Spotlight on virtual banking licenses


Bank Negara’s plan to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

 
BANK Negara’s announcement this week which
stated that it is looking to issue up to three virtual banking licences has excited the local financial sector which otherwise has begun to look a little lethargic.

The announcement comes at the same time as Hong Kong’s move to issue three licences of this type to a combination of companies partnering finance firms, namely Standard Chartered, BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd and online insurance company ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co.

Five more of such licences in the city are being processed.

In Malaysia, the announcement by Bank Negara is significant also because the central bank has not issued any new banking licences for many years now.

That said, both Hong Kong and Malaysia’s move to encourage pure online banking ventures is very much in line with the fact that fintech innovations are slowly but surely seeping into the daily lives of people globally, providing cheaper and more easily accessible financial services.

The idea of virtual banks – which theoretically means a bank without any physical branches whatsoever – however, is not entirely new.

In fact, many countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have attempted it.

Some have failed, others continue to operate, taking deposits and giving out loans much like traditional banking outfits.

Closer to home, India, China, South Korea and Japan have ventured into this model.

Japan, for instance, went for the zero branch strategy as far back as the 1990s with the setting up of Japan Net Bank.

There have been other Internet banks there since then such as Seven Bank which has been providing financial services via ATMs across 7-Eleven convenience shops in Japan since the early 2000s.

In South Korea, the then-chair of the Financial Services Commission, Yim Jong-yong gave initial approval for the setting up of the country’s first two virtual banks back in 2015.

K Bank was its first, starting operations in April 2017 followed a few months later by kakaobank, which started with some W300 billion (about RM1.077bil) in start-up capital.

To be sure, virtual banks, which primarily target the retail segment including the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have existed even before the concept of fintech – which is basically using technology to provide improved financial services – gained prominence over the last few years.

The rise of fintech in recent times can be attributed to consumers becoming increasingly tech-savvy and more demanding when it comes to convenience on-the-go.

It also stems from the fact that there are millions of individuals who are unbanked or underbanked but who now have access to the Internet.

In China alone, mobile payments run in trillions of yuan.

It is perhaps this increasing savviness that is contributing to regulators the world over wanting to push for more virtual banks and easing guidelines to fit the concept in.

It is noteworthy that within the Asean region, Malaysia is among the first to attempt this virtual bank model.

Timo, Vietnam’s first bank sans any traditional branch, was officially launched in 2016 while nearest neighbour Singapore currently does not have any banks purely of this nature.Even so, Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus has said that the central bank is currently working towards releasing licensing guidelines for such operations only by the end of this year.

She has stressed that discussions with the few parties interested in setting up virtual banks in Malaysia are still at the preliminary stage.

Still, that’s not stopped industry people from raising questions, many of which are valid.

For starters, notwithstanding theoretical definitions, what will be the exact definition of a local virtual bank ?

 What are the rules?

“Who can apply to operate such banks and will these guys be subject to the same rules that apply to traditional banks such as those involving capital requirements and such?” asks one senior banker attached to a regional bank.

While the jury is still out on rules that will apply in Malaysia should the idea materialise, a broad idea on this can be gleaned from the guidelines that have been set out by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

According to the HKMA, firstly, a “virtual bank is defined as a bank which primarily delivers retail banking services through the Internet or other forms of electronic channels instead of physical branches”.

HKMA’s guidelines include rules such as virtual banks having to play an active role in promoting financial inclusion when offering their banking services.

“While virtual banks are not expected to maintain physical branches, they should endeavour to take care of the needs of their target customers, be they individuals or SMEs,” it says, adding that virtual banks should not impose any minimum account balance requirement or low-balance fees on their customers.

In terms of ownership, the HKMA says that because virtual banks will mostly be focused on retail businesses covering a large pool of such clients, “they are expected to operate in the form of a locally-incorporated bank, in line with the established policy of requiring banks that operate significant retail businesses to be locally-incorporated entities”.

It also says that it is generally its policy “that a party which has more than 50% of the share capital of a bank incorporated in Hong Kong should be a bank or a financial institution in good standing and supervised by a recognised authority in Hong Kong or elsewhere”.

While the guidelines cover a lot more, it is worthwhile pointing out that the HKMA is of the view that “virtual banks will be subject to the same set of supervisory requirements applicable to conventional banks”, with some of the rules being changed in line with technological requirements.

It adds that in terms of capital requirement, “virtual banks must maintain adequate capital commensurating with the nature of their operations and the banking risks they are undertaking”.


Noticeable absence of tech players

Interestingly, in the first round of licences given out by the HKMA, there was a noticeable absence of major Chinese tech companies like Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Ant Financial, which many would have thought make obvious choices given their experience in carving out game-changing fintech-centric services especially in their home country of China.

“Mobile payment services offered by the likes of WeChat and Alipay are possible with Internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent behind the entire ecosystem, the fact that they were not included raised some eyebrows,” says one Hong Kong-based banking analyst.

In the same vein, Hong Kong has been criticised for not being proactive enough when it comes to encouraging financial start-ups and being overly protective of conventional banks as evident in its fintech sandbox programme of 2016, which was reportedly introduced to help traditional financial institutions try out new technology instead of supporting fresh start-ups.

“Still, a start is better than no start and we are looking forward to when these virtual banks start operating in nine months’ time,” says the analyst.

He adds that as long as security is not an issue, he hopes that virtual banks will be able to provide what traditional banks are “still not good at”, namely personalised customer service and cheaper services.

