Receiving Wide Coverage ...

Facebook 'Likes' Payments: Comes now Facebook to the electronic money-transfer wars. Facebook will let users send money to friends, Romans and countrymen using its Messenger service, the Times, Journal and FT all reported, citing a Facebook blog post. It's Facebook's first foray into peer-to-peer money transfers. The service is free (for now) and a user only has to upload a Visa or MasterCard debit card to her Facebook account. The service will be available on both Facebook's mobile app and its website and will require a PIN or Apple's fingerprint-based identification system and, for now, is only available to its U.S. users. An analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey told the Times that it's only a matter of time before Facebook extends the service to payments for purchases. "Facebook could use this as a back door to get people’s debit cards to enable the buy button," Robert Peck said. Facebook's Messenger-based money-transfer service will compete with PayPal's Venmo, Square and Snapchat, among others. Facebook's foray into payments has been expected for months. Last year, Facebook swiped David Marcus from PayPal to be its head of messaging products. Later, hacked screenshots of Facebook's in-development payments feature were posted online.

Wall Street Journal

Citigroup and Barclays are expected to pay a combined $800 million to settle litigation brought by private investors into the banks' alleged rigging of foreign-exchange rates. The settlements are separate from the ongoing negotiations that involve Citi, Barclays and other banks with the Justice Department and other regulators. Citi and Barclays would be the third and fourth banks to agree to a settlement with the private investors, after JPMorgan Chase agreed in January to pay $99.5 million, and UBS agreed last week to pay $135 million. To put the price tags in perspective, the Justice Department is demanding that each bank pay $1 billion to settle.

Goldman Sachs priced the IPO for its specialty-lending unit on Tuesday, with a target of raising about $120 million. Business-development companies, such as Goldman's subsidiary, are a type of nonbank lender that are expected to eat into bank profits in coming years. Goldman's unit, called Goldman Sachs BDC, is a business-development company that operates with few of the restrictions placed on banks.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to change the way they modify loans ahead of a wave of resets in HAMP mortgages. The wave of resets is tied to the 2009 rollout of the Home Affordable Modification Program, which lowered borrowers' interest rates for five years. Amid worries that the upcoming rate resets could send the same borrowers into default, Fannie and Freddie are informing servicers should consider a new modification for HAMP borrowers who are more than two months behind on payments.

The calls to audit the Fed are a red herring by those who actually want to influence monetary policy, Ernie Patrikis, a banking attorney at White & Case, writes in an op-ed. The Fed is the most transparent central bank in the world and it's already audited by the Government Accountability Office. What Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and others calling for a Fed audit are really after is a repeal of certain items that are excluded from the GAO's audits. Such exclusions include "deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters" or the "transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee." What the "full audit" would actually produce is short-term political pressure on the Fed, which would strike a blow to the central bank's independence.

Ocwen agreed to sell $45 billion worth of mortgage-servicing rights to JPMorgan Chase. Ocwen had previously said that it planned to sell $55 billion in mortgage-servicing rights and that it had secured an agreement to sell $10 billion of those to Nationstar Mortgage Holdings.

The $660 million-asset Espírito Santo Bank in Miami is in talks to sell itself to the Benacerraf family of Venezuela. Espírito Santo, which operates one branch in Miami, had been owned by Banco Espírito Santo of Portugal, which failed last year. The Bank of Portugal now controls Espírito Santo.

Elsewhere ...

Charlotte Observer: Wells Fargo left Chairman and CEO John Stumpf's pay unchanged at $19.3 million. Stumpf earned $12.5 million in stock awards, $4 million in cash and $2.8 million in salary. Meanwhile, BB&T cut the 2014 pay of CEO Kelly King by 8.2% from the previous year, to $7.2 million. BB&T cited one reason for King's pay cut the fact that its earnings-per-share fell below its target.

Crain's Chicago Business has a profile of Byline Bank, the new name for the former North Community Bank, which was recapitalized in 2013. Byline Bank has third-most branches of any bank in Chicago and its network includes many high-profile locations in Wicker Park and Lincoln Park. Crain's has an interview with Alberto Paracchini, a former Banco Popular North America executive who's now CEO of Byline.

New Hampshire Union Leader: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. gave conditional approval to the organizer of a proposed de novo bank in Bedford, N.H. Primary Bank would be the second de novo bank formed in the past four years; the other is Bank of Bird-in-Hand, a bank formed by Amish business in Pennsylvania. Primary Bank is looking to open in May or June, said CEO Bill Stone.

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