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The media has been overflowing with the news of a huge leak of data from the fourth biggest offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama. 11.5 million files, which include the details of 214,000 entities including companies, trusts and foundations, expose how the wealthy and powerful use tax havens to launder money, dodge sanctions, and avoid tax. The Panama Papers include links to 12 current or former heads of state and government and more than 60 relatives and associates of heads of state and politicians.

Mossack Fonseca’s response to the leak states that the law firm has operated beyond reproach for 40 years without having been accused of criminal wrong-doing. The Panama-based company runs worldwide operations with franchises around the world, employing 600 people working in 42 countries. The firm has acted for more than 300,000 companies, more than half of which are registered in the UK and in British-administered tax havens such as Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man among others. More than 100,000 of the secret firms have been registered in the British Virgin Islands. Other tax havens where Mossack Fonseca operates include Switzerland and Cyprus.

The information presented in the files spans a period of time between 1977 and December last year. After obtaining the leaked documents, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), which worked alongside journalists from 107 media organisations across the globe to analyse the information.

Among the people involved are Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, the brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping and three of the children of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, was revealed to have been hiding millions in offshore accounts, having bought a British Virgin Islands-based offshore company with his wife, Anna Sigulaug Pálsdóttir. The key purpose of the company, Wintris Inc., has been investing Mrs. Pálsdóttir’s share of the very substantial proceeds from the sale of her father’s business. Following a mass protest in Reykjavik on Tuesday evening, Mr. Gunnlaugsson has now resigned.

The documents also show a billion-dollar money laundering ring between close associates of Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Mr. Putin commented that the reports were down to “journalists and members of other organisations actively trying to discredit Putin and this country’s leadership”, adding that publications of the leaks may be down to “former employees of the State Department, the CIA, other security services.”

The scandal also touches on UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his late father Ian Cameron, who according to the leaked documents set up an offshore fund which avoided ever paying British tax. Mr. Cameron has so far failed to provide a clear account about the company set up by his father in 1982 and run from the Bahamas and although he claims that he “own(s) no shares, no offshore trusts, no offshore funds, nothing like that.” It is still debatable whether his family stands to gain in the future from Blairmore Holdings. In another attempt to satisfy the public, Downing Street clarified that there were “no offshore trusts or funds” that the PM and his wife and children would benefit from “in the future”.  However, many questions still remain open while the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn calls for investigation into Mr. Cameron’s tax returns. In addition, he demands for the government to consider the imposition of ‘direct rule’ on British overseas territories and crown dependencies in the cases of them not complying with UK tax law. A meeting of G7 countries to discuss the issues has already been arranged and will be held on 12 May in London.

The leaked files also suggest that Uruguayan lawyer Juan Pedro Damiani has assisted Fifa’s vice-presided who was arrested in May 2015 as part of the US inquiry into football corruption. Mr Damiani is believed to have provided legal advice to the ex-vice-president on at least seven offshore companies. Although Mr Damiani has told Reuters that he broke off relations with Fifa’s key member when he was accused of corruption, the football’s world governing body said that the lawyer is now being investigated.

Juan Carlos Varela, the President of Panama has expressed that the Panamanian Government has “zero tolerance” for such illicit financial activities and guarantees co-operation with any judicial investigations across the globe.

For more stories like this please view the latest magazine http://www.finance-monthly.com/magazine/ 

In the February edition of Finance Monthly, Grow Advisors summarised the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and its focus on fintech underpinning the 4th industrial revolution. In this month’s edition they highlight fintech’s ability to go beyond just improving convenience for customers and right into the heart of a delivery model.

Today, fintech goes beyond leveraging technology to transform banking services. It strikes at banking’s very innovation core and delivery models.

From new approaches to commercialisation, collaboration models and the breaking down of internal silos, fintech is challenging how financial services are prepared, presented and consumed at retail and institutional levels.

Delivering tomorrow’s leading financial services will not be dissimilar to serving up a Michelin star gourmet dining experience. A different approach, one we term Cafe Fintech, where multiple best-of-breed ingredients are fused to deliver superior financial services and enhanced customer experiences.

