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Risky business: In its first report issued during the Trump administration, the Financial Stability Oversight Council once again named cybersecurity as the number one risk to the financial sector and recommended the creation of a private-sector council that would correspond with regulators, “suggesting the financial industry should be allowed to handle those vulnerabilities with less government involvement,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“This council could help identify specific vulnerabilities in the sector’s ability to provide critical products and services and propose standards for cybersecurity and operational resilience,” the report says.

The council also said cybercurrency, such as bitcoin, is an area to monitor closely, but its “current impact on financial stability is likely limited.” Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, American Banker

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz doesn’t agree, saying the recent spike in the price of bitcoin has all “the ingredients of something that could be a significant disturbance” to the financial system. “I am hopeful the system will treat it cautiously from here,” he said at a press conference in Toronto, adding that buying bitcoin is “closer to gambling than investing.”

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz Bloomberg News

It’s also a way to launder money to finance terrorists. Federal prosecutors in New York charged a Long Island woman with stealing more than $85,000 and converting it to bitcoin and other cybercurrencies to sending it to ISIS.

Japanese men in their 30s and 40s are a leading force driving the price of bitcoin higher, Deutsche Bank says.

Wall Street Journal
No worries, yet: The flattening yield curve “simply doesn’t matter as much for banks as many investors think, at least under present conditions,” the Heard on the Street column says, although at some point higher interest rates will hurt their bottom line.

Snap decision: JPMorgan Chase is joining with IBM to experiment with quantum computing’s potential for helping the bank solve problems in risk analysis and trading strategies, the bank’s global CIO Lori Beer said. “By harnessing the properties of quantum physics, quantum computers have the potential to sort through a vast number of possibilities within a fraction of a second to come up with a probable solution,” the paper explains.

“We still have a little bit of a journey to bring these use cases to life, but we’re optimistic that this is a core capability we need to think about for the long term,” Beer said.

Financial Times
Card protection: British credit card companies will have to pay significantly more than estimated to reduce or cancel credit card interest and other charges on more than three million people stuck in persistent debt. The Financial Conduct Authority now project banks will need to take a one-time hit of as much as £101 million, plus annual expenditures of £18 million, to pay for the mandate. That’s up from earlier estimates of a £7.2 million one-time charge and annual payments of £20.6 million.

“The proposals we are introducing will save consumers billions of pounds by reducing longer-term borrowing on credit cards, which can be very expensive and can hide real financial hardship,” Andrew Bailey, the FCA’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We remain committed to action to protect consumers in the credit card market as soon as possible.”

“The most important thing to realize is this is not an investment, it’s a gamble. When we gamble, we risk total loss for the chance of a windfall. Think of bitcoin like you would a lottery ticket. You’ll be lucky if you get a few matching numbers and only lose a little, and there’s very little chance you will cash out with a windfall.” — Certified financial planner Robert Schmansky on what he would tell a client about investing in bitcoin.

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