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Google Removes 22 Malicious Chrome Browser Extensions Impersonating Widely-Used Cryptocurrency Wallet Providers like Trezor, Ledger, MetaMask

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Search engine giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has reportedly removed several Chrome browser extensions that were impersonating widely-used cryptocurrency wallet service providers, including popular hardware wallet maker Ledger and MetaMask.

This update has come about a month after Google removed around 50 similar extensions, according to a recent report from Sophos, a cybersecurity company.

On May 9, 2020 Naked Security, a news media outlet managed by Sophos, revealed that Google had removed 22 more malicious Chrome extensions – which were flagged by Harry Denley, an internet security researcher working at MyCrypto, a popular digital asset wallet provider.

It seems that these fake extensions have been appearing almost as fast as they are being identified and removed. In April 2020, the firm had to take down 49 other malicious extensions after Denley pointed them out in a company blog.

Denley said that these extensions had been falsely claiming to be associated with MyEtherWallet, Trezor, Ledger, MetaMask, and Electrum wallet providers.

A fake extension may create a user experience that closely resembles one of these legitimate services, in an attempt to trick unsuspecting users into giving up their passwords and private keys and/or seed / mnemonic phrases.

These types of scams have been going on for a long time. As reported by Cisco’s Talos cybersecurity team in early 2018, a Ukrainian hacker group, called Coinhoarder, had allegedly stolen over $50 million in digital currency from users of the popular Blockchain.info wallet (now accessible from Blockchain.com).

Cybercriminals had carried out the heists by buying Google Ads which were related to commonly-used keywords in searches for Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.

When users searched for these words, which reportedly included searches like “Bitcoin wallet” or “blockchain,” they were shown fake website links. These sites contained “spoofed” links with misspelled words or other symbols inserted like “block-chain.info” and “blockchien.info/wallet.”

Many users had clicked these links and were taken to websites that looked similar to the legitimate ones. Users then entered in their private passwords on these fraudulent sites, and the hackers took their personal details to access their  actual crypto wallets and cleaned out their accounts.

Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/05/161309-google-removes-22-malicious-chrome-browser-extensions-impersonating-widely-used-cryptocurrency-wallet-providers-like-trezor-ledger-metamask/

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Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority to Award More Fintech related Licenses, as Number of Digital Transactions Continue to Rise

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The Middle Eastern country of Saudi Arabia has become a more active player in the global economy as it focuses on diversifying its economy. The Saudi government and local businesses have been adopting the latest technologies to streamline operations. The MENA region country has also been helping its residents cope with the socio-economic challenges created due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has negatively impacted the nation’s private sector, according to a senior official from the Saudi Financial Sector Development (FSD) program.

The FSD program was introduced around three years ago. It has reportedly managed to achieve 90% of its targets and the the Coronavirus crisis has led to increased activity in the Fintech sector with more consumers using digital platforms and services, according to Faisal Al Sharif, director general at the FSD program.

Al Sharif, whose comments came during the 15th virtual edition of the Euromoney Saudi Arabia conference, noted that the FSD’s targets for Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) awarding Fintech related licences was only three by the end of this year. There are eight such licenses that have been issued, Al Sharif confirmed.

As first reported by Arabian Business, the target for cashless payments was 28% by the end of 2020, however, nearly 37% of all transactions are now digital.

Al Sharif believes Fintech solutions will play a key role in improving the Saudi economy and the FSD will focus on enhancing the services offered by this sector and also Islamic finance, as the country prepares for next year. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the FSD program was not affected by the pandemic, Al Sharif said. However, he didn’t specifically mention what these challenges have been.

He noted:

“If we go back to pre-pandemic days, plenty of key performance indicators have achieved their target. However as the pandemic has laid its shadows along all the globe, we have seen certain challenges in the first quarter of 2020.”

Despite these challenges, Fintech services are increasingly being adopted by Saudi businesses and companies based in other MENA regions countries. The Saudi government has been quite supportive of Fintech (in general) with SAMA establishing a regulatory sandbox for testing the latest technologies in 2019.

Muhammed Mekki, founding partner at AstroLabs, a global business incubator that was licensed in Saudi Arabia in 2018, stated that the Kingdom’s startup sector is now moving forward and has been “propelled by this combination of a compelling, deep, local market that’s hungry for tech-enabled solutions; along with a new fuel of venture funding that’s blossomed in the last year or two.”

