FCA: New services to meet cash needs are coming
Sheldon Mills, executive director for consumers and competition at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), says new services will become available to meet the cash needs of consumers and businesses. He told a summit hosted by consumer group Which? that research has been taking place into people’s access to cash and said: “Shared branches, cashback and deposit points might become commonplace in some areas, while more consumers embrace digital technology, and many use less cash.” With the FCA set to publish an updated assessment of the UK’s cash infrastructure alongside consumer research in July, Mr Mills said: “Based on our evidence, we believe that access to cash across the UK is generally good for most people.” He added that 95% of people can access cash within 650 metres in urban areas and within 3.5km in rural areas. “Only around 150,000 people live more than around 5km away from their nearest access point,” he noted. Mr Mills said that while firms must comply with competition law, there are opportunities for the industry to collaborate to find solutions to maintaining access to cash.
Bailey: Digital currency may be an option
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey believes there might be a role for a state-backed digital currency in Britain but said it is "a few years off at the moment". Meanwhile, deputy governor Jon Cunliffe said he could see good reasons for the central bank to launch its own digital currency, telling the OMFIF central banking think-tank: "We may not be there yet, but it looks probable in this country that if we want to retain public money capable of general use, and available to all citizens, the state will need to issue public digital money".
Criminals target online banking
Crime targeting people banking over the phone or online has risen by 68% in a year, figures from the Office for National Statistics show, with 73,640 crimes related to remote banking detected by Action Fraud in the year to December.
NatWest changes transfer limit
NatWest is to allow customers to set their own limit on how much can be transferred from their bank account online in a move designed to protect them from scams. The bank is to cut the default limit on online transfers from £20,000 to £5,000 a day for most account holders - but will let them opt to set it higher or lower. The limit will only apply to digital payments, with NatWest saying there are other safeguards in place for when customers wanted to transfer money by phone or in person.
European lenders' Q1 results analysed
The Daily Mail reports on first-quarter earnings at European lenders, with shares up 25% already this year. It is noted that "All of Europe's top 10 lenders by market capitalisation beat forecasts for the January-March period thanks to buoyant revenues from securities trading, lower provisions against bad loans and rising bond yields. The majority of other big players such as Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale and Unicredit passed the season with flying colours too."
State Street to pay penalty
State Street Corporation has agreed to pay a $115m criminal penalty to resolve charges that it defrauded clients by secretly overcharging some customers. Investigators say the firm, which defrauded customers to the tune of more than $290m, has agreed to fully reimburse victims. A spokesperson for State Street said: "We regret these overcharges, which have also been the basis of prior settlements with regulators including the Securities and Exchange Commission".
Israel's Bank Hapoalim seeking to resume dividend payments
Israel's Bank Hapoalim is seeking regulatory approval to resume dividend payments later this year. Chief financial officer Ram Gev stated: "If we'll get approvals, we'll be able to be back in routine dividend payments and we hope to do what we call a catch up in dividend payments."
Deutsche Bank appoints Verma
Deutsche Bank has appointed Priyanka Verma as a managing director and Americas head of its pharma services and diagnostics division. She was previously a managing director in healthcare investment banking at HSBC.
Tesla no longer accepting Bitcoin as payment
Tesla has announced that it will no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its vehicles, citing concerns over the “rapidly increasing” consumption of fossil fuels. Elon Musk, chief executive of the electric car firm, commented: “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel".
Rolls-Royce to sell Spanish subsidiary
Rolls-Royce has suggested that offloading its Spanish subsidiary ITP Aero could take place soon, with the firm hoping to raise £1bn from the sale.
City does not expect equivalence
The UK’s financial services sector will not get access to EU markets for the foreseeable future following Brexit, industry officials have warned. Nick Collier, the City of London's representative in Brussels, told the Trade and Business Commission: “I don't think equivalence is particularly an issue as we don't think there is going to be any equivalence being granted by the EU”. Emma Reynolds, managing director at TheCityUK, said the EU was pursuing an agenda of onshoring jobs from the City, adding that the body’s member firms “are not optimistic about further equivalence being granted”. Ms Reynolds, added: “The advantage to the UK to now being outside the EU is that regulators and the Government have that agility to tailor regulation to the UK's market”.
