Tag Archives: Bank

Why Someone Put a Giant, Inflatable Bitcoin Rat on Wall Street, Facing the Federal Reserve Bank
October 13, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

Bitcoin was created in part out of a distrust of centralized authorities like the Federal Reserve. Now a symbol of the cryptocurrency’s growing threat to the Fed stands on Wall Street: a giant, inflatable rat covered in crypto code.

The bitcoin rat, first noted on Reddit, was created by Nelson Saiers, an artist and former hedge fund manager, according to Coindesk. The art installation, which appeared earlier this week and is temporary, is intended as much as a tribute to bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto as much as it is a condemnation of the Fed and critics of cryptocurrencies.

“The sculpture’s supposed to kind of reflect the spirit of Satoshi and what he’s trying to do,” Saiers told Coindesk, who noted the rat image was inspired in part by another titan of traditional finance. “Warren Buffett called bitcoin ‘rat poison squared’ but if the Fed’s a rat, then maybe rat poison is a good thing,” he said.

Fed officials have made comments on cryptocurrencies that range from the critical to the conciliatory. Last December, former Fed Chair Janet Yellen called it a “highly speculative asset” that “doesn’t constitute legal tender.” In April, one Fed official claimed bitcoin couldn’t replace the dollar, while another conceded it’s “like regular currency” in that it has no intrinsic value.

Inflatable rats have become a staple of union protests during the past quarter century, so much so that a few companies specialize in renting them out to organizers. “Rat” is not only an epithet thrown at nonunion contractors, it symbolizes greedy, unscrupulous behavior ascribed to companies opposing unions.

“This is a very iconic image for protest,” Saiers told blockchain news site Breaker. “Somewhere in the heart of bitcoin is a bit of protest of big bank bailouts.”

That idea appeared to be lost on some Redditors, who claimed they spotted the bitcoin rat in the wilds of Wall Street but didn’t immediately see its significance. “I walked past it today,” one wrote. “Had no idea it was about Bitcoin.” “It’s cool, but people walking by won’t understand it,” said another. “I don’t even understand it. Needs a BTC logo or something.”

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Customers angry after National Australia Bank hit by technology outage
May 26, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – National Australia Bank on Saturday suffered what it described as a “nationwide outage” to some of its technology systems, leaving customers unable to access banking services or withdraw money.

FILE PHOTO: A National Australia Bank (NAB) logo is pictured on an automated teller machine (ATM) in central Sydney September 12, 2014. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

Customers took to social media to vent their frustrations, with some saying they were left unable to pay for groceries or refuel their cars.

“Loyal member for 15 years and you leave me standing at the supermarket altar with a trolley full of shopping,” said one Twitter user.

The bank tweeted just after midday (0200 GMT) on Saturday that some services were coming back online.

“We’re sorry and it’s not good enough … but we’ll get it fixed as soon as possible,” Chief Customer Officer Business and Private Banking Anthony Healy said in a video posted on Twitter.

NAB is one of Australia’s four largest retail banks with a customer base of 9 million, according to its website.

The outage follows growing customer discontent with the so-called “Big Four” banks, which have suffered numerous embarrassing disclosures at an inquiry into financial sector misconduct.

A spokesman from the bank told Reuters by telephone that it was a national outage, without elaborating on its cause.

The Bank of New Zealand [BNZL.UL], a NAB subsidiary, also experienced outages on Saturday across New Zealand, but the spokesman was unable to confirm a connection between the two incidents.

Reporting by Will Ziebell in MELBOURNE; Editing by Joseph Radford

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JPMorgan, National Bank of Canada, others test debt issuance on blockchain
April 20, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) has tested a new blockchain platform for issuing financial instruments with the National Bank of Canada and other large firms, they said on Friday, seeking to streamline origination, settlement, interest rate payments and other processes.

FILE PHOTO: A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, U.S., September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

The test on Wednesday mirrored the Canadian bank’s $ 150 million offering on the same day of a one-year floating-rate Yankee certificate of deposit, they said in a statement. The platform was built over more than a year using Quorum, a type of open-source blockchain that JPMorgan has developed inhouse and is in discussions to spin off.

Participants in the experiment included Goldman Sachs Asset Management, the fund management arm of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Legg Mason Inc’s (LM.N) Western Asset and other investors in the certificate of deposit.

Banks have poured millions of dollars to develop blockchain, the software first created to run cryptocurrency bitcoin, to streamline processes ranging from cross-border payments to securities settlement.

