This week’s treasury news round-up

Google sending money as sound, predictions around the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) monetary policy meeting and the FCA’s approach to PSD2 all hit the latest headlines in the world of treasury this week.


A change in Japan’s monetary policy is unlikely, argues industry expert

Ahead of the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) monetary policy meeting on 20-21 September, Katsunori Kitakura, lead strategist at SuMi TRUST, argues that despite robust economic growth in the Japanese economy, low inflation means that a change in monetary policy is unlikely.

“We expect the BoJ to leave monetary policy unchanged at its next monetary policy meeting on 20-21 September,” he says.

“Although the Japanese economy is recovering steadily, primarily driven by domestic demand, this is not having as much of an effect on prices as predicted. Therefore we believe it is likely that easing will continue and there will not be a move towards tapering yet,” says Kitakura.

The Q2 real GDP growth rate was up 2.5% year-on-year and economic growth accelerated from the previous quarter as GDP growth was reported at 1.2% year-on-year in Q1.

Domestic demand – which grew by 3.7% in Q2 2017 – and personal consumption, in particular supported this recovery.

“These latest positive GDP figures mean it is possible that the real GDP growth rate can be expected to continue rising going forward,” says Kitakura.

“However, when it comes to prices, we have seen core CPI growth remain quite flat. There has been a lack of stimulus to push prices up, aside from energy prices which have been on the rise, and this has contributed to a continued lackluster environment.

“As a result, we think price forecasts will be maintained at current levels. This means that there is high probability we will not see any big changes in monetary policy,” he adds.

Google India sends money as sound in new payment service

Google has launched a payments service called “Tez” for India that allows users to send money as sound in a pilot that it plans to roll out in other countries.

The technology enables digital money transfers using ultrasonic audio QR codes between two devices.

Tez, the Hindi word for “fast”, requires users to possess either an iOS or Android device equipped with a microphone and speakers, download an app and then link their device to their bank accounts and the Unified Payments Interface employed by 55 local Indian banks.

Once users have downloaded the ‘Tez’ app, they can make peer-to-peer payments to other Tez users. For remote transfers, users can enter a recipient’s phone number.

The feature is similar to cash transactions which don’t require the exchange of personal details such as bank account information.

The FCA published its approach to implementing PSD2 

The UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), published its finalised approach to implementing the EU’s Payment Services Directive (PSD2) on Tuesday.

More services will be brought within the FCA’s scope by PSD2, including account aggregation services which aim to help consumers manage finances via one location, and services that allow consumers to make payments in different ways online, without using a credit or debit card.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said in a statement: “Competition in the retail banking and payments is vital to UK consumers and the wider economy.”

The EU regulation builds on this by giving consumers more choice around how they manage their payments and bank accounts.

It also brings in some “important” protections for consumers and seeks to increase the security of payments, Woolard argued.

“Firms should make sure they know what’s required of them to be ready for the new regime. We will continue to monitor closely whether competition in the market improves in the interests of consumers,” he said.

“It requires existing payment institutions and e-money institutions to be re-authorised or re-registered. Firms should consider whether they now need to seek authorisation or registration because of changes to the scope of regulation made by PSD2. This includes businesses providing account aggregation or online payment initiation services. Applications will open on 13 October 2017,” added Woolard.

Industry is not ready for a robot hack treat, warns cyber security experts

Users of industrial robots from manufacturing to healthcare are unprepared for the real risk of a hacking attack, a leading cyber security expert warned on Monday.

With the worldwide number of robots in smart factories now topping a million, Ross Thomson cites a lack of awareness as the reason most operators haven’t tackled the threat.

“Many firms believe hackers only want personal or financial data, but there is a credible risk to industrial robots,” says Thomson, principal consultant at Amethyst Risk Management, which advises government and industry on cyber security.

He points out the risk is growing as robots, like other devices, are increasingly connected to wider networks and the internet. That gives hackers more ways in, and the consequences are potentially disastrous.

In one example, attackers locked up a robotic assembly plant in Mexico and demanded a ransom from the operators. Mr Thomson also highlights the safety risk for human factory operatives if a robot were to be hacked.

Lack of awareness and preparedness for a cyber attack extends to robot makers. Mr Thomson points to an experiment where researchers hacked a robotic arm and forced it to mis-perform, compelling its manufacturer to plug the security hole.


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