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Ithmaar Bank and Eazy Financial Services announce plans to launch the region’s first biometric payment network,and it will bring a revolutionary improvement in customers’ experience with banks

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Ithmaar Bank & Eazy Financial Services launch biometric payment network

Ithmaar Bank & Eazy Financial Services launch biometric payment network 

The Bahraini-created solution will provide consumers with a safer, more convenient and more secure way to bank 

Ithmaar Bank and Eazy Financial Services today announced plans to launch the region’s first biometric payment network, supported by the Labour Fund “Tamkeen”, providing new and more efficient alternative for customers to conduct many of their financial transactions.

When implemented, Ithmaar Bank customers will no longer be required to use their bank cards at ATMs. Instead, they will simply be able to use their fingerprint along with their PIN to process financial transactions. This provides a simpler, more secure way to process financial transactions than ever before. In future, this may also include points of sale.

Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) Chief Executive, Khalid Al Rumaihi, commented: “With this announcement Ithmaar Bank and Eazy Financial Services are truly showcasing Bahrain as a hub for innovation, specifically in the financial services industry. This partnership comes in line with our strategy to encourage innovation that supports high value job creation in the Kingdom. Bahrain’s forward -thinking regulatory approach provides an attractive environment for FinTech – particularly in areas such as Islamic finance and payments. We look forward to welcoming more home-grown initiatives such as this.”

Praising the initiative, Tamkeen Chief Executive Dr. Ebrahim Janahi said: “Tamkeen’s support for the FinTech industry comes as part of our efforts to support enterprises across stages of development and making the private sector a key driver of economic growth. We believe Ithmaar Bank and Eazy are both well ahead of the curve, and this strategic initiative will result in a major positive change in the Kingdom’s economy and capital market.”

Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Executive Director, Khalid Hamad, said: “This very forward-looking partnership is proof that FinTech initiatives are delivering tangible, real-world results – ahead of similar initiatives across the region – while maintaining the overall safety and soundness of the financial system in Bahrain.”

The platform, developed by Eazy Financial Services, is built on a powerful Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) one of the most reliable and trusted biometric engines which is deployed and implemented in many countries around the world for both civil and forensic applications. Eazy Financial Services adopts a rigorous “Identification Algorithm” which has earned the highest honours by several standards organizations and authorities.

Praising the initiative, Tamkeen CEO Dr. Ebrahim Janahi said: “Tamkeen’s support for the FinTech industry comes as part of our efforts to support enterprises across stages of development and making the private sector a key driver of economic growth. We believe Ithmaar Bank and Eazy are both well ahead of the curve, and this strategic initiative will result in a major positive change in the Kingdom’s economy and capital market.”

Ithmaar Bank CEO, Ahmed Abdul Rahim, said: “As part of our Digital Strategy, we continue to invest heavily in technology that provides our customers a more convenient, simpler and more secure way to conduct their financial transactions. Our customers are tech-savvy and expect friction-less access to banking services – and the introduction of biometrics is another major step that direction. We are leading the financial industry with this new, tangible solution which is a real-time example of how we put innovation and our customers at the forefront of everything we do.”

Eazy Financial Services CEO, Khaled Al Ahli, said: “Payments stand out as the single largest driver for the biometrics market. We are driving biometric verification in the region, which is the future of the financial industry.

“As a local Bahraini start-up, we are extremely proud to bring a regional first solution from Bahrain, in partnership with a renowned local bank. Going forward, biometrics for financial products and services are expected to represent one third of the total market for biometric solutions in 2020,” he continued.

The agreement is a result of the financial support of Tamkeen, with the support of the EDB and CBB, and will see the new Biometric Payment Network available in phases for Ithmaar Bank customers as early as Q1 2019.

Banking

Citigroup considering divestiture of some foreign consumer units – Bloomberg Law

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Citigroup considering divestiture of some foreign consumer units - Bloomberg Law 1

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc is considering divesting some international consumer units, Bloomberg Law reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The discussions are around divesting units across retail banking in the Asia-Pacific region, the report https://bit.ly/3pD57WP said.

“As our incoming CEO Jane Fraser said in January, we are undertaking a dispassionate and thorough review of our strategy,” a Citigroup spokesperson told Reuters.

