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November 2, 2020updated 21 Jul 2022 7:31am

Coronavirus timeline: how has it affected financial services?

By Patrick Brusnahan

Here is the definitive timeline exploring coronavirus (COVID-19) from its initial outbreak to today, taking a precise look on its effects on financial services.

October 30

COVID-19 downturn is expected to have wider implications on the sales of insurance products via price comparison websites

Purchasing insurance products via price comparison websites (PCW) has long been a popular choice among UK customers. Given that PCWs rely heavily on returning customers for sales, low switching behaviour among customers amid COVID-19 could have longer-term implications for this channel.

IPT removal or reduction for younger drivers using telematics would lead to decreased claim payout costs

Young and inexperienced drivers who pay more for their motor insurance premium on average are impacted the most by the insurance premium tax (IPT). There are calls for scrapping, or at least reducing, the IPT charge to younger drivers, on the contingency that they would also need to have a telematics black box to track driving behaviour as part of their motor insurance policy. Such a move would encourage younger drivers to get a telematics policy, which would decrease the cost of claim payouts in the longer term.

September 30

Trustees and investing during the COVID-19 crisis

Trustees have numerous obligations and liabilities heaped upon them and many will be wondering what they should be doing during this COVID-19 crisis whilst it is not business as usual. Whilst countries transition out of lockdown, the economic consequences of the pandemic are only just unravelling. Therefore, it is crucial for trustees to review their approach to investing, as well as their wider responsibilities, during this time of uncertainty.

September 25

Insurers need to improve pandemic cover as UK SMEs are more concerned about COVID-19 than Brexit

COVID-19 has hit UK businesses across all sectors, and the outbreak of the pandemic has even overshadowed Brexit. Findings from GlobalData’s 2020 UK SME Insurance Survey indicate that SMEs are far more concerned about loss of business due to coronavirus than the risks associated with Brexit. More than ever, insurers will need to adapt their products and cover to support and protect SMEs in line with the changing risks that they face after the pandemic.

September 23

ClearBank and Tide granted £25m to help UK SMEs grow post-Covid

ClearBank and business banking platform Tide have been awarded £25m to help UK SMEs grow and recover from Covid-19.

The funding will be used to provide financial support and products to help SMEs address challenges in the post-Covid and post-Brexit environment. Additionally, ClearBank and Tide aim to help SMEs meet the demand for digital services and help them become more sustainable.

September 3

PayPal launches news iZettle solution to help hospitality sector post-Covid

PayPal has launched a new iZettle POS solution designed to provide hospitality companies with the tools and insights to help grow their business.

The solution, iZettle Food & Drink, aims to support businesses such as cafes, pubs and restaurants by offering them a faster point of sale with customisable features.

August 19

British Red Cross taps Bankable and Paysafe to launch prepaid cards

The British Red Cross has partnered with banking-as-a-service provider Bankable and payments platform Paysafe to offer Visa prepaid cards in emergencies.

The launch is part of the charity’s attempt to transform its approach to cash assistance. Cash assistance is the means by which British Red Cross delivers financial aid during emergencies to make sure that recipients are able to access the goods and services they really need.

The announcement comes after media reports suggested cash may aid the spread of Covid-19, resulting in some retailers no longer accepting cash.

August 14

COVID-19 recession will increase the popularity of price comparison sites

With the UK economy officially in recession as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, consumers will spend less due to job cuts and uncertainty about the future. As a result, price comparison websites (PCWs) will become more popular as individuals look to save money wherever they can after COVID-19.

PCWs are very popular among UK consumers when purchasing insurance. The websites allow individuals to quickly compare prices across a number of insurance products from different providers in the market.

August 6

Many confident in their skills and finances after COVID-19

One-third of people are earning less and having their finances impacted due to COVID-19. Furthermore, more than half expect the pandemic to further affect their income.

However, over three-quarters (and 72% in Singapore) are confident in their skills and their ability to thrive in a digital world.

July 30

BNP Paribas taps Experian and Aryza to support customers through Covid-19

BNP Paribas Personal Finance has collaborated with open banking platform Experian and debt recovery company Aryza to support customers throughout Covid-19.

Through the partnership, BNP Paribas Personal Finance will offer round-the-clock online account reviews to customers who have been affected by the pandemic.

July 23

Brewin Dolphin withstands Covid-19 onslaught; reports rise in income

British wealth manager Brewin Dolphin has reported a rise in total income and total funds despite the turbulence caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The firm’s total income was £92.7m in Q3 2020, up 6% compared with £87.3m a year ago.

The growth was attributed to higher commissions due to elevated trading activity as well as acquisitions.

July 20

COVID-19 highlights the value of brokers in commercial insurance

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the nuances of insurance policies and the gaps in cover that businesses were not aware of, especially in commercial insurance. The need for advice when purchasing a policy has become apparent, so that businesses are aware of the limits of their cover and will not be caught out in the future.

Travel insurance incorporates COVID-19 cover but still has some way to go

The spread of COVID-19 had forced many in the travel insurance market to pause the sale of new policies and adapt their wording in order to minimise the losses incurred. However, with the easing of lockdown restrictions comes a glimmer of hope to some extent of a summer season in the travel insurance market.

Income protection insurance set to take a hit from COVID-19

COVID-19 has sparked high demand for income protection products as fears of job losses and mass redundancies have mounted. But wary insurers have temporarily withdrawn unemployment cover from the market, which will lead to a sharp fall in premiums.

July 15

Ethical fintech Salad Money taps Yapily to offer NHS reasonable loans

Ethical fintech Salad Money has partnered with open banking platform Yapily to provide NHS staff with fair and reasonable loan options.

This comes after research from Salad Money found that 80% of its NHS employee applicants are currently looking for ways to get out of their overdraft.

July 14

Wealthy investors predict permanent lifestyle shift due to Covid-19

Three-quarters of wealthy investors across the globe believe that life will never be the same again following the Covid-19 pandemic, with reduction in travel, moving closer to family, and forsaking cities seen as key lifestyle changes.

July 7

Amid COVID-19, motor insurers are now set to benefit from higher premiums

While many insurance companies are taking a hit from the COVID-19 outbreak, motor insurers are set to continue benefiting from it and premiums. Having experienced a fall in claims, average premiums are now set to rise.

Back in 2019, GlobalData’s UK Insurance Consumer Survey found that accidental damage to individuals’ own vehicles accounted for 33.5% of all personal motor insurance claims. Damage to another person’s vehicle was the third most common reason for making a claim, representing 17.8% of the total.

July 6

Employee benefit market set for a new focus following COVID-19

COVID-19 has seen remote working become the new normal for many employees as businesses look to continue operating during the global pandemic.

Findings from a poll run across the Verdict network indicate that 46% of respondents would look for a mix of remote and office-based working once lockdown measures are eased, while 27% would work remotely full-time if they are given the choice. There is clearly considerable demand for a change to working practices that, should it occur, would shift the focus of the employee benefit market.

July 2

COVID-19 forces major banking group to look towards insurance

Lloyds Banking Group is set to refocus its attention on insurance due to declining banking profits affected by COVID-19, which should see it improve upon its already strong position in the UK household market, according to GlobalData’s market shares.

The Lloyds banking group has reported profit losses due to low interest rates caused by COVID-19 and is looking to increase its emphasis on insurance and wealth management. This could start a trend of increasing strength for the bancassurance channel if Lloyds is seen to be successful.

June 22

Robo-advice takes centre stage during COVID-19 crisis

Robo-advice emerged into the wealth space following the 2007–08 global financial crisis. Since then its popularity has grown from strength to strength in this traditionally paper-based industry. However, one question has always lingered with regards to its longevity: can robo-advice successfully navigate an economic downturn? The answer is yes.

Our 2020 Banking and Payments Survey found that robo-advice is increasing among all age groups. For example, in the US 7.2% of baby boomers used a robo-adviser in 2019; this figure has risen to 7.8% in 2020. On the other end of the age spectrum, in 2019 only 13.6% of Generation Z used robo-advisers, but 16.4% are users in 2020. Appetite for digital investment platforms is clearly on the rise.

June 19

Asia: Big banks are hiring again to bolster digital platforms

Major banks in Asia have resumed hiring new staff to boost their digital operations.

Financial institutions ranging from the DBS Group to Oversea-Chinese Banking, and Citigroup are competing for tech talent in a hiring spree driven by the demand for coders.

The competition is also heated for mobile app designers and data scientists who can build systems to crunch figures and move business online.

June 18

Four in five wealth managers don’t plan to transform

Nearly four in five (78%) wealth managers in Europe and Asia do not plan significant changes to their business models.

This is despite growing external threats, such as losses from intergenerational wealth transfers and the Covid-19 impact.

June 17

BNP Paribas pulls plug on India wealth management business

French banking group BNP Paribas has closed its wealth management business in India citing strategic reasons.

The move is said to have been caused by the firm’s focus on corporate and institutional banking operations.

However, the banking ruled out the Covid-19 crisis as the reason behind the closure.

June 12

COVID-19 will accelerate cyber insurance uptake as most SMEs have been left vulnerable

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many employers have had to equip employees with the ability to connect to company servers from home. Remote working will certainly mean increased risk of cyber-attacks and cyber losses for companies during this time, leaving SMEs particularly vulnerable. Lessons learned from the pandemic will result in an increase in the uptake of cyber insurance among the SME community.

Findings from GlobalData’s Thematic Research: Cyber Insurance report highlight that the uptake of cyber insurance among UK SMEs has increased considerably since 2015, reaching 18.8% of the total SME economy by 2019.

June 11

Japan’s Mizuho: Conditions are “worse now than during the Lehman Brothers’ collapse”

The CEO of Japan’s third-largest lender says that economic conditions are worse now than during the  emblematic event that triggered a global financial crash in 2008 and led to a devastating global recession.

“The economic situation is worse now than it was during the Lehman Brothers collapse,” Chief Executive Tatsufumi Sakai said in an interview.

June 9

Americans to incur $140bn in credit card debt in 2020

The covid-19 crisis is set to boost US credit card balances to an unprecedented $140bn by year end.

Cardholders paid a record $60bn out of $1tr owed in Q1 2020, the largest paydown since at least 1986, and 71% bigger than after the Great Recession.

June 8

UK Banks could extend credit card holiday to September

British banks and regulators are discussing the possibility of extending relief measures for covid-hit customers until the end of September.

The talks involve major banks and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and aim to offer further reprieve to distressed credit card and personal loan borrowers.

COVID-19 slashes insurtech investment but usage-based firms remain resilient

COVID-19 has led to a fall in insurtech investment. Yet despite these setbacks, usage-based insurance (UBI) continues to attract funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to GlobalData’s 2019 UK Insurance Consumer Survey, 9.7% of drivers currently have a UBI policy.