While it is early days yet in Malaysia, the general feedback is that virtual banks will be good, specifically for consumers who will have more choices.

But this will come at the expense of increased competition within the banking sector.

Analysts in Hong Kong have predicted that about 10% of revenue belonging to traditional banks there will be “at risk” over the next ten years because of the setting up of virtual banks.

Whether or not it will be the same for Malaysian banks remains to be seen.

A lot of this will depend on the guidelines that the central bank plans to set out in the months to come.

By Yvonne Tan The Star

Breaking ground with new banking concept

Backed by Ma: MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Alibaba affiliate
company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender. (Photo: AFP)

(The Star Online/ANN) – DURING the height of the fintech revolution that’s been taking place over the last few years, one prominent banker in Malaysia made an interesting comment during a private dinner.

The banker said that while he welcomes fintech companies into the market, he wasn’t really afraid of losing any significant business to them. What he really feared, if anything, were the technology giants turning on a banking facility for the millions of users they have on their platforms.

“This Facebook Bank, Google Bank or Whatsapp Financial Group,” he quipped in half jest.

The logic is simple: with those platforms even then having had the myriad users globally, they are able to tap that user group to offer financial services.

But banking remains a highly regulated space. Not every technology company will be able to fulfill those criteria or even have such intentions.

Still, there are a number of virtual banks that have sprung up globally.

Here are some of the more notable ones in this part of the region.

China: WeBank

WeBank is China’s first private digital-only bank, launched in early 2015.

It is backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings – China’s biggest messaging and social networking company, which is also the operator of WeChat

Besides Tencent, its other backers include investment firms Baiyeyuan and Liye Group.

According to its website, WeBank provides consumer banking services through digital channels, as well as microcredits and other loan products.

The Internet-only lender had turned in a profit one year into operation thanks to surging demand for microloans among blue-collar workers and small entrepreneurs.

In 2017, WeBank made a net profit of 1.4 billion yuan or US$209mil, while its return on equity came in at 19.2%.

Its total lending in that year was nearly twice that of closest rival MyBank for the same period.

A recent stake sale of the bank values the company at US$21bil, making it one of the world’s largest “unicorn” companies.

Banking Tech recently reported that the lender is now eyeing an Australian expansion to compete with payments company Alipay, which is its largest rival.

MyBank

MyBank is backed by billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Alibaba affiliate company Ant Financial owns 30% of the online lender.

Not unlike WeBank, it has a focus on consumer and small and medium-sized enterprises, a sector underserved by traditional banks in China.

It uses credit data from the e-commerce giant’s AliPay product to conduct analysis for loans.

By circumventing human involvement, the bank said it was able to deliver loans to borrowers faster and up to 1,000 times less than it would cost brick-and-mortar banks to do so.

Like WeBank, it turned profitable one year into operations due to its less capital-intensive model.

Ant Financial is reportedly looking to go public in the near future.

India: Digibank

Singapore’s banking giant DBS Bank launched Digibank in April 2016 – a move that has enabled it to penetrate the Indian retail banking market.

Breaking away from conventional banking norms with their onerous form-filling and cumbersome processes, Digibank incorporates a host of ground-breaking technology, from artificial intelligence to biometrics.

DBS CEO Piyush Gupta expects the mobile-only bank to break even in three to four years, which according to him is not such a bad deal as compared to the traditional branch model, which needs 15 to 20 years to break even.

Digibank has over 1.5 million customers and it is handling them with 60 people rather than the 400-500 staff members it would normally need under the traditional model. Its cost-to-income ratio is in the low 30s.

Following its Indian venture, DBS went on to launch a similar mobile-led bank in Indonesia where the government expects the country’s digital economy to reach US$130bil or about 12% of its gross domestic product in 2020.

Other Singaporean lenders have also jumped on the bandwagon. United Overseas Bank (UOB) said it would launch “digital banks” for its five key markets in Asean, starting in Thailand. It aims to have three to five million customers in the next five years

Elsewhere, OCBC is also reportedly pursuing a similar idea in Indonesia.

Japan

Established in 2008, Jibun Bank reached profitability in less than five years. The outfit is a joint venture between Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and local mobile network operator, KDDI.

The story goes that instead of competing with each other, the two organisations decided it would make more sense creating a “separate bank” that complement their goals.

The Asian Banker in a case study on Jibun Bank noted that in its first year, the lender had accumulated over 500,000 new customers. By 2015, Jibun Bank’s asset volume surpassed that of Japan’s oldest Internet bank, Japan Net Bank. Asian Banker also noted that the lender’s deposit volume has grown to a size that is comparable to that of a mid-tier regional bank – all of this without the help of a branch footprint.

 South Korea: K-bank and Kakao Bank

The two South Korea’s online-only banks have signed up new customers by the millions since beginning operations in 2017.

Kakao Bank is run by mobile messaging Kakao and Korea Investment Holdings, while K-bank is operated by telco KT.

The authorities there are hoping that K-bank and Kakao Bank would spur growth in a banking industry that has stagnated amid rising credit costs, narrowing interest margins and heavy regulation.

The Financial Times in an October 2017 report wrote that about 300,000 new accounts were opened with Kakao Bank in the 24 hours following its launch in late July. This figure was more than what traditional banks in South Korea got in a year through online channels. And as at end-September that year, it had already garnered 3.9 million users.

The news agency said that Kako Bank users can wire money abroad for just a tenth of typical commission fees.

Its peer K-bank, meanwhile, attracted over half a million users in the few months following its April 2017 launch.