CEO: FCA ‘not overstretched'
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chief executive Nikhil Rathi has said the regulator is not “overstretched”. Taking part in a Treasury Committee session in which he was quizzed on the watchdog’s performance, Mr Rathi defended the regulator, saying: “I think the record of 2020 shows the FCA can move incredibly quickly to deal with very urgent and pressing issues.” He told the committee: I’m not going to sit here and say we are overstretched, you’ve given us a job to do and it’s my job with the executive team and the other side of the board to allocate our resources to fulfil the remit as best we can.” He added: “There have been particularly acute issues to deal with over the last year and where we need resources, we are going to get the resources.” Admitting that in the past there have been “areas where we could have been faster, where we could have shared data more efficiently, where we could collaborate across departments”, Mr Rathi said the FCA is investing in its systems and controls to enable it to “use technology better with better capability to enable us to move in a more agile way in the future”.
Hargreaves reports rise in revenues
Hargreaves Lansdown has reported an increase in revenues of over 20%, citing record share trading in the first four months of the year.
LEISURE & HOSPITALITY
Hospitality drives job ad increase
Figures from jobs website Adzuna show that online job adverts are on the rise in Britain, with the reopening of pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses driving the increase. Online job ads hit 107% of the level recorded in February 2020 on May 7, a four percentage point increase from two weeks earlier. While most sectors have seen an increase in job listings, the biggest rise has been in hospitality, with a 46 percentage-point climb in job ads recorded since early April.
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
BT to focus on full-fibre programme
BT is to accelerate the expansion of its full-fibre broadband operations in a plan that could create as many as 7,000 jobs. BT, which had previously targeted rolling out full-fibre broadband to 20m premises, has increased the target to 25m and said it would consider a joint-venture partnership to fund the rollout to the extra 5m homes, which will cost about £3bn. This comes as profits fell to £1.8bn in the year to the end of March, with revenue over the period down to £21.3bn. The company disclosed that its triennial pension valuation has assessed the company’s pension deficit at just under £8bn, as at June last year, about £1.5bn less than its last valuation.
House price growth accelerates
UK house price growth accelerated in April due to a slowdown in the supply of new homes coming to market, according to Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) research. The survey saw 75% of respondents report an increase in house prices. This is up from 62% in March. The poll saw 47% of respondents say they expect prices to rise over the next quarter, up from 43% in the previous month, while 68% said house prices will continue to climb over the next 12 months. Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “Housing supply, or more pertinently, the shortfall in supply relative to demand is the key theme coming through loud and clear from respondents”.
Haldane: Economy set to boom
Senior Bank of England (BoE) policymaker Andy Haldane believes Britain’s economy will “power through in the months ahead”, adding that he expects to see it “moving swiftly from bounce-back to boom”. The Bank’s chief economist said there is likely to be “little or no” rise in unemployment this year, suggesting that as many jobs could be created as lost. Saying that “spring has sprung” for the economy, Mr Haldane commented: “A year from now, it is realistic to expect UK growth to be in double digits, activity to be comfortably above pre-Covid levels and unemployment to be falling”. Elsewhere, BoE governor Andrew Bailey has said he does not think factors pushing up inflation in the coming months will continue in the longer term. Offering that whether inflation is set to persist or not is the "big question", he said: “Our view is that on the basis of what we’re seeing so far, we don’t think it is.”
Credit and debit card spending rises - ONS
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data show that spending on credit and debit cards was 106% of its February 2020 level in the week to May 6, exceeding the 99% recorded the week before. This was driven by consumers spending more on activities including travel and eating out amid the loosening of coronavirus-related restrictions. A separate ONS report also revealed that a net 7% of 34,940 firms surveyed by the Office for National Statistics reported an increase in turnover in March compared with March 2020.
International sales boost SMEs
Analysis from Mastercard shows that online and international sales helped SMEs survive the pandemic. Some 66% recorded an increase in online sales from overseas, while 73% said the ability to receive online cross-border payments helped them survive in the pandemic. It was also found that 68% of SMEs plan to do more business internationally. The Mastercard poll saw 1,532 firms across ten countries surveyed between November and December last year. It was found that 75% of small businesses felt the pandemic had a negative impact on their cash flow, while 55% are optimistic about their chances of recovery this year.