While it is unlikely to ever truly compete with traditional currencies, bitcoin could, when combined with the traditional finance system, have cost advantages over credit cards and money transfer firms like Western Union, according to a Credit Suisse article.
The article, penned by Jonathan Horlacher, concludes that bitcoin’s biggest advantage – decentralisation – is also its biggest drawback because there is no authority guaranteeing its value, preventing its widespread adoption as a means of payment.
“Nevertheless, bitcoins have a future in certain areas and countries,” says Horlacher, citing its cost advantage over cards and remittance providers as well as an alternative to state-backed currency in countries, such as Argentina and Zimbabwe, where confidence is low.
Ultimately, he asks: “Who do you trust more, your own central bank or an anonymous online network?”
This leaves open the question of central bank-backed virtual currencies; a prospect which has gained traction in recent months. In February, the Bank of England said that the distributed ledger technology that bitcoin relies on “may have considerable promise. This raises the question of whether central banks should themselves make use of such technology to issue digital currencies.”
Last month a senior researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis floated the idea of a government-backed ‘Fedcoin’ that uses a bitcoin-style protocol but the US dollar as the monetary object, combining the best of cryptocurrencies and cash.
And it has since emerged that IBM is taking the issue beyond the hypothetical, holding informal discussions with a number of central banks about the creation of a blockchain-based digital cash and payment system for major currencies.
GlobeOne, a new financial technology company, today announced a partnership with InvestaBank and Bankaool that will bring GlobeOne’s mobile banking solution to Mexico later this year.
Through this new partnership, GlobeOne will provide a mobile interface for a suite of financial services offered by InvestaBank and Bankaool in Mexico, bringing bank services to those who are currently underserved by existing financial services.
“Only 45% of the population in Mexico has a bank account, which is why this partnership is an exciting development for Mexican consumers,” said Michael Wolper, GlobeOne member and Chief Marketing Officer. “Through GlobeOne’s growing global network, consumers will have access to the basic financial services necessary to build a strong financial future, and banks will have a new platform to serve the many digitally connected Mexican consumers who do not participate in the traditional, brick-and-mortar banking system.”
GlobeOne leverages mobile technology to provide a digital banking solution that is expected to launch in the United States and Mexico in the fourth quarter of 2015. As new banking partners are secured around the world, additional countries will join GlobeOne’s integrated global network. GlobeOne’s innovative app will offer paperless checking, a security savings account, a line of credit, domestic and international transfers between GlobeOne members, and access to the global income-building SocialBoostTM program, which gives members the opportunity to earn a new income stream while helping those who need it most.
“We are excited to work with GlobeOne and launch a system, an app, which will add to our business model of financial inclusion in the country. Technology is part of every person’s daily life, which is why this is a great opportunity to expand financial services to the unbanked and underserved population in Mexico,” said Francisco Meré Palafox, Chief Executive Officer of Bankaool.
“Our partnership with GlobeOne guarantees our ability to provide state-of-the-art banking and payment technology to the widest Mexican population who will now have mobile phone access to the best in financial services,” added Enrique Vilarte, Chief Executive Officer of InvestaBank.
GlobeOne executives will present the mobile interface and features at the “Mobile Money & Digital Payments Americas” conference in Mexico City on March 24th.
Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the market-leading provider of mission-critical solutions to the financial services industry, today announces the expansion of its cloud-based services in Mexico with the launch of the T24 country Model Bank for Mexico in the Microsoft Azure cloud.
Temenos has been working with Microsoft Azure since 2011, when together they were first providers to put core banking in the cloud. There are two early adopters for the service In Mexico, namely Servicios y Financiamiento Agrícola, S.A. de C.V. (SeFia); and Sociedad Financiera Campesina S.A. de C.V. (Soficam).
By offering core banking in the cloud, Temenos is enabling financial organisations to operate with lower costs and more flexibility and, by extension, help them to provide under-served communities with access to financial services.
By deploying a Mexico-specific modern core banking solution as a service on the Microsoft Azure platform, Temenos can offer the functionality to address local service needs, including assistance with regulation and compliance requirements, while removing the high cost, lengthy timeline and inherent risk of building or licensing a fully-functional, compliant technology platform in-house.
