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These are the top 15 US banks ranked by the mobile banking features consumers value most

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 8:01pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. This report is exclusively available to enterprise subscribers. To learn more about getting access to this report, email Senior Account Executive Chris Roth at croth@businessinsider.com, or check to see if your company already has access

New data shows that mobile features have become a key factor that customers weigh when choosing a bank. 

In Business Insider Intelligence's second annual Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study, 64% of mobile banking users said that they would research a bank's mobile banking capabilities before opening an account with them. And 61% said that they would switch banks if their bank offered a poor mobile banking experience.

For channel strategists, the challenge in attracting mobile-minded customers is knowing when to bet budgets and political capital on developing emerging features. It's complicated by most flashy features — such as voice assistants, smartwatch banking, and bank-offered mobile wallets — being deemed a "must" by analysts, media, and rival banking executives. 

The Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Report uses data to inform channel investment decisions by highlighting which mobile banking features are most valuable to customers. Our study has data on consumer demand for 33 in-demand mobile capabilities across six key categories. 

Using that consumer data, the study benchmarks the largest 20 banks and credit unions in the US by whether they offer the cutting-edge mobile features that customers say they care about most. What sets our benchmark apart is that it weights every feature according to customer demand data — not subjective analyst opinion.  

Channel strategists within financial institutions use our report to see which innovative features they should prioritize in development pipelines and to find out how they compare with rival banks and credit unions in offering those features.

Business Insider Intelligence fielded the Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Study to members of its proprietary panel in August 2018, reaching over 1,200 US consumers — primarily handpicked digital professionals and early-adopters, making our sample a sensitive indicator of emerging features. 

Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

  • Citi snagged first overall. The bank led the account access section, tied for first in account management, and ranked highly in all the other categories of the study. Wells Fargo took second place, leading in security and control and transfers. USAA came in third, NFCU was fourth, and Bank of America rounded out the top five.
  • Demand for security features is sizzling. Following a year of huge breaches being announced at companies like Facebook and Google, consumers' security concerns jumped to become the most important category. The category included the No. 1 feature overall: the ability to turn a payment card on or off. 
  • Digital money management features are also highly demanded. Chase and Wells Fargo may be onto something with their millennial-focused banking apps, Finn and Greenhouse, as the generation had sky-high demand for the six features in the category. The most popular feature in the category was the ability to separate recurring payments, such as Netflix and gym memberships.

 In full, the report:

  • Shows how 33 mobile features stack up according to how valuable customers say they are.
  • Ranks the top 20 US banks and credit unions on whether they offer each of those features.
  • Analyzes how demographics effect demand for different mobile features.
  • Provides strategies for banks to best attract and retain customers with mobile features.
  • Contains 63 pages and 30 figures.

The full report is available to Business Insider Intelligence enterprise clients. To learn more about this report, email Senior Account Executive Chris Roth (croth@businessinsider.com).  

Business Insider Intelligence's Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study includes: Ally, Bank of America, BB&T, BBVA Compass, BMO Harris, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Fifth Third, HSBC, KeyBank, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions, SunTrust, TD, Union Bank, US Bank, USAA, and Wells Fargo.

SEE ALSO: These are the trends creating new winners and losers in the card-processing ecosystem

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US lawmakers are demanding scrutiny — and even a freeze — of Facebook's cryptocurrency project (FB)

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 7:59pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Facebook announced plans to create a new cryptocurrency on Tuesday — and the pushback has already begun.
  • In the US, senior Democratic politicians are calling for careful oversight or for the project to be put on hold completely while they investigate.
  • And European politicians are also raising concerns.
  • Libra aims to be a blockchain-powered global currency that will allow users to send money and make payments around the world.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facebook's ambitious plan to launch a new cryptocurrency is already facing heavy scrutiny from lawmakers less than a day after being announced, with one senior Democratic politician calling for the project to be put on hold.

On Tuesday, the Silicon Valley social networking giant officially unveiled Libra — its plan for a new digital currency that aims to enable cheap and easy payments around the world, while being jointly managed by a consortium of big corporations (including Mastercard, Uber, PayPal, and Spotify) via the Libra Association.

The cryptocurrency project has published a "white paper" and other documentation detailing its ambitions — and politicians have been quick to raise concerns, pointing to Facebook's recent history of ugly scandals.

Democratic congresswoman and House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters has called for the company to pause its plans until regulators can take a look. "With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users," she said in a statement obtained by multiple media outlets, including The Verge.

"Given the company's troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action."

The announcement of Libra comes at a politically sensitive time for Facebook. The company has been rocked by constant crises, from numerous data privacy issues to intense criticism over social network's role in spreading hate speech that has fueled genocide in Myanmar. Facebook — and other big tech companies — are also facing unprecedented scrutiny over their size and power, and growing calls for antitrust action to be taken against them.

By nominally ceding control of the cryptocurrency to the Libra Association, Facebook may hope to isolate itself from further criticism of its expanse and power — but lawmakers are still taking Facebook to task over it.

US Senator Sherrod Brown, ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, also raised concerns over oversight of the digital currency. "Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users' data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight. I'm calling on our financial watchdogs to scrutinize this closely to ensure users are protected," he said in a statement.

There has also been early alarm bells rung by politicians in Europe. France's finance minister has said Libra must not be allowed to become a "sovereign currency," while European data protection supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli has warned that "any further concentration of personal data" poses "additional risks to the rights and freedoms of individuals."

Reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson implied that the company would not pause development on Libra as Waters has requested. In a statement, they said: ""We look forward to responding to lawmakers' questions as this process moves forward."

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Slack’s $17 billion direct listing could be the IPO game-changer Silicon Valley has been waiting for. But others say it's a techie delusion. (SPOT)

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 7:35pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Slack is set to go public this week using via a direct listing rather than a traditional initial public offering.
  • In a direct listing, insiders and early shareholders list and sell their shares directly to everyday investors via the public markets, rather than having investment bankers market them to institutional investors.
  • Some venture capitalists would like to see more direct listings, because they save companies the time and expense of the IPO process.
  • But some analysts and investors say they are unlikely to catch on widely for a variety of reasons, including that many companies simply can't afford to forgo raising cash in a traditional IPO.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Slack, the popular workplace chat app, will make its debut on the public markets this week by doing something very unusual. 

Instead of following the standard path to an IPO — with investor roadshows, underwriter bake-offs and pre-trading price setting — Slack is doing what's called a direct listing. 

The direct listing is suddenly in vogue among some of Silicon Valley's techies and venture capitalists who hope that Slack (and Spotify before it) will show a generation of startups that there's an easier way to get a stock ticker than submitting to the Wall Street-controlled IPO machine.

"The IPO process is definitely — from a company's perspective — expensive and inefficient," said Pete Flint, a managing partner at San Francisco venture capital firm NFX. "I am excited for this increasing trend for direct listings," he continued.

Flint echoed the comments of Bill Gurley, who recently took to Twitter last week to decry the traditional IPO process and to promote alternatives. Companies can be shortchanged hundreds of millions of dollars in the standard method for going public, said Gurley, a general partner with Benchmark Capital, in a series of tweets.

Excited to witness another successful direct listing in the coming weeks. $WORK There is no reason whatsoever equities cannot be priced in a blind auction. Bonds have been priced/sold this way for decades. This is how 100% of IPOs should be done. And hopefully will one day.

— Bill Gurley (@bgurley) June 12, 2019

Pointing to Slack's impending direct listing, which could value the company at as much as $17 billion, Gurley said on Twitter that he was "excited to witness another successful direct listing in the coming weeks." Noting that the bond markets show that there are alternate ways of pricing assets, he added, "This is how 100% of IPOs should be done. And hopefully will one day."

But for all Gurley's enthusiasm, there are as many drawbacks to direct listings as there are benefits. And while experts that Business Insider spoke to believe direct listings will play a bigger role in the future, few think the IPO is in any danger of being replaced. 

A direct listing is cheaper than an IPO — but it means the company won't raise any cash

People like Gurley and Flint like direct listings, because they can reduce the cost and waste involved in going public. Since VCs often cash out some of their investment in an IPO, less waste and a higher stock price means a better return on investment.

For years, Gurley has complained that companies are staying private too long; if direct listings were to catch on, the process could encourage companies to go out earlier, because they are a less onerous process than a traditional IPO. That would allow VCs like Gurley to see returns on their investments sooner than they've been seeing them lately.

In a traditional initial public offering, companies sell their shares to big institutional investors, which then turn around and offer a portion of those shares to the public at large on the companies' first day of trading. The startups typically pay high fees to investment bankers to help them market, price, and sell their shares to investors. The bankers also usually underprice companies' shares in the offering so they will jump — or pop — when they start trading.

With a direct listing, companies — or, rather, their early investors and employees — skip the middlemen. In that process, the existing stakeholders basically sell their shares directly to new investors once the company is listed.

In a direct listing, the company itself doesn't raise any cash, at least not initially. But unlike in a traditional IPO, selling shareholders don't have to worry about being shortchanged by a pop. The process also generally involves much lower fees and doesn't require company executives to go on a so-called roadshow to market their companies' stock to investors.

And once its shares are publicly traded, a company can then start offering its stock from its own treasury directly to investors, again without worrying about underpricing its shares or paying steep banking fees. 

Although companies have used direct listings to go public numerous times in overseas markets, most notably in London, the process was basically unknown and unused in the US before Spotify went public in a direct listing last year, said Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida who keeps close tabs on the IPO market. Slack is the first company in the US to follow in Spotify's footsteps.

"Those are the only prominent direct listings in the United States," Ritter said.

Flint thinks more direct listings could be in store after Slack

Flint is hopeful that there will be more soon. Many companies have been been able to postpone going to the public markets thanks to infusions of cash from SoftBank and other venture funds that specialize in investing in more mature startups, he noted. Assuming they can retain their cash, many of those startups could be well positioned to go public via direct listing, he said.

"It's conceivable that more and more companies will go in that direction," Flint said.

Read this: $445 billion flowed into startups in the last five years. Now it's threatening to upend one of Silicon Valley's most celebrated customs

One of the challenges with going public — however it's done — is to establish a price for a company's shares. Many of the more mature startups that remain private have seen the development of so-called secondary markets for their shares. These markets allow insiders such as early investors and employees to sell some of their stakes in private transactions to institutional investors including venture funds and mutual funds.

For those companies, the secondary market has already basically established a price for their shares, which can make doing a direct listing easier, said Flint. There's little guesswork to be done in how their shares will trade once insiders start selling them on the public market.

Slack's shares are currently trading on private markets at prices that value the company at almost $17 billion, according to CNBC. That's about the market cap thatBloomberg said Slack will begin trading on the public markets at after its directly listing, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Another factor that might boost direct listings is all of the press coverage that's been devoted to tech companies in recent years, he said. In the past, an IPO has served in part as a marketing event, introducing a company to investors and the public at large. But the abundance of coverage of startups and tech in general has made that function of IPOs less important, he said.

"There's less pressure to IPO purely from a branding perspective," he said.

Companies are loath to stand out and there's danger in being an "orphan"

But other investors and analysts are skeptical that direct listings will become mainstream anytime soon.

Part of the reason that there have been so few direct listings in the US is that companies are reluctant to do something different from the crowd, said Reena Aggarwal, a finance professor and director of the Center for Financial Markets and Policy at Georgetown University. Generally, corporations only go public once, and directors and executives want the process to go as well as possible. With the traditional IPO, everyone — corporate insiders and prospective investors — is familiar with the process and knows what to expect.

"The [companies] want to be careful," said Aggarwal. "They don't want to be the first few to be trying out something new."

But other factors are also at play in why direct listings haven't caught on more widely, analysts and market experts say.

One big one is that the investment banks like the traditional IPO process, said Ritter. They benefit not only from the big fees they get, but also from the ability to parcel out shares in hot IPOs to preferred hedge fund and mutual fund clients, he said. The banks not only see lower fees in direct listings and other alternatives to traditional IPOs, they stand to lose power and the ability to generate hefty fees from those institutional investors, Ritter said.

