Dubai’s Mashreqbank applied for Saudi banking license, sees digital-only future

Dubai’s Mashreqbank applied for Saudi banking license, sees digital-only future
Mashreqbank has closed 24 branches in the past two years. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 July 2021

Dubai’s Mashreqbank applied for Saudi banking license, sees digital-only future

Dubai’s Mashreqbank applied for Saudi banking license, sees digital-only future
  • Lender is also planning to enter the Omani market
  • Traditional bank branches will no longer exist 'very soon,' CEO says

DUBAI: Mashreqbank has applied for a banking license in Saudi Arabia and is seeking to enter the Omani market, Ahmed Abdelaal, CEO of Mashreqbank, told Bloomberg News.

The Dubai-based lender no longer sees its main competitors as other bricks-and-mortar lenders and sees the future of retail banking as digital only, he said in an interview.

Traditional bank branches will no longer exist “very soon,” Abdelaal told Bloomberg. The Dubai-based lender currently operates just 10 branches in the UAE, having closed 24 in the past two years, he said.

“There’s a complete shift in our strategy to focus on digital channels,” which now account for the majority of new business at the lender, Abdelaal said. “We still have some clients who rely on brick and mortar but our numbers show these are diminishing by the minute.”

“Our real competitors are the providers of client experience...the owners of data, the owners of information,” he said.

The Saudi Cabinet gave its nod to the Kingdom’s finance minister to issue licenses for the country’s first digital banks, STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported in June.

Digital banks licensed in Saudi Arabia will help improve the quality and user experience for customers in the Kingdom, supporting innovation and reducing costs, Yazeed Alsheikh, director for general of banking control at Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), said at the time.

This will directly contribute to stimulating competition with local banks and financial technology companies, he said.


Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap
Updated 7 sec ago

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

Oil up on tight supply, Brent crude nears $80 a barrel: Market wrap

RIYADH: Oil prices rose on Monday for a fifth straight day, with Brent at its highest since October 2018 and heading for $80, as investors fretted about tighter supplies because of rising demand in parts of the world.

Brent crude was up $1.44, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $79.53 a barrel, having posted three straight weeks of gains. US crude futures rose $1.47, or 2 percent, to settle at $75.45 a barrel, its highest since July, after rising for a fifth straight week.

Goldman Sachs raised by $10 its year-end forecast for Brent crude to $90 per barrel. Global supplies have tightened due to the fast recovery of fuel demand from the outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus and Hurricane Ida's hit to US production.

“While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts,” Goldman said.

Caught short by the demand rebound, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies, known as OPEC+, have had difficulty raising output as underinvestment or maintenance delays persist from the pandemic.

Global oil demand is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by early next year as the economy recovers, although spare refining capacity could weigh on the outlook, producers and traders said at an industry conference.

Global demand is seen rising to 100 million barrels per day by the end of 2021 or in the first quarter of 2022, Hess Corp President Greg Hill said. The world consumed 99.7 million bpd of oil in 2019, according to the IEA, before the COVID-19 pandemic hammered economic activities and fuel demand.

In India, oil imports hit a three-month peak in August, rebounding from nearly one-year lows touched in July, as refiners in the second-biggest importer of crude stocked up in anticipation of higher demand.


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market

Updated 8 min 18 sec ago

Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market


Petrochemical shares boost Saudi stock market

  • TASI gains 0.1 percent to 11,369 points
  • Tadawul ends session in green zone for second consecutive season

RIYADH: The Saudi stock market ended Monday’s session in the green zone for the second consecutive session. 

The Tadawul All Share Index edged up 0.1 percent with fertilizers maker SABIC Agri-Nutrients increasing 6.7 percent and its parent company, Saudi Basic Industries, advancing 2.2 percent.

Despite the rise, banking shares kept the market under pressure. The general index closed trading at 11,369 points.

Liquidity in Tadawul amounted to about SR8.1 billion.

Shares of stc declined by 19 percent, Al-Rajhi Bank’s shares decreased by 0.3 percent, and Riyad Bank shares were down 1.5 percent.

Nomu, the parallel market index, decreased by 1020.82 points, or 4.09 percent, to close at 23923.37 points. Liquidity amounted to about SR152.5 million.

“The Saudi (stock) market is still maintaining its upward trajectory,” Mohammed Al-Omran, head of the Gulf Center for Financial Consultancy, told Arab News.

“We also noticed strong gains today and yesterday in petrochemical companies, whether in high shares or liquidity, and the reason is due to the energy crisis in the world in recent days. Due to these concerns, we are witnessing a rise in the prices of petrochemical companies,” he added.

On Monday, Emaar EC gained 3.6 percent to SR13.7 with over 21 million shares exchanging hands. On Sept. 26, shareholders approved the board’s recommendation to increase capital through converting SR2.83 billion debt owed by the company to the Public Investment Fund.

Six of the 21 market sectors rose, led by basic materials 2.1 percent, commercial and professional services 0.7 percent, and consumer services 0.4 percent.

The biggest gainers on Monday were Gas (21 percent), SABIC Agri-Nutrients (6.7 percent), Fitness Time (5.9 percent), Kayan (4.8 percent), Sipchem (4.7 percent), and Replay (4.4 percent).

