Category: FX and Payment

Commodities
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)CommoditiesFX and PaymentStock Markets

Top five things you need to know about commodities

Commodities

Top five things you need to know about commodities

 

Commodities are the lifeblood of commerce and economic growth. Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, has built an interactive tool showing global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

This unique tool allows traders to spot developments in the flow of commodities and the growth of both supply and demand while comparing the changes to critical economic indicators.

‘Global Commodities’ takes the form of a re-imagined 3D globe where the heights of countries rise and fall to show the import and export levels of a range of commodities over the last decade. The data visualisation allows users to switch views from a single commodity or market and show information relevant to that commodity or market’s performance.

John Kicklighter, Chief Currency Strategist at DailyFX, has used the tool to put together his top five things you need to know about commodities:

1. Will the US-China trade war lead to trade peace and synchronous growth to help commodities?

The US-China trade war is seen globally as a hindrance to growth, and as such, a hindrance to the demand for commodities. The International Monetary Fund warned governments to be  “very careful” and that the global economy remains vulnerable, and presumably, so do commodities until the issue is sorted out.

2. Will the US dollar strength continue and continue to suppress commodity price gains?

Since commodities are priced in US Dollars, a stronger USD as evidenced by the 6% gain in the US Dollar Index since the start of 2018 has had a positive impact on commodity price gains.

3. Will inflation pop up to increase the demand for commodities as a value store?

The lack of inflation has baffled central bankers and kept speculative buyers of commodities at bay.

4. Could a renewed China stimulus plan give industrial metals like copper the price boost and reverse weak sentiment?

Chinese stimulus via credit growth and top-down building projects have helped commodities in recent years find renewed demand, and the hope among commodity buyers is that there is more stimulus left in the tank.

5. Will US manufacturing turn around after falling at the start of 2019 to also lift commodities’ outlook?

A significant reading of the US Manufacturing Sector, the Institute of Supply Management recently touched the weakest levels since 2016 alongside Chinese Manufacturing weakness that has heavily weighed on commodities in general and especially metals like copper.

To learn more about Global Commodities visit: https://www.dailyfx.com/research/global-commodities

bitcoin
Due DiligenceFX and Payment

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

bitcoin

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

 

The London and Cambridge-based charted accountancy firm BKL, is believed to be the first UK mid-sized accountancy firm to accept a cryptocurrency to settle invoices. BKL specialises in helping entrepreneurs, high net worth individuals and owner managed businesses across a range of business sectors. These include technology, financial services, property and farms and estates.

“As a forward-looking business, we are always exploring new ways to develop our offering. We are pleased to now offer this option to clients,” said Jon Wedge, Financial Services partner at BKL.

“We support people and businesses that work with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and this move has been driven by demand from our clients. It’s a convenient way for many of them, particularly those in the fintech and technology sectors, to buy our services.”

Using a leading automated payment processing system, BitPay, clients of BKL can now opt to receive invoices in Bitcoin. 

“BKL are one of the most respected specialist accountancy practises serving the blockchain industry and we are very happy that they are successfully using BitPay’s B2B service” said Sonny Singh, Chief Commercial Officer of BitPay.

“This is another superb example of forward thinking professional service businesses engaging with the ever-expanding crypto currency industry.  As blockchain ventures continue to proliferate there will be an increasing worldwide demand by vendors to pay invoices in bitcoin.”

BKL will invoice their clients with a traditional fiat value, and then the client pays in bitcoin or bitcoin cash with a conversion rate provided by BitPay that is issued and fixed for 15 minutes, using an average price from leading regulated exchanges. This ensures there is no exposure to any of the price volatility that characterises the digital currencies.

BKL receives its payment electronically through BitPay, but as fiat money.

FX and Payment

The 7 benefits of using an mPOS (mobile point of sale) system

Calling all businesses- 5G network is almost here! With over two thirds of payments being by card, it is no surprise that a faster, more efficient network could translate into faster, more efficient sales. If you are a business that has been accepting card payments for a while, you have probably familiarised yourself with a traditional POS system.

 

A traditional POS system is a fixed monitor with a touch screen that often links to your cash register, telephone line and central processing unit. MPOS (mobile point of sale) is the latest trend using a portable smartphone or tablet that functions as a register for taking payments. With contactless payment methods like Apple Pay increasing in popularity, mPOS is for the customers who simply want to tap their phone and go.

 

Want to learn more about the benefits of using mPOS as opposed to traditional POS systems? The business communications specialists at A1 Comms have compiled a list of 7 benefits using a mPOS system. Having worked with leading networks such as EE, 3, 02 and Vodafone, they understand that businesses need a fast, reliable network to secure continuous sales via mPOS systems. That’s why they have been providing business to business communications since 1997.

 

1) It’s more cost effective

 

Traditional POS systems usually have a high upfront cost. Typically, this is around the £1000 mark, plus another £800 a year to continue using updated POS software. For smaller business’s, the idea of a traditional POS system can seem daunting and unnecessary, due to the initial and continuous high cost. The biggest benefit to using an mPOS is that it is much more cost effective. Instead of investing in a fixed, electronic register and baring a big cost, mPOS breaks it down into smaller monthly maintenance payments and relies on a cloud-based subscription. This means that for a small upfront cost, vendors can easily access their customer data from virtually anywhere where there’s WiFi connection.

 

2) Shorter checkout and return lines

 

Say goodbye to boring, time consuming queues and say hello to customer satisfaction and quick service. According to Verifone, approximately 75% of customers wouldn’t wait longer than 5 minutes in a queue, meaning slow service equals slow sales. MPOS is designed to make business’s more efficient with card and mobile payments, therefore increasing profitability and creating shorter checkout and return lines. Customers can simply tap their phone and pay for an item knowing their information is safe and secure.

 

3) Limits a business’s liability

 

Protecting data in POS environments is pivotal for customer trust in your business. Traditional POS systems risk unauthorised access to electronic payment systems by fraudulent individuals wishing to steal debit and credit card information. With mPOS, the main difference is that credit and debit card data is not stored, which significantly reduces the risk of any breaches of security happening. Whilst no system or device is

totally safe from an attack or breach, mPOS minimises the risk and a business’s liability through encrypted transactions and no card data being stored.