In contrast, international banks operating traditional branch networks in the country were looking at downsizing their branches.

Early this year, Shinhan Financial Group inked a deal with mobile app maker Viva Republica to set up an Internet-only bank, making it the third player in the game.

by gurmeet kaur The Star

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When Will the U.S. Dollar Collapse?


collapsing dominos with international currency symbols on them

A dollar collapse is when the value of the U.S. dollar plummets. Anyone who holds dollar-denominated assets will sell them at any cost. That includes foreign governments who own U.S. Treasurys. It also affects foreign exchange futures traders. Last but not least are individual investors.

When the crash occurs, these parties will demand assets denominated in anything other than dollars. The collapse of the dollar means that everyone is trying to sell their dollar-denominated assets, and no one wants to buy them. This will drive the value of the dollar down to near zero. It makes hyperinflation look like a day in the park.

 

Two Conditions That Could Lead to the Dollar Collapse
Two conditions must be in place before the dollar could collapse. First, there must be an underlying weakness. As of 2017, the U.S. currency was fundamentally weak despite its 25 percent increase since 2014. The dollar declined 54.7 percent against the euro between 2002 and 2012. Why? The U.S. debt almost tripled during that period, from $6 trillion to $15 trillion. The debt is even worse now, at $21 trillion, making the debt-to-GDP ratio more than 100 percent. That increases the chance the United States will let the dollar’s value slide as it would be easier to repay its debt with cheaper money.

Second, there must be a viable currency alternative for everyone to buy. The dollar’s strength is based on its use as the world’s reserve currency. The dollar became the reserve currency in 1973 when President Nixon abandoned the gold standard. As a global currency, the dollar is used for 43 percent of all cross-border transactions. That means central banks must hold the dollar in their reserves to pay for these transactions. As a result, 61 percent of these foreign currency reserves are in dollars.

Note: The next most popular currency after the dollar is the euro. But it comprises less than 30 percent of central bank reserves. The eurozone debt crisis weakened the euro as a viable global currency.

China and others argue that a new currency should be created and used as the global currency. China’s central banker Zhou Xiaochuan goes one step further. He claims that the yuan should replace the dollar to maintain China’s economic growth. China is right to be alarmed at the dollar’s drop in value. That’s because it is the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury, so it just saw its investment deteriorate. The dollar’s weakness makes it more difficult for China to control the yuan’s value compared to the dollar.

Could bitcoin replace the dollar as the new world currency? It has many benefits. It’s not controlled by any one country’s central bank. It is created, managed, and spent online. It can also be used at brick-and-mortar stores that accept it. Its supply is finite. That appeals to those who would rather have a currency that’s backed by something concrete, such as gold.

But there are big obstacles. First, its value is highly volatile. That’s because there is no central bank to manage it. Second, it has become the coin of choice for illegal activities that lurk in the deep web. That makes it vulnerable to tampering by unknown forces.

Economic Event to Trigger the Collapse
These two situations make a collapse possible. But, it won’t occur without a third condition. That’s a huge economic triggering event that destroys confidence in the dollar.

Altogether, foreign countries own more than $5 trillion in U.S. debt. If China, Japan or other major holders started dumping these holdings of Treasury notes on the secondary market, this could cause a panic leading to collapse. China owns $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury. That’s because China pegs the yuan to the dollar. This keeps the prices of its exports to the United States relatively cheap. Japan also owns more than $1 trillion in Treasurys. It also wants to keep the yen low to stimulate exports to the United States.

Japan is trying to move out of a 15-year deflationary cycle. The 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster didn’t help.

Would China and Japan ever dump their dollars? Only if they saw their holdings declining in value too fast and they had another export market to replace the United States. The economies of Japan and China are dependent on U.S. consumers. They know that if they sell their dollars, that would further depress the value of the dollar. That means their products, still priced in yuan and yen, will cost relatively more in the United States. Their economies would suffer. Right now, it’s still in their best interest to hold onto their dollar reserves.

Note: China and Japan are aware of their vulnerability. They are selling more to other Asian countries that are gradually becoming wealthier. But the United States is still the best market (not now) in the world.

When Will the Dollar Collapse?
It’s unlikely that it will collapse at all. That’s because any of the countries who have the power to make that happen (China, Japan, and other foreign dollar holders) don’t want it to occur. It’s not in their best interest. Why bankrupt your best customer? Instead, the dollar will resume its gradual decline as these countries find other markets.

Effects of the Dollar Collapse
A sudden dollar collapse would create global economic turmoil. Investors would rush to other currencies, such as the euro, or other assets, such as gold and commodities. Demand for Treasurys would plummet, and interest rates would rise. U.S. import prices would skyrocket, causing inflation.

U.S. exports would be dirt cheap, given the economy a brief boost. In the long run, inflation, high interest rates, and volatility would strangle possible business growth. Unemployment would worsen, sending the United States back into recession or even a depression.

How to Protect Yourself

Protect yourself from a dollar collapse by first defending yourself from a gradual dollar decline.

Important:  Keep your assets well-diversified by holding foreign mutual funds, gold, and other commodities.

A dollar collapse would create global economic turmoil. To respond to this kind of uncertainty, you must be mobile. Keep your assets liquid, so you can shift them as needed. Make sure your job skills are transferable. Update your passport, in case things get so bad for so long that you need to move quickly to another country. These are just a few ways to protect yourself and survive a dollar collapse.

US Trade Deficit With China and Why It’s So High

The Real Reason American Jobs Are Going to China

The U.S. trade deficit with China was $375 billion in 2017. The trade deficit exists because U.S. exports to China were only $130 billion while imports from China were $506 billion.

