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World Bank Group Commits More Than $57 billion to Developing Countries in FY11 as Multi-Speed Economic Recovery Takes Shape

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Borrower demand remains above pre-crisis levels, with total commitments
of $189 billion since financial crisis hit

World Bank Group support to developing countries came in at $57.4 billion in fiscal year 2011, still above pre-crisis levels, with total commitments of $189 billion since the financial crisis took hold in 2008.

As developing countries emerged from the financial crisis in FY11 (July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011), the Bank Group provided an estimated 712 loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to promote economic growth, fight poverty, and assist private enterprise.

World Bank (IBRD and IDA) commitments for social protection—including safety net programs for the poorest and most vulnerable—are estimated to reach $4.1 billion in FY11.  Financing for infrastructure, critical for job creation and future productivity, is estimated to reach $20 billion in FY11—46 percent of total lending.  In particular, IDA support for infrastructure grew to $7 billion, both a record high and a 31 percent increase over FY10. FY11 also saw unprecedented financing of $1.4 billion for natural disaster management, critical for adapting to climate change and combating the high number of recent natural disasters.

World Bank Group Commitments

fiscal years 2011 and 2010 (in U.S. billions)

World Bank Group FY11* FY10
IBRD 26.7 44.2
IDA 16.3 14.5
IFC 12.3+ 12.6+
MIGA $2.1 1.5
TOTAL 57.4 72.8
*Preliminary and unaudited numbers as of July 1.
+Own account only. Excludes more than $6.4 billion in FY11 and $5.3 billion in FY10 in funds mobilized from other investors.

 

“Over the past year, the World Bank Group clearly demonstrated our commitment to support growth and opportunity for our clients even as the reverberations from the global crisis still send shock waves through the world economy,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.  “As the multi-speed recovery takes shape, high and volatile food and fuel prices are stirring new challenges, putting vulnerable populations at risk. The World Bank is honing its focus on areas where we can add most value: targeting the poor and vulnerable; creating opportunities for growth; promoting global collective action; strengthening governance; and managing risk and preparing for crisis. We are doing all this while making the Bank a more transparent, accountable and results-driven institution.”

During the fiscal year, food prices climbed to near their 2008 peak, and the World Bank estimates that rising food prices pushed about 44 million people into poverty since June 2010.  To help address price volatility, the Bank saw a strong focus on food security in FY11, including:
 

 

  • A first-of-its-kind risk-management product that will provide up to $4 billion in protection from volatile food prices by giving consumers and agricultural commodity producers better access to hedging instruments.
  • Boosting financing on agriculture to some $6 to $8 billion a year from $4.1 billion in 2008.
  • The Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP) is helping some 40 million people through $1.5 billion in support.
  • The Bank is supporting the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), set up by the World Bank Group in April 2010 at the G20’s request, to assist country-led agriculture and food security plans and help promote investments in smallholder farmers. To date, six countries and Gates Foundation have pledged about $925 million over the next 3 years, with $520 million received.

In FY11, commitments from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)—which provides financing, risk management products, and other financial services to countries—reached $26.7 billion, nearly double the FY08 pre-crisis level of $13.5 billion.  This follows the record $44.2 billion in FY10 and $32.9 billion in FY09, as the crisis peaked.  Cumulative IBRD commitments since the financial crisis (i.e.: FY09-11) reached $103.8 billion. Fast-disbursing Development Policy Loans, many of which focus on reforms to improve governance and increase transparency, comprised nearly 37 percent of the overall total for FY11, down from 47 percent in FY09 and FY10 – at the height of the global financial crisis – but still above the average of 31 percent in the pre-crisis period of FY05-08.

________________________________________
Strong Results for the World’s Poorest

In the past decade, the International Development Association, the World Bank’s Fund for the Poorest, has helped people build a better future for themselves, their families, and their countries. For example, from 2000 to 2010, IDA assistance has resulted in:More than 3 million teachers recruited and/or trained – more than 4 times the number of primary and secondary school teachers in France.

