The Italian government is willing to risk the wrath of its European partners by going around rules that prevent state aid to the banking sector. Following the UK vote to exit the EU, the spotlight turns to Italy, where bank shares dropped heavily on news of the Brexit. A new round of stress tests on Italian banks begins at the end of July, raising fears that Italy's weakest banks will turn out to need fresh capitalisation.
Consumer bank First Gulf is to merge with wholesale bank NBAD as a wave of consolidation hits the UAE. The news follows the announcement of a government-sponsored merger of state investment funds Mubadala and International Petroleum Investment Company.
Like Saudi Arabia, the UAE is diversifying its economy and the new bank will be seen as a regional champion to boost business in the UAE and the wider region. The new bank, which will start business as a new entity in the first quarter of 2017, will retain the NBAD name.
A representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria told banking executives that strong regulation and capitalisation measures meant Nigerian banks are well placed to withstand the impact of Brexit. Speaking to a breakfast session organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria Centre for Financial Studies). Moses Tule, director monetary policy department, said at the weekend in Lagos that the crisis in the UK would have no impact on Nigerian lenders.
The trends towards use of mobile phone numbers as proxies for bank account numbers continues, with Singapore banks preparing a trial that allows customers to use their Facebook IDs in order to transfer money. The service will use Singapore's FAST transfer network and marks another concession to customers who spend much of their online time on the social network.
Meanwhile, observers are watching the development of WhatsApp, which has singlehandedly destroyed revenue streams at telcos around the world, and its integration with the Indian banking system.
Citibank's global fintech chief marketing officer Linda Dumcombe told the Australian Financial Review that banks now have to consider social media platforms as either competitors or collaborators — and will have to copy tech businesses and their 'seamless' integration into consumers' lives. "Consumers are benchmarking us against a much wider lifestyle experience," she said. However, it's only a few weeks since the miseducation of Microsoft's 'chatbot' Tay, which users quickly lured into abusive behaviour.
The limits of robot-human interaction were in the headlines over the weekend after Tesla reported that in May, a driver in Florida drove into a truck while the car was on 'autopilot' mode, with the driver failing to notice the truck crossing the path of the car.
The Economist reports that businesses are turning to AI — field of perennial disappointment and overhype — to market old ideas. Systems trained using labelled data are being used to recognise fraudulent credit-card transactions and identify malware among a range of applications calling for inferential logic. With a huge volume of data available, adoption of this particular approach has, notes the author, "allowed existing firms in financial services, computer security and marketing to relabel themselves as AI companies".
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