 

4) Easier to confirm identities during payments

 

Biometrics such as fingerprint and facial recognition can also be used with mPOS to confirm the identities of customers during payments, adding another layer of security. This new way of authenticating a customer’s payment shows that security and convenient, fast technology can go hand in hand.

 

5) View customers checkout history

 

With mPOS, staff can view past transactions, loyalty rewards, online browsing history, and anything else that could help teach staff about the needs of the customer in front of them. Not only does this feature increase customer satisfaction but it also improves staff performance as they are able to easily access data of what the customer expects and already loves. Ultimately, mPOS uses customer information to allow staff to make more effective, relevant sales.

 

6) Minimal setup

 

Not only are mPOS systems much more cost efficient and secure, but they are generally easier to set up too. The setup required is often downloading and launching an app and making sure the card reader accessory is compatible with all types of card types and mobile software. Whilst mPOS is usually easier, more complex systems may require technical expertise and setting up a local server. Still, in comparison to what can be expensive, fixed and technically challenging POS systems, the portable and efficient mPOS seems extremely appealing.

 

7) Easy to integrate with existing systems

 

When choosing your mPOS system, a factor to consider is whether it will compliment your existing POS system. There are some mPOS systems specifically designed to work with old, traditional POS software and others which can work independently beside or instead of it. As aforementioned, setup with mPOS is easy and usually consists of downloading an app, creating an account and then connecting your card reader, receipt reader and printer via Bluetooth. A good tip to migrate your data by

Business News Daily is to simply look for a downloadable spreadsheet template that you can copy and paste product data into. Then, upload this new spreadsheet to your new mPOS system. It’s as simple as that!

FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

Cryptocurrency: What it means for divorcing couples.

Bitcoin is known as the “gold standard” of cryptocurrency. Chances are you’ve heard of it but may not really understand its importance and growing relevance. In recent years, however, banks, governments and crucially divorce lawyers are beginning to take a much more forensic interest. And if you own bitcoin or have a spouse that does and you’re heading to the divorce courts, it’s essential that your lawyers not only understand this very new type of asset but are familiar with tracing it and valuing it.

 

So, what is Cryptocurrency? 

 

Essentially cryptocurrency is a virtual currency which has no physical form as it exists only in the online network, that network is completely decentralised so there is no third party bank or government that the currency has to go through, instead, the technology allows users to send bitcoin directly to another person (this allows users to be pseudo-anonymous as details that a bank would usually want to verify identity are not required).  The details of the transaction are encrypted, and the transactions are then bundled into and recorded on a “blockchain” the details of which cannot then be changed by anything or anyone and are based purely on a mathematical algorithm.   

 

Why do divorcing couples and lawyers need to know about it?

 

Just as with cash in the bank or property, cryptocurrency is an asset which the court will have the power to distribute within the divorce case. It follows, therefore, that a holding must be disclosed within the proceedings as both parties are under a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of all their assets at the outset of the case and ongoing. However, for as long as there have been divorces, there have been parties who try to hide assets. 

 

The courts are certainly used to this kind of bad behaviour and have a number of powers at its disposal to deal with offenders. However, bitcoin is a very new type of technology, established only in 2009 and, therefore, is only recently starting to appear in divorce proceedings. Divorce lawyers and the courts are having to learn a whole new language for dealing with this new technology. 

 

Tracing cryptocurrency. 

 

The first most important step is to establish that cryptocurrency exists. If it is disclosed by the owner, then all well and good. However, cryptocurrency, by its very nature, is pseudo-anonymous and, because it is unregulated, it is much harder to trace. It is, therefore, much easier for a spouse to either hide the existence of cryptocurrency or the value of their holding than with other kinds of asset.

 

In order to establish the existence or ownership of cryptocurrency, a search needs to be made of money entering the digital arena. It is much easier to trace cryptocurrencies that are traded via an online exchange and bought with funds from a bank account as that initial transaction can be relatively easily identified. If found that would give a party a strong basis to argue that their spouse owns cryptocurrency and that further investigations should be ordered by the court. 

 

However, once within the digital arena it is much more difficult to trace where the money goes next, or if the initial purchase was made directly. If then moved offline, for example if a person transfers their digital wallet containing their holding onto a USB stick, tracing becomes virtually impossible. 

 

A digital forensics expert will almost certainly be necessary. They can be instructed to search the alleged holder’s computer and email to try and find the relevant purchase transactions and trace the wallet where the cryptocurrency is held. A court order giving permission for this will be necessary and would likely be ordered if there is sufficient evidence (in the form of the initial transaction) or perhaps reasonable suspicion that cryptocurrency exists. 

 

A word of warning however. Care should be taken not to spend more money on hiring professionals to search for the cryptocurrency than what it is worth. Of course, one will not necessarily know how much a holding might be worth until they find it, a very difficult catch 22 situation but one that needs to be considered regularly. A good divorce lawyer will be able to guide a client on this. 

 

What is cryptocurrency worth?

 

This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer. As with stocks and shares, the valuation can change throughout the divorce process, but with cryptocurrency the market is much more volatile. The value of cryptocurrency is liable to change drastically throughout the divorce proceedings; a spouse with a substantial bitcoin holding at the start of the divorce process might have diminished considerably by the time of final hearing or settlement. It will be imperative, therefore, to obtain a valuation at every stage of the process and prior to any settlement negotiations so that the parties know what they are dealing with

 

 

 Dr Stephen Castell, commented:

‘Given the high volatility of cryptocurrency prices, and the possibility of compromise, and even theft, if the holding in question is retained only within a centralized exchange (there have been several high-profile instances of compromised cryptocurrency exchanges, and/or such exchanges going bust), the divorce lawyer may decide to seek from the court an order to sell the cryptocurrency at an early point in the proceedings, or, alternatively, to do this, as a matter of prudent protection of asset value, by mutual agreement between the parties.  This could remove uncertainty and volatility and fix and secure the value of a cryptocurrency holding in more reliable, more liquid, currencies, such as USD or GBP, to be placed in an escrow bank account pending resolution of the divorce proceedings.’