In today’s traditional approaches, incumbent financial services organisations have built end-to-end capabilities in-house, under one roof. Everything from front-of-house services, such as customer on-boarding, account management and customer advisory, through back-of-house services ranging from risk management, payments, transactions and settlements.

The traditional approach results in large, multi-layered organisations, designed and built around capability silos, where significant overheads are created to support communication and coordination between silos. The result is a higher cost to serve, and in many circumstances, untimely and inconsistent customer service with associated customer pain points. Significantly too, effecting piecemeal changes in response to an evolving marketplace involves lengthy and costly projects, where compatibility and legacy concerns arise. And all this, at a time when customers are demanding increasingly agile and accessible services; legacy approaches pose tangible business risks.

Through fintech, new business models offer viable alternatives. By embracing this shift, incumbents are preparing to address both the opportunity presented by an evolving customer base, and the threat posed by newcomers.

The Emerging API Ecosystem

In stark contrast to the traditional approach, tech startups and others are re-creating core financial services from the ground up. From e-wallets, payment gateways, ID verification, KYC, AML and others, these building blocks are designed to be integrated and run with others.

Commercialised via licensed APIs (automated programing interface), features can be scaled, switched on, switched off - and replaced. The increasingly advanced range of APIs now on offer begs the question - why develop standalone in-house solutions? From a pure innovation cycle point of view, they offer a credible alternative to acquiring or buying out companies seen as threats to incumbents.

For example, it is possible today to combine several APIs to create an online lending service capable of connecting issuers and borrowers, including the algorithms allowing participants to set their own market rates. Throw in payment gateways, custodian services, AML and online KYC checks, and you have a market ready platform.

The above can be delivered inside 4 weeks through commercially available APIs - and a well-coordinated approach.

Following e-payment services, online lending is already the fastest growing vertical in fintech today, attracting over a quarter of all fintech investment dollars in major markets.

Over time, services will be iterated, with underperforming features cut, and others bolted on as a result of data analytics and insight. From blockchain to artificial intelligence (increasingly available today) there’s nothing stopping incumbents delivering financial services so efficient and appreciated, they will replace Netflix or Uber as the case studies of choice.

Because banks will become tech firms, just as tech firms will become banks, (or at least offer banking services). This convergence across industries via technology exists today and is accelerating.

Given incumbents’ brand power, relationships with millions of existing customers (and their pain points), the case for better innovation and commercialisation models is clear.

The API Supermarket

Think of the API ecosystem as a supermarket of hundreds of ingredients or features. Some can be consumed raw without preparation. But in order to deliver the best experience, the combination, presentation - and timing - will deliver a competitive edge.

However, awareness and intent to innovate is only half the challenge. Knowing which ingredients are available, at what price, and how they combine is the remaining challenge for those looking to excel through fintech. Dealing with multiple technology providers is not without its hurdles.

Cafe Fintech

We coined the term Cafe Fintech to convey important parallels across two very different industries. A Michelin starred restaurant, where the best professionals in their chosen areas of expertise are brought together to offer unrivaled service. From front of house, comprising Maitre'd, Sommelier and Waiters; to the heart of the operation, the kitchen, comprising Head Chef and Sous Chefs.

The first and most critical role starts with the leader or initiator of the business model (front of house), who is responsible for the overall coordination of service partners who participate in the ecosystem. They take on the strategic responsibilities of setting the long-term roadmaps, defining the optimal business models and advising on best practice, as well as pitfalls to any particular approach. Front of house also covers legal support and compliance, ensuring clients build within acceptable frameworks.

Today as front of house, Grow Advisors advise on how to get the best service from Cafe Fintech. This starts with understanding a client organisation’s digital culture, and alignment with future goals and opportunities in terms of customer service. Drawing parallels, this means ensuring the best table, appropriate lighting and ambience. From there, we discuss the menu and courses. Recommending the specials (best practice), to advising on pairing dishes with drinks, and ensuring impeccable service. The menu, a collection of dishes, comprises features which in turn are made up of technology ingredients. This is where Cafe Fintech jumps into action, in the kitchen.