However, we expect this figure to increase for insurtech as a result of COVID-19. UBI operates on a model whereby policyholders’ premiums are calculated depending on the utilisation of the insured asset.

June 5

Spain’s Sabadell plans to close 235 branches

Spain’s fifth-biggest lender is preparing to eliminate 235 branches in the country, to trim costs and focus on its efforts to sell services on digital platforms.

As it braces for the branch closures, Sabadell is also contemplating investments in ATMs and bigger branches in 2020.

As of late last year, Sabadell had 1,893 branches mostly in Spain, meaning the upcoming closures would imply nearly a 13% reduction in offices.

June 4

Requiring face masks could help bank robbers, says US regulator

Brian P. Brooks, acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), has warned that mandating face masks for bank customers is an open invitation to hold-up artists.

The new head of the federal agency that oversees the execution of laws relating to national banks said local government restrictions aimed at combating covid-19 could unintentionally endanger the financial system.

June 3

US to make covid stimulus payments via prepaid Visa cards

The United States tax agency preparing to send some 4 million American taxpayers their $1,200 stimulus cash stored on preloaded Visa debit cards.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the government agency responsible for the collection of taxes and enforcement of tax laws, is working to issue the prepaid cards to individuals who do not have direct deposit information on file with the tax agency.

The stimulus dollars are normally issued by direct deposit or cheque.

June 2

Mattioli Woods CEO to forego 60% of basic salary

Mattioli Woods CEO Ian Mattioli has decided to give up more than 60% of basic salary from the next month as the company seeks to protect its financial position.

The move comes after he chose to forego his entire basic salary from April to June in response to the current crisis triggered by Covid-19 pandemic.

June 1

US: minority businesses, worst hit by covid-19, get fewer loans

US policy makers are grappling with the paradox that has Black- and other minority-owned businesses facing the biggest hurdles in securing covid-related assistance, despite being the hardest hit by the crisis.

Communities that are underserved by traditional banks are often finding it Impossible to get access to a small-business coronavirus loan-relief program as they continue to be devastated by the pandemic.

COVID-19: Spanish investors’ strong preference for deposits will keep wealth market stable

The Spanish economy has experienced several years of recession over the past decade, and the country’s tourism and hospitality industries have been the strongest engine for growth in the recovery years. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic reached the country, travel restrictions and shuttered business have severely hurt the economy and will negatively affect retail wealth growth.

Tilney and Smith & Williamson revise transaction and agree merger

Tilney and Smith & Williamson have agreed a revised transaction structure for their merger.

The combined group will be known as Tilney Smith & Williamson and claims it will be “the UK’s leading integrated wealth management and professional services business”.

As part of the revised transaction, funds advised by Warburg Pincus will co-investment alongside funds from Permira.

UK: 650,000 businesses get £27.5bn through Covid-19 lending schemes

UK lenders have approved £27.5bn to more than 650,000 businesses so far through the three major government-backed lending schemes.

The loans were provided through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS), the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

May 28

India may provide $20bn to bolster covid-hit banks

 India may have to invest up to 1.5tn rupees ($19.81bn) into its state-owned banks, whose bad loans problems have worsened since the covid-10 crisis began.

The government is considering ways to help keep the state banks afloat, as their loads of nonperforming assets are expected to double during the pandemic.

Paypal at once benefiting and suffering from covid

The digital-payment giant is benefiting and suffering some setbacks at the same time from the global pandemic.

While online transactions have exploded across markets, travel and events have grounded to a halt, a situation that has both helped and harmed different segments of Paypal’s business.

May 27

Scammers continue to ramp up credit card fraud amid covid-19

The number of credit card scams continues to soar during the pandemic, as fraudsters escalate phishing attacks and increase attempts to purchase with stolen card numbers.

The number of debit and credit card fraud has risen to unprecedented levels, and continues to rise, according to Fidelity National Information Services (FIS).

Indonesia: state bank’s clients worse hit than during Asian crisis

State-owned lender Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) is struggling to help customers that are worse off during the pandemic than during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998.

The bank’s profit dropped slightly to Rp 8.17tn (£446m) in the first three months of this year, from Rp 8.2tn in the same period last year.

May 26

EU: jittery banks risk crippling recovery efforts

Trillions of euros in ultra-cheap money are too slow in getting to the intended targets, as fearful banks prove unwilling to take on more risk.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is offering mountains of cash, and governments are further sweetening the deal and guaranteeing most of the loans, but banks remain wary as covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across economies.

May 21

US: 15 million credit card bills went unpaid in April

Covid-hit Americans skipped payments on nearly 15 million credit-card accounts and 3 million auto loans last month.

In a starling sign of covid-19’s devastation, millions of financially distressed Americans are deciding to leave their credit card and car loan bills unpaid, according to new data from credit-reporting firm TransUnion.

Facebook, Instagram launch online stores called Shops

Facebook and Instagram have introduced a new way of selling online that does not involve Amazon.

In their biggest push yet into online shopping, the pair of tech companies are allowing businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram pages into online storefronts for their fans and followers.

The big new feature for online merchants is called Facebook Shops.

May 20

US relaxes banks’ leverage rules to boost lending

US banking regulators have temporarily eased a key capital measure for large banks to allow them to grant more loans to distressed businesses and consumers.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) have temporarily softened the supplementary leverage ratio rule to help banks do more lending during the pandemic.

Aetna International teams up with well-being app Wysa

Aetna International has announced a partnership with confidential and anonymous mental well-being app Wysa.

Through Wysa, all Aetna International members and their employees will have free access to 24/7 text-based support. Its AI-driven chat function also allows members to discuss mental well-being via text and can be directed to self-help content.

Working with Wysa is part of Aetna’s work against the “second curve” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tesco customers warned about default from payments holiday

Tesco Bank customers who have been granted credit card payment holidays on the back of the covid-19 crisis have been told they have defaulted on payments and their score could be harmed.

The customers who were granted the three-month payment freeze, received a warning from credit agencies despite prior reassurance from the city watchdog that they “will not have their credit file affected”.

May 19

Paypal attracts a flood of people over 50

Customers aged 50 and above were Paypal’s fastest-growing segment from March to April, as covid-19 forces more elderly people to try their hands at electronic payments.

Stay-at-home shutdowns and the perceived risk of handling cash are among the reasons why the most covid-vulnerable people are increasingly opting for digital purchases.

May 18

Banks see a 238% surge in cyber attacks amid covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has ignited a proliferation of attempts to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorised access to the computer systems of banks and other financial institutions.

The attacks are highly sophisticated as criminals use cutting-edged knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment.

May 15

DBS to hire over 2,000 despite Covid-19 crisis; reassures of zero layoffs

DBS has confirmed plans to hire over 2,000 people this year in Singapore despite the market turbulence caused by the Covid-19 crisis and also assured that there will be no redundancies.

Of the 2,000 hires, over 1,000 will be in new roles that include apprenticeships for fresh graduates and specialised roles for seasoned professionals.

The new positions include over 360 jobs for seasoned professionals in growth technology areas.

COVID-19 presents an opportunity for growth in the UK’s pet insurance market

Lockdown measures implemented by the UK government have resulted in a surge in the number of individuals purchasing pets. With such a sudden increase in the number of pet owners, the pet insurance market has the potential to grow in 2020.

In 2019, the pet insurance market contracted slightly by 1.8%, according to the Association of British Insurers. Therefore, the sudden surge in pet ownership as a result of lockdown measures creates an opportunity for the market to bounce back to growth in 2020, particularly given the popularity of dogs, which account for almost three quarters of the market in terms of premiums.

Tinkoff Bank profits big amid covid-19

Tinkoff Bank CEO Oliver Hughes says “this is a brilliant time” as the Russian online banking platform reports robust profit in Q1.

TCS Group—Russia’s leading provider of online financial and lifestyle services via its Tinkoff ecosystem—reported a net income of RUB 9.0 bn, an increase of 26% from Q12019.

Indian banks ask government to fund ‘bad bank’

Debt-plagued Indian banks have petitioned the government to set up a bank that would buy bad loans to help lighten their load of stressed assets.

The banks’ proposal calls for the government to provide up to $2bn to set up a bank that would suction some bad loans out of a banking system that many fear is getting increasingly overwhelmed.

May 14

Lloyd’s customers to receive $4.3bn pay out due to Covid-19

Lloyd’s has announced it will pay out between $3bn and $4.3bn to its customers across the world due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The (re)insurance market stated that once the full scale and complexity of the outbreak is fully understood, the total cost to the non-life insurance industry will be in excess of historical events such as 9/11, or the combined costs of 2017 hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Lloyd’s added that losses could increase further if the lockdown continues into another quarter, as its current estimate is based on the assumption it will last until the end of 2020.

 JPMorgan’s credit card holders are spending 40% less

As covid-19 takes a toll on people’s finances and stay-at-home orders curtail spending, JP Morgan’s US customers spent 40% less in March and early April compared to last year.

The drop was attributable to a sharp decline in spending on non-essential goods and services, like retail, restaurants, and entertainment. The cutback was recorded across all income brackets, the JP Morgan Chase Institute said.

Japan: banks’ lending growing the fastest since the 2009

Covid-hit Japanese firm’s voracious need for funding boosted bank lending faster in April than at any time since the 2009 global financial crisis.

Lending at Japan’s major banks jumped 3.4% in April, from a year earlier, following a 2% increase in March.

MoneyGram taps Federal Bank to offer direct deposits in India

MoneyGram Payment Systems has partnered with India’s Federal Bank to offer direct-to-account deposits for its customers in India.

Through the partnership, customers will be able to receive deposits directly in their bank accounts without having to leave their homes. This comes as India has been in lockdown since March 24.

May 13

Brits get 700K card pmt breaks, 470K loan freezes

The banking and finance industry has provided financial relief to hundreds of thousands of consumer credit customers whose finances have been impacted by the coronavirus, UK Finance reveals.

As of 30 April, almost 700,000 customer accounts have been given a payment holiday on their credit card. 470,000 have received payment holidays on their personal loans.

May 12

Banks turn down ECB’s offer of more money to make loans

European banks have declined the European Central Bank’s offer to pay them to keep loans flowing to eurozone businesses.

The ECB’s plan is to offer banks cheap loans in order to stem the economic downturn that threatens to push Europe into a recession.

Banks say they need to find profitable uses for the ECB’s cash, not granted in a shrinking and uncertain economy where businesses are at increasing risk of default. The prospect of losing capital outweighs a gain of a few tenths of a percentage point in interest rates.

