Daily Dash: Ex-Mastercard Chief Gets Biden’s Endorsement For World Bank

February 24, 2023
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President Biden has endorsed a former Mastercard boss for the World Bank presidency, US card skimming attacks are on the rise and New York regulator boosts crypto fraud detection powers.

Ex-Mastercard Banga Gets World Bank Nomination From US President

US President Biden has announced that the United States is nominating Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank.

“Ajay is uniquely equipped to lead the World Bank at this critical moment in history,” said Biden in a statement. “He has spent more than three decades building and managing successful, global companies that create jobs and bring investment to developing economies, and guiding organisations through periods of fundamental change.”

Banga currently serves as vice-chair at General Atlantic, a private equity firm, but previously, he was president and CEO of Mastercard for a decade. He stood down in 2021, serving briefly as chairperson afterward. 

Banga is being tapped to replace David Malpass, a former Trump official, who is leaving the role early amid controversy over his views on climate change. 

Banga’s work with General Atlantic, coincidentally, has included being an advisor at climate-focused fund BeyondNetZero at its inception in 2021.

“He has critical experience mobilising public-private resources to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change,” said Biden’s statement. 

US Card Skimming Surges

US card skimming attacks grew five times in 2022 compared with previous years, a trend that appears to be continuing this year, credit scoring services firm FICO said in a new blog post.

The number of compromised cards in the US grew 368 percent in 2022 from 2021, to more than 161,000.

Additionally, 75 percent of the total compromised sites were new in 2022, meaning that they had not been compromised before.

“While this alone should give pause, when combined with the fact that there were an average of 185 cards compromised per skimming event, banks and consumer should all be wary when using any ATM, point of sale terminal, or other location where a card skimmer could be potentially located,” FICO warned.

Most of the skimming attacks took place in a handful of states. California accounted for 38 percent of the incidents, distantly followed by New York (16 percent) and Pennsylvania (6 percent).

These skimming events typically happened in a relatively short time, with 64 percent taking one week or less, and 87 percent lasting two weeks or less.

This means that “finding and disabling skimming devices can be nearly impossible, and many (if not most) consumers will not know that their information has been compromised”, FICO emphasised.

New York Regulator Enhances Crypto Fraud Detection Powers

The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) has announced that it has expanded its ability to detect fraud and other illegal activity among local businesses engaged in the crypto industry.

The measures include greater powers to detect insider trading, front-running and market manipulation among New York-regulated entities and applicants by using risk monitoring tools.

These tools will allow the DFS to plot wallet addresses belonging to entities or applicants against their exposure or potential exposure to wallet addresses associated with misconduct.

The DFS said the measures will build on its previous guidance and supervision of the crypto industry, including guidance on custody, disclosures and segregation of funds introduced in 2023, and stablecoin rules introduced in 2022.

UPI For Foreign Tourists Travelling To India Goes Live

India’s central bank has announced that foreign tourists can now send instant payments via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) when travelling in India.

After announcing the initiative only two weeks ago, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that UPI access is now live for inbound travellers arriving via airports in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru.

To use the service, eligible travellers will be issued Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) wallets linked to UPI for making QR code payments at more than 50,000 merchant outlets.

Initially, the service will be available to travellers from G20 countries only. The UPI-linked wallets will be issued by ICICI Bank, IDFC First Bank and two non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), Pine Labs and Transcorp International.

US Steps Up Sanctions Enforcement

The United States is planning to launch “a renewed effort to rigorously enforce” the sanctions and export controls the country has put in place, deputy secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo has said.

New efforts to counter sanction evasion will involve enhanced information sharing and coordination among Western countries. It will focus on firms shutting down the specific channels through which Russia funds its military and putting pressure on jurisdictions the US knows are allowing evasion.

“We will use all of our economic tools to give countries, companies, and individuals a choice: to do business with a coalition representing half of the global economy, or to provide material support to Russia,” Adeyemo said.

He also warned banks that if they do not enforce sanctions and export controls against Russia, “we will cut them off from access to our markets and financial systems”.

The deputy secretary’s speech came almost exactly one year after Russia invaded Ukraine and acknowledged that Russia’s economic data appears to be better than expected.