 

However, whilst the courts retain their discretionary powers to redistribute assets on divorce in accordance with the section 25 factors it is unclear what powers the court will have to actually redistribute cryptocurrency holdings themselves if they exist only in the network and if there are difficulties with realising their value. As this is new technology and as yet there are no reported cases dealing with these assets giving practitioners guidance on how to advise clients, it is clear we are entering a brave new world. Added to that the fact that there is no regulation it raises questions as to how any Order for Transfer or Sale could be enforced. 

 

Nonetheless, cryptocurrency is here to stay, and the author predicts that this type of asset will become more prevalent as time moves on and the language that lawyers use, and the powers of the courts, will evolve with it. 

 

A City Law Firm recognise digital assets are a valuable commodity that needs addressing in Wills; business transfers and as discussed during divorces. We understand not every divorce financial arrangement is clear cut, so we do get to understand the issues in detail as the landscape changes we are there to move with it 

Karen Holden is the Founder of A City Law Firm

BankingCash ManagementFX and Payment

MILLIONS OF BRITS MISSING OUT ON THE BENEFITS OF OPEN BANKING REVOLUTION

Out of control spenders want to save but research reveals that Open Banking revolution is passing them by

 

12 months after the launch of Open Banking in the UK, awareness of it and understanding of what it means is desperately low, despite Brits’ desire to get hold of their finances.

 

  • Just 9% of the survey group, which was representative of all GB adults (aged 18+) used Open Banking services.
    • In fact, what understanding there is about Open Banking services is non-existent, or simplistic and confused.
  • Fewer than 1 in 4 people – 22% – have heard of it; 4 in 5 don’t know what it means or entails.

 

The findings appear in a new report from Splendid Unlimited, the company helping retailers and the big banks design & build new digital platforms. Splendid Unlimited’s findings are taken from the Unlimited Group Omnibus and also use online community methodology.

 

A nation Scouring and Saving

In a nationally representative omnibus survey, it is revealed that:

  • One third (29%) of Brits feel they lost some control of their spending over the Christmas period
  • Fewer than 4 in 10 (39%) were able to save for the Christmas festivities
  • Unsurprisingly more than half (57%) of Brits are now scouring the internet, friends and the media for money saving tips – rising to three-quarters (73%) of tech-savvy 18-24 year olds
  • Half of Brits (48%) are looking to save in January.

 

Innovation can help the nation

Overall, the findings clearly demonstrated widespread interest in and the demand for simple, reliable and independent financial advice. Yet there was a disconnect between this need and consumers’ knowledge of the many ways Open Banking applications can save you money, which include:

 

  • Automatic savings programmes, with algorithms on apps such as HSBC’s Connected Money and Chip allowing Brits to save small amounts that can be measured from time to time against specific goals – like a once-in-a-lifetime trip
  • “Quick Switch” from Bean which alerts consumers if they are on overly expensive recurring contracts and points you towards a better deal
  • Automatically generated bills calendars from apps like Yolt, which take the guesswork out of financial planning.

 

Asked to describe Open Banking in their own words, the top two definitions were: banks sharing your information (26%) and all accounts in one place (15%). Beyond this was little clarity – comments included “it’s online banking”, “it’s data sharing” and “it’s easier”.

 

Despite these impressive initiatives, first impressions of Open Banking were mainly negative – demonstrating a clear communications failure. When participants were offered further information, however, second impressions were far more positive – highlighting the apparent opportunity Open Banking service providers are yet to harness.

 

The research also highlighted that there is some dissatisfaction with a number of aspects common amongst Open Banking services and, also, some criticism of specific apps – suggesting a need for Open Banking service providers to re-think and refine their product offerings in order to make the most of the legislative change.

 

Participants saw pros and cons across all apps tested. They positively rated Yolt for the ability to see all accounts in one place, spend breakdown and transparency; Chip for the same, and its perceived independence; and Consents. Online for the proposition of security and privacy.

 

Although HSBC’s Connected Money came out on top, participants questioned whether their own financial situation was complicated enough to warrant using this app and expressed concern about Chip siphoning off money for investing, even if overdrawn and for AI “managing my money”; Bean for possible bias; and Consents. Online for complexity – especially, its use of complex language.

 

Clarity, transparency and simplicity are key attractors. AI, bias and complexity are key dissuaders. Overall, the findings show that trust was a key issue. At a time when trust in financial institutions has stalled[i] and public concern about data breaches and data security have never been higher[ii], it seems there is a perception that the ‘open’ in Open Banking infers a lack of security.

 

Paul Bishop, Founder and MD of Splendid Unlimited, the company helping retailers and the big banks build these new digital platforms, said:

 

“Open Banking providers are failing to address the lack of trust, privacy and security concerns, and ignorance of the benefits of using their products that have limited uptake of their services to a mere 9%.

 

“These findings highlight a number of key challenges Open Banking service providers must now address.

 

“But they also offer key lessons for the effective and successful roll-out of other new technology-driven service innovations – notably, the further and more widespread introduction of blockchain technology – both in the financial services sector, and beyond.”

 

ABOUT THE RESEARCH

 

Splendid Unlimited transforms businesses digitally, making the customer experience of interacting with the brand on and offline, simple and seamless.

 

Splendid Unlimited’s findings are taken from the Unlimited Group Omnibus and also uses online community methodology.

 

The Unlimited Group Omnibus is a nationally representative omnibus survey of 2,005 adults from across Great Britain, between September 28 and October 5 2018. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

 

Survey results on Christmas & January are drawn from a nationally representative, weighted survey of 2,053 adults across Britain between 19th and 21st December 2018, conducted by Walnut Omnibus.

 

Twenty-four people were also interviewed via an online community over the course of four days. The aim was to interview 24 people who used Open Banking initiatives but this was challenging, so participants all had an account with a challenger bank and were a mix of ages, gender and socio-economic background.

ArticlesCash ManagementFX and PaymentLegalStock Markets

Keeping your Payment options open, by Anderson Zaks

EPOS, MobilePOS, Pin on Glass, Pin on Mobile – there’s a lot to choose from for today’s merchant. Adina Ahmed, Chief Technology Officer at Anderson Zaks explains some of the latest options.