Philippine: banks’ credit losses to jump threefold

Philippine banks have increased provisioning to prepare for a possible threefold surge in credit losses, amid sagging domestic economy.

Filipino lenders revealed a large increase in provisions in their first quarter results, in anticipation of higher nonperforming loans in the coming quarters.

May 11

Credit card issuers lower cardholder limits, close accounts

As the covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage personal finance across the globe, credit card issuers have begun to cut down cardholder limits and closing accounts in all markets.

Credit card issuers tend to lower limits or close accounts to reduce their risk, especially in a financial crisis like the one happening across the globe.

A new survey has found that about 25% of card owners in the US had their limits reduced or accounts closed within the past 30 days.

China lifts quota limits for QFII and RQFII

China has continued the liberalisation of its financial services sector by eliminating quota cap for its US dollar-denominated qualified foreign institutional investor (QFII) scheme and its yuan-denominated sibling RQFII.

The quota restriction removal will be effective on 6 June, enabling more foreign investment in China’s financial market.

The move comes at a time when the sector is hit by turbulent market conditions due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The impact of COVID-19 on insurers’ investments highlights the industry’s vulnerability

The spread of COVID-19 has rocked financial markets, with the global economy forecasted to slip into recession as governments enforce lockdown measures that have greatly limited the ability of businesses to function. Inevitably, the investments made by insurers are now vulnerable to the economic impacts COVID-19 is causing.

GlobalData research indicates the extent to which the life and non-life insurance sectors in the UK and the US are exposed given the different composition of their investments. The below graphic illustrates the composition of the combined investments made by insurers in these sectors in 2018.

Vietnam: mountains of overdue loans threaten banks’ viability

Banks across the Southeast Asian country are likely to face capital deficits should the crisis persist, according to a report by credit rating agency Fitch Ratings.

The number of past-due loans climbed to 45% in the first quarter of 2020 from the end of 2019 as covid-19 devastates the economy, which grew by only 3.8% in Q1 2020. Banks and the government fear that the rate of loan delinquencies could continue to soar as economic prospects remain dismal due to weak global demand.

May 7

Australian banks ramp up support for covid-hit customers

Data released by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) shows that banks are escalating their assistance to consumers and businesses in an economy battered by the coronavirus crisis.

More than 320,000 Australian homeowners have been extended mortgage payment deferrals. And nearly 37,000 consumers have benefited from payment deferrals on their personal loans and credit cards.

At the same time, some 170,000 business owners have been granted reprieve on business loan repayments.

May 6

BNP prepares for a flood of loan defaults

BNP Paribas has set aside new provisions in anticipation of a surge in customers defaulting on their loans because of the covid-19 crisis.

France’s largest bank has set aside €657m to cover bad loans, raising its total provision to €1.43bn.

The Paris-based lender, the biggest by assets in France, said net profit fell by 33% to €1.28bn  in the three months ended 31 March, while revenue declined by 2% to €10.89bn.

May 5

BNP Paribas wealth performance lags in Q1 due to Covid-19

BNP Paribas Wealth and Asset Management arm has reported a fall in Q1 2020 revenues hit by the Covid-19 global health crisis.

The pandemic’s affected the performances Asset Management and Real Estate Services, resulting in a 3% year-on-year decrease in Wealth and Asset Management revenues.

The unit’s revenues for the three month period ending 31 March 2020 was €743m, compared to €766m a year ago.

May 4

Gallagher launches pandemic group insurance product for India’s front-line workforce

International insurance broker Gallagher has launched Pandemic Group Insurance product, offering comprehensive Covid-19 indemnity cover solution to the India market.

The product provides coverage for essential workers and front-line services including hospital and healthcare providers, food distribution, and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Visa says contactless payments are soaring amid covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted spending patterns towards daily essentials, where contactless usage is highest, says the American card giant.

Persistent rumours that cash will transmit the virus (though not supported by the World Health Organisation) are additional factors driving both customers and merchants to cashless payments.

US: millions of credit card customers can’t pay their bills

As consumers’ finances continue to be clobbered by the devastating covid-19 pandemic, credit card holders across regions are finding themselves unable to make payments.

More than 59% of US credit card holders – or 110 million adults – entered into the COVID-19 pandemic dragging credit card debt, according to credit card analysts at Bankrate.com.

Many of them – 56% – had been carrying that debt for at least one year.

Asian banks struggle with covid-induced IT challenges

Remote working and disruptive changes in operations are bringing about are range of technical problems that banks across the region are scrambling to resolve.

Sourcing laptops, boosting bandwidth for homebound employees, deploying tens of thousands of home videoconferencing kits—these are just a few of the issues that are forcing banks to brace for what might be a revolution in flexible working.

May 1

Covid-spooked banks hike up personal loan rates

High street banks have increased interest rates on new personal loans as fears of the coronavirus raise concerns about the long-term finances of borrowers.

Banks are raising the cost of personal loans as millions of consumers grapple with the disastrous impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their personal finances

UK: heavy workload, credit checks, staff shortage impede covid loan approval

Banks are giving out fewer Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILs) as time-consuming steps slow down the processing of the SME emergency help.

The number of loans approved in the week from 21 April to 28 April was 8,638, down from more than 9,000 the previous week. Of the 52,807 loans that businesses applied for, almost 28,000 have not yet been approved.

During the same week, starting 21 April, more than £1.33bn of loans was approved, down from £1.45bn in the previous seven days.

April 30

Future bank branches could be multipurpose, says Barclays boss

Post-covid-19 bank retail branches could be used by investment banking and call centre workers, Barclays chief executive Jes Staley predicts.

Staley believes big expensive city offices housing thousands of bank employees may soon be outdated as banks rethink their long-term location strategy.

Kenya is advising citizens to use digital payments

Kenyans should use digital payment methods instead of cash as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus, the government has said.

Kenya’s Ministry of Health has advised consumers to use digital payment methods as an alternative to cash and paper cheques to protect themselves against the covid-19 virus.

“We are advising you to use digital payment methods like mobile banking and debit and credit cards instead of cash as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus outbreak,” the ministry said in a press release.

April 29

Barclays suffers 42% drop in profit, takes £2.1bn credit impairment charge

The British bank has reported a 42% fall in first-quarter net profit year-on-year and decided to take a £2.1bn credit impairment write-off in as covid-19 takes a mounting toll.

Barclay’s net profit attributable to shareholders was £605m for the first three months of the year, down from £1.04bn for the same period last year. The lender has set aside £2.1bn to cover defaults across the economy and joined its peers in warning of tough times ahead.

April 28

Strong wealth performance drives profit surge at UBS despite Covid-19

UBS has posted a 40% jump in Q1 2020 net profit driven by increased trading volumes amid the market volatility caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, even as it lifted credit loss expenses.

Japan: covid-19 boosts card payments, lowers ATM withdrawals

The number of card payments in Japan will grow by 2.6% in 2020 and ATM withdrawals will shrink by 5.5% at the same time, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Public concerns that the virus can spread through the handling of cash are pushing digital payments transaction value and volume among consumers and merchants. The same fears are driving customers away from cash transactions and ATMs, according to research from Global Data.

April 27

British Friendly launches underwriting initiatives for Covid-19

British Friendly has made three changes to its underwriting processes in order to help advisers during Covid-19.

The three changes are:

  • Withdrawal of non-medical limits;
  • Introduction of “Little T” tele-interviewing, and
  • Introduction of virtual screenings.

Lombard International Assurance launches distance selling process

Lombard International Assurance has launched a distance selling process to provide support during Covid-19.

The solution is available across the firm’s 12 markets in Europe.

In addition, it is part of the company’s enhanced business continuity and servicing plans. This is a result of Lombard International Assurance’s network of brokers, agents, asset managers, private and custodian banks, family officer and wealth advisers are working remotely.

Metro bank to pay customers £10.5m in overdraft fee refund

Nearly 13,000 Metro bank customers are set to receive more than £10.5m in refund after the bank failed to warn them about charges it imposed on unarranged overdraft.

The London-based challenger bank has pledged to make the refund for failing to send timely text messages warning customers about unarranged overdraft charges, as required under a legal order.

April 24

Vitality launches campaign to aid members and advisers during Covid-19

Vitality has announced a new campaign to support members and advisers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The campaign has two segments:

  • A well being campaign, and
  • A Vitality Adviser Speaker Series.

The wellbeing campaign features Vitality Ambassadors such as Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill, rugby player Jonny Wilkinson, and ex England netball coach Tracey Neville.

Confusion reigns as card issuers, airlines face $35b refund tidal wave

Credit card and airline companies are reeling from an unprecedented $35bn in refunds for covid-19 tickets cancellations, causing bewilderment among frustrated customers.

Many airlines are pushing back on customers’ demand for refund, claiming they have yet to receive the required cash from the credit card companies that process airline payments.

April 23

Profits rise for Credit Suisse in Q1 2020 despite Covid-19

Credit Suisse recorded CHF1.2bn ($1.23bn) of pre-tax income in Q1 2020, a 13% rise year-on-year, despite the challenge of Covid-19.

However, this was aided by the gain from the second and final closing of the InvestLab funds platform transfer to Allfunds Group. Without this deal, pre-tax income would have totalled CHF951m, an 11% decrease from the same point in 2019.

In addition, net income hit CHF1.3bn for Credit Suisse in Q1 2020, up 75% year-on-year. Net revenues also increased, by 7%, to reach CHF5.8bn in the same time span.

Despite decent results, the Credit Suisse board of directors decided to revise its dividend proposal for its AGM on April 30 2020.

UK’s chief banking regulator urges “fair” lending amid covid-19

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Britain’s regulator of the financial services industry, says banks must be impartial in how they handle the rollout of the government’s bailout loan scheme.

Chris Woolard, interim chief executive of the FCA, has written to the chief executives of the banks reminding them of their responsibility to ensure lending decisions remain fair

Temenos launches Explainable AI solution to help banks support SMEs

Temenos has launched Explainable AI (XAI) models to enable banks to rapidly offer loans to SMEs during the COVID-19 crisis.

This comes as businesses have seen their cash flow disrupted due to strict social distancing measures. Temenos’ aim is to allow banks to accelerate digital onboarding, conduct eligibility checks and process loan applications for SMEs and retail customers.

US banks prioritised “wealthy clients” for SME rescue loans

America’s biggest banks gave preferential treatment to their wealthiest clients as they processed the federal government’s $349bn aid package, officially intended to be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Applications from many small business owners were overlooked by banks intent on serving long-term, wealthy client first, according to some bank employees and financial industry executives.

April 22

 India: digital payments are down nearly a third as covid takes toll

The coronavirus pandemic has knocked down the value of digital transactions processed by leading Indian firms, both online and offline, by an estimated 30% over the past few weeks.