To try to dissuade companies from doing anything other than a standard IPO, the banks sometimes threaten that their analysts won't cover the companies after the firms are public, he said. For prominent companies like Spotify or Slack, such threats don't carry much weight — both companies are big enough names that they'll be widely covered by analysts no matter what process they use to go public. 

But not every company enjoys the same name recognition as Spotify or Slack. For lesser known companies which need analyst coverage to help generate interest in their shares, the prospect of being ignored by analysts is a serious consideration, said Ritter. 

For such companies, he said, "there is a danger to being an orphan when it comes to analyst coverage if you haven't played by their rules of the game."

Even Uber couldn't afford to go direct

Another reason for the dearth of direct listings is that most companies going public these days do so, at least in part, to raise more cash, said Jai Das, president and managing director of Sapphire Ventures. Even Uber, the poster child for delayed IPOs, couldn't afford to do a direct listing, Das said. Despite all the cash it raised in the private markets, it couldn't forgo the opportunity to raise more from public investors, he said.

"There are very few Silicon Valley companies that [do] not need an extra infusion of cash," Das said. "I really can't think of a company out there that can go out and do a direct listing because it doesn't have to sell shares to raise ... capital."

Even Flint acknowledges that multiple factors will likely have to come together for a startup to be able to hold a direct listing instead of a standard IPO: The startup must already have a strong brand; investors will need to already be familiar with its business; shares in the startup must already trade in an established secondary market.

Perhaps most importantly for a startup to go direct, he said, "there's not a pressing need to raise cash."

SEE ALSO: Peloton, the fitness startup with a cultlike following, could go public at an $8 billion valuation. Insiders reveal why its business seems set to explode.

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Beyond Bitcoin: Here are some of the new use cases for distributed ledger technology

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 7:02pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

Of the many technologies reshaping the world economy, distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are among the most hyped. DLTs are most often associated with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but such coverage sidelines the broader use cases of DLTs, even though they stand to make a far bigger impact on the broader the financial services (FS) industry.

DLT's value lies in its ability to centralize record-keeping, while cutting out the need for authorization by an overseeing party, instead allowing a record to be confirmed by multiple parties with access to the database. This means DLTs have the potential to streamline financial institutions' (FIs) operations, boost data security, improve customer relationships, and drastically cut costs. But many FIs have struggled to implement DLTs and reap the rewards, because of organizational obstacles, but also because of issues rooted in the technology itself. There are a few players working to make the technology more usable for FIs, and progress is now being made.

In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence takes a look at what DLTs are and why they hold so much promise for FS, the sectors in which DLTs are gaining the most traction and why, and the efforts underway to remove the obstacles preventing wider DLT adoption in finance. It also examines the few FIs close to unleashing their DLT projects, and how DLTs might transform the nature of FS if adoption truly takes off. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • DLTs are proving attractive to FIs because of their ability to act as a single source of truth, distribute information securely, cut out middlemen, improve transaction times, and cut redundancy and costs.
  • DLTs like blockchain and smart contracts stand to save the FS industry up to $50 billion a year through improved operational efficiencies, reduced human error, and better regulatory compliance. 
  • The technology is being explored actively across FS, with trade finance, insurance, and capital markets proving especially active. Overall adoption is still low because of organizational and technical hurdles, but these are now being eliminated, promising to boost implementation.
  • A few FIs have pulled ahead of the curve and are very close to taking their DLT projects live, if they haven't already. These players can serve as useful case studies for other institutions in getting their DLT solutions live.

In full, the report:

  • Looks at what DLTs are, and why the FS industry is working hard to make use of them. 
  • Gives an overview of the financial segments which are seeing the most DLT activity, and what they stand to gain.
  • Outlines efforts being made to make DLT more approachable and usable for the FS industry.
  • Examines use cases in which FIs have managed to take their pilots live, and what they can teach their peers. 
Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

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Libra is Facebook’s plan to bring cryptocurrency to the masses — but I don’t trust Facebook enough to use it (FB)

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 6:45pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Facebook on Tuesday unveiled "Project Libra," its plan to bring cryptocurrency to the masses.
  • The idea is to let people shop on Facebook and other apps, or even pay other users, using a single global currency. 
  • Libra could be a good idea, but I don't like that Facebook is spearheading the project.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I use Facebook, but I don't trust it.

That's why I'm skeptical of Facebook's new Libra, a new cryptocurrency that the social network is spearheading.

Here's how Libra is supposed to work:

  • Libra will be an independent cryptocurrency. Facebook engineers are making significant contributions to the code base, but the company says it will become more decentralized over time.
  • A new non-profit called the Libra Association will oversee Libra, with Facebook's participation, but crucially, not its control — at least, in theory.
  • Facebook really wants you to trust the Libra Association: It's based in Geneva, Switzerland (neutrality!), and while Facebook has a vote at the table, it theoretically has no more power than anyone else in the group, which is currently comprised of 28 different companies.
  • Facebook also built a new subsidiary, called Calibra, which will build financial software and services on top of the Libra blockchain, including a payments app. Calibra will make it possible to send Libra through Messenger, Instagram, and other Facebook apps.

This tweet sums up the benefits pretty well:

Libra is a big deal.

- Blockchain without proof of work or value volatility (so no environmental footprint or wild coin speculation)
- Inclusion of payment processors for wide real world support
- Commercial grade wallet built into apps used by billions
- Backed by real currency

— Ben Werdmuller (@benwerd) June 18, 2019 Why you might use Libra

Libra is built upon three compelling pillars:

  • Convenience. Libra will eventually work in every Facebook-owned application, and include businesses from around the world — likely including Spotify, Lyft, and Uber, which all signed on with the Libra Foundation. You don't have to do any fancy currency exchanges, and it all works right in the app. Given how many people and companies use Facebook apps, buying things and sending money around should be pretty easy.
  • Security. Facebook says Calibra was created so your financial and account information stays separate. Facebook also says Calibra apps will keep your transactions private, include fraud protection, and offer 24/7/365 support in Messenger and WhatsApp.
  • Stability. Cryptocurrencies have a reputation for being volatile, which is why Facebook-owned Calibra promises that "Libra is backed by a reserve of assets so that its value stays stable." We'll have to see about that!

On paper, Libra sounds like it might be a compelling cryptocurrency. It's being backed by one of the biggest tech companies in the world (Facebook), it'll be available in apps that you use every day, it promises privacy and security, and it aims to be more stable than other cryptocurrencies.

Still, I have no plans on using Libra.

Why I don't trust Libra

Facebook doesn't want you to think that Libra equals Facebook.

In fact, if you visit the newly-minted website Libra.org, you won't find a single mention of the word "Facebook" on its homepage. Facebook and Calibra, the company's new subsidiary that will build financial services and software on top of the Libra blockchain, are only mentioned halfway down the page of "founding members," after eBay and some group called Booking Holdings. This is the only instance where Facebook and Calibra are mentioned on the Libra website (save for one image that includes all of the companies participating in the Libra Association).

Facebook seems to be going out of its way to separate itself from Libra, with Calibra designed to be the intermediary.

But Libra and Calibra are ultimately Facebook products.

Yes, they may eventually evolve to become completely differentiated and decentralized, and the Libra Foundation is insisting that it's out of Facebook's control. But make no mistake, this initiative was born in the midst of Facebook's great public rebranding into a privacy company.

Just over a month ago, at Facebook's F8 keynote in May, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared "the future is private." He spent several minutes waxing poetic about privacy, but it was a lot of rhetoric about "plans" with little to actually show for it.

At one point early in his speech, Zuckerberg laughed before saying, "I know we don't exactly have the strongest reputation with privacy right now." Check out the 20-second clip below to see what I mean.

A lot of people didn't like this moment from Zuckerberg. Facebook was still reeling from endless controveries that happened in 2018 — the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Myanmar controversy, the list goes on, and on, and on — but choose this moment to address any of its faults at F8. Instead, he tried to make a joke out of it.

Buzzfeed reporter Pranav Dixit summed up the sentiment from F8 pretty well.

Nobody on stage at the Facebook event showed any remorse, looked sorry, or apologized for the company's terrible year. When Zuckerberg admitted that their record on privacy wasn't very good, he was giggling like a naughty school boy like it was *funny*.

— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@PranavDixit) April 30, 2019

Keep in mind, this event was a little over a month ago! Now, Facebook thinks the world is ready to trust a global currency it's built.

I support Facebook as a social network, but I have no intention of becoming a user of Libra or a customer of Calibra. I don't think enough time has passed for me to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt with my personal information, not to mention my financial information.

Trust is crucial to me, when it comes to the apps and services I choose to use; I trust Facebook enough to post photos and comments, but not enough to put my actual money there.

SEE ALSO: Apple just took a direct shot at Google and Facebook with a new service called 'Sign in with Apple'

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Less than 1% of the world's billionaires donate to housing and shelter charities. Here are the top 10 causes the world's richest people give their money to.

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 6:45pm  |  Clusterstock

Philanthropy is billionaires' favorite pastime, but the world's richest people don't support all causes equally, according to Wealth-X's 2019 Billionaire Census.

The causes they choose are influenced by a variety of factors. American billionaires traditionally fund new buildings or departments at their alma maters, Wealth-X reported, while some billionaires prefer to donate to causes that will land them in the public eye, like the arts and public affairs.

Read more: The 10 most common hobbies among the richest people in world, from aviation to real estate

Keep reading to learn the top 10 causes billionaires donate to, ranked from least popular to most popular. Numbers do not add up to 100% because billionaires donate to more than one cause.

SEE ALSO: The 10 most common hobbies among the richest people in world, from aviation to real estate

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T10. Housing and shelter

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: .01%

Jeff Bezos is one of only 0.1% of billionaires who make donations to provide shelter for those experiencing homelessness, according to Wealth-X. Business Insider previously reported that Bezos's Day One Fund pledged $2 billion to organizations fighting family homelessness.

Read more: Jeff Bezos is one of the few top US billionaires who haven't signed the Giving Pledge. Here's how much the Amazon CEO has given to charity.



T10. Food, agriculture, and nutrition

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: .01%

Hedge fund billionaire David Tepper is among only 0.1% of billionaires worldwide who financially support organizations focused on feeding the hungry, according to Wealth-X. Tepper set up a donation drive for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported. Tepper personally pledged $2 million.



T8. Public affairs

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 12.4%

Former hedge-fund manager George Soros is among 12.4% of billionaires worldwide who donate to organizations that focus on public affairs, according to Wealth-X. Soros' nonprofit, Open Society Foundations, aims to on support democracy through grants for projects in human rights and criminal justice, journalism, and other fields, according to its website.

Business Insider previously reported that Soros is also a major donor to liberal politicians, having spent $25 million during the 2016 presidential election to support former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.



T8. Religious organizations

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 12.4%

Wealth-X reports that 12.4% of billionaires donate to religious organizations, but perhaps no one more than the controversial founder and CEO of craft superstore chain Hobby Lobby, David Green. He has made sizeable donations of both cash and property to several Christian colleges including Liberty University, Zion Bible College, and Oral Roberts University, according to Forbes. Green also supports multiple foundations that give out Christian literature and has personally funded the distribution of 1.4 billion texts.

Read more: Hobby Lobby, the craft store that has been at the center of numerous controversies, is growing across America. Here's what it's like to shop there.



6. Children and youth development

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 31.9%

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is among the 31.9% of billionaires who donate to youth development programs, according to Wealth-X.

Ballmer's foundation, the Ballmer Group, focuses "efforts to improve economic mobility for children and families in the United States who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty," according to the organization's website.



5. Environment, conservation, and animals

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 32.6%

Environmental conservation is the fourth-most popular cause among billionaires, receiving donations from 32.6% of the world's billionaires according to Wealth-X. Tesla CEO Elon Musk anonymously donated $6 million to The Sierra Club before asking that the organization's president publicize his contributions, Bloomberg reported.



4. Healthcare and medical research

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 57.4%

Wealth-X reports that 57.4% of billionaires have made donations in the healthcare sector. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff donated $100 million to the University of California San Francisco in 2010 to build a children's hospital that will be named after him, according to NBC.



