Daily Dash: Irish Finance Minister Intervenes After Outage

August 18, 2023
Ireland’s finance minister has ordered the central bank to investigate Bank of Ireland’s outage, while Adyen shares dive after a poor H1 performance.

Finance Minister Looks For Answers On Bank Of Ireland Outage

Irish finance minister Michael McGrath has ordered the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) to establish a full account of the Bank of Ireland outage that occurred earlier this week.

According to McGrath, the CBI needs to know “what happened, why it happened, and what will be done to avoid a repeat”.

“Given our growing dependence on technology for the delivery of financial services, I have asked my officials to engage with the Central Bank on its assessment of this Bank of Ireland incident,” he said. 

McGrath added that, more broadly, officials are considering the robustness of the technology systems used by regulated customer-facing financial service providers in the country, and whether any further steps are required to reduce the risk of outages that have an impact on customers.

McGrath said that financial service providers have to do whatever is required to ensure continuity of service for their customers. 

“This is vital for the normal functioning of our society and our economy. Disruption to banking services can have a significant effect on people’s personal lives and on the running of businesses,” he said. 

“Customers rightly have an expectation of a high quality of service and to be able to have uninterrupted access to services.”

The Bank of Ireland glitch, which took place on Tuesday (August 15), led to customers being able to withdraw funds of as much as €1,000 and debit transfer them into their Revolut accounts. 

This is in spite of the bank insisting that the daily withdrawal limit is €500. 

Adyen Shares Tank After H1 Results 

Shares in Adyen plunged by 28 percent on Thursday as the payments processor reported disappointing revenue growth and defended its recruitment drive at a time when others are making reductions in headcount. 

"We know that growth will not always be linear, and while we saw net revenue growth decelerate in H1, we did not see any substantial developments that structurally change our medium to long-term opportunity,” the company said in a letter to shareholders.

"In addition, we anticipate our business model's high operating leverage to kick in as we move out of this accelerated investment phase in 2024."

The Dutch company's share price was down €413 to €1,059 in afternoon trading, wiping more than €12bn off of its market value.

Adyen blamed poor growth on its performance in the US, whereby the company has signalled tough competition as a reason for a lacklustre performance. 

Technical Glitch At Bank Of Ireland Allowed People To Get Free Money

A technical glitch at the Bank of Ireland has enabled ATM users to withdraw money in excess of the funds they had in their accounts.

The glitch, which took place on August 15, has now been resolved, the bank said.

Bank of Ireland apologised for the disruption saying that it knows “it fell far below the standards our customers expect from us”.

The bank also reminded customers that all funds that were withdrawn will be debited from their accounts, and advised customers to contact the bank if they find themselves in financial difficulty due to entering an overdraft.

US Regulator Says Experian Spammed Consumers With Unwanted Emails

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has accused Experian of spamming certain consumers with marketing emails they could not opt out of.

According to the complaint, Experian, also known as ConsumerInfo.com, spammed consumers with marketing offers after they signed up for a free account with the company to manage their Experian credit report information.

“Signing up for a membership doesn’t mean you’re signing up for unwanted email, especially when all you’re trying to do is freeze your credit to protect your identity,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

Americans have the right to unsubscribe from marketing messages under the CAN-SPAM Act, and Levine said the FTC “takes enforcing that right seriously".

Experian agreed to pay $650,000 to the regulator to settle the charges.

Australia Cracks Down On Non-Banks That Describe Themselves As 'Banks'

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has obtained a court injunction to prevent an individual from offering unauthorised banking services and using the word “bank” without a licence.

Last month, APRA filed an application to restrain Andrew Garrett from operating and marketing businesses that he describes as “banks”, despite not being authorised to operate a banking business. 

Garrett’s purported businesses include Dynamic Capital Bank, Banque de Capital Dynamique and Banca di Como.

After the injunction was published, Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg revealed that he has written to APRA to lodge similar complaints against Stripe and 10x Banking.

Although Stripe is a major multinational payments firm, 10x Banking is a cloud-based ledger provider whose clients include Westpac, one of Australia’s "Big Four" banks.

Monzo Leads UK Customer Satisfaction Survey

UK neobank Monzo has been ranked number one on the customer satisfaction survey of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), its second consecutive year in the top spot.

Between July 2022 and June 2023, Monzo was ranked first among both personal and business current account providers, followed by Starling Bank.

Virgin Money and the Royal Bank of Scotland were the bottom-ranked personal current providers, while HSBC was the bottom-ranked business account..

“These results make it easy for people to see in branch, or at the click of a button, which banks are listening to their customers and meeting their needs,” said Adam Land, senior director of remedies, business and financial analysis at the CMA.

“This puts pressure on poorly performing banks to raise their game,” he added.

Ant Group Expands Cross-Border Digital Payment Services For Asian Games

Ant Group has announced that it has expanded its cross-border payment options for international travellers attending Asia's largest sports event in 2023.

At the Asian Games, which takes place in Hangzhou, China, next month, users of overseas e-wallets and international bank cards can now scan and pay across Alipay's merchant network.

The first batch of such overseas e-wallets includes AlipayHK from Hong Kong, KaKao Pay from South Korea and Touch’n Go eWallet from Malaysia.