With major payments sectors—including retail, hospitality, and air travel—clobbered by the global pandemic, the coronavirus restrictions have significantly depressed the value of digital transactions.

Health Shield commits to handing profit related to Covid-19 back

Friendly society Health Shield has pledged to pass any unintended profit as a result of Covid-19 back to clients and members.

This includes services such as rebates, future premium decreases or benefit and service enhancements.

Chinese banks’ bad loan ratio to rise again in 2Q

Chinese commercial banks’ non-performing loan (NPL) ratio is expected to continue climbing in the second quarter of this year, albeit at a slower pace.

Data from the Chinese Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) indicates that the NPL ratio (defined as total NPLs over total loans) of the country’s commercial banking sector, currently at 2.04%, is expected to rise in the second quarter.

April 21

Insurtech Branch launches community giveback programme

Columbus-based Branch will give back 15% of monthly insurance premiums in refunds to auto policyholders in response to Covid-19.

The insurtech’s initiative is set to recognise clients’ reduced driving during this time and eases financial burden.

It applies to auto policies in effect during April and May and will be also offered in unique options. Branch policyholders will be able to receive this credit themselves or to help someone that is struggling financially. This is managed through the Branch non-profit entity SafetyNest.

Banks notice a rise in credit card skimming amid covid-19

As consumers everywhere take to online shopping amid coronavirus social distancing and lockdown mandates, cybercriminals are increasingly focusing on the digital crime of credit card skimming.

The rise in credit card skimming is part of the proliferation of cybercrimes in general as fraudsters and organized crime groups seek to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit card skimming is a type of credit card theft where crooks use a small device to steal credit card information in an otherwise legitimate credit or debit card transaction.

Milan selects Soldo prepaid card to distribute emergency aid

The Municipality of Milan has selected Soldo’s prepaid card to distribute emergency aid to vulnerable citizens amid COVID-19.

Soldo Care is a smart payment card that can be used at any merchant which accepts Mastercard payments. Its aim is to provide a faster and more secure way of distributing aid.

US banks struggle with large cash withdrawals amid covid-19

Banks and credit unions across the United States have run low on cash as the coronavirus pandemic prompts customers to make unexpectedly big cash withdrawals.

As covid-19 worries cause large numbers of customers to withdraw huge amounts of cash at the same time, banks and regulators are beginning to fear a bank run.

April 20

WH Ireland confirms interest in Cantor Fitzgerald

In an official announcement, the WH Ireland Group has confirmed it is in discussion with Cantor Fitzgerald Europe over a possible acquisition.

In addition, Cantor Fitzgerald has decided to trim employee headcount to save costs in the face of a downward trajectory in the economy caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Banks can help, but many cardholders are unaware help is an option

While banks, lenders, and credit card issuers are offering assistance, many customers who have been financially affected by the coronavirus do not realise they can ask for help.

Most customers who request relief from their banks right now get it easily, but too many borrowers don’t believe they can get support from their lenders.

Banks run out of loan money, leaving US small businesses hanging

The US government’s $349bn emergency small business lending program has officially tapped out, leaving small business owners waiting in line as Congress scrambles to come up with more funding.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has run out of money for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to a message the agency has issued to lenders. Legislative negotiations have yet to produce a way to replenish the money.

Insurtech Alan adds €50m funding

France-based insurtech Alan has raised €50m ($54.3m) in a Series C investment round and has launched services in response to Covid-19.

The round was led by Temasek, a global investment company out of Singapore. It also included existing investors such as Index Ventures. Total funding for Alan has now reached €125m.

April 17

Schroders CEO to donate quarter of salary to Covid-19 relief efforts

Schroders group CEO Peter Harrison and executive directors have agreed to donate a quarter of their annual salary and 2020 long-term incentive plan awards for three months to charities working to combat the Covid-19 crisis.

At the same time, the firm’s chairman and non-executive directors will donate 25% of their fees for three months for Covid-19 related causes.

The fund manager also introduced a scheme to enable its staff to voluntarily donate up to 25% of three months’ salary.

UK: new rules helping covid-hit credit card holders take effect

New measures designed to help credit card holders and debtors that are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic will take effect today at banks including HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, Santander and Nationwide.

The consumer-debt relief measures mandated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will allow people with outstanding credit card bills or personal loans to freeze payments for up to three months.

April 16

COVID-19 will accelerate the digitalisation of the insurance value chain

COVID-19 will have significant impacts across the insurance value chain. However, not all of these will be detrimental, with some creating opportunities to further the digitalisation of current processes.

COVID-19 will drive demand for pandemic insurance as major sport events get cancelled

The global spread of coronavirus has led to deferments and cancellations of major 2020 sport events around the globe. Most sport events are not covered for losses arising as a result of pandemics, but coronavirus will bring demand for this type of niche insurance out of the shadows.

VitalityLife reduces premium for those affected by Covid-19

VitalityLife has announced that members experiencing financial difficulty due to Covid-19 can reduce their monthly premiums.

This will also have a proportional reduction in cover. VitalityLife members can reduced their premiums by 25%, 50% or 75% with cover reduced by the same percentage. In addition, this option applies to all VitalityLife policies.

Covid-19 crisis defers Tilney and Smith & Williamson merger

The merger between Tilney and Smith & Williamson has been postponed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and ongoing talks with the Financial Conduct Authority about the deal’s revised structure.

The consolidation, under the revised structure, is anticipated to close in the second half of this year.

Originally, the merger was expected to be finalised on 16 April 2020.

Goldman Sachs profit almost halves on increased credit provisions

The Covid-19 pandemic has dampened the performance of Goldman Sachs in Q1 2020, with its profit plunging 46% year-on-year.

The hardest hit was the asset management unit, offset by strong results in the trading arm.

Banks face a flood of covid-related credit card defaults

Banks are bracing for billions in credit card losses as cash-strapped customers struggle with rising unemployment and salary cuts during a devastating coronavirus pandemic.

Across the globe credit card lenders are grappling with a surge in calls from suddenly unemployed borrowers pleading for relief. Experts warn that card issuers can expect more delinquencies as the economic outlook worsens.

April 15

Wells Fargo wealth unit profit slips amid Covid-19 market turmoil

The Wells Fargo wealth and investment management (WIM) arm reported assets bleed and fall in profit in Q1 2020 as it was hit by the market turmoil triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite that, the division remained the most profitable unit of the bank’s three units.

The WIM unit registered a net income of $463m in Q1 2020. This was a 20% slump from $577m in the prior year.

JPMorgan wealth income remains flat; reserve build hits group profit

As the market is hit by the Covid-19 crisis, JPMorgan asset and wealth management division became the only one of the bank’s four units to withstand the shock caused by the pandemic in Q1 2020.

The unit’s net income remained stable at $664m in Q1 2020.

Taiwan banks to get more stimulus funds as epidemic goes on

The Taiwanese government has made available an additional $1.33bn, on top of the previous $2bn (T$60bn) package, to stimulate the island’s economy.

The new aid package follows a warning by the central bank that the coronavirus epidemic will have a longer and stronger impact than it had previously anticipated.

FCA: most UK firms do not have Covid-19 coverage

In an open letter from Christopher Woolard, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), most firms in the UK are not covered for Covid-19 on their insurance.

The letter said: “Based on our conversations with the industry to date, our estimate is that most policies have basic cover, do not cover pandemics and therefore would have no obligation to pay out in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Banks brace for coronavirus recession as profits dive

Big banks are setting aside billions in additional money to get ready for an avalanche of loan defaults as the global pandemic continues to devastate economies.

The world’s largest banks, including JP Morgan, HSBC, and Wells Fargo are anticipating a deep recession as the coronavirus takes an increasing toll on consumers and businesses alike.

April 14

QBE Insurance to raise $825m to counter pandemic crisis

Australia-based QBE Insurance Group is set to raise about $825m to deal with the economic damage caused by coronavirus pandemic.

QBE’s pre-emptive capital raise comes after a strong first quarter for the insurer where it saw gross written premiums rise 9% to $4.53bn.

Chubb lends financial support to small businesses

Chubb has launched a support programme for its small business clients in the US to help ease the financial burden of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will also provide direct support to healthcare workers and other front-line responders.

As part of the programme, the company’s small business clients in the US, whose policies renew between April 1 and August 1 this year, will get an automatic 25% reduction in the sales and payroll exposures used to calculate their premium.

Julius Baer plans split dividend payout amid Covid-19 crisis

Julius Baer has followed the footsteps of its peers by planning to split its 2019 dividend payout of CHF1.50 into two tranches amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bank has now decided to give the first dividend payment instalment of CHF0.75 on 25 May 2020.

US lenders overlook minority-owned businesses in allocating covid-19 aid

As US lenders strive to divvy up the government’s $349bn aid package, Black-owned and other minority-owned businesses are struggling to meet the banks’ requirements.

Thousands of minority-owned businesses—which have traditionally been less likely to secure bank loans—are at risk of being shut out of the government rescue package, as banks favour existing customers.

The aid package, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, could be a lifeline, especially for minority-owned businesses, whose limited resources are quickly depleted as a result of the government-mandated lockdown.

GAM accelerates cost cutting plans amid Covid-19 uncertainty

Swiss asset manager GAM has stepped up its cost cutting initiatives after recording outflows as it gets hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm has now unveiled plans to make at least CHF65m ($67m) in cost cuts by the end of 2020.

This is more than twice the amount of cost cuts originally targeted by the end of this year.

CaixaBank grants €8bn to businesses during Spain’s COVID-19 lockdown

Spain’s CaixaBank has granted €8bn ($8.7bn) to businesses to minimise the economic impact of the country’s coronavirus-induced lockdown.

The bank provided businesses with loans during the period between March 16 and March 31.  Its aim was to drive a speedy recovery of the Spanish economy, by facilitating credit flow and supporting businesses.

The businesses that received support included, large companies, SMEs, self-employed workers and entrepreneurs.

Singapore banks will refuse entry to customers not wearing mask

All customers visiting bank retail branches must now wear face masks to be allowed to enter, the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) has announced.

As part of additional measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, customers are also urged to wear a face mask when queuing up to use even ATMs located outside of banks.

April 9

UBS and Credit Suisse revise dividend payout proposals on regulatory pressure

Swiss banking groups UBS and Credit Suisse have decided to delay paying out a portion of their 2019 dividends after succumbing to regulatory pressure for the same due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

RBS goes ahead with 130 redundancies at investment banking unit

Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) has pushed ahead with its plan to trim the workforce at its loss-making investment banking arm with over 130 redundancies despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fed lifts Wells Fargo’s asset cap so bank can lend to SMEs

The Federal Reserve is modifying the asset cap it has imposed on Wells Fargo so the bank can participate in the government’s business lending programs.

