FSS industry growing fast in Malaysia The Star Online 12th Mar 2018
The global financial shared services (FSS) sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Malaysia, offering a wealth of employment opportunities and international exposure. There could be ample potential for the country to tap into to drive growth in the finance industry given that many more global companies have embarked on an FSS strategy to drive their finance transformation agenda.
Singapore paves the way for legal finance in Asia Singapore Business Review 12th Mar 2018
It has been a year since Singapore took the landmark step of allowing legal finance for arbitration, bringing the country into line with the US, UK, Australia and numerous other leading centres of dispute resolution. Singapore took the prize for being the first Asian country to open up to legal finance. The Lion City is now in a highly competitive position to allow its users of arbitration to enjoy significantly lower legal costs to pursue meritorious cases, as well as improve their balance sheets and legal budgets. Following Singapore’s lead, countries and corporations across Asia are exploring how they too can enjoy the benefits of this innovative financial service.
IMF urges elderly fund Bangkok Post 10th Mar 2018
Thailand is being urged to set aside some of its ample foreign reserves for a fund to raise proceeds to finance aid packages for the elderly. Markus H Rodlauer, deputy director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific department, met Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Friday and proposed that Thailand earmark US$214.7 billion (6.73 trillion baht) worth of foreign reserves, accounting for 10% of the country's GDP, to establish a fund that generates income to assist the elderly.
MoF allocated B$747M; B$5M for establishing Brunei Stock Exchange Borneo Bulletin Online 9th Mar 2018
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has been allocated a budget of B$747.32 million for the 2018/2019 Financial Year. Deliberating on the proposed budget for the ministry at the Legislative Council session yesterday, Minister of Finance II YB Dato Seri Paduka Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah said of this amount, B$686,520,908 is needed to finance recurring expenditures in various areas while B$55,807,405 is earmarked for the payment of staff salaries under the ministry. The rest, B$5,000,000, is for development expenditure including to finance the establishment of the Brunei Darussalam Stock Exchange.
Meeting ASEAN’s green finance appetite The ASEAN Post 7th Mar 2018
Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are now, more than ever, exposed to the risks of climate change and environmental degradation. More nations have now answered the clarion call of the Paris Agreement and are including investments for projects that help protect the environment under their respective national agendas. ASEAN cannot afford to be left behind. Not only do these projects have long-term benefits for the planet, but the rush to develop them opens up lucrative investment opportunities too. ASEAN’s green finance potential can be realised via traditional investment vehicles like bonds, stocks and exchange-traded funds, whereby the underlying business is related to operations or projects that improve the environment.
Gov't denies rumours of national cryptocurrency Phnom Penh Post 6th Mar 2018
Government officials today shot down rumours that Cambodia would be issuing its own national cryptocurrency, despite international media coverage and a high-profile government official’s plan to attend an event organized by the company responsible for the claims. A firm called Entapay issued a press release on March 2 announcing the Asean Blockchain Summit would be held at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh tomorrow. The press release says that “following Venezuela's lead, other countries have been trying to issue legal digital tender, including Cambodia”, and announces deputy prime minister Men Sam An as the event’s keynote speaker.
Banks race for digital technology The Nation 4th Mar 2018
Winfield Wong, head of wholesale banking at HSBC Vietnam said that country has potential for a high rate of adoption of new technologies. This prospect is triggered by a young population very open to innovation, along with robust Internet penetration. As of November last year, 64 million people or 67 per cent of Vietnam’s population had Internet access. And smartphone ownership has exploded, with 84 per cent of mobile-phone owners in 2017 carrying smartphones, up from 78 per cent in 2016, according to Wong.
Company in focus: Indonesia's biggest state bank embraces digital disruption Nikkei Asian Review 2nd Mar 2018
As president of Indonesia's Bank Mandiri, Kartika Wirjoatmodjo has spent most of the past two years tackling a mountain of bad loans that has squeezed the state-owned lender's bottom line and hampered expansion plans overseas.