“In many emerging economies, people are by-passing traditional bank and card accounts altogether and adopting mobile payments”

Mobile phones have revolutionalised the way we live today. The way we communicate, watch TV and other online entertainment, and, the way we shop. The next obvious step, is the way that we manage our money and pay for goods and services. But these days, it isn’t just settling the bill in a restaurant, or buying something enticing in the sales, with contactless people are paying for their morning coffee, and with PSD2 and the associated deregulation, they will soon be able to make direct payments to each other. In many emerging economies, people are by-passing traditional bank and card accounts altogether and adopting mobile payments in much the same way that they have missed out broadband landlines – it’s a whole layer of infrastructure that they simply don’t need. 

The payment market in China is a prime example where most people don’t have a credit or debit card, or plastic of any kind. They have leapfrogged straight to mobile apps and user friendly ecosystems that seamlessly blend social media, ecommerce, payment and other finance functions. Consumers in China now rarely carry a wallet or cash, and even buskers display a QR code so that people can leave tips. 

Consumers in the UK, particularly younger people that are now coming into the workplace (millennials) expect to pay for everything contactless, many don’t carry cash. This presents a problem for the smaller retailer or merchant. How do they take payments without a full blown EPOS system? There are a whole range of options now opening up to merchants in the UK, and as evidenced in China, they don’t need a heavy IT implementation with all its associated costs, nor are they tied into long contracts with banks or card providers. 

PIN on Glass (POG) solutions are already available in the UK. As the name suggests, PIN on Glass has evolved from the traditional PIN pad so that merchants can now use a touchscreen device to capture the PIN. There are a range of versatile devices, referred to as SmartPOS, that have been designed for this very purpose. Typically run on Android, they have additional security features baked in, a scanner for bar codes and QR codes, and can print receipts. The beauty of these devices is that they can run with a user-friendly app, enabling smaller merchants to operate using the device as a standalone solution, without the need to have a full blown EPOS solution.

These purpose built POG terminals connect directly to a bank, to accept payment. They are sleek and modern, and the apps that run on them are intuitive and easy to use for both staff and the consumer. The devices run with all current card technologies including swipe and contactless, providing an all in one solution so that the merchant doesn’t need a computer in the shop or at whatever location they need to take payments. 

For independent software vendors (ISV), POG devices enable them to migrate their existing POS solutions to a smaller, portable device, opening up the market to much smaller merchants than they might have otherwise targeted. 

At Anderson Zaks we are already working with several ISVs to incorporate our payment platform into their PIN on Glass solution. 

FairFX
FX and Payment

9 top International Payment tips for businesses

Multi-currency payments provider FairFX has revealed that since the Brexit referendum, the Euro has decreased 13% against the pound increasing financial pressure on businesses who operate cross border.

Uncertainty over future trade agreements alongside fluctuating currency rates have put the spotlight on the cost of doing business internationally and highlights the importance of monitoring foreign currency transactions.

An estimated 17% of UK based SMEs are doing business internationally, boosting their own bottom line, as well as the UK economy.  Whilst international expansion offers access to new markets, ambitions for growth need to be well planned financially, starting with the basics.


35% of SMEs state cashflow is a barrier to growth, making smart currency moves essential when it comes to international payments, and by getting the best value for every international transaction, both business ambition and cashflow can be supported.


FairFX Top tips for getting the best value when making international payments

 

  1. Know what you want

To get the best international payment provider for your business you need to know what you want. Consider how regularly you’ll be sending and receiving money overseas, how many currencies you’ll need to transact in and understand the costs associated with making both singular and regular transactions. 

Fees and charges can vary by transaction type, day, time and speed you require the transaction to be completed in, so list out the different transaction types you may want to make and understand how the fees and charges can vary so you don’t get caught out. Understand how currency rates are set and how they compare to other providers. This can be confusing to unpick so speak to a currency expert if necessary.

 

  1. Review your current payment package

High street banks don’t offer the best value when it comes to international business payments. Using your current banking provider to handle international as well as domestic transactions may be convenient but defaulting to them might mean you’re missing out on better rates and lower fees.

As your business grows and develops, your business banking needs will also evolve and if you’re transacting regularly small charges can add up, meaning you could be paying a high price for an unsuitable service

  1. Select a transparent, convenient and consistent service

If you’re regularly buying from and selling abroad, fees could soon take a portion of profit from your bottom line. Pick a provider whose fees are transparent and made clear upfront so you can better manage your expenses. Look for a service where rates are consistently good – don’t be lured with teaser offers that expire and leave you trapped or unaware of post introductory fees and charges.

 

  1. Understand the market you’re operating in

Keeping track of currency movements can be easier said than done, so sign up for a reliable rate watch service, like the one provided by FairFX which alerts you when currencies you operate in have moved in your favour. This way you can make international payments when rates give you a commercial advantage.

 

  1. Maintain your standards

The rigorous standards you set for expenses and payments at home don’t stop when your employees pass border control, so find a solution where you are confident in who is spending what. Consider prepaid corporate cards which allow you to transact with competitive exchange rates and top-up in real-time, giving your staff the funds they need to travel for work, providing peace of mind and control over expenditure on a global scale.

 

  1. Watch the way your employees pay

When it comes to travel, regardless of whether your staff are hosting meetings or need to cover the cost of their own accommodation and essentials, make sure you’re in charge of the exchange rate they are using for their payments.

 

The FairFX corporate prepaid card allows staff to pay for expenses with the amount of money you have approved them to spend, whilst you can track and report on spending on the integrated online platform, so there is no reliance on employees using their own payment methods, choosing the exchange rate and fees charged and reclaiming the cost from your business.

 

  1. Benefit from the best rates

Exchange rates fluctuate from day to day with the euro currently 13% lower than before the Brexit referendum announcement, a sum that on a large transfer could make the difference between profit and loss. Consider a forward contract to ensure you can benefit from peak rates by fixing international transactions up to a year in advance.

 

  1. Ask an expert

If you are regularly making international payments it is worth finding an expert to help you with services not offered by your bank to help minimise risk and maximise the return of doing business overseas.

