16 Nov 2017 - The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has concluded an investigation into certain trading activity by Goldman Sachs New Zealand LTD (GS). The GS investigation was prompted by concerns arising from an investigation into trading by Mark Warminger and Milford Asset Management. The FMA was concerned that GS trading may have been in breach of section 11B of the Securities Market Act 1988 by creating a false or misleading appearance to the price and supply of securities.
The FMA determined that pursuing enforcement action in court would not have been the most appropriate response to this case or the best way to achieve its regulatory objectives. The FMA decided to publish a report based on its concerns about the alleged misconduct in the investigation, and to educate the market about its expectations surrounding trading by brokers.
The FMA decided not to go to court based on a number of factors, each detailed in the report. These include litigation risk and limited regulatory options available in this case and the details of the specific misconduct alleged. The FMA also considered the significant cost, time and resources required in pursuing litigation would outweigh the potential benefits.
GS has explained the alleged misconduct to the FMA as facilitating trades for a client. Since the trading covered in the report, GS has ceased operating as a trading participant in the New Zealand market.
In addition to publishing a report, the FMA will take the following additional actions:
Work with NZX to ensure the NZX Participant rules are updated to require trading participants to maintain voice recordings.
Work with NZX to review facilitation practices by traders, including spot checks carried out on individual trades.
Continue to engage with brokers and fund managers to ensure that the lessons from the Mark Warminger judgment on market manipulation are adopted by firms. We expect market participants to assess their existing governance and controls systems - including documentation and record keeping - to ensure brokers’ facilitation practices cannot be used to excuse misconduct.
Consult with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to consider legislative changes to allow the FMA to refer matters directly to the NZMDT; or to enable the creation of another disciplinary tribunal for these purposes.
The FMA also considered the most proportionate response to the GS conduct would have been for the NZX to refer GS to the NZ Markets Disciplinary Tribunal (NZMDT). The NZX did not take this action.
Rob Everett, the FMA’s Chief Executive, said “Capital markets growth and integrity is a key FMA strategic priority. Successful markets rely on confident participation and any activity which threatens market integrity reduces confidence from investors and the public.
Mr Everett said, “We had a difficult decision in terms of what the appropriate regulatory response was in this instance. Ultimately, we decided that our regulatory objectives would best be met by issuing the report.”
“Publishing the results of the GS investigation enables us to demonstrate the lessons for industry in our findings. We’ll continue to engage with industry to ensure they are clear about the standards of conduct, governance, systems and controls we expect, and use this report as the basis of discussions with brokers.”
15 Nov 2017 - Westpac New Zealand Limited (Westpac) has had its minimum regulatory capital requirements increased after it failed to comply with regulatory obligations relating to its status as an internal models bank. Internal models banks are accredited by the Reserve Bank to use approved risk models to calculate how much regulatory capital they need to hold. Westpac used a number of models that had not been approved by the Reserve Bank, and materially failed to meet requirements around model governance, processes and documentation. “This is very disappointing. Operating as an internal models bank is a privilege that requires high standards and comes with considerable responsibilities. Westpac has not met our expectations in this regard,” Reserve Bank Deputy Governor and Head of Financial Stability Geoff Bascand said. The Reserve Bank required Westpac to commission an independent report into its compliance with internal models regulatory requirements. The report found that Westpac:· currently operates 17 (out of 35) unapproved capital models;
· has used 21 (out of 32) additional unapproved capital models since it was accredited as an internal models bank in 2008; and
· failed to put in place the systems and controls an internal models bank is required to have under its conditions of registration.