The United States imported from China $77 billion in computers and accessories, $70 billion in cell phones, and $54 billion in apparel and footwear. A lot of these imports are from U.S. manufacturers that send raw materials to China for low-cost assembly. Once shipped back to the United States, they are considered imports.

In 2017, China imported from America $16 billion in commercial aircraft, $12 billion in soybeans, and $10 billion in autos. In 2018, China canceled its soybean imports after President Trump started a trade war. He imposed tariffs on Chinese steel exports and other goods. 

Current Trade Deficit

As of July 2018, the United States exported a total of $74.3 billion in goods to China. It imported $296.8 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As a result, the total trade deficit with China is $222.6 billion. A monthly breakdown is in the chart.

US$211.1
Jul 18
US$202
Jan 18
US$205
Feb 18
US$210
Mar 18
US$210
Apr 18
US$214
May 18
US$213
Jun 18
US$211
Jul 18

Causes
China can produce many consumer goods at lower costs than other countries can. Americans, of course, want these goods for the lowest prices. How does China keep prices so low? Most economists agree that China’s competitive pricing is a result of two factors:

A lower standard of living, which allows companies in China to pay lower wages to workers.
An exchange rate that is partially fixed to the dollar.

If the United States implemented trade protectionism, U.S. consumers would have to pay high prices for their “Made in America” goods. It’s unlikely that the trade deficit will change. Most people would rather pay as little as possible for computers, electronics, and clothing, even if it means other Americans lose their jobs.

China is the world’s largest economy. It also has the world’s biggest population. It must divide its production between almost 1.4 billion residents. A common way to measure standard of living is gross domestic product per capita. In 2017, China’s GDP per capita was $16,600. China’s leaders are desperately trying to get the economy to grow faster to raise the country’s living standards. They remember Mao’s Cultural Revolution all too well. They know that the Chinese people won’t accept a lower standard of living forever.

China sets the value of its currency, the yuan, to equal the value of a basket of currencies that includes the dollar. In other words, China pegs its currency to the dollar using a modified fixed exchange rate. When the dollar loses value, China buys dollars through U.S. Treasurys to support it. In 2016, China began relaxing its peg. It wants market forces to have a greater impact on the yuan’s value. As a result, the dollar to yuan conversion has been more volatile since then. China’s influence on the dollar remains substantial.

Effect
China must buy so many U.S. Treasury notes that it is the largest lender to the U.S. government. Japan is the second largest. As of September 2018, the U.S. debt to China was $1.15 trillion. That’s 18 percent of the total public debt owned by foreign countries.

Many are concerned that this gives China political leverage over U.S. fiscal policy. They worry about what would happen if China started selling its Treasury holdings. It would also be disastrous if China merely cut back on its Treasury purchases.

Why are they so worried? By buying Treasurys, China helped keep U.S. interest rates low. If China were to stop buying Treasurys, interest rates would rise. That could throw the United States into a recession. But this wouldn’t be in China’s best interests, as U.S. shoppers would buy fewer Chinese exports. In fact, China is buying almost as many Treasurys as ever.

U.S. companies that can’t compete with cheap Chinese goods must either lower their costs or go out of business. Many businesses reduce their costs by outsourcing jobs to China or India. Outsourcing adds to U.S. unemployment. Other industries have just dried up. U.S. manufacturing, as measured by the number of jobs, declined 34 percent between 1998 and 2010. As these industries declined, so has U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace
.
What’s Being Done
President Trump promised to lower the trade deficit with China. On March 1, 2018, he announced he would impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. On July 6, Trump’s tariffs went into effect for $34 billion of Chinese imports. China canceled all import contracts for soybeans.

Trump’s tariffs have raised the costs of imported steel, most of which is from China. Trump’s move comes a month after he imposed tariffs and quotas on imported solar panels and washing machines. China has become a global leader in solar panel production. The tariffs depressed the stock market when they were announced.

The Trump administration is developing further anti-China protectionist measures, including more tariffs. It wants China to remove requirements that U.S. companies transfer technology to Chinese firms. China requires companies to do this to gain access to its market.

Trump also asked China to do more to raise its currency. He claims that China artificially undervalues the yuan by 15 percent to 40 percent. That was true in 2000. But former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson initiated the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue in 2006. He convinced the People’s Bank of China to strengthen the yuan’s value against the dollar. It increased 2 to 3 percent annually between 2000 and 2013. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew continued the dialogue during the Obama administration.

The Trump administration continued the talks until they stalled in July 2018.

The dollar strengthened 25 percent between 2013 and 2015. It took the Chinese yuan up with it. China had to lower costs even more to compete with Southeast Asian companies. The PBOC tried unpegging the yuan from the dollar in 2015. The yuan immediately plummeted. That indicated that the yuan was overvalued. If the yuan were undervalued, as Trump claims, it would have risen instead.

Source: The Balance

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China’s GPS rival BeiDou to go global


 

 APA
model of the BeiDou Navigation System is displayed during the 12th
China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai earlier
this month.

HONG KONG/BEIJING:China is taking its rivalry with the U.S. to the heavens, spending at least $9 billion to build a celestial navigation system and cut its dependence on the American-owned GPS amid heightening tensions between the two countries.

Location data beamed from GPS satellites are used by smartphones, car navigation systems, the microchip in your dog’s neck and guided missiles — and all those satellites are controlled by the U.S. Air Force.