 

  1. Set up a stop loss or limit order

Protect your business against market downturns with the aid of a Stop Loss, which will ensure any losses are limited if you’re aiming for a higher rate and the market takes a turn.

Also consider a Limit Order where you set up ‘target’ exchange rates and ask your currency dealer to process the transaction when the rate you’ve set is achieved to give you certainty over how payments will affect your bottom line.


Ian Stafford-Taylor, CEO
of FairFX said:

“Easy access to international currency at market-leading rates whether travelling abroad or sending and receiving payments is vital for businesses breaking into and operating successfully internationally, especially in a market where rates are constantly fluctuating.

“Many small and medium sized businesses settle for high street bank accounts which can charge extortionate fees for international transactions and offer poor service. The right account and sensible planning could add up to big savings, something that SMEs can ill afford to waste in a competitive marketplace

“As future trade agreements post Brexit become clearer businesses could find themselves with heavy workloads as they adjust the way they operate, so finding a trusted payment provider and reaping every possible benefit when it comes to currency will continue to be crucial for success.”

PFS Widens Banking Solution with Individual IBAN Accounts for Customers Across the Eurozone
BankingFX and Payment

PFS Widens Banking Solution with Individual IBAN Accounts for Customers Across the Eurozone


PFS announces the launch of an API banking proposition that facilitates SEPA Credit and Debit Transfers and standing orders in Europe.

E-money institution Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) announced that it has extended its banking solution across the Eurozone today.

PFS was one of the first e-money institutions in the UK to launch a ‘Bank Lite’ solution by assigning sort codes and account numbers to general purpose prepaid card accounts and has now expanded that offering to cover the Eurozone area.

By enhancing its existing banking platform, PFS can now turn e-wallets into EUR current accounts that facilitate automated payments in and out, including standing orders and SEPA Credit and Debit Transfers. Through this facility, PFS clients can enrol their customers simply and provide them with individual IBANs that allow access to basic bank account functionality without a complicated sign-up process. The major benefit for the account holder is the ability to set up recurring payments directly from their prepaid banking account.

Noel Moran, CEO commented:

“The move to extend our banking solution is a further strategic step for PFS, having recognised that many of our European clients want to combine the ease of use of a basic bank account with the flexibility and functionality of a prepaid card. The ability to switch a card, or account, off in real time or just enable it for when the customer wants to use the card is a huge benefit to the client.

“In addition, clients can block certain types of transactions or spend at different merchant category codes, including blocking access to cash etc. PFS is now a total payments provider in effect, with acquiring services for ecommerce merchants, issuing of prepaid cards and now the launch of our banking product in GBP and Euro across 19 countries. It enables us to provide everything a consumer or business needs, all through one provider.”

The additional functionality provided by PFS’s prepaid products such as flexible control features have proven extremely successful with public sector organisations in particular. The company is a provider of direct payments to over 55 governments, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Europe.

 

LCJ  Investments
BankingFX and Payment

LCJ Investments

LCJ was launched in 2007 as an independently managed investment boutique by Conor MacManus, Jonathan Tullett and Leonora Kerry Keane. The co-portfolio managers, Conor MacManus and Jonathan Tullett, have between them over 37 years of experience working and trading in FX markets which we believe provides the foundation for success.

The LCJ FX Fund Strategy investment universe includes major currency pairs, non-traditional crosses, and emerging market currencies. Employing a diverse range of market data and analysis, and extensive experience of FX Markets, we identify attractive medium-term and long-term opportunities, through which we seek to provide a favorable risk-return profile while protecting capital.

Since inception the Strategy has been managed through a variety of different economic and market conditions, and has consistently produced long term class-leading risk-adjusted returns utilizing a robust risk management framework.

Looking back at 2014, we are happy to report that despite difficult trading conditions in the first two quarters, we finished the year up 10.80% net, maintaining our consistent long term performance track record during what has been a challenging period for the asset class over the past few years, and we were again nominated for an EuroHedge Award (Commodity & Currency), following our previous nomination in 2012.

As we moved into 2015, we anticipated the environment being better suited to our Strategy, with the rising volatility and macro factors in play driving divergence between currencies, which allows the Strategy to further capitalize on medium term trends. This has turned out to be the case, despite a dramatic start to the year in January with the removal of the CHF floor by the Swiss National Bank, and a tumultuous August ignited towards month end by the unexpected mini-devaluation of the Yuan by China, we are pleased to report that we have successfully navigated the LCJ Macro FX Strategy through these events in the year to date, highlighting the strength of our risk management, and have made positive returns in 6 of the 8 months to August, resulting in a net gain of +7.84% YTD.

Currencies Raising Latin American Infrastructure Risk
BankingFX and Payment

Currencies Raising Latin American Infrastructure Risk

These exposures may lead to reductions in cash flows through increased dollar-linked operating expenses and lifecycle costs.

Latin American currencies have already declined versus the dollar across the board. The drop in commodity prices and pressures in key markets (including Brazil) has pushed many exchange rates down. Since July of 2014, the Brazilian real has fallen by almost 76%, the Colombian peso by approximately 60%, and the Chilean peso by 23% versus the U.S. dollar.

For Latin American infrastructure projects, the benefits of foreign currency borrowing are compelling. They often result in better interest rates and attractive financing terms relative to local capital markets. For countries such as Colombia, borrowing in foreign currency may be critical as the local economy cannot support the size and scale of planned infrastructure investments.

Typically, FX risk is mitigated through creditworthy counterparties who assume a significant portion of that risk. These mechanisms may include inflation- and currency-indexed revenue streams or grantor true-up payments in availability-based projects. Fitch generally views these mitigants as sufficient in all but the most extreme devaluation scenarios. However, despite these mitigants, expenses linked to foreign manufactured replacement parts for energy projects or other U.S. dollar-denominated commodities or labor can increase operating expenses and stress project cash flows.

Currency conditions may make these hedges more expensive or more difficult to engage if the counterparties view the currency dislocation as a long-term condition. In the coming weeks, Fitch will publish a complete report detailing the impact on FX risks in Latin America infrastructure and project finance transactions.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com

Cashing in on Crashing Euro
BankingFX and Payment

Cashing in on Crashing Euro

This has been confirmed by one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations. The observations from James Stanton, Head of Foreign Exchange at deVere Group, come as the single currency dropped to its lowest level against the pound in two and a half months, as Greece told international creditors it could default on its repayments.