SeFia, one of two early adopters, was established in 2005 in Mexico and has a presence in the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato and Queretaro. SeFia helps its customers finance the purchase of machinery and equipment in the agricultural sector. Their product portfolio is designed to facilitate farmers, cattle ranchers and builders in obtaining loans that allow them to expand their businesses and generate a positive impact on the local economy.
SeFia COO, Luis Fernando Rosado, said:
“We have in T24 a comprehensive solution for our loan portfolio administration, the software is quick and easy to use and the information it provides is of high quality.”
Soficam, another early adopter, was established in 2008 in Mexico and has a presence in 19 states. Soficam grew out of a strategic alliance between agricultural and banking sectors, offering loans to small producers in the Mexican agricultural and fishing industries. Soficam is related to the Confederacion Nacional Campesina, an organization formed by 2.5 million affiliates classified in 17 agricultural productive branches across Mexico.
Soficam CIO, Alejandro Hatchett Cruz, said:
“Accessing T24 in the cloud allows us to deliver financial services to our clients without the complexity and expense of in-house IT systems.”
Enrique O’Reilly, Regional Director, Temenos Latin America, said:
“We are delighted to kick off 2015 with the launch of our award-winning core banking solution in the cloud for Mexico. Deploying banking technology from a cloud-based platform solves significant issues for our clients by allowing them to launch quickly, to turn fixed into variable costs and to operate profitability at much lower levels of scale. The work we are doing in Mexico with Microsoft builds on our experience in other countries around the world such as Nigeria, Kenya and Myanmar.”
Ernesto Neve, Solutions Director for Financial Services, Microsoft, commented:
“We are very excited to bring Financial Institutions in México the best cloud platform available. Our cloud platform offers the best in IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, as well as compliance with the Mexican banking regulator CNBV’s requirements for institutions working with cloud services. Our security, privacy and integrity model enables Financial Institutions to feel confident when moving to our Azure platform.“
Fresh from his forecasts last month that half of the world’s banks would get left behind by the digital revolution in financial services, BBVA chairman Francisco González has mapped out a new future for his organisation, not as a bank, but as a software company.
González pointed out the dramatic impact that technology is having on the transformation of the financial sector during a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
“BBVA will be a software company in the future,” González told the audience, recalling that the bank embarked on its “digital journey” eight years ago.
During this time it has made significant investment to build a new customer-centric technological platform, which operates in real time and is also modular and scalable. This platform allows BBVA to develop a new generation of services to compete with new startups and major digital companies, with the emphasis on mobile says González.
“The mobile has emerged as the driving force for disruptive innovation in banking,” the BBVA chairman said.
The number of BBVA mobile customers has increased 14-fold in three years and totaled 4.3 million at the end of 2014.
González underlined the success of the bank’s mobile payments app BBVA Wallet, which already claims over 450,000 downloads in Spain and is poised to be rolled out in Mexico, the US and Chile. “It’s the world’s most-used cloud-based NFC payment app,” the BBVA chairman boasted.
The bank currently has 450 people working on the wallet, but this is just the beginning. Currently just 3000 of its 110,000 staff work on the digital side but in five years González reckons it will be a majority, as the company re-engineers its workforce to compete on equal terms with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon.
“There is a threat element which I like because banking needs competitors,” said González. “We need to be more efficient but we can also collaborate with them.”
Ciudad de México, diciembre 03, 2014.- La incorporación de México al Mercado Integrado Latinoamericano (MILA) es un hito trascendental para el mercado mexicano, destacó la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP).
Apuntó que esta incorporación es resultado de la reforma financiera promulgada el 10 de enero pasado y del trabajo coordinado de las autoridades y el gremio bursátil, en beneficio de todos los participantes del sistema, así como de la sociedad mexicana en su conjunto.
La dependencia federal señaló en un comunicado que este martes se realizó la primera operación en el MILA a través de la Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV), lo cual fue posible gracias a la reforma financiera.
Además, indicó, con base en la implementación de su regulación secundaria realizada por la SHCP, la Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (CNBV) y demás autoridades financieras, así como en los trabajos de cooperación entre las bolsas de valores y las casas de bolsa de los países miembros.
Refirió que los sistemas tecnológicos y operativos del MILA en México se encuentran en funciones, y por su parte el S.D. Indeval, Institución para el Depósito de Valores, ha realizado las gestiones necesarias para conectarse a los otros depósitos de valores del MILA.
