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Citi Commercial Bank launches digital client platform - Industry roundup: 12 July

BIS survey finds digital currencies making headway

Most central banks are exploring CBDCs, and more than half are conducting concrete experiments or working on a pilot, according to the newly-released 2022 BIS survey on central bank digital currencies and crypto. The paper summarises the findings of the latest survey of central banks on their views and plans regarding CBDCs. 

The responses from 86 central banks show that the proportion engaged in some form of CBDC work has risen to 93% and that the work on retail CBDC is more advanced than on wholesale CBDC. 

In addition, this paper shows that most central banks see potential value in having both a retail CBDC and a fast payment system and that there could be 15 retail and nine wholesale CBDCs publicly circulating in 2030. The survey further shows that, to date, stablecoins and other crypto assets are rarely used for payments outside the crypto ecosystem. 

“The BIS survey shows that central banks are more bullish than ever on CBDCs,” commented Gilbert Verdian, founder and CEO of Quant, a technology partner on the Bank of England’s CBDC project. “New use cases abound, and leaders from economies as diverse as Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Switzerland are recognising potential benefits. These include more efficient payments, financial inclusion, and faster monetary policy implementation.”


Citi Commercial Bank launches digital client platform

Citi has announced the launch of the CitiDirect Commercial Banking platform. This is part of the bank’s strategic investment plan to meet the growing global needs of commercial clients by delivering a single-entry point digital platform.

The digital platform combines the bank’s global products and services and provides clients with a consolidated view of their Citi banking relationship across cash, loans, trade, FX, servicing and onboarding.

The platform is currently live in the US, where over two-thirds of the bank’s in-country client base is actively using the platform. Citi Commercial Banking plans to pilot it in the second half of 2023 across Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and the UK.

Features on the platform include access to data-driven insights necessary to help inform decision-making and efficient management of day-to-day banking interactions with Citi in one place. Clients can also digitally open accounts and request new products and services.


Majestic Steel USA scores US$287.5m credit facility 

White Oak ABL, LLC, White Oak Commercial Finance, LLC, and other affiliates of White Oak Global Advisors, LLC (collectively, “White Oak”) have closed a new US$287.5m three-year senior secured credit facility with Majestic Steel USA Inc., a Midwest-based distributor and value-added service provider of flat-rolled steel products with operations throughout the US. White Oak acted as the sole arranger and book runner.

The credit facility consists of a US$212.5m asset-based revolving line of credit and term loan funded by White Oak Commercial Finance, White Oak ABL and Eclipse Business Capital and a US$75m term loan funded by Stonebriar Commercial Finance. The proceeds were used to support the Company’s refinancing of its existing bank debt, support working capital growth and finance the completion of its state-of-art distribution and processing facility in Blytheville, AR.

“We are excited to put this financing to work,” commented Todd Leebow, the steel firm’s CEO. “Majestic Steel is now well positioned to continue its growth plan and ramp up operations at our new facility in Blytheville.” 


Mizuho claims largest ESG bond issued by a Japanese financial institution

Mizuho Financial Group has issued a green bond worth US$1.4bn, which it says is the largest ESG bond issued by a Japanese financial institution. It will provide the funds raised through the issuance of this green bond to its subsidiary Mizuho Bank, which will use them to finance environmentally-friendly projects, including renewable energy.

To realise a low-carbon society, the financial institution says it will contribute to the structural transformation of economy and industry and the establishment of next-generation technologies by connecting industry-government-academia and providing the necessary financing. In terms of financing, Mizuho Financial Group will increase money flow aimed at solving social issues, including the transition to a low-carbon society, by increasing its sustainable finance target to JPY100 trillion, which includes JPY50 trillion in environment and climate change-related finance.

In order to increase the financing for the transition to a low-carbon society further, this green bond serves as a portion of funds for environmental and climate change-related finance and responds to the needs of investors with a high interest in the environmental field. The financial institution says it has issued and managed green bonds based on a green bond framework it renewed in February 2023, in line with the International Capital Market Association’s Green Bond Principles 2021. The framework has obtained a second-party opinion from Sustainalytics.


Balance looks to alleviate B2B credit card burdens for merchants

B2B payment platform Balance has announced the launch of its surcharge solution. This capability enables suppliers to implement a surcharge fee for credit card transactions, providing flexible payment options to buyers while preserving profit margins.

In the B2C world, consumers may be hesitant about surcharging. However, in B2B transactions, customers often prioritise the ability to float credit over the cost of credit card processing fees. With Balance’s offering, merchants can now provide their customers with the flexibility to pay according to their preferences and increase their profit margins.

This solution addresses merchants' need for credit card surcharging, enabling more of them to handle greater credit card volume without incurring associated costs. This facilitates widespread adoption of the payment method in the B2B landscape and helps businesses sustain healthy growth by minimising the risk of losing customers who prefer credit card payments.

Merchants on the Balance platform can customise the surcharging solution for specific customer segments or order values with a simple button click. The seamless integration of the surcharging functionality into the invoice and checkout process aims to ensure a smooth customer experience without disruptions.


FIS ready for FedNow

FIS has announced it completed testing and certification for the FedNow Service, the Federal Reserve’s instant payment offering to launch in July 2023. The certification is for “Credit Transfer – Receive Only” payments, which allows FIS to receive payments from any financial institution that sends money over the FedNow network, send payment returns as well as provide various acknowledgements, requests, and responses.

By completing the certification, FIS can help its client financial institutions tap into the FedNow Service, ultimately enabling them to provide customers with 24x7x365 instant payments, improve their competitiveness, and build new products.

To achieve certification, FIS completed a testing curriculum, including fulfilling a checklist of requirements to confirm the ability to transmit and process ISO 20022 messages. It attested that they are prepared to meet the requirements to operate successfully in a 24x7x365 instant payments environment.

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