Archive for 2021

FBI Seizes 84% of Colonial Pipeline Bitcoin Ransom

June 8, 2021
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pipelineA month after hackers shut down the Colonial Pipeline for a ransom of $4 million in bitcoin, the FBI got the majority of the money back.

Bitcoin, the digital currency idolized as free and far from the reaches of the government, was confiscated (some theorized “hacked”) this past week. The FBI took back $2.3M: half of the pipeline ransom. The Bureau followed the 75 bitcoins via the blockchain and, according to an affidavit uploaded by ABC News, seized the private key to the bitcoin account and took 63.7 bitcoin. Though the FBI secured 84.9% of the ransom in BTC, the crypto’s price is down to nearly half last month’s value.

Now, bitcoin enthusiasts like the editors at Decrypt will swear that there is no way the FBI could hack a private account that without the private key and account number, both long strings of numbers, the encryption makes it impossible to get in. But law enforcement could confiscate Bitcoin through other methods.

The blockchain is a ledger going back to the first block mined with all transactions perfectly traceable. With enough computer power, an agency can retrace steps hackers take and force the address owner to comply.

April Falcon Doss, executive director of the Institute for Technology Law and Policy at Georgetown Law, told NPR that while unlikely, there is even a theoretical possibility that the FBI outright hacked the private key.

But “The idea that the FBI would have, through some brute-force decryption activity, figured out the private key seems to be the least likely scenario,” She said. Still, a currency that is supposed to be “the future of finance” dropped more than 8% after the news that digital terrorists couldn’t rely on bitcoin for illegal activity.

SEAA: 1,000+ Attendees In Atlanta Next year, Thanks deBanked

June 8, 2021
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seaa 20211,000 people registered at the Southeast Acquirers Association 20th-anniversary conference Bonita Springs Florida: a smash hit in part due to the hybrid presentation model and deBanked’s video coverage, the executive board members of SEAA said. Treasurer John McCormick said next year in Atlanta would be even bigger, following a hybrid in-person venue with recordings and live streams that would pack over 1,000 participants in the show.

“To have our biggest show on the West Coast of Florida was really gratifying,” he said. “We registered over 1,000 and were just shy of that number with check-ins. I think we’ll [surpass that] next year in Atlanta, which will be a great celebration for our board and advisory committee.”

McCormick helped co-found the organization along with Audrey Blackmon and Judy Foster in 2001. In March, he talked with deBanked, describing the difficult choice to go back in person full capacity, a decision that turned into a major win. Derek Vowels, director of partner solutions at Aliaswire and SEAA board member, thanked Cypress Planning Group for the venue support and deBanked for helping produce the in-person and online hybrid model.

Everyone rose to the occasion, Vowels told Green Sheet, thanking Sean Murray, deBanked chief editor, publisher, and deBanked reporter Johny Fernandez, who conducted live interviews at the conference. “Attendees can view every breakout session, presentation, and popular CBD panel on the app and web portal for the rest of the calendar year,” he said. “Going forward, hybrid events that combine face-to-face meetings with recordings will be the norm.”

Alongside live streaming from the show floor on May 25th from 9 am to after 6 pm, Sean and Johny pored through interviews with industry experts.

Sam Schapiro, leader of funding application platform Fundomate, talked with Johny about the resilience of the human species, American small businesses, and funding slowdown.

Shawn Smith, the CEO of Dedicated Commercial Recovery, met with Sean to talk about the new post-covid environment in the B2B space and Florida golf.

Aviv Baron, the founder of Direct Payment Group, talked with Sean about changes in merchant spending, payment processing, cannabis, and drop shipping trends in the past year.

And automated accounts receivable fintech CEO Garima Shah talked with Johny about her firm Biller Genie, and the world opening for business after a year of covid.

deBanked is looking forward to the new year as covid restrictions lift and events come back in person.

FTC Tries Hand With Gramm-Leach-Bliley

June 7, 2021
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United States Federal Trade CommissionFollowing a pivotal loss of power for the FTC, the agency is hoping for a do-over on at least one case it had originally brought under Section 13(b). In FTC v. RCG Advances, et al, the FTC filed a motion to amend the complaint it had originally brought in June 2020 to include new claims under Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Without doing this, the original case was essentially doomed, thanks to a recent SCOTUS decision.

Such claims could be pursued criminally but the DOJ informed the FTC that it did not wish to involve itself in this matter.