Fahad Aldossari, deputy governor for research and international affairs at SAMA, revealed:

“A number of government measures, including the lockdown, disrupted economic activities. This actually impacted the private sector, and especially the SMEs.”

In a recent interview with CI, Kokila Alagh, Founder of KARM Legal and a member of the MENA Fintech board, stated:

“Saudi Arabia has emerged as a front-runner in digital banking. The Kingdom has become one of the top digital banking markets in MENA, with more than three quarters of banking customers using online or mobile apps. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) recently created a regulatory sandbox and has managed to attract local and international Fintech companies to provide innovative financial services to Saudi markets.”

Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/09/167157-saudi-arabia-monetary-authority-to-award-more-fintech-related-licenses-as-number-of-digital-transactions-continue-to-rise/

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UK Extends Coronavirus Support Programs for Businesses

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In a statement today, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced an extension of Coronavirus programs that support impacted businesses. The Chancellor announced that the Bounce Back Loan scheme will offer greater repayment flexibility for firms including an extension of the length of the loan from six years to ten.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) also received an extension on the term  of loans from a maximum of six years to ten years.

The Chancellor also announced he would be extending applications for the government’s coronavirus loan schemes that are helping over a million businesses until the end of November.

As a result, more businesses will now be able to benefit from the CBILS, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Future Fund.

The Future Fund is a matching program where the UK government will match investments in qualifying early stage firms in a covertible securities offering.

The Chancellor worried about the resurgence of COVID-19 and the “threat to our fragile economic recovery.”

Innovate Finance CEO Charlotte Crosswell commented on the news:

“We welcome the extension of the coronavirus business loan schemes in response to the ongoing economic uncertainty caused by Covid. Innovate Finance has been in regular conversations with government officials and regulators over the summer, on behalf of non-bank lenders to highlight the unique and important role they are playing in providing finance and emergency loans to SMEs. While the CBILS extension is a crucial step, it is only a short-term measure. We have consistently advocated for a long term solution for SME financing and are therefore encouraged by the announcement that the Chancellor will introduce a new, sustainable scheme from January onwards. We look forward to continuing our discussions with government on our proposals for the new scheme.”

Crosswell said that banks and non-banks must work together to continue lending in an uncertain environment to suppor economic recovery and UK competitiveness.

“The Fintech sector stands ready to play an important role in funding SMEs, to help them manage the uncertainty of the crisis and plan for their future growth,” stated Crosswell.

Earlier this week, it was reported that businesses across the UK have benefitted from 1,328,091 government-guaranteed loans worth £57.3 billion during the crisis through the schemes.

This includes 1,260,940 Bounce Back Loans worth £38 billion, 66,585 loans worth £15.5 billion through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and 566 loans worth £3.8 billion through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

Regarding the Future Fund, to date, there has been £720 million worth of convertible loans approved for 711 companies since the fund opened for applications on 20 May. This amount has been matched by at least the same amount from third-party investors.

Fintechs are facilitating both the lending programs as well as the Future Fund.

Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/09/167191-uk-extends-coronavirus-support-programs-for-businesses/

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Cryptocurrency Exchange & Custodian Gemini Makes Debut in the UK

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Gemini Trust Company, LLC (Gemini), a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian, announced on Wednesday its launch in the UK. The platform reported that it is now offering its services in pound sterling (GBP) and its UK launch comes just after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) granted its Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license.

Founded in 2014, Gemini describes itself as a next-generation cryptocurrency and custodian that allows customers to buy, sell, and store digital assets such as bitcoin and ether. 

“Gemini is building a bridge to the future of money. We offer an industry-leading suite of crypto-native products and tools for individuals and institutions; enabling them to grow, manage, and use cryptocurrency holdings with world-class security, compliance, and customer experience.”

Gemini further revealed it is now live with new features, additional local support, and faster ways for crypto investors to fund their accounts. Tyler Winklevoss, Gemini CEO, spoke about the launch by stating:

“Going live with our full services available in GBP in the UK is another exciting step forward in Gemini’s international expansion, advancing our mission to empower individuals and organizations around the world through crypto.”

Gemini went on to add that it is also now offers its secure platform to UK institutional investors in their local currency, enabling them to access crypto trading, market data, and custody services on behalf of their clients.

Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/09/167206-cryptocurrency-exchange-custodian-gemini-makes-debut-in-the-uk/

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