That makes the Chinese government uncomfortable, so it’s developing an alternative that a U.S. security analyst calls one of the largest space programs the country has undertaken.

A model of the Beidou navigation system satellite. Photographer: Imaginechina

“They don’t want to depend on the U.S.’s GPS,’’ said Marshall Kaplan, a professor in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Maryland. “The Chinese don’t want to be subject to something that we can shut off.’

“They don’t want to depend on the U.S.’s GPS,’’ said Marshall Kaplan, a professor in the aerospace engineering department at the University of Maryland. “The Chinese don’t want to be subject to something that we can shut off.’’

The Beidou Navigation System, currently serving China and neighbors, will be accessible worldwide by 2020 as part of President Xi Jinping’s strategy to make his country a global leader in next-generation technologies.

Its implementation reverberates through the corporate world as makers of semiconductors, electric vehicles and airplanes modify products to also connect with Beidou in order to keep doing business in the second-biggest economy.

Assembly of the new constellation is approaching critical mass after the launch of at least 18 satellites this year, including three this month. On Nov. 19, China launched two more Beidou machines, increasing the number in operation to more than 40. China plans to add 11 more by 2020.

A rocket carrying the 24th and 25th Beidou navigation satellites takes off in Xichang in Nov. 2017. Photographer: Wang Yulei/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Beidou is one element of China’s ambitious campaign to displace Western dominance in aerospace. A state-owned company is developing planes to replace those from Airbus SE and Boeing Co., and domestic startups are building rockets to challenge the commercial-launch businesses of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin.

Next month, China is scheduled to launch Chang’e 4, a lunar probe that would be the first spacecraft to the far side of the moon. A Mars probe and rover also are scheduled for liftoff in 2020.

“It is classic space-race sort of stuff,’’ said Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research in Canberra.

China started developing Beidou in the 1990s and will spend an estimated $8.98 billion to $10.6 billion on it by 2020, according to a 2017 analysis by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The system eventually will provide positioning accuracies of 1 meter (3 feet) or less with use of a ground support system.

Chinese space-tracking ship Yuanwang-3 monitor the launch of a rocket carrying a Beidou satellite in Oct. 2018.  Photographer: Imaginechina

By comparison, GPS typically provides accuracies of less than 2.2 meters, which can be improved to a few centimeters with augmentation systems, the commission said.

“The Beidou system has become one of the great achievements in China’s 40 years of reform,’’ Xi said in a Nov. 5 letter to a United Nations committee on satellite navigation.

The system, named after the Chinese word for the Big Dipper star pattern, is at the core of an industry that will generate more than 400 billion yuan ($57 billion) of revenue in 2020, according to a forecast by the China Satellite Navigation Office.

Beidou Boom

China has increased the pace of satellite launches for its navigation system

Sources: China Satellite Navigation Office, International GNSS Service

*July satellite part of Phase-II

Beidou also has potential for export as part of China’s “Belt and Road’’ initiative to build political and economic ties through funding of infrastructure projects in other countries, the U.S.-China security commission said.

NavInfo Co., a maker of electronic maps that’s backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., wants to begin mass producing semiconductors for navigation systems using Beidou in 2020, said Wang Yan, a project director.

Employees prepare a NavInfo car for data collection in Beijing, June 2018.

Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

Beijing-based NavInfo, which supplies Tesla Inc. and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, expects annual demand of 15 million Beidou-linked chips for autonomous vehicles. In September, NavInfo started providing Beidou-enabled mapping and positioning services for the Singapore government.

“China needs to have its own satellite navigation system from a long-term, strategic perspective,’’ Wang said. “Beidou is the only option.’’

That carries potential implications for the balance of power between the nations, as Beidou’s deployment likely will fuel creation of a supply network for China’s People’s Liberation Army.

“The PLA will additionally have its own domestic ‘industrial chain’ on which to draw for secure components,” the U.S.-China commission said.

Qianxun Spatial Intelligence Inc., a Shanghai-based venture between e-commerce titan Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and state-owned defense contractor China North Industries Group Corp., provides positioning services for cars, public safety and civil aviation using Beidou and other networks.

To help stay competitive against budding Chinese counterparts, foreign companies are including Beidou compatibility in their products. Qualcomm Inc., the biggest maker of chips used in smartphones, has been supporting Beidou “for a long time,” the San Diego-based company said. Those chip sets also are used in wearables and automobiles.

Most smartphones from global sales leader Samsung Electronics Co. support Beidou in addition to GPS, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said, as do handsets from local rivals Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp., according to state media. Huawei is the nation’s top-selling brand.

China also is the largest auto market, and the government wants all car-navigation systems to be Beidou-compatible within two years. Volkswagen AG -– the market leader in passenger car sales — is changing the equipment in its vehicles to enable network access, the company said.

“At the moment, Volkswagen Group China does not sell cars with Beidou-enabled equipment, but the next infotainment system generation for cars in the Chinese market will be rolled out in 2020,’’ the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said. “This system will be ready to receive Beidou information.”

Toyota Motor Corp. is in discussions with companies about Beidou, the Japanese automaker said.

Comac C919 Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

In the sky, a regional jet developed by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, or COMAC, last year became the first plane to use Beidou.

Avionics-systems maker Rockwell Collins Inc., a supplier to Airbus, Boeing and COMAC, doesn’t offer products that can access the Chinese satellite network, the company said.

That may have to change. The Chinese government eventually will require airlines flying in the country to add Beidou equipment, Kaplan said.