The Reserve Bank has decided that Westpac’s conditions of registration should be amended to increase its minimum capital levels until the shortcomings and non-compliance identified in the independent report have been remedied. Westpac’s minimum capital ratio requirements will be 6.5 percent for Common Equity Tier 1 capital, 8 percent for Tier 1 capital and 10 percent for Total capital, with the additional 2.5 percent capital conservation buffer applying. Currently, for all other locally incorporated banks capital ratios are set at, respectively, 4.5 percent, 6 percent and 8 percent, plus the 2.5 percent buffer. In addition, the Reserve Bank has accepted an undertaking by Westpac to maintain its total capital ratio above 15.1 percent until all existing issues have been resolved. The Reserve Bank has given Westpac 18 months to satisfy the Reserve Bank that it has sufficiently addressed those issues or it risks losing accreditation to operate as an internal models bank. “We believe the regulatory action is appropriate given the seriousness of Westpac’s non-compliance and the need to protect the integrity of the capital regime,” Mr Bascand said. The Reserve Bank has taken into account that Westpac has not deliberately sought to reduce its regulatory capital. While there have been serious shortcomings and non-compliance, it appears that Westpac has remained well above its required regulatory capital levels. Westpac has confirmed that it does not dispute the findings of the independent report, that it is committed to remedying all the issues identified, and that it will maintain its total capital ratio above 15.1 percent.
9 Nov 2017 - Statement by Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer: The Reserve Bank today left the Official Cash Rate (OCR) unchanged at 1.75 percent. Global economic growth continues to improve, although inflation and wage outcomes remain subdued. Commodity prices are relatively stable. Bond yields and credit spreads remain low and equity prices are near record levels. Monetary policy remains easy in the advanced economies but is gradually becoming less stimulatory. The exchange rate has eased since the August Statement and, if sustained, will increase tradables inflation and promote more balanced growth. GDP in the June quarter grew broadly in line with expectations, following relative weakness in the previous two quarters. Employment growth has been strong and GDP growth is projected to strengthen, with a weaker outlook for housing and construction offset by accommodative monetary policy, the continued high terms of trade, and increased fiscal stimulus. The Bank has incorporated preliminary estimates of the impact of new government policies in four areas: new government spending; the KiwiBuild programme; tighter visa requirements; and increases in the minimum wage. The impact of these policies remains very uncertain. House price inflation has moderated due to loan-to-value ratio restrictions, affordability constraints, reduced foreign demand, and a tightening in credit conditions. Low house price inflation is expected to continue, reinforced by new government policies on housing. Annual CPI inflation was 1.9 percent in September although underlying inflation remains subdued. Non-tradables inflation is moderate but expected to increase gradually as capacity pressures increase. Tradables inflation has increased due to the lower New Zealand dollar and higher oil prices, but is expected to soften in line with projected low global inflation. Overall, CPI inflation is projected to remain near the midpoint of the target range and longer-term inflation expectations are well anchored at 2 percent. Monetary policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period. Numerous uncertainties remain and policy may need to adjust accordingly. Read the Monetary Policy Statement
7 Nov 2017 - MyBitcoinSaver, the New Zealand micro-savings platform for Bitcoin, has today announced the closing of $400,000 in seed round funding. The platform, launched by Aucklander Sam Blackmore in November last year, makes it easy for New Zealanders to invest small ongoing amounts in the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, which has grown in value by almost ten times since January. The startup plans to use the funding to continue driving growth in New Zealand while also expanding into the UK market.
Investors in the seed round included Brian Cartmell, investor in the billion-dollar US Bitcoin exchange Coinbase; David Smith, director of Caci Clinic; and Techemy: the parent company of Bitcoin analysis and news company Brave New Coin.
"Bitcoin is one of the most exciting things to happen to the financial world in decades," Blackmore says.
"But until recently, the cryptocurrency world has been an exclusive little club of early adopters. Unless you were very smart or willing to spend hours hunting for them, buying Bitcoins in New Zealand hasn’t been easy. We want to help all New Zealanders tap into the exciting opportunities Bitcoin presents."
Once registering to MyBitcoinSaver, users can set up automatic bank payments of between $10 and $200 on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis.
The startup then bulk buys Bitcoin from an overseas exchange and distributes it to users’ wallets that same week.
MyBitcoinSaver has grown by more than 4000% in its first year with 1460 New Zealanders signed up to the service so far.
Blackmore has been investing in Bitcoin since 2013 and initially built the early prototype of MyBitcoinSaver - with a few lines of code - for himself, friends and family.
With a limit of $200 per week per user, MyBitcoinSaver aims to be a responsible and safe platform for buying Bitcoin, encouraging its users to use a Dollar Cost Average savings approach.