3. Arts and culture

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 57.6%

The controversial family that built a fortune selling OxyContin, the Sacklers, is known for its large donations to museums across the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York named a wing after the family following a $3.5 million donation in 1974.

The Tate Modern in London, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and The Met announced in May 2019 that they would stop accepting donations from the family following public scrutiny over OxyContin's role in the opioid crisis, according to The New York Times.

Read more: Meet the Sacklers, one of the richest families in America, who built their $14 billion fortune off of controversial prescription drug OxyContin



2. Social services

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 61.7%

Wealth-X found that 61.7% of the world's billionaires donate to organizations that provide social services, a category that it says includes crime prevention, poverty reduction, and unemployment programs.

America's richest family, the Waltons, have made the economic development of their home state of Arkansas one of their three philanthropic goals, according to their foundation's website. Walmart founder Sam Walton's grandchildren plan to spend $2.2 billion between 2016 and 2021 through their foundation on social services in Arkansas, in addition to education and the environment.



1. Education

Percentage of billionaire population donating to cause: 79.5%

More billionaires donate to education than any other cause, according to Wealth-X, with 79.5% supporting the cause.

Education is at the core of the Gates Foundation's work in the United States, according to its website.



A founder who sold his startup for $100 million within weeks of launching is back with a startup to make meetings suck less

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 6:34pm  |  Clusterstock

  • On Tuesday, Gentry Underwood wrote a blog post about his new startup Navigator, which will create an AI-powered team assistant to help with meetings.
  • Previously, Underwood founded a mobile email app Mailbox, which he sold to Dropbox in 2013.
  • The same team behind Mailbox has spent the past few years working on Navigator, and they plan for it to handle tasks like organizing agendas, gathering feedback, and taking notes at meetings.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Meetings are an overwhelming, and often dreaded, part of many jobs. But if Gentry Underwood has his way that will soon change thanks to AI and his new startup, Navigator.

Underwood isn't new to starting a company. Back in 2013, he sold his startup Mailbox, a mobile email app, to Dropbox for a reported $100 million. The app was only 37 days old, and over half a million people were still waiting in line to try out the app, when it was acquired.

On Tuesday, he wrote a blog post about Navigator, a teamwork assistant powered by artificial intelligence. It's supposed to help people work together and handle menial tasks like putting together agendas, suggesting questions to ask in a meeting, or gathering feedback. It was created by the same team behind Mailbox.

"Following the wind-down, some of us from the team would go on long walks to debrief and reminisce," Gentry wrote in a Medium blog post. "And as we talked, we realized that we still had the same itch — we still believed that software was ripe with potential for transforming teamwork well beyond anything humanity had yet seen. And so we decided to try again."

Read more: 528,000 People Are Still Waiting In Line For Mailbox, The 37-Day-Old App Dropbox Just Acquired

Gentry wrote that in the past few years, his team had been working with over 50 teams and experimenting with various ways to make workplace collaboration more effective. Currently, Navigator is free while it's in beta. It will roll out a paid version later this year.

With Navigator, the team plans to create an assistant that can facilitate team and 1-on-1 meetings by reaching out to attendees, gathering discussion topics, organizing an agenda, taking notes, and following up with attendees after the meeting.

Although Navigator is currently focusing on team and 1-on-1 meetings, it plans to eventually support other types of meetings and to incorporate advanced capabilities for making decisions, gathering feedback, and solving problems.

"It might feel far-fetched to imagine working alongside a 'robot', but in many ways it makes the perfect teammate," Gentry wrote. "It's always available. It can have multiple conversations simultaneously. And it's proficient at running repeatable processes in consistent, reliable ways."

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at rmchan@businessinsider.com, Telegram at @rosaliechan, or Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17. (PR pitches by email only, please.) Other types of secure messaging available upon request. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about React, a project started at Facebook that now helps Twitter, Pinterest, and Asana keep their apps looking good and working great

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NOW WATCH: WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

Disappointing photos show what 9 top luxury destinations look like in real life

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 6:14pm  |  Clusterstock

Some places around the world are known as go-to spots for luxury travel, shopping, or experiences.

The Champs Elysées in Paris, for example, with its Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Longchamp boutiques, is consistently ranked one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Dubai boasts of having the most luxurious hotel in the world. 

But many find that these and other luxury destinations don't quite live up to the hype. Take a look below for some disappointing photos of what nine luxury hotspots look like in real life.

SEE ALSO: What it's like to be a millionaire in America today

The Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris is one of the most iconic streets in the world, lined with museums, high-end restaurants, and five-star hotels.

Source: Paris Info, Business Insider



Shopping opportunities range from retailers such as Zara and H&M to luxury boutiques that include Louis Vuitton, Mont-Blanc, Guerlain, and Ferrari. It's consistently ranked as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world.

But most of the time, you'll hardly be able to move through the throngs of tourists.

The terraces can be as crowded as the sidewalks. Travel + Leisure included the Champs Elysées on its list of the 95 most overrated attractions in the world, noting that apart from the view of the famous Arc de Triomphe and the stores — most of which can be found in other countries — the avenue has very little appeal.

Source: Travel + Leisure



The thought of a Bahamas vacation might conjure up images of relaxing on a boat in serene blue waters ...

Source: Bahamas



... or of strolling along a pristine white beach devoid of any other human life.

Source: Bahamas



But in reality, many find the Bahamas to be "almost like a very expensive Las Vegas," as Quora user Kyle Baley put it. Drinks cost a minimum of $20, the culture is nonexistent, and spring breakers drink irresponsibly and party until 4 a.m., Elysia Cadorniga wrote in the Odyssey Online.

Source: QuoraThe Odyssey Online,



Dubai is known for its luxury shopping and hotels, giant malls, and ultra-modern architecture. Rough Guides calls it "one of the world's most glamorous, spectacular and futuristic urban destinations."

Source: Visit Dubai, Rough Guides



It boasts of having the "most luxurious hotel in the world," the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, which costs a minimum of about $3,500 a night and whose restaurant has a floor-to-ceiling aquarium.

Source: Burj Al Arab Jumeirah



But many visitors to Dubai find it to be completely underwhelming, artificial, and lacking in culture. Foreigners who live there complain of constant construction, and it's landed on several lists of most overrated travel destinations.

Source: The Street, Rough Guides, South China Morning Post Magazine



"Shopping mecca of the Middle East and haven for foreigners and expats. Where else can you ski inside a mall in 90 degree heat? But, guess what? The whole place is fake! Get a real life, go to a real mountain, and ski in real temperatures. You don't need to go to Dubai for this," Suzanne Garber, former chief networking officer at traveler assistance company International SOS, told the Street.

Source: The Street



Lonely Planet calls Dalian, China, "one of the most relaxed and liveable cities in the northeast, if not all of China" and highlights its "impressive coastline, complete with swimming beaches."

Source: Lonely Planet



"This coastal area is a paradise for beach vacationers," according to Travel China Guide.

Source: Travel China Guide

 

 



But beach vacationers will have to fight to get a spot, judging from photos such as this one from Fujiazhuang beach in Dalian on a nearly 90-degree day in 2015. "I went on a weekday and almost could only see the water through banks and banks of locals!" one person wrote on TripAdvisor in October 2013.

Source: Trip Advisor



Another image from a Dalian beach in August 2018 looks much the same. While Dalian is probably a wonderful place to visit overall, prepare yourself for the crowds at the beach.

The vineyards of Napa Valley in California are considered to be a top-notch wine destination.

Source: Visit Napa Valley



But with its more than three million visitors per year, Napa can quickly get overcrowded and overpriced. Wine tastings in the region have traditionally cost between $5 and $50, but high-brow tastings in swanky venues that cost up to $300 are on the rise in Napa, according to Bloomberg.

Source: Business Insider, Visit Napa Valley, Bloomberg



People come to Las Vegas from all over the world to party, gamble, and have their bachelor and bachelorette parties. Those with money to spare can easily spend it on luxury hotels, expensive shows, bottle service at exclusive clubs, and of course, in casinos. But the city isn't always as fun as it seems.

Source: Business Insider



Virtually everything in Vegas is created for tourists, resulting in a lack of authenticity and culture, according to INSIDER's Sarah Schmalbruch.

Source: Yahoo Travel, INSIDER



Las Vegas was voted the most overrated city in the world in a 2015 survey by Yahoo Travel. It could be because of the overpriced cocktails, the $5.99 ATM fees, or perhaps simply because of the lack of real culture.

Source: Business Insider



It's also very difficult to find a traditional sit-down restaurant near the Strip that isn't overpriced, according to The Travel. "Local restaurants cater to people eating in a hurry (fast food, buffets, etc), so there are only a limited number of traditional restaurants close to the Strip," C. Pennington wrote. "These restaurants are often overcrowded, and they can get expensive."

Source: The Travel



A serene gondola ride on the canals of Venice might seem like an essential experience to have in "The Floating City."

But you might pay $100 only to be squashed between boats filled with other tourists for 40 minutes.

Source: Trip Savvy



And the streets can be even more crowded than the waterways.

There's also very little green space in Venice for tired tourists to escape from the heat and humidity in the summertime, when people tend to visit.

Source: Venice Travel Guide



With its sandy beaches and abundance of all-inclusive resorts, Cancún, Mexico, has the trappings of an idyllic beach vacation.

But its identity as a spring break hotspot means that during certain parts of the year, the resort city becomes overrun with partying college students.

Source: INSIDER



If you're seeking a relaxing tropical getaway, Cancún might not be the place for you.

Source: INSIDER



The Greek island of Mykonos is known as a vacation and party hotspot for millionaires. Anthony Lassman, cofounder of London-based luxury travel and lifestyle management company Nota Bene Global, told Business Insider that he rents out many top-of-the-line luxury villas on the island. "[We rent] the top houses on the Greek islands. [We have] the very best on Mykonos," he said.

Source: Business Insider



But "Mykonos is becoming a little too trendy and exploited," Lassman added. And the prices have gone up to match its popularity. Business Insider correspondent Harrison Jacobs visited the island and found that in order to really enjoy it, you need to be able to spend a lot of money, as evidenced in his stay in the cheapest spot he could find, which ended up being a sparse room with scratchy sheets that cost $130 a night.

Source: Business Insider



"Outside of the beaches, the main thing to see in Mykonos is the windmills that sit above the Hora, or main town of the island," Jacobs wrote. "But during sunset, and when the cruise-shippers come in, the area is swarmed with people trying to get selfies."

Source: Business Insider



Insurtech Research Report: The trends & technologies allowing insurance startups to compete

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 6:02pm  |  Clusterstock

Tech-driven disruption in the insurance industry continues at pace, and we're now entering a new phase — the adaptation of underlying business models. 

That's leading to ongoing changes in the distribution segment of the industry, but more excitingly, we are starting to see movement in the fundamentals of insurance — policy creation, underwriting, and claims management. 

This report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, will briefly review major changes in the insurtech segment over the past year. It will then examine how startups and legacy players across the insurance value chain are using technology to develop new business models that cut costs or boost revenue, and, in some cases, both. Additionally, we will provide our take on the future of insurance as insurtech continues to proliferate. 

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Funding is flowing into startups and helping them scale, while legacy players have moved beyond initial experiments and are starting to implement new technology throughout their businesses. 
  • Distribution, the area of the insurance value chain that was first to be disrupted, continues to evolve. 
  • The fundamentals of insurance — policy creation, underwriting, and claims management — are starting to experience true disruption, while innovation in reinsurance has also continued at pace.
  • Insurtechs are using new business models that are enabled by a variety of technologies. In particular, they're using automation, data analytics, connected devices, and machine learning to build holistic policies for consumers that can be switched on and off on-demand.
  • Legacy insurers, as opposed to brokers, now have the most to lose — but those that move swiftly still have time to ensure they stay in the game.