“They will have to have the Chinese system on board,’’ he said, citing the government’s security concerns. “The Chinese will require airlines to have both systems.’’

— With assistance by Bruce Einhorn, Dong Lyu, Jie Ma, Sam Kim, and Ian King

 

 

Implications of the ‘RM19bil GST collected, RM18bil taken’ and RM19.4bil shortfall !


The immediate concern is the budget deficit for 2018 spiking to 4% if the GST refunds are made this year

ON May 31, when Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the new government would be able to meet the budget deficit of 2.8% for this year, the sum of RM19.4bil that is to be refunded to companies since the goods and services tax (GST) was discontinued, never came into the equation.

Now, since that money is not in a trust account that was specifically set up to meet the refund obligations, does the government need to borrow more to ensure it meets the refunds? In doing so, would it incur a bigger budget deficit than had been envisaged?

There are wider implications on the shortfall of the RM19.4bil, assuming the refunds are to be done this year.

The biggest challenge for Lim is to cover the shortfall to maintain the budget deficit for 2018 at 2.8%.

The hallmark of the Pakatan Harapan government’s first 100 days of rule is to bring down the cost of living and cost of doing business. Towards this end, it has subsidised the price of petrol and diesel and removed the GST.

The cost of keeping up with the Bantuan Sara Hidup and subsidy for petrol and diesel is estimated to be about RM6.2bil between June and December.

Revenue loss due to discontinuing the GST from June 1 onwards is estimated at RM21bil.

The shortfall is made up of cutting down government expenditure by RM10bil, increasing dividends from government agencies such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Petroliam Nasional Bhd, a higher petroleum income tax of RM5.4bil and proceeds from the implementation of the sales and service tax from September onwards.

Nowhere was the RM19.4bil figure that is to be paid back to companies under the GST that was discontinued mentioned.

Lim has said that the money was supposed to be in the trust account, but is not there and has gone “missing”.

Former Finance Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Siregar Abdullah has said that all proceeds from the GST went into the consolidated fund of the federal government. The amount to be refunded is allocated to the trust account monthly based on the requirements of the Customs Department and the financial position of the government.

Customs director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy has revealed that since the GST was implemented on April 1, 2015, the total refunds amounted to RM82.9bil and the amount allocated to the trust account from the federal government consolidated fund was only RM63.5bil – representing a shortfall of RM19.4bil.

Generally, refunds for the GST are to be done within 14 days. But the amount allocated is less because not all refunds are paid within the two-week period.

At times, refunds are held back up to one year, pending investigations. Hence, the cash allocated to the trust account maintained by the Customs and the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) is less than the total amount due for refunds.

For instance, in 2017, the amount allocated to the IRB trust account for refunds was RM7bil when the total amount to be refunded was more than that.

In the case of the Customs, the outstanding refunds for 2017 was RM15bil, but the amount allocated was less.

Under the previous government, the GST provided a steady flow of cash every month. The thinking was that the money for refunds should be allocated when it comes due to best manage the cash-flow position of the government.

However, the view of Lim is that money meant for refunds should have been put into the trust account, irrespective of whether there is a need to pay immediately or otherwise.

Hence, the issue is not really the question of the RM19.4bil meant for refunds going “missing”.

It is whether the money is still in the consolidated accounts or whether it has been utilised. If it was utilised, did the government have the right to use it for other purposes in the name of cash-flow management?

The bigger implication for the Pakatan government is how it is going to cover this RM19.4bil shortfall.

One of the ways the government can cover the RM19.4bil hole without increasing the deficit is to cut more of the excesses.

On this score, the Pakatan government has so far handled public funds in a more judicious manner compared to the previous government. It has cut down the budget for inflated infrastructure projects and stopped unnecessary spending.

The light rail transit 3 and East Coast Rail Link projects are only some examples. It has stopped prestigious projects such as the KL-Singapore high-speed rail and the less glamorous mass rapid transit line 3 project. The government of today has earned full marks for being transparent and diligent in handling public finances.

Despite declaring that the federal government debt is at RM1.07 trillion, business sentiment is at a seven-year high, while consumer sentiment is at a 21-year high.

The stock market is looking good so far, much better than the likes of China and Hong Kong, although the improved sentiments are likely to be temporary.

As for the ringgit against the US dollar, its performance is better against many of the Asian and emerging-market currencies. The tumbling of the Turksih lira and Russian rouble is testimony that the ringgit is not that bad after all.

The government can probe, produce a White Paper or do anything else to look into the RM19.4bil shortfall, but the bottom line is that Lim and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will have to face the reality of making up for a RM19.4bil shortfall in government finances for this year.

Economists are predicting that the federal government budget deficit would be higher than the 2.8% estimated on May 31 this year on the assumptions are made this year. Some are looking at the budget deficit to be as high as 4%

Would there be an impact on Malaysia’s credit rating and the ringgit?

Yes, a spike in the budget deficit would have an impact for the short term.

However, the government of the day will score brownie points in its drive to bring about reforms and governance in the management of public funds. Rating agencies would appreciate any government that promotes transparency and improves on its finances purely by spending within its means.

So far, the government has done away with the GST and taken measures to put more cash into the hands of the people and business to improve domestic spending. The stabilisation of petrol prices and threemonth (June to September) tax-free period between the implementation of the GST and SST has put RM20bil into the hands of the people and businesses. This should help improve the domestic economy for a few months.

However, for the longer term, investors and rating agencies will be looking at how the RM19.4bil hole in the federal government finances will be covered. What are the government assets that will be sold?