"Public interest in Bitcoin has exploded and people see buying it as a sensible addition to their savings plan," Blackmore says.
"We take the stress and complication out of buying Bitcoin and help anyone - from millennials to grandparents - take part in this revolutionary financial technology."
MyBitcoinSaver will be soft-launching in the UK within the next two months with plans to roll out the service publicly after three months in Beta testing.
The startup decided to extend its operations there because London is the financial capital of the world and there’s an appetite for a safe and reliable way to buy Bitcoin with Pounds Sterling.
The $400,000 seed money will be used to hire development staff and fund marketing here and in the UK.
7 Nov - Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer today signed an unchanged Policy Targets Agreement (PTA), which sets out specific targets for maintaining price stability. The Minister also released today the Terms of Reference for a Review of the Reserve Bank Act. The Policy Targets Agreement, effective immediately, is the same as that signed by Mr Spencer and the previous Finance Minister Steven Joyce, which has been in effect since Mr Spencer’s six-month term as Governor began on 27 September. The PTA requires the Reserve Bank to keep future CPI inflation outcomes between 1 per cent and 3 per cent on average over the medium term, with a focus on keeping future average inflation near the 2 percent target midpoint. “The renewed PTA will continue to provide continuity, consistency and stability for the monetary policy target during the period of review of the monetary policy provisions of the Reserve Bank Act, and ahead of the appointment of a new Governor,” Mr Spencer said Mr Spencer said that the Bank welcomes the Review of the Reserve Bank Act and will work with the Treasury on the Review. “The Reserve Bank has been subject to several reviews in the past. The Terms of Reference state that the operational independence of the Reserve Bank remains paramount and will be protected,” he said.
7 Nov - With the risk to foreign student export market from potential changes to immigration policy, the government should increase its focus on the little cousin of education exports, edtech, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says. The education export industry is a $3billion market of which the majority is made up of bringing in foreign students. Today is the launch in Auckland of EdTechNZ, which is focused on growing and nurturing education tech in New Zealand, and is part of the New Zealand Tech Alliance. “While edtech is probably less than a $100 million export market at the moment we are well known internationally for our education system and a number of Kiwi edtech companies are doing very well internationally,” Muller says. “We have some great examples such as Hapara, Matheletics and Wendy Pye Publishing. Another success story is Christchurch based Linewize which developed an education specific internet management tool which competed with the government owned Network for Learning. “Linewize quickly grew an international market with the support of the New Zealand Punakaiki Investment Fund and last month was purchased by Australian stock exchange-listed Family Zone. “The edtech market, while currently small for New Zealand, is forecast to be a $344 billion global market by 2019. More than 140 edtech companies have been identified in New Zealand and a group of them have joined forces to form EdTechNZ to collaborate and support the development of edtech not only for export, but also for the benefit of the local New Zealand education sector.” Digital technologies are rapidly causing changes to work not seen since the industrial revolution. This is a global challenge and, according to the OECD, schools have yet to take advantage of the potential of technology in the classroom in order to give every student the skills they need for today’s connected world. Technology is enabling a transformation of the education system. A shift is occurring from instructional education to a more personalised, self-directed and collaborative learning experience. Increased use of computers in classrooms and increased internet connectivity are impacting on education.Technology is not only helping teachers become more efficient and saving schools money, but it is also helping to improve the quality of education which often still relies heavily on Victorian-era lecturing methods,” Muller says.
“Our studies have found that if New Zealand was to raise its education outcomes over a period of 20 years to a level comparable with Finland it would generate a 204 percent increase in GDP worth an additional US$258 billion,” Muller says, “so education is critical to our nation’s future prosperity.”
The New Zealand Bankers Association announced today that the China Construction Bank (New Zealand) Ltd has joined the association, bringing the total number of member banks to 17.
New Zealand Bankers Association chief executive Karen Scott-Howman says: We are delighted to welcome CCBNZ to the Bankers Association. China is one of New Zealands most important trading partners. Having Chinese banks here helps support this trading relationship.
CCBNZs participation in the New Zealand banking industry promotes further competition and diversity in our banking sector, says Scott-Howman.