 In full, the report:

  • Reviews major changes in the insurtech segment over the past year.
  • Examines how startups and legacy players across distribution, insurance, and reinsurance are using technology to develop new business models.
  • Provides our view on what the future of the insurance industry looks like, which Business Insider Intelligence calls Insurtech 2.0.
Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

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8 of the best credit card deals this June — including a $12 flight to Hawaii and an exclusive AmEx Platinum welcome offer only some people can get

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 5:46pm  |  Clusterstock

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • You can earn new member bonuses — tons of points or cash back — when you sign up for new rewards credit cards.
  • In some cases, credit card issuers will offer higher-than-normal bonuses to attract new customers. By taking advantage of these offers, you can rack up points, miles, or cash rebates quickly.
  • This June, there are a few incredible limited time offers, including on Delta Air Lines cards, and a bonus that can get you a free flight to Hawaii. There's also a chance to earn the highest bonus we've ever seen on the Platinum Card® from American Express when you check for pre-qualified offers through the CardMatch Tool
  • Some of these are only around for a limited time, though — and some of them might end without notice — so if you see a bonus that can be useful to you, we recommend applying sooner rather than later.

The fastest way to earn rewards points, cash back, and frequent-flyer miles is to open a new credit card and earn its sign-up or welcome bonus.

Credit card issuers offer huge bonuses to attract customers, while designing card features with long-term, continuing value in an effort to keep them. This offers consumers a chance to take advantage of these bonuses, perks, and features.

You can read more about earning new card-member bonuses and how that will affect your credit score here, or scroll down to find some of the best offers available this month.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

1. Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles (after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days). For a limited time.

Naturally, the Hawaiian Airlines credit card, issued by Barclays, might seem a bit niche for everyday spending unless you're from the islands.

However, there's a compelling reason right now for mainlanders to sign up for a frequent flyer account and open its credit card.

Right now, and for a limited time, the Hawaiian Airlines card is offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days.

That's enough miles to book a round-trip flight from the US mainland to Hawaii. Award (mileage) prices can vary on peak days and times, but sample searches show plenty of availability from cities like New York and Los Angeles at lower saver-level prices. 

You'll still have to pay taxes and fees, but these top out at about $6 each way. This is an excellent way to cut down on expenses for a trip — especially if your travel companion also opens the card, earns the bonus, and uses the points to book their ticket.

This is an especially good value considering that the card's $99 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Click here to learn more about the Hawaiian Airlines Mastercard from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

2. Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Welcome offer: 75,000 Delta SkyMiles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) (after spending $3,000 in the first three months). Plus, get a $100 statement credit when you make any Delta purchase in the first three months. Ends July 2.

The Delta Platinum SkyMiles card is one of my personal favorites, because even though it has a $195 annual fee, it pays for itself. The first year, you can earn a welcome bonus — right now it's a newly-increased 75,000 SkyMiles when you meet the spending and timeliness requirement, as opposed to the normal 35,000 miles — which more than makes up for the year.

Every year after that, on your card-member anniversary, you'll get a companion pass good for a domestic round-trip flight in economy (or "Main Cabin" as Delta calls it). The companion pass is essentially a "buy-one-get-one-free" certificate. When you book an economy-class flight for yourself anywhere within the continental US, you can get a second flight for free, other than minimal taxes and fees.

For me, the value of the pass at least cancels out the annual fee, and in some cases offers enough value to mean I'm making a profit. Although I've heard from a few readers before that they felt the companion pass' terms were too restrictive, I respectfully disagree (for what it's worth, I live near a Delta hub). For instance, last year I used my companion pass to book a flight for my wife and I to pick up our new puppy — the tickets were about $225 each, and when I redeemed the pass, we only had to pay $24 of taxes and fees for her ticket.

The card also offers plenty of perks for Delta flyers, including one free checked bag for each person on the cardholder's reservation; priority boarding so that you can settle in sooner and snag space in the overhead compartments; discounted access to Delta Sky Club lounges; a 20% discount in the form of a statement credit on Delta in-flight purchases; and no foreign-transaction fees.

If you aren't interested in the companion pass, you can also consider the Gold version of the card (the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express). The card offers similar benefits, except for the companion pass, and only has a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year. Its limited-time welcome offer is 60,000 SkyMiles when you spend $2,000 in three months — also ending July 2.

You can read more about the limited-time offers and the differences between the two cards here. Even if you've had one of them before, you can still get the bonus on the other one.

The welcome offers on these two cards are tied for the highest-ever made publicly available, in terms of SkyMiles.

Click here to learn more about the Platinum Delta Amex card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

Click here to learn more about the Gold Delta Amex card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

3. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Welcome offer: $250 statement credit (after spending $1,000 in the first three months)

If you're less excited about earning Membership Rewards points — which can be valuable, but also tricky to redeem — and want to stick with cash back, the Blue Cash Preferred is the best option, despite its $95 annual fee.

AmEx recently announced a refresh to the card on May 9. Starting then, new and existing cardholders earn 6% cash back on select US streaming services and 3% back on all transit. That's in addition to the existing categories of 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year (and 1% after that), 3% back at US gas stations, and 1% cash back on everything else.

The card previously offered 3% back at some US department stores. That won't be available for anyone who applies on or after May 9. For existing cardholders, it will stick around through the end of July.

Like the EveryDay cards, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, before switching to a variable 15.24-26.24% APR.

The Blue Cash Preferred comes with a handful of travel and purchase protections as well. Cash back comes in the form of a statement credit, so effectively you can use it to "erase" purchases.

Click here to learn more about the Blue Cash Preferred from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

4. Platinum Card® from American Express

Welcome Offer: 60,000 points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months). It's possible to be targeted for a 100,000-point bonus for the same spending and time requirements when you use the CardMatch Tool (this offer can change at any time without warning).

The American Express Platinum card has one of the highest annual fees of any consumer credit or charge card — $550 — but as AmEx's flagship product, this premium credit card offers a tremendous amount of value to offset that fee. For example, I got more than $2,000 worth of value in my first year with the card.

The card earns Membership Rewards points, the currency in AmEx's loyalty program, which can be exchanged for statement credits or cash back, used to book travel through AmEx's travel website, or, to get the most value, transferred to any of 17 airline and three hotel transfer partners (transferable points are among the best). Travel website The Points Guy lists a valuation of 2¢ per membership rewards point; based on that, the welcome offer is worth about $1,200.

The Platinum Card earns an incredible 5x points on airfare purchased directly from the airline, and offers an airline fee credit of up to $200 each calendar year, and up to $200 in Uber credits each card member year.

It also grants the cardholder access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world, including Delta Sky Clubs and AmEx's own Centurion Lounges.

Other benefits include automatic Gold elite status in the Marriott and Hilton loyalty programs, a statement credit up to $100 to cover enrollment in Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, concierge service, access to exclusive events, and much more.

If you're an active military servicemember, you can get the AmEx Platinum Card's fee waived.

You can read our complete review of the card here.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Platinum from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

5. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Sign-up bonus: 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the most popular all-around rewards credit cards, and it's easy to see why. This card earns 2x points per dollar spent on just about all travel and dining purchases, and 1x point on everything else. It also comes with a ton of travel and purchase protections, such as rental car insurance, trip delay coverage, and extended warranty.

The card's sign-up bonus was recently increased for the first time since 2015— it's now 60,000 Ultimate Rewards (UR) points. That's worth, at the very least, $600 as cash back or gift cards. However, if you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and use points to pay, you'll get a 25% bonus, making points worth 1.25 cents each. That means that the sign-up bonus would be worth $750.

Even more lucrative — the Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you transfer your UR points to a few different frequent-flyer and hotel-loyalty programs. This comes in handy because in many cases it costs fewer points to book a trip if you go through one of those programs, as opposed to using the points as cash. You can read more about why transferring points to frequent-flyer programs gets you more value here.

This all comes for a fairly standard annual fee of $95, which is not waived the first year.

Click here to learn more about the Sapphire Preferred from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

6. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One's travel rewards program isn't necessarily as lucrative as what other banks offer. However, Capital One recently expanded the card's benefits, adding airline transfer partners, and launching transfer bonuses— the latest is a 20% bonus to Air France/KLM. While the transfer value isn't quite as good as with Chase or AmEx, the flip side is that they're easy to earn and easy to use — and thanks to a new partnership, you can earn them quickly.

The Venture Rewards card earns 2x miles per dollar on all purchases. As a new benefit, added this year, the card earns a stunning 10x miles when you book prepaid hotel stays with Hotels.com (you just need to go through a special landing page: hotels.com/venture). Plus, you can earn through Hotels.com's own rewards program at the same time.

Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit to "erase" travel purchases. For example, if you buy a $500 plane ticket, you can apply 50,000 miles to cancel out that charge. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year.

Capital One has added airline transfer partners in December 2018 — 12 are at a 2:1.5 ratio, and three are 2:1 — meaning it's now possible to get outsized value from the card. This is especially the case when you consider that you can earn 10x Capital One miles on hotels, which translates to 5-7.5 airline miles per dollar, based on the transfer ratios.

Between the ability to transfer miles to airlines, and the chance to earn up to 10x miles on hotels, this is one of the best cards available right now.

The card also offers a credit to enroll in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. It has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year.

Click here to learn more about the Capital One Venture from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

7. American Express® Gold Card

Welcome offer: 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Right now, the AmEx Gold Card is arguably the best card available for dining.

The Gold Card earns 4x points at US restaurants and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that), 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, and 1x point on everything else. Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1¢ of value each, that makes this the highest-earning card for everything food-related.

The Gold Card offers up to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year, and adds up to $120 of dining credits — split into $10 each month — at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations.

While it's difficult to assign an exact value to Membership Rewards points, The Points Guy subjectively estimates each point as worth 2¢. That makes the welcome bonus worth $700. Even without factoring in the annual credit benefits, that's more than enough to make up for the card's $250 annual fee.

Check out our full review for more details.

Keep in mind that it's possible to be targeted for a higher welcome bonus.

Click here to learn more about the AmEx Gold Card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

8. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Welcome offer: 30,000 Go Far points (after spending $3,000 in the first three months).

This card from Wells Fargo has one of the more attractive rewards offerings you'll find from a no-annual-fee card. The current Propel card is a relaunch of an old product — Wells Fargo stopped accepting applications for the old card a year ago, before announcing the new product and reopening applications this summer.

The card earns 3x points on all travel, dining, and select streaming services (and 1x point on everything else). If that sounds familiar, it's because it's almost the same as the popular Chase Sapphire Reserve.

There are key differences between the cards. The Propel lets you redeem points for 1¢ each toward cash back, merchandise, travel, or more, while the Sapphire Reserve offers a range of more valuable redemption options — it's easy to get at least 50% more value for Chase points. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve offers a number of premium perks that the Propel doesn't, like airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit travel delay insurance, and more.

Of course, the Sapphire Reserve also comes with a $450 annual fee, while the Wells Fargo Propel doesn't have a fee. Between the new member offer, and the solid earning rate on popular spend categories, the Propel makes a decent option for those who don't travel often, or who aren't comfortable floating a large annual fee.

We named the Propel the best no-fee card of 2019.

Click here to learn more about the Wells Fargo Propel card from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

Join the conversation about this story »

SoftBank's running list of deals shows the Japanese company is one of the biggest, craziest investors in tech right now

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 5:37pm  |  Clusterstock

Japanese tech giant SoftBank has hundreds of millions on hand to be able to acquire and fund high-profile companies.

The massive corporation — led by Masayoshi Son, Japan's richest man — makes investments through the SoftBank Group and its $100 billion SoftBank Vision Fund. SoftBank is also in the process of pursuing a second $100 billion fund, although the company is reportedly having trouble finding investors.

SoftBank has backed or bought a host of established tech firms such as Nvidia, the We Company, Slack, Uber, and ARM. It's also backed less well-known startups, like satellite internet firm OneWeb, Indian e-commerce company Paytm, and farming startup Plenty. Most of the money has gone to companies in Europe, Asia, and North America. 

