The EU strikes back against big tech and other news

Finance industry

The EU clamps down on tech giants

In a newly proposed set of regulations, the European Union is further targeting big technology firms, like Apple, Facebook, and Google. New regulations set by the European Commission target consumer data protection, providing more support to small and medium-sized enterprises, and limiting unfair practices by big tech firms.

Big tech companies control the internet, and the EU wants it to stop.
Big tech companies control the internet, and the EU wants it to stop.

The proposal is two-fold. First, the Digital Services Act would help identify and remove illegal content on the web and integrate the European values of human rights, freedom, and equality into how digital services operate. The second legislation, known as the Digital Markets Act, singles out digital “gatekeepers” who can control web traffic and entire digital markets. This applies to search engines, social networks, and intermediary services.

In a statement, Margrethe Vestager, the Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said: “The two proposals serve one purpose: to make sure that we, as users, have access to a wide choice of safe products and services online. And that businesses operating in Europe can freely and fairly compete online just as they do offline. This is one world. We should be able to do our shopping in a safe manner and trust the news we read. Because what is illegal offline is equally illegal online.”

China tells Ant Group to refocus its efforts

After the Chinese government laid down the hammer on the Ant Group’s attempt at an IPO, it was unclear what their future in the country would be. Now, Chinese regulators have laid out a “rectification plan” in which it hopes the company will comply. The plan includes aspects of regulatory compliance, better protection of user data, transparency on transactions, and revamping certain business segments per Chinese law.

Such a plan is expected to take at least several months to be executed and could hurt the $300 billion valuations put on the company at the time of its scheduled IPO. Flex Yang, chief executive at Babel Finance, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency financial services provider, told TechCrunch, “Ant’s recent interaction with regulatory agencies has shown that regulators are willing to step up on their effort to balance progress with risk by enforcing what it believes to be a sustainable way to de-leverage financial risks… Its products and services may either be taken down or remodeled, which will affect its profitability.”

After a failed IPO, Ant has a path back to the big leagues.
After a failed IPO, Ant has a path back to the big leagues.

N26 looks for more capital

Challenger banks have been upending traditional financial institutions for the past several years, and N26 is hoping to continue that trend. The company, valued at $3.6 billion, is reportedly searching for another round of funding to propel it into the next few years.

The company’s Chief Executive Valentin Stalf sees a future where N26 goes public, not that it will happen anytime soon. “If we list on the stock exchange in three years, that would be fast,” Stalf told Reuters.

N26 hopes to step up and compete with the major banks in the years to come.
N26 hopes to step up and compete with the major banks in the years to come.

A payments megadeal that didn’t happen

Unbeknownst to the public, Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) and Global Payments were deep into merger talks, which valued the deal at $70 billion. This union would have been another in a long line of payments industry mergers. The deal was close to being finalized with an anticipated announcement coming in late December, but things didn’t pan out as expected, and the deal fell through. It’s currently unclear why the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement and if talks will begin once again in 2021.

Both companies have a history of strategic acquisitions. FIS paid $35 billion to purchase the payment processing company Worldpay in 2019, while Global Payments acquired a similar payments company, Total Systems Services, for $21.5 billion not long after.

An FIS and Global Payments merger would have created a new payment processing giant.
An FIS and Global Payments merger would have created a new payment processing giant.

And that’s it for the month! Follow this space to stay on top of the must-know fintech news.