The US central bank said it would ease the limit it had put in place after the bank’s fake account scandal to allow it to make more loans under the government assistance programs for covid-hit small businesses.

Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in the U.S. by assets, making its participation in the lending programs critical.

Tavistock suspends dividend due to Covid-19 uncertainty

Tavistock Investments has decided to suspend its dividend to protect its financial position amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm will also carry out a strategic review in order to make cost cuts.

To navigate the crisis, the firm’s executive team members agreed to take pay cuts.

BOA to hold annual meeting virtually due to covid-19

Bank of America will host its 2020 annual meeting of shareholders via a live webcast due to public health concerns resulting from the coronavirus.

America’s second largest bank by total assets said the pandemic and the related protocols that federal, state, and local governments have implemented have forced the bank to hold this year’s meeting remotely.

“The webcast will allow all shareholders to join the meeting, regardless of location. As with an in-person meeting, you will be able to vote and ask questions during the meeting,” the bank said.

April 8

COVID-19 will result in more life insurance claims

Coronavirus is posing challenges across multiple industries. The virus, which continues to spread around the globe, is putting healthcare systems under pressure and claiming lives. As the number of deceased continues to rise, beneficiaries will look into making life insurance claims.

There is a significant variation in the uptake of life insurance policies at a country level. In the five countries with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases – the US, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany – the proportion of respondents indicating that they had life insurance in place ranged from between 38% (Germany) and 57% (France), according to GlobalData’s 2019 Global Banking and Payments Survey.

COVID-19 set to have a lasting effect on the Australian retail investment market

A steep rise in market volatility and a drop in equity prices are causing a flight to safety as risk aversion is on the rise. Evidence of due diligence and positive word of mouth will be paramount to entice Australian investors back into riskier investment products in order to combat falling fee income.

Nucleus suspends 2019 dividend due to Covid-19

Wrap platform provider Nucleus has decided to postpone its 2019 final dividend despite earnings growth to preserve funds amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nucleus founder and CEO David Ferguson said: “In light of the Covid-19 situation, the board has taken the prudent decision not to recommend a dividend until there is more certainty around the term and impact on markets, investor confidence and revenue.

COVID-19 will drive growth of on-demand and usage-based insurance policies

Young adults will be one of the worst-affected groups financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Non-essential expenditures, like some insurance policies, are likely to be disposable in order to safeguard money for indispensable expenses like groceries and house bills.

Those in this demographic entering the workforce will typically have lower salaries and will also have had less time to start building savings. 48.2% of 18–24-year-olds have less than £1,000 in their savings account, according to GlobalData’s 2019 UK Life & Pensions Survey. 58.3% have an average monthly balance of less than £1,000 in their current accounts.

 Bank bosses take pay cut to “share the pain” of covid-19

The heads of Britain’s Barclays and Spain’s Banco Sabadell are the latest European bank captains to sacrifice part of their salaries as a gesture of compassion and solidarity in the face of the widespread misery unleashed by the global pandemic.

Barclays said Chief Executive Jes Staley, Chairman Nigel Higgins and Chief Financial Officer Tushar Morzaria would all donate a third of their fixed pay for the next six months. The money will go into a new £100m community aid fund launched by the bank.

Sabadell and its British subsidiary TSB said that senior management of both banks would give up their bonus awards for 2020. This will allow the banks to better reward junior staff who are helping customers deal with the virus.

“It is an act of responsibility at a time when all of us need to act with the utmost commitment and solidarity,” Sabadell chairman Josep Oliu said.

NatWest scrambling to keep up with calls for emergency loans

The UK’s biggest business lender is receiving nearly 10 times as many calls as usual from ailing firms vying to take out emergency loans amid a ruinous pandemic.

NatWest chief executive Alison Rose said that although some of the money was beginning to get through, lenders were facing operational challenges in delivering the unprecedented financial assistance programmes.

“Our call centres normally take 3,000 calls a day; we are now receiving 25,000 which is why I’m redeploying staff, retraining staff and getting people to help,” she said.

April 7

Singapore loosens the leash on banks grappling with covid-19

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the island’s central bank and financial regulator, is allowing banks to adjust their capital and liquidity buffers to support lending activities.

MAS will begin to adjust certain regulatory requirements and supervisory programmes to help banks and other financial firms cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The new rules will enable banks to recognise their regulatory loss allowance as capital, until 30 September.

Wells Fargo slashes home loan products amid coronavirus crisis

Wells Fargo has decided to offer fewer mortgage products as the coronavirus-fuelled economic downturn puts increasing pressure on America’s largest mortgage lender’s balance sheet.

The bank will temporarily discontinue several types of loans including cash-out refinance loans, most home equity loans above $250,000, and riskier non-conforming purchase loans. Any application for those loans will now be automatically declined.

NFU Mutual launches £32m Coronavirus Support Package

Rural insurer NFU Mutual has announced a £32m ($39.4m) support package for customers and communities affected by coronavirus.

The package includes £24m worth of changes to insurance by including additional cover across a range of policies. This is expected to provide £12m worth of pay-outs for members affected by the illness in 2020.

April 6

Van Lanschot Kempen suspends 2019 dividend due to Covid-19

Dutch wealth manager Van Lanschot Kempen has agreed to postpone 2019 dividend for its shareholders to support the economy amid the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm now expects to pay out the 2019 dividend to at least 1 October 2020.

Trump’s SMEs lending programme crippled by system failure

The $350bn small business loan programme launched in the US has been hamstrung by a host of technical glitches preventing thousands of applicants from receiving any money.

The lending program—a part of the $2tn Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act—has been disabled by a system malfunction that blocks lenders from processing the loan applications.

The programme offers loans of up to $10 million to companies with fewer than 500 employees. For businesses that meet certain conditions (such as using the bulk of the money to pay workers’ salaries during the eight weeks following the loan closing) the loans are forgiven.

Visa commits $210m to support small businesses during COVID-19

The Visa Foundation has announced the commitment of two programmes totalling $210m to support small and micro businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The first programme of $10m will fund immediate emergency relief efforts to support charitable organisations on the frontlines of the pandemic. Additionally, the second programme is a five-year, strategic $200m commitment to support small and micro businesses around the world. Its focus is on fostering women’s economic advancement.

Coronavirus whips up anxiety about savings accounts

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a ‘significant rise’ in the demand for savings solutions, reveals an independent financial advisory organisations.

With millions of people facing financial strains, whether from losing income or seeing their retirement savings plunge, the deVere Group reports a jump of 28 per cent in enquiries about savings plans in March.

April 3

 Coronavirus relief measures hit Singapore banking profits

The raft of financial support measures for businesses and consumers announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) threaten to reduce the revenue of the island’s three largest banks by up to 18% in 2020.

The deferred payments and rate cuts on mortgage and personal loans included in Singapore’s coronavirus relief measures could cost United Overseas Bank 18% in lost revenue. Singapore’s longest-established bank OCBC could lose 16%.

Revenue for the Development Bank of Singapore, the largest bank in the city-state and the whole of South-East Asia, could fall by 14% this year.

WH Ireland warns of loss due to Covid-19

Wealth manager WH Ireland has forecast operating loss before exceptional items of £2.2m ($2.7m) for the year to March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm also predicted a 10% fall in revenue to £21.3m from £23.7m.

Corporate client wins in Corporate and Institutional Broking and re-pricing actions in Wealth Management is said to have driven positive momentum at the firm across the year.

UK: banks scrap dividends, bonuses to lend to clients in pandemic

Large British banks have decided not to pay shareholders nearly £8bn worth of dividends, and to cancel cash bonuses, in order to use the money to support lending in the economy.

The banks will use capital where it is needed most—to fund cashflow, overdrafts, and credit lines to clients—as the worldwide pandemic continues to wreak havoc on businesses and consumers across the economy.

The move, which some banks had been considering, got a boost from Sam Woods, deputy governor of the Bank of England.

Wills and lasting powers of attorneys in the time of coronavirus

At a time when health services are facing unprecedented pressures, medics around the world are urging people to make sure they have made their wishes known regarding medical treatment. Boris Johnson’s recent warning to the public that we should be prepared to lose loved ones to coronavirus has kick started discussions about death and end of life care; topics we naturally shy away from.

EFG International retains dividend distribution plan amid Covid-19

Swiss private banking group EFG International will propose a dividend of CHF0.30 ($0.31) per share at its annual general meeting (AGM) despite regulatory pressure to curb the same in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is unchanged from the dividend distributed in the prior year,” the bank stated.

Close Brothers Group halts interim dividend due to Covid-19

British asset manager Close Brothers Group is suspending its 2020 interim dividend to support businesses and individuals during the crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The dividend was originally scheduled to be distributed on the 22nd of this month.

April 2

Revised e-commerce growth shows COVID-19 is shaping consumer behaviour

As early economic data starts rolling in regarding the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear to everybody that one of the industries which will benefit the most is e-commerce. GlobalData Financial Services writes

Global lockdown measures are aggressively changing consumer behaviour and forcing people to use online shopping a lot more.

Buy Now, Pay Later facing hard times with the COVID-19 pandemic

The dramatic and sudden share price decline of Afterpay, Australia’s premier buy now, pay later (BNPL) brand, highlights the damaging impact of COVID-19 on the BNPL business model and the potentially long-lasting ramifications. GlobalData Financial Services writes

Aetna International introduces waiver for deductibles for Covid-19 related cases

Aetna International has announced that it will be waiving deductibles for inpatient hospital admissions related to Covid-19.

This is part of several steps Aetna has introduced to aid international medical insurance members access care during the coronavirus pandemic.

FCA proposes three-month payment freeze on consumer credit products

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today proposed targeted temporary measures to support users of consumer credit products facing financial difficulty due to COVID-19.

The package is intended to complement measures already announced by the government. Furthermore, it aims to support mortgage holders and renters, furloughed employees and the self-employed.

US banks may boycott small-business relief plan on liability fears

Several US banks have warned they will find it hard to take part in the government’s small-business rescue programme, arguing that the onus of hurriedly vetting loan applicants could expose them to legal liabilities.

The banks fear a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation: by performing their due diligence the way they normally would, they will get blamed for not allocating funds fast enough. But hastily qualifying loan seekers (as many expect and lawmakers demand) could expose them to potential legal costs or regulatory penalties.

April 1

Pascal introduces technology bundle to support advisers amid Covid-19

Wealthtech firm Pascal Financial has rolled out a technology bundle to enable advisers to engage with clients remotely amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

Dubbed Prevail by Pascal, the new proposition is aimed at eliminating the hurdles caused by the cancellation of face-to-face meetings amid the pandemic.