China Construction Bank (New Zealand) chief executive Jun Qi says: CCB is one of the largest global banks by market capitalisation and total assets. It operates in 30 countries. Since our inception, CCBNZ has aspired to be the first-call Chinese bank in New Zealand. We can leverage our extensive CCB network in China and worldwide.
CCBNZ offers its customers a range of financial services, with an active focus on supporting economic cooperation and trade between New Zealand and China.
As the voice of the banking industry, the New Zealand Bankers Association supports a strong and stable banking system that benefits New Zealand. Member banks work together on a range of non-competitive industry issues.
Other New Zealand Bankers Association members are ANZ New Zealand, ASB Bank, Bank of China, Bank of New Zealand, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Citibank, The Co-operative Bank, Heartland Bank, Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Kiwibank, Rabobank New Zealand, SBS Bank, TSB Bank, and Westpac New Zealand.
| An Emirates Neews Agency release || November 3, 2017 |||
31 Oct: The word “FinTech” (financial technology) has been thrown around as of late by hundreds, if not thousands, of startups looking to capitalize on the e-commerce coverage that the growing industry has been receiving. A FinTech, according to definition, is a company that uses new technology in the financial world. Originally, it was a term used to define the back end technology of established financial institutions.
Today, the term is used much more broadly and includes new financial technologies, such as Bitcoin, various e-wallet apps and capital marketplaces like Kickstarter. These companies attempt to disrupt the established financial sector and conventional financial channels by offering services that eliminate the need to use their older counterparts. Other interesting developments in the sector can be found in the insightful infographic the fellows at Play-N-Play have assembled.
Contrary to popular belief, the first truly successful FinTech companies have been around since the turn of the millennium. Some were even around since the late 90’s. The first FinTech to truly become a global financial giant out of this sector is none other than PayPal.
Today, PayPal is worth over 80 billion dollars and is, according to Forbes magazine, the 193rd biggest public company on the planet. Though this success has been nearly 18 years in the making, the rise of PayPal to global domination in the industry it pioneered has not been all smooth sailing.
PayPal was started in 1998 and was voted the worst idea of the year in 1999. The financial and venture capital firms assumed the payment processor would never be able to penetrate the market due to the immense size and market share of its competitors Visa, MasterCard and Amex.
PayPal began to convert users who found the payment system streamlined in the relatively new e-commerce experience and offered a cheaper price point for merchants than Visa, MasterCard and other conventional payment processing systems.
In 2000, PayPal had its initial meeting with eBay, a marketplace for auctioning goods. eBay was attracted to the growing user base and thought PayPal could be an asset to their business model. By 2001, PayPal began its impressive user growth and hit 100,000 users, a number that began to shake up the financial markets and bring attention to the growing FinTech sector.
In 2002, less than 4 years after being founded, PayPal had its IPO (Initial Public Offering) and immediately grew 55%, becoming NASDAQ’s biggest gainer amongst newly listed companies. eBay, immediately spotting the ecommerce growth, purchased a controlling interest in PayPal for 1.5 billion dollars.
Earlier this month Kiwibank announced it will launch another set of FinTech startups onto the global stage with its second FinTech accelerator. The inaugural FinTech accelerator resulted in several Kiwi FinTech start-ups gaining vital support, funding and expertise to build, launch and expand their products in New Zealand and world markets.
Kiwibank chief executive Paul Brock said the success of the first accelerator had encouraged Kiwibank and accelerator partners Callaghan Innovation and Creative HQ to launch version two of the innovative programme.
“The first accelerator saw exciting new Kiwi companies such as Sharesies, Accounting Pod and Tapi successfully launched to market."
“With the second accelerator, we’re looking to help even more startups capitalise on what is a $1 trillion global FinTech opportunity, and to further grow New Zealand’s FinTech ecosystem.”
The First Accelerator's Success
The inaugural Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator resulted in:
Sharesies achieving $1 million in investments and 5000 users in just eight weeks; full funding gained four weeks before the programme’s investment showcase “Demo Day"
Accounting Pod and Tapi (formerly Flatfish) achieving full funding and on track to crack $1 million annual revenue targets
Mr Brock said V2 of the accelerator would take on an even stronger global focus. “This time we want to have a strong international flavour and we’re targeting exciting overseas ventures interested in basing their FinTech operations here in New Zealand." “There’s strong interest from startups in China, Korea and elsewhere to take part."
