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SAMA and Deloitte to develop Fintech ecosystem in line with Saudi Arabia Vision 2030

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SAMA and Deloitte to develop Fintech ecosystem

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), in collaboration with Deloitte Middle East, has announced its plans to develop a Financial Technology (FinTech) ecosystem. “Fintech Saudi” is a transformative effort aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program to enhance Saudi Arabia’s economic competitiveness globally and to specifically support the Financial Sector Development Program. In the next decade, Saudi Arabia aims to expand the size and scale of its financial services sector such that it becomes the region’s primary market.

FinTech is recognized as one of the most important, and rapidly evolving, innovations in the financial services industry; by building a FinTech ecosystem, the Kingdom will be able to diversify its investment base and reshape how financial services are provisioned and consumed. The FinTech ecosystem will also support Saudi Arabia’s goal of becoming a premier, cash-less, digital economy.

Deloitte Middle East has been appointed as the professional services provider for this project. The ceremony to mark the signing of this agreement took place on March 4th, in the presence of Dr. Ahmed Alkholifey, SAMA governor; Abdulaziz Alfuraih, SAMA vice governor; Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO; David Sproul, Deloitte North West Europe and Deloitte UK CEO; and a number of officials from both parties.

“Aligned with the National Transformation Program 2020 and Saudi Vision 2030, SAMA is committed to supporting FinTech activity in the financial services industry. We acknowledge the value added by technology products and services to the Saudi Arabian financial services industry, whilst also appreciating there are risks associated with FinTech innovation. Therefore, SAMA has adopted a risk-based approach to testing and regulating FinTech innovation – we are currently developing a ‘regulatory sandbox’ that will provide a light-touch approach to testing innovative products. This way SAMA can understand the risks associated with the solutions and regulate them effectively before they are launched into the marketplace,” said Dr. Ahmed Alkholifey, SAMA governor.

Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO said: “Deloitte has an excellent track record building FinTech ecosystems, and in producing cutting-edge thought leadership on the state of digital financial services around the world. Our global reach provides us with strong relationships with key stakeholders in the broader FinTech ecosystem and enables us to draw FinTech-related insights and expertise from our extensive network of SMEs. This agreement will foster growth, innovation and collaboration across the financial services industry in KSA.”

“We are very excited for the launch of Fintech Saudi, which will be an important catalyst in the development of a thriving FinTech industry in the Kingdom and the region. Saudi Arabia truly has the right ingredients to host a FinTech hub, not least of all because of its burgeoning and tech-savvy youth,” said Ziad Al-Yousef, Director General of Payment Systems at SAMA. “The work of FinTech Saudi fits within the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objectives, particularly in increasing financial inclusion and the prominence of small and medium enterprises. In the coming weeks and months, I am confident that we will see a positive uptick in innovation and the growth of an active FinTech ecosystem.” he added.

“FinTechs have the potential to reshape customer experience and transform financial services, and having an effective ecosystem became a necessity to unlock this potential. SAMA recognizes the importance of the FinTech ecosystem and we are glad to be supporting them in a number of activities, including setting up “Fintech Saudi,” defining a blueprint and roadmap for the future of FinTech in KSA, developing talent, and contributing to shaping the FinTech regulatory landscape” said Rushdi Duqah, Senior Director, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East.

SAMA and Deloitte to develop Fintech ecosystem

SAMA and Deloitte to develop Fintech ecosystem

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Japan’s jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures – Reuters poll

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Japan's jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures - Reuters poll 1

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s jobless rate is expected to have edged up in January as service industry businesses suffered renewed restrictions on movement to fight spread of the coronavirus in some areas, including Tokyo, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Friday.

While industrial production activity picked up in Japan, emergency curbs rolled out last month such as asking restaurants to close early and suspending the national travel campaign hurt the jobs market, analysts said.