“Thanks to the support from the People’s Bank of China, a rising number of overseas e-wallets will be able to ‘roam’ in China using Alipay+, Ant Group's cross-border paytech and marketing solutions, through our collaboration with NetsUnion Clearing Corporation,” the company said in a statement.

Bangladesh Plans To Launch Domestic Card Scheme

The Bangladesh Bank has selected Fime to help launch the nation’s domestic card scheme.

The partnership will run for six years, during which the fintech will provide consulting and testing services and set up a certification body framework.

Fime said it has supported multiple domestic card schemes globally, including India’s RuPay scheme.

“Bangladesh is an emerging market with a growing payments ecosystem and a strong desire for digital solutions that advance the Smart Bangladesh Mission,” said Mezbaul Haque, executive director of Bangladesh Bank.

“We are confident and ready to begin our journey towards payments sovereignty, and we are looking forward to working with Fime to achieve this goal.”

PayPal Appoints Alex Chriss As Next President And CEO

PayPal has announced the appointment of Alex Chriss, a senior executive at business software firm Intuit, as its new president and CEO, effective from September 27.

In February, current PayPal president and CEO Dan Schulman informed the company that he intends to resign from his position on December 31, 2023. Schulman has served as CEO since 2014.

In its search for a new CEO, the fintech giant said it had been looking for a “next generation leader” who has extensive global payments, product and technology experience and is “capable of driving growth across the PayPal platform for years to come”.

Since January 2019, Chriss has served as the executive vice president and general manager of Intuit's Small Business and Self-Employed Group.

During this time, the group has increased its customers and revenues at a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent and 23 percent respectively, and is now responsible for more than half of Intuit's revenue.

As such, Chriss has the “unanimous support” of PayPal’s board of directors and its CEO search committee, the announcement said.

Bittrex Pays $24m To Settle SEC Charges

Crypto exchange Bittrex has settled a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), after it was charged with operating an unregistered securities exchange, brokerage and clearing agency.

According to the SEC, Bittrex allowed US investors to buy and sell crypto-assets, some of which were securities, without registering with the securities regulator.

The SEC also claimed that William Shihara, co-founder and former CEO of Bittrex, had made regular contact with crypto-asset issuers, so that he could ask them to “scrub” any “problematic statements” that could raise questions from the regulator.

From 2017 to 2022, Bittrex earned more than $1.3bn in revenues from transaction fees charged to customers for these crypto trading and related services.

Under the settlement, Bittrex has agreed to pay disgorgement of $14.4m, prejudgment interest of $4m and a civil penalty of $5.6m.

Upgrade Acquires Travel-Focused BNPL Uplift

US fintech Upgrade has acquired Uplift, a travel-focused buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm, for $100m as part of a cash and stock deal.

In a statement, Upgrade said it will acquire Uplift’s 3.3m customers and its partnerships with more than 300 airlines, cruise lines and hotel chains in the US and Canada.

Uplift offers a range of BNPL products, including interest-free financing, which aims to help consumers align the payment of their travel expenses with their own cash flows.

In addition, Uplift serves as a credit bureau reporter, allowing users to improve their credit score by keeping up with monthly payments.

French Regulator Sets Out Crypto Regulation Changes

France’s financial regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), has announced that it is amending its oversight of crypto firms. 

These changes, which will be effective from January 1, 2024 are intended to account for the EU’s flagship Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation and France’s own crypto rules, known as the DDADUE law. 

The latter was adopted by French lawmakers in February this year and introduces new enhanced registration requirements for some crypto firms. 

The DDADUE law means crypto firms with enhanced registration need to account for corporate governance issues, such as adequate security and internal control systems, and systems for managing conflicts of interest. 

It also introduces new compliance requirements for clear, accurate and non-misleading information, public pricing policies, specific custody provisions, which means the segregation of client assets and own assets. 

Firms will be prohibited from using client assets without their express prior consent. 

Provisions introduced to align the requirements for the digital asset service provider (DASP) licence with those for MiCA authorisation will also apply indirectly to enhanced registered DASPs, the AMF said. 

Dutch State-Owned Bank Likely To Receive AML Fine

Dutch lender De Volksbank reportedly faces a fine over its money laundering safeguards.

According to Reuters, the company’s money laundering systems have been deemed insufficient by De Nederlansche Bank (DNB), the Netherlands' central bank.

"We regret that we were not able to fulfil our gate watcher role with respect to client integrity and that we are at this moment in violation of certain legal obligations with respect to money laundering laws,” said Martijn Gribnau, the bank’s chair, in a statement to the media. 

Much larger lenders in the Netherlands have also faced sanctions over money laundering compliance failures in recent years. 

ING paid €775m in 2018, and ABN Amro paid €480m in 2021. Rabobank meanwhile is under investigation.

AI-Powered 'Conversational' Payments Coming To UPI, Says RBI

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed that the country’s instant payment system be upgraded to enable “conversational payments”, i.e. voice-activated payments.

Speaking last week, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said the move would allow the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to interact with AI-powered systems to make payments.

Additionally, Das proposed that offline payments should be introduced to UPI using near field communication (NFC) technology through the UPI-Lite on-device wallet.

“These initiatives will further deepen the reach and use of digital payments in the country,” he said.

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