Mr Stanton explains: “The euro has further weakened against the pound due to concerns over Greece’s possible default and the outpouring of capital in the Eurozone, amongst other factors.

“It’s been a monumentally busy day for currency trades. Those going on holiday in the Eurozone, expats and/or those planning to imminently retire to Spain, France, Germany Italy or any other Eurozone destination, plus sterling currency traders, have been piling into the Euro on Monday to cash in on the single currency’s latest slide. This is a savvy, sensible strategy for those who want to take advantage of the crashing Euro.”

He adds: “Hitting €1.41 against the pound, the Euro is currently looking like a good long-term buy. In addition to the problems in Greece, sterling traders are also taking into account last week’s surprisingly good UK retail figures, and the GDP figures that will be released on Thursday are likely to be better than previously expected.

“It looks like we could reach highs of €1.42 against the pound in the near term, and that the pound will cement its position around the €1.41 mark, as there seems to be a lot of support for sterling at that level. The trend is also very similar to that of the March high.”

Cashless Payment Overtakes Notes and Coins
BankingFX and Payment

Cashless Payment Overtakes Notes and Coins

The Payments Council said the use of cash by consumers, businesses and financial organisations fell to 48% of payments last year. The remaining 52% was made up of electronic transactions, ranging from high-value transfers to debit card payments, as well as cheques. Cash volumes are expected to fall by 30% over the next 10 years.
The Payments Council, which oversees the system of transactions, said that moves towards debit card, contactless and mobile payments would drive the move away from cash.

 We hear from Ray Brash, MD and Chairman at PrePay Solutions – a leading European prepaid services company:

“It’s really no surprise that cashless payments are gaining in popularity when you consider the benefits they offer. The payments industry has seen an enormous amount of innovation during the past five years, and it’s clear that consumers are enjoying the flexibility, reliability, security and convenience that this new generation of payment options provides.

Contactless, in particular, has grown exponentially in several European countries and has now been integrated in the smartphone, for us, for example, with EE’s Cash on Tap. Even without contactless, the vast majority of smartphones can be used to make payments in some shape or form. As we see customers’ confidence in technology grow, their reliance on cash will reduce even further.

The prepaid sector has been highlighting the benefits of cashless payments for years. The flexibility and security that these solutions provide make it easy to see why consumers are now consistently choosing cashless payments over cash. We expect the growth of this market to continue apace, as new payment methods and technology grow to maturity and become more integrated and accepted.”

Broadridge Acquires Foreign Exchange
BankingFX and Payment

Broadridge Acquires Foreign Exchange, Cash Management Technology Company to Expand Support for Banks and Broker-Dealers

TwoFour Systems LLC is the technology subsidiary of TwoFour Holdings LLC.TwoFour’s technology provides componentized front-to-back office integration with straight-through-processing for FX, exchange-traded futures and options, metals, interest rate derivatives and money market instruments. Its cash management solution provides intra-day real-time aggregation and reporting of balances and cash flows with detailed global position-views for single and multi-entity institutions.

“This acquisition advances our strategy to deliver powerful multi-asset class solutions to our clients globally,” said Broadridge President and Chief Executive Officer Richard J. Daly. “It is one of the latest developments in our ongoing tuck-in acquisition strategy, which continues to bring innovative technologies to our clients and strong internal rates of return to Broadridge.”

Broadridge is integrating the technology with its reconciliations and matching technologies to create a solution that supports an extensive range of cash and liquidity processes. TwoFour Systems will be branded Broadridge FX and Liquidity Solutions, operating within Broadridge’s Global Technology and Operations division.

“Financial institutions are looking to capitalize on growth in the foreign exchange market, as emerging markets mature and international currencies become more important,” said Tom Carey, President, Global Technology and Operations International, Broadridge. “TwoFour’s technology will enhance Broadridge’s ability to provide solutions to its clients within a critical asset class, enabling banks, payment companies and broker-dealers to expand their offerings and revenue streams. We are delighted to have these solutions, experienced management, and highly skilled people enhancing our overall solution capabilities.”

“TwoFour’s technology, market strategy and high-touch, client-centric approach directly align with Broadridge’s mission to help financial institutions mutualize costs and increase efficiencies, and we are thrilled to become part of the Broadridge family,” said Steve Davis, general manager of Broadridge FX and Liquidity Solutions and former CEO of TwoFour Holdings. “As part of Broadridge we are better-positioned than ever to enable banks, payment companies and broker-dealers around the world to use this flexible and dynamic offering to capitalize on the opportunities in the foreign exchange markets.”

Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: BR) is the leading provider of investor communications and technology-driven solutions for broker-dealers, banks, mutual funds and corporate issuers globally. Broadridge’s investor communications, securities processing and business process outsourcing solutions help clients reduce their capital investments in operations infrastructure, allowing them to increase their focus on core business activities. With over 50 years of experience, Broadridge’s infrastructure underpins proxy voting services for over 90% of public companies and mutual funds in North America, and processes more than $5 trillion in fixed income and equity trades per day. Broadridge employs approximately 6,700 full-time associates in 14 countries.

Craig Bundell Joins TSB Bank as Head of Credit Cards
BankingFX and Payment

Craig Bundell Joins TSB Bank as Head of Credit Cards

TSB Bank plc today announces the appointment of Craig Bundell who joins as the Bank’s Head of Credit Cards, with immediate effect. Craig will have responsibility for managing TSB’s Credit Card business and will report directly to Jatin Patel, Product Director at TSB.

Craig joins TSB from Mastercard, where he held the position of VP, European Business Lead, driving the business and commercial development across Europe for one of Mastercard’s key accounts.

Prior to this he was the Head of Customer Management in Santander’s UK Cards division, before being transferred to the USA to lead the launch of Santander’s first in-house Credit Card business within its US Cards division.

Craig has also held other key Credit Card and consumer finance roles at Visa Europe, HSBC and Barclays.

