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Crypto hackers on pace for record-setting year of over US $3 billion in fraud – Industry roundup: 14 October

ACT and Abu Dhabi’s Academy to jointly provide treasury and cash management credentials across the Middle East

The Abu Dhabi Global Market Academy (ADGMA) and the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) have joined forces to deliver treasury and cash qualifications in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and throughout the Middle East. The partnership is aimed at prioritizing and supporting the UAE’s National Agenda of employment prospects for the professional development and training of UAE citizens, while attempting to balance financial risks and opportunities for businesses in the UAE, in addition to the advancement of treasury and cash management knowledge.

The organizations plan to develop and promote ACT preparation training programs to enable successful applicants to obtain higher-level ACT certifications such as the Certificate in Treasury Fundamentals, Certificate in Treasury and Award in Internal Cash Management. Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding, ADGMA and ACT also aim to work collaboratively on thought leadership opportunities such as joint seminars, workshops and conferences in order to realize mutually beneficial objectives.

Mansoor Jaffar, CEO, ADGM Academy and Research Centre, stated that "equipping national talent for long-term success in the industry is critical in our commitment to support the UAE's dynamic financial sector." ADGMA was reportedly founded to invest in local talent in efforts to ensure the UAE's economic development. The collaboration with ACT is also intended to help advance UAE's Vision 2030 as well as strengthen Abu Dhabi's position as a global financial and commercial hub.

Citizens unveils carbon offset deposit accounts for business clients as part of their ESG initiatives

Citizens, a US-based financial institution, launched a Carbon Offset Deposit Account solution to give corporate clients an additional method for transitioning to a reduced carbon economic system. Clients can expect to easily obtain carbon offsets by leveraging the credit earned on their deposits through this account, while incorporating sustainability into their strategies and products, said reports. The solution will join the “green deposits” in Citizens' offerings to assist clients in meeting their environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives.

Reports indicate that in order to combat climate change, it is crucial to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While implementing longer-term emissions reduction strategies, businesses offset emissions that cannot yet be reduced, while at the same time having an immediate positive environmental impact by using high-quality carbon offsets.

Citizens' Carbon Offset Deposit program reportedly generates all offsets from high-quality projects that have been registered with one of the four major offset registries, helping to verify that all offsets are legitimate.

Clients who have not measured their emissions can reportedly request complimentary carbon emissions estimates to help them understand the scope of their carbon impacts, pinpoint reduction opportunities and appropriately choose the best options for offsetting. Citizens states that they will collaborate with clients in order to identify emissions data sources as well as simplify measurements with their vendors.

Japan’s largest lender, MUFG, to significantly boost lending in the United States

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (MUFG), Japan’s largest lender, plans to increase lending to global funds and other institutional investors in the United States, reportedly seeking to supersede Goldman Sachs in the syndicated loans sector this year. Fumitaka Nakahama, Head of Global Corporate and Investment Banking, MUFG, plans to add new exposure to loans for clients that are backed by property portfolios. Nakahama claims that the US $8 billion sale of regional lender MUFG Union Bank, which has a significant loan portfolio, will reportedly enable the bank to reallocate to the industry as borrowing increases. Additionally, Nakahama commented that there is an increasing demand for corporate loans in the US.

Data reports indicate that MUFG is on track to rank sixth overall for US loans this year, up two positions from 2021 and ahead of Goldman Sachs and Barclays Plc.  Reports also show that despite low interest rates and sluggish loan demands in Japan, its lenders still aim to expand in the US.

The bank intends to increase its workforce with about ten coverage bankers and portfolio managers in the US in an effort to attract more business from institutional clients like pension funds, private equity companies and asset managers, according to Nakahama. In addition, the lender plans to hire about five managing directors and director-level bankers in Asia and about ten in Europe.

Reports indicate that MUFG, which has historically catered to manufacturers and retailers, now aims to grow its institutional investor business as part of a three-year initiative plan that began in April 2021. Among its institutional clients are companies such as BlackRock Inc., KKR & Co. and Carlyle Group Inc.

Japan's financial regulator commented that the continuous Fed rate hikes have made dollar funding a crucial challenge for lenders. As a result, MUFG is reportedly attempting to originate and then sell debt to third parties in order to free up more space on its balance sheet.