Certainly, we are not looking at an expansionary budget come November this year.

Source:  The Alternative view by M.Sshanmugam The Star

RM19bil GST collected, RM18bil taken’

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5819661623001

KUALA LUMPUR: The previous government has not been able to refund companies their tax credit that came about following the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) because 93% of the money was not placed in the correct account, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed.

He said some RM18bil of the RM19.4bil input tax credit under the GST system since 2015 was “robbed” by the previous administration.

“I was very shocked when informed that this happened because the previous government had failed to enter the GST collection in the trust account specifically meant for the repaying of GST claims.

“Instead, the Barisan Nasional government pilfered the trust account and entered cash GST collection directly into the consolidated fund as revenue to be spent freely,” he said when tabling the GST (Repeal) Bill 2018 during its second reading in Parliament yesterday.

He said that as of May 31, the outstanding GST refund stood at RM19.397bil whereas there was only a balance of RM1.486bil in the repayment fund.

Lim said from the total input tax credit, RM9.2bil or 47% was recorded between Jan 1 and May 31 this year, RM6.8bil or 35% in 2017, RM2.8bil (15%) in 2016, and RM600mil (3%) in 2015 (from April 1 to Dec 31, 2015).

Under GST, the input tax credit allowed businesses to reclaim credit for taxes paid on purchases, subject to filing of input tax documents.

In his winding-up reply, Lim said a comprehensive investigation would be carried out to determine the cause of the missing funds.

When debating the Bill, Lim also said he had asked for documents to show how the input tax had ended up in the consolidated fund.

“I asked the Chief Secretary to the Government for the Cabinet papers on the matter.

“However, he told me he could not remember anything of such,” he added.

Lim said former Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, when told of the missing funds, said it was imperative that the money was returned to the claimants as it was fiscally moral to do so.

Later, at the Parliament lobby, Lim said a former Treasury secretary-general may have been aware of the missing RM18bil.

The previous government, he said, had committed wrongdoing over the missing funds.

“I would assume the previous KSP (ketua setiausaha perbendaharaan/Treasury secretary-general) would have known about this.

“We want something definite because we want to look at the circle of decision-makers,” he said.

By martin carvalho, hemananthani sivanandam, rahimy rahim, and loshana k shagar The Star

Khairy urges gov’t to bring ‘GST robbers’ to book

BN MPs want Najib, RM18b GST ‘robbery’ claim investigated


Related 

GST refunds should be in trust account: ACCCIM – theSundaily

RM18b input tax credit under GST system robbed … – The Straits Times

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Here is how 1MDB money was used to buy Equanimity


The rich are becoming richer


 

They are becoming richer at a faster rate too

 

DON’T the rich always grow richer, while the poor well, remain poor.

If you’re already disheartened, it gets worst. The rich are getting richer, and at a faster rate too.

A 36-page report released by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) last month showed that global personal financial wealth grew by 12% in 2017 to US$201.9 trillion.

This total, roughly 2.5 times as large as the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year (US$81 trillion), more than doubled the previous year’s rate, when global wealth rose by 4%.

It also represented the strongest annual growth rate in the past five years in dollar terms.

“The main drivers were the bull market environment in all major economies, with wealth in equities and investment funds showing by far the strongest growth and the significant strengthening of most major currencies against the dollar,” said BCG in the report.

The increasing millionaires and billionaires now hold almost half of global personal wealth, up from slightly less than 45% in 2012, says BCG. In North America, which had US$86.1 trillion of total wealth, 42% of investable capital is held by people with more than US$5mil in assets. Investable assets include equities, investment funds, cash and bonds

In terms of asset classes, US$121.6 trillion (60%) of global wealth took the form of investable assets – mainly equities, investment funds, currency and deposits, and bonds, with the remaining US$80.3 trillion (40%) held in non-investable or low-liquidity assets such as life insurance, pensions funds, and equity in unquoted companies.

Residents of North America held over 40% of global personal wealth, followed by residents of Western Europe, with 22%. The strongest region of growth was Asia, which posted a 19% increase. All wealth segments grew robustly, but high growth rates were especially prevalent in the uppermost wealth segments.

The market sizing review encompasses 97 countries that collectively account for 98% of the world’s gross domestic product.

The personal wealth bands are generally measured as such:

1. Retail: below US$250,000

2. Affluent: between US$250,000 to US$1mil

3. Lower High Net Worth (HNW): between US$1mil and US$20mil

4. Upper HNW: between US$20mil and US$100mil

5. Ultra HNW: above US$100mil

Everybody is getting richer

The US is home to the largest number of people with more than US$20mil. Globally, the classes of the ultra-rich are expected to reach 671,000 by 2022.

Meanwhile, the Middle East is the region with the greatest share of wealth held in investable assets US$3.1 trillion of a total US$3.8 trillion. Western European residents held 56% in currency and deposits, while in North America the attention was on equities and investment funds, with 62% of US$47 trillion of investable wealth parked in those assets.

Should personal wealth creation continues at the rate of the past few years, BCG forecasts a compounded annual growth rate of about 7% from 2017 to 2022, in US dollar.

Events like stock market corrections and geopolitical uncertainties could knock that down to 4%.

In a worse-case scenario, such as a major economic crisis, global wealth might produce a compound growth rate of only 1% over five years, the study found.

BCG says opportunities abound for wealth managers seeking to increase their focus on different client segments.

For example, despite being far apart on the wealth spectrum, both the above US$20mil segment (upper HNW and ultra HNW) and the affluent segment are attractive because they represent very large wealth pools with high growth rates.

