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More outages.More upset customers. UKFSmust do better.

In July, City Regulators told banks and financial organisations they have a ‘maximum outage time’ of just two days. The warning – and it is a warning –comes after several organisations in the UK’s financial services faced significant systems outages, stopping customers from accessing and spending.

These outages include the Faster Payments system, which is used by most of the UK’s banks and building societies,as well,as the huge outage from TSB back in April which was widely reported across the media. More recently, a hardware failure at Visa affected millions of accounts across Europe opened the company to considerable criticism.

These outages support a growing base of evidence the payments industry needs to change.Consumers are getting fed up. As reported by multiple leading media organisations, the key point raised by regulators in a joint paper by the FCA and Bank of England is a failure by financial institutions to provide operational resilience.

By October 5 this year,organisations in the sector must be ready to report how they intend to respond in case of significant disruption and further outages, which is not long at all

Resilience is underpinned by better testing

This growing number of service outages is not altogether surprising. The pace of technological change in financial services is accelerating at an immense pace. Young and eager FinTechs that thrive on change and have the ability to ‘think outside the box’ are bringing new ideas to the table; popular ideas that demand state-of-the-art technology if they are to be implemented successfully.

Mainstream financial organisations fall-down because they are rushing the testing process so they can bring…

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The impact of Brexit on foreign banks in the UK – A report by the Association of Foreign Banks and Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Second joint report from the Association of Foreign Banks and Norton Rose Fulbright revisits the foreign banking sector’s sentiment on Brexit
  • With less than 200 days until the UK’s departure from the EU, foreign banks operating in the UK comment on the lack of certainty over a post-Brexit regulatory framework
  • Banks also express their views on recruitment challenges following the Brexit vote
  • Respondents sought clarity as to when the transition agreement would be placed on a statutory basis
  • Foreign banks also commented on the importance to their business of London remaining a major international financial centre

The Association of Foreign Banks (AFB), in conjunction with global firm Norton Rose Fulbright, has launched its second report on the impact of Brexit on the foreign banking sector in the UK.

A wide cross-section of AFB members, including senior executives from nearly 60 foreign banks, responded to a survey as part of the joint Brexit report which focuses on three headline areas:

  • The UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU
  • The immigration impact on staff
  • Business confidence in the UK

The report also explores the future of banks’ global booking models, the cost of preparing for Brexit, and banks’ engagement with regulators on Brexit.

The report is further split into three sections to reflect AFB structures:

  • UK branches of EU banks
  • UK branches of non-EU banks
  • UK incorporated subsidiaries of foreign banking groups

The lack of certainty over the post-Brexit regulatory framework between the UK and EU…

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John Kamara

An interview with John Kamara, Director for Global Gaming Africa, on how Africa has embraced Blockchain technology, by Katy Micallef: 

What kind of solutions can blockchain technology offer the continent? Is Africa on the road to becoming a blockchain hub?

Africa is rising and technology is at the forefront of our growth as a continent. We have seen the explosion of the mobile space in the continent and how it has allowed a number of services and solutions to become easier. Blockchain is about to help solve a number of issues we are currently facing in the public and private sector. Pockets of blockchain innovation are fast springing up in innovation hubs across Africa, as the public and private sector alike seek effective new systems of record with trust embedded.

With Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa among the countries taking the lead in blockchain experimentation, the financial sector looks set to be the continent’s earliest big adopter. However, development and trials are also underway to apply blockchain technology to virtually every industry sector – from health and social development to retail and agriculture. Governments are exploring ways of using blockchain to aid corruption across multiple verticals and also to push value to service sectors.

One company planning to maximize blockchain’s potential in Africa is Ecobank, a pan-African banking conglomerate with operations in 36 African countries. Ecobank’s Fintech Challenge actively seeks out fintech innovations harnessing Blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other…

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Switzerland faces steady if slowing growth amidst currency and real estate risks

Switzerland is set for sturdy growth of 2.4% this year and 2.0% in 2019, though further Swiss franc appreciation against the euro remains a risk should investors turn again to the currency to hedge against tensions in global trade and EU politics.

For the updated rating report, click here.

Switzerland’s credit profile reflects its exceptionally strong fundamentals, low levels of debt and sound fiscal management.

Switzerland furthermore benefits from a strong external position, effective financial policy settings and highly developed capital markets, underpinned by the safe-haven status of the Swiss franc.

The Swiss currency however constitutes a potential source of economic uncertainty. The depreciation of the franc against the euro at end-2017, alongside strong external demand, drove the economy’s buoyant growth in the first two quarters of 2018 at 3.2% YoY. In line with the Federal Government’s and IMF’s estimates, Scope expects GDP growth of 2.4% for 2018 due to the continued strong performance of its main trading partners and robust domestic demand, supported by investment and favourable labour market trends, before flattening out to 2.0% in 2019, as the global economy slows down.

The main risks to future growth stem from international trade tensions and regional political uncertainty, which could create renewed safe-haven pressures on the Swiss franc. This has been amply demonstrated in the past, triggering the SNB’s heavy currency intervention leading to a quadrupling in the size of the central bank’s balance sheet since the financial crisis.

On the domestic front, Swiss banks’ exposure to real estate, with mortgage lending accounting for around 85% of total domestic bank lending, is a source of potential economic instability given elevated household loan-to-income ratios, up 10 percentage points since 2013 to around 50% in 2017. Risks are somewhat mitigated by Swiss households’ ample financial assets, amounting to 370% of GDP.

In addition, while Scope is confident in continuing constructive relations between Switzerland and the EU, also with regards to concluding a new bilateral framework agreement, two key potential strains…

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