A team comprising different sous chefs, led by a head chef is a hive of fintech activity. Each sous chef, a leading technology provider, is selected for his individual skill in a particular field, and acutely aware of how his contribution adds to the overall experience. The head chef ensures all components are seamlessly integrated and is responsible for the overall customer experience.

What would you like to eat today?

Today, we are developing a range of Fintech Cafes, each comprising an expert team delivering digital services to address opportunities in different verticals. From automated wealth solutions, to capital raising and online lending. Each cafe comprises the best in class chefs.

Fintech has become more mainstream, yet still leaves many organisations with unanswered questions on exactly how to incorporate meaningful technological innovation into their businesses.

By recognising that the evolving landscape is much more dynamic and accessible, we hope a greater number of organisations will take a seat at the table.

For more stories like this please view the latest magazine http://www.finance-monthly.com/magazine/ 

Market perceptions of the adverse economic consequences of a Brexit vote in the referendum are once again manifest, with recent opinion polls and shortening bookmaker’s odds suggesting the possibility is increasing. This enhanced uncertainty is an anathema to investors, and is manifest in several dimensions. In the short-run, a declining pound and continuing concerns over the UK’s credit rating mean the prospects  of attracting the capital inflows the UK requires to finance its unhealthy current account deficit are being seriously hampered. As recent studies by both the Bank of England and major US investment bank conclude, these developments are likely to be particularly damaging to longer term growth in a country which is currently the largest net recipient of foreign direct investment in the EU.

Brexit proponents dismiss these sentiments as spreading hysteria. However, the merits of any alternative scenario are impossible to judge, as they are completely contingent upon the terms of the resulting alliances and institutional framework the UK is able to forge subsequent to its departure.  The crucial concerns post-Brexit relate to the terms under which Britain will retain access to the EU’s single market, the destination for around 50% of its exports. Brexit supporters claim both parties (not simply the UK) have strong incentives to expedite negotiations for a free-trade deal.  The reality established by over fifty years of precedents is much less sanguine.  All countries with comprehensive access to the EU’s single market, crucially one incorporating financial services, are required to observe the vast majority of its regulations, contribute significantly to the budget (around 90% of the UK’s net per capita payment) and accept free movement of EU migrants. Trade deals negotiated by countries such as Canada only circumvent these later requirements at the costs of having to contend with non-tariff trade barriers and excluding financial services. Omitting the latter is impossible for the UK, as it would inhibit London’s ability to respond to any Eurozone challenges to its current status as the financial centre of Europe. Brexit proponents also appear overly optimistic concerning the prospects of reaching an acceptable agreement.

As The Economist recently highlights, to prevent setting a precedent for future countries considering a possible separation from the EU, the incentives for EU negotiators are not aligned with offering favourable terms to a partner who is unilaterally demanding a divorce while still attempting to retain their nuptial rights. The departure of Greenland’s tiny economy from the EU in 1985 was followed by over three years of protracted negotiations, even though it remains a dependency of Denmark.

Additionally, the UK would be required to re-negotiate more than 50 trade deals the EU currently has with its other international trading partners such as the China, India and the US from which a post-Brexit Britain would be excluded. A priori, it is very difficult to justify the diversion of the UK’s political and technical expertise from the more growth orientated economic management that these unnecessary distractions will involve.

