The FT this morning features an interview with Anders Bouvin, CEO of Handelsbanken, who was appointed earlier this year. Mr Bouvin is the former head of Handelsbanken in the UK. The paper writes: "One investor jokes that the new chief executive is like 'a missionary', imbued with more passion for the Handelsbanken gospel by having had to find new converts in a far-off land rather than preaching to the converted in Sweden". Handelsbanken features prominently in Lafferty's new ratings report, From Hidden Gems to Wounded Giants: The search for quality in European Banking. The report places Handelsbanken among the "hidden gems" of European banking; the bank's strategy and culture in particular attract comment, and the report observes how Handelsbanken's strategy is being copied by several other banks such as Swedbank and Sydbank — although, as Mr Bouvin observes, "copying" strategy such as de-centralisation is not easily done.
We invite all of our clients and colleagues to join us next week in London, when the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation will put on a round-table discussion based on Lafferty's Bank Quality Ratings project. The discussion is titled 'Assessing Bank Quality: can simple methods be applied to a pile of complex data?' The discussion will be led by Bruce Packard (Lafferty Group), and joined by Simon Samuels, Bridget Gandy (Fitch), Justin Bisseker (Schroders) and George Graham. A limited number of places are still available, and you can secure a place by emailing email@example.com. More details on the event and contact information here.
Italy retains a lot of Europe's best craftspeople, and the tradition for fashionable clothing, footwear and accessories along with food and drink is what makes the country such a joy for tourists. Many are still local businesses, with deep ties to local banks. Yet for all its style, Italy has been chugging along ingloriously since the financial crisis without the deep and painful reforms that Spain, Ireland and Greece have undergone. But as Italy's banking crisis drags on, the less-than-healthy relationships between producers, politicians and banks is being exposed, and it's not a pretty picture. A fascinating piece today in the Financial Times looks at the possibility that the forced conversion of mutual banks to joint stock companies could reveal more instances of mis-selling — while memories of the suicide of a retiree who lost his savings in a bail-in is fresh in people's minds. Meanwhile, following up on yesterday's story about Monte dei Paschi, shareholders have voted for a €5bn recapitalisation plan and the restructuring of the bank's €28bn in gross non-performing loans.
Apps for businesses, mobile financial services and video are driving adoption of digital services in Africa, according to Thecla Mbongwe, senior analyst at Ovum. According to Ovum, mobile subscriptions in Africa are set to surpass one billion this year — but it's the growth of mobile broadband that is most important for the spread of digital services. Africa still suffers from poor broadband connectivity: Ovum estimates broadband penetration across the continent at 20 to 30 percent, while total mobile penetration is around 80 percent. (Mobile broadband penetration in OECD countries tends towards 90 percent penetration.) That's allowing for a drop in countries such as Nigeria, where there have been reductions in reported numbers due to regulatory requirements whereby operators can only report SIM cards that have been identified. This follows a major fine for telecoms group MTN for its failure to disconnect unreported SIM cards, which the government argued were being used by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram. Ovum saw an increase in digital services, which includes the use of apps and mobile financial services, and expects data revenue to leap from $6.4 billion in 2015 to $27.5 billion by 2021. Watch the video interview on CNBC Africa here.
East meets West in Cape Town and Johannesburg as Chinese phenomenon WeChat Pay partners with that undying symbol of Western culture, McDonald's. WeChat Pay's service uses a QR code, which has proven its popularity for fast food and coffee retailers — with the Starbucks app proving particularly popular with young customers. "WeChat was launched in South Africa in November last year by Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent in partnership with Standard Bank," writes NFC World. "The service lets users make P2P transfers, pay for services such as airtime, data and electricity and make in-store payments by scanning QR codes at 30,000 merchants supporting the SnapScan mobile payments platform."
Kenya prosecutor says ex-Family Bank executives to be charged
China banking regulator wrestles with $2.9 trillion off-balance sheet WMPs
China banking sector's total assets up 16.5 pct y/y at end Oct
Australian banks admit to Malaysia currency 'cartel', pay fines
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