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Industry roundup: 3 February

UBS multi-banking function available to Swiss corporate clients 

UBS has completed the pilot phase of its new multi-banking function and is now gradually rolling out the offering across Switzerland. UBS Multibanking will also give SMEs transparency over all their accounts and allow them to execute payments debited from accounts with third-party banks directly in UBS E-Banking. 

The bank says that the majority of Swiss companies have accounts with several financial institutions. They often find it time-consuming to maintain an overview of their entire liquidity situation and to manage all their different accounts. Since last summer, selected companies have had the opportunity to participate in the pilot phase of the UBS multi-banking project. This enabled these companies to experience the multi-stage implementation process and to contribute to the market launch of the solution by providing feedback. 

UBS Multibanking is based on the EBICS and SWIFT standard interfaces. EBICS has become increasingly important for the Swiss financial centre in recent years, and around 30 banks in Switzerland have introduced this standard. In addition, EBICS is supported by almost all banks in Germany as well as an increasing number of Austrian banks. EBICS is specifically tailored to the needs of corporate clients with regard to data exchange (e.g., for signatory rights such as shared electronic signatures) and is also widely used for cost reasons. SWIFT, on the other hand, is primarily a standard for large companies, which connects international banks (e.g., in Asia) to multi-banking. 


European Cloud User Coalition established

Cloud computing is a key strategic technology for the digital transformation of the European financial sector. So far private clouds have been widely used, but public cloud solutions are becoming increasingly important due to their flexibility and scalability, as well as the high-quality security and resilience standards. As a result, European financial institutions have established the European Cloud User Coalition (ECUC). Allied Irish Banks, BAWAG Group, Belfius Bank, Commerzbank, Deutsche Börse, EFG Bank, Erste Group Bank, Euroclear, ING Groe., KBC Bank, Swedbank and UniCredit are among those to join the ECUC, in an effort to ensure and enable secure cloud applications for the European financial industry as a whole.

ECUC's objective is to jointly agree on security standards and best practices for the use of cloud technology for European financial players. On that basis the high European regulatory and data protection standards will be better enforced with non-European cloud providers as well. As a result, financial institutions will in the long term be more independent in their technology selection, thus strengthening competition.

As a first step, ECUC will publish a paper with requirements for cloud services during 2021. The paper will consider all aspects of the basic European regulation and the data localisation provision, including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.


Mastercard and Dubai International Financial Centre partner on cybersecurity

Mastercard has launched its Global Cyber Forward program in partnership with Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the largest fintech hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. Governments, financial institutions and businesses around the world have been facing an increase in cyber threats as people and businesses become more digitally connected. 

According to Accenture's Ninth Annual Cost of Cyber Crime Study, the threat of direct and indirect cyberattacks on global businesses is significant, with up to US$5.2 trillion in economic impact being at risk over the next 5 years. Another study on cybersecurity by First Data in 2018 reported that 50% of global businesses are not prepared to deal with cyberattacks.

The Global Cyber Forward programme combines Mastercard's capabilities in cyber security with those of leading public sector organisations to create secure digital ecosystems at a national, local and city-level. This partnership with DIFC is designed to help boost cyber readiness and resilience across the financial industry, enabling effective cyber security oversight through the Dubai Financial Service Authority (DFSA) Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) that was launched in January 2020.

DIFC is home to over 2,500 financial related companies, including 17 of the world’s top 20 banks and over 240 fintech and innovation companies. DIFC continuously develops innovative laws and regulations enabling the future of finance. Earlier this year, it launched the first GDPR-compliant data protection laws and the most comprehensive money services regime in the region.

This programme builds on other cross-industry partnerships, helping to boost cyber readiness and resilience across the financial industry. Last year, Mastercard introduced its first European Cyber Resilience Center to drive collaboration between the public and private sectors in addressing threats faced by the payments ecosystem. With support of the Canadian government, the company’s Intelligence and Cyber Center in Vancouver is designed to accelerate innovation in digital and cyber security, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things. Learnings gained from this initial program will be applied across the globe through Mastercard programmes and other public-private partnership efforts. 


Study reveals sustainability reporting is spreading in Hispanic America

Research into corporate transparency practices in Hispanic American capital markets has set a benchmark for the prevalence of sustainability reporting in the region. The GRI study involved all 762 listed companies in five countries - Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru - and found that 37.5% produce a report.

This is the first assessment of sustainability reporting in the region that covers all companies - large and small - as listed on the Argentina Exchange, Colombia Securities Exchange, Lima Exchange, Mexican Exchange, and Santiago Exchange.

The findings point to significant variation by country. In Colombia, where GRI’s Hispanic America Regional Hub is based, 69% of listed companies conduct sustainability reporting, which is followed by Mexico (55%), Argentina (36%), Chile (34%) and Peru (23%).

A more detailed analysis, with a random sample of 90 reporting companies, reveals that the vast majority (87.8%) use the GRI Standards. In addition to GRI, 24.4% follow the IIRC framework,11.1% reference SASB, and 4% the TCFD recommendations. Half of this group apply external verification, ranging from 87.5% in Colombia to 10% in Peru.

An assessment of the five stock exchanges found they all produce a sustainability report, have introduced a good corporate governance code and are members of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative.

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