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BANKING NEWS FLASH 20th September 2013

Table of Contents Sales & Marketing ................................................................................................................. 3 Finance ............................................................................................................................... 15 Technology .......................................................................................................................... 28 Strategy .............................................................................................................................. 40

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Sales & Marketing Citi drives contactless payments in Philippines with Visa PayWave 20 September, 2013 | Finextra Citi Philippines and Visa today introduced the first contactless credit card payment technology in the country with Citibank Visa payWave. Offering Citibank Visa cardholders a faster, secure and hassle-free payment option, this latest innovation is set to change the local payments landscape for both retailers and consumers. Iain Jamieson, Visa Country Manager, Philippines and Guam, believes contactless payments will spur the country's evolution towards a cashless society, reducing time waiting in checkout queues for "everyday" purchases, such as groceries, fast food meals, coffee and movie tickets. The leader in credit cards, Citi Philippines is acknowledged for consistently setting new benchmarks with world class products and raising the bar with groundbreaking client service. In recent years, Citi has pioneered mobile-based payments with credit cards, real-time account inquiry with SMS and account management convenience with combined credit limit for multiple Citi cardholders. According to Citi Country Officer Batara Sianturi, "Citi is proud to once again be at the forefront of customer banking innovation in the Philippines. We are delighted to introduce our clients to a new way to pay with their credit cards - where they simply wave, pay and go. In partnership with Visa and the merchants, we are committed to better serve customers." Citibank is driving contactless payments in the Philippines with the issuance of the country's first Visa payWave credit card and by partnering with merchants to offer the payment technology to customers. "Today's launch of Visa payWave marks a tremendous step forward in transforming the Philippines into a modern, cashless society. Time is the most valuable asset for busy Filipino cardholders who no longer have to wait in long queues or fumble with cash or coins. Our research1 shows that cardholders appreciate Visa payWave because they don't have to carry cash for small-value purchases - and it is as secure as paying with a regular Visa chip card. Retailers will benefit from faster checkouts, reduced queuing and lowering cash handling costs," said Jamieson. With the new Citibank Visa payWave, cardholders can simply wave their cards in front of a Visa payWave reader to pay for their goods. They also have the convenience of making transactions without needing to sign for purchases below PHP2,000 but are given the option to collect the receipt. On average, Visa payWave transactions can be up to three times faster than cash payments, reducing queuing times for both cardholders and retailers and all with the added benefit that the Visa payWave card does not leave the cardholders' hand.

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Consumer Business Manager for Citi Philippines Bea Tan is confident that their cardholders will embrace the new technology. "We understand our customers and know the demands on their time and how their lifestyles are changing. Our latest innovation will empower our clients to access the latest technology in credit card payments - all while enjoying best in class rewards that they can only have with Citibank credit cards." "This is just the beginning and we will soon introduce more places to use Visa payWave where time is most essential, including food courts, more fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience stores. Visa is working with our partners to drive greater acceptance of Visa payWave cards and to offer cardholders more Visa payWave cards that are relevant for a variety of lifestyles and needs," concluded Jamieson

Google Wallet comes to the iPhone 20 September, 2013 | Finextra Google has finally launched an NFC-less version of its mobile Wallet app for Apple's iPhone. Earlier this week Google overhauled Wallet, opening it up to all Android devices running version 2.3 or higher and AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon subscribers. The search giant has now taken another step to kick-start the troubled app's fortunes by bringing it to rival Apple's handset, which does not have NFC. Like the latest Android effort, the iPhone app lets users make free person-to-person payments from their bank account or Google Wallet balance to anyone in the US with an e-mail address. Customers can also add their loyalty cards to the app by scanning barcodes or entering their numbers. In-store customers can then collect points by scanning the app at checkout. Meanwhile, offers found through apps such as Google Maps, Search and Google+, as well as select merchant and couponing sites such as Valpak, can be redeemed from the Wallet at checkout. When Google first unveiled its Wallet two years, the move was widely expected to kickstart the mobile NFC payments revolution. However, the technology has failed to take off - in large part because Apple has repeatedly snubbed it - and Google's latest overhaul sees far more focus on loyalty, following in the footsteps of Apple's own Passbook