En paralelo, añadió la Secretaría de Hacienda, se firmaron acuerdos recíprocos y se realizaron pruebas de conectividad para que la operación se lleve a cabo de forma segura y eficiente.
Con esto los mercados de Colombia, Chile y Perú quedan habilitados a partir de esta fecha para operar en el mercado mexicano a través de un intermediario local, realizando intercambios operativos en todos los sentidos.
Resaltó que la incorporación de México al MILA significa que los inversionistas mexicanos tendrán acceso a más de 780 valores listados, además este mercado integrado abre una ruta franca, disponible a los inversionistas de los países miembros, para invertir en valores mexicanos.
De acuerdo con la Federación Mundial de Bolsas (WFE), con la incorporación de México el MILA se convierte en el primer mercado en América Latina por número de compañías listadas y valor de capitalización bursátil, expuso.
Indicó que en el MILA se operarán, a través de la BMV, todos los servicios de los mercados de acciones y derivados, incluyendo el listado de acciones, títulos de deuda, Certificados de Capital de Desarrollos (CKDs) y Fideicomisos de Infraestructura y Bienes Raíces (Fibras).
Asimismo se ofrecerán plataformas electrónicas de negociación para acciones, derivados financieros, operaciones de renta fija y derivados over the counter (OTC), además de acceso por medio de una orden de ruteo al mercado de derivados más grande del mundo, el Chicago Mercantil Exchange (CME).
Del mismo modo se liquidarán y compensarán todas las operaciones a través de contrapartes centrales y se ofrecerán servicios de custodia, abundó la dependencia federal.
The Avaloq group has successfully completed the transformation project to exchange the core banking platform at the Wealth Management Operations Back Office of Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd to the B-Source Master, the Swiss Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) platform based on the Avaloq Banking Suite.
Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd today announced that the migration of its core banking platform to Avaloq’s Swiss BPO platform, the B-Source Master based on the Avaloq Banking Suite, has been completed. The transformation project was carried out within 13 months after the Avaloq group had taken over operational responsibility for the Wealth Management Operations Back Office of Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd.
Avaloq is the only independent provider for the financial industry to both develop and operate its own software. Business Process Outsourcing and Operations of the Avaloq Banking Suite for Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd are provided through B-Source, Avaloq’s BPO centre in Switzerland.
Marco Bizzozero, CEO Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd, said: “The migration of the operational platform and the outsourcing of support processes allow us to concentrate on our strengths and to free up resources for our core business: client advisory and investment management. With this Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd is further extending its leading position in international wealth management.”
B-Source CEO Markus Gröninger adds: “In a short period of time we successfully finalised the migration. Our highly industrialised services allow banks to fully concentrate on their core business and focus on generating future growth – I am delighted that Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd now profits from these advantages too.”
Francisco Fernandez, Avaloq group CEO, expressed his satisfaction with the going live: “I am pleased to welcome Deutsche Bank (Switzerland) Ltd as an important customer in our growing BPO community and consider this successful migration as a powerful reference for other tier one banks.”
The Avaloq group, an international leader in integrated and comprehensive solutions for wealth management, universal and retail banks, announces the recruitment of Anantha Ayer. He will assume the position of CEO of the planned Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centre in Singapore.
Anantha Ayer joins Avaloq following more than 20 years in distinguished leadership roles in Technology and Operations within the Asset & Wealth Management industry. He was most recently the interim Head of Wealth Management Operations (Global) at Deutsche Bank AG. Prior to that he has lead teams from Technology, Operations and large change initiatives across various financial centres.
“I am delighted to have Anantha joining Avaloq at this exciting time. Given our ambitious goals for the Asia Pacific market, we want to have the most talented people in senior management roles. Anantha brings a strong leadership in building organisations and his skills and experience in the banking operations and technology area will prove invaluable as Avaloq builds its presence in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centre in Singapore for Asia Pacific”, comments Peter Scott, Chairman of the Board, Avaloq Sourcing Asia Pacific (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Commenting on his appointment, Anantha Ayer says: “I am very enthusiastic to be part of this exciting journey with Avaloq. I am convinced that the BPO offering from Avaloq provides benefits, advantages and opportunities to banks and wealth managers – not only a cutting edge technology platform but also an industrialised operational process to support the businesses.”
Avaloq Sourcing Asia Pacific (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., the newly founded subsidiary of the Avaloq group, will supply back office services for the Wealth Management business of Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management in Singapore. The new organisation will be part of Avaloq’s global network of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centres.