  • Around 300 million textbooks purchased and/or distributed – 15 times the number of books in the New York Public Library.
  • 310 million children immunized – equivalent to four times the number of children in the United States.
  • Over 118,000 km of roads – enough to circle the globe nearly three times – constructed or rehabilitated and over 134,000 km of roads maintained.

For more information, visit: http://www.worldbank.org/ida/results-at-a-glance.html
________________________________________
Commitments from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s Fund for the Poorest which provides low-interest loans and grants to 79 of the world’s poorest countries, rose to a record $16.3 billion in FY11.
FY11 was the third year of implementation under the IDA15 Replenishment, which itself saw a record increase in development funding for IDA countries. Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for about half of the total IDA15 funding with IDA support focused on empowering and protecting the poor; strengthening institutions and governance; fostering gender equality; and addressing global challenges such as climate change.
During IDA15, IDA also expanded commitments to support regional public goods, including for water management, trade facilitation, and roads networks; approved $1.4 billion through the new pilot Crisis Response Window to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis and protect the poor; and strengthened its support for fragile states by providing $4.8 billion to these countries. IDA also boosted its support for countries facing natural disasters such as the rapid response to the Haiti earthquake of January 2010.

IFC, the largest provider of multilateral financing for the private sector in developing countries, again provided a record amount of financing to businesses in developing countries, helping the private sector create jobs, strengthen infrastructure, improve agricultural efficiency, and confront other development challenges. Preliminary and unaudited data as of June 30 indicate IFC invested about $18.7 billion in 513 projects in FY11, reflecting an estimated project value of around $100 billion. In FY10, IFC investments totaled $18 billion. IFC investments have more than doubled in the past five years.

IFC’s work in FY11 again included pioneering projects that address economic uncertainty and increase opportunity. In the Middle East and North Africa, for example, IFC and the Islamic Development Bank launched a program that will mobilize as much as $2 billion to promote Education for Employment, a vital project in a region where youth unemployment runs over 25 percent. In Turkey, IFC is helping the country use renewable energy to meet its growing demand for power. It structured its largest-ever syndication—a €700 million financing package for Enerjisa Enerji Uretim. IFC also provided essential support to the G20’s new Financial Inclusion Initiative, an effort aimed at enhancing access to finance for small and medium enterprises.

The Bank Group’s political risk insurance arm, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) issued $2.1 billion in guarantees—a historic high.  The agency continues to see a return to a more diversified portfolio across regions and sectors.

“In large part, MIGA’s success this year is due to the recovery in foreign direct investment from financial-crisis lows—and this is indeed a great story for development,” said MIGA’s Executive Vice President Izumi Kobayashi. “Paired with historic amendments to MIGA’s convention that expanded the pool of investments we can insure, this year’s results demonstrate that MIGA is delivering on our mission to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries to support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people’s lives.”

Commitments to sub-Saharan African countries—the Bank’s top priority—were at $9.4 billion in FY11, down from crisis levels of $13.85 billion in FY10 and $9.9 billion in FY09. FY11 commitments to Africa included $7 billion from IDA and $56 million from IBRD; $2.1 billion from IFC; and $243 million in MIGA guarantees for projects in the region.

Managing Risk
Currency, interest rates, and commodity prices have been volatile, and the impact of natural disasters has become more severe in recent years. As a result, the World Bank continues to engage with countries to improve risk management strategies and offer financial products that can help reduce their vulnerabilities. The volume of risk management transactions executed by the Bank on behalf of client countries this year to manage the volatility of currency and interest rate was $5.6 billion. In addition, the Bank provided advisory services on public debt management to 38 countries, as well as financial products that meet our member countries’ risk management objectives.

The World Bank Group continued to help clients mitigate natural disaster and weather-related shocks. For example, IBRD’s credit line for catastrophes, the Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO) was instrumental in helping Colombia respond quickly to emergency relief and reconstruction needs after the country’s worst rainy season in decades. The CAT-DDO tries to address the issue of moral hazard related to post disaster financing; it provides incentives to client countries to engage in pro-active disaster risk management.  Two new countries, Peru and El Salvador, also signed Cat DDOs with the Bank in this fiscal year.