Here's a running list of SoftBank's investments, based on how much the firm has put into in each company:

SEE ALSO: The 23 most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech

Talkspace — estimated $20 million to $50 million

What it does: Online therapy platform

Founded: 2011

Most recent valuation: $310 million

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $20 million to $50 million

Total funding raised: $110 million (PitchBook)



Globality — $100 million

What it does: B2B matching marketplace

Founded: 2015

Most recent valuation: $800 million

SoftBank's total investment: $100 million

Total funding raised: $172.2 million (PitchBook)



Boston Dynamics — acquired for estimated $100 million

What it does: Robotics development

Founded: 1992

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $100 million

  • June 2017 — Undisclosed amount to acquire Boston Dynamics, though deal is estimated to be worth $100 million.



Alibaba — $102 million

What it does: E-commerce platform in China

Founded: 1999

Market cap: $428.2 billion at time of writing

SoftBank's total investment: $102 million



Brain Corp — $114 million

What it does: Autonomous robots and machines developer

Founded: 2009

Most recent valuation: $240 million

SoftBank's total investment: $114 million

Total funding raised: $123 million (PitchBook)



Light — $121 million

What it does: Ultra-zoom digital photography cameras

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $396 million

SoftBank's total investment: $121 million

Total funding raised: $206 million (PitchBook)



Cybereason — $150 million

What it does: Israeli security software provider

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $850 million

SoftBank's total investment: $150 million

Total funding raised: $189 million (PitchBook)



Nauto — $159 million

What it does: Self-driving car technology

Founded: 2015

Most recent valuation: $1 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $159 million

Total funding raised: $174.2 million (PitchBook)



Mapbox — $164 million

What it does: Customized maps on open-source platform

Founded: 2010

Most recent valuation: $385 million

SoftBank's total investment: $164 million

Total funding raised: $229.4 million (PitchBook)



Clutter — $200 million

What it does: On-demand storage services and platform

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $600 million

SoftBank's total investment: $200 million

Total funding raised: $297.2 million (PitchBook)



Plenty — $200 million

What it does: Indoor vertical farming

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $500 million

SoftBank's total investment: $200 million

Total funding raised: $260 million (PitchBook)



Brandless — $240 million

What it does: E-commerce no-brand platform

Founded: 2014

Most recent valuation: $235.3 million

SoftBank's total investment: $240 million

Total funding raised: $292.5 million (PitchBook)



Slack — $250 million

What it does: Workplace communication software

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $7.1 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $250 million

Total funding raised: $1.2 billion (PitchBook)



Automation Anywhere — $300 million

What it does: Software for robotic process automation (RPA)

Founded: 2003

Most recent valuation: $2.6 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $300 million

Total funding raised: $550 million (PitchBook)



Getaround — $300 million

What it does: Peer-to-peer car sharing e-marketplace

Founded: 2011

Most recent valuation: $850 million

SoftBank's total investment: $300 million

Total funding raised: $410 million (PitchBook)



Kabbage — $300 million

What it does: Online loan lending platform

Founded: 2008

Most recent valuation: $1.2 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $300 million

Total funding raised: $989.5 million (PitchBook)



Wag — $300 million

What it does: Dog walking app

Founded: 2015

Most recent valuation: $610 million

SoftBank's total investment: $300 million

Total funding raised: $321.5 million (PitchBook)



Zume — $375 million

What it does: Robot-powered pizza delivery service

Founded: 2015

Most recent valuation: $1.5 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $375 million

Total funding raised: $445.7 million (PitchBook)



Fair — $385 billion

What it does: Car borrowing platform

Founded: 2016

Most recent valuation: $1.2 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $385 million

Total funding raised: $1.6 billion (PitchBook)



Paytm Mall — $400 million

What it does: Online shopping platform in India

Founded: 2016

Most recent valuation: $1.9 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $400 million

Total funding raised: $646 million (PitchBook)



Guardant Health — $401 million

What it does: 'Liquid biopsy' blood testing for cancer treatment

Founded: 2013

Market cap: $7.9 billion at time of writing

SoftBank's total investment: $401 million

  • May 2018 — $41 million into joint venture Guardan Health AMEA
  • May 2017 — Led $360 million round



Lemonade — $420 million

What it does: Insurance e-platform for renters and homeowners

Founded: 2015

Most recent valuation: $2 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $420 million

Total funding raised: $479.8 million (PitchBook)



Opendoor — Estimated $500 million

What it does: Online real estate marketplace

Founded: 2014

Most recent valuation: $3.8 billion

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $500 million

Total funding raised: $4.4 billion (PitchBook)



Cambridge Mobile Telematics — $500 million

What it does: Mobile analytics provider

Founded: 2010

Most recent valuation: $24.5 million

SoftBank's total investment: $500 million

Total funding raised: $502.5 million (PitchBook)



Improbable — $502 million

What it does: Virtual gaming developer

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $2 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $502 million

Total funding raised: $608.2 million (PitchBook)



Auto1 — $561 million

What it does: German-based platform for buying and selling used cars

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $3.5 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $560 million

Total funding raised: $1.3 billion (PitchBook)



ZhongAn — $600 million

What it does: Online-only insurance services

Founded: 2013

Market cap: $32 billion at time of writing

SoftBank's total investment: $600 million



DoorDash — estimated $600 million to $900 million

What it does: Food delivery platform

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $12.6 billion

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $600 million to $900 million

Total funding raised: $2 billion (PitchBook)



OSIsoft — estimated "high hundreds of millions"

What it does: Software for industrial companies

Founded: 1980

Most recent valuation: "Several billion dollars" (May 2017)

SoftBank's total investment: Undisclosed

  • May 2017 — Not disclosed, but sources told Reuters that SoftBank bought its stake from other existing investors for "high hundreds of millions."

Total funding raised: $135 million (PitchBook)



Compass — $850 million

What it does: Online real estate marketplace

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $4.4 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $850 million

  • September 2018 — Led $400 million round
  • December 2017 — Invested $450 million

Total funding raised: $1.1 billion (PitchBook)



Katerra — $865 million

What it does: One-stop construction and building platform

Founded: 2015

Most recent valuation: $4 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $865 million

Total funding raised: $1.2 billion (PitchBook)



ParkJockey — $900 million

What it does: Smart parking app

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $1 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $900 million

Total funding raised: About $1 billion (PitchBook)



Ola — estimated $800 million to $1 billion

What it does: Ride-hailing service in India

Founded: 2010

Most recent valuation: $5.3 billion (January 2019)

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $800 million to $1 billion

Total funding raised: $3.4 billion (PitchBook)



Nuro

What it does: AI technology for self-driving cars

Founded: 2016

Most recent valuation: $2.7 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $940 million

Total funding raised: $1 billion (PitchBook)



Flexport — $1 billion

What it does: Freight forwarding

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $3.2 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $1 billion

Total funding raised: $1.4 billion (PitchBook)



Fanatics — estimated $1 billion to $1.2 billion

What it does: Online platform for sports merchandise

Founded: 1995

Most recent valuation: $4.5 billion

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $1 billion to $1.2 billion

  • September 2017 — Led $1 billion round
  • August 2015 — Participated in $300 million round

Total funding raised: $1.6 billion (PitchBook)



SoFi — estimated $1.1 billion

What it does: US-based "alt-lender" for student refinancing loans

Founded: 2011

Most recent valuation: $4.3 billion

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $1.1 billion

Total funding raised: $1.9 billion (PitchBook)



Snapdeal — estimated $1.2 billion

What it does: Online shopping marketplace in India

Founded: 2010

Most recent valuation: $950 million (July 2017)

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $1.2 billion

Total funding raised: $1.5 billion (PitchBook)



Tokopedia — $1.3 billion

What it does: Online shopping site in Indonesia

Founded: 2009

Most recent valuation: $7 billion (November 2018)

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $1.3 billion

Total funding raised: $2.5 billion (PitchBook)



Paytm — $1.4 billion

What it does: Digital payments wallet in India

Founded: 2010

Most recent valuation: $10 billion to $12 billion (August 2018)

SoftBank's total investment: $1.4 billion

Total funding raised: $3.6 billion (PitchBook)



Chehaoduo — $1.5 billion

What it does: Used car trading platform

Founded: 2014

Most recent valuation: $8.5 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $1.5 billion

Total funding raised: $3.3 billion (PitchBook)



ByteDance — estimated $1.8 billion

What it does: Chinese internet company running apps like TikTok, Toutiao

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $75 billion

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $1.8 billion (Bloomberg)

Total funding raised: $7.4 billion (PitchBook)



Brightstar — acquired for $2.2 billion

What it does: Cell phone distributor

Founded: 1997

SoftBank's total investment: $2.2 billion



YMobile (formerly eAccess) — acquired for $2.3 billion

What it does: Mobile telecommunications provider in Japan

Founded: 1999

SoftBank's total investment: $2.3 billion

  • April 2015 — Undisclosed amount for merger of Ymobile to form SoftBank Corp., the company's mobile unit.
  • January 2013 — $2.3 billion to acquire broadband provider eAccess



Flipkart — $2.5 billion, but has since sold off stake

What it does: E-commerce platform in India

Founded: 2007

Most recent valuation: $20 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $2.5 billion, but has since sold off stake

Total funding raised: $7.7 billion (PitchBook)



Cruise — estimated $2.5 billion to $3 billion

What it does: Self-driving car developer

Founded: 2013

Most recent valuation: $19 billion

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $2.5 billion to $3 billion

  • May 2019 — Participated in $1.15 billion round
  • May 2018 — Invested $2.25 billion

Total funding raised: $7.3 billion (PitchBook)



OneWeb — $2.8 billion

What it does: Broadband internet access via satellites

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $14 billion (February 2017 before failed merger)

SoftBank's total investment: $2.8 billion

Total funding raised: $3.4 billion (PitchBook)



Coupang — $3 billion

What it does: E-commerce platform in South Korea

Founded: 2010

Most recent valuation: $9 billion

SoftBank's total investment: $3 billion

Total funding raised: $3.5 billion (PitchBook)



Ele.me — $3 billion

What it does: Food delivery platform in China (bought by Alibaba in April 2018)

Founded: 2008

SoftBank's total investment: $3 billion



Nvidia — $4 billion

What it does: US-based graphics chip maker for gaming

Founded: 1993

Market cap: $93.1 billion at time of writing

SoftBank's total investment: $4 billion, but sold off stake for $3.6 billion in January 2019



Grab — estimated $5.5 billion

What it does: Taxi-hailing company in southeast Asia

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $14 billion (March 2019)

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $5.5 billion

Total funding raised: $9.1 billion (PitchBook)



The We Company — $10.5 billion

What it does: Provides collaborative office space for companies

Founded: 2010

Most recent valuation: $47 billion (January 2019)

SoftBank's total investment: $10.5 billion

  • January 2019 — Invested $5 billion, and bought $1 billion worth of shares from investors
  • August 2017 — Invested $3.1 billion, and bought $1.3 billion worth of shares from investors

Total funding raised: $12.1 billion (Crunchbase)



Uber — $9.3 billion

What it does: Ride-hailing platform

Founded: 2009

Market cap: $74.4 billion at time of writing

SoftBank's total investment: $9.3 billion



Didi Chuxing — estimated $11 billion to $15 billion

What it does: Ride-hailing platform in China

Founded: 2012

Most recent valuation: $56 billion (April 2018)

SoftBank's total investment: Estimated $11 billion to $15 billion

  • February 2018 — Led $4.6 billion round
  • April 2017 — Invested $5 billion as lead in $5.5 billion round
  • June 2016 — Participated in $4.5 billion equity in $7.3 billion round
  • September 2015 — Participated in $3 billion round
  • January 2015 — Participated in $600 million round for Kuaidi Dache (merged to become Didi)

Total funding raised: $17.8 billion (PitchBook)



Sprint — $21.7 billion

What it does: Phone and wireless services provider

Founded: 1899

Market cap: $29.7 billion at time of writing

SoftBank's total investment: $21.7 billion

  • April 2018 — Ownership decreased to 27% with T-Mobile-Sprint merger
  • August 2015 — $87 million
  • July 2013 — $21.6 billion to acquire majority ownership of Sprint



ARM — acquired for $32 billion

What it does: UK-based chip designer for smartphones, including iPhones

Founded: 1990

SoftBank's total investment: $32 billion



Our take on the 5 biggest questions surrounding Facebook's crypto (FB, V, MA, AMZN)

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 4:14pm  |  Clusterstock

After months of rumors, Facebook has finally unveiled Libra — its ambitious plan to transform how people use and send money globally using cryptocurrency. The company has released a white paper introducing the crypto, how it works, and 28 partner companies and organizations that are members of the Libra Association, an independent consortium that'll govern the crypto.

