Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog

Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog
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Updated 21 September 2021

Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog

Regulators not up to speed on banks' digital marketplaces: EU watchdog
  • Finance and tech companies are coming closer together as banks set up digital marketplaces for products like payments and mortgages
  • EU watchdog said reliance on digital platforms for marketing and distribution of services creates new forms of financial, operational and reputational interdependencies

Regulators have little understanding of risks from banks creating digital marketplaces with tech companies and a framework is needed to spot potential contagion if things go wrong, the European Union's banking watchdog said on Tuesday.


The European Banking Authority's warning is the latest sign that financial regulators are starting to pay more attention to Big Tech's increasing links with finance, such as in cloud computing.


Finance and tech companies are coming closer together as banks set up digital marketplaces for products like payments and mortgages, as well as other financial and non-financial services, a process which has accelerated since the pandemic began.


This means customers can make payments or buy things using their mobile phone which links directly to their bank account. This so-called platformisation helps banks to cut costs and reach a wider range of customers, and includes partnerships with tech groups.


Apple Pay, for example, allows banks' debit and credit card holders to set up an Apple wallet to make payments. Google and Citi have teamed up to enable users of the Google Pay app to open an account with Citi.


But the EU watchdog said reliance on digital platforms for marketing and distribution of services creates new forms of financial, operational and reputational interdependencies.

The trend is posing "some challenges" for regulators in monitoring market developments and any risks from these interdependencies, the watchdog said.


"Indeed, it appears that the vast majority of competent authorities currently have a limited understanding of platform-based business models," EBA said.


EBA said it proposes to develop a framework next year to collect information about dependencies among banks on digital platforms, and create indicators to assess potential concentration, contagion and systemic risks.

But it said new legislation is not needed at this stage.


The watchdog called on the EU to update guidance on when a digital activity should be considered a crossborder provision of services and therefore come under EU and national laws that require information to be reported to regulators to improve visibility.


EBA said a small number of banks say they had encountered some issues in accessing digital platforms on terms they considered fair.


Oil prices down; still trading at multiyear highs

Oil prices down; still trading at multiyear highs
Updated 20 October 2021

Oil prices down; still trading at multiyear highs

Oil prices down; still trading at multiyear highs

RIYADH: Brent crude futures dropped 43 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $84.65 a barrel at 0806 Riyadh time, paring a 75-cent rise in the previous session, but still lingering close to multi-year highs.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for November, which expires on Wednesday, fell 37 cents to $82.59 a barrel. The more active WTI contract for December was down 45 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $81.99 a barrel.

 


Aramco requests bids for new work in the Jafurah field: CNBC Arabia

Aramco requests bids for new work in the Jafurah field: CNBC Arabia
Updated 20 October 2021

Aramco requests bids for new work in the Jafurah field: CNBC Arabia

Aramco requests bids for new work in the Jafurah field: CNBC Arabia

RIYADH: The Saudi oil giant Aramco asked companies to send their technical and financial offers for a water desalination plant project in the Jafurah gas field, with a capacity of about 100,000 cubic meters per day, a banking source told CNBC Arabia.

This reflects the company's latest step to move forward in developing the field to will contribute to energy transition toward cleaner economy by reducing carbon emissions.

The project is expected to be contested by a group of local and international companies, including ACWA Power, Veolia and Suez, the source said. The date for selecting the winning bid to implement the project is expected to be later in mid-March.

The cost of the Jafurah field is estimated at $110 billion and contains reserves estimated at 200 trillion cubic feet. Aramco expects, according to its official website, to start production in 2024.

The company is expected to decide on special offers for power generation in the giant project in early December of this year.


Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank net profits grow by 37%, plans ESG framework

Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank net profits grow by 37%, plans ESG framework
Updated 20 October 2021

Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank net profits grow by 37%, plans ESG framework

Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank net profits grow by 37%, plans ESG framework

RIYADH: Kuwait’s Boubyan Bank net profits rose by 37 percent during the first nine months of 2021 while operating profits recorded a growth of 18 percent to reach 140 million dinars ($145.8 million).

Abdullah Al-Tuwaijri, CEO of personal and digital banking services at the bank, said that fees and commissions were the biggest support for the bank’s performance in the last quarter, as the growth rate exceeded 25 percent, in addition to the financing portfolio, which rose by 18 percent.

