• Financial Regulation

    Why you should pay attention to cryptocurrencies even if you think they are pointless

    I have never been hyped up about Bitcoin, the “blockchain,” or cryptocurrencies. The basic premise behind Bitcoin is that it’s a currency you can send anywhere nearly instantly. The computing power of the millions of bitcoin “miners” is used to solve math problems which create a secure record of every Bitcoin transaction – that record of transactions is called the “ledger.” The miners get paid for keeping the system running by receiving a share of the small amount of new Bitcoins that are being continuously released. Anyone can see the code, and everything is “decentralized” — instead of a single central bank or government holding the power, lots of people participate…

  • Credit Cards,  Financial Regulation

    Are credit card rewards even good for consumers?

    Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that merchants like Home Depot, Target, and Amazon are becoming increasingly frustrated with the high fees they pay to accept rewards credit cards, and are seeking relief from the courts or through negotiations with Visa and Mastercard.   Particularly, merchants are looking for the networks Visa and Mastercard to end their ‘honor all cards’ rules, which say that if you accept any Visa credit card you need to accept all Visa credit cards, and ditto with Mastercard. Today, if you spend $100 at a large grocery store, Visa would charge the store a $2.20 processing fee if you used a top-tier rewards credit…

  • Banking,  Credit Cards,  Financial Regulation

    What’s happening with consumer financial protection around the world

    In the United States, there hasn’t been much positive policy action on consumer financial protection recently, at least not at the federal level. But regulators and policy-makers in the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore have been trying a range of solutions, some incremental and some radical, to make life better for borrowers in their countries. You can read more in my post for the Duke Global Financial Markets Center’s FinReg blog.