So, what are the central elements which constitute the focus of Brexit lobbyists’ opposition to continued EU membership? First, they assert that EU regulations inhibit UK corporate growth. The reality is the opposite. According to the OECD, markets for goods and labour in the UK are among the developed world’s least regulated, comparing favourably with the US, Australia and Canada. Indeed, as Britain was at the forefront of introducing much EU legislation on the environment, minimum wages and planning, the majority of regulations are likely to remain in the UK even post-Brexit. Second, proponents of Brexit maintain it would allow Britain to reassert control over its own borders. This ignores the facts that (i) migrants are net contributors to the UK economy, so imposing stricter controls on immigration (a policy adopted by many supporters of Brexit) would actually inflict economic damage; (ii) such a policy will restrict access to the EU’s single market, especially in services; (iii) migrant controls could have repercussions for millions of UK citizens domiciled in other EU countries. Finally, the argument is that Brexit would enable to UK to reassert its parliamentary sovereignty and the primacy of the UK judicial system. While this may be true in principle, the reality is that maintaining global influence requires the UK’s membership of strategically important economic and political networks, able to exercise real power. To avoid relegation to the status of a marginal, second-rank nation, and to continue exerting important geopolitical influence, especially with the US and China, the UK must embrace a leadership role in Europe. The UK’s demands must not be the exclusive focus of attention in the Brexit debate. Recent developments with Schengen, the rise of populism, and movements away from the rule of law and independent judiciaries in certain countries, are manifestations of the paradox that internally the EU is becoming weaker while simultaneously enhancing its external global diplomatic profile. Multilateral benefits can only be conferred by the continuing EU presence of a strong UK, willing to exert international leadership.

For more stories like this please view the latest magazine http://www.finance-monthly.com/magazine/ 

Over the past few weeks, we have seen several heavyweights from politics and business from Boris Johnson to Nicola Sturgeon, and from Micheal O'Leary to John Mills, all declare whether they are for or against a Brexit. While much of the talk has been around the future of London as a financial centre, as the founder and CEO of Europe’s leading referral marketing platform, the impact on London's tech scene is closer to my heart.

The EU is a huge potential market for Buyapowa's referral marketing software and, so while it is perhaps ironic that as the UK debates whether to stay in the EU, we as a London based tech marketing company are investing to increase our client base across Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden. So a key concern for me is our continued ability to develop and serve that market from the UK and whether a Brexit could impact that.

Firstly, I don't think a Brexit would impact our ability to sell to European clients simply because there are no real borders for software. We all already buy best in class software from companies located in the USA, Switzerland, Russia or Israel often without paying much attention to where the software was originally created. And much of that software is already hosted outside the EU, particularly if it is hosted on the cloud. In fact, with the cloud few people even know where their software is hosted. Also given that the nearest competing enterprise level solutions we have are all based in North America, I don't think being physically located outside the EU would be much of a problem.

However, that is not to say that a Brexit could not cause issues for tech businesses, particularly if the freedom of movement was restricted and this affected the ability to attract and retain the best talent. At Buyapowa, while we are very lucky to have a first-class tech and product team that enables us to build all our software in-house, we know just how difficult it is to create and keep top notch coders. If a Brexit made it harder to attract talent from, say, Italy and Spain, then that might disadvantage London compared to other European cities such as Berlin.

But, it is not just top quality tech staff that fast growing London based start-ups need to attract. In common with many other fast growing UK tech businesses, we typically start the process of building up our overseas presence from our London HQ and do not open an office abroad until we have enough local clients for that to make economic sense. Of course that requires that we can find top quality native speakers for client support and business development roles in the UK. If a Brexit affected our ability to do that, we might need open overseas offices sooner than we would have done so otherwise, which could increase our operating costs.

At the moment, perhaps London's only serious rival as the destination of choice for Europe's leading tech start-ups is Berlin.  One reason for that is the large number of venture capital firms and business angels in London, willing and ready to invest in new tech businesses. In the short term, until we have a Brexit or no Brexit decision, the surrounding uncertainty may delay some investment decisions in London based tech. In the long run, however, the money should follow the talent, for an example of this just look at the success of Israel as the 'Start-Up Nation' despite being outside the EU. So I think London will continue to be an attractive destination for tech investors whether in or out of the EU, but it will be even more attractive if start-ups can access the best talent.

For more stories like this please view the latest magazine http://www.finance-monthly.com/magazine/ 

International e-delivery experts ParcelHero says Amazon’s quarterly profit shows Amazon’s “Jam tomorrow” transport plans have come good

As Amazon reported healthy earnings of $1.07 per share in its Q1 report, the international e-commerce delivery specialist ParcelHero says that the company’s massive investment in its revolutionary logistics plans has paid off.

