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Big tech companies like Apple and Facebook are making moves into the global payments market — and fintech (financial technology) start-ups want to be part of the action.

At the Money20/20 Europe conference in Amsterdam Monday, fintech firms positioned themselves as attractive partners, and possible takeover targets, for industry giants vying for a slice of the trillion-dollar global payments market.

“Big tech has always been a very strong contender to actually come in and own parts of the financial services chain,” said Rishi Khosla, co-founder and CEO of OakNorth, a U.K.-based digital bank that reached a $2.8 billion valuation earlier this year. Khosla added OakNorth is “in dialogue” with some tech companies over potential partnerships but wouldn’t specify which ones by name.

In March, Apple unveiled its own credit card in combination with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard. Then in April, Uber secured a $500 million investment from PayPal ahead of its IPO (initial public offering). Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly looking for partners to help develop its own cryptocurrency.

Fintech CEOs told CNBC in Amsterdam that big tech firms are well-positioned to win over users thanks to their already-massive platforms. But that alone won’t guarantee their success in payments or banking, they added.

“We believe in the future whether it’s the bank of Facebook, bank of Amazon, bank of Google, they’re going to need to leverage that existing infrastructure,” said Jason Gardner, CEO of Marqeta, a U.S.-based payments processor. “To go out and sort of replace that themselves would be incredibly difficult.”

Gardner said Marqeta, which reached a $2 billion valuation last month, thinks of itself as the “engine room” by providing the “plumbing” for tech companies like Instacart and Square to process payments. He pointed to a wave of deals that have already taken place this year among payment firms, thanks to disruption from new fintech players. Last week, Global Payments and Total System Services agreed to a multi-billion dollar merger. In March, fintech group Fidelity National Information Services announced plans to buy Worldpay for roughly $35 billion.

Some CEOs said they expect more consolidation as tech companies move into the sector. Michael Kent, CEO of U.K. payments start-up Azimo, said his company is “frequently approached” by companies looking to build out their payment capabilities.

“Particularly in payments, scale matters,” he said. “I think that will have a massive trickle-down effect towards the whole payments sector.”

Kent said there is, however, a threat that big tech companies could choose instead to develop all of the technology in-house.

“They could do all of this stuff themselves. They’ve got the networks. They’ve got the customer base to do it. But I think for the next four or five years as they start to turn the wheels on what is probably the most exciting sector globally you’ll see a lot of partnership news come out,” he said.

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Europe is at odds over who will replace Christine Lagarde at the IMF

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on October 4, 2018.

Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images

European officials are still scratching their heads over Christine Lagarde’s successor at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to several people with knowledge of the discussions, with no standout candidate for the role.

Lagarde is due to start her new job as president of the European Central Bank (ECB) in November, leaving the IMF’s chair empty. In Europe, EU member states agree that the next IMF managing director needs to be from the continent — but they’re struggling to rally behind one particular name.

“The truth is that there is no readily available tried and tested European all-rounder,” a European minister, who did not want to be named due to the sensitive nature of the talks, told CNBC.

There is no official shortlist of candidates, but many governments of EU nations have put forward a name to take the top job. Some of the non-official candidates are:

  • Jeroen Dijsselbloem, former Dutch finance minister and president of the Eurogroup (which brings together the 19-euro zone finance ministers).
  • Mario Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister and currently Eurogroup chief.
  • Nadia Calvino, the Spanish finance minister.
  • Olli Rehn, central bank governor of Finland and former European commissioner for the euro.
  • Mark Carney, the current governor of the Bank of England — a Canadian citizen who also has Irish and English passports.
  • Kristalina Georgieva, from Bulgaria, who is currently serving as chief executive of the World Bank.
  • Mario Draghi, the outgoing ECB president.

According to two other European officials, who also preferred to remain anonymous, none of the candidates have the right profile at this stage. Some names also don’t have enough experience or they are not liked by certain governments due to their political affiliation, their past comments or their background, the officials told CNBC. Since the IMF’s formation back in 1945, the managing director has always been from Europe.

There is also an age restriction to deal with. The IMF’s rules state that managing directors must be under 65 years of age when appointed and cannot serve beyond their 70th birthday. As such, the chances of certain candidates, such as Kristalina Georgieva, become much smaller.

“If (the) age limit is adapted to today’s realities, there is Georgieva and Draghi,” the European minister told CNBC.

France, who’s chairing the discussions across the different EU capitals, is reportedly looking at ways to change the laws. However, it is unclear whether that idea would be approved inside the IMF.

A source within the French government told CNBC that Paris “does not have a preferred candidate and will play its coordination role impartially.” Meanwhile, a separate EU official confirmed to CNBC that the aim is to have an agreement by the end of the month.

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EU has 35 billion euro list ready if US hits EU cars: EU trade chief

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European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium March 7, 2018.

Eric Vidal | Reuters

The European Union would retaliate with extra duties on 35 billion euros ($39.1 billion) worth of U.S. goods if Washington went ahead with tariffs on EU cars, the bloc’s trade chief said on Tuesday.

“We will not accept any managed trade, quotas or voluntary export restraints and, if there were to be tariffs, we would have a rebalancing list,” European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a committee of the European Parliament.

“It is already basically prepared, worth 35 billion euros. I do hope we do not have to use that one,” she continued.

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GE reveals new parts for the ‘world’s largest offshore wind turbine’

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GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of General Electric based in Paris, revealed “the first manufactured components” for its gigantic Haliade-X 12 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine.

On Monday, the firm displayed the first nacelle for the turbine, which will now be shipped from Saint-Nazaire in France to Rotterdam-Maasvlakte in the Netherlands. A nacelle sits directly behind a turbine’s blades and is a shell-like structure that contains crucial pieces of kit. These include the turbine’s gearbox, controller, generator and brake.

GE Renewable Energy said that a prototype of the Haliade-X 12 MW would be installed onshore in the Netherlands in order to “simplify access for testing.” Another nacelle is being assembled with a view to testing it in “actual operational conditions” at a site in the U.K.

John Lavelle, the CEO of GE Renewable Energy Offshore Wind, said the firm was “on track to start commercializing this new product very shortly.”

As technology develops, the size of wind turbines is increasing. In September 2018, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a major player in the sector, launched the first commercially available double digit turbine, the V164-10.0 MW. The turbine has 80-meter long blades which weigh 35 tons each, and a tip height of around 187 meters.

The scale of GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X 12 MW turbine is also considerable. It will have a capacity of 12 megawatts, a height of 260 meters and a blade length of 107 meters. The turbine will generate 67 gigawatt hours of gross annual energy. The company has repeatedly described it as “the world’s largest offshore wind turbine.”

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