A More Open, Transparent, and Accountable World Bank Group

In FY11, the World Bank Group continued to work to make to make its research and operations more open, transparent and accountable.

  • Our Open Data website now provides free access to more than 7,000 indicators and is accessible in five languages, and we’ve recently added features to make the data easier to search and download.
  • July 1 marks the one-year anniversary of the Bank’s landmark Access to Information policy. Over FY11, the Bank posted 2,682 new documents and reports on its Documents and Reports site, and the public has viewed more than 2 million pages on this site since the AI policy went into effect last year.
  • Tools such as our own Mapping for Results app and the Bank’s AidFlow website now promote better visualization of our work, bringing greater transparency and accountability to World Bank operations, strengthening the monitoring of results and enhancing the effectiveness of aid.
  • The first-ever Apps for Development competition challenged software developers around the world to take our data, use it creatively and develop applications that raise awareness or contribute to MDGs.  More than 100 apps were submitted with more than a third from developers based in Africa.
  • We continue to integrate our governance and anti corruption agenda into all of the Bank’s work across countries, sectors and projects.
  • In FY11, the Bank announced that it will not to lend directly to finance budgets in countries that do not publish their budgets, or in exceptional cases, at least commit to publish their budgets within twelve months.
  • We have also been encouraging governments to publish information, enact Freedom of Information Acts, open up their budget and procurement processes, build independent audit functions and reform their justice systems.

________________________________________
Contacts:
David Theis 202-458-8626
Broadcast: Natalia Cieslik: 202-458-9369

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Lockdown 2.0 – Here’s how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room

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Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 1

By Jeff Carlson, author of The Photographer’s Guide to Luminar 4 and Take Control of Your Digital Photos

suggests “the product you’re creating is not the camera, the lens or a webcam’s clever industrial design. It’s the subject, you, which is just on e part of the entire image they see. You want that image to convey quality, not convenience.”

Technology experts at Reincubate saw an opportunity in the rise of remote-working video calls and developed the app, Camo, to improve the video quality of our webcam calls. As part of this, they consulted the digital photography expert and author, Jeff Carlson, to reveal how we can look our best online. 

It’s clear by now that COVID-19 has normalised remote working, but as part of this the importance of video calls has risen exponentially. While we’re all used to seeing the more casual sides of our colleagues (t-shirt and shorts, anyone?), poor webcam quality is slightly less forgivable.

But how can we improve how we look on video? We consulted Jeff Carlson for some top tips– here is what he had to say.

  1. Improve the picture quality of your call

The better your camera, the higher quality your webcam calls will be. Most webcams (as well as currently being hard to get hold of and expensive), are subpar. A DSLR setup will give you the best picture, but will cost $1,500+. You can also use your iPhone’s amazing camera as a webcam, using the new app from Reincubate, Camo.

Jeff’s comments “The iPhone’s camera system features dedicated coprocessors for evaluating and adjusting the image in real time. Apple has put a tremendous amount of work into its imaging software as a way to compensate for the necessarily small camera sensors. Although it all works in service of creating stills and video, you get the same benefits when using the iPhone as a webcam.”

Aidan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Reincubate explains why the team created Camo, “Earlier this year our team moved to working remotely, and in video calls everyone looked pretty bad, irrespective of whether they were on built-in Mac webcams or third-party ones. Thus began my journey to build Camo: an iPhone has one of the world’s best cameras in it, so could we make it work as a webcam? Category-leading webcams are noticeably worse than an iPhone 7. This makes sense: six weeks of Apple’s R&D spend tops Logitech’s annual gross revenue.”

  1. Place your camera at eye level

A video call will never quite be the same as a face-to-face conversation, but bringing your camera up to eye level is a good place to start. That can involve putting your laptop on a stand or pile of books, mounting a webcam to the top of your display screen, or even using a tripod to get the perfect position.

Jeff points out, “If the camera is looking down on you, you’ll appear minimized in the frame; if it’s looking up, you’re inviting people to focus on your chin, neck, or nostrils. Most important, positioning the camera off your eye level is a distraction. Look them in the eye, even if they’re miles or continents away.

Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 2

Low camera placement from a MacBook

  1. Make the most of natural lighting

Be aware of the lighting in the room and move yourself to face natural lighting if you can. Positioning the camera so any natural light is behind you takes the light away from your face, which can make it harder to see and read expressions on a call.

Jeff Carlson’s top tip: “If the light from outside is too harsh, diffuse it and create softer shadows by tacking up a white sheet or a stand-alone diffuser over the window.” 

Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 3Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 4

Backlit against a window Facing natural light

  1. Use supplementary lighting like ring lights

The downside to natural lighting is that you’re at the mercy of the elements: if it’s too bright you’ll have the sun in your eyes, if it’s too dark you won’t be well lit.

Jeff recommends adding supplementary lighting if you’re looking to really enhance your video calls. After all, it looks like remote working will be carrying on for quite some time.

“The light can be just as easy as a household or inexpensive work light. Angle the light so it’s bouncing off a wall or the ceiling, depending on your work area, which, again, diffuses the light and makes it more flattering.

Or, for a little money, use a softbox or a shoot-through umbrella with daylight bulbs (5500K temperature), or if space is tight, LED panels. Larger lights are better for distributing illumination– don’t be afraid to get them in close to you. Placement depends on the look you’re going after; start by positioning one at a 45-degree angle in front and to the side of you, which lights most of your face while retaining nice shadow detail.” 

In some cases, a ring light may work best. LEDs are arranged in a circle, with space in the middle to put the camera’s lens and get direct illumination from the direction of the camera.

  1. Centre yourself in the frame

Make sure you’re getting the right angle and that you’re using the frame effectively.

“You should aim for people to see your head and part of your torso, not all the space between your hair and the ceiling. Leave a little space above your head so it’s not cut off, but not enough that someone’s eyes are going to drift there.”

  1. Be mindful of your backdrop

It’s not always easy to get the quiet space needed for video calls when working from home, but try as best you can to remove anything too distracting from your background.

“Get rid of clutter or anything that’s distracting or unprofessional, because you can bet that will be the second thing the viewers notice after they see you. (The Twitter account @RateMySkypeRoom is an amusing ongoing commentary on the environments people on television are connecting from.)”

A busy background as seen by a webcam

  1. Make the most of virtual backgrounds

If you’re really struggling with finding a background that looks professional, try using a virtual background.

Jeff suggests: “Some apps can identify your presence in the scene and create a live mask that enables you to use an entirely different image to cover the background. While it’s a fun feature, the quality of the masking is still rudimentary, even with a green screen background that makes this sort of keying more accurate.”

  1. Be aware of your audio settings

Our laptop webcams, cameras, and mobile phones all include microphones, but if it’s at all possible, use a separate microphone instead.

“That can be an inexpensive lavalier mic, a USB microphone, or a set of iPhone earbuds. You can also get wireless lavalier models if you’re moving around during a call, such as presenting at a whiteboard in the camera’s field of view.

The idea is to get the microphone closer to your mouth so it’s recording what you say, not other sounds or echoes in the room. If you type during meetings, mount the mic on an arm instead of resting it on the same surface as your keyboard.”

  1. Be wary of video app add-ons

Video apps like Zoom include a ‘Touch up your appearance’ option in the Video settings. This applies a skin-smoothing filter to your face, but more often than not, the end result looks artificially blurry instead of smooth.

“Zoom also includes settings for suppressing persistent and intermittent background noise, and echo cancellation. They’re all set to Auto by default, but you can choose how aggressive or not the feature is.”

  1. Be the best looking person in the virtual room

What’s important to remember about video calls at this point in time is that most people are new to what is, really, personal broadcasting. That means you can easily get an edge, just by adopting a few suggestions in this article. When your video and audio quality improves, people will take notice.

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Bringing finance into the 21st Century – How COVID and collaboration are catalysing digital transformation

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Bringing finance into the 21st Century – How COVID and collaboration are catalysing digital transformation 5

By Keith Phillips, CEO of TISATech

If just six or seven months ago someone had told you that in a matter of weeks people around the world would be locked down in their homes, trying to navigate modern work systems from a prehistoric laptop, bickering with family over who’s hogging the Wi-Fi, migrating online to manage all financial services digitally, all while washing their hands every five minutes in fear of a global pandemic… You’d think they had lost their mind. But this very quickly became the reality for huge swathes of the world and we’re about to go through that all over again as the UK government has asked that those who can work from home should.