He added, however, that the Russian economy continues to deteriorate and the country’s economy is on track to lose $190bn in GDP by 2026 relative to its pre-war path.

“Of course, we have more work to do, and we will continue to do more until Russia ceases its baseless and illegal invasion,” Adeyemo stressed.

Samsung Pay Unveils Partnership With Naver Pay In South Korea

Samsung Electronics has launched a new partnership with Naver Financial, a fellow South Korean firm, aimed at enhancing both companies’ mobile payments offerings.

Under the partnership, which will be implemented by mid-2023, Samsung Pay users will be able to use the service at all online merchants that support Naver Pay.

Samsung Pay will also be integrated at more than 550,000 Naver Smart Stores. These are small, boutique-style e-commerce sites that retailers can build using web tools provided by Naver.

For Naver Pay’s 31m users, they will be able to make offline payments where merchants accept Samsung Pay, by integrating Samsung’s Magnetic Security Transport (MST).

BaFin Fines ABN AMRO

ABN AMRO’s Frankfurt branch has been hit with an administrative fine of €3m, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) has confirmed

The Dutch bank has been sanctioned as the branch’s management did not have “appropriate access” to its compliance report for the 2019 financial year.

“Investment services enterprises and their staff must meet all their legal obligations. These enterprises must set out appropriate internal principles, have sufficient financial means and establish procedures in order to meet these obligations,” BaFin said in a statement. 

This includes ensuring that management has appropriate access to information and documents that are needed for overseeing and monitoring business operations.

Australian Financial Crime Watchdog Signs MoU With UK Regulators

AUSTRAC, the Australian financial intelligence unit (FIU), has signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). 

The watchdog said that the agreements “deepened ties” and will enable the agencies to enhance engagement on regulatory issues, including exchanging regulatory information, and improving shared understanding of emerging trends, risks and the compliance of businesses that operate in both the UK and Australia.

“Money laundering enables a range of serious crimes to occur, from drug and human trafficking, to terrorism financing,” said Nicole Rose, AUSTRAC’s chief. “The signing of these two MOUs cements Australia’s long standing commitment to working with valued partners, like FCA and HMRC, to drive behavioural change and uplift capability across industry to create a hostile financial environment for organised crime.”

The MOUs with the FCA and HMRC follow the signing of AUSTRAC's MOU with the Great Britain Gambling Commission in January 2020, as well as a financial intelligence-focused MOU with the UK’s National Crime Agency.

Australian Rental Credit Provider Hit With Interim Stop Order

An Australian regulator has issued an interim stop order against One Card Credit’s (OCC) Scorebuilder and Safetynet products due to alleged deficiencies in their target market determinations (TMDs).

Scorebuilder is a consumer credit score product, while Safetynet is a continuing credit contract that can be used to pay rent in four fortnightly instalments.

Both products have been accused of violating design and distribution obligations (DDOs) by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which issued the order. OCC has 21 days to take action before a final order is made.

“Consumers seeking to use credit to pay rent, a basic cost of living, are at a heightened risk of being financially vulnerable,” said ASIC.

“While the TMD explains that particular consumers are excluded from the loan, ASIC does not consider that the distribution conditions are sufficient to identify and exclude these consumers.”

Nigeria Mulls eNaira Tech Revamp

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is looking for technology partners to build a new system to run and manage its eNaira central bank digital currency (CBDC), Bloomberg has reported

According to two sources cited by the newswire, the revamp will help the central bank develop a software “so that it can keep full control of the effort”.

The current infrastructure was developed by the Utah-based Bitt, which had previously helped the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) to launch its DCash pilot.

It is reported that the CBN is now in talks with New York-based tech firm R3. 

The new partner will not replace Bitt immediately but would help the central bank strengthen control over the underlying technology, the sources said. 

Trade Groups Send New Letter To European Commission Over Instant Payments 

Associations in the payments and retail space have written to representatives at the European Commission, the European Parliament and Sweden’s economic minister calling for Brussels to keep on track with its instant payments proposals. 