Crypto hackers on pace for record-setting year of over US $3 billion in fraud

Despite the fact that cryptocurrency prices have fallen this year, hackers reportedly continue to use them as a digital cash generator. Chainalysis Inc. reports that approximately US $718 million has already been stolen in just October, totalling over $3 billion to date for 2022, reportedly on track to set a record for the amount of value stolen. The majority of the targets are reported to be decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, which use software-based algorithms to prompt cryptocurrency investors to trade, borrow and lend on digital ledgers without the use of a central intermediary.

Reports indicate that hackers have honed their skills at manipulating flaws in the security, coding and structure of DeFi marketplaces, while DeFi is becoming a more critical element for adopting crypto. Chainalysis reported that October has become the most active month for hacking activity in 2022, and blockchains are also experiencing major vulnerabilities.

Recently, the cryptocurrency industry has been shaken up by two significant examples of vulnerability. In one instance, reports state that a hacker stole approximately $100 million from Mango, a DeFi service, by manipulating the token's price. Furthermore, the wrongdoer managed to wipe out all depositors on the platform during that time. Another case occurred last week when a hacker reportedly minted and managed to steal two million Binance Coins, worth nearly $570 million. Binance commented that approximately $100 million was unrecoverable, but the remainder was frozen. Crypto hacks realized over $1.7 billion in ten of the largest exploits, as shown in the chart below from Bloomberg.

DeFi platforms have increasingly become a target of state-sponsored hacking, said reports. Chainalysis estimated earlier this year that North Korean-affiliated groups managed to steal approximately $1 billion in crypto from DeFi protocols.

Source: Bloomberg – Crypto Thefts

Temenos FCM-as-a-Service assists banks with preventative measures for financial crime

Temenos has stated that it is the first company to market with a SaaS solution that enables banks to manage financial crime mitigation (FCM) with composable banking services on a safe, dynamic, self-service platform. The company says that its FCM-as-a-Service provides pre-built configuration settings in compliance with international industry standards.

Banks can expect a reduction in total costs of ownership as well as enhanced services to customers with the self-service and fully automated upgrades. Over 300 banks reportedly use Temenos FCM, ranging from global tier ones, such as UBS, to regional banks, neobanks and digital-only banks. A survey-based customer value benchmarking and advisory service, Temenos CEO Navigator, found that clients who use the FCM solution reportedly benefit from reduced false positives and improved risk and compliance efficiency. In addition, these banks indicate that they onboard clients 92% faster than banks that do not use Temenos FCM. The solution, which employs patented Explainable AI (XAI), assists banks in making decisions accurately and productively by determining whether an alert is genuine or not.

FCM is intended to address all aspects of financial crime mitigation: sanction screening, politically exposed person (PEP) matching, AML transaction monitoring, payment fraud mitigation and KYC customer risk evaluations. In addition, reports state that FCM provides industry-leading detection accuracy and reduced false positives (less than 2% vs. the industry average of 7% and above, per Temenos), allowing banks to cut overhead and costs while providing a better customer experience. Banks can expect to implement the entire solution or components to fulfil their essential needs. They may also add on capabilities as their needs change, paying only for what they use.

More African countries adopt ESG finance policies

A recent study found that the global movement towards investing more sustainably has gained further momentum, as an increasing number of countries in Africa have reportedly implemented financial market policies related to ESG issues. Out of the 26 African nations surveyed by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) and Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (Absa), seventeen now have some sustainability-focused policies.

Reports indicate that more regulators have mandated environmental disclosures in an effort to prevent "greenwashing", in which companies make false claims about their environmental efforts. The decision was reportedly made as regulators work towards establishing a global baseline for company disclosures regarding climate change. Additionally, more investors seek to monitor and analyze ESG-related data to identify companies to invest in.

Uganda is reported as one of the nations that has strengthened its regulations this year. According to the report, the central bank of Uganda initiated a strategic five-year plan that includes efforts to promote a sustainable financial system. The Namibia Stock Exchange reportedly mandated that listed companies establish a social, ethics and sustainability committee. In terms of sustainability policy, South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya and Egypt mandate that banks take climate change into account when managing risk and reporting.

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