Unsurprisingly, statistics show that lockdown restrictions introduced by the UK government in March, led to a sharp increase in people adopting digital services. Banks encouraged its customers to log onto online banking, as they limited (and eventually halted) services at branches. This forced many customers online as their primary means of managing personal finances for the first time.

If anyone had doubts before, the Covid-19 pandemic proved to us the importance of well-functioning, effective digital financial services platforms, for both financial institutions and the people using them.

But with this sudden mass online migration, it’s become clear that traditional banks have struggled to keep up with servicing clients virtually. Legacy banking systems have always stilted the digitisation of financial services, but the pandemic thrust this issue into the limelight. Fintech firms, which focus intently on digital and mobile services, knew it was only a matter of time before financial institutions’ reliance was to increase at an unprecedented rate.

For years, fintechs have been called upon by traditional players to find solutions to problems borne from those clunky legacy systems, like manual completion of account changes and money transfers. Now it is the demand for these services to be online coupled with the need for financial services firms to cut costs, since Covid-19 hit the economy.

Covid-19 has catalysed the urgent need to bring digital transformation to a wider pool of financial services businesses. Customers now have even higher expectations of larger institutions, demanding that they keep up with what the younger and more nimble challengers have to offer. Industry leaders realise that they must transform their businesses as soon as possible, by streamlining and digitising operations to compete and, ultimately, improve services for their customers.

The race for digital acceleration began far before the recent pandemic – in fact, following the 2008 financial crisis is likely more accurate. Since the credit crunch, there has been a wave of new fintech firms, full of young, bright techies looking to be the next big thing. Fintechs have marketed themselves hard at big conferences and expos or by hosting ‘hackathons’, trying to prove themselves as the fastest, most innovative or the most vital to the future of the industry.

However, even during this period where accelerating innovation in online financial services and legacy systems is crucial, the conditions brought about by the pandemic have not been conducive to this much-needed transformation.

The second issue, which again was clear far before the pandemic, is that fact that no matter how nimble or clever the fintechs’ solutions are, it is still hard to implement the solutions seamlessly, as the sector is highly fragmented with banks using extremely outdated systems populated with vast amounts of data.

With the significance of the pandemic becoming more and more clear, and the need for better digital products and services becoming more crucial to financial services firms and consumers by the day, the industry has finally come together to provide a solution.

The TISAtech project was launched last month by The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA), a membership organisation in the UK with more than 200 leading financial institutions as members. TISA asked The Disruption House, a specialist benchmarking and data analytics business, to create a clearing house platform for the industry to help it more effectively integrate new financial technology. The project aims to enhance products and services while reducing friction and ultimately lowering costs which are passed on to the customers.

With nearly 4,000 fintechs from around the world participating, it will be the world’s largest marketplace dedicated to Open Finance, Savings, and Investment.

Not only will it provide a ‘matchmaking’ service between financial institutions an fintechs, it will also host a sandbox environment. Financial institutions can pose real problems with real data and the fintechs are given the space to race to the bottom – to find the most constructive, cost-effective solution.

Yes, there are other marketplaces, but they all seem to struggle to achieve a return on investment. There is a genuine need for the ‘Trivago’ of financial technology – a one stop shop, run by an independent body, which can do more than just matchmaking. It needs to go above and beyond to encompass the sandboxing, assessments, profiling of fintechs to separate the wheat from the chaff, and provide a space for true collaboration.

The pandemic has taught us that we are more effective if we work together. We need mass support and collaboration to find solutions to problems. Businesses and industries are no different. If fintechs and financial institutions can work together, there is a real chance that we can start to lessen the economic hit for many businesses and consumers by lowering costs and streamlining better services and products. And even if it is just making it that little bit easier to manage personal finances from home when fighting with your children for the Wi-Fi, we are making a difference.