Here's what we know about the project:

  • Libra will be launched in the first half of 2020 and will be pegged to a basket of global currencies and short-term government securities. Pegging the crypto in this way is meant to reduce the volatility that's resulted in wild price swings for other cryptos. However, Facebook's approach means the crypto will not have a fixed exchange rate against a traditional currency, as stablecoins do. The crypto will operate on the Libra blockchain that is designed to handle 1,000 transactions per second, significantly higher than the seven that the Bitcoin blockchain manages in the same period, although still short of the 1,700 transactions Visa averages per second.
  • Libra will be run by the Libra Association, an independent nonprofit organization headquartered in Switzerland. Members of the Libra Association range from payments giants Visa and Mastercard to ride-hailing firms Lyft and Uber. And they're expected to commit $10 million each to the project, as well as integrate the technology into their services, per the Financial Times. Libra Association members will also act as nodes — participants in the blockchain network that verify transactions and maintain records. While Facebook is the driving force behind the project, each member of the association, including Facebook, will have an equal say in the governance of the crypto, in a one-member-one-vote-style system. The consortium aims to have over 100 members by the time Libra is released.
  • Facebook, however, still plans to profit from the project.The social media giant has set up a separate subsidiary, dubbed Calibra, which will release a wallet app for Libra. The app will enable Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp users to buy, sell, and transfer Libra to other users. Facebook says it plans to extend functionality to include letting users borrow money, make purchases, and pay bills using the crypto.

Here's our take on the top five questions surrounding Libra:

What is Facebook hoping to achieve by launching Libra?

  • Facebook's been looking to diversify its revenue streams beyond advertising.Integrating payments solutions and e-commerce into its platforms can enable the firm to generate new income, not least by taking a cut of transactions. But traction for the crypto could also open up vast opportunities for the firm beyond transactional revenue, such as enabling it to move into services like consumer lending, according to David Marcus, head of Calibra, cited by CNBC. In fact, the firm could generate as much as $19 billion from the project by 2021, per Barclays data cited by the outlet.
  • And the success of integrating payments systems within social media platforms has already been proven. What makes Facebook's payments ambition notable is the technology in use — cryptos and the underlying blockchain technology. But the concept of integrating payments systems into popular messaging platforms isn't new, with super apps like Tencent's WeChat demonstrating how lucrative the strategy is.

Where will it catch on?

  • Emerging markets appear to offer the biggest opportunity for Libra. Globally, 1.7 billion people don't have access to bank accounts, according to World Bank data cited in the Libra white paper. Meanwhile, 70% of small businesses in developing countries lack access to credit, per Facebook. This financial infrastructure scarcity provides a huge gap for Facebook to plug. In these markets, the company anticipates physical stores that can enable users to purchase Libras.
  • In mature markets, the road to adoption appears to be more complex.Libra can offer cheap services, like remittances, in these markets, and reduce the need for users to leave Facebook to make purchases or transfer money to each other. But with a glut of financial options, it remains to be seen whether there'll be sufficient consumer demand.

What's in it for Libra Association members like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal?

  • Joining the Libra Association may seem counterintuitive for the likes of Visa and Mastercard. Facebook's plan to create an entirely new payments system would appear to threaten established players, raising the prospect of disintermediating them or, at the very least, eating into their revenue by pushing price points down considerably. But we've already seen these players invest in services that appear to be cannibalizing their business — Mastercard's acquisition of Vocalink is a prime example — potentially to ensure participation in the industry's disruption.
  • But the project offers these firms access to new markets. Emerging markets are difficult for the likes of Visa to crack because they lack the card penetration that's necessary to generate meaningful revenue. In fact, these payments firms typically compete only on 15% of global transactions, because 85% are made in cash, according to Jorn Lambert, executive vice president for digital solutions at Mastercard, cited by the FT. However, these players can use Libra to tap into this huge market. Moreover, it's no secret that tech giants like Facebook have been increasinglymuscling into the financial services industry and threatening established FIs; joining the Libra project enables the likes of Mastercard to keep better tabs on Facebook's efforts in the space.

How will Facebook's data privacy issues affect Libra?

  • The company's damaging run with the public will be a major hurdle for Libra's adoption.Facebook's been mired in a slew of controversies in recent years, including a spat of data privacy failures. That, along with accusations of anticompetitive practices, has seen the firm face increased regulatory scrutiny that's damaged its reputation among consumers. Facebook already appears cognizant of this, saying that it won't share users' account information with its social platforms or for targeted advertising. We'll have to wait and see whether consumers will buy into Facebook's claims of a more ethical approach to user data and trust it to handle even more personal information.

Will Facebook be able to handle the regulatory challenges involved?

  • A lack of banks as Libra Association members points to regulatory uncertainty, which could become regulatory problems.The notable absence of banks from the initial list of members is likely due to the continued lack of clarity around the regulatory fate of the project. And questions remain as to whether the project can navigate the tricky regulatory waters needed to launch in 2020 and demonstrate how it plans to combat the use of Libras for nefarious purposes, like money laundering. To this end, European politicians have already come out to voice concerns, including France's finance minister Bruno le Maire, who said he needed reassurances that Libra wouldn't be used for illegal activity, per Business Insider. But the experience of the FIs that are members of the association and the fact that Facebook's already talking to a number of regulators about the project should equip it well to overcome these hurdles. 
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THE IDENTITY VERIFICATION IN BANKING REPORT: How banks should use new authentication methods to boost conversions and keep their customers loyal

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 4:03pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

The way incumbent banks onboard and verify the identities of their customers online is inconvenient and insecure, resulting in lowered customer satisfaction and loyalty, and security breaches leading to compensation payouts and legal costs.

It’s a lose-lose situation, as consumers become disgruntled and banks lose business. The problem stems from the very strict verification standards and high noncompliance fines that banks are subject to, which have led them to prioritize stringency over user experience in verification. At the same time, this approach doesn't gain banks much, since the verification methods they use to remain compliant can actually end up compromising customers' personal data.

But banks can't afford to prioritize stringent verification at the cost of user experience anymore. Onboarding and verification standards are increasingly being set by more tech-savvy players within and outside their industry, like fintechs and e-retailers. If banks want to keep customers loyal, they have to start innovating in this area. The trick is to streamline verification for clients without compromising accuracy. If banks manage to do this, the result will be happier and more loyal customers; higher client retention and revenue; and less spending on redundant checks, compensation for breaches, and regulatory fines.

The long-term opportunity such innovation presents is even bigger. Banks are already experts in vouching for people’s identities, and because they’re held to such tight verification standards, their testimonies are universally trusted. So, if banks figure out how to successfully digitize customer identification, this could help them not only boost revenue and cut costs, but secure a place for themselves in an emerging platform economy, where online identities will be key to carrying out transactions. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • The strict verification standards that banks are held to have led them to create onboarding and login processes that are painful for clients. Plus, the verification methods they use to remain compliant can actually end up putting customers' personal data at risk. This leaves banks with dented customer satisfaction, as well as security breaches and legal costs.
  • Several factors are now pushing banks to attempt to remedy the situation, including a tougher regulatory environment and increasing competition from agile startups and tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, where speedy onboarding and intuitive service is a given.
  • The trick is to streamline verification for clients without compromising accuracy, something several emerging technologies promise to deliver, including biometrics, optical character recognition (OCR) technology, cryptography, secure video links, and blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT). 
  • The long-term opportunity such innovation presents is even bigger. Banks are already experts in vouching for people’s identities, so if they were to figure out how to successfully digitize customer identification, this could help them secure a valued place, and relevance, in a modernizing economy.

In full, the report:

  • Looks at why identity verification is so integral to banking, and why it's becoming a problem for banks.
  • Outlines the biggest drivers pushing banks to revamp their verification methods.
  • Gives an overview of the technologies, both new and established but repurposed, that are enabling banks to bring their verification methods into the digital age.
  • Discusses what next steps have to happen to bring about meaningful change in the identity verification space, and how banks can capitalize on their existing strengths to make such shifts happen.
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The $24 billion health system in Amazon's backyard nabbed a 26-year Microsoft veteran as its tech chief. Here's what he learned in his first months on the job.

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 3:07pm  |  Clusterstock

  • After 26 years at Microsoft, B.J. Moore made the jump into healthcare, joining the West Coast health system Providence St. Joseph Health as its chief information officer.
  • Moore started at the end of January, and over the past 4 1/2 months, he has gone around to learn what's working and not working at the 51 hospitals in Providence's system. 
  • "It opened my eyes to the priorities, the depth of technical debt that we have," Moore said. He said that Providence — and the healthcare industry more generally — lags behind the technology industry by 15 to 20 years.
  • To start, Moore is working to simplify the technology the health system runs on, while modernizing its technology strategies. He said the health system has been supportive of those plans.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

B.J. Moore has a high bar when it comes to technology. 

Moore worked at Microsoft for 26 years before joining the West Coast health system Providence St. Joseph Health as its chief information officer in January. Over the past five years, the health system has been turning to its high-tech neighbors for executive hires as it works to improve its operations, bringing on executives from Amazon and Microsoft veterans like Moore.  

As such, he has high expectations of what the health system — which operates 51 hospitals and made $24 billion in revenue in 2018 — can do to catch up to the digital age. 

When Moore signed on, his goals were to get the lay of a land he was largely unfamiliar with, coming from a career at Microsoft. That meant visiting different Providence sites and meeting with doctors to get an understanding of their priorities.

The next step is to find ways to simplify and modernize the existing technology that the health system uses. Eventually, Moore plans to find ways to be innovative with the information the organization gathers.

Read more: The $23 billion health system in Amazon's backyard just hired a new chief information officer from Microsoft

Four and a half months in, Moore has made it to six of the seven states Providence operates in, and he still stands by the plan he came in with — it might just take a little longer to get past the initial steps than he anticipated.

While Moore had been told by those with healthcare-industry experience that it was less advanced than the technology industry, because those folks had never worked in the tech industry, they hadn't realized just how big the gap was, he said. That gap exists across the industry in which outdated technology like the fax machine is still in heavy use. 

"I'm not going to pretend that after three months I'm a healthcare expert, but it is important to me to really immerse myself in the business as much as possible, make those connections, and I think that really paid off," Moore said. "It opened my eyes to the priorities, the depth of technical debt that we have."

As part of his tour of the hospitals in Providence's system, Moore heard his fair share of complaints about the state of Providence's technology. 

"As you can imagine, when a CIO visits a hospital in Lubbock, Texas, they're not going to spend an hour telling me how wonderful things are," Moore said. "They're going to spend an hour focused on the things that were broken."

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Those complaints were consistent across the health system, with four main issues rising to the top. 

For starters, the hospitals have a hard time getting new employees onboarded with the right permissions and logins. Moore said it usually takes a week or two to get someone the tools they need to do their jobs.

As Providence has grown by acquiring other health systems, it has led to issues in how healthcare professionals in one legacy system can talk to their colleagues at other hospitals by video or voice messaging. 

The hospitals also had difficulty with the performance of their internet networks. A program might take a second to load in the morning, but by the afternoon, it'd take 30 seconds.

And, as a result of its acquisitions, the health system has as many as 14 electronic health-records systems in use across its hospitals. Moore is hoping to move to just one system, run by Epic, so that data can be shared more easily between hospitals within the system.

Moore found that the health system was lagging in its software use and how it was investing in its technology. For instance, the health system was still operating its own data centers instead of outsourcing to one of the cloud services Amazon, Microsoft, and Google offer. 

