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Industry roundup: 9 March

Citi launches digitised documentation for cross-border payments

Citi has announced the launch of a service that is designed to speed up the processing of cross-border payments through the digitisation of supporting documents. The service, which is being rolled out initially in South Africa, streamlines and eases the processing of overseas payments by bringing together on a single electronic platform the once-separate submission of cross-border payment instructions and documents associated with them.

When companies initiate cross-border payments, they must submit supporting documents to their banks to meet various foreign exchange (FX) control and regulatory reporting requirements. Until now, these documents were received and processed separate from corresponding payment instructions, requiring manual interventions to link them.

“Fulfilling and managing cross-border documentation has traditionally been a time-consuming, paper-based process - and a pain point for both banks and their customers,” said Amit Agarwal, global head of Cross-Border Payments, TTS at Citi. “With e-commerce on the rise globally, and electronic payments becoming the norm, it is more important than ever for cross-border payment documentation to keep up with our hyper-connected world.”

With the service, documents can be completed, processed and tracked digitally via the CitiDirect BE electronic banking platform. The platform also provides users with upfront details about the documentation and data requirements for different payment types. This single-window service creates clear linkages between payments and related documents and cuts document fulfilment and processing times by more than half. In addition, users can also track the status of their documents on the platform, via Citi Payment Insights, and can access valuable reporting and analytics that enhance the management of cash and cross-border transactions.


SEC announces enforcement task force on ESG issues

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced the creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force in the Division of Enforcement. The task force will be led by Kelly L. Gibson, the acting deputy director of Enforcement, who will oversee a division-wide effort, with 22 members drawn from the SEC’s headquarters, regional offices, and Enforcement specialised units.

Consistent with increasing investor focus and reliance on climate and ESG-related disclosure and investment, the Climate and ESG Task Force will develop initiatives to proactively identify ESG-related misconduct. The task force will also coordinate the effective use of division resources, including through the use of sophisticated data analysis to mine and assess information across registrants, to identify potential violations. 

The initial focus will be to identify any material gaps or misstatements in issuers’ disclosure of climate risks under existing rules. The task force will also analyse disclosure and compliance issues relating to investment advisers’ and funds’ ESG strategies. Its work will complement the agency’s other initiatives in this area, including the recent appointment of Satyam Khanna as a senior policy advisor for Climate and ESG. As an integral component of the agency’s efforts to address these risks to investors, the task force will work closely with other SEC Divisions and Offices, including the divisions of Corporation Finance, Investment Management, and Examinations.

In addition, the new task force will evaluate and pursue tips, referrals, and whistleblower complaints on ESG-related issues, and provide expertise and insight to teams working on ESG-related matters across the division.

“Climate risks and sustainability are critical issues for the investing public and our capital markets,” said acting chair Allison Herren Lee. “The task force announced today will play an important role in enhancing and coordinating the efforts of the division of Enforcement, the Office of the Whistleblower, and other parts of the agency to bolster the efforts of the Commission as a whole on these vital matters.”


European Banking Authority suffers cyber attack 

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has been the subject of a cyber-attack against its Microsoft Exchange Servers, which is affecting many organisations worldwide. The agency has launched a full investigation, in close cooperation with its ICT provider, a team of forensic experts and other relevant entities.

As the vulnerability is related to the EBA’s email servers, access to personal data through emails held on that servers may have been obtained by the attacker. The EBA is working to identify what, if any, data was accessed. Where appropriate, the EBA will provide information on measures that data subjects might take to mitigate possible adverse effects.

As an initial precautionary measure, the EBA decided to take its email systems offline. Yesterday (8th March) the EBA commented that the investigation is still ongoing and it is deploying additional security measures and close monitoring in view of restoring the full functionality of the email servers.

At that time, the EBA reported that its email infrastructure had been secured and its analyses suggest that no data extraction has been performed and it had no indication to think that the breach has gone beyond its email servers. The EBA says it has taken all precautionary measures to protect personal and other data and will take additional steps and provide further updates as necessary.

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