“Blockchain-related technologies have the potential to bring about major change in the financial services industry,” David Furlong, senior vice president of artificial intelligence, venture capital and blockchain at National Bank of Canada, said in a statement.

JPMorgan is considering spinning off Quorum because the technology has attracted significant outside interest, Umar Farooq, head of blockchain initiatives for JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank said in an interview.

He said it was taking too much time to field requests for help from users at other companies.

Charging for assistance is not an option because software support is not the bank’s business, a person familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. The source was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The spin-off discussions are in the early stages and the bank has received interest from financial institutions and large enterprise technology companies, Farooq added. He declined to name the companies.

JPMorgan plans to beef up the Quorum team with dozens of engineers from the bank’s other divisions who have become familiar with the technology, he said.

Blockchain is in the early stages of development in the financial industry, but JPMorgan is optimistic about its potential, Farooq said.

“We haven’t really seen a lot of really large scale things go into production yet. There are few cases where blockchain can really shine.”

Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Richard Chang

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Buy This Oversold Blue-Chip Bank With A 5.4% Dividend
April 8, 2018 6:01 am|Comments (0)

On April 4th, Bloomberg reported that HSBC (HSBC) is considering an exit or sale from smaller consumer operations such as Bermuda, Malta, and Uruguay. In addition, the bank plans to expand its asset management division and is currently looking at a potential merger with a rival.

In our view, the news confirms that the group’s management will remain committed to transforming HSBC into a more focused and more efficient banking institution. More importantly, even though HSBC’s operations in Bermuda, Malta, and Uruguay are small compared to the group’s total assets, we believe a potential sale of these units would have a positive impact on the bank’s capital position, supporting stock buybacks and special dividends.

The recent rise in LIBOR should support HSBC’s NIM

LIBOR has grown by more than 130bps since the beginning of the year. Such a notable increase is currently among the most widely discussed topics. Several analysts suggest that this is an early indicator of a bear market or even a severe financial crisis. In our view, the increase has been driven by idiosyncratic reasons, in particular, higher supply of short-term Treasuries and lower demand from corporates due to the US tax reform.

Source: Bloomberg

With that being said, despite the reasons of the rise in LIBOR, HSBC should benefit from higher short-term rates. As shown below, the bank discloses its NII (net interest income) sensitivity to a shift in yield curves. However, this analysis is based on a parallel shift, while yield curves in most global economies continue to flatten.

Source: Company data

What is important here is that HSBC has a variable-rate loan book. More importantly, a significant part of its credit portfolio is priced off short-term rates. This suggests to us that the rise in LIBOR should be a positive for the bank’s asset yields and its NIM.

Source: Company data

One may argue that higher short-term rates will also affect HSBC’s funding costs, especially given that wholesale sources and corporate deposits are generally tied to the short-end of the yield curve. The caveat here is that HSBC has a unique funding position. As shown below, the bank has one of the lowest LtD (loans-to-deposits) ratios among European banks. In other words, HSBC does not need expensive deposits in order to fund its loan growth. HSBC had been struggling from abundant liquidity for many years as a low interest rate environment has virtually crippled its NIM. Given that rates have started rising, the bank’s excessive liquidity is gradually turning into a positive that will protect HSBC’s NIM in a rising interest rate environment.

European banks: Loans-to-deposits ratio

Source: Bloomberg, Renaissance Research

Saudi Aramco’s IPO

Saudi Aramco (Private:ARMCO) has appointed HSBC as an adviser on its much-awaited IPO. JPMorgan (JPM) and Morgan Stanley (MS) will also act as consultants. As such, HSBC is the only non-US bank that will have a crucial role in Aramco’s IPO.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that while many US and UK investors are skeptical on Saudi Aramco’s IPO, as state-owned oil companies have been underperforming their private peers for quite a while now, Chinese investors would be interested in Aramco’s shares. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (OTCPK:HKXCF) (OTCPK:HKXCY) plans to introduce the so-called Primary Connect program, which would allow mainland Chinese investors to participate in initial public offerings on the HKEX.

We believe Aramco’s IPO would strengthen HSBC’s position in the region. In our view, it would also underpin the fact that HSBC is a global banking group with unique access to Chinese investors.