BoA hired 2,000 workers in March, will not layoff in 2020

Bank of America, which hired over 2,000 new employees in March alone, says it will not be doing any layoffs or job reductions in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

While many companies in the US and everywhere are getting ready for layoffs and hiring freezes, America’s second largest bank launched a hiring spree last month and also raised U.S. minimum hourly wages to $20.

EU regulator calls for conservative bank bonuses amid Covid-19

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has urged banks to adopt a conservative approach during awarding of bonuses, if not stopping them completely, to withstand the economic shock arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Credit Suisse mulls 2020 bonus cut due to Covid-19

Credit Suisse CEO Thomas Gottstein has said that the bank is likely to curb bonuses this year amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“It is a bit early to talk about 2020 bonuses but we are certainly thinking in the direction that we want to show solidarity,” Gottstein told Swiss broadcaster SRF’s Eco programme.

India orders banks to stay open during coronavirus lockdown

The Indian government has directed that banks are essential services that must remain operational during the three-week coronavirus lockdown.

The directive is to ensure, among other things, that welfare cash schemes that are part of a $22.6bn stimulus reach the poor, the government said.

On 24 March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the world’s largest lockdown on, asking 1.3 billion Indians to stay home for 21 days to slow the spread of COVID-19. Essential businesses such as groceries, pharmacies, and delivery services are exempt.

Starling launches COVID-19 support scheme, waiving overdraft interest charges

Digital challenger Starling has introduced a coronavirus support scheme, offering a three-month overdraft interest holiday for those struggling financially.

Customers can apply for the three-month interest holiday starting from April 1 2020. During the interest holiday, the bank will waive all interest charges on arranged overdrafts.

March 31

Coronavirus and volatility top concerns of RIAs

RIAs in the US are most worried about volatility and coronavirus (Covid-19) while their trade woes are on the wane, finds a survey by E*TRADE Advisor Services.

E*TRADE’s recent Independent Advisor Tracking study polled 225 independent registered investment advisers.

Mastercard-sponsored COVID-19 research group grants $20m to fund clinical trials

A Mastercard-sponsored organisation the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator has granted $20m to fund clinical trials during the coronavirus outbreak.

Researchers at three institutions – the University of Washington,  the University of Oxford, and La Jolla Institute for Immunology – received the funding to hold clinical trials and identify immunotherapies for COVID-19.

EU postpones new capital rules to help coronavirus lending

The European Union has decided to delay tough new capital requirements for banks in order to encourage business and consumer lending during the coronavirus crisis.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Europe’s financial regulation chief, says support for lending remains the overriding priority in the fight against the worldwide pandemic. He said stricter standards that would force banks to raise additional equity would be ill-advised at this time.

UBS to conduct annual general meeting online due to Covid-19

Swiss banking group UBS has decided to hold a digital annual general meeting (AGM) for shareholders on April 29 instead of a physical meeting due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The AGM will be broadcast in two languages – English as well as German.

The move comes after the Swiss government banned the gathering of groups of more than five people in the country to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

JPMorgan seeks up to $10bn for alternative investments amid Covid-19

The alternative investments arm of JPMorgan Chase is planning to secure up to $10bn in funding to navigate the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

March 30

E-commerce growth caused by COVID-19 is too much too soon

The COVID-19 outbreak – and the lockdowns that have been imposed worldwide to delay and contain it – has put sudden and unexpected demand on the e-commerce market, and the limitations of logistics and supply are constraining its growth potential. GlobalData Financial Services writes

Mattioli Woods CEO foregoes salary to control costs amid Covid-19

Mattioli Woods chief Ian Mattioli has decided to give up his salary completely until this June to protect the company’s financial position during the crisis triggered by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Besides, the company’s board members agreed to reduce their basic salaries by half for the next three months.

Hong Kong watchdog steps up scrutiny of fund managers amid Covid-19

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has urged fund managers to look after their clients’ interests amid the uncertain market conditions caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The regulator will increase its monitoring of SFC-authorised funds in the present scenario.

SFC also wants early warning of material issues impacting the market participants.

Coronavirus drives up fintech app use by 72% in one week

Coronavirus-triggered social distancing, isolation and lockdowns have driven-up the use of financial apps in Europe by 72% in a week.

The sharp increase in the use of financial technology comes as the world readjusts to life fighting against the global health crisis and economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

ICICI Bank launches WhatsApp banking services 

ICICI Bank has launched banking services on WhatsApp, allowing customers to make banking decisions from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement comes after India became the latest country to adopt a nationwide lockdown to fight against COVID-19.

Experts, businesses blast banks for coronavirus loan handling

Critics claim Banks have been asking small businesses either for personal guarantees to qualify for the government Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan or directing them towards standard loans with high interest rates.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) was designed to provide financial support to smaller businesses (SMEs) across the UK that are losing revenue, and seeing their cashflow disrupted, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Covid-19 pandemic impacts VP Bank loan portfolio

VP Bank Group, a Liechtenstein-based private bank, has said that that the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is “leaving a mark” on its loan portfolio.

The pandemic calls for a larger valuation adjustment to an individual position of around CHF20m, noted the bank.

Home insurers must be more flexible to retain customers amid changing circumstances

Consumers will be looking to make savings in any way possible with job losses and wage reductions soaring, and cancelling insurance policies could be one approach they take as circumstances change. Insurers will need to be wary that traditional policies and covers may be less relevant in these unprecedented times.

March 27

RBI cuts rate, suspends debt payments to offer coronavirus reprieve

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has initiated a host of measures aimed at minimising the damage from covid 19.

The Indian central bank announced the stimulative measures just hours after Moody’s Investors Services slashed India’s growth for 2020 from 5.3% to 2.5%.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided by a 4-to-2 majority to reduce the benchmark policy interest rate (repo rate) by 75 basis points to 4.4%.

Amex launches donation matching programme during COVID-19

American Express has launched a donation matching programme to help local communities in the US impacted by COVID-19.

Through Amex’s Membership Rewards programme, card members can use their points towards a donation to Feeding America through JustGiving.com. Amex will match the dollar amount of each donation – up to $1m in total donations.

Singapore has set up a US$60bn coronavirus crisis fund for banks

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has pledged to provide up to UD$60bn to support more stable USD funding conditions in the city-state and island country.

The new MAS US-dollar funding facility will aim to facilitate lending to businesses in the country and the region. The move will contribute to global efforts by central banks to maintain stability and normal functioning of financial markets.

Bought By Many announces extension cover amid Covid-19 outbreak

Bought By Many has announced that customers will not invalidate their cover if they are unable to attend regular vet check-ups and appointments due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The insurance provider requires that pets have annual check-ups a dental check-up every 12 months and vaccinations.

March 26

“Digital dollars” get big push amid coronavirus crisis

Separate bills in the US House of Representatives and Senate propose creating so-called digital dollars and the accounts that would hold them, in order to blunt the shock of the coronavirus shutdown.

Supporters of the legislation claim the Fed digital dollar accounts would help speed up payments to households that need support. They say the US government currently lacks adequate infrastructure to distribute coronavirus-related payments as widely as needed.

Revolut partners with Trussell Trust food banks to support vulnerable

Banking fintech Revolut has partnered with the Trussell Trust food network to support vulnerable families during COVID-19.

Revolut has added an in-app donation button, allowing customers to round up any spare change and donate the difference. Customers can also set up a recurring payment of any amount, or make a one-off donation.

Coronavirus: banks scale back retail operations in US

Large banks have begun to cut back on their retail operations in the US, in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus while keeping critical banking services like accessing deposits available to customers.

Citigroup is latest bank to announce widespread branch closures, temporarily shuttering up to 15% of its U.S. branches amid the coronavirus outbreak.

AMP withdraws 2020 earnings forecast amid Covid-19

Australian investment manager AMP has withdrawn its outlook for 2020 due to the market turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the firm stressed that its capital position and liquidity continue to be strong.

UK wealth managers must focus equity investors on the long term

The coronavirus pandemic has been the catalyst for global stock markets to crash. Declines in the FTSE 100 are mirroring the 2008 financial crash and wealth managers will be put to the test this year. But modelling from the global financial crisis and forecasts for 2021 suggest a bounce back in 2021, particularly for those that can stay invested in the market.

March 25

NPCI urges Indians to use digital payments to halt spread of COVID-19

The National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) has urged Indians to use digital payments to reduce social contact, minimising the spread of COVID-19.

Through social media, NCPI has ran a campaign over the past few days encouraging people to make digital payments. It is also urging users to make UPI (unified payment interface) payments.

FCA urges banks to ease access to cash amid coronavirus

The UK financial watchdog is encouraging banks to take steps to facilitate consumer access to cash–such as waiving fees for individual savings accounts (ISAs) and allowing customers to end their term deposits early.

“We are working with the Bank of England and the Payment Systems Regulator to understand problems consumers may have accessing cash, and ensure the UK learns the lessons from other countries’ experience of coronavirus,” the FCA says.

France to launch a €5bn stimulus package for start-ups

President Macron secures a €5bn investment to help the country’s start-ups survive the coronavirus pandemic and maintain cash levels in between their fundraising.

French insurers and asset managers have pledged €5bn in investment for home-grown tech firms. The undertaking is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s push to nurture France’s fledgling start-ups into a cohort of highly valued heavyweights

CaixaBank cancels rent and launches online support initiative amid COVID-19

CaixaBank has launched a number of initiatives to support its customers and community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the initiatives, CaixaBank has cancelled rent payments on the homes it owns and launched an online volunteering programme to support the vulnerable. The two initiatives are part of the bank’s #WithYouMoreThanEver programme.

UK’s £330bn rescue package not enough, businesses warn

The government support package designed to help fight the economic impact of coronavirus—which includes £330bn in loans—is the biggest intervention in private sector business since the Second World War.

But if it doesn’t hit the target it’s of limited use, critics have argued.

Australia’s COVID-19 recession will heavily impact banks

The medical effects of COVID-19 on Australia are still building, with caseloads rising and likely to continue doing so for some time. GlobalData examines the effects of the global financial crisis (GFC) for clues as to the impact on banks and the financial health of the nation, with implications not just for Australian banks but all mature banking markets facing down a COVID-19 recession. While still early days, indicators are that short-term bank profits will plummet, loan growths will stall, impaired loans will begin to rise, and the industry will see further consolidation.

March 24

US to ban overdraft fees during coronavirus pandemic

Former presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have introduced a bill that would bar banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions from charging overdraft fees until the coronavirus crisis is over.

The two lawmakers are pushing for the measure to be included in the federal relief package that is currently pending in the US Senate.