“Many different options are being considered and we will take the right amount of time before making any decisions.”

The move, part of Fraser’s attempt to simplify the bank, can see units in South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia being divested, the Bloomberg report said.

However, no decision has been made, according to the report.

Revenue from Citi’s consumer banking business in Asia declined 15% to $1.55 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The divestitures could be spaced out over time or the bank could end up keeping all of its existing units, the Bloomberg report said.

The firm is also reviewing consumer operations in Mexico, though a sale there is less likely, the report said, citing one of the people.

Last month, New York-based Citigroup beat profit estimates but issued a gloomy forecast for expenses. Finance head Mark Mason said the lender’s expenses could rise in 2021 in the range of 2% to 3%, weighing on its operating margins. (https://reut.rs/2ZwXRB1)

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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Banking

European shares end higher on strong earnings, positive data

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European shares end higher on strong earnings, positive data 2

By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick

(Reuters) – Euro zone shares rose on Friday, marking a third week of gains, as data showed factory activity in February jumped to a three-year high, while upbeat quarterly earnings boosted confidence in a broader economic recovery.

The euro zone index was up 0.9%, with strong earnings from companies such as Acciona and Hermes brewing some optimism over an eventual economic recovery.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.5%, as regional factory activity was seen reaching a three-year high on strong demand for manufactured goods at home and overseas.

Another reading showed the euro zone’s current account surplus widened in December on a rise in trade surplus and a narrower deficit in secondary income.

Still, the STOXX 600 marked small gains for the week, having dropped for the past three sessions as investor concern grew over rising inflation and a rocky COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

But basic resources stocks outpaced their peers this week with a 7% jump, as improving industrial activity across the globe drove up commodity prices.

“This week’s slightly adverse price action has all the hallmarks of a loss of momentum temporarily and not a structural turn,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“There is not a major central bank in the world thinking about taking their foot off the monetary spigot, except perhaps China. (Markets) will remain awash in zero percent central bank money through all of 2021 (and) a lot of that will head to the equity market.”

Minutes of the European Central Bank’s January meeting, released on Thursday, showed policymakers expressed fresh concerns over the euro’s strength but appeared relaxed over the recent rise in government bond yields.

The bank’s relaxed stance was justified by the euro zone economy requiring continued monetary and fiscal support, as evidenced by a contraction in the bloc’s dominant services industry in February.

The STOXX 600 has rebounded more than 50% since crashing to multi-year lows in March 2020, with hopes of a global economic rebound this year sparking demand for sectors such as energy, mining, banks and industrial goods.

London’s FTSE 100 lagged regional bourses on Friday due to a slump in January retail sales and as the pound jumped to its highest against the dollar in nearly three years. [.L] [GBP/]

French carmaker Renault tumbled more than 4% after posting a record annual loss of 8 billion euros ($9.68 billion), while food group Danone and German insurer Allianz rose following upbeat trading forecasts.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shailesh Kuber)

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Banking

ECB plans closer scrutiny of bank boards

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ECB plans closer scrutiny of bank boards 3

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank plans to increase scrutiny of bank board directors and will take look more closely at diversity within management bodies, ECB supervisor Edouard Fernandez-Bollo said on Friday.

The ECB already examines the suitability of board candidates in a so-called fit and proper assessment, but rules across the 19 euro zone members vary, so the quality of these checks can be inconsistent.

The ECB plans to ask banks to undertake a suitability assessment before making appointments, and they will put greater emphasis on the candidates’ previous positions and the bank’s specific needs, Fernandez-Bollo said in a speech.

The supervisor also plans more detailed rules on how it will reassess board members once new information emerges, particularly in case of breaches related to anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism, Fernandez-Bollo added.

Fernandez-Bollo did not talk about enforcing diversity quotas, but he argued that diversity, including diversity in gender, backgrounds and experiences, improves efficiency and was thus crucial.

“Supervisors will consider furthermore all of the diversity-related aspects that are most relevant to enhancing the individual and collective leadership of boards,” he said.

“Diversity within a management body is therefore crucial … there is a lot of room for improvement in this area in European banks,” he said.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi, editing by Larry King)

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