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UK to raise GBP3.2bn by divesting Lloyds’s 6% stake 17 September, 2013 | BBR British government is set to launch a sale process to divest its 6% stake in part-nationalized Lloyds Banking Group, in a transaction expected to be valued at approximately £3.2bn ($5.1bn). UK Financial Investments (UKFI) said that the price at which the Placing Shares are sold will be determined by way of an accelerated bookbuilding process. The Placing shares are expected to include 4,282,034,109 shares of the company's ordinary shares. Following completion of the proposed transaction, the overall size of HM Treasury's shareholding in the banking group will be reduced from nearly 38.7% to approximately 32.7%. The disposal of the shares will enable the British government to recoup some part of £21bn taxpayers' money, which was infused in Lloyds during the financial crisis of 2008. A Treasury spokesman said, "We want to get the best value for the taxpayer, maximise support for the economy and restore them to private ownership. The government will only conclude a sale if these objectives are met." UKFI, which manages the government's stakes in Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), said it will not divest any more shares in the bank for a period of 90 days. For the current sale of shares, JP Morgan Cazenove, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS Investment Bank are acting as joint bookrunners, while Lazard is acting as capital markets adviser for the proposed transaction. In April 2013, Lloyds Banking's planned sale of 630 bank branches to the Co-operative Group fell apart, following Co-op's decision to cancel the deal. Most recently, the bank floated a new bank named TSB, with a network of 630 unsold branch offices, which will focus on offering retail-banking services in the country

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First Gulf Bank of Abu Dhabi plans to eliminate 10% of total workforce 13 September, 2013 | BBR UAE-based lender First Gulf Bank (FGB) is planning to slash approximately 300 employees, which equates to almost 10% of its total workforce, as part of a business restructuring strategy. Sources familiar with the matter were quoted by Reuters as saying that the lender had already informed about the redundancy plan to its employees. The lender is set to reduce nearly 80 jobs at its bancassurance division and approximately 120 jobs will go at its credit cards business, one source told Reuters. Concentrating to boost its investment banking division, and to rationalize its entire operation, the bank is transferring some of its staff to certain departments. Managed by Abu Dhabi's ruling family, the FGB said that the job cut would especially affect its employees working in the consumer banking business. An email statement of FGB was quoted by the news agency as saying, "As part of a recent reorganisation, the bank has reduced a number of roles in its consumer banking operation. "This reduction in the workforce underlines the bank's commitment to managing its costs in a prudent and sustainable manner." The latest move of the gulf lender is also seen as its desire to boost international banking operation, while scaling down dependency on domestic market, amid competition from more than 50 local and global lenders

Citi likely to eliminate nearly 2,200 jobs in mortgage lending division 12 September, 2013 | BBR Citi, US-based global financial group, is reportedly mulling to slash nearly 2,200 employees at its mortgage business division across the US by early 2014. Executives at the bank were quoted by Fox Business as saying that increasing mortgage interest rates have reduced scope for mortgage lending and refinancing activities and thus impacted division's revenues.

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Currently, a 30-year fixed-rate home loan charges more than 4.6%, compared to 3.5% before the summer, and this sudden surge in mortgage rates has reduced consumers' demand. Citigroup communications director Mark Rogers told Fox Business, "We recently announced the closing of the CitiMortgage Danville, Illinois, facility due to decreased refinance volumes, and discontinued some telesales positions. "We have nothing further to announce at this time." During the second quarter earnings, Citigroup chief executive Michael Corbat said, "In the U.S., although the housing market is gaining strength, the lower volume of mortgage refinancing will impact our consumer business." It is believed that other global US mortgage lenders including Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, will cut approximately 22,300 staff in their mortgage divisions in the coming months. JPMorgan Chase is likely to axe approximately 19,000 employees over the next two years in states including California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Florida

