EMEA Daily: Crypto Products Less Regulated in UK Than in US, EU Brings Legal Fight to WTO Over China’s Alleged Patent Infringement

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In today’s top Europe, Middle East, and Africa news, cryptocurrency lenders face less regulation in the U.K. than in the U.S., and the European Union accused China of preventing European tech firms from defending their patents in court.

Plus, London-based FinTech Nous closed a $8.9 million fundraising round; the “Artificial Intelligence Public-Private Forum,” report was released by the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority; and inflation in the U.K. has blunted buyer enthusiasm.

Crypto Products Less Regulated in UK Than in US

Last week was an expensive one for BlockFi. The New Jersey-based cryptocurrency lender was fined $100 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle a probe into selling unregistered securities.

But that sense of urgency has yet to reach the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the United Kingdom’s regulatory agency. While the FCA plays a role when it comes to registering crypto asset exchanges for anti-money laundering purposes, it lacks authority to protect consumer’s digital assets.

EU Brings Legal Fight to WTO Over China’s Alleged Patent Infringement

The European Union (EU) brought accusations against China to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday (Feb. 18), alleging Beijing stopped European tech firms from pursuing recourse in foreign courts to defend their own patents.

China’s Supreme People’s Court decided in 2020 that Chinese courts can impose “anti-suit injunctions” that stop a country from taking its case to court outside of China.

Tensions between the EU and China have been growing, and this latest move by the EU follows a separate case opened by Brussels at the WTO.

Inflation Undermines UK’s Post-COVID Shopping Rebound

The receding of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom has prompted shoppers to return to brick-and-mortar stores. But inflation is blunting their buying enthusiasm, according to new data released by the U.K. Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The agency reported a 1.9% increase in January sales. For December, sales declined 4%. Comparing January to December, the ONS reported that prices of fuel and items at non-food stores and online sellers were up. Growth was especially strong at home improvement retailers. Sales at food stores were down.

Final UK AI Public-Private Forum Report Says Governance ‘Crucial’

More than one year after regulators in the United Kingdom vowed to analyze the impact of artificial intelligence (AI), a report details the challenges and recommends governance of the controversial tech tool.

The report, “Artificial Intelligence Public-Private Forum,” by the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was launched in 2020 to gather views on potential regulations that could be useful in supporting safe adoption of AI.

London-Based FinTech Nous Grabs $9M To Lessen Cost-of-Living Crunch

London-based FinTech Nous on Friday (Feb. 18) closed a 7.9 million euros ($8.9 million) fundraising round that will expand its service offering to help more households across the region deal with the cost-of-living crunch.

Nous’ tech platform aggregates first- and third-party data feeds to “power a real-time personalized dashboard of a household’s finances along with actionable insights,” according to a EU-startups.com report.

Transparency and Lower Costs Push European Insurers to Adopt Digital Solutions

The impact of the pandemic has driven many insurers to rapidly adapt to unforeseen disruption. But while some firms have been able to embrace digital solutions and stay ahead of competitors, legacy infrastructure has held some back from achieving that goal.

Helping these firms is core to the mission of London-based payment and treasury management platform Vitesse, as it works with insurers, ranging from small companies to high-profile businesses, to transform often outdated payment processes through digitization since it launched in 2014.