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The Wednesday Express: North American financials

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The Wednesday Express: North American financials

* In a Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing, former Equifax Chairman and CEO Richard Smith said that the cybersecurity breach stemmed from a mistake made by one person that was subsequently followed by a technological error that failed to detect vulnerabilities in the company's system. Smith added that the technological failure is still being investigated. Smith will next face the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs at 10:00 a.m. ET today.

* Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service granted Equifax a $7.3 million contract to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud, Politico reports.

* Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton will face the House Financial Services Committee at 10:00 a.m. ET today, in a hearing entitled, "Examining the SEC's Agenda, Operations and Budget."

* Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is keeping an open mind on bitcoin, Reuters reports. In a tweet, Blankfein wrote: "No conclusion — not endorsing/rejecting. Know that folks also were skeptical when paper money displaced gold."

* White Mountains Insurance is buying a 50% stake in DavidShield, a provider of expatriate medical insurance to individuals and corporations in Israel.

* Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt said the Financial Stability Oversight Council only considered one of two standards when it removed American International Group's systemically important financial institution label.

* Amid ongoing speculation about what new management at AIG might acquire, the insurer is about to divest a relatively sizable part of its accident-and-health business.

* AmTrust Financial Services projected net loss exposure for third-quarter catastrophe activity at $40 million to $65 million.

* Meanwhile, American Financial Group's initial estimate of pretax loss from third-quarter catastrophe events is at $105 million. On a post-tax basis, it is 95 cents per share.

The Daily Dose: Express Edition is updated as of 6:30 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.