Bank regulators plan capital rule for bitcoin

Bank regulators plan capital rule for bitcoin
Major economies including China and the US have signaled in recent weeks a tougher approach on bitcoin. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 11 June 2021

Bank regulators plan capital rule for bitcoin

Bank regulators plan capital rule for bitcoin
  • Crypto assets could increase risk to global financial stability if capital requirements are not met

LONDON: Banks must set aside enough capital to cover losses on any bitcoin holdings in full, global banking regulators proposed on Thursday, in a “conservative” step that could prevent widescale use of the cryptocurrency by major lenders.
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, made up of regulators from the world’s leading financial centers, proposed a twin approach to capital requirements for crypto assets held by banks in its first bespoke rule for the nascent sector.
El Salvador has become the world’s first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender even though central banks globally have repeatedly warned that investors in the cryptocurrency must be ready to lose all their money.
Major economies including China and the US have signalled in recent weeks a tougher approach, while developing plans to develop their own central bank digital currencies.
The Swiss-based Basel committee said in a public consultation paper that while bank exposures to crypto assets are limited, their continued growth could increase risks to global financial stability if capital requirements are not introduced.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are currently worth around $1.6 trillion globally, which is still tiny compared with bank holdings of loans, derivatives and other major assets.
Basel’s rules require banks to assign “risk weightings” to different types of assets on their books, with these totted up to determine overall capital requirements.
For crypto assets, Basel is proposing two broad groups.
The first includes certain tokenized traditional assets and stablecoins which would come under existing rules and treated in the same way as bonds, loans, deposits, equities or commodities.
This means the weighting could range between 0 percent for a tokenized sovereign bond to 1,250 percent or full value of asset covered by capital.
The value of stablecoins and other group 1 crypto-assets are tied to a traditional asset, such as the dollar in the case of Facebook’s proposed Diem stablecoin.
Nevertheless, given crypto assets are based on new and rapidly evolving technology like blockchain, this poses a potentially increased likelihood of operational risks which need an “add-on” capital charge for all types, Basel said.
The second group includes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that would be subject to a new “conservative prudential treatment” with a risk-weighting of 1,250 percent because of their “unique risks.”
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not linked to any underlying asset.
Under Basel rules, a 1,250 percent risk weight translates into banks having to hold capital at least equal in value to their exposures to Bitcoin or other group 2 crypto assets.
“The capital will be sufficient to absorb a full write-off of the crypto asset exposures without exposing depositors and other senior creditors of the banks to a loss,” it added.
Few other assets that have such conservative treatment under Basel’s existing rules, and include investments in funds or securitizations where banks do not have sufficient information about their underlying exposures.
The value of Bitcoin has swung wildly, hitting a record high of around $64,895 in mid-April, before slumping to around $36,834 on Thursday.
Banks’ appetite for cryptocurrencies varies, with HSBC saying it has no plans for a cryptocurrency trading desk because the digital coins are too volatile. Goldman Sachs restarted its crypto trading desk in March.
Basel said that given the rapidly evolving nature of crypto assets, a further public consultation on capital requirements is likely before final rules are published.
Central bank digital currencies are not included in its proposals.


Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW
Updated 49 min 50 sec ago

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW

Easing restrictions drive Middle East’s post-pandemic rebound, says ICAEW
  • The report reveals that business confidence in the region has strengthened in recent months

DUBAI: The Middle East’s regional GDP will grow by 2.4 percent this year according to a report commissioned by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICEAW).
It represents a similar rate to the region’s average growth trajectory in the last decade, as countries double down on their pandemic exit strategies.
The report reveals that business confidence in the region has strengthened in recent months on the back of eased COVID-19-related restrictions and an energetic vaccine campaign.
Strong Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) readings indicate a positive outlook throughout the year, the report said.
This shows a marked improvement from the 4.4 percent economic contraction felt across the region last year.
The region can particularly benefit from the expected surge of travel demand once the rest of the world opens up, the report noted, with major global events set to happen in Dubai and Qatar.
“The outlook for most Middle Eastern economies looks positive this quarter, but keeping coronavirus levels low will be essential to ensure economies can return to growth,” the company’s regional director, Michael Armstrong, said.
He highlighted the need to continue diversification strategies to reduce reliance in the oil industry, which has seen gradual recovery from its performance in 2020.
“The rise in the oil price has boosted revenue prospects for GCC producers,” ICAEW Economic Adviser Scott Livermore, said.
“Higher oil revenue gives governments more scope to support post-pandemic recoveries without undermining efforts aimed at improving medium-term fiscal sustainability,” he added.


Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering

Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering
Updated 13 June 2021

Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering

Quebec-based Robotel to add Arabic curriculum in its offering
  • The Quebec-based company said it would partner with Nexus Learn Arabic to develop the course
  • The pair want to finish the curriculum by 2022

DUBAI: Canadian education technology company Robotel is teaming up with a UK-based startup to develop an extensive Arabic language digital curriculum.
The Quebec-based company said it would partner with Nexus Learn Arabic to develop the course, as it expands its offerings to its client schools.
“We feel it is important to help bridge the cultural gap between North America, Europe and the Arabic culture, of which the language is a rich testimonial,” Yanick Demers, the company’s CEO said in a statement.
He added Robotel’s client schools have been asking for an Arabic curriculum. The company currently offers curricula in English, German, and Spanish.
The aim is to create a curriculum that will be the “go to” for schools in Europe, Middle East, Asia, and North America, Nexus Learn Arabic CEO Jamal Al-Tamimi said.
“We are currently entertaining opportunities for financing and strategic partnerships to help us achieve the goal of bringing best-in-class Arabic curriculum to schools,” he added.
The pair want to finish the curriculum by 2022.


Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off

Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off
Updated 13 June 2021

Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off

Dammam smart parking to generate cash for Batic in second half as $320 project takes off
  • It follows a deal struck in 2019 and worth SR1.2 billion ($320 million) to develop and operate smart car parks in Dammam, Dhahran and Al Khobar

RIYADH: Batic Investment and Logistics Company said that its smart parking project in Dammam would start generating revenue from July 1.
It follows a deal struck in 2019 and worth SR1.2 billion ($320 million) to develop and operate smart car parks in Dammam, Dhahran and Al Khobar for 25 years.
It is part of a broader push to develop so-called smart cities in the Kingdom with major investments being channeled into technology aimed at improving the efficiency of municipal services.

 


Dur Hospitality and Taiba Investments mull merger

Dur Hospitality and Taiba Investments mull merger
Updated 13 June 2021

Dur Hospitality and Taiba Investments mull merger

Dur Hospitality and Taiba Investments mull merger
  • It comes amid a wave of merger and acquisition activity in the Kingdom and wider Gulf region as corporations reposition themselves in the post-pandemic world

RIYADH: Dur Hospitality and Taiba Investments said they would start preliminary discussions about a possible merger.

The pair made the disclosure in separate statements to the Saudi stock exchange on Sunday.
It comes amid a wave of merger and acquisition activity in the Kingdom and wider Gulf region as corporations reposition themselves in the post-pandemic world.
Dur develops, owns and manages hotels, restaurants, recreational centers and travel agencies. It also provides services to Umrah pilgrims, in addition to developing residential, hotel and commercial buildings, Argaam reported.
Its major shareholders include Assila Investments Co. with 27.14 percent, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) with 16.62 percent, and Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Al Issa with 12 percent, the financial website said.
Meanwhile Taiba is active in real estate, architectural and electrical contracting, maintenance and operation, agricultural, industrial and mining activities.
Its major shareholders include Asilah Investment Co. with 16.73 percent, Mohamed Saleh Hamza Serafy (15.55 percent), and Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Al Issa (7.41 percent), Argaam said.


SRMG unit inks 3-year media services contract worth $53.3m

SRMG unit inks 3-year media services contract worth $53.3m
Updated 13 June 2021

SRMG unit inks 3-year media services contract worth $53.3m

SRMG unit inks 3-year media services contract worth $53.3m
  • Under the contract, Taoq will provide media services, produce multilingual content, and provide consulting services

DUBAI: Taoq International Public Relations, a unit of the Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG), has signed a three-year contract with an annual value of SR200 million ($53.3 million).
Under the contract, Taoq will provide media services, produce multilingual content, and provide consulting services, SRMG announced in a bourse filing.
The financial impact of the deal, signed with an unnamed commercial company in the media industry, is expected to appear in Q2 statements this year.