Explains ParcelHero’s Head of Public Relations, David Jinks MILT: ‘For Amazon’s long-suffering investors, it was always been the promise of “jam tomorrow” that kept them holding on, through the considerable expense of building a radical new supply chain. At the end of 2014 Amazon had earned a cumulative net profit of just $1.9 billion in its entire twenty year history as a public company, despite more than $400 billion in sales during that time.  That’s because it ploughed the money back into developing its service. Fortunately, many investors kept faith and that’s paying off for them in Amazon’s recent results.’

Says David: ‘This time last year we issued a report – Amazon’s Prime Ambition - revealing the extent of Amazon’s investment in its new logistics business. We explained why Amazon’s revolutionary plan to take charge of its own deliveries would pay off for investors sooner rather than later. That prediction has been proved right. With Amazon’s logistics arm coming into in place, its shareholders are enjoying their jam today; in fact even within the hour if they live within one of the many cities Amazon Prime Now and Pantry serves!’

The secret behind these profits is Amazon’s Prime members, who shop 50% more frequently with the company than non-members and spend an average of $1,500 a year, as opposed to $625 a year for non-members. Its Prime Now and Pantry deliveries are tempting more Prime members all the time; with the promise in the UK that Morrisons will be able to supply nearly immediate groceries to compliment the Prime Now service for goods. To facilitate this it was necessary for Amazon to build the infrastructure to bypass traditional delivery companies such Royal Mail.

David concludes ‘We said last year Amazon stands to save $3bn globally and £122 million in the UK alone by cutting down on the use of external delivery companies. We believe Amazon’s ultimate goal is to become the conduit through which all aspects of e-commerce and logistics flow. By revolutionising its global supply chain and cutting out the middleman it’s on its way.’

The US Federal Reserve has decided to keep interest rates between 0.25% and 0.5%, the same rate since December 2015. They said that the central bank will wait for inflation to reach 2% before making any further changes.

In a statement they said, “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January suggests that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace despite the global economic and financial developments of recent months. Household spending has been increasing at a moderate rate, and the housing sector has improved further; however, business fixed investment and net exports have been soft. A range of recent indicators, including strong job gains, points to additional strengthening of the labor market. Inflation picked up in recent months; however, it continued to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective, partly reflecting declines in energy prices and in prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance, in recent months.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee currently expects that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen. However, global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks. Inflation is expected to remain low in the near term, in part because of earlier declines in energy prices, but to rise to 2 percent over the medium term as the transitory effects of declines in energy and import prices dissipate and the labor market strengthens further. The Committee continues to monitor inflation developments closely.

Against this backdrop, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1/4 to 1/2 percent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting further improvement in labor market conditions and a return to 2 percent inflation.”

The Bank of Japan has decided against any extra monetary easing following a share fall and a surge on the yen. Despite coming under pressure to take further action, the Bank has decided to keep interest rates as is and not take them further into negative territory. For years now Japan has been trying to boost its economy after a period of deflation.

In January the Bank of Japan introduced negative rates, but these failed to provide much of a boost for the economy. Negative rated entail commercial banks being charged if they deposit money with the central bank. The Nikkei 225 finished 3.6% lower at 16,666.05.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has introduced three policies, often called “Abenomics,” to try to get Japan’s economy back on track. Inflation still has not reached its 2% target.

These decisions come as the Chinese yen currency soars, which will further affect Japan’s crucial exports sector. The yen has now risen 2% against the dollar, with one dollar worth 109.33 yen.

BP’s shareholders have voted to reject a pay package of £14 million for CEO Bob Dudley at the company’s annual general meeting. 59% of investors rejected the 20% pay increase which is one of the largest rejections in recent times of a corporate pay deal in the UK.