Commenting on Craig’s appointment, Jatin Patel, Product Director at TSB says: “I am delighted that Craig is joining TSB and I look forward to working with him. He has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the credit card world that will be invaluable in shaping the future of TSB’s Credit Card business.”

Craig Bundell, Head of Credit Cards, for TSB, says: “I am looking forward to leading TSB’s Credit Card business and being part of Britain’s challenger bank. I am committed to providing people with great credit card offers and excellent customer service, to help bring local banking to more people in Britain.”

Five Banks Fined £1.1bn for FX Failings
BankingFX and Payment

Five Banks Fined £1.1bn for FX Failings

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has imposed fines totalling £1,114,918,000 ($1.7 billion) on five banks for failing to control business practices in their G10 spot foreign exchange (FX) trading operations: Citibank N.A. £225,575,000 ($358 million), HSBC Bank Plc £216,363,000 ($343 million), JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. £222,166,000 ($352 million), The Royal Bank of Scotland Plc £217,000,000 ($344 million) and UBS AG £233,814,000 ($371 million) (‘the Banks’).

The G10 spot FX market is a systemically important financial market. At the heart of today’s action is the FCA’s finding that the failings at these banks undermine confidence in the UK financial system and put its integrity at risk.

In relation to Barclays Bank Plc, the FCA says it will progress its investigation into that firm which will cover its G10 spot FX trading business and also wider FX business areas.

In addition to taking enforcement action against and investigating the six firms where we found the worst misconduct, the FCA is launching an industry-wide remediation programme to ensure firms address the root causes of these failings and drive up standards across the market. It says it will require senior management at firms to take responsibility for delivering the necessary changes and attest that this work has been completed.

This complements the FCA’s ongoing supervisory work and the wider reforms to the fixed income, commodity and currency markets which are the subject of the UK Fair and Effective Markets Review.

Between 1 January 2008 and 15 October 2013, the FCA found that ineffective controls at the banks allowed G10 spot FX traders to put their banks’ interests ahead of those of their clients, other market participants and the wider UK financial system. The banks failed to manage obvious risks around confidentiality, conflicts of interest and trading conduct.

These failings, says the FCA, allowed traders at those banks to behave unacceptably: they shared information about clients’ activities which they had been trusted to keep confidential and attempted to manipulate G10 spot FX currency rates, including in collusion with traders at other firms, in a way that could disadvantage those clients and the market.

Today’s fines are the largest ever imposed by the FCA, or its predecessor the Financial Services Authority (FSA), and this is the first time the FCA has pursued a settlement with a group of banks in this way. The FCA has worked closely with other regulators in the UK, Europe and the US: today the Swiss regulator, FINMA, has disgorged CHF 134 million ($138 million) from UBS AG; and, in the US, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (‘the CFTC’) has imposed a total financial penalty of over $1.4 billion on the banks.

 

How Businesses Can Guard Against Currency Exchange Swings
BankingFX and Payment

How Businesses Can Guard Against Currency Exchange Swings

The Financial Times recently reported on how swings in currency exchange rates have affected the earnings of multinational companies. Sterling and euro strength over the past year has exposed companies – particularly European ones – to swings of up to 20% against some of the currencies most affected by currency exchange rate fluctuations over the last year, and companies have literally paid the price.

Carl Hasty, Director of international money transfer specialist Smart Currency Business, has been warning companies of the danger of currency market fluctuations over the past ten years, and agrees with this assessment. “This is a very real issue, and the problem is particularly prevalent for companies dealing with emerging market currencies,” says Hasty. “As the Financial Times has pointed out, businesses are finding it ‘too expensive and impractical to protect against fluctuations’ in these volatile markets.

“I’ve found that the root of the problem is often a lack of awareness. Many companies either aren’t aware of the hedging strategies that can help them to minimise the risk inherent in currency markets, or think that these strategies are too complicated or expensive to implement.

“One example is a forward contract, which lets a company lock in an exchange rate now for a future purchase. This helps the business to save money and minimise risk on their currency purchases, and allows them to set a budget rate, so that they have a better idea of how much they will expect to spend.

“There needs to be greater awareness of the range of hedging strategies that can help businesses on the currency front. These are never one-size-fits all. Businesses require education and support in order to determine the best strategies for their currency transactions.

“This applies to both SMEs and multinationals, and extends beyond emerging market currencies. There are still many businesses that are not aware of how much they can save on currency exchanges when hedging on popular currencies like the euro and US dollar – or indeed the difference any losses will make to their business if they are unable to address the risk.”

UK Technology Powers Real-Time Payments in Singapore
BankingFX and Payment

UK Technology Powers Real-Time Payments in Singapore

VocaLink, the UK-based international payment systems provider, has modernised the payments landscape in Singapore with an innovative real-time payments platform, FAST. The new platform has been modelled on the UK’s Faster Payments Service which has securely processed over three billion Faster Payments in just five years.

The new Singapore payments system has the backing of the leading financial institutions in the sovereign city state, 14 banks in total. With FAST, businesses and consumers in Singapore are able to electronically transfer funds between accounts held at participating financial institutions in seconds – instead of the two to three business days it used to take. As part of the agreement with the Association of Banks in Singapore, VocaLink has partnered with BCS Information Systems Pte Ltd (BCSIS), the Asian payments solution provider to deliver this service.

In the UK, the Faster Payments Service has provided a real-time platform for innovation. Although the original remit was to facilitate single immediate payments between UK bank accounts, real-time technology is driving the development and proliferation of a wider range of services, including mobile payments.

David Yates, Chief Executive Officer at VocaLink, said: “Demand for the Faster Payments Service in the UK has grown every year since its launch in 2008 as more consumers and businesses appreciate the benefits of real-time payments. We now have ambitious plans for rolling out our Immediate Payments technology across the globe. The successful launch of FAST in Singapore in partnership with BCSIS is therefore a significant milestone in delivering this strategy and we expect to reach many other territories in the years ahead.”

Ricky Lim, Managing Director at BCSIS, commented: “With our expertise in clearing and payment solutions in Asia, and in working with VocaLink, we have been able to deliver FAST successfully in Singapore. It is encouraging to see significant volumes coming through FAST even though it has just been launched to the public.”

