of dollars in trades for at least six of State Street’s overseas clients in 2010 and 2011, and more than $20 million in commissions charged without the clients’ knowledge.

To settle the matter, State Street will pay a $32.3 million criminal penalty, the Department of Justice said Wednesday. The company also agreed to pay the same amount to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In 2014, State Street agreed to pay the UK Financial Conduct Authority $37.5 million to settle allegations in the same matter.

In a statement, State Street said it has fired the employees responsible for the trading and has “significantly strengthened our controls and procedures across our business,” by adding people in compliance and spending more money on those areas.

State Street also agreed to retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for three years.

The company said it “deeply regrets this matter and accepts responsibility for the actions of its former employees.” The company has reimbursed the six clients that were affected, the Department of Justice said.

But two former executives charged in the case plan to fight the allegations and have entered not-guilty pleas.

In April, the government charged the two former high-ranking State Street executives, Ross McLellan of Hingham and Edward Pennings, a Dutch citizen, with conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud. McLellan and Pennings are scheduled for trial in October, before US District Judge Leo T. Sorokin.

McLellan, who was based in Boston, was president of State Street Global Markets, a brokerage arm of State Street. In a statement, his lawyer, Martin G. Weinberg, said McLellan “never acted for personal profit. He always acted in good faith. He always believed that any conduct he took was fully approved by State Street.”

Pennings was a senior managing director in London who reported to McLellan. Pennings’s lawyer, Roger Burlingame, said State Street’s settlement has no bearing on his client’s case.

“Mr. Pennings has committed no crime and voluntarily came to the US to clear his name,’’ Burlingame said. “He performed his job in good faith and State Street — not Mr. Pennings — made money from the transactions, the same way banks do every day.”

State Street said it would continue to cooperate with federal prosecutors and foreign authorities in any ongoing investigations and prosecutions.

The company has been involved in several high-profile regulatory investigations in recent years that have been costly and damaging to its reputation. On Wednesday, State Street said it has adopted “firm-wide programs on ethical decision making,” encouraging employees at all levels to speak up if they see actions or decisions they believe to be wrong.

“State Street engaged in an elaborate overcharge scheme which resulted in millions of ill-gotten profits and violated the trust of their clients,” Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI in Boston, said in a statement.

It's $tandard Operating Pro$edure.

State Street had previously set aside $42 million in connection with the US investigations of the trading case. It has added $23 million for the recently ended fourth quarter, to account for the settlement unveiled Wednesday.



"Businesses that prey on the vulnerable and desperate by charging exorbitant interest have sidestepped authorities’ crackdown on risky practices, an approach that’s throttled credit and winnowed the ranks of banks. Payday lenders are already facing increased scrutiny, with the central bank in December forming a working group together with industry associations to address a growing number of consumer complaints. One course of action available is to follow the example of regulators in the United States, who are seeking to curtail fees and high-interest lending with new rules that ensure customers can pay back loans before they are approved...."

All Russia's fault?

By the Way, did you attend the shareholders meeting?

"Eli Lilly & Co. will pay $960 million to purchase CoLucid Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge — a company with just seven employees — in a deal that will result in the drug giant buying back an experimental migraine headache treatment discovered in Lilly’s labs and licensed to CoLucid in 2005. The sale, expected to be completed next month, reflects the rich premiums being paid for promising drug candidates, as well as the constantly shifting priorities of drug makers...."

"Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin is alleging that three Cambridge-based hedge funds and the man who ran them have been operating a Ponzi scheme that took in $15.3 million from 47 investors. In a civil complaint filed Wednesday, the state Securities Division alleges that Yasuna Murakami spent investors’ money on high-end shopping trips, luxury hotels, a car, and $1,000 restaurant tabs...."

It's a “classic example of a shell game.’’