Avaloq Sourcing Asia Pacific (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. will provide Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management (DeAWM), a division of Deutsche Bank Group, with full BPO services for its Wealth Management back office operations in Singapore. These services include back office administration processes. The BPO provider is the newly founded subsidiary of the Avaloq group, an international leader in integrated and comprehensive banking solutions for wealth management, universal and retail banks. The new organisation will be part of Avaloq’s global network of BPO centres.
The move to Avaloq Sourcing Asia Pacific (Singapore) Pte. Ltd, a subsidiary of the Avaloq group, is planned in two phases: the first in Q3 2014 and the second – the transfer of the core IT platform to Avaloq’s technology platform – is planned to take place in 2015, subject to compliance with local requirements.
“Business process outsourcing is rapidly gaining in importance as financial institutions continue to free themselves of processes and operations that are not regarded as differentiating but are subject to volume efficiencies. Following the successful establishment of BPO centres in Switzerland and Germany, we are now extending this business model to Singapore where we will be announcing the formal launch of a regional BPO centre later this year”, comments Peter Scott, General Manager for Avaloq Asia Pacific and Chairman of the Board for Avaloq Sourcing Asia Pacific (Singapore).
Avaloq adds Group Chief Acquisition Officer to expand Global BPO Strategies
The Avaloq group announces the appointment of Dr. Enrico Ardielli as Group Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO). His previous role as Group Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will be taken over by Markus Bertini.
In line with its market vision and growth plans, Avaloq will continue to execute its BPO strategy by creating a Global Processing Network (GPN). For the realisation of this international BPO centre network of excellence, new business will be added both organically and through acquisitions. Therefore, the Board of Directors of the Avaloq group has decided to create the new position of a Group CAO whose responsibility includes the successful handling of acquisitions at minimum risk. In addition, the Group CAO will be a member of the Board of Directors in the various Avaloq group subsidiaries.
The new position will be taken over by Enrico Ardielli, who has been with Avaloq for more than 12 years as Group CFO. Ardielli holds a Dr. oec. publ. degree as well as a degree in business and economics from the University of Zurich. His successor as Group CFO will be Markus Bertini, who joins the Avaloq Executive Board after having worked for Avaloq since May 2014. Prior to this, he successfully ran his own accountancy and consulting company serving multinational clients and worked as well as a lecturer at Zurich Business School. Enrico Ardielli and Markus Bertini assume their new positions on 1 September 2014.
Francisco Fernandez, Group CEO of Avaloq, comments: “I am glad that we could appoint two outstanding finance professionals for these key positions. Thanks to Enrico Ardielli’s extensive knowledge and his great achievements for the Avaloq group so far, I am convinced that the Group CAO position is perfectly filled and that he will further strengthen our business model and group strategy. At the same time, Markus Bertini’s passion for entrepreneurship and vast financial experience make him the best choice for the Group CFO position.”
BTG will pay for BSI Group with 1.2 billion francs in cash and 300 million francs of shares in units listed in Sao Paulo, Generali said in a stock-exchange statement today. The Trieste, Italy-based company said it will book a loss of about 100 million euros ($136 million) for the transaction, while the deal will add about 9 percentage points to its Solvency 1 ratio.
The Brazilian lender controlled by billionaire Andre Esteves is expanding internationally as the country’s growth slows. It’s added units in Mexico and Colombia, and in January Esteves said he planned to open offices in Geneva, Houston and Singapore as the firm expanded in commodities. Last week, it agreed to acquire Global Atlantic Financial Group Ltd.’s reinsurance unit Ariel Re.
“This acquisition reflects our confidence in the tradition and strength in Switzerland as a global financial center,” Esteves, the bank’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “It’s an opportunity to build one of the biggest global private-banking platforms.”
BTG was unchanged at 34.15 reais at 10:31 a.m. in Sao Paulo. Generali reversed earlier gains, falling 0.1 percent to 15.38 euros in Milan, valuing the insurer at 24.1 billion euros.
The acquisition will almost double BTG’s assets under management to create a wealth- and asset-management business with more than $200 billion in assets, BTG said. The bank plans to keep the BSI brand for its global wealth-management platform.
