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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

This week the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced it's set up a new office focused specifically on "fintech" (including crypto-assets and blockchain tech), but that's not all the news you should know.

Catch up quick: Fidelity wants to help big cryptocurrency investors; amid growing Tether concerns, other stablecoins are having a great week; and most 2017 initial coin offerings (ICOs) are now trading below their listing price.

Fidelity wants to help big cryptocurrency investors (Axios)

  • Why it matters: Fidelity's new company will provide services to institutional investors, including custody, which has been one of the main hurdles to getting more institutional investors into cryptocurrencies. While some independent companies like BitGo and Kingdom Trust exist to help, several large financial institutions are developing their own.

Amid growing Tether concerns, other "stablecoins" are having a great week (Coindesk)

  • Why it matters: Tether, a digital token said to be backed by U.S. dollars, is seeing its price continue to drop below $1 as investors have been increasingly weary of the issuer's claims and are rushing to exchange the tokens for real dollars. Meanwhile, a number of digital token exchanges are adding or considering adding more stablecoins, reinforcing the growing market demand for this category of asset.

Report: Most 2017 initial coin offerings (ICOs) now trading below listing price (Reuters)

  • Why it matters: During the initial coin offering craze last year, scores of companies and projects rushed to raise millions of dollars by selling digital tokens, many viewing this as an alternative to selling company equity to investors. But in line with many skeptics at the time, Ernst & Young, which authored the study, found that 86 out of 141 projects are now trading below their listing price, and 71% still have no working product. This is significantly different from what you'd see in traditional venture-backed startups, the firm noted.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
27 mins ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.