The FTC filed its motion to amend on May 14th.

Unsurprisingly, the defendants are unhappy by the sudden divergence of claims.

“If the FTC had a credible cause of action against the Defendants under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, 15 U.S.C. § 6801 (the “GLB Act”) it was incumbent upon them to propound it a year ago when they initiated this action – not now amid the disingenuous pretext that they just purportedly realized it,” they wrote in a response to the motion.

Defendants argue that as a 13(b) case, over 50,000 pages of documents had already been exchanged in discovery and more than two dozen subpoenas issued.

“Despite the sheer volume and nature of such discovery already conducted in the instant matter, granting the FTC leave to amend the Complaint would essentially trigger a reset of the entire case,” they say.

They have asked for the Court to deny the FTC’s motion to amend at this late hour.

Forward Financing Gets $250M to Grow

June 4, 2021
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forward financingForward Financing announced a $250 million credit facility from one of their current capital providers.

“This is a big win for our business and a testament to our strong financial performance throughout this difficult past year,” said Eugene Wong, Vice President of Strategy and Finance. “The increased facility gives us the flexible capital we need to grow and expand so that we can support the small business economy as it recovers on the other side of the COVID pandemic.”

Forward said it reported growing 60% in the past six months and expected to double the employee headcount in the coming year. The numbers back this up: the firm originated a total of $165,826,203 across 6,142 advances in 2020, a representative said. Forward reached a total of $1B in funding as of March 2021 since the firm was founded in 2012.

MCA Vets Launch Funding Crypto Token

June 2, 2021
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With years of funding experience, a duo is creating an MCA cryptocurrency called Seed Token to build better payment collections and take part in what they call the future of financial transactions.

“We started with the notion of using smart contracts and algorithms and blockchain to quicken the collection process,” the projects VP and COO Christopher Clark said. “Achieving a real-time payment technology similar to Cash App or, Venmo and Zelle, utilizing that same process you know with smart contracts and the blockchain to provide a better collection process to get away from the traditional ACH payments that so many of them utilize.”

Seed Token aims to solve the problem that high-risk merchant funding transactions sometimes encounter. To combat the issue of ACH rejects, the Seed team is building instant blockchain-backed payments.

The token went live on May 28th, on a decentralized exchange called Pancake Swap on the Binance blockchain that allows anyone to create a token. The creators attest it is a proof of concept to run crypto-cash advances. Eventually, Clark and the founder and CEO Christian Estevez plan on building their own blockchain that funders, investors, and merchants, can use to pay, fund and stake their holdings to syndicate deals.

Live Stream With Oz Konar

June 2, 2021
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I will be speaking with Oz Konar, the founder of Business Lending Blueprint, at 12:15pm ET on deBanked TV.

Konar teaches people how to build successful home-based businesses in the alternative finance industry and has a highly popular youtube channel.

Tune in at 12:15 on deBanked TV.

Oz Konar

The Mayor of Miami is Hosting a Crypto Conference

June 1, 2021
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Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has embraced crypto so completely that he’s hosting his own crypto conference on Wednesday, June 2.

Bitcoin BlueThe mayor regularly shares photos with crypto executives on social media and his own city government website biography includes a section dedicated to the Bitcoin White paper. The Miami Heat’s home stadium is even being rebraned to the FTX Arena, named after a cryptocurrency exchange (which oddly cannot be accessed by US residents).

Suarez’s June 2nd conference will be 100% virtual and FREE.

In the three days that follow, the largest ever in-person Bitcoin conference will take place at the Mana Convention Center in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.

It’s not just crypto. Suarez has been heavily accommodating to the tech and finance industries with the hope that they might relocate their businesses to Miami.

In that vein, deBanked sat down with the mayor in person back in March.

Kabbage Spotted in American Express Cardholder Dashboard

May 27, 2021
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Kabbage BannerAmerican Express business cardholders may be seeing a notification from Kabbage in their online dashboards. This writer did today.

“Introducing Kabbage®, now an American Express company. Streamline your business banking with Kabbage Checking™ and earn 1.10% APY on balances of up to $100,000, with no monthly maintenance fees. It’s digital checking for the way you work today. Terms apply. Learn More.”

The Learn More link goes to the Kabbage website where users can apply. The product itself may not be ready yet however, as clicking the application link tells users that they can join the waitlist because they’re “not currently accepting new customers.”

The rollout is consistent with statements that American Express has made about Kabbage’s role in the company.