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Morning Briefing

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China Construction Bank has reported flat first half net profit as a result of rising bad loans.

Net profit rose by just under one percent year-on-year to 131.90 billion yuan ($20.64 billion, while bad loans rose to 144.40 billion yuan, suggesting a non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of 1.42 percent, the bank said. The ratio was up by almost a fifth from the 1.19 percent at the end of last year.

Also in China, Bank of Communications chairman Niu Ximing has said that the country's banking industry needs to be cautious about rising credit risks and strengthen its risk control system.

Citing the "Three Five Seven Effect", he said the industry's non-performing loans (NPLs) usually rise in the three years after an expansion in credit, with an outbreak of credit risks in five years and large losses appearing in seven years. Given the expansion of credit in 2009, great credit losses had been accumulated by 2015, he said, and as the NPL ratio has exceeded 1.8 percent, the rising trend of NPLs and the NPL ratio will not reverse in the short term.

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the investment banking divisions of the largest financial institutions in the world now post greater profitability than their parent groups even though they have been hit by rising capital requirements and other regulations.

British P2P lender Zopa has appointed Jaidev Janardana, who joined Zopa last year as chief operating officer, as its new chief executive. He replaces co-founder Giles Andrews who will become executive chairman. The appointment comes two weeks after Zopa processed its billionth pound of P2P lending.

In India, the finance ministry has circulated a draft cabinet note outlining 30 measures to promote e-payments in the country. The note, which includes measures such as fee waivers and tax benefits for cashless payments, will be presented to the cabinet following feedback from other government departments.

If accepted, the proposals will also see utility service providers encouraged to offer incentives for card payments and incentives for shopkeepers who accept a significant amount of their payments through plastic money.

Barclays is set to become the first UK high street bank to accept bitcoin, as it plans to partner with a bitcoin exchange and allow people to make donations to charity using the virtual currency.

In Nigeria, the central bank has revealed that 19 million bank customers have signed up for a bank verification number (BVN) ahead of the 1 October deadline. The biometric identification system is intended to speed up services that Nigerian banks offer customers while also reducing fraud.

Also in Nigeria, FirstBank has introduced a prepaid card aimed at encouraging teenagers in the country to develop a savings culture and money management skills. The MeFirst prepaid card for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 is preloaded by parents or guardians and has a monthly spending limit of 50,000 nairas.

The credit cards unit at Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group is looking to invest in the US financial-technology sector, according to Bloomberg.

The company has apparently met with more than 500 US fintech companies and has drawn up a short-list of around 10 possible targets for acquisitions or partnerships.

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