Term deposit auction oversubscribed philstar.com 8th Mar 2018
Banks swarmed yesterday the term deposit auction facility (TDF) with the release of additional liquidity into the financial system after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) trimmed the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) last Friday. The decision of the Monetary Board to reduce the level of deposits that banks are required to maintain with the central bank to 19 percent from 20 percent released about P90 billion in additional liquidity into the financial system. BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. said there was strong participation in yesterday’s auction of term deposits resulting in oversubscription across all tenors.
Vietnamese banks on topsy-turvy road between profitability and capitalization VnExpress International 6th Mar 2018
Vietnamese banks’ asset quality and profitability have improved but their capitalization has deteriorated, according to Moody's Investors Service. Asset quality and profitability were boosted by robust macroeconomic conditions and growth in core income, according to the credit ratings agency’s report issued on Tuesday. Moody's said that asset quality improved in 2017 thanks to asset recoveries and write-offs, as well as credit growth. The asset weighted-average problem loans ratio at 14 rated banks fell to 5.7 percent at the end of 2017 from 6.7 percent the previous year.
Commercial banks boost retail banking segment by adjusting service fees vietnamnews.vn 5th Mar 2018
Commercial banks have adjusted their service fees to individual customers since beginning of the year in order to focus on the retail segment. For money transfer services in the same banking system, some commercial banks, such as VIB, VietinBank and Techcombank, do not charge for individual customers when using electronic services. These banks charge VNĐ8,800 for the maintenance of their accounts. In addition, the fee for money transfer services among different banks is VNĐ9,900 or higher per transaction, or as a percentage of the transaction amount ranging from 0.1 to 0.3 per cent.
Vietnam makes significant progress in sustainable finance reforms VietNamNet 28th Feb 2018
Emerging markets have become a major force in driving development and fighting climate change as 34 countries, including Vietnam, have initiated banking reforms to expand sustainable lending, according to the first comprehensive Global Progress Report of Sustainable Banking Network (SBN). These 34 countries account for $42.6 trillion in bank assets—more than 85 per cent of the total bank assets in emerging markets. Some are wealthier than others, but all of them have made progress in advancing sustainable finance. Vietnam, together with Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Nigeria, have reached an advanced stage by implementing large-scale reforms and putting in place systems to measure results. These reforms require banks to assess and report environmental and social (E&S) risks in their lending operations and put market incentives in place for banks to lend to green projects.
Vietcombank to sell 10% stake to foreign investors VOV - VOV Online Newspaper 27th Feb 2018
The Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) is planning to sell more than 350 million shares, or a 10% stake, to foreign investors in the first half of 2018. The bank’s decision comes after a green signal from the Government, Nikkei reports. Vietcombank Chairman NghiemXuanThanh told reporters that the plan for the private equity placement had been approved by the relevant authorities. The shares will be issued by way of public auction or private placement to a limited number of foreign investors.
Tax incentives could trigger consolidation of Thailand’s banking sector Oxford Business Group 25th Feb 2018
In December Apisak Tantivorawong, the finance minister, said his ministry was considering a plan to make mergers more appealing by offering tax incentives to local lenders and assisting companies with the costs of amalgamation. The minister said the proposed measures would be aimed at bolstering the sector and better preparing domestic operators for increased international competition, but he released no further details. “Our policy is not to force but to give incentives to motivate them into thinking... because Thailand does not have a bank that can be called a champion bank that can compete overseas,” Apisak said. Indeed, while Thai companies are expanding their regional presence, offshore deals are still largely undertaken by banks outside ASEAN, with European, US or Japanese institutions responsible for financing the majority of mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
SMEs urged to use hedging Bangkok Post 24th Feb 2018
A fee waiver scheme initiated by the government, the Bank of Thailand and banks for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to buy foreign exchange option contracts on trial is estimated to add 20 billion baht in export value, says the chief of the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Exim Thailand). Pisit Serewiwattana, president of Exim Thailand, said 2,037 SME operators have been granted premium lines under the foreign currency risk management project for SMEs to buy foreign exchange option contracts on trial, involving a total of 61.1 million baht or 41% of the project budget of 150 million approved by the cabinet.