"It’s a win-win, given that New Zealand is perfectly placed to take a lead in FinTech globally by attracting the best and brightest overseas talent and capability to help us take our own FinTech ecosystem to the next level.”
About a quarter of the 12 startups to be selected for the accelerator could come from overseas, Mr Brock said. “Quite apart from the ability for Kiwi startups to experience the thinking and technology being applied in FinTech overseas, the global networking potential alone will be invaluable.”
Investment in Chinese FinTech was NZ$9.2bn in 2016 and it is home to the four most valuable FinTech companies in the world (Alibaba’s Ant Financial, Lufax, JD Finance and Qufenqi). There are more than 400 FinTech startups in South Korea with more than NZ$120m invested in FinTechs in 2016. Globally NZ$26.3bn was invested in FinTech companies in 2016.
Sharesies founder Sonya Williams said:“We got a huge amount out of being in the accelerator – mentorship, a space to work, great corporate support. But by far and away the biggest benefit was that the accelerator gave us the start date and support we needed take Sharesies from an idea and turn it into a successful business."
"The company is never going to get off the ground until this leap of faith is taken and we got that from the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator”
The Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator will open for applications on October 2 and the 14 week pro-gramme will begin in February 2018 and finish with a Demo Day in May 2018.
Creative HQ CEO Stefan Korn said: “Being able to run another FinTech accelerator with Kiwibank and Callaghan Innovation is an excellent step in the right direction to put Kiwi FinTech on the map globally and to establish Wellington as New Zealand’s hub for innovation in the finance sector.”
Richard Silverman penned this article on whats behind Ripple and it's future. The CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse has many reasons to feel good, being in a conference in Toronto with money maverick Ben Bernanke and crypto-genius Vitalik Buterin.
– Yes, Ripple network itself is expanding quickly as it is among few digital currencies that has intrinsic value and has started more and more to be used in real world business, having licenced more than 100 banks and financial institutions to use its blockchain technology. XRP is the only digital asset with a clear use case – it’s the best digital asset for payments.
-Ripple’s Interledger Protocol(ILP) standardize how to instantly settle transactions across different ledgers and networks. ILP can be thought of much like the protocol HTTP used in web address that become a global standard for online information exchange. At last, value can move as quickly around the world through internet just as information does, with a few clicks.
-According to Coinmarketcap, XRP now has a market cap of more than $7,7 Billion, and it is third behind the digital money giants, Bitcoin and Ethereum.
-Ripple is the only digital asset specifically designed for financial institutions. It’s pricing model is one part software license, one part professional services and one part transaction fees.
-The Ripple ecosystem with its huge financial strength used like strategic weapon which enables it to further development of its platform; while engaging the best blockchain experts, hackers, developers, software engineers,and it is constantly evolving, updating; regarding usability, reliability, security and scalability of the XRP Ledger.
-SortedDirectories amendment. This new feature is expected to be enabled in early November, but nevertheless it is advisable to upgrade the nodes as soon as possible, as non-upgraded nodes can’t participate in the consensus process or vote on future amendments. This new update will be deployed to all Ripple servers in real time upgrade which should take around four hours without disturbing the efficiency of current operations. This is another reached important milestone for Ripple.
Behind the Ripple is this great idea and vision of the global market with its Internet of Things and Internet of Value enabled by XRP.
It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 50 billion connected devices, including cars, fridges, thermostats, … this is INTERNET OF THINGS and happening now with accelerating speed. And this is just a first wave in what will be a tsunami of micropayments powering the INTERNET OF VALUE. We’ve shared our vision of an Internet of Value in which money moves like information moves today. Key to realizing that vision is lowering the cost of payments, especially cross-border payments, also very important for emerging, unbanked markets.
Actually there are $18 Trillion of cross-border payments made every year with a combined cost of about $1 trillion a year. Ripple solution through its blockchain technology allows assets to be transferred from one party directly to another without middleman, validated, permanent, completed instantly, irrevocably.