 


Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm
Updated 16 min 30 sec ago

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

Sipchem begins hydrogen supply to Aramco firm

RIYADH: Sahara International Petrochemical Co. on Monday began supplying hydrogen to Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery Co., Argaam reported citing the company’s bourse filing.

The company attributed the delay in completing the project to the coronavirus pandemic, which further delayed the process of receiving equipment, thus resulting in productivity loss in construction.

The financial impact of this agreement will reflect on the company’s fourth quarter of 2021 financial results.

The agreement will enhance Sipchem’s presence as a reliable supplier in hydrogen production and open up many areas for the company in the gas industry.

According to data compiled by Argaam, Sipchem signed in May 2019 an agreement with SASREF to supply hydrogen gas for a period of 20 years.


Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister
Updated 27 September 2021

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

Saudi Arabia to introduce rules to promote continued education, says minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is considering introducing new rules to facilitate and encourage the culture of continued education, said Saudi Education Minister Hamad Al-Alsheikh.

He was addressing a conference in Riyadh on Monday launched under the auspices of the Human Capability Development Program, which was recently launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The program’s strategy will be built on three pillars: Developing a resilient and strong educational base, preparing for the future labor market locally and globally, and providing lifelong learning opportunities.

The education minister said the government is taking measures to ensure that graduates find suitable openings in relevant field within 12 months of their graduation.

He also said by 2030 the Saudization percentage in high-skilled positions will increase to 40 percent.

Referring to the national capability development plan, the minister said it aims to develop a guidance system for high school students to help them make career choices based on their aptitudes.

He said efforts are underway to introduce regulations to attract global educational institutions in the Kingdom, which will boost competition between the local and foreign universities.

Ahmad Al-Faheed, governor of the Technical and Vocational Training Corp., said the government in partnership with the private sector will design training programs to increase employment rates and enhance competitiveness among Saudi graduates.

Minister of Human Resources Ahmed Al-Rajhi said that a primary goal of the program is to match talent with demand in the market, and in case of failure of matching candidates with available jobs, the program will upgrade their skills.

Industry Minister Bandar Alkhorayef said the aim of the program launched by the Saudi crown prince is to transform the Kingdom’s industrial sector along modern lines. He said the Kingdom has no dearth of talent and the local companies have the potential to compete with their global counterparts.

The minister stressed the importance of adopting modern technology for strong industrial growth. 


Cryptocurrencies make a quick comeback from last week’s turmoil: Market wrap

Cryptocurrencies make a quick comeback from last week’s turmoil: Market wrap
Updated 27 September 2021

Cryptocurrencies make a quick comeback from last week’s turmoil: Market wrap

Cryptocurrencies make a quick comeback from last week’s turmoil: Market wrap
  • The two major cryptocurrencies regained most of their losses on Monday

RIYADH: The two major cryptocurrencies regained most of their losses on Monday, as the market quickly rebounded from last week’s turmoil sparked by the crackdown in China.

Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency in trading internationally, traded higher on Monday, rising by 3.5 percent to $44,008.57 at 12:32 p.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most-traded cryptocurrency, traded at $3,130.43, up 8.56 percent, according to data from CoinDesk.

Meanwhile, the second-largest stablecoin by market valuation, USDC, has seen its capital increase significantly, rising by more than $10 billion in 125 days.

As of Sept.25, there are $129.3 billion worth of stablecoin assets in existence which represents 6.54 percent of the cryptocurrency economy.

Many US lawmakers see China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies as a perfect opportunity for American leadership in the crypto space.

“China’s authoritarian crackdown on crypto, including Bitcoin, is a big opportunity for the US. It’s also a reminder of our huge structural advantage over China,” Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania said.

In comments to media, Indonesia’s Trade Minister Muhammad Luthfi asserted that the Indonesian government would not follow the lead of China, which has confirmed a ban on all cryptocurrency transactions.

Noting that the state will limit itself to ensuring that it is not used in illegal activities, the statement comes after local cryptocurrency exchanges reported a significant increase in trading volume this year. “We don’t prohibit it, but we will tighten the regulations,” said Luthfi

Cryptocurrency trading on 13 local exchanges licensed by the Indonesian Futures Exchange Supervisory Board also increased by 40 percent in the first five months of 2021. During 2020, the volume of transactions reached 65 trillion rupees ($4.5 billion), according to the reports.

 

Crash ahead

Renowned author and investor Robert Kiyosaki, author of the bestselling book “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” predicts that a giant stock market crash is coming in October, noting that gold, silver and bitcoin may also crash.

"Giant stock market crash coming October. Why? Treasury and Fed short of T-bills. Gold, silver, bitcoin may crash too. Cash best for picking up bargains after crash. Not selling gold, silver, bitcoin, yet have lots of cash for life after stock market crash. Stocks dangerous. Careful,” Kiyosaki tweeted.

 

Tipping point

Twitter users on Apple’s iOS will now be able to link third-party tipping services to their profile on the social networking site. This will include the ability to link both Bitcoin and Lightning Network addresses.

The tipping feature will be entirely dependent on third-party payment services such as the Jack Mallers Strike app. The company said that it “is not in the flow of funds" and will not take a percentage of tipping proceeds.

Company representatives said that the Tips feature will be rolling out to the Twitter app for iOS and will be available on Android soon.

Twitter also announced that it will add non-fungible tokens verification features to the platform. No specific timeline has been set for this, which is still under development.