"Picture what the world looked like before Amazon or Microsoft or Google had their cloud services," Moore said. "That's what we look like. "

Moore said he sees his health system — and the industry as a whole — as 15 to 20 years behind the tech industry. 

"My bar isn't other healthcare systems, my bar is tech companies," Moore said. 

To be sure, Moore knew what he was getting into before signing on because he'd talked through the opportunity and challenges with Providence's chief financial officer, Venkat Bhamidipati, another Microsoft alum. 

What Moore can do with the data once he gets past the basics

Moore said he's still optimistic because people across the health system have been willing to work with him. For instance, the system has been on board with moving to the cloud. Before Moore started, the system had planned to build more data centers, instead. By August, Providence's first data center is expected to be 100% migrated to the cloud, he said.

"On the negative side, we have a technical debt that's deeper than I thought it would be," Moore said. "But on the positive side, people's willingness to change and embrace the future far exceeds my expectations."

Once the basics are in place, Moore is planning to use the data Providence collects to work on some projects to improve the health system's operations.

Those include using artificial intelligence to listen in on conversations between healthcare professionals and patients to then add information to the electronic health record, saving the provider time. The health system is also working on a project to learn how to better prevent sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by infections.

Then, Moore hopes to bring in more data sources that live outside the electronic health record, such as from heart-rate monitors, fitness and sleep trackers, and other medical devices. 

"The EHR is super important, but that isn't big data," Moore said. 

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NOW WATCH: Colorado became the first state to cap the monthly cost of insulin at $100. Here's why the life-saving drug is so expensive.

Cisco CEO says he's forbidden his salespeople from using Huawei's problems to win business (CSCO)

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 3:00pm  |  Clusterstock

  • If there's one company that should be smiling with delight over Huawei's US ban, it's Cisco.
  • Cisco has been calling out its arch rival, Huawei, for years. Cisco's finger-pointing was one reason why Congress investigated the company and warned US companies not to buy Huawei's telecom equipment in 2012.
  • But CEO Chuck Robbins told reporters that he has forbidden his salespeople from using Huawei's political problems in their sales pitches.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories. 

During a press conference at Cisco's annual tech conference, Cisco Live, last week, CEO Chuck Robbins was asked to weigh in on Huawei's problems.

He was also asked if the escalation of the trade war, and possible retaliation by Chinese government, could affect Cisco.

Robbins, ever cool and calm, answered with an almost philosophical view.

First of all, he said any ban on doing business with Huawei by US companies didn't affect Cisco at all.

"I don't do business with Huawei. They are my biggest competitor on a global basis," Robbins said.

Read more: CERN, the famous scientific lab where the web was created, is so unhappy with Microsoft's 10x price hikes that it's ditching all Microsoft software

But he also said that he has instructed Cisco's sales teams to "take the high road. ... I've told our teams point blank: 'This is not a sales strategy for you.' I do not want our teams going in and leveraging the geopolitical situation to try to advantage us."

That's a pretty eye-opening point of view because Huawei's problems should be music to Cisco's ears.

Cisco has been quite openly complaining about Huawei since 2011. In fact, Cisco's former CEO, John Chambers, was among the first to publicly sound the alarm on Huawei's tactics, accusing the company of intellectual property theft and possible espionage back doors. Things got so testy that in 2012, Congress held hearings on allegations of spying and intellectual-property theft by Huawei and ZTE and issued a government report warning that US government agencies shouldn't buy equipment from either vendor.

So now that the bipartisan government is on board, Cisco's sales teams have been instructed from the top not to use it to their advantage.

While he said there may be some sales teams that can't resist talking to customers about Huawei, Robbins said doing so is not the company's official position. Instead, he wants everyone focused on selling based on Cisco's products, rather than on scare tactics about competitors.

A meeting with Huawei's founder

As for the impact of tariffs, Cisco execs say they have plans in place to deal with that. Asian component suppliers are shifting where they are making and shipping their components to be able to keep prices as low as possible. And if prices must rise on Cisco from buying from Chinese suppliers, Cisco is prepared to raise its prices to customers, Kelly Kramer, the company's chief financial officer, told MarketWatch last month. Cisco doesn't appear to be madly dropping all of its Chinese components suppliers, even if that were possible. Robbins won't talk about what he's doing directly, and he sidestepped that question at the press conference as well.

Like all US tech companies caught in the emerging tech Cold War, Cisco faces a risk of retaliation through Chinese companies refusing to buy its products. Here, Robbins' attitude sounds a bit like the Serenity Prayer. 

"Obviously our business in China could be impacted if the Chinese government decided to do things differently relative to US vendors, and we just have to keep operating and see how that plays out. Our job is to primarily focus on the things we can control and do our best on the other issues," he said.

Read more: Oracle revoked job offers for some people in the UK, blaming a hiring freeze. Yet it says it's both hiring and still restructuring

Interestingly enough, before the US government ban on Huawei, Chambers told Business Insider that he had actually made peace, at least somewhat, with Huawei's founder. 

Chambers said the best way to compete is to never do anything to others that you wouldn't want done to you. "Even with Huawei, taking them on very aggressively like we did. Right after we solved it, I got on plane and met with Ren Shi Wei," Chambers told Business Insider in October, referring to Huawei's billionaire founder.

Given the current state of US-China tensions though, it seems unlikely that Robbins will take page from his predecessor's diplomacy playbook and arrange a sit-down with the Huawei founder.

SEE ALSO: Oracle revoked job offers for some people in the UK, blaming a hiring freeze. Yet it says it's both hiring and still restructuring.

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The CEO of State Street explains why he's going toe-to-toe with Bloomberg and BlackRock by offering asset managers a one-stop technology shop

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:57pm  |  Clusterstock

  • State Street's $2.6 billion purchase of Charles River last year thrust it into direct competition with Bloomberg and BlackRock for control of trading desktops across hundreds of asset managers.  
  • The man charged with overseeing the strategy is CEO Ronald O'Hanley, a 20-year veteran of the investment management industry who assumed his role January 1. 
  • O'Hanley's building a one-stop shop to handle anything an investor might need, from pretrade analytics all the way through to post trade reporting and reconciliation.
  • The stakes are high. State Street's stock price is down 40% since the Charles River deal.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Ronald O'Hanley doesn't immediately come across as a fierce competitor. 

The State Street CEO speaks in a low voice free of the bravado that other leaders often exhibit. He doesn't stand on ceremony. And he runs State Street, a leader in asset custody, what many consider to be a sleepy corner of banking.  

But O'Hanley now finds himself competing against some of Wall Street's most formidable foes. With last year's purchase of trading software provider Charles River Development for $2.6 billion, State Street has thrust itself into a dog fight against the likes of Bloomberg LP and BlackRock for control of the computer screen used by thousands of buy-side traders.

The three are now battling over a fractured market that promises to deliver attractive revenue opportunities as Wall Street seizes on the data revolution. As data and information becomes more commonplace, traders are looking for technology to provide more insight. And as investment styles migrate to passive strategies from active ones, they're looking for any edge they can get.  

For State Street, it's an ambitious bet that will take time to play out and may help it weather structural changes impacting its asset management clients. The bank's stock is down more than a third since the Charles River deal was announced, reflecting investor concerns around the firm's ability to execute on the strategy and the larger trends buffeting its customer base. 

See also: Wall Street's massive tech spend has reached an 'inflection point' as billions in investments are starting to pay off

O'Hanley, CEO since January 1, doesn't like to paint the task in such stark terms, but posits that State Street's history of providing middle and back office support will give it a leg up. The idea is that by combing those elements with Charles River's front office technology, State Street will be be able to offer a truly front to back solution, lowering costs and offering cutting edge insights with data and analytics. 

"We had a lot of the traditional front office providers coming by and putting the proverbial arm around the shoulder and saying why don't we partner, recognizing that they were the front office and we were the middle and back," he said in an interview of the sidelines of this year's Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, declining to name names. "But we realized that if you were going to solve the cost problem and the data problem then we really needed to be front to back."

If clients want to use another platform, that's OK  too. State Street is developing its solution so that it can work with Bloomberg, BlackRock, or the hundreds of other vendors that sell to Wall Street. Earlier this year, the firm partnered with Axioma to makes its risk and portfolio management, and regulatory reporting tools available to clients. 

O'Hanley can talk the talk. The 20-year veteran of the investment management industry joined State Street in 2015 after stints at Fidelity Investments, Bank of New York Mellon, and McKinsey, and his comments make it clear that he understands how and why clients turn to State Street. He ran the Boston-based lender's asset-management arm before being named president and chief operating officer and heir apparent to ex-CEO Jay Hooley in November 2017. 

At some point, the execs realized that while State Street was the biggest in the world at the middle and back office work of reconciling accounts, that work would become "table stakes," O'Hanley said. Left unsaid is that it wouldn't be as lucrative to provide those services in the future. 

See also: Wall Street is chasing a data gold rush. Here's our deep dive on its efforts to crack the code.

At first look, State Street need not worry. The bank's revenue of $12 billion in 2018 climbed 6.8% that year, itself an improvement over 2016.

But investors aren't impressed. After sending the stock price to a more than 20-year high in January 2018, investors got cold feet, pushing the stock down almost 18% through mid-July. When the deal with Charles River was announced, the stock price dropped 7.4%. Since then, it's fallen another 36%. 

State Street's asset management arm, State Street Global Advisors, is facing many of the same challenges as the clients of its custody business. The bank suffered $22.6 billion in outflows last month, according to Morningstar data. The S&P 500 ETF that it manages, the hugely popular SPDR, lost almost $17 billion, which Morningstar attributed to higher fees and tracking error. 

See also: 'The next frontier for us': Inside State Street's multibillion-dollar bet on financial data

Those struggles mirror the broader trends leading asset managers to hunt for lower cost technology options. In fact, it was only after SSGA's search for a vendor led it to choose Charles River that the bank's top execs realized it could help the other side of the firm to shift its broader strategy, O'Hanley said. 

Asset managers are battling a tidal wave that's seen trillions of dollars in funds move from higher-paying active accounts to lower-fee passive accounts. Retail brokerages and other distributors of mutual funds are demanding more money, and a hodge podge of systems built up over years of acquisitions have begun to break down or require a greater share of technology costs, the CEO said. 

State Street's plan is that it can address all of that by offering a one-stop shop, front to back solution that can offer pre-trade analytics and insight all the way to post trade reporting and account reconciliation. Having all that data under one roof should allow the bank to provide better analytics as well, he said. 

"The fee structure has come under intense pressure and put these organizations in a position where they need to rethink their tech infrastructure," said Larry Tabb, founder of the eponymous Wall Street consulting group. "Partnering with a group like State Street makes a lot of sense because State Street can not only manage an increasingly larger portion of their tech, but the funds can outsource their operations, and thus consolidate their operations with fewer players. And that should bring some efficiencies."

It's a fractured market: Less than 10% of clients currently rely on one of the three providers for front to back functionality, O'Hanley estimates. Charles River, which serves more than 25,000 clients across the globe, is installed on roughly the same number of desktops as BlackRock's Aladdin software. Bloomberg has more than 300,000 desktop terminals. 

One challenge, according to Tabb, will be to instill a stronger culture of partnership and collaboration across the combined enterprise. Charles River has not been known historically for being open to partnering with outside vendors, or competitors, he said. It's a point that O'Hanley is eager to refute.

See also: BlackRock's latest $1.3 billion tech deal shows it wants to be more than an asset manager

Even if BlackRock, Bloomberg or others consume a bigger slice of the market, State Street will be ready with a platform that's open architecture and able to interact with third-party vendors or service providers, O'Hanley said. 

"If you think about the great technology platforms in the world, what has set them apart is not that they own everything but that it's a platform that creates a network that everyone wants to be a part of," he said.  

While its early days, the bank has already found success in selling its end to end solution. State Street announced June 11 that it had entered into a letter of intent with Lazard Asset Management to provide its inclusive servicing capabilities. The bank's salespeople were in talks about 110 clients interested in purchasing those capabilities, O'Hanley said in April.