Mr Dudley was due to receive the rise despite BP’s falling profits and job cuts, and Manifest notes that the vote is at or above the fifth-largest in the UK against a boardroom remuneration deal.

The vote to reject the increase follows a loss of £334 million ($485 million) for BP in the first 3 months of 2016 as oil prices still take their toll on the markets. BP made a $2.1 billion increase in the same 3 months last year.

BP cut spending three times in 2015 to $19 billion and downsized its workforce by 10% from 80,000 to 72,000. The company projects to spend $17 billion in 2016, which could be cut by up to $2 billion if oil prices remain depressed.

The Government of India recently announced that 20 cities will receive funding for the implementation of urban development projects in a quest to become “smart”. The private sector will play a pivotal role in implementing urban development projects in India. In this context, the World Economic Forum has launched a new report that recommends reforms that state and local governments should consider to accelerate the development of smart cities and rapidly move from the conceptualization stage to implementation.

The report, Reforms to Accelerate the Development of India’s Smart Cities, waswritten in collaboration with PwC and identifies the key challenges limiting private-sector participation in urban development projects. The report recommends institutional, business-environment and sector-specific reforms to enhance private-sector participation in inclusive development for urban India.

“While cities in India plan to embed technology in the delivery of urban infrastructure and services, they should also plan to bridge the demand-supply gap in the provision of core urban services such as water, waste management and sanitation. A holistic approach where equal importance is given to infrastructure, technology and governance is required to improve the quality of life in urban India,” said Alice Charles, Community Lead, Infrastructure and Urban Development Industry, World Economic Forum.

The report acknowledges that the Government of India has already introduced reforms, and the business environment has improved – as reflected in improvement in India’s ranking in the Global Competiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum. However, more needs to be done to propel India’s global standing, particularly in the areas of land acquisition, dispute resolution, permitting processes, information availability and procurement processes. The recently launched programmes provide a perfect opportunity to blend reforms with large-scale development initiatives.

Neel Ratan, Management Consulting Leader, PwC India, said: “The Government of India has commenced the reforms process. Now state governments, local government and newly constituted special-purpose vehicles will need to drive the reforms agenda forward by ensuring the permitting process is simplified and risk-sharing in public-private partnership is optimal. Collaboration among multiple administrative entities will be of utmost importance if smart-city projects have to be completed within budget, and implementation timelines have to be met.”

The report includes best practices from India and rest of the world to help guide state and local governments in undertaking the reforms process:

· Institutional reforms: The report recommends better collaboration and a unified command structure across multiple planning and administrative bodies within a city, and devolution of power to local government to determine and collect user charges and taxes in order to make local bodies financially independent.

· Business-environment reforms: The report provides a methodology for formulating public-private partnerships in urban development projects and details how other cities have adopted measures that reduce risk in public-private partnerships. Practical suggestions for improving the permitting process, land acquisition, procurement process and dispute resolution mechanisms are recommended to attract the private sector’s help in implementing India’s urban-rejuvenation initiatives.

· Sector-specific reforms: In relation to the physical infrastructure sector, reforms are recommended to establish independent regulators and empower them where they already exist, ensure metering and enforce collections (of user charges and taxes) from large defaulters.

“A tireless effort, from the public and private sector, will be required to achieve the Government of India’s very ambitious urban-development programmes. An environment where a trusting relationship exists between the private sector, public sector and citizens will go a long way towards rejuvenating cities in India,” said Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director of the Hindustan Construction Company.

In the coming decades, urbanization in India will increase rapidly, with the urban population set to reach 814 million by 2050. A congenial business environment will help to ensure adequate private-sector participation. India needs to develop world-class cities to compete at a global scale, and urban rejuvenation programmes coupled with fundamental reform will go a long way in helping India to develop globally competitive cities.