The nation’s unemployment rate likely rose 3.0% in January, up from 2.9% in December, the poll of 15 economists found.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio, a gauge of the availability of jobs, was seen at 1.06 in January, unchanged from December, but stayed near September’s seven-year low of 1.03, the poll showed.

“As the impact from the coronavirus pandemic prolongs, it is hard for firms, especially the service sector, to expect their business profits to improve,” said Yusuke Shimoda, senior economist at Japan Research Institute.

“So, their willingness to hire employees appear to be subdued and it is difficult to see the jobs market recovering soon.”

Some analysts also said the government’s steps to support employment and existing labour shortages will likely prevent the jobless rate from worsening sharply.

The government will announce the labour market data at 8:30 a.m. Japan time on Tuesday (2330 GMT Monday).

Analysts expect the economy to contract in the current quarter due to the emergency measures to counter the spread of the disease.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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China’s economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 – central bank adviser

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China's economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 - central bank adviser 2

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s gross domestic product (GDP) could expand 8-9% in 2021 as it continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu Shijin, a policy adviser to the People’s Bank of China, said on Friday.

This speed of recovery would not mean China has returned to a “high-growth” period, said Liu, as it would be from a low base in 2020, when China’s economy grew 2.3%.

Analysts from HSBC this week forecast that China would grow 8.5% this year, leading the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

If 2020 and 2021’s average GDP growth is around 5%, this would be a “not bad” outcome, said Liu, speaking at an online conference.

China is set to release a government work report on March 5 which typically includes a GDP growth target for the year.

Last year’s report did not include one due to uncertainties caused by the coronavirus. Reuters previously reported that 2021’s report will also not set a target.

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Muyu Xu; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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Japan’s January factory output rises for first time in three months, retail sales drop

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Japan's January factory output rises for first time in three months, retail sales drop 3

By Daniel Leussink

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s industrial output rose for the first time in three months in January thanks to a pickup in global demand, in a welcome sign for an economy still looking to shake off the drag of the coronavirus pandemic.

But retail sales, a key gauge of consumer spending, posted their second straight month of declines in January as emergency measures taken in response to the pandemic hit consumption.

Official data released on Friday showed factory output advanced 4.2% in January, boosted by sharp rises in production of electronic parts and general-purpose machinery, as well as a smaller increase in car output.

“Manufacturers will continue to increase output over the near term as long as there won’t be any big shock,” said Taro Saito, executive research fellow at NLI Research Institute.

While economic growth will likely be negative in the first quarter, the strength in manufacturing would offset the negative impact of a state of emergency at home, which is mainly affecting the services sector, he said.

The rise in output, which followed a 1.0% fall the previous month, was largely in line with a 4.0% gain forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. Manufacturers surveyed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) expect output to grow 2.1% in February, followed by a 6.1% decline in March.

The government kept its assessment of industrial production unchanged, saying it was picking up.

Factory output fell in November and December as a rebound in car production ended on sagging global demand, but since then strong demand for tech-making equipment and electronic goods has helped turn the tide.

Still, some analysts worry that Japan’s economic recovery will remain hobbled by weaker conditions at home and as lockdown measures taken around the world to contain the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in Europe, weigh.

The government also released data on Friday showing retail sales fell 2.4% in January compared with the same month a year earlier, in a sign households tightened their purse strings as the coronavirus staged a resurgence.

The fall, which was in line with a 2.6% drop seen by economists in a Reuters poll, was largely due to sharp contractions in general merchandise and fabrics apparel spending. It followed a 0.2% fall in December.

Compared to a month earlier, retail sales in January fell 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis for the third straight month of declines. But the pace of decline was slower than in the previous two months.

“We think consumer spending will only fall around 1% quarter-on-quarter this quarter,” said Tom Learmouth, Japan economist at Capital Economics.

“We expect it to rise fairly strongly over the coming quarters as the recovery resumes and is soon given a shot in the arm by vaccines,” he added.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Sam Holmes and Richard Pullin)

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