Bank of England mulls to introduce plastic banknotes by 2016 11 September, 2013 | BBR The Bank of England (BoE) is planning to debut new polymer notes by 2016, to provide both the durability and quality of banknotes, while also enhancing the strong security for the currency. The UK's central bank has launched a two-month public consultation to get the feedback on the move and it is likely that it will make a final call in December 2013. The bank, which has already conducted a research for the last three years, said that the plastic notes are difficult to counterfeit, more durable, environmental friendly, cleaner, and cheaper, compared to paper based banknotes. Resistant to dirt and moisture, the proposed polymer note are flexible to fit into wallets and purses and are durable even under harsh conditions, claims the BoE. The Bank of England deputy governor Charles Bean said that BoE would print notes on polymer only if they feel persuaded that the public would continue to have confidence in, and be comfortable with, the notes. "The results of the consultation programme on which we are embarking will therefore form a vital part of our assessment of the merits of polymer banknotes," Bean added.

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Using the idea that the higher the denomination, the bigger the note, the BoE would prefer to introduce smaller banknotes

Ingenico integrates with Tagattitude for African mobile money 10 September, 2013 | Finextra Ingenico (Euronext: FR0000125346 ‐ ING), leading worldwide provider of payment solutions announces strategic partnership with Tagattitude, leading mobile money software vendor, to deliver mobile money solutions in Africa. This partnership is designed to address the specific mobile money demands of the continent with the objective to establish secured electronic transaction infrastructure which will drive financial inclusion in Africa. Tagattitude's mobile money platform, TagPay, supports a full range of financial services such as account management, money transfer, retail transactions, airtime, payroll services, e-commerce, bill payments, gift vouchers and more‌ Combining Ingenico's leading experience in the payment industry with Tagattitude's complete and adaptable mobile money platform, it is now possible for banks, telcos, Payment Service Providers, or other financial institutions to transform any customer's phone into a secure transaction tool. Jacques Behr, EVP EMEA, Ingenico, commented: "Ingenico is delighted to partner with Tagattitude to develop mobile money services in Africa and to contribute to the economic growth of the region and the development of emerging countries. This partnership reflects our strategy in supporting financial inclusion initiatives and delivering effective value added services to banks and merchants." Ingenico's commercial partnership with Tagattitude is bolstered by a technical integration allowing mobile payment and branchless banking transactions to be carried out securely and conveniently between a customer's phone and a merchant's Ingenico terminal. "We are thrilled to have the trust and support of Ingenico. Tagattitude has been focused on the African mobile money market from the start. TagPay is already being used by mobile money services over 20 countries. This new partnership with Ingenico will strengthen TagPay's position as the leading mobile money platform. Ingenico's market leadership will enable us to accelerate the financial inclusion of all populations equipped with mobile phones." stated HervĂŠ Manceron, COO, Tagattitude

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Barclays launches cloud-based document management system 09 September, 2013 | Finextra Barclays Bank has launched a Web-based filing system where online banking customers can upload and store important personal and business documents, such as bills, birth certificates and passports. Barclays Cloud IT is billed by the bank as a secure online deposit box where customers can store and manage all of their important documents in one place. The system has been made available automatically to existing online customers through a module on the home page, and pre-populated with with an archive of banking correspondence and statements. Customers are being invited to 'do away with drawers full of paperwork' and scan in other documents, such as a bills and copies of their driving license and passport. Users can create separate boxes for their personal paperwork and business documents and set up renewal, payment and other alerts via e-mail and SMS

JP Morgan Chase to exit student-loan business 06 September, 2013 | BBR JP Morgan Chase plans to cease its student loan business from mid October this year, as students are increasingly opting for government-backed loans. JP Morgan, which offered merely $200m in student loans in 2012 against a whopping $6.9bn in 2008, said that it will not accept any student loan applications after 12 October 2013. The American multinational banking and financial services holding company, which has already been scaling down its student loans operations from spring of 2012, said that there is no much room to expand the business. In a memo sent by the bank to colleges, JP Morgan cleared that it will conclude the final loan disbursements before 15 March 2014. A JP Morgan Chase spokeswoman Trish Wexler said in an interview, "We just no longer see meaningful growth in this market and have decided to invest our resources in our other business, like auto lending, where we do see some real future potential."

