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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 13 December 2016

Daily briefing - 13 December 2016

Reuters has obtained a letter from SWIFT to its clients which says "The threat is very persistent, adaptive and sophisticated — and it is here to stay". The threat, of course, is cybertheft. The Belgium-headquartered network seems unusually secretive and appears to be doling out bad news about cybertheft in small doses, but it appears that a bigger problem is emerging: 'inside jobs' at its clients: "On Monday, a top investigator in Dhaka told Reuters that some Bangladesh central bank officials deliberately exposed its computer systems and enabled the theft." An official at SWIFT told Reuters that attacks have continued, and succeeded, ever since one of the world's biggest bank robberies took place in Bangladesh in February this year.

"While mobile app-based banks may be great for London hipsters, they won't be competing for your mother's current account anytime soon," writes Mike Fotis in a refreshingly blunt analysis of challenger banks. "Just over a year ago I believed that new challenger banks were on the edge of glory, about to kick off an era of better and fairer banking for everybody," writes the Smart Money People founder in the Spectator. "I was wrong." Citing data gathered by Smart Money People, Fotis writes that customers of the challenger banks score lower on customer satisfaction ratings than — you guessed it — the incumbents that everyone loves to hate. "This year customer satisfaction across seven challenger banks was 71.8 per cent (these banks include those launched since 2010 — Atom Bank, Metro Bank, Paragon Bank, Charter Savings Bank, Fidor, TSB and RCI Bank)," he says. "Seven of the largest incumbent banks have an overall customer satisfaction rating of 78.8 per cent (HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds Bank, Halifax, NatWest and Santander)."

A rumour shot around India yesterday that Axis Bank was about to lose its licence, following a story that the bank suspended 19 employees for allegedly illegally exchanging old notes. The story captures the tension in India as the demonetisation experiment continues. Hopes that huge amounts of cash would be removed from the system because of its black market origins have faded, and now banks are facing extra risks, angry crowds and a government asking banks to say how much of their deposits are old cash and how much are new cash. "Operational and reputational risk for India's banking system has surged uncontrollably since the government's Nov. 8 move to outlaw 86 percent of the country's cash," writes Andy Mukherjee in financial newspaper Mint. India's suddenly sprung experiment would have made global headlines if not for the fact that November 8 was also the date of the biggest political upset of the 21st century.

Are politics and banking inseparable? Apparently so. Italy's rejection of reform and the end of Matteo Renzi means nothing, according to UniCredit. Yes, Italian banks appear to be finally making some radical moves in the face of total crisis, as they fight for the attention of international investors. UniCredit CEO Jean-Pierre Mustier plans to follow a strategic plan based on a "Nordic model". Under Mr Mustier, the bank will shed 14,000 of 100,000 jobs, close around a quarter of its 3,800 branches and simplify its IT systems. He said that automated loans would be more common, where "it is the machine that decides, not a person". "Our bank is a simple, pan-European, commercial bank," Mr Mustier said, according to the Financial Times. "It is important to be a simple bank in today's regulatory environment, which creates headwinds for complex banks."

Kenya: Mobile Money helped two percent of households out of poverty
Silicon Valley VCs are growing wary of on-demand delivery
South Africa's economy recovering says FinMin Gordhan
Just maybe, this is the year the US economy starts to feel 'normal'

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