S'pore not going cashless 'for its own sake' but for economic competitiveness The Business Times 1st Mar 2018
Singapore is not going cashless "for its own sake", but to enhance the competitiveness of its economy, said Vivian Balakrishnan, minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, at the Committee of Supply debate on Thursday. Dr Balakrishnan was responding to Desmond Choo, a member of the People's Action Party and mayor of the North East District of Singapore, who had asked if Singapore's Strategic National Projects - among them e-payments - can be used to support future economic transformation especially in supporting the gig and freelance economy.
Malaysian firm adds Islamic certification to cryptocurrency The Business Times 28th Feb 2018
Malaysia-based firm HelloGold has received a Syariah-compliant certification for its gold-backed cryptocurrency and plans to launch its online gold platform in Thailand later this year, the company said. Its cryptocurrency product, dubbed GOLDX, was launched at the end of last year and has now received certification from Amanie Advisors, a Malaysia-based Islamic finance consultancy, said chief marketing officer Manuel Ho. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, GOLDX involves the issuance of a token backed by physical gold stored in a Singapore vault, and transactions must be completed within a defined time period, Ho said.
Harnessing the power of fintech in Myanmar Frontier Myanmar 23rd Feb 2018
Since reforms began in 2011, Myanmar has become one of the fastest-growing developing markets in Asia. Growing access to communications technology – SIM cards, fast data coverage and cheap smartphones – is helping fuel this growth. The promising gains in connectivity mean there is vast potential for innovative solutions aimed at including the 80 percent of people who are outside the formal financial system. But digital financial services via mobile technology – also known as financial technology, or fintech – can do more than make financial transactions safer, quicker and more efficient. They can also serve as the rails upon which new, life-enhancing services can flourish and benefit the people of Myanmar.
Challenging the dominance of cash in Myanmar ASEAN Today 28th Feb 2018
Cash is still dominant in Myanmar. Despite the governmental reforms in 2017, cash is still the preferred payment method. That could be about to change. Myanmar is ready to buck the trend. It could move straight from cash to mobile payments without adopting card payments. Card payments are struggling to take off in Myanmar. As of 2017, only 0.5% of transactions were carried out electronically. Only 10% of the population have a bank account. Financial exclusion is high. The financial climate does not immediately lend itself to card payment solutions. In January 2017, the government opened Myanmar up to international payment companies. Companies like Mastercard and Visa began providing credit cards in the local currency. The government hoped the arrival of international companies would spur collaboration. The larger companies would share their human capital and experience with local banks. The government anticipated that this collaboration would spur growth and drive innovation.
FINTQ provides 1 million free microinsurance philstar.com 5th Mar 2018
FINTQnologies Corp. (FINTQ), the financial technology arm of Voyager Innovations under the PLDT Group, is offering one million free microinsurance policies to unbanked and underserved FIlipinos across 42,000 barangays nationwide. In a statement, FINTQ said it is distributing one million free microinsurance policies as part of the initiatives under its KasamaKA Ka-Barangay sa Kaunlaran, a capacity building program in collaboration with the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas. “We all need security and protection from any uncertainties. With this affordable and accessible microinsurance policies under the KasamaKA Microinsurance program, this will kickstart the massive nationwide financial literacy campaign to educate millions of unbanked and underserved Filipinos on the importance of being financially secured and insured,” said Lito Villanueva, managing director of FINTQ.
Innovative, affordable insurance products to boost sector The Malaysian Reserve 5th Mar 2018
Aggressive introduction of innovative and affordable range insurance products in the market will boost the insurance sector’s demand for the younger generation, which has seen the lowest average sales volume penetration rate. Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said more innovative products and channels of distribution are needed to make insurance products more affordable to reduce the financial strain for the average income earners. “The pricing points for insurance largely depend on what buyers want as the option is on the type of coverage against affordability level,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd’s (Takaful Malaysia) online sales portal launch ceremony in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.