For the first time, senior finance executives, start-ups and policy-makers agreed on actions to minimize risk and capitalize on opportunities created by technology-enabled innovation (commonly referred to as “fintech”). In a joint articulation prepared by the World Economic Forum, they propose four recommendations for the private sector and financial supervisors aimed at safeguarding financial stability and fostering fintech. The recommendations are to:

1. Debate the ethical use of data to clarify the boundaries on the use of customer data for business purposes by actors in the financial system

2. Set up a forum for public-private dialogue on transformation to identify areas where supervisor support is needed to develop technology for enhancing stability

3. Proactively set industry standards to redefine and enforce an approach to good conduct in light of new technology-enabled innovations

4. Monitor and understand fintech innovation in a consistent way to ensure that national supervisors are well equipped to mitigate risks arising from fintech

“Historically, an inherent tension has often existed between innovation and stability. This publication represents the first time that incumbents, financial supervisors and fintechs have come together collectively to address the present wave of technology-enabled transformation in the financial services sector,” said Matthew Blake, Head of Banking and Capital Markets at the World Economic Forum.

“Global fintech companies have vast access to consumer and business data that enable businesses to develop products and services that meet the emerging needs of consumers,” said Hikmet Ersek, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Western Union Company. “With that access comes great responsibility, the need to balance business offerings with risks, and concerns that relate to ethical data usage and digital security,” he said.

“One of the most important challenges we need to solve is building a framework that's global first and scales to accommodate the fast-changing landscape,” explained Chris Larsen, Chief Executive Officer of Ripple. “It will require close partnership between the private and public sectors internationally to establish everything from policy and regulation to technical web standards that will foster innovation and early adoption while minimizing risks,” he said.

“Many clusters of innovation have the potential to scale very quickly, potentially transforming the architecture of the financial sector,” noted Andy Haldane, Executive Director, Financial Stability, Bank of England. “The regulatory community recognizes this and has begun to work with the private sector to understand and develop appropriate safeguards for this new financial architecture, in ways which benefit users of financial services,” he said.

The paper was developed by the Forum in collaboration with Oliver Wyman, and was first discussed at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos among financial leaders in the public and private sectors. It is based on more than 50 interviews with experts from across the industry. If implemented, the measures could help spur the development of fintech innovations while safeguarding the stability of the financial system.

Ahead of a 4 day visit to Europe that started 22nd April, President Obama called on the British people to not vote to leave the European Union in an article published in The Telegraph.

The United States would prefer for Britain to remain a full member of the European Union – President Obama notes similar challenges that both countries face, including containing ISIS and economy cooperation.

President Obama travelled to Europe following a trip to Saudi Arabia to discuss security cooperation with the Persian Gulf and domestic reforms in the area.

The President said that the US's relationship with the UK had been "forged as we spilt blood together on the battlefield". He also said that the UK had benefitted from being inside the EU in terms of jobs, trade and financial growth, and that it magnifies the UK's global influence.

President Obama along with wife Michelle attended a private lunch with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle the day after the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations.

Argentina, Latin America’s third biggest economy, has now ended 15 years of financial isolation and has received orders of $67 billion for a sovereign bond issue totalling $15 billion. This is one of the largest ever order books seen for an emerging markets bond, exceeding the $50 billion book for Brazilian oil firm Petrobras’ debt in 2013.

Some of the money will go to repaying bondholders who for years opposed the terms of Argentina's debt restructuring after the default 15 years ago. Settling the country's debt default was one of the main campaign promises made by President Mauricio Macri, who came to power in December 2015.

It set guidance of 7.5% to 7.6% on the 10-year tranche - the centrepiece of the offering. At the short end of the curve, guidance on the three-year tranche was set at 6.2% to 6.50%, and on the five-year at 6.8% to 7.1%.

Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan and Santander are acting as global coordinators on the bond sale, while BBVA, Citigroup and UBS are joint bookrunners.

The IMF forecasts that Argentina's economy will contract by 1% this year and grow by 2.8% in 2017.

Key to paving the way for the bond launch was agreeing a deal with creditors who fought a lengthy legal battle with Argentina after refusing the terms of a previous restructuring.

Credit rating agency Moody's raised Argentina's sovereign rating on Friday ahead of the bond sale. The country still ranks as a speculative investment with a "high credit risk".

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