Kiffmeister’s FinTech Daily Digest (08/01/2020)

The U.S. Department of Justice arrested three individuals associated with the July 15 Twitter hack. The hack hijacked the accounts of some of Twitter’s most prominent users and sent tweets promising followers who sent Bitcoin to a specific address that their contribution would be paid back double. Authorities said Friday that the attackers used three different Bitcoin wallets to collect their proceeds, receiving more than 400 deposits worth $117,457.58. Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis played a key role in the investigation, bringing into question exactly how anonymous are bitcoin transactions. “If [the accused] had carried out these transactions in fiat currency, the investigation may have been more difficult, as the transactions wouldn’t have left the same public footprint that Bitcoin transactions do.” 
The outbreak of Covid-19 has caused a global increase in the amount of cash in the economies of Canada, Europe, US, and the UK. But the big increase in cash-in-circulation is not due to an increase in withdrawals of cash. There is much less cash being returned to banks and ATMs – businesses and individuals simply aren’t redepositing their banknotes. This article argues that is probably being driven by an unwanted accumulation of cash by crooks, because the network of restaurants and other businesses that they rely on to launder their funds have all shut down thanks to virus fears and lockdowns. So throughout the pandemic they have been accumulating ever more cash from the drug using customers, with no place to offload it. 
A case currently being heard in Europe’s top court could have a major bearing on the future of banknotes in the region. The case asks the court to define the term ‘legal tender’. The judgement will be delivered in the Autumn. The hearings relate to a legal challenge against the Hessischer Rundfunk, the German public broadcaster, which is accused of not accepting payments for an obligatory fee in euro cash. The plaintiffs argue that this refusal is in violation of the status of euro banknotes and coins as legal tender. A final ruling on the case is expected in the autumn. 
This study analyzes the impact of digital programmable Euro initiatives on banks, based on interviews with 50 senior experts. We find that both Libra and a Euro CBDC might heavily affect European banks. Experts fear that large-scale financial disintermediation of the financial sector could take place, and digital bank runs could be triggered. Besides these risks, our findings suggest that banks also have the opportunity to develop new business models stemming from these initiatives. Therefore, Libra and a CBDC Euro should not only be seen as threats but also as opportunities.