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Previously, private banks were lending to students on the guarantee of the government, although, the scenario changed after mid-2010, when the federal government stepped in to offer the loans directly to the students. Recently regulators have asked the private lenders and the bank to implement more flexible repayment terms on student loans for struggling borrowers, which has forced banks to reconsider their student loans business, as they are already facing currency crunch to meet the new capital requirements. The US investment lender is facing a series of legal cases, including notorious London Whale trading scandal, which forced it to swallow $6.2bn losses. Over the last two years, it has spent approximately $10bn in legal cases and at the end of June 2013 raised its estimate of losses to more than its reserves to $6.8bn from $6bn at the end of March 2013. Most recently, the lender agreed to pay $18.3m to settle a case, which claimed that its Bear Stearns unit failed to disclose the authentic interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgage documents

IBM helps IndusInd Bank track customer location and activity for promotions push 06 September, 2013 | Finextra Big Blue is going big brother, providing technology to India's IndusInd Bank which tracks customers' location and activity and uses the information to push them promotions. In a first-of-its-kind deployment, IndusInd is using the technology developed by IBM Research in a bid to connect customers with contextual information which can be used to offer personalised, location-based recommendations and offers in real time. Bank customers who opt in to the service will see their location and activity logged and crossreferenced, meaning that as they conduct daily transactions - such as buying airline tickets or shopping at the mall - they are sent relevant promotions by e-mail and text. The technology is embedded within the bank's various channels - Internet, ATM, SMS, phone and branch - as part of a wider overhaul of its front office aimed at improving personalisation. Sumant Kathpalia, head, consumer banking, IndusInd Bank, says: "IBM's new technology helps us understand customers as individuals and prepares us to respond more pervasively to the growing opportunities within the digital, social and mobile marketplace."

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Bionym bids to replace passwords with heartbeat 04 September, 2013 | Finextra Canadian start-up Bionym is promising to make passwords, keys and wallets relics of the past with a bracelet that authenticates its wearer through their heartbeat. The Nymi bracelet has an embedded sensor which recognises the wearer's unique electrocardiogram (ECG) and communicates their identity to their devices - be that their computer, car or TV - using Bluetooth. The system offers three-factor security because it requires a personalised bracelet, the owner's unique heartbeat and a smartphone registered to the Nymi app. The bracelet also has a built in accelerometer and gyroscope to track the wearer's movement, enabling them to carry out tasks using gestures. Users can also create custom notifications, allowing for connection to e-mails, texts, social updates and more. Bionym is preparing to release its APIs and SDKs to developers who can put the technology to practical use. In a promotional video, the firm suggests that its technology could be used to access online banking, pay at the point-of-sale, open car doors and control smart TVs. The bracelet has just been made available for pre-order for US$79, with the first batch set to ship in early 2014. The app will be available on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OSX. Karl Martin, CEO, Bionym, says: "The Nymi has been built by the principles of Privacy by Design. This means that each user has complete control over their data and identity. Transparency is very important to Bionym's culture, and every user has a right to know where their data is going."

KBC Bank Ireland chooses Acquirer Systems for debit card launch in Ireland 03 September, 2013 | BBR KBC Bank Ireland has inked an agreement with Acquirer Systems for a license of its flagship product ASTREX, with plans to implement it as enterprise-wide issuing testing platform to support the launch of the bank’s new MasterCard debit card portfolio. Enabling the lender to validate the quality performance standards for new products independently of its outsourced processing provider, the new platform will give the bank with a real-time test environment that simulates the end-to-end payments ecosystem.

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KBC Bank Ireland retail products head Edward Dillon said that the alliance with Acquirer Systems will make it possible for KBC to launch a debit card product in an accelerated time frame while assuring the highest standards of quality. “Robust testing and verification of product performance is indispensable to our ambition to excel in service experience and quality,” Dillon added. Established in 1997 and headquartered in Dublin, Acquirer Systems offers test and validation technologies to for the payments industry, including bank card issuers, merchant acquirers, payments processors, and terminal vendors

