Interbank Market News Scan: France takes a closer look at Apple, Google as payment systems, platforms …

Foreign currency exchange rates of interest …

Currency PairsRates as of 10:28 am EST 28 April 2021Rates as of 9:13 am EST 29 April 2021Increase/decrease in pips
EUR/USD1.18771.1877No change
GBP/USD1.38961.3831-65
USD/CAD1.25461.2551+5
AUD/USD0.76130.7625+12
USD/JPY110.6250110.0830-5,420
USD/NOK8.51948.5035-159
USD/CHF0.92950.9135-160
USD/SEK8.71668.7177+11
USD/MEX20.257120.2571No change
USD/XCD2.70002.7000No change
USD/JMD147.1020145.180-19,220
USD/DOP56.157556.1575No change
USD/HTG79.338283.8141+44,759
USD/BSD1.00001.0000No change
Source: OANDA

News links you should be following …

Payment systems. The Bank of Thailand (BoT) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) today launched the linkage of Thailand’s PromptPay and Singapore’s PayNow real-time retail payment systems. In a joint statement, the BoT and MAS said the linkage, the first of its kind globally, will enable customers of participating banks in Thailand and Singapore to transfer funds of up to S$1,000 or 25,000 baht daily across the two countries, using just a mobile number. Thailand, Singapore launch world’s first linkage of real-time payment systems | The Edge Markets

Payment systems. The launch of Saudi Arabia’s first instant payments system is another step towards the kingdom’s ambitious proposals to have a 70 percent cashless society as part of the Saudi’s Vision 2030, according to Takreem El-Tohamy, general manager, IBM Middle East and Africa. Saudi launches instant payment system in drive towards cashless society – Arabianbusiness

Payment systems. Embracing new payment rails, and enhancing the value of existing ones, remains a key part of promoting overall payment innovation. But as real-time payment networks proliferate, a new challenge is on the rise: enabling interoperability between these rails on both a domestic and international scale. Real-Time Payments Seek Interoperability | PYMNTS.com

Payment systems. Digital payment services developed by U.S. tech giants such as Apple and Alphabet’s Google risk reinforcing their market power by giving them greater sway over consumers’ data, France’s antitrust authority said on Thursday. French watchdog warns of big tech’s sway over payment services (yahoo.com)

Payment systems. The government is committed to implementing the electronic wages or “e-wages” system as soon as possible to ensure employees get paid in “real-time”, following the wake of the apparent suicide of a foreign worker several weeks ago over allegations of unpaid wages. HR minister vows e-wages system to ensure ’real-time’ payment, after employee’s death (msn.com)

Central banks. Cryptocurrencies aren’t going anywhere in the coming years, but their usage will probably decline when central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are eventually rolled out, according to Deutsche Bank International Private Bank. Cryptocurrencies will survive the rise of central bank-backed digital coins, but their use will likely decline, Deutsche Bank says | Currency News | Financial and Business News | Markets Insider (businessinsider.com)

Central banks. Central bank digital cash could give new types of businesses access to ultra-cheap central bank funding and lessen the role of big banks in settling large transfers, a senior Bank of France official said on Thursday. Central bank e-cash could ‘challenge’ role of big banks, Bank of France says | Reuters

Cryptocurrency, ether, bitcoin. Ether hit an all-time high Thursday as bitcoin’s dominance of the cryptocurrency market declined. The world’s second-largest digital currency by market value surged to a fresh record of $2,774 Thursday morning, according to data from Coin Metrics. Bitcoin, the top digital coin, was slightly lower at a price of $54,471. Digital currency ether hits a record high, stealing bitcoin’s limelight (msn.com)

Facebook, Google, and Twitter have never been tech companies …

Today, the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will convene a hearing to discuss whether firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter can maintain immunity from civil penalties under Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 as amended by the Communications Decency Act of 1998. Specifically, under 47 USC 230(c), we read the following:

(c)Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

(1)Treatment of publisher or speaker

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

(2) Civil liability

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

(A)any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

(B)any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).

How the chief executive officers from Google, Facebook, and Twitter answer today’s questions as to whether and how their companies edit content posted on their platforms should provide fodder for any future litigation or regulation under the Communications Decency Act of 1998. There is still the likelihood, based on chatter in the press, that Section 230 itself could be repealed. The push back against repeal may come from smaller platforms such as Parler, an online platform that touts itself as a place where people can “Speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being “deplatformed” for your views. Engage with real people, not bots. Parler is people and privacy-focused, and gives you the tools you need to curate your Parler experience.”

If people can speak without inhibition (or likely facts) on a platform like Parler, smaller entrants into the information platform markets will want protection from posts that are seen as indecent and protection when they take actions to combat indecent speech.

Politically, the issue of whether online companies lose their liability protections under the Communications Decency Act of 1998 will become less of an issue after 20 January 2021 under a Joe Biden administration. The political Right have been raising the most hell regarding Section 230 given their concerns that conservative voices have been squelched by Twitter and Facebook. The political Left have been more concerned about online privacy issues, that these companies have abused the data they collect from their platform’s subscribers.

Compared to Donald Trump who has been leading the charge against what he sees as liberal bias by these platforms, Joe Biden himself has been relatively quiet on the issue, although he reportedly, along with the President, endorses repealing Section 230 in its entirety. The chairman of the senate commerce committee, Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, is against a total repeal.

On first blush, based on their behavior, these companies lost the protection afforded them under the Communications Decency Act of 1998. They have been able to hide behind the moniker of “tech company” for so long that they have been given a pass when they use algorithms rather than human editors to modify or divert content. Acting like a newspaper opens them up to libel laws and would require a digital attorney saying yay or nay on millions of posts made every day. This would near destroy their current business model and cause them to transform, I believe, to a hybrid paid, unpaid system for subscribers or compensate content providers.