“The acquisition is in line with BTG’s strategy to diversify revenue,” Ricardo Kim, an analyst at brokerage XP Investimentos CCTVM SA in Sao Paulo, said in a report today. He said the transaction was positive for BTG.
Brazil’s rising inflation and slowing growth has led to a drought in the nation’s initial public offerings, reducing investment banking revenue. BTG has been building a global commodities business since last year as part of its strategy to offset declining investment banking fees.
Brazil, which hosted this year’s World Cup, has expanded at an average annual pace of 2 percent since 2011, when President Dilma Rousseff took office, the slowest economic growth for a Brazilian administration in more than two decades. Economists expect the South American nation to expand 1.05 percent this year, according to a weekly survey published by the central bank today.
Proceeds from the sale, which is scheduled to be completed by the first half of next year, may be reduced by “any fine established pursuant to the U.S. Department of Justice’s tax amnesty program relating to Swiss financial banking institutions payable by BSI,” Generali said.
BSI is one of at least 36 Category 2 Swiss banks seeking to avoid prosecution for handling undeclared American money by joining the U.S. Justice Department’s voluntary disclosure program. The U.S. is scouring Switzerland for names of tax dodgers who used the world’s largest offshore haven to hide money from the Internal Revenue Service.
Under a program announced in August, about a third of Swiss banks with “reason to believe” they violated tax laws asked the Justice Department to forgo prosecution. In turn, banks must hand over data on undeclared accounts and pay penalties.
Generali CEO Mario Greco sold the unit to focus on the company’s main business, strengthen finances and boost profitability. The firm, which set a goal of 4 billion euros of revenue from asset sales by 2015, will have achieved 3.7 billion euros with the sale, Greco said in the statement.
“This sale completes the disposal process aimed at strengthening the capital base of the group, resolving a key issue for us, and allowing Generali to focus on driving forward with its core insurance business,” he said. “This result is a testament to our team’s ability and commitment to execute a complex transaction in a challenging environment.”
BSI had a net loss of 722 million Swiss francs last year as it took writedowns faster than planned because of new regulations for accounting treatment of goodwill, the bank said in April.
Generali’s net income in the three months to March climbed to 660 million euros from 603 million euros a year earlier, the company said in May. The first-quarter pro-forma Solvency 1 ratio after the BSI sale will exceed the insurer’s 2015 target of 160 percent, it said today.
“Once the announced sale of BSI is concluded, Generali’s period of balance sheet repair will be complete,” Marcus Rivaldi, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a report today. “Focus now turns to how earnings and dividends can be improved.”
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the leading global network of exchanges and clearing houses, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement with ULLINK, a provider of electronic trading and connectivity solutions to the financial community, for the combined sale of NYFIX and Metabit, both units of NYSE Technologies.
The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2014. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“This agreement completes our stated goal of taking certain stand-alone NYSE Technologies businesses and positioning them with other leading technology companies that can enable them to continue to grow and innovate on a global scale,” said Ben Jackson, President and Chief Operating Officer, ICE Futures U.S. and President, NYSE Technologies. “With more than one thousand firms and order execution venues connecting to NYFIX and Metabit from key trading venues around the world, we are committed to working effectively with the ULLINK team to support this transition.”
NYFIX offers a portfolio of end-to-end technology solutions for the financial services industry with FIX-based products designed to handle a firm’s high-performance messaging, connectivity, routing and monitoring needs. NYFIX Marketplace™ is a global community of more than 1,000 trading counterparties with connections to exchanges and other electronic trading venues, including Metabit’s extensive reach in Asia.
Metabit’s operates a collection of electronic trading and connectivity solutions, including Direct Market Access (DMA) capabilities that enable access to financial markets throughout Asia. Based in Japan and built on cutting-edge technology designed in Asia for Asian markets, Metabit links more than 140 market participants in the region.
This agreement completes Intercontinental Exchange’s previously announced intention to divest certain non-exchange related assets of NYSE Technologies.
Evercore is acting as the exclusive financial advisor and Shearman & Sterling LLP as legal advisor to Intercontinental Exchange on this transaction.
Market Updates – After tumbling as much as 11% in the first 2 weeks of May, to a new low of 513.9 on May 13th, due to the tension with China in Vietnam’s East Sea, the market rebounded in the second half of the month and closed down 2.8% (VNIndex) and 2.3% (VN30). The HNX lost 5.1%.
Inflation advanced slightly in May, backed by moderate improvement in demand and supply.