PE firms compete to acquire Spain’s nationalized bank EVO Banco 03 September, 2013 | BBR Private equity groups from the US and the UK are vying to acquire Spainish nationalized bank EVO Banco, in a bid to tap the emerging business opportunities of the country. A consortium of US buyout group Centerbridge, and the UK-based Anacap are engaged in discussions with Nova Galicia, for the potential acquisition of EVO Banco, as reported by the Financial Times. Sources familiar with the matter were quoted by the news agency as saying that if the negotiations will continue on the right track, the proposed deal might be announced in the next two weeks. Spain's state bank rescue fund, dubbed as the Fondo de reestructuración ordenada bancaria (FROB), owns EVO Banco, and the proposed sale might help the fund to recoup some money it infused in the lender. FROB was set up in June 2009 by the Spanish government with an initial funding of €99bn, to act as a banking bailout and reconstruction program. Mediobanca, which is acting as an adviser for Nova Galicia, said it was going ahead with the disposal of EVO, although it declined to disclose the name of the potential acquirers. French-based financial company BNP Paribas is serving as adviser to the Frob, over the deal. The interested parties have placed their final bids two weeks ago and are currently carrying out due diligence on EVO Banco, people close to the sales process said. The Bank of Spain has already accepted applications for Spanish banking licences from the two bidders, which will require regulatory capital to be kept in Spain and place limits on future dividend payments.

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"If a deal materialises, it will be the first time a lender owned by Spain's state bank rescue fund has been bought by a foreign investor since the start of a crisis that forced the Spanish government to request a European bailout", a source told the news agency. Since it division from its parent group, EVO has been incurring losses, although the divestment is likely to get a positive valuation of the bank, which serves approximately 250,000 clients, manages 80 bank offices and has nearly 600 staff.

Siam Commercial Bank selects BWise eGRC platform 03 September, 2013 | Finextra BWise, a Nasdaq OMX company and a global leader in Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) software, today announced that it has been selected by Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Thailand's third largest commercial bank, to deliver and implement the BWise eGRC platform to support SCB with the automation and integration of their initiatives for Internal Audit, Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Compliance. "We are very proud to have been selected by SCB to support their 'GRC Journey,'" said Sebe Gerritsen, Regional Director Asia, BWise. "Their integrated approach towards Internal Audit, Risk Management, Compliance and Business Continuity Management is mature and sophisticated and requires a robust but flexible eGRC software platform. Our global expertise and many years of experience in deploying eGRC software in banking, combined with our local presence through our competent Thai partner Yip in Tsoi, allow us to provide SCB with a first-class GRC solution." "With its strong expertise, we believe BWise will be able to provide a truly integrated, out-of-the-box but very flexible platform which can be configured to fit our specific needs and to also enhance our Internal Audit, Risk Management, Compliance and Business Continuity Management platform efficiency," said Dr. Ellen Nora Ryan, Head of Market and Operational Risk, Risk Management Group, SCB. "Large financial institutions and enterprises in Southeast Asia are now faced with a highly regulated environment combined with local standards," said Rob Van Straten, Senior Vice President, BWise. "Our commitment to the region is underscored by the recent opening of our Bangkok office to deliver our integrated GRC approach to customers to efficiently achieve compliance and control over their financial and reputational risks. SCB is our second banking customer in Thailand and we expect to initiate more Asian projects in the near future."

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Gresham relocates corporate HQ 03 September, 2013 | Finextra Gresham Computing plc, a leading provider of transaction control solutions to international financial institutions and corporates, today announced a move to new corporate headquarters in London. The move follows a record first six months and impressive growth for Gresham. Gresham has seen strong uptake in its flagship Clareti Transaction Control (CTC) solution from banks, financial institutions and corporates globally. CTC's ability to rapidly on-board existing and emerging reconciliations onto an enterprise-wide platform allows customers to rapidly introduce control and achieve significant business benefits As part of this success, Gresham recently relocated its corporate headquarters to 10 - 15 Queen Street, City of London. Earlier this year, Gresham grew its Asia Pacific presence with a new regional headquarters in Sydney and a new office in Singapore. Gresham has also expanded its UK development centre, with additional facilities for new developers, client facing workshops and training. "We are seeing a significant shift in the reconciliations space as organisations look to comply with regulations and transition away from legacy technology and manual processes," said Chris Errington, CEO, Gresham Computing. "Organisations are looking for a real-time solution to replace existing controls that are failing in the matching and reconciliation space. CTC is being selected as the forward looking technology to provide those controls." Errington adds, "We continue to make a significant investment in our CTC offering to ensure that we are providing current and future clients with a solution that can quickly replace outdated systems and handle new and complex financial instruments."

