Latest Payments News: BRICS Countries To Launch ‘Politics-Free’ Blockchain-Based Payment System, and more

Kat PIlkington


March 11, 2024

Catch up on six of the stories our payments compliance analysts have covered lately, and stay up-to-date on the latest news.

BRICS Countries To Launch ‘Politics-Free’ Blockchain-Based Payment System

Led by Russia, the BRICS countries have said they are planning a global, blockchain-based payment system that will reduce dependence on the US dollar.

Speaking to Russia’s TASS news agency, Kremlin foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov said the new system would not be used as a political tool, alluding to Russia’s removal from the Swift system.

"We believe that creating an independent BRICS payment system is an important goal for the future, which would be based on state-of-the-art tools such as digital technologies and blockchain,” he said.

“The main thing is to make sure it is convenient for governments, common people and businesses, as well as cost-effective and free of politics.”

He added that in the meantime, the BRICS countries will continue to encourage non-US dollar transactions and settlements in international trade, as per the 2023 Johannesburg II Declaration.

Irish Central Bank Consults On Updated Consumer Code

The Central Bank of Ireland has opened a new consultation on the revision of the country's Consumer Protection Code.

The package of updated protections is intended to deal with the modernisation of the financial services sector.

For example, new issues covered in the code include digitisation, fraud and scams, vulnerability and climate risk. Firms have until June 7 to feed back their thoughts on the proposals.

“The Consumer Protection Code is the cornerstone of the Irish consumer protection framework," said Derville Rowland, deputy governor of the central bank.

"It has served consumers well, and the time has come to update the protections to support the financial system of today and into the future."

One of the key goals in revising the code is to assist firms in effectively incorporating customers’ interests into their overall business model and commercial decision-making.

This is addressed through an obligation on firms to secure their customers' interests.

Guidance will support firms to effectively implement all their consumer protection obligations, in part by describing what firms need to consider and the actions they need to take to deliver positive consumer outcomes.

Volt Secures UK E-Money Institution (EMI) Licence From FCA

Global instant payments platform Volt announced that it has been granted an electronic money institution (EMI) licence from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The licence will enable Volt to evolve its cash management product, Connect, through which it can now issue virtual accounts to merchants.

These accounts can receive instant payments from merchants’ customers and provide real-time payment confirmation, giving merchants visibility and control across the payment life cycle.

The EMI licence will also enable Volt to offer virtual accounts as a standalone product.

Expected to launch shortly, Volt said these accounts will be “well-suited” to businesses that need to manage funds and complex reconciliation processes but that don’t need payment initiation functionality at checkout.

Singapore Opens New Fraud Investigation Into Samlit Moneychanger

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) and central bank have launched an investigation into the director and compliance manager of Samlit Moneychanger, who are suspected of engaging in business for a fraudulent purpose.

They are also suspected of failing to comply with various obligations as a licensed payment services provider.

The investigation follows reports that beneficiaries of remittances made in Singapore to China through Samlit were unable to access the remitted funds because they had been frozen or confiscated by Chinese authorities.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said Samlit has “not been forthcoming” in providing information requested by the regulator, and while MAS inquiries were ongoing, Samlit announced its intention to wind-down and surrender its licence.

In January, as covered by Vixio, Singapore suspended remittances due to a surge in remitted funds being frozen or seized in China.

New Powers For UK's Companies House To Tackle Fraud Go Live

New powers granted to Companies House to tackle fraud and misuse of the register are now in effect, ushering in the “most significant change” for the regulator in its 180-year history.

Introduced under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCT Act), the new measures include greater powers to query information and request supporting evidence, and stronger checks on company names.

New rules for registered office addresses have also been introduced, meaning that all companies must have a formal address at all times (previously a PO Box could serve as a registered address).

Companies must also supply a registered email address, and Companies House will have greater powers to remove factually inaccurate information from the register.

“We’ve known for some time that criminals have misused UK companies to commit fraud, money laundering and other forms of economic crime,” said Louise Smyth, CEO of Companies House.

“As we start to crack down on abuse of the register, we are prioritising cases where people’s names and addresses have been used without their consent.

“It will now be much quicker and easier to report and remove personal information that has been misused.”

J.P. Morgan Becomes Principal Member Of France's Largest Payment Network

US bank J.P. Morgan has announced that it has been granted approval to become a principal member of Cartes Bancaires CB, France’s largest payments network.

Under the approval, J.P. Morgan plans to offer merchant clients access to the network by the end of 2024.

In France, Cartes Bancaires CB processes more than 15bn transactions per year by card or mobile phone, which accounts for about two-thirds of all consumer payments in the country.

“Our North Star is to enable our merchant clients to offer their customers a varied choice of payment options to suit their needs,” said Ludovic Houri, co-head of EMEA payments and commerce solutions at J.P. Morgan.

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