“We strongly encourage co-legislators to ensure that the ambitions set out by the commission’s proposal are upheld,” the letter says. “We believe that policymakers should ensure that instant payments are widely reachable, inexpensive, safe and available to consumers and businesses as soon as possible.”

The letter recognises that this initiative will require investment from the many players involved, including fintechs and banks. However, the trade associations state that they “strongly believe consumers and businesses, including the wider financial sector will greatly benefit and therefore this investment is urgently needed”.

The letter is signed by the Open Finance Association, the European Fintech Association and the European Digital Finance Association, as well as retail associations Ecommerce Europe, Independent Retail Europe, EuroCommerce, Allied For Startups and SME United.

US FTC Launches New Office Of Technology

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a new Office of Technology to strengthen the FTC’s ability to keep pace with technological challenges in the digital marketplace by supporting the agency’s law enforcement and policy work. 

The new office will support the agency’s law enforcement investigations and actions, advise staff on policy and research initiatives and highlight market trends and emerging technologies that affect the FTC’s work.

“For more than a century, the FTC has worked to keep pace with new markets and ever-changing technologies by building internal expertise," said FTC chair Lina Khan. 

"Our office of technology is a natural next step in ensuring we have the in-house skills needed to fully grasp evolving technologies and market trends as we continue to tackle unlawful business practices and protect Americans." 

Mongolia To Join Russia's Mir Card Payment System, Says Official

A top official at Mongolia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism has said the country is almost ready to join Russia’s Mir card payment system, with local banks currently completing preparations.

Tuksgrlin Munkh-Od, head of the department for the coordination of tourism policy, told journalists from Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency last week that “80 percent” of the preparations have been completed.

“We understand how difficult it is for Russian tourists in Mongolia to pay for services and make purchases,” he said. “It is too early to say which banks in Mongolia will work with the Russian Mir card, but the work is underway in this area.”

At present, the Mir card payment system operates in about ten countries, and more than 15 countries have expressed their readiness to introduce it, TASS noted.

Payoneer Secures UK EMI Licence

Nasdaq-listed Payoneer has received an e-money (EMI) licence from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a key step that enables the company to continue providing its full suite of services to UK-based businesses.

Payoneer has so far relied on its EU EMI licence to operate in the UK. However, firms that intend to continue their operations in the UK following Brexit are required to obtain a UK licence. 

“The FCA traditionally sets the tone of financial regulation globally and therefore we are extremely proud to be receiving our e-money license in the UK,” James Allum, CEO of Payoneer's UK sibsidiary, commented.

“Our customers in the UK now have confidence in Payoneer’s consistent ability to provide regulated financial services of the highest standard.”

In addition to the UK, the company holds licences in the US, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and India.

Payoneer was founded in 2005 and went public in mid-2021.

Poland's BLIK Celebrates 'Breakthrough' Year With Over 1bn Transactions

BLIK, a bank-backed mobile payments system, has revealed that in 2022 it processed 1.2bn transactions, surpassing the 1bn mark for the first time in its eight-year history.

It also saw strong growth metrics in mobile phone transfers and point of sale (POS) transactions as volumes increased 110 and 162 percent respectively compared with 2021.

Dariusz Mazurkiewicz, CEO of BLIK operator Polski Standard Płatności, said the “landmark year” puts BLIK in a strong position to increase its market share in Poland and throughout the EU.

“Thanks to the planned acquisition of the Slovakian company, VIAMO, today we can think about further development outside Poland,” he said. “Our ambition is for BLIK to become accessible to users of European banking apps.”

Cash Payments 'Too Often' Not Possible At Retail Branches, Dutch Regulator Warns

The acceptance rate of cash in industries such as the cinema sector, parking and pharmacies is too low, according to De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB).

Research conducted by the DNB found that an average of 4 percent of shopkeepers indicate via a PIN-only sign that they do not accept cash payments

Although the Netherlands has become one of Europe’s most digitally advanced countries for payments, the DNB says that cash is an important means of payment. “In addition, many consumers find it important to have a choice to continue paying with cash,” said the DNB.

Last year, retailers and banks alike in the Netherlands signed up to the Cash Covenant. Those who have signed this have committed to continue offering cash as a payment choice. 

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