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BEPS PLANS AIM TO TILT BALANCE OF POWER FURTHER TOWARDS TAX AUTHORITIES BUT PROGRESS IS MOVING AT GLACIAL SPEED

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Frederic Donnedieu

The OECD’s BEPS Action Plan is designed to redefine and revolutionise the taxation of companies across the globe. It is the most coordinated attempt to reach common objectives – in both developed and developing economies – that we have seen in some time.

But it’s clear from today’s press conference that whilst the OECD’s plans are undoubtedly a further step to tilt the balance of power further towards tax authorities, how they will be implemented and the form they will take is very much unknown.

Multinationals should be concerned that in many ways, the OECD Action Plan legitimises the aggressiveness we have already seen from tax authorities towards taxpayers, particularly in areas such as transfer pricing. Time will tell whether all of the OECD’s BEPS initiatives will be implemented and indeed how they will be enforced, but there is still cause for concern.

Frederic Donnedieu

Frederic Donnedieu

At the heart of the BEPS proposals is a reorganisation of the way in which profits are taxed, particularly in light of the new and ‘borderless’ digital economy. The global initiative, coming to the first stage of its deliverables today, will require close international co-operation, transparency, data and reporting requirements from all countries and multinationals.

However, progress with the OECD’s plan are moving at glacial speed – obtaining broad international agreement will not happen easily, as many countries fight to maintain their competitive advantage which attracts both employment and investment. We are seeing a number of countries stalling on any legislative changes whilst they wait for BEPS to fine tune the guidance, particularly around the digital economy, whilst others are legislating changes in advance of international agreement, causing greater confusion for multinationals as they try to adhere to varying tax rules across their countries of operation.

Country by country reporting likely constitutes one of the most critical elements of the BEPS initiative. The technicalities are still unclear but will be watched with interest. There are a number of questions to be answered, namely around the information required to be published, whether the information will be published centrally or locally, and how confidentiality will be ensured. What’s clear is that misinterpretation of the reporting could be damaging for taxpayers – causing unfair reputational risk, as well as a heavy administrative burden.

Companies should be prepared for this impending transformation in taxation which BEPS will enforce. It’s clear that there is a general consensus amongst nations that these issues need to be addressed. But for now it appears business as usual whilst the OECD continues its lengthy deliberation over the form it will take.

Frederic Donnedieu, Chairman, Taxand, the world’s largest independent global organisation of specialist tax advisors to multinational businesses.

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Russia’s Vladimir Putin to address World Economic Forum on Wednesday

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Russia's Vladimir Putin to address World Economic Forum on Wednesday 1

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the World Economic Forum (WEF) by video conference on Wednesday, Russian news agencies cited his spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Monday.

The event, which gathers business chiefs, political thinkers and state leaders, is being held online due to COVID-19.

Putin’s appearance is likely to be contentious with critics at a time when the West is weighing possible new sanctions against Russia over its treatment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

“I confirm Davos on the 27th,” the RIA news agency quoted Peskov as saying, a reference to the Swiss ski resort which has hosted WEF events in previous years.

Putin did not feature on the pre-conference agenda.

The Interfax news agency said Putin had not taken part in a similar event since 2009 when he was Russian prime minister.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin/Alexander Marrow; Editing by Tom Balmforth/Andrew Osborn)

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ECB launches small climate-change unit to lead Lagarde’s green push

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ECB launches small climate-change unit to lead Lagarde's green push 2

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank is setting up a small team dedicated to climate change to spearhead its efforts to help the transition to a greener economy in the euro zone, ECB President Christine Lagarde said on Monday.

Lagarde has made the environment a priority since taking the helm at the ECB, taking a number of steps to include climate considerations in the central bank’s work as the euro zone’s banking watchdog and main financial institution.

She is now creating a team of around 10 ECB employees, reporting directly to her, to set the central bank’s agenda on climate-related topics.

“The climate change centre provides the structure we need to tackle the issue with the urgency and determination that it deserves,” Lagarde said in a speech.

She said that climate change belonged in the ECB’s remit as it could affect inflation and obstruct the flow of credit to the economy.

The ECB said earlier on Monday it would invest some of its own funds, which total 20.8 billion euros ($25.3 billion) and include capital paid in by euro zone countries, reserves and provisions, in a green bond fund run by the Bank for International Settlement.

More significantly, ECB policymakers are also debating what role climate considerations should play in the institution’s multi-trillion euro bond-buying programme.

So far the ECB has bought corporate bonds based on their outstanding amounts but Lagarde has said the bank might have to consider a more active approach to correct the market’s failure to price in climate risk.