“There is now enormous scope to grow digital services associated with the scheme, with a particular emphasis on mobile payments. Singapore is an early adopter of real-time payment capabilities and we expect other countries in the region to take up this innovative technology in the coming years.”

IFX Appoints Rooster PR
BankingFX and Payment

IFX Appoints Rooster PR


International Foreign Exchange (IFX), one of the world’s leading specialist foreign exchange consultancies, has appointed cutting edge PR & digital communications agency, Rooster PR, to raise its profile in the UK and abroad.

IFX specialises in advising on and coordinating high value currency transfers for a growing portfolio of corporate and private clients throughout the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Australasia.

IFX launched in April 2005 and with 50-60 percent growth year on year for the last three years, is the fastest growing specialist foreign exchange consultancy in the UK. The company has recently embarked on an impressive expansion plan, with offices already trading in Dubai (opened May 2013) and Warsaw (opened March 2014), with a view to launching an additional five new offices worldwide within the next three years.

Rooster has taken on a brief to build awareness of the IFX brand in the UK and in key overseas markets, to cut through the competitive clutter, and to position IFX as the foreign exchange consultancy of choice.

Rooster’s strategy will focus on demonstrating the company’s expertise and identifying opportunities for IFX spokespeople to provide comment and industry insight on a wealth of topics, including personal finance, international money transfer, exchange rate fluctuations, foreign investment and overseas property.

“With our ten year anniversary approaching and a number of success stories to communicate, we believe it is the perfect time to invest in PR. We are pleased to be working with Rooster to increase our competitive share of voice in the media and raise the profile of IFX among relevant business and consumer audiences.” says Tom Greenwood, IFX COO.

Rooster’s Managing Director, James Brooke, says: “With such impressive growth figures, and an ambitious international expansion programme already underway, this is an exciting time to be brought on board to help raise awareness of the IFX brand. The foreign exchange market is a very busy space indeed, however, we feel confident that the strategic communication of IFX’s continued successes, expertise and insights will enable us to ensure they stand out from the crowd.”

Bespoke Platform and Exchange for Investors
BankingFX and Payment

Bespoke Platform and Exchange for Investors


Wine Owners – the online fine wine exchange and portfolio management solution – has announced that from 7th April 2014 prospective and existing members in Hong Kong will have a bespoke region specific branch of the already successful www.wineowners.com site.

The creation of Wine Owners HK is in response to the enthusiasm by Hong Kong based wine businesses for the existing Wine Owners platform. Its launch also recognises the importance of the region to the fine wine market globally. Already collectors manage on average HK$800,000 on the dot.com platform, with a growing number accessing the fine wine exchange to buy and sell directly in a secondary market with fellow collectors, wine merchants, brokers, consultants and funds.

On the HK portal the fine wine exchange will display, as a priority, wine offered for sale in Hong Kong, alongside unrestricted access to European offers, thus permitting local investors access to back vintages from collectors’ portfolios and an extremely broad spectrum of global wine trade participants.

Wine Owners’ platform also calculates delivery charges from all the major HK wine warehouses and take into account the special tax status of the Hong Kong region. Wine Owners HK importantly provides an additional focus for the local marketplace where collectors who become members can manage wine portfolios in the currency of their choice. Pricing information and graphical analysis on 160,000 fine wines can be analysed in HK$ as well as other leading global currencies.

First launched into in June 2013, Wine Owners is unrivalled in the industry. It’s accessed by 8,000 global users to manage in excess of a billion dollars’ worth of fine wine collections on the system. It allows collectors and investors to review and be more informed about their wine with a comprehensive suite of decision-support tools and data so they can value their wine assets; work out what to keep, drink, lay down and sell, in context of key data and expert content. The fine wine exchange makes it easy to trade out of, and into, your Wine Owners portfolio. Every decision is made transparent with market pricing on 160,000 wines and Wine Owners reduces the challenges associated with self-trading by orchestrating settlement between counterparties, inspections and all logistics.

“We strongly felt we needed to recognise and reward the support of wine businesses in Hong Kong, and wanted to introduce ourselves to local wine consumers – amongst the most passionate wine collectors in the world – as an exciting way for them to fully appreciate their treasured assets” said Wine Owners founder and CEO Nick Martin.

FXCM Japan Business Improvement Order Lifted
BankingFX and Payment

FXCM Japan Business Improvement Order Lifted

 

FXCM Inc. today announced that the Business Improvement Order issued by the Kanto Financial Bureau in July 2012 has been lifted for its Japan entity, FXCM Japan Securities Co. Ltd.

FXCMJ has worked extensively over the past year and a half to enhance and strengthen its internal control systems including its risk management system. FXCMJ has also improved the customer protection system throughout
the company.

“We will continue reinforcing our internal control system,” said Kazunori Iida, President, FXCMJ. “We recognize that regaining our customers’ trust is our top priority and strive to meet customers’ needs.” Iida added, “We always look to offer our customers our best service, to support their trading experience with FXCMJ and to contribute to further development of the Japanese financial market.”

“Again we express our sincere apology to our customers and related parties for the great concern and inconvenience that this may have caused,” said Drew Niv, CEO and president of FXCM Inc. “We appreciate your continued support,” he added.

FXCM recently deployed a global matching engine in one of Equinix’s IBX data centers in Tokyo to further expand its business and provide high-speed and reliable online trading for customers in the Asia Pacific region.

UFXMarkets to Offer Bitcoin Trading Online
BankingFX and Payment

UFXMarkets to Offer Bitcoin Trading Online

 

UFXMarkets is proud to be among the only Forex trading platforms facilitating investment in Bitcoin alongside more traditional national currencies. Bitcoin, the growing peer-to-peer digital currency, is gaining traction as a trading instrument as much as for use in business and retail.

“Forex traders don’t need to care how economies are doing or whether something new will catch on,” said Chris Judd, Chief Analyst at UFXMarkets. “Volatility creates great opportunities for Traders. That means that no matter what you think about the future of Bitcoin, it’s an ideal trading asset.”

Due to Bitcoin’s dramatic price fluctuations, even relatively low leverage allows each Trade to have remarkable results. The currency will have 24-hour-a-day trading hours and is available with leverage of 1:10.