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Morning Briefing

Morning Briefing

Major US banks responded to the historic rate hike by the Federal Reserve by raising their prime rates for the first time since 2006 on Wednesday. Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America raised their prime rates to 3.5 percent from 3.25 percent, while the Fed raised the target for its main short-term rate to a range of 0.25 to 0.50 percent, from 0 to 0.25 percent. The banks' higher prime rate will result in higher interest rates on a wide range of loans.

The allure of the blockchain continues to beguile the business world to the extent that finance and technology heavyweight IBM, Wells Fargo and London Stock Exchange Group are working with the Linux Foundation to create an open-source public network that will allow blockchain applications built on it to communicate with each other.

"As with any early-stage, highly-complex technology that demonstrates the ability to change the way we live our lives and conduct business, blockchain demands a cross-industry, open source collaboration to advance the technology for all," Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, said in the statement.

Bitcoin, which ushered the blockchain into the limelight, is not so popular though, at least not in Kenya where the central bank has warned against using it and other unregulated digital currencies.

Describing itself as the sole regulator of currencies in Kenya, the central bank linked the use of such currencies to terrorism and money laundering. Interestingly, the central bank's move came a day after a Kenyan judge issued a preliminary ruling that telecoms operator Safaricom will not be ordered to reinstate Bitpesa's access to the M-PESA mobile money service.

The chief executive of Ireland's state-owned AIB (bailed out after the country's economic crash of 2008) has said the bank is ready to be floated on the public markets and that it is up to the government to set the timing of an IPO. Mr Byrne was speaking after AIB shareholders backed a capital reorganisation plan that will see it make its first repayment of bailout funds to the state.

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'Fintech' expansion lures foreign banks to Israel
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