May inflation was recorded at 0.2% MoM, down from April’s 0.33%. Consequently, the CPI increased only 1.08% YTD. Moderate improvement continued to be recorded in both demand and supply sides. 5M2014 real retail sales advanced 6% YoY, surpassing the same period last year’s growth rate of 4.6%, whilst the index-industry products (IIP) increased 5.6% YoY, higher than the rate of 4.8% of 5M2013.
Sustained YTD trade surplus driven by FDI sector
GSO estimated that 5M2014 trade surplus reached USD 1.6bn, a slight drop from the historic high of USD 2bn recorded for 4M 2014 in April, due to a trade deficit of USD 400mn in May. FDI continued to be the biggest contributor to the economy as the sector generated a trade surplus of USD 7bn in 5M2014 whilst the domestic sector made a trade deficit of USD 5.3bn. FDI disbursement remained steady with 5M2014 disbursed FDI recorded at USD 4.6bn, up 0.4% YoY.
FDI sector’s confidence largely restored through appropriate compensation and strong determination of the Vietnamese Government to prevent recurrence of riots
The PM has requested urgent support and compensation for businesses affected by anti-China protests and riots, including tax cuts, workers’ salary subsidy and land rental reduction etc. to offset against damages suffered. These prompt incentives and the Government’s affirmative measures to punish rioters and to avoid recurrence of such events have more or less calmed the public’s and FDI sector’s sentiment, as well as restored investors’ confidence.
Rumor about another round of currency depreciation was denied by the SBV
As the USD/VND rate has been increasing, amidst the tension with China, to 21,140 – 21,190 (official bank rates) in May, the highest level since the beginning of the year, concern about another depreciation of the Dong has again emerged. However, the SBV denied the rumor, given (1) sustained YTD trade surplus; (2) historic high FX reserves; and (3) the wide gap between deposit rates of the Dong and the USD. The SBV also affirmed that the depreciation (if any) will not exceed 1% in 2014 (down from the 2% stated at the beginning of the year) to show their confidence in maintaining the Dong’s stability.
Vietnam consumer confidence once again improving
Vietnam Consumer Confidence Index reached 99 points in 1Q2014 in the global survey of Nielsen, the highest level since Q4/2011. Consumers were found to be more willing to spend after 2 years of consumption tightening as 56% of respondents across the country had positive perception of their personal finances for the year ahead. Although saving still remained the top priority, consumers channeled more spare cash into tourism, house renovation and stock investment.
Our view – The sell-off due to the political tension with China was fairly short-lived as by month end, the VNIndex was almost back to where it started for the month. We think although the tension may not go away very soon, it will not have significant long-term downside impact on Vietnam’s economy. In fact, economic stability has been maintained on the broad base since the beginning of the year with inflation under control, relatively stable exchange rate and sustained trade surplus. Discussion on amendments of the Law of Investment and a comprehensive legal framework for Public – Private Partnership (PPP) in the ongoing 7th cabinet meeting will provide investors with uniform guidance and regulations in PPP to encourage more private investment in infrastructure. This will also help to improve the administrative process in getting investment project approval to make the investment environment in Vietnam more favorable. The Government’s prompt support rendered to affected businesses in the anti-China riots has shown that FDI is still a top priority for Vietnam. We think the market will likely remain volatile in the coming weeks and we will continue to monitor it closely for buying opportunities.
The Avaloq group and Banque Internationale à Luxembourg (BIL) intend to forge a new strategic partnership: The international provider of banking solutions and the bank are planning to join forces to establish the first independent provider of full Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services in Luxembourg for the Benelux and the French market.
The bank and the international provider of banking solutions today announced that they are in advanced discussions for a joint project to establish, pending amongst other, the closing of the transaction and regulatory approval, the first independent provider of full Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services in Luxembourg for private and universal banks in the target market Benelux and France. This follows BIL’s recent decision to choose the Avaloq Banking Suite as its new core banking system after a thorough selection process.
As Luxembourg’s oldest private bank, BIL has always played an active role in the development of Luxembourg’s economy and with this decision confirms its intention of actively contributing to the ongoing transformation of the local financial industry. Avaloq, whose presence in Luxembourg goes back to 2007, has always considered Luxembourg as a key market in its strategy. Luxembourg was the first country outside of Switzerland Avaloq set foot in. Today, Avaloq counts 11 customers in Luxembourg that are either using or currently implementing the Avaloq Banking Suite as their comprehensive banking solution.