In an interview to CNBC Arabia, he said the bank’s current assets have exceeded 7 billion dinars and its market share in individual services sector stands at about 15 percent.

He said the bank plans to expand its digital services with a focus on fintech and also aims to work on developing a framework for environmental, social and governance standards.

He said: “We are still conservative and believe that the economic and operational matters in Kuwait are better, as we noticed during the third quarter business growth, but we still have a conservative view and we are waiting until the end of the year to see the general indicators.”


Oil remains near multiyear highs as energy crunch continues

Oil remains near multiyear highs as energy crunch continues
Updated 20 October 2021

Oil remains near multiyear highs as energy crunch continues

Oil remains near multiyear highs as energy crunch continues

NEW YORK: Oil edged higher on Tuesday and was near multiyear highs as an energy supply crunch continued across the globe, while falling temperatures in China revived concerns over whether the world’s biggest energy consumer can meet domestic heating needs.

The Brent crude benchmark rose 34 cents to $84.67 a barrel by 11:11 a.m. EDT (1511 GMT). US West Texas Intermediate futures rose 46 cents to $82.90 a barrel.

Prices have been climbing the last two months. Since the start of September, Brent has risen by about 18 percent, while WTI has

gained by around 21 percent. “Supply-demand balances show that the market is experiencing a supply deficit, which is spurring deep inventory draws and driving prices upward,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

“This market tightness is expected to extend into most of 2022, and crude oil demand will only catch up with crude supply by the fourth quarter of next year.”

With temperatures falling as the northern hemisphere winter approaches and heating demand increasing, prices of oil, coal and natural gas are likely to remain elevated, traders and analysts said.


Greece, Egypt, Cyprus sign energy deal with Europe in mind

Greece, Egypt, Cyprus sign energy deal with Europe in mind
Updated 19 October 2021

Greece, Egypt, Cyprus sign energy deal with Europe in mind

Greece, Egypt, Cyprus sign energy deal with Europe in mind
  • The deal concerns the "interconnection" of the neighbours and transfer of electricity to their respective networks, Greek prime minister said
  • The announcement comes as countries around the world face an energy crisis, with the prices of natural gas, oil and coal rising

ATHENS: Greece, Cyprus and Egypt on Tuesday signed an electricity agreement that could include Egyptian solar power and potentially supply power to other European countries.
The protocol was signed during a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the presidents of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, in Athens.
The deal concerns the “interconnection” of the neighbors and transfer of electricity to their respective networks, Mitsotakis said.
“As energy sources diversify, Egypt can become a supplier of electric power, which will be mainly produced by the sun, and Greece will become a distribution station for Europe,” Mitsotakis added.
The announcement comes as countries around the world face an energy crisis, with the prices of natural gas, oil and coal rising.
El-Sisi said the agreement aims to “reinforce energy cooperation.”
In a joint statement, the Mediterranean neighbors said: “This interconnection reinforces cooperation and energy security, not only between these three countries but also with Europe.”
“It will be a way to transfer important quantities of electricity from and to the eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said.
The three countries also expressed their intention of exploring and transferring natural gas in the region.
Energy cooperation between eastern Mediterranean countries regularly irritate Turkey, which has its eyes set on oil and natural gas deposits in the region.
“Unfortunately, Ankara does not understand the message of the times and its aspirations to the detriment of its neighbors are obviously a threat to peace in the region,” Mitsotakis said.
Tensions soared last year when Turkey sent an exploration ship and small navy flotilla to conduct research in waters that Greece considers its own under treaties.
The Turkish foreign ministry later Tuesday lambasted the joint statement as another example of the “hostile policy” toward Turkey and Turkish-held northern Cyprus.
While Ankara supported energy projects which “increased cooperation between regional countries,” the ministry stressed that Turkish and northern Cyprus’ rights and interests “should not be ignored by these projects.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey seized the north in response to a coup orchestrated by an Athens-backed junta seeking to annex the island to Greece.
Despite attempts this year to normalize relations with Egypt after falling out in 2013, the Turkish ministry also criticized Cairo’s cooperation with Greece and Cyprus.
“The inclusion of Egypt indicates that the Egyptian administration has not yet grasped the real address where it can cooperate in the eastern Mediterranean,” it added in a written statement.