US banks call for deregulation to combat coronavirus

America’s biggest banks have asked the federal government to give them some regulatory relief to better enable them to weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bank Policy Institute, an advocacy group representing America’s leading banks, would like to see lower capital requirements and the easing of banks’ periodic stress tests.

Is coronavirus leading to more financial crime?

With the Covid-19 outbreak, there are a number of factors of which financial institutions, including private banks, need to be wary. Financial crime and cyber crime is something that could very feasibly spike in the time of coronavirus. The CEO of ThetaRay comments.

BNY Mellon changes stockholder meeting into a virtual conference

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BNY Mellon) has announced that due to coronavirus, the location of its stockholder meeting will be moved online.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the annual meeting will be held solely by remote communication in a virtual only format.

UBS: Pound ground down, but should rebound from coronavirus

Coronavirus has truly arrived in the UK with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson all but announcing an absolute lockdown. People are expecting coronavirus to have a huge affect on the pound, but UBS believes that it will be rough, but it will recover.

March 23

UK banks say they will survive coronavirus

After decades of rising capital requirements, UK banks are confident that their balance sheets are strong enough to withstand the hit of coronavirus, Britain’s big lenders tell investors.

The underlying health of Britain’s financial system is sound, senior bank executives say, and the supporting measures introduced by the Bank of England over the past two weeks gives them greater assurance.

Coronavirus: JPMorgan to pay $1000 bonus to frontline workers

After closing 1,000 of its roughly 5,000 branches this week, JPMorgan Chase has decided to reward its front-line employees for their efforts amid the flu-like pandemic. Employees will get the one-time payment in two $500 instalments to be paid out in April and May.

All full- and part-time staff who have to do their jobs from an office or branch, and who make less than $60,000 a year or are based at a consumer banking branch, are eligible to receive the payments.

FCA asks firms to delay results announcements due to Covid-19

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has written to companies planning to release results and asked them to delay the publications.

All firms planning to release results in the next few days have been recommended to observe a moratorium for at least two weeks, due to complications arising from coronavirus.

South Africa’s Investec estimates up to 23% hit on profit

South Africa’s Investec has said that it anticipates an up to 23% hit on its annual profits due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The wealth management group, which is already affected due to dull growth in South Africa, said that the outbreak will significantly impact the fourth quarter performance.

ASIC evolves regulatory priorities due to Covid-19 challenges

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has recalibrated regulatory priorities to address the challenges posed by Covid-19 outbreak.

The move includes suspending activities which are not time-critical as well as halting enhanced on-site supervisory work.

The regulator will focus on time-critical matters, violations and addressing risks to market integrity and consumers.

The coronavirus pandemic will leave the most adventurous investors worse off in 2020

Global economies are collapsing due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the number of cases continues rising globally, forcing governments to take strict action, markets where investors lean heavily on stock market-driven investments will suffer the most.

As of March 23, the number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 330,000, predominantly in China but increasingly in Europe and the Americas as well. Unfortunately, only a small number of countries have been able to avoid the medical tragedy, and none will be able to avoid the brutal economic impact of this pandemic, meaning a global recession is now on the cards. However, the composition of each market’s retail investment portfolio will shape the initial impact and determine how wealth managers should react.

Covid-19 pandemic: Quilter supports NET coronavirus appeal

British wealth manager Quilter has donated £100,000 ($116,000) to the National Emergencies Trust (NET) coronavirus appeal through its charity foundation.

The NET was launched by Prince William in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

With this donation, Quilter seeks to encourage other industry stakeholders to contribute to the fund.

Uinsure partners with financial tech teams to support remote working

Uinsure has partnered with financial tech businesses eKeeper group, 360dotnet, Twenty7Tech and Iress to support businesses struggling with remote working. They will also promote their online presence during the Covid-19 pandemic.

March 20

Washington Trust announces Covid-19 measures

Washington Trust, a firm that focuses on retail banking and wealth management, has revealed its Covid-19 initiatives.

To ensure the health, safety, and well-being of its employees, customers, and community, the bank has revealed a number of measures.

Coronavirus: Aussie banks announce SME relief package

Australian banks will defer loan repayments for small businesses affected by COVID-19 for six months.

Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh today announced a small business relief package from Australia’s banks.

Bank of America to give $100m for coronavirus relief

As the world faces unprecedented challenges for the worldwide epidemic, America’s second largest bank said the donation will provide support to the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Specifically, the funds will help increase medical response capacity, address food insecurity, and increase access to learning as a result of school closures.

Goldman Sachs Hong Kong employee listed as highly probable Covid-19 case

Goldman Sachs has closed two floors in Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Center office and asked the employees there to work from home after one of them was suspected of having coronavirus (Covid-19).

The employee, suspected of being a “highly probable” Covid-19 case, is part of the bank’s Investment Banking Division (IBD) and worked on the 60th floor of the office.

March 19

Credit card summary: which issuers are offering relief to ease COVID-19?

As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, credit card companies are offering relief by waiving fees and allowing customers to skip payments.

Big US banks halt stock buybacks to lend to customers

Faced with the growing financial distress of their individual and business clients, the banks are shifting their immediate priority from repurchasing their own stocks to extending loans to their customers.

According to the Financial Services Forum, an industry trade group, eight members would halt share buybacks through 30 June.

Credit Suisse positive about Q1 performance despite Covid-19

Swiss banking group Credit Suisse has said that its Q1 2020 profit has improved so far in spite of the turbulent market conditions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The firm revealed that its return on tangible equity exceeds 10% for the first two months of 2020.

HSBC seeks three-fold growth in Greater China billionaire client headcount

HSBC is looking to increase the number of Greater China billionaire customers by three-fold over the next three years. This is set to instil confidence into an economy grappling with uncertainties caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Aetna provides fee access to virtual health care during COVID-19

Aetna International will provide all its members with free access to its virtual health offering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The solution, vHealth, is being distributed to help ensure continuous access to health care in the middle of the outbreak.

March 18

City of London’s biggest banks take on coronavirus

Many of the City of London’s biggest institutions are taking decisive action to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

London banks are ramping up their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The flurry of new measures by some of the world’s biggest banks comes in the wake of events that took place at HSBC a couple of weeks ago.

UK SMEs lack programmes to help combat mental health issues amid coronavirus pandemic

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 180,000 people across the globe, with over 1,500 confirmed cases in the UK. Coronavirus will have a direct impact on the population’s physical health over the coming months, but people’s mental health will also suffer.

In an effort to minimise the spread of the virus, the UK government has encouraged social distancing practices, including avoiding pubs and theatres, while also encouraging people to work from home where possible. While these measures are important in reducing the spread of the disease, minimal social interaction could have an impact on someone’s mental health and wellbeing during this time.

COVID-19 Canada: Big 6 banks join together with relief plan

Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank and TD Bank are working together to provide financial relief to Canadians impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19.

At the same time, the country’s major banks will temporarily close a number of bank branches to support industry-wide social distancing.

ING takes measures to tackle spread of coronavirus 

ING has taken steps to ensure the wellbeing of employees and the continued support of  customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Initial precautionary measures include guidance on hygiene, the provision of hand sanitisers in ING buildings, and additional cleaning of offices. The Dutch bank has also deferred all business and travel meetings, unless absolutely critical.

Furthermore, ING has split its operations meaning that some staff are working from home or remote locations.

March 17

COVID-19 is a blessing and a curse for e-commerce 

Pandemics are not unusual in human history and COVID-19 will most likely not be the last one. However, it is one of the few – and the farthest-reaching – to have developed in our age of digital consumer capitalism.

As governments urge consumers to self-isolate at home for the forseeable future, people are shifting their purchases to e-commerce services. GlobalData Financial Services writes

Payments: coronavirus claims its first victim, Finablr

As the coronavirus continues its rampage across the financial markets, Finablr, the owner of Travelex, has asked advisers to prepare for a possible insolvency, paving the way for the end of a company worth more than £1bn last year.

Reeling from the shock of the fast-spreading pandemic, the cash-strapped Finablr is considering insolvency as a solution to its financial distress.

The company says its board has engaged an accounting firm “to undertake rapid contingency planning for a potential insolvency appointment” with a view to maximising value in the group.

deVere launches free Coronavirus Contactless Advice service

Financial advisory organisation deVere has launched contactless financial advice as social distancing has accelerated globally.

The deVerve group, which operates in over 100 countries worldwide, is launching its Contactless Advice service with immediate effect.

The advice follows the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday, recommending the nation to avoid “unnecessary” social contact where possible.

Coronavirus: banks nudge customers towards online banking

Banks are increasingly encouraging the use of their online and mobile banking, as more customers are seeking ways to avoid public places amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Several banks have sent reminders to customers touting their digital banking facilities and urging customers to use them.

Covid-19 could force millions in Europe to adopt digital channels

With Covid-19 sweeping across Europe, governments have acted by enforcing restrictive measures, such as banning gatherings in many public and private spaces.

GlobalData’s 2019 Banking and Payments Survey has found that the European states most affected by the virus have significant numbers of consumers who typically access essential banking services by branch.

March 16

Travel insurance changes due to coronavirus will damage trust throughout insurance in the long term

Findings from GlobalData’s 2019 UK Insurance Consumer Survey indicate that trip cancellation is the second most popular reason to claim on a travel insurance policy. Some insurers have looked to protect themselves from a spike in these claims due to the spread of coronavirus. However, it is unlikely they will get off lightly. Travel insurance is going to receive a lack of trust after coronavirus.

Asia Pacific banks braced for coronavirus with hiring freeze

Banks across the Asia Pacific region appear to have pushed the panic button, closing a record number of job postings due to Covid-19.

GlobalData’s Job Analytics, shows that the start of March saw a spike in listed banking jobs being closed, with over 1,200 closing in one week – more than twice the typical 500. Newly posted jobs were also down to less than 300 positions.

WeSwap urges Britain to shift to card transactions amid growing Covid-19 fears

Matt Crane, MD of WeSwap, said: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to grow everyday. In an attempt to reduce its spread, we are seeing companies promote contactless transactions in lieu of cash payments, which studies suggest are more likely to carry the virus.

“The virus has also had a significant impact to financial markets, affecting the value of the pound against other currencies. Subsequent events, such as the Budget’s response to this crisis, as well as the United State’s travel ban have made exchange rates even more unpredictable.”

Sun Global Investments: coronavirus causing global recession fears

Mihir Kapadia, CEO of Sun Global Investments, said: “European equities are off to another brutal start on Monday, with major markets nosediving at the open. The German DAX is down by more than 6%, the French CAC 40 down by more than 7%, pan European Stoxx 600 down by more than 6% and the UK’s FTSE 100 down more than 7.3%. Travel, retail and leisure sectors are dragging the markets down as business brace for severe impact due to the recent nationwide cancellations and lock-downs.”