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Finance JP Morgan agrees to pay $920m penalties to settle London Whale scandal 20 September, 2013 | BBR US-based lender JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay penalties of $920m (£572m) to global regulators, over its failings to supervise and manage ‘London Whale’ trading scandal, which forced the bank to suffer a $6.2bn loss. Under the terms of the agreement, the bank will reimburse $300m to the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Federal Reserve, each will receive $200m. Additionally, the bank will have to cough up a further £138m ($220m) to the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as part of the global settlement. The FCA said that the trading losses incurred due to high-risk trading strategy, weak management of trading and an inadequate response to important information present in the CIO's Synthetic Credit Portfolio (SCP). The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused JP Morgan Chase for misstating financial results and lacking effective internal controls to discover and prevent its traders from fraudulently overvaluing investments to conceal hundreds of millions of dollars in trading losses. The bank has accepted the wrongdoing, admitted the charges leveled by the SEC, and publicly acknowledging that it violated the federal securities laws, said the US securities regulator. Commenting on the global settlement, JP Morgan chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said that the bank has accepted responsibility and acknowledged the mistakes from the start, and has learned from them and worked to fix them. "We will continue to strive towards being considered the best bank - across all measures - not only by our shareholders and customers, but also by our regulators," Dimon added. SEC enforcement division co-director George Canellos commented, "JPMorgan failed to keep watch over its traders as they overvalued a very complex portfolio to hide massive losses." Most recently, US regulators filed criminal charges against two former JP Morgan traders who were accused of concealing losses on failed trades.

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In another legal debacle, the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) imposed a monetary penalty of $309m against JP Morgan, for its illegal credit card practices, during October 2005 and January 2012

Bank data API start-up Plaid raises $2.8m 20 September, 2013 | Finextra Plaid, the US start-up behind an API that lets banks share financial data with developers, has raised $2.8 million in a funding round led by Spark Capital. Google Ventures, NEA, Felicis Ventures, and Homebrew Capital also joined the funding round for the firm which has been in private beta for several months, according to VentureBeat. Plaid says that its Restful API allows developers to programatically interact with banks and credit cards, giving them access to account and transactional data, including merchant names, street addresses and geocoordinates. Founder Zach Perret told VentureBeat that the lack of a unified bank API and poor quality transactional data has made it difficult to build apps that help users make the most of their financial data. "Financial technology has always had significant barriers to entry, and by simplifying the infrastructure we're helping developers transform the way businesses and consumers use their financial data," he says. The firm claims to have already attracted significant interest from developers, using the API to build apps related to things such as accounting, expenses and lending

JP Morgan likely to ink $800m 'London Whale' settlement with regulators 18 September, 2013 | BBR JP Morgan Chase is likely to ink $800m settlement agreement with financial regulators in the US and UK, to settle the charges of 'London Whale' trading case, which forced the lender to sustain $6.2bn losses. Sources familiar with the matter were quoted by media sources as saying that the bank will also admit its failures in maintaining required internal controls as well as disclosing wrong information pertaining to the 2012 trades.

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It is believed that the settlement with the SEC, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve and the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will be announced shortly. The settlement with US and UK will possibly make JP Morgan responsible for failing to properly oversee former traders, who were accountable for the trading bets and lacked sufficient controls to thwart alleged hide of the losses. While its chief executive Jamie Dimon has apologized to shareholders for the episode, the lender has repeatedly claimed that its executives had not intentionally mislead investors over the losses. Most recently, regulators filed criminal charges against two former JP Morgan traders who were accused of concealing losses on the failed trades. In another legal debacle, the US Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is reportedly pressing JP Morgan to pay $6bn to settle cases over sale of bad mortgage bonds to government-backed finance companies Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC). Over the last two years, the bank has incurred nearly $10bn in legal cases and at the end of June 2013, it raised its estimate of losses to more than of its reserves to $6.8bn from $6bn at the end of March this year

