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Morning Briefing

Morning Briefing

The competition regulator in Switzerland revealed today that it has opened an investigation into possible manipulation of the precious metals market by seven banks — UBS, Julius Baer, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Mitsui. The investigation, which follows a preliminary probe, is looking at possible collusion of bid/ask spreads and is expected to last up to two years.

Big banks in the UK are stepping up their opposition to the planned ring-fencing of retail banking units by 2019 ahead of a consultation with the Bank of England in October. Various reports this morning suggest that senior executives in the banks believe they have already convinced Bank of England governor Mark Carney to dilute the reforms, with the Sunday Times suggesting that he may allow retail and investment arms of major banks to remain under one board.

The Times reports this morning that regulators are to examine claims that RBS falsified customer records, with the bank accused of breaching the Data Protection Act by allegedly editing customer emails and call transcripts.

Also according to the Times, Iranian banks seeking to reopen activities in London following the July agreement to lift sanctions are struggling to find European banks to partner with because of an ongoing fear of sanctions.

European banks apparently remain wary of US sanctions regulation despite the fact that sanctions are due to be lifted as a result of Iran agreeing to limit nuclear production.

Two Iranian banks — Persia International Bank and Melli Bank — are in ongoing talks with UK regulators about reopening in Britain but are struggling to form correspondent relationships with European banks.

Sky News has reported that Barclays is in preliminary discussions with potential buyers of its investment banking business in Brazil, as the bank seeks an exit from its Brazilian operations.

As Jan Dhan Yojana, India's financial inclusion scheme for consumers, continues to roll out, the government is urging banks in the to get behind the next phase of financial inclusion Pradhan Mantri MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) Yojana, which is aimed at supporting small entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, digital payments company, Oxigen, which failed in its bid to be granted a payments bank licence by the Reserve Bank of India, appears to have decided to enter banking anyway, albeit by a circuitous route. According to the Times of India, Oxigen is developing its partnership with RBL Bank to replicate a payments bank model.

"In terms of our partnership with RBL Bank, all our customer touchpoints will become business correspondent points. Every customer who comes to Oxigen will have an Oxigen wallet and an RBL Bank account, and both will be mapped. As we have enabled digital KYC, we can convert existing customers to bank account holders," Pramod Saxena, founder and chairman of Oxigen, said.

In Nigeria, the central bank is developing a Consumer Protection Framework (CPF) for the banking industry to further financial inclusion and boost public confidence in the financial system. According to a draft document, the CPF will guarantee standards for customer service, market discipline and fair treatment of consumers.

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