In 2017, the upper HNW and ultra HNW segments held more than US$26 trillion in investable wealth.

US residents held over 30% of this wealth, making the US easily the largest country of origin.

Other economic areas with large pools of ultra HNW investable assets include developing markets such as China (in second place), Hong Kong, India, Russia and Brazil, and developed markets such as Germany (in third place), France and Italy.

The share of wealth held by upper HNW and ultra HNW individuals varies widely aong the top 15 countries, ranging from 47% in Hong Kong to 8% in Japan.

Over the next five years, the upper HNW and ultra HNW segments wealth is likely to post the highest growth across all regions.

“Financial institutions looking to acquire and serve these segments will need to bring a broad international skill set to the table,” said BCG.

Affluent individuals

Afluent individuals is a segment whose population is burgeoning, hold a large and increasing amount of the world’s personal wealth at US$17.3 trillion or 14% of investable assets in 2017. (see chart)

This group of about 72 million people represents the growing middle class and many of its members will become the millionaires of tomorrow.

“We expect the wealth of this segment to post a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7% over the next five years, increasing its pool of wealth to nearly US$25 trillion. To successfully tap into this segment, wealth managers must have at their disposal an efficient service model and significant skill in and innovative digital technologies,” said BCG.


Entrepreneurs

The entrepreneur segment represents another attractive opportunity for wealth managers to tap into money in motion and provide needed services.

“We expect these individuals, who have equity in their own companies – recorded as unquoted equities (non-investable wealth) – to significantly increase their pool of investable assets, by liquidating some or all of their equity through sales and by earning new wealth through their entrepreneurial activities. The largest pools of entrepreneurial wealth are in the US, France, Italy and Japan.

 

Asia

Personal wealth in Asia grew by 19% to US$36.5 trillion, with residents of China holding nearly 57% of that amount, and the region registered per capita wealth of US$13,000. Although the asset allocation share of equities ad investment funds has grown over the past five years (from 22% in 2012 to 31% in 2017), Asia remains a cash-and-deposit-heavy region, with 44% of personal wealth held in this asset class. We project regional wealth to grow over the next five years at a CAGR of 12%.

Meanwhile Switzerland remains the largest offshore centre, domiciling US$2.3 trillion in personal wealth in the country. The next largest booking centres are Hong Kong (US$1.1 trillion) and Singapore (US$0.9 trillion) which have grown at yearly rates of 11% and 10% respectively – more than three times the rate (3%) of Switzerland over the past five years.

Over the next five years, BCG feels off

By Tee Lin Say, Starbiz

Malaysia scraps MRT3 project, reviews HSR, ECRL mega projects to reduce borrowings


PUTRAJAYA: The Klang Valley mass rapid transit line 3 (MRT 3 or Circle Line) project, reported to cost between RM40bil and RM45bil, will not proceed, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The MRT3 or MRT Circle Line was planned as the third MRT line for the Greater Klang Valley area.

While the MRT1 connects Sungai Buloh and Kajang, the MRT2, which is now under construction, will run from Sungai Buloh to Serdang and Putrajaya.

MRT3 was planned as a loop line to integrate the lines, with most of its stations underground.

He also said the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) was still being studied, while a review was being done on the East Cost Rail Link (ECRL).

He said Malaysia was open to re-considering its decision on the HSR if Singapore could convince Malaysia to proceed with it.

He said the Cabinet had agreed for the rail project to be scrapped, but it would also depend on discussions with Singapore.

“We want to do this as it has high financial implications. But we will listen to them (if Singapore wants to proceed). They are our good partners,” he told the media after chairing the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

He explained that Malaysia needed to reduce its borrowings, hence the decision to scrap HSR and review other mega projects that cost billions of ringgit.

“We have borrowed too much money. If this country is to avoid bankruptcy, we must learn how to manage our big debts by doing away with projects that are not beneficial to the country,” he added.

Later, at a buka puasa event at Putrajaya International Convention Centre, he said the money spent on the HSR project did not justify the number of jobs it could generate.

“If you are going to spend RM60bil to RM100bil so that thousands of people can work, that’s not very efficient,” he said in response to a Facebook post by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who defended the HSR.

Najib, who asked the Government not to make “an emotional decision” to scrap the project, said the HSR was projected to create RM650bil in gross national income and 110,000 job opportunities, which could expand to 442,000 jobs by 2069.

On the fate of the ECRL, Dr Mahathir said the project has not been called off and a detailed review was being conducted.

“We haven’t cancelled ECRL. We have spent a lot of money on it and need to look at ways to handle this matter,” he said.

According to recent reports, the actual cost of the ECRL could be more than RM55bil.

Dr Mahathir also said the 11th Malaysia Plan mid-term review would be tabled in Parliament in November along with Budget 2019.

“The review will take into consideration the progress of projects carried out from 2016 to 2018, and the Government’s way forward for the remaining period of between this year and 2020,” he added.

Parliament is expected to start its meeting next month, but Dr Mahathir said the dates had yet to be fixed since the appointment of ministers had not been completed.

On whether the Cabinet had decided on the fate of the National Civics Bureau (BTN), he said the matter was still being studied.

The Prime Minister also said no decision had been made on whether the Department of Islamic Develop­ment (Jakim) would be closed.

 

Related post:

SST implementation date among key decisions made by Cabinet

 https://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2018/05/16/04/35/1mdba.ashx/?w=620&h=413&crop=1&hash=ECE23B276AA140BA80725A657A4FE4303340DA4A
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