Buybacks and dividends

HSBC pays a $ 0.51 dividend per ordinary share or $ 2.55 per ADR. That corresponds to a 5.4% dividend yield, based on the current ADR price. We believe that a 5.4% dividend from a global blue-chip bank with a strong presence on Asian markets looks very attractive.

Additionally, it is also worth noting that the bank has temporarily suspended its buyback program due to technical reasons related to the issuance of additional Tier 1 capital. We expect HSBC to announce a new buyback in the second half of 2018.

Final thoughts

The shares have fallen by almost 15% since January, and we believe this sell-off represents a great opportunity to buy a global bank with an attractive dividend yield. HSBC has excess capital, thanks to its US unit, and, as a result, we expect the bank to announce a new buyback program in the second half of the year.

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Disclosure: I am/we are long HSBC, JPM.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Bangladesh minister says wants to 'wipe out' Manila bank for heist role
December 10, 2017 12:35 pm|Comments (0)

DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh’s finance minister said late on Saturday he wanted to “wipe out” a Philippines bank that was used to channel $ 81 million stolen from the Bangladeshi central bank’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year.

FILE PHOTO: A security guard stands guard outside a branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in Paranaque city, Metro Manila, Philippines August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

Abul Maal A. Muhith was responding to questions from reporters about a Reuters story on Friday that said Bangladesh Bank had asked the New York Fed to join a lawsuit it was considering filing against Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) RCBS.PS seeking damages.

“The Bangladesh Bank has taken a decision (on filing a suit). They will let me know. We haven’t so far taken any steps as the Philippines government was taking care of it (investigating the heist),” Muhith said.

“But it seems Rizal bank has been playing delinquent. We want to wipe out Rizal bank from the world.”

Muhith did not elaborate. He did not respond to requests seeking comment.

FILE PHOTO: Commuters pass by the front of the Bangladesh central bank building in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ashikur Rahman/File Photo

Unidentified hackers stole the money using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system. The money was sent to accounts at RCBC and then disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines.

Nearly two years later, there is no word on who was responsible and Bangladesh Bank has been able to retrieve only about $ 15 million, mostly from a Manila junket operator. (reut.rs/2jk1W74)

The Philippine central bank fined RCBC a record one billion pesos ($ 20 million) last year for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen money through it.

RCBC has said it would not pay any compensation to Bangladesh Bank and that Dhaka bank bore responsibility for the theft since it was negligent.

RCBC did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on a Sunday about Muhith’s comments.

Reporting by Serajul Quadir, Krishna N. Das, Ruma Paul and Karen Lema; Editing by Toby Chopra

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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China Citic, Baidu launch direct bank in fintech push
November 18, 2017 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

BEIJING (Reuters) – China Citic Bank Corp (601998.SS) and search engine giant Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) launched on Saturday a direct banking joint venture, dubbed AiBank, to capitalize on China’s rapidly growing fintech sector.

FILE PHOTO: A man stands in front of CITIC bank’s branch in Beijing, China, March 23, 2016.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

AiBank is one among several tie-ups between an internet firm and a lender in China’s booming online finance market where technology gurus like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) have already set up their own finance arms to offer a range of financial products including payment, wealth management and micro loans.

A direct bank offers services over the internet instead of through physical branches.

AiBank will focus on lending to individuals and small businesses while leveraging big data and artificial intelligence to build new risk control models, Li Rudong, president of the new bank said at a launch event in Beijing.

Li said 60 percent of the new bank’s employees will be technology staff.

“AiBank is the future of intelligent finance…It is an institution that understands customers best and understands finance best,” said Baidu Chief Operating Officer Lu Qi.

Mid-tier lender Citic Bank owns 70 percent of the joint venture, while Baidu controls the remaining 30 percent. The direct bank has a registered capital of 2 billion yuan.

China’s banking regulator approved the establishment of AiBank earlier this year.

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Elias Glenn; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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NY regulation aims to raise bank security standards
December 12, 2016 11:00 pm|Comments (0)

Next week, New York State will begin a 45-day public comment period on its new financial industry cybersecurity regulation — and, so far, security experts have a favorable view of the proposal.

Under the new regulations, banks and insurance companies doing business in New York State will need to establish a cybersecurity program, appoint a Chief Information Security Officer and monitor the cybersecurity policies of their business partners.

According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this is the first such regulation in the country. “This regulation helps guarantee the financial services industry upholds its obligation to protect consumers and ensure that its systems are sufficiently constructed to prevent cyber-attacks to the fullest extent possible,” he said in a statement.

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