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What to Know Before You Expand Across Borders

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What to Know Before You Expand Across Borders 6

By Sean King, Director of International Tax at McGuire Sponsel

The American retail giant, Target Corporation, has a market cap of $64 billion and access to seemingly limitless resources and advisors. So, when the company engaged in its first global expansion, how could anything possibly go wrong?

Less than two years after opening its first Canadian store in 2013, Target shut down all133 Canadian locations and terminated more than 17,000 Canadian employees.

Expansion of an operation to another country can create unique challenges that may impact the financial viability of the entire enterprise. If Target Corporation can colossally fail in its expansion to Canada, how might Mom ‘N’ Pop LLC fare when expanding into Switzerland, Singapore, or Australia?

Successful global expansion requires an understanding of multilayered taxes, regulatory hurdles, employment laws, and cultural nuances. Fortunately, with the right guidance, global expansion can be both possible and profitable for businesses of any size.

Permanent establishment

Any company with global ambitions must first consider whether the company’s expansion outside of the U.S. will give rise to a taxable presence in the local country. In the cross-border context, a “permanent establishment” can be created in a local country when the enterprise reaches a certain level of activity, which is problematic because it exposes the U.S. multinational to taxation in the foreign country.

Foreign entity incorporation

To avoid permanent establishment risk, many U.S. multinationals choose to operate overseas through a formal corporate subsidiary, which reduces the company’s foreign income tax exposure, though it may result in an additional level of foreign income tax on the subsidiary’s earnings. In most jurisdictions, multinationals can operate their business in the foreign country as a branch, a pass through (e.g., partnership,) or a corporation.

As a branch, the U.S. multinational does not create a subsidiary in the foreign country. It holds assets, employees, and bank accounts under its own name. With a pass through, the U.S. multinational creates a separate entity in the foreign country that is treated as a partnership under the tax law of the foreign country but not necessarily as a partnership under U.S. tax law.

U.S. multinationals can also create corporate subsidiaries in the foreign country treated as corporations under the tax law of both the foreign country and the U.S., with possibly two levels of income taxation in the foreign country plus U.S. income taxation of earnings repatriated to the U.S. as dividends.

Check-the-box planning

Under U.S. entity classification rules, certain types of entities can “check the box” to elect their classification to be taxed as a corporation with two levels of tax, a partnership with pass-through taxation, or even be disregarded for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The check the box election allows U.S. multinationals to engage in more effective global tax planning.

Toll charges, transfer pricing and treaties

When establishing a foreign corporate subsidiary, the U.S. multinational will likely need to transfer certain assets to the new entity to make it fully operational. However, in many cases, the U.S. multinational cannot perform the transfer without recognizing taxable income. In the international context, the IRS imposes certain outbound “toll charges” on the transfer of appreciated property to a foreign entity, which are usually provided for in IRC Section 367 and subject to various exceptions and nuances.

Instead, the U.S. multinational may prefer to license intellectual property to the foreign subsidiary for a fee rather than transfer the property outright. However, licensing requires the company and foreign subsidiary to adhere to transfer pricing rules, as dictated by IRC Section 482. The U.S. multinational and the foreign subsidiary must interact in an arms-length manner regarding pricing and economic terms. Furthermore, any such arrangement may attract withholding taxes when royalties are paid across a border.

Are you GILTI?

Certain U.S. multinationals opt to focus on deferring the income recognition at the U.S. level. In doing so, they simply leave overseas profits overseas and delay repatriating any of the earnings to the U.S.

Despite the general merits of this form of planning, U.S. multinationals will be subject to certain IRS anti-deferral mechanisms, commonly known as “Subpart F” and GILTI. Essentially, U.S. shareholders of certain foreign corporations are forced to recognize their pro rata share of certain types of income generated by these foreign entities at the time the income is earned instead of waiting until the foreign entity formally repatriates the income to the U.S.

The end goal

Essentially, all effective international tax planning boils down to treasury management. Effective and early tax planning can properly allow a company to better achieve its initial goal: profitability.

If global expansion is on the horizon for your company, consult a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

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