"It won't be a slam dunk," said Tabb. "But they have a tremendous opportunity to play into a market that is really searching for more integrated solutions."

SEE ALSO: A leaked memo shows Bloomberg reached $10 billion in annual revenue last year, and some insiders will receive a special bonus

SEE ALSO: BlackRock says its Aladdin Wealth unit's helping it 'be part of the infrastructure,' and it could drive even more money to the world's largest asset manager

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2 of Delta's credit cards are offering bonus Medallion Qualification Miles — the key to getting elite status

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:54pm  |  Clusterstock

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • When you're a frequent flyer with Delta, you can earn elite "Medallion" status, entitling you to special benefits and perks like first class upgrades and waived fees.
  • To qualify for Medallion status, you need to earn a certain number of Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs, and Medallion Qualification Dollars — MQDs — within a calendar year.
  • MQMs are the total distance you've flown within the year, and MQDs are the total amount you've spent on base fares within that year.
  • To get a boost on MQMs, you can open one of Delta's two premium credit cards and meet minimum spending requirements: the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, or the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.

Delta is currently running a limited time promotion on its three main credit cards, ending July 2. In addition to a ton of bonus SkyMiles when you open a new card and meet minimum spend requirements, you can get bonus Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs, when you open either of Delta's two premium credit cards.

The Platinum Delta SkyMiles AmEx card offers 75,000 Delta SkyMiles and 5,000 MQMs when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Plus, you'll get a $100 statement credit when you make any Delta purchase in the first three months. It's a particularly useful card.

The Delta Reserve AmEx card also offers 75,000 Delta SkyMiles and 5,000 MQMs, though you'll need to spend $5,000 in the first three months. The card has a high annual fee, but offers a few additional benefits.

But what are Medallion Qualification Miles, are how are they different from SkyMiles?

When you join an airline's frequent flyer program, you earn miles virtually every time you fly. Specifically, these miles are redeemable miles — ones that you can redeem for flights, upgrades, or more. Delta calls these "SkyMiles," which is also the name of the frequent flyer program.

Redeemable miles are typically awarded as a function of how much you paid for the base fare on your ticket — on some partner flights, they're awarded as a function of fare class and distance flown. For example, Delta SkyMiles members without elite status earn five redeemable miles per dollar spent on a flight's base fare.

When you fly fairly frequently, you can qualify for elite status within the program. Elite status is usually a tiered system, and each tier offers a few additional perks, like bonus mileage earning on flights, upgrades, priority boarding, a dedicated phone support line, and waived fees. Higher tiers come with better benefits, naturally.

In order to qualify for elite status with an airline, you'll typically need to meet certain qualification requirements. Delta, typical of US airlines in 2019, requires you to both fly a certain number of miles or a certain number of flights, and spend a certain amount of money on base fares throughout the previous calendar year to get elite "Medallion" status. 

Delta refers to the total number of miles you've flown in a year as Medallion Qualification Miles, or MQMs. You typically earn one MQM for every one mile you fly, although if you fly certain full-fare economy or business class fares, either with Delta or with a partner, you can get 1.5–2x MQMs per mile flown.

(Keep in mind that "miles flown" is calculated as the official routing distance — if you fly a few extra miles to go around a storm, or land on a different runway, you won't earn extra MQMs.)

The total amount you've spent on base fares is referred to as Medallion Qualification Dollars, or MQDs. 

While you'd normally need to meet both MQM and MQD requirements to hit the next status level, there are two exceptions.

The first is an exception to MQMs: If you fly a lot, but just very short distances (think a weekly round-trip between New York and Washington, DC), you may be able to qualify by earning enough Medallion Qualifying Segments, or MQSs.

Also, if you spend $25,000 or more on a Delta credit card during the qualification year, the MQD requirement will be waived.

One last thing to keep in mind: Each year that you hold Medallion status, you can roll over any MQMs above the requirements for your status level to the next year. So say that you earn 55,000 MQMs in a calendar year, and end up with Gold status, which only requires 50,000 MQMs. You'll roll over those extra 5,000 MQMs for the next qualification year.

That's why anyone who has or is chasing elite Medallion status with Delta should consider their MQMs when looking at the Delta credit cards. Two of the three main cards — the Platinum and Reserve — offer bonus MQMs when you open a new card. Remember that even if you've had one card before, you can still earn the bonus on the other.

Click here to learn more about the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy » Click here to learn more about the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy »

SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

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The SEC just dinged another Wall Street firm in a probe that's claimed more than $400 million in fines from the likes of JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 2:51pm  |  Clusterstock

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday said the firm Wedbush Securities will pay $8.1 million to settle charges for improperly handling so-called "pre-released" American Depository Receipts (ADRs), or shares of foreign companies that trade in the US. 
  • Wedbush is the 11th firm the SEC has cited, following the likes of Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, in an ongoing investigation into what it calls "abusive" ADR pre-release practices.
  • The entire probe has so far resulted in settlements exceeding $422 million, the SEC said.
  • Visit Markets Insider's homepage for more stories.

Wedbush Securities is the latest firm ensnared in an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation around mishandling so-called "pre-released" American Depositary Receipts.

The independent agency said Tuesday that Wedbush will pay more than $8.1 million to settle charges for improperly handling ADRs, or shares of foreign companies that trade in the US. 

The announcement regarding Wedbush, a privately held brokerage and financial services firm based in Los Angeles, is the 11th action against a bank or broker in the SEC's ongoing probe. The firm has not admitted or denied the SEC's findings. 

The SEC has looked into these practices around ADR for more than a year, and has fined firms including Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Citibank, and Merrill Lynch in recent months for similar abuses.

Wedbush's fine of more than $8.1 million pales in comparison to other settlements from larger US firms for similar ADR offenses. Deutsche Bank agreed to pay nearly $75 million, and JPMorgan agreed to pay more than $135 million in their respective settlements. 

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"Wedbush takes seriously its obligations under the securities laws and we are pleased to resolve this matter relating to conduct that we voluntarily ceased in 2013," Rich Jablonski and Gary Wedbush, the firm's co-presidents, said in a statement. "This is one of several legacy regulatory matters that our leadership team has sought to resolve so that we can continue to focus on serving our clients to the best of our ability."

The practice of pre-releasing, when it comes to ADRs, means they can be issued without the deposit of foreign shares. That is, provided the brokers receiving them have an "agreement with a depositary bank and the broker or its customer owns the number of foreign shares that corresponds to the number of shares the ADRs represent," according to the SEC's definition.

Wedbush should have known this was how the practice worked, but the firm did not handle these securities as such, the SEC said.  

"The SEC's order finds that Wedbush improperly obtained pre-released ADRs from depositary banks when Wedbush should have known that neither the firm nor its customers owned the foreign shares needed to support those ADRs," the SEC said in a statement.

It added: "Such practices resulted in inflating the total number of a foreign issuer's tradeable securities, which, in turn, resulted in abusive practices such as inappropriate short selling and dividend arbitrage." 

Wedbush's failure to reasonably supervise its securities lending desk personnel is the latest in a line of regualtory actions against the firm involving a failure to supervise its employees. 

Earlier this year, Wedbush settled with the SEC after it accused the firm of ignoring numerous red flags for years in what was ultimately an employee's "long-running pump-and-dump" scheme. The firm had failed to reasonably supervise the longtime employee, who was later terminated after targeting retail investors in her scheme.

Now read related coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

A leaked email shows a Wedbush executive urged the firm to drop Netflix coverage because its analyst's call has been wrong for years

Wall Street firm Wedbush settles with the SEC, which accused it of ignoring an employee's 'long-running pump-and-dump scheme'

After Elon Musk's tweets landed Tesla in hot water, an SEC heavyweight is looking to shore up the regulator's social-media rules

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Snap surges 10% after analyst says Wall Street is underestimating the company's growth potential (SNAP)

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 1:52pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Snap shares jumped as much as 10% on Tuesday after an analyst at BTIG increased his price target for the company to $20 from $15.
  • Author Richard Greenfield said Wall Street is underestimating Snap's user growth potential. 
  • The report also pointed to accelerating user growth and monetization as support for BTIG's 'Buy' rating on the stock.
  • Watch Snap trade live.

 

Wall Street seems to be buying into Snap's turnaround plan.

The company's shares surged as much as 10% on Tuesday afternoon after a team led by BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield increased its price target for the stock to $20, up from $15. BTIG has had a 'Buy' rating on Snap since March 2019.

"We believe street expectations for user growth and revenues/EBITDA are simply too low, with far too many investors continuing to ignore Snapchat's recovery," Greenfield said. 

In early April, Snap announced the Snap Audience Network, a mobile ad network that would allow businesses to deploy ads across different apps. Greenfield said Snap's more open approach to engaging third-parties on its platform and its new ad products are boosting monetization. 

Greenfield revised his estimate for Snap's 2019 revenue up to $1.68 billion from $1.65 billion. Adjusted EBITDA is was revised to a loss of $253 million, up from a loss of $268 million. 

Snap's new gender and age swap filters are also driving user excitement and helping to increase daily active users, according to Greenfield. The company's DAU's decreased to 190 million in the first quarter of 2019 from 191 million during the same period last year. 

Greenfield also said Snap has set the bar low for what Wall Street should expect from the company.  

"Snapchat has done a good job keeping expectations low, enabling them to outperform expectations," Greenfield said. 

Snap is up more than 160% this year. 

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Chick-fil-A is now the 3rd-largest restaurant chain in America, and McDonald's and Starbucks should be terrified

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 1:07pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Chick-fil-A is now the third-largest restaurant chain in America by system-wide sales, according to Nation's Restaurant News data.
  • The chicken chain grew sales by 16.7% in 2018, reaching about $10.5 billion.
  • Chick-fil-A moved up from the No. 7 spot on last year's Top 200 ranking, passing Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, and Subway.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Chick-fil-A has whipped past rivals to become the third-largest restaurant chain in the US.

The chicken chain's massive growth in 2018 moved it into the No. 3 spot on the ranking of the largest restaurant chains in the US, with $10.46 billion in American systemwide sales, according to Nation's Restaurant News analysis published Monday.

McDonald's maintained the No. 1 spot, with $38.52 billion in American system-wide sales. Starbucks held on to second place with $20.49 billion.

Chick-fil-A moved up from the No. 7 spot on last year's Nation's Restaurant News' Top 200, passing Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, and Subway. Chick-fil-A's system-wise sales grew 16.7% in 2018, up from $8.97 billion.

Experts say there is no reason to believe Chick-fil-A's growth will slow anytime soon. If anything, Starbucks should be worried it could lose its silver medal.

Read more: Why Chick-fil-A's decision to close on Sundays is a brilliant business strategy

"Can they double that? I think that is a very reasonable goal for them," Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowski told Business Insider in May.

"I would be suprised if they didn't double that in the not-too-distant future," Kalinowski added. "Can they reach $30 billion? I think that's also a realistic goal if you give them enough time. And that should put them ahead of Starbucks." 

Why rivals should be scared

Chick-fil-A competes with chains that have many more locations because of its enviable average unit volumes.

On average, a Chick-fil-A location brought in $4.6 million in annual sales in 2018, up from $4.2 million in 2017 — more than any other fast-food chain. By comparison, the average McDonald's location made $2.8 million. 

Chick-fil-A has plenty of room for growth as it continues to expand outside the South. 

"They're severely under-penetrated," Kalinowski said. "Once you start looking at all these other big metropolitan areas in all these states, there's room for growth for, not just years and years to come but potentially decades to come."

Kalinowski says that some of the brands that should be most concerned about Chick-fil-A's growth are chicken rival KFC and Wendy's, which is known for its chicken sandwich. In an increasingly competitive restaurant industry, many chains are feeling the pressure from Chick-fil-A's growth, as rivals struggle to attract more customers. 

"I would say there's pressure on the burger chains in general," Kalinowski said, "and they're fighting that off with varying degrees of success."

SEE ALSO: Chick-fil-A's mobile sales skyrocket as execs say the chain is entering a new tech-obsessed era

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