Insurance coverage needed as banks expand The Myanmar Times 1st Mar 2018
The recent bomb explosion at a Yoma Bank branch and robbery at Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank branch have highlighted the need for banks to acquire insurance for protection against unforeseen risks at a time when banks are expanding across Myanmar. In January, more than K90 million was stolen when KBZ Bank in Myitkyina, Kachin State, was robbed. This month, two Yoma Bank employees were killed and 22 injured during a bomb blast in Lashio, Shan State. Both incidents were not covered by insurance, The Myanmar Times understands. Yet, such incidences pose threats to the financial sector even as banks are opening more branches in new areas in a race for market share in the country. Clearly though, the risks involved in expanding in restive states like Shan and Kachin are high. As such, having the appropriate insurance policies to protect against those risks is both useful and necessary.
Indonesia: WanaArtha Life on infrastructure development funding through PPP Asia Insurance Review 1st Mar 2018
Indonesia’s life insurance sector hopes to accelerate the pace of funding for infrastructure developments in the country, and the wider Southeast Asia region, through promoting public-private partnerships (PPP), Ms Evelina Pietruschka, President Commissioner of WanaArtha Life, told Asia Insurance Review while attending the recently-concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Ms Pietruschka, who is also Secretary-General of the ASEAN Insurance Council, believes the ASEAN insurance industry has a key role to play in bridging the infrastructure gap in the region. And she hopes that Indonesia can take the lead in creating a viable partnership model between the insurance industry and the public sector.
The Philippines’s disaster risk financing and insurance strategy BusinessMirror 27th Feb 2018
It is estimated that the country experiences a total of $3.5 billion in damages yearly due to typhoons and earthquakes. Around 20 typhoons make landfall in the Philippines every year. The financial cost of these natural disasters is simply astounding. In addressing the issue of disaster risk financing, insurance for government properties is recognized as one of the critical components.
President shares information on health insurance program with IMF director Antara News 26th Feb 2018
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) shared information on the National Health Insurance Program, implemented in Indonesia in the form of the BPJS and Indonesian Health Card, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde. During a visit to the Pertamina Central Hospital in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, where Lagarde was also invited, President Jokowi said he was keen to highlight that Indonesia has a good health insurance program in place. "We want to demonstrate that Indonesia has a National Health Insurance system under the name of BPJS and the Indonesian Health Card (KIS), and I mentioned that the KIS has 92.4 million members and BPJS has 193.1 million. We have given to the community," President Jokowi explained.
Central Bank pushes for moveable asset finance law to improve credit access Frontier Myanmar 9th Mar 2018
The Central Bank of Myanmar has urged the government to begin drafting a moveable asset finance law so that banks and other lenders can accept collateral other than real estate. Central Bank director general Daw Than Than Swe told Frontier that such a law would lay the foundations for a dramatic increase in access to credit, particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises. Although credit to the private sector has increased significantly in recent years, many businesses are starved of financing because banks only accept particular types of land as collateral. Under a moveable asset finance law, banks could also accept a range of other items as collateral, including stock, equipment and receivables.
Ministry of Finance works to handle tax arrears Vietnam Plus 7th Mar 2018
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is working on a draft resolution on handling tax arrears and irrecoverable fines to submit to the National Assembly. The MoF proposes to freeze tax arrears/debts. This means it would temporarily cease collection of tax and late payment fines for those who have terminated their business activities for more than one year, due to actual dissolution of taxpayers (except for cases for splitting, merger or acquisition), and those who already had their business licence revoked. The estimated uncollected tax amount of this particular group is now more than 26.5 trillion VND (1.16 billion USD), making up the majority of total unpaid tax debt of around 1.18 billion USD.