“Our strategy review enables us to consider more deeply how we can continue to protect our mandate in the face of (climate) risks and, at the same time, strengthen the resilience of monetary policy and our balance sheet,” Lagarde said.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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What to expect in 2021: Top trends shaping the future of transportation

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What to expect in 2021: Top trends shaping the future of transportation 3

By Lee Jones, Director of Sales – Grocery, QSR and Selected Accounts for Northern Europe at Ingenico, a Worldline brand

The pandemic has reinforced the need for businesses to undergo digital transformation, which is pivotal in the digital economy. In 2020, we saw the shift to online and cashless payments accelerated as a result of increased social distancing and nationwide restrictions.

The biggest challenge on all businesses into 2021 will be how they continue to adapt and react to the ever changing new normal we are all experiencing. In this context, what should we expect this year and beyond, in terms of developments across key sectors, including transport, parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging?

Mobility as a service (MaaS) and the future of transportation

Social distancing and lockdown measures have brought about a real change in public habits when it comes to transportation. In the last three months alone, we have seen commuter journeys across the globe reduce by at least 70%, while longer-distance travel has fallen by up to 90%. With it, cash withdrawals for payment has drastically reduced by 60%.

Technological advancements, alongside open payments, have unlocked new possibilities across multiple industries and will continue to have a strong impact. Furthermore, travellers are expecting more as part of their basic service. Tap and pay is one of the biggest evolutions in consumer payments. Bringing ease and simplicity to everyday tasks, consumers have welcomed this development to the transport journey. In-app payments are also on the rise, offering customers the ability to plan ahead and remain assured that they have everything they need, in one place, for every leg of their journey. Many local transport networks now have their own apps with integrated timetables, payments, and ticket download capabilities. These capabilities are being enabled by smaller more portable terminals for transport staff, and self-scanning ticketing devices are streamlining the process even further.

Lee Jones

Lee Jones

Ultimately, the end goal for many transport providers is MaaS – providing an easy and frictionless all-encompassing transport system that guides consumers through the whole journey, no matter what mode of travel they choose. Additionally, payment will remain the key orchestrator that will drive further developments in the transportation and MaaS ecosystems in 2021. What remains critical is balancing the need for a fast and convenient payment with safety and data privacy in order to deliver superior customer experiences.

The EV charging market and the accelerating pace of change  

The EV charging market is moving quickly and represents a large opportunity for payments in the future. EVs are gradually becoming more popular, with registrations for EVs overtaking those of their diesel counterparts for the first time in European history this year. What’s more, forecasts indicate that by 2030, there will be almost 42 million public charging points deployed worldwide, as compared with 520,000 registered in 2019.

Our experience and expertise in this industry have enabled us to better understand but also address the challenges and complexities of fuel and EV payments. The current alternating current (AC) based chargers are set to be replaced by their direct charging (DC) counterparts, but merchants must still be able to guarantee payment for the charging provider. Power always needs to be converted from AC to DC when charging an electric vehicle, the technical difference between AC charging and DC charging is whether the power gets converted outside or inside the vehicle.

By offering innovative payment solutions to this market segment, we enable service operators to incorporate payments smoothly into their omnichannel customer experience that also allows businesses to easily develop acceptance and provide a unique omnichannel strategy for EV charging payments. From proximity to online payments, it will support businesses by offering a unique hardware solution optimized for PSD2 and SCA. It will manage both near field communication (NFC) cards and payments from cards/smartphones, as well as a single interface to manage all payments, after sales support and receipt with both ePortal and eReceipts.

Cashless options for parking payments

The ‘new normal’ is now partly defined by a shift in consumer preference for cashless, contactless and mobile or embedded payments. These are now the preferred payment choices when it comes to completing the check-in and check-out process. They are a time-saver and a more seamless way to pay.

Drivers are more self-reliant and empowered than ever before, having adopted technologies that work to make their life increasingly efficient. COVID-19 has given rise to both ePayment and omnichannel solutions gaining in popularity. This has been due to ticketless access control based on license plate recognition or the tap-in/tap-out experience, as well as embedded payments or mobile solutions for street parking.

These smart solutions help consider parking services more broadly as a part of overall mobility or shopping experience. Therefore, operators must rapidly adapt and scale new operational practices; accept electronic payment, update new contactless limits, introduce additional payments means, refund the user or even to reflect changing customer expectations to keep pace.

2021: the journey ahead

This year,  we expect to see an even greater shift towards a cashless society across these key sectors, making the buying experience quicker and more convenient overall.

As a result, merchants and operators must make the consumer experience their top priority as trends shift towards simplicity and convenience, ensuring online and mobile payments processes are as secure as possible.

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