The goal of the planned strategic partnership is to offer local and foreign private and universal banks a solution to standardise and automate back office processes and to have them operated by a seasoned specialist. As an industry leader in this area, Avaloq understands the importance of fully industrialising back office processes while at the same time driving innovation and differentiation in the advisory area. This enables banks to focus entirely on their front office activities and thus to make a difference in client interaction. The BPO model also serves as the ideal solution for foreign banks wishing to use Luxembourg as an entry point into the European financial market.
The Avaloq group has already successfully implemented this independent BPO model in Switzerland and Germany. BIL and Avaloq are now planning to join forces in order to adapt the business model to the market specific requirements of Benelux and France. Furthermore, Avaloq is currently in the process of building up an international network of BPO centres, which the new BPO centre in Luxembourg would be part of. Further announcements will be made later this year.
In year 2014 we expect to see numerous new policy and regulation updates on the financial reform of ShanghaiFTZ. Where are we today?
Shanghai local government and Chinese central government will endeavor to expand the market functions, deepen the opening of local financial markets to foreign investors, increase the number of financial institutions in the FTZ, encourage the financial business innovation and make Shanghai more of an international financial center.
Many reform details are under consideration or have already been executed in 2014, such as setting up crude oil futures, international gold trading, financial asset trading, syndicated loan trading platforms and building nationwide trust registry service institutions. Besides, rules regarding foreign and FTZ-registered firms’ parent companies RMB bonds issuance are on the way. Moreover, ShanghaiFTZ regulators will also consider introduction of free trade account management by allowing financial institutions to set up FTA (Free Trade Account) accounting units segregated for residents and non-residents. Furthermore, ShanghaiFTZ regulators encourage direct investment abroad from local firms and private equity funds. The main contents of ShanghaiFTZ’s reform could be described as a ‘1+4’ policy, where ‘1’ stands for risk control segregate account system; ‘4’ stands for interest rate liberalization, foreign exchange liberalization, RMB cross-border utilization and RMB capital account opening.
FX reform and FTA accounts
PBOC announced that, starting on March 17, 2014, the interbank RMB/USD spot price’s fluctuation spread increased from 1% to 2%. For commercial banks, the fluctuation range of RMB/USD spot price offering to the clients could be expanded from 2% to 3% from the mid-price calculated by Chinese interbank FX market. This is the third time for PBOC to expand the fluctuation range. Analysts say the expansion in RMB/USD spot fluctuation range is a clear signal that RMB will be internationalized in the near future and ShanghaiFTZ is thought to be a test-bed for that. The most prominent aspect of ShanghaiFTZ FX reform is the FTA (Free Trade Account). FTA is essentially a free trade bank account for ShanghaiFTZ registered firms, very similar to an offshore bank account, which enables free capital flow inside the FTZ. FTA system allows both foreigners and local residents to get their money in and out through FTZ. Overall, there are mainly 3 types of FTA accounts. Local firms in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; individuals in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; foreign firms in the FTZ could open FTN accounts. As regulators are treading conservatively with hot money inflows and money laundering risks in mind, there is still no detailed timeline. However, we believe the FTA mechanism will be released in 2014 or 2015 as a momentous milestone in the financial history of China.
Interest rate reform
In March, 2014, a PBOC official claimed that the sequence of ShanghaiFTZ interest rate reform will be ‘liberalize interest rates for foreign currencies prior to RMB interest rates; free the loan rates prior the deposit rates’.
There were actions towards interest rate reform in ShanghaiFTZ from the regulators. PBOC announced that from March 1st, 2014, the deposit rate of foreign currencies below the amount of USD3 million would be liberalized, which actually removed the ceiling for foreign currencies’ deposit rate. This is thought to be an important step on the road to fully liberalized interest rate reform. The next step could be liberalization of the deposit rates of the local currency, which may not only be applicable in ShanghaiFTZ, but also the rest of China.
Cross-border RMB utilization
On Feb 21, 2014, PBOC released the detailed regulation on expanding the usage of RMB overseas, which simplified the process of RMB overseas usage under current and direct investment account. However, overseas RMB financial scale and usage range will still be restricted, as well as cross-border e-commerce transactions and RMB trading services.