Deutsche Bank splits workforce globally amid Coronavirus spread

Deutsche Bank is set to operate globally in split teams in an effort to limit the impact of deadly coronavirus.

Bank of America to help customers impacted by coronavirus

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said his banks is ready to help out customers impacted by the virus outbreak with payments deferrals on mortgages and credit cards.

The head of America’s second largest bank, who met with President Trump last week, said the pandemic is a common enemy that has united the world in a war to defeat the disease. He said the banking industry is ready to do its part.

Covid-19: Irish bank AIB suspends contactless transaction fee

AIB has suspended its earlier decision to impose a fee on contactless card transactions due to coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.

Last week, the bank announced that it will charge one cent per contactless transaction from the end of May 2020.

March 13

Sizing up the coronavirus impact on markets & the economy in Europe

Frédérique Carrier, Head of Investment Strategy, RBC Wealth Management, explains how the markets are shifting in Europe and fiscal stimulus is likely.

Investec scraps NinetyOne stake sale offer due to volatile market

Investec abandoned its plan to offload a 10% stake in its asset management business NinetyOne owing to the hit on stock markets heightened by the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The stake sale offer was part of the listing of NinetyOne.

Investec will now retain a 25% holding in the asset management business, instead of the planned 15%.

March 12

UK wealth manager Brooks Macdonald reports rise in profit

The firm warned of an uncertain 2020 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Quilter reports loss in 2019; flags volatile 2020 due to coronavirus

The firm also warned of difficulties in the current year due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

“2020 began well but the sharp Coronavirus induced market correction beginning in late February has created a level of uncertainty as to the outlook for the remainder of 2020.”

March 11

UK Banks to offer coronavirus mortgage holiday

Mortgage lenders across the UK announced plans to allow people affected by the coronavirus outbreak to defer mortgage and loan repayments.

Several UK banks will offer loan repayment holiday to support homeowners affected by the coronavirus. The so-called coronavirus holiday will be extended on a case-by-case basis, and the length of the repayment suspension will likely vary from bank to bank.

Budget 2020: set to help individuals or businesses increase their wealth?

The UK 2020 Budget may not look like it will affect the private banking sector heavily, but there are certain factors. Experts also claim coronavirus affected plans.

March 10

Coronavirus continues to impact markets, but are we past the eye of the storm?

Coronavirus continued to create stress across financial markets worldwide. Of particular interest now is the UK budget and if coronavirusaffected it. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak may have had to make some last minute changes inlcuding a surplus.

March 9

Coronavirus: ECB urges staff to work from home; Virgin Money goes for deep clean

The European Central Bank (ECB) asked the majority of its 3,500 staff in Frankfurt to work from home in order to measure its coronavirus (COVID-19) preparations.

The ECB is keen to test how it could deal with a shutdown over rising coronavirus concerns.

Mastercard shutters Sao Paulo, New York locations after employee gets coronavirus

Mastercard closed its office located in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo and an annex office in New York after one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus.

The infected employee is based in Brazil and had recently visited the annex site in Purchase, New York, which is in proximity to its New York base.

The two locations are currently being sanitised.

ANZ to trim advice headcount by 230

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) was set to cut 230 people from its headcount across its private bank and advice business in order to cut costs and build profitability.

Extreme pressure on the banking industry along with record-low interest rates are said to be the key factors triggering the downsizing exercise.

However, the adverse effect of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on the economy is also said to have played a major role in the decision.

March 6

HSBC sends over 100 London staff home over coronavirus scare

HSBC sent more than 100 employees home after a worker from the research department tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

March 5

JPMorgan Chase asks 10% of staff to work from home

JPMorgan Chase asked thousands of its employees to work from home in order to measure its coronavirus preparations.

Dubbed Project Kennedy, about 10% of 127,137 employees across JPMorgan’s consumer banking division have been requested to work remotely.

UBS bans international travel by employees on coronavirus scare

UBS has imposed a ban on non-essential international travel by employees to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Employees of the bank would now require special nod for travel.

March 4

WHO urges consumers to switch to contactless payments

The World Health Organization (WHO) advised consumers to switch to contactless payments as banknotes may be aiding the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

WHO said people should wash their hands after touching currency notes as the virus may stick to the surface for a number of days.

During circulation, currency notes change hands thousands of times and hence can accumulate all types of viruses and bacteria.

March 3

Major American banks impose restrictions on international travel

American banking giants asked their employees to not undertake any international travel for nonessential business in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

Banking groups that have curbed international travel without prior approval include Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs.

Visa lowers revenue outlook on coronavirus fears

Visa warned of its revenue getting hit in Q2, with overseas spending waning in the wake of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The firm said that its revenue growth will be around 2.5-3.5 percentage points less than its earlier prediction.

February 26

Singapore’s asset managers suspend China plans amid Covid-19 scare

A recent survey by the Investment Management Association of Singapore (IMAS) has revealed that the majority of Singapore’s asset managers are suspending travel to China and deferring their events following the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

February 25

Mastercard warns coronavirus may dampen revenue growth

Mastercard lowered its revenue outlook for Q1 2020, saying that the adverse impact of the coronavirus outbreak on cross-border e-commerce and travel could dent its quarterly performance.

As Coronavirus impacts Italy, how is it impacting investments?

Coronavirus continues to spread, now hitting Italy, but are investments recovering?

February 19

Japan launches survey on banks with China presence

The Financial Services Agency in Japan started an emergency survey on the country’s banks with a China presence to gain insight into how credit costs may get affected amidst the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

February 17

China disinfecting used banknotes to mitigate coronavirus spread

To combat the spread of deadly coronavirus, China’s central bank urged banks to disinfect used notes and isolate them for up to 14 days.

According to WHO, coronavirus can be spread through contaminated objects in addition to droplets and direct contact with infected patients.

February 12

Asia-Pacific currencies take a hit from coronavirus

Currencies across the Asia-Pacific region suffered a hard blow from coronavirus as the epidemic continues to clobber the Chinese economy, disrupting supply chains.

The impact of the coronavirus has spread outside China to economies heavily reliant on the Asian giant, from Australia and Thailand to South Korea and Singapore.

DBS evacuates hundreds after one employee is infected

Singapore’s largest Bank, DBS, evacuated 300 staff after confirming that one employee has contracted the coronavirus.

All 300 employees on level 4 of the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) have been dismissed and will work from home until further notice, the bank said.

February 11

Banks close branches in China, Hong Kong, Macau over Coronavirus

Several major banks, from HSBC to Standard Chartered to UOB, closed outlets in China, Hong Kong, and Macau, due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

HSBC shut 24 branches, Standard Chartered 18, and UOB has closed many outlets in China and Hong Kong. UOB has also halted or postponed large-scale internal meetings and public gatherings in Singapore.

UOB is the latest major bank to close or suspend operations in the area. In a statement, the bank apologises for any inconvenience the Kwun Tong temporary closure may cause. It referred customers to its other outlets in the city.

Coronavirus hits Singapore’s financial district

The coronavirus outbreak spread into Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD), with two employees found to be infected, and staff from major firms being told to work from home.

As two cases of coronavirus emerge in Singapore’s CBD, companies have stepped up temperature screening of staff and visitors as well as daily sanitation of offices.

February 10

China: coronavirus leads to flood of bank loan applications

Hundreds of Chinese companies were seeking bank loans totalling at least CNY57.4bn ($8.2bn) to be able to deal with the shock of the coronavirus epidemic.

More than 300 firms, including some of China’s largest companies, are seeking new funding that would enable them to manage the coronavirus outbreak.

HSBC pledges $3.9bn relief to coronavirus-hit Hong Kong SMEs

HSBC Bank has said it would extend HK$30bn ($3.9bn) of additional liquidity relief, to help struggling businesses ride out the coronavirus outbreak that has already killed one person and infected 36 others in Hong Kong.

HSBC joins other banks operating in Hong Kong that easing borrowing terms to help companies that are reeling from the coronavirus outbreak.

February 7

BOJ board member says global economic is on track despite coronavirus

Bank of Japan board member Takako Masai said that the global economy is on track for a rebound around mid-year and that the coronavirus outbreak does not warrant an immediate expansion of stimulus.

While acknowledging that the coronavirus epidemic represents a major risk to the global economy and may hurt Japanese business sentiment, Masai expects manufacturing to pick up and lead to a rebound in the global economy.

She reiterated the BOJ’s position that the Japanese economy will expand moderately due to strong capital expenditure and an increase in global manufacturing expenditure.

UBS Doubles China headcount despite coronavirus

Undeterred by the ongoing coronavirus, the Swiss multinational has met its target set in 2016 to double headcount in China to 1,200 well ahead of schedule.

UBS has doubled its overall staff size from 2016’s 600 to 1,200 ahead of its 2022 plan. As China cracks open its financial markets to foreigners, demands for local securities and dealmaker services increase, and the bank sees an opportunity to tap a massive domestic market.

Bank of Thailand cuts rates, citing risks from coronavirus

The Bank of Thailand decided to cut rates by 25 basis point to 1.00% amid growing concerns that the coronavirus outbreak could hinder economic performance.

The Thai economy would expand at a slower rate in 2020 than previously forecast and much further below its potential due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the Bank of Thailand said.

China to increase efforts to mitigate disease impact on economy

China’s central bank increased efforts to mitigate the impact of deadly coronavirus outbreak on the economy.

The disease, which originated from Hubei province, has already killed 638 people with fatalities jumping every day. As of 6 Feb 2020, the number of confirmed cases stood at 31,428.

February 6

HSBC extends travel ban to Hong Kong

HSBC revised an earlier directive and extended the ban on its staff from travelling to Hong Kong to 2 March 2020.

February 3

China to inject $173bn to immune banking system from coronavirus scare

The Chinese central bank unveiled plans to infuse RMB1.2 trillion ($173bn) to ensure banks’ in the country don’t fall short of liquidity when the country is fighting against the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) will pump the funds through open market operations.

China UnionPay scraps service charges for cross-bank withdrawals in Hubei

UnionPay is set to enable cross-bank cash withdrawals without imposing any service charge in Hubei, which is the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The company intends to pay back service charges in proportion for nationwide payments to small and micro businesses through UnionPay QR code.

January 31

Coronavirus scare pushes Art Basel Hong Kong to risk of cancellation

Participating galleries have urged organisers to cancel the eighth edition of Hong Kong Art Basel, a privately owned and managed international art fair, owing to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Art Basel’s lead sponsor UBS recently asked their employees in Hong Kong to work from home after China visit.

The eighth edition of Art Basel Hong Kong is scheduled to be held in March this year, with around 241 galleries from 31 countries among the participants.

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