MAS sets out measures for large-scale movements in financial advisory industry The Business Times 7th Mar 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday proposed four measures to address the large-scale movement of financial advisory (FA) representatives from one FA firm to another. It is also calling for a public consultation, after which it will then be decided if these measures might eventually become regulations. "We'll see what the response is. We haven't decided. This is what we think the industry should do. It's co-created with the industry and we'll see," Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (Financial Supervision), MAS, told The Business Times on the sidelines of the Life Insurance Association's annual luncheon. The first proposed measure recommends that first-year sales target tied to sign-on incentives should not be higher than the representative's average annual sales in the preceding three years.
Crypto Exchanges Mandated to Obtain IDs of Malaysian Clients Finance Magnates 1st Mar 2018
While retail and institutional brokers have long been complying with AML regulations and collecting data from their clients, in the crypto-world, anonymity has been a valuable asset. Exchanges have been accepting clients without applying strict requirements to verify them. The matter came into focus for the Malaysian central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, which has officially unveiled a list of KYC (know-your-customer) requirements for crypto exchanges that are on-boarding clients from the country. The forms require that customers provide documentation that confirms their identity in detail. The bank’s effort is part of the new anti-money laundering legislation which was passed into law by the Malaysian government earlier this year and came into effect on the 27th of February.
MAS mulls additional regulations to protect cryptocurrency investors Singapore Business Review 1st Mar 2018
It remains on guard for any risky activities using virtual currencies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is assessing whether additional regulations must be implemented to protect cryptocurrency investors. “As with most financial regulators, MAS does not regulate virtual currencies. But we regulate the activities that surround virtual currencies if these pose specific risks,” said Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (financial supervision) of MAS, in a speech. “An example would be the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements that we have imposed on intermediaries providing virtual currency services. We are assessing if additional regulations are required in the area of investor protection,” Ong continued. The central bank earlier said that they are closely studying the developments and potential risks of cryptocurrencies, however, see no strong case yet to ban its trading in the country.
Cryptocurrency to fall under 'Know Your Customer' rules Bangkok Post 1st Mar 2018
Regulations governing securities issuance, which requires underlying assets or service and Know Your Customer (KYC) rules, will be applied to the coming framework governing cryptocurrencies in an effort to protect investors, says Pornchai Thiraveja, an adviser to the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO). Digital currencies with either underlying assets or services will be tradable to prevent losses from investment, he said. Issuers also need to be licensed in the event that they operate any services that require licences by law. Trading cryptocurrencies will also have to comply with KYC, Mr Pornchai said.
Amended bill targeted to snub out conflicts of interest Bangkok Post 1st Mar 2018
The amended draft bill on the Securities and Exchange Act will empower the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) board of directors to formulate a mechanism to govern investment of fund management companies, lessening their investment in products related to their parent firms. The move is aimed at reducing these fund management companies' conflicts of interest and protecting unit holders, said Sakkarin Ruamrangsri, the SEC's assistant secretary-general. Most investment management companies are bank subsidiaries, and putting money into products issued by their parents could cause a conflict of interest, he said.
Indonesia, Singapore exchange financial information Vietnam Plus 25th Feb 2018
Indonesia and Singapore will begin to implement the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) agreement in September 2018, according to Indonesia’s Antara news agency. John Hutagaol, a tax expert of Indonesia’s Finance Ministry, said the Indonesian Government is preparing regulations, infrastructure, as well as human resources for the implementation of the agreement. On the other hand, Singapore will automatically share financial information on Indonesian nationals once the AEOI is implemented, he said.
Jokowi Nominates Perry Warjiyo as New Central Bank Chief Jakarta Globe 24th Feb 2018
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has chosen Bank Indonesia Deputy Governor Perry Warjiyo as his sole nominee for central bank governor for 2018-2023, a lawmaker said on Saturday (24/02). The president has submitted his nomination to the national legislature for approval, but it has not yet reached House of Representatives Commission XI, which oversees finance and the banking sector. "This is true, but we are currently in recess, so we have not officially received the nomination submitted by the president to leaders of the legislature," Commission XI member Willgo Zainar told the Jakarta Globe.