Foreign Payment Transactions is area where banks should completely embrace blockchain derived technology like Ripple, which will allow banks to move away from batch-and-file to smooth real time transactions.
Making cross border payments faster, cheaper, and reliable will bring major benefits to consumers, businesses, banks… It will also connect billions of people around the world to transact, give rise to entirely new businesses and industries, increase financial inclusion for millions underbanked consumers…
The CEO of Ripple, Garlinghouse believes big digital currencies will have a peaceful coexistence.
In his interview to Fortune’s The Ledger among other worth noting arguments, he stated:
“We took a rather contrarian view at the time that we’re not anti-bank, we’re not anti-government, we’re not anti-fiat currency”.
“In 2017, people have realized there isn’t going to be one crypto to rule them all. You’re seeing vertical solutions where XRP is focused on payment problems, Ethereum is focused on smart contracts, and increasingly Bitcoin is a store of value. Those aren’t competitive. In fact, I want Bitcoin and Ethereum to be successful”.
“If Ripple as a company went away, XRP would continue to trade. To me that’s the definition of decentralization”.
Ripple’s goal in distributing XRP tokens is to incentivize actions that build trust, utility and liquidity. The Ripple Net Accelerator program is designed to allocate up to $300 million to create incentives to accelerate adoption. It’s our vision of solving a liquidity problem for banks. We engage in distribution strategies that we expect will result in a strengthening XRP exchange rate against other currencies.
With more and more banks using the Ripple protocol, the supply of Ripple will eventually have to be enough to support the total transaction volume of all the players using the system. Since XRP could feasibly replace SWIFT as a payment system due to its lower cost and higher speed, SWIFT figures can be used as an estimate. SWIFT handles about $5 Trillion each day. This is one of the biggest opportunities for Ripple.
Unlike many other popular cryptocurrencies, XRP is not mined. The company is centralized in many ways. There are whopping 100 billion coins in existence, and they were created by the company Ripple. Ripple has been fast growing and is currently at a market cap of just about $7.7bn. This means that the current circulating supply of about 38.5 billion XRP is trading at around $0.2 each.
It’s very important for Ripple as a company to be very transparent in XRP markets so every quarter they publish a report that specifies how much they sold in the open market and to institutional buyers.
XRP supply, unlike other cryptocurrencies, is partly controlled by the company Ripple who currently owns more than 60% of all existing XRP coins. The fear is that the company will capitalize on its position and flood the market with Ripple coins, from time to time as it suits them, causing a massive oversupply in the short run. For holders of the coin, it could be devastating. This could be not just weakness but also a threat.
– Currently we are permanently removing that uncertainty by committing to place 55 billion XRP into a cryptographically-secured Escrow account by the end of 2017. We’ll use Escrow to establish 55 smart contracts of 1 billion XRP each that will expire on the first day of every month from months 0 to 54. As each contract expires, the XRP will become available for Ripple’s use. We’ll then return whatever is unused at the end of each month to the back of the escrow queue. This technology-escrow enables Ripple to promise a predictable supply of XRP and enablesinvestors to instantly verify such a promise. For comparison, Ripple has sold on average 300M XRP per month for the past 18 months.
Investors should be considering what role Ripple might play over the course of the next several years?
The number of institutions that have partnered with Ripple has exceeded 100 and is growing almost daily and very rapidly.
Yet the price of Ripple has steadily fluctuated around $0.2 for the past months. Why is that?
There are still a lot of potential roadblocks on the way to XRP being traded at lets say higher price than $5.
-First of all, the biggest threat is competition, development of more innovative payment systems that would be similar or even better, technologically more sophisticated, offering an even more attractive alternative using a different coin as a bridge currency, so the amount of money being transferred via Ripple will decrease substantially, or even wipe out XRP usage completely.
-Unfavourable government regulations, or even ban of the cryptocurrencies.
-Many banks and financial institutions have started developing their own cryptocurrencies for the use of interbank transactions.
Still we like the quite feasible idea that the maximum supply of XRP will one day drive a majority of financial transactions which is a powerful incentive to buy XRP coins.
| An Ethereum News release || October 26, 2017 |||