Six banks constitute the first batch of firms applied for the cross-border RMB settlement licenses. ICBC and Bank of China helped their clients within the zone to make an overseas RMB loan; Bank of Shanghai, HSBC and Citi Bank launched cross-border RMB current account centralized collection and payment services; Bank of Communications signed the first overseas RMB borrowing service for the non-bank financial institutions.
Capital account liberalization (to be announced)
In the future, the capital account might be opened for local and foreign investors. As Chinese reformers are relatively prudent and conservative, the liberalization process of capital accounts have been advancing relatively slowly so far. One important step in the process will be a gradual opening of commercial futures market to foreign institutional investors.
2014 version of ‘negative list’ (possibly to be released in the 1st half of 2014)
In the 1st half of 2014, a new version of ‘negative list’ will be released to update the 2013 version. Although it is not clear what items this version may include, there are two aspects which are certain. One aspect is that the contents included in the negative item list will be shortened, which implies that the restrictions on types of companies to register in the zone will be reduced. The other aspect is that ShanghaiFTZ might cooperate with Hong Kong to introduce advanced practices from the city.
In-depth report on ShanghaiFTZ are available here.
NEW YORK – 03 FEBRUARY 2014 – Marco Polo New World, the leading provider of trading solutions for developed and emerging markets, today announced that Christian Robertson has assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of the company. The Marco Polo New World Board of Advisers has carefully selected Mr Robertson for his unique financial services delivery experience garnered during nearly a decade of building trading platforms around the world.
Marco Polo New World appointed Mr Robertson to lead the firm based on the success as co-founder of Paladyne Systems, a leading provider of buy-side technology and services, acquired by Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE: BR) in September 2011. Before Paladyne, Mr Robertson was the founder and President of GAA, a consulting firm providing high-end systems to the alternative investment industry, having spent his early career as a technology investment banker for Credit Suisse and later Merrill Lynch.
“I believe there is a tremendous opportunity for revenue growth and expansion of the Marco Polo New World product offering given our long-standing relationships with foreign brokers and our unique global trading reach,” commented Christian Robertson. “Marco Polo New World is able to leverage Perseus infrastructure services in new and existing markets. Investing in the latest technologies, Marco Polo New World will be able to grow into new global markets and lines of business, while expanding our existing platform,” he concluded.
Marco Polo New World, established in 2000, was one of the original firms who set out to overcome the barriers to investing and trading between developed and emerging markets. Today Marco Polo New World, with its new focus and technology, has in place a global electronic trading platform that currently provides connections to 80+ plus countries representing more than 100 markets.
Dr. Jock Percy, Chairman of Marco Polo New World commented, “We are delighted to have Christian take the helm given his proven track record, innovative thought leadership and his ability to execute on deployment of a global trading technology business.”
The Avaloq group, a leader in integrated and comprehensive banking solutions, is proud to announce it has been positioned in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant by Gartner in the recently released ‘Magic Quadrant for International Retail Core Banking (IRCB) 2013’ report. Avaloq sees this as recognition of its strong community work and ability to deliver a full-service BPO option to its customers.
For Avaloq being positioned in the Magic Quadrant is a confirmation of its success in the retail segment and its market vision. “We are convinced that our unique community including client banks, universities, associations and partners gives us that extra edge by gaining important market knowledge. The feedback coupled with our own vision and insights from our BPO centres ensure that we stay ahead of trends and develop product capabilities accordingly”, says Francisco Fernandez, CEO of Avaloq. Pascal Foehn, Head of Marketing and Sales HQ Avaloq, adds: “After having been named ‘best selling private banking solution in the world’ by IBS, we are proud of Gartner’s recognition as a leader that is able to address present and future needs of retail banks.”
In the report, Gartner positioned vendors based on two parameters: ‘completeness of vision’ and ‘ability to execute’. To be included in the IRCB 2013 report vendors had to demonstrate market traction and momentum as well as product capabilities in international retail core banking.
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant on international retail core banking (IRCB) software assesses vendors on the multi-currency products they offer in support of the bank’s financial transaction management in the retail banking market. Avaloq provides a fully integrated front to back banking solution and has a worldwide customer base of more than 100 banks, including tier one banks in the most demanding financial centres.
¹Gartner, Magic Quadrant for International Retail Core Banking, Don Free, Ethan Wong, October 8, 2013.