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G-20 finance leaders meet to address challenges to the world economy – Industry roundup: 22 February

G-20 finance leaders meet to address challenges to the world economy

The G-20 top financial decision-makers from major economies plan to meet this week in Bengaluru, a technology hub in south India, to discuss a variety of issues threatening global economy and stability, such as rising inflation and soaring debt. For the first time in 20 years, India is serving as the G-20 financial summit's host nation, said reports.

This week's summit of finance ministers and central bank governors comes just a year after the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has caused a series of shocks to the global economy, the most significant of which was decades-high inflation. During the G-20 meetings, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is expected to discuss the war's effects on the world economy. In addition, Narendra Modi, India's current prime minister, is expected to discuss India's position in the fight against climate change and as a liaison between the interests of developed and developing countries.

During the conference, officials aim to reach a consensus on a range of topics relating to climate finance, including how to regulate digital currencies, global tax challenges, and other issues. Coordination of monetary policy is expected to be a top concern as central banks decide whether to maintain hiking interest rates or scale back their attempts to reduce inflation.

The US Treasury representatives and other officials aim to discuss the risks of the massive debt obligation many countries endured following the costly efforts to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Additionally, the US intends to encourage the G-20 nations to increase investment in renewable energy, infrastructure and agriculture while reducing carbon emissions.

The G-20, which represents the largest global economies with a rotating chairmanship, has scheduled Brazil to host in 2024, followed by South Africa in 2025.

India and Singapore join forces to integrate their national payment networks, UPI and PayNow

India’s unified payments interface (UPI), its national payment network, has merged with Singapore's payment system, PayNow. In an effort to facilitate over US $1 billion in annual cross-border transactions between the two countries, the Reserve Bank of India and Monetary Authority of Singapore have launched an infrastructure through token transactions integrating both payment systems, UPI and PayNow, enabling rapid and inexpensive financial transfers.

Users from both countries will reportedly be able to transmit funds across borders rapidly with the UPI-PayNow connectivity. A UPI-id, cellphone number or virtual payment address may reportedly be utilized to send or receive money from India for funds held in bank accounts or e-wallets. The real-time payment system of UPI facilitates the funds transfer between the two bank accounts instantly via a smartphone interface.

Mastercard collaborates with African-based payment firm NowNow to improve SME cybersecurity

Mastercard and NowNow, a Nigerian-based digital payment start-up, have collaborated to assist SMEs in lowering their risk of cyberattacks by offering them resources at no cost towards educating and enhancing their cybersecurity ecosystem. The cooperation between Mastercard and NowNow has reportedly emerged due to the significant rise in cybercrime recently, with Nigeria reporting losses of approximately US $500 million annually due to cybercrime, stated the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Reports indicate that SMEs have become a preferred target for cybercriminals as they are likely to have minimal security infrastructures and are less likely to respond appropriately to breaches due to the lack of standardized processes. With routine web application penetration tests, NowNow aims to safeguard these businesses and confirm that SMEs' apps are not exposed to any online risks. The solution is reportedly available in Nigeria and Angola currently and expected to reach additional regions shortly.

NowNow is reportedly the only start-up firm from Africa taking part in the most recent Mastercard Start Path Global Program initiative, which was developed to support scaling and innovation in later-stage firms. The program offers NowNow operational support, business connections and financial planning.

Finastra and Integro partner to offer an integrated digital trade finance solution, aiming to reduce exposure risk

Finastra, a multinational provider of financial services software applications and marketplaces, has joined forces with Integro Technologies, a division of Aurionpro, a developer of high-end lending platforms. The partnership aims to integrate Integro's SmartLender Trade Limits solution, which has reportedly assisted banks in Asia and the Middle East in managing risk in trade finance for over 20 years, with Finastra’s Trade Innovation solution.

The integration between the two companies will reportedly enable banks across the globe to use SmartLender's exposure risk capabilities with Trade Innovation's front-to-back capabilities for seamless trade and supply chain financing, as well as leveraging Finastra's extensive worldwide network. The SmartLender platform aims to enhance productivity with lower rates of trade rework and limit monitoring by offering end-to-end centralized processing capabilities and open APIs. The Trade Innovation embedded workflow management system will reportedly encompass all facets of working capital and supply chain financing. With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the combined solution is intended to offer open network connectivity, the generation and administration of digital documents and the automation of compliance and document verification duties, which will reportedly improve processing times.

Additionally, with the integrated solutions, banks can expect to move towards paperless trade more rapidly, increase operational automation and adapt faster to market demands.

Deutsche Bank finalizes its tokenized investment platform pilot

Deutsche Bank and Memento, a Singapore-based blockchain, have successfully finalized their proof-of-concept phase of Project DAMA (digital assets management access), which aims to simplify the management of digital funds that invest in tokenized securities.

The research noted that asset managers were able to develop a digital asset fund with its own “soulbound” token (SBT), which are permanent non-transferable NFTs, as well as establish a direct fiat-to-digital on-ramp for users, enabling institutional investors to invest in the fund directly by issuing tokens through a decentralized exchange aggregator or through an established exchange.

The institutional investors holding the SBT would reportedly mint and receive tokenized shares of their preferred underlying digital investment fund in exchange for the collateral in order to invest in a fund. Through an integrated digital market, tokenized shares could reportedly be exchanged for digital assets like stablecoins.

As part of Project DAMA, MetaMask was reportedly integrated within the site as the preferred digital wallet for the transfer of digital assets and selected for asset security by Deutsche Bank and Memento Blockchain. Access to the platform's decentralized applications would reportedly be restricted to institutional investors who have both an SBT and KYC in their MetaMask wallets. The next phase, according to Deutsche Bank, is investigating the implementation of Project DAMA in Singapore. The region reportedly has 1,100 registered fund managers overseeing a combined US $3.36 trillion in assets currently.

Abrdn and Santander negotiate potential sale of its private equity unit

Santander’s asset management division is reportedly interested in acquiring the private equity division of Abrdn, a UK-based global investment firm. Reports indicate that a potential transaction sale could be reached in the next few months, with the business currently valued at roughly £250 million. Sources note that at least one other company has also been in discussions to purchase the private equity firm recently.

Neil Meikle, Global Head of Real Assets and Private Credit Investment Specialists, Abrdn, stated that its private credit and real assets are a significant strategic growth focus for the company. At the end of June, Abrdn reportedly held £2.9 billion in private credit assets and £42.7 billion in real assets, with its total alternative business worth approximately £80 billion.

Abrdn, which reportedly manages around £508 billion in assets, formed a dedicated private markets unit in September 2019 and reorganized its executive team. Stephen Bird, CEO, Abrdn, stated that he aims to streamline the business through this sale.

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