Daily Dash: Social Media Scams Continue To Wreak Havoc

October 11, 2023
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A regulator has found that US social media users have lost $2.7bn to scams on the platforms since 2021, while a New York start-up has launched a product built on top of FedNow in a first.

Social Media Scams Continue To Top US Scam Losses

Americans have lost $2.7bn to scams originating on social media since 2021, new data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows.

Reports during the first half of the year show that the most frequently reported scams on social media are related to online shopping, which was reported in 44 percent of the complaints sent to the agency.

In terms of the value of losses, more than half, 53 percent, of the social media scam losses involved an investment scam in the first half of the year. In more than half of these cases, consumers paid the scammers using cryptocurrency.

Median individual reported losses for online shopping scams was $100, $3,000 in the case of an investment scam and $1,716 in a romance scam, the data spotlight showed.

Scams on social media have cost US victims more than via any other contact method, the agency said.

Orum Launches First Product Built On FedNow 

Orum, a New York-based API firm, has announced the launch of Verify. This is the first ever product built on top of FedNow, the Federal Reserve’s new instant payment rail.

With 100 percent coverage of all US-based consumer and business bank accounts, Orum’s Verify product hopes to make it easy for businesses to authenticate any type of bank account.

“Failed payments cost the global economy over $100bn each year. Lost time verifying accounts equals lost revenue and ultimately lost customers. This is especially true for business bank accounts, which are notoriously difficult to verify,” said Stephany Kirkpatrick, founder and CEO of Orum. 

‘"usinesses need confidence they are debiting or crediting a real account to ensure the payment lands safely in the bank account, but most solutions today are slow or don’t include coverage for all B2B use cases,” he continued. “Verify, built on top of FedNow, has changed this equation, making it now possible to verify any type of bank account instantly.”

The payments API company said that it built Verify based on significant demand from financial, business and banking partners who needed the ability to instantly verify bank accounts before processing payments. Partners range from brick and mortar merchants like restaurants to 529 college savings platforms to a multi-national bank.

California Governor Signs Money Transmission Act Into Law

The California Money Transmission Act has become law after receiving Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature on October 8.

The act includes language from a model law that seeks to harmonise state legislations across the US and create a set of nationwide standards for money transmission.

As reported by Vixio, the California act adopts various parts of the model law, including those establishing rules for “key individuals”, such as executive officers, managers and directors. Under the new rules, money transmitters are required to inform the state’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) if there is a change in the employment status of a key individual.

The act also sets out net worth requirements and requires money transmitters to own eligible securities with an aggregate market value that is equal to, or exceeds, all its outstanding payment instruments.

California is one of the over two dozen states that have amended their laws to incorporate the model law, in part or in its entirety, into their legislative framework.

Bank of Lithuania Suspends E-Money Firm’s Activities Over Non-Compliance

The Bank of Lithuania has suspended the activities of BENKER, a blockchain firm with an e-money institution approval. 

According to the central bank, BENKER failed to comply with capital requirements laws from the fourth quarter of 2022 onwards. 

According to the Law on Electronic Money and Electronic Money Institutions, an e-money institution must always have at least €350,000 initial capital, even if it does not carry out activities. In this case, the institution's equity did not meet the equity requirements for several quarters and became negative.

BENKER, which got approval from the regulator last year, has until October 20 to correct its position and provide proof it has done so to the Bank of Lithuania.

ABN AMRO Sells Minority Stake In EMS To Fiserv

Dutch bank ABN AMRO has completed the sale of its minority stake in EMS, a Netherlands-based acquirer and payments firm, to Fiserv. 

Founded in 2005 as a joint venture of ABN AMRO and Fiserv, EMS provides infrastructure and technology for the processing of person-to-merchant (P2M) payments.

Its services include acquiring, dynamic currency conversion, chargeback handling and fraud detection and prevention.

In a statement, ABN AMRO said it had concluded in consultation with Fiserv that EMS will be best served in its “next chapter of growth” by being wholly owned by Fiserv.

Previously, Fiserv owned 51 percent of EMS and ABN AMRO owned 49 percent.

Labour Party Criticised For BNPL Sponsored Event

The Labour Party was criticised this weekend after an event at its party conference was sponsored by Zilch, a buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm. 

Consumer campaigner and media personality Martin Lewis posted on social media site X that he was “shocked”, noting that the founder had been given a “platform to speak against regulation”.

“Have these firms bought influence with every UK political party?” he asked, before asking the leader of the party, Keir Starmer, whether he was anti-regulation of the nascent payment method. 

Weeks ago, Labour’s Treasury spokesperson Tulip Siddiq said that the party was in favour of regulation for BNPL. 

“Major BNPL providers and consumer groups have made clear this is needed to provide certainty for the sector and protect the public, but the Tories refuse to listen,” she posted.

As reported by Vixio, rumours circulated in July that the UK’s Treasury department has backed away from regulating the sector, despite a consultation earlier this year on amending the Consumer Credit Act to account for BNPL.  

NatWest Taps Open Banking For Transaction Categorisation Service

NatWest has launched the new transaction categorisation service “Enriched Transactions”, which is available to businesses, such as account information service providers (AISPs) and lending providers, to integrate with their apps and digital platforms.

NatWest is the first UK bank to offer transaction categorisation as an extension to open banking application programme interfaces (APIs). 

With customers’ consent, businesses will be able to use the service to give customers personalised insights, such as tips on how to manage their budget or reduce their carbon footprint, and help them gain more control over their finances.

AISPs that want to use Enriched Transactions to categorise customers’ transactions can access the service through an extension to NatWest’s Accounts & Transactions API.

In addition, both AISPs and other businesses, such as lending providers, that want to categorise transactions for customers of all banks, can access the service through NatWest's Categorisation as a Service API.

UK Metro Bank In Trouble 

Metro Bank’s shares plunged by 30 percent last week after it was reported on Wednesday night that the lender was preparing to ask investors for hundreds of millions of pounds to shore up its balance sheet.

Media reports suggest that the retail bank needs to raise up to £600m.

The bank has told reporters that its finances remain strong and it continues to meet all regulatory requirements.

Customers have also been urged not to take their money out. Customer deposits up to £85,000 are guaranteed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which guarantees that if a bank runs into trouble, depositors will get their money back up to that level.

The bank has approximately 76 branches in the UK and 2.7m customers.

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