EBA Clearing Step2 platform hits 2bn Sepa payments mark 18 September, 2013 | Finextra EBA Clearing's Step2 platform is at the heart of the ongoing Sepa volume ramp-up, which has started to accelerate: over the summer, Step2 saw a growth of 20 percent in Sepa Credit Transfers and of 80 percent in Sepa Direct Debits. On 29th July, STEP2 passed the 2-billion mark in terms of SEPA transactions processed since the launch of the SCT and SDD Schemes. The notable recent increase of SEPA volumes in STEP2 has chiefly been caused by banks in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands. STEP2 has already become the mass payment system of first choice in a number of countries, such as Finland and Luxembourg, where the migration of domestic volumes to STEP2 is completed. In other communities, such as Belgium, Estonia and Germany, banks are in the process of moving national SEPA traffic to STEP2. The Belgian banks are migrating their SEPA Direct Debits to the platform. The eight largest players in the German market will use STEP2 to exchange their domestic and cross-border SEPA traffic. EBA CLEARING expects the STEP2 SEPA Services to move from an average of 4.5 million payments processed per day to at least 30 million per day around the SEPA migration end-date.

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STEP2 is well-prepared to take on these substantial additional mass payment volumes. EBA CLEARING has invested in the platform to ensure that it is fully ready: the Company has set up three processing centres for STEP2 in different parts of Europe, a processing capacity able to potentially handle all SEPA volumes combined, even on peak days, and additional functionality such as an SCT cycle at 16:00 CET and EBICS connectivity. Aside from strengthening the platform's operational and technical robustness and resilience, EBA CLEARING has also taken the necessary steps with its participants to ensure that the risks related to a migration of this extraordinary scale and very short timeline can be properly mitigated under all circumstances. "STEP2 is ready for the massive transaction volumes that will migrate to its SEPA services over the next four months," said John Broxis, Director of STEP2 Services. "Given the strategic importance of the platform for banks and banking communities across Europe, we are working very closely with our service participants to ensure a smooth ramp-up. Testing with our large volume users is ongoing and a dedicated working group is currently looking at potential migration-related operational contingency scenarios, so we can put in place any additional measures it will take to mitigate the impact of such scenarios on the good functioning of the STEP2 SEPA Services." STEP2 is a Pan-European Automated Clearing House (PE-ACH) processing both SEPA Credit Transfers and SEPA Direct Debits. More than 4,700 financial institutions in 33 countries can be reached STEP2

MT. Gox demands return of $5.3m in CoinLab counter-suit 17 September, 2013 | Finextra Bitcoin exchange MT. Gox has filed a counter-suit against its one-time partner CoinLab, demanding the return of around $5.3 million in customer funds. Last November, Japan-based MT. Gox inked a deal with CoinLab, effectively outsourcing its operations in North America to its US counterpart. However, within months the relationship turned ugly and CoinLab filed a breach-of-contract suit against its partner, demanding $75 million, claiming that it has "wilfully failed to perform its obligations". MT. Gox has now hit back with a counter-suit arguing that the breakdown of the partnership is CoinLab's fault because it failed to register with regulator FinCEN as a money transmitter. MT. Gox also says that of the $12.8 million its customers deposited in CoinLab bank accounts, $5.3 million has yet to be returned. Earlier this year the Japanese exchange had around $5 million in customer funds held in accounts with Dwolla and Wells Fargo seized by the US Department of Homeland Security

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EBA Clearing and Swift revamp EURO1/Step1 Directory 16 September, 2013 | Finextra EBA Clearing and Swift announced today that the revamped version of the EURO1/Step1 Directory will be launched on 21st October 2013. Over the past few months, EBA CLEARING has significantly enhanced the Directory in terms of functionality and usability in close co-operation with SWIFT's SWIFTRef team and a working group composed of EURO1/STEP1 Participants. The revamped Directory will make it more convenient for users to update, modify and search for listed data. In order to provide the whole EURO1/STEP1 community with a direct and easy access to the Directory, the Directory file will also become available for download from the EBA CLEARING website. In addition, the quality of the data has been further improved following a review and reinforcement of the data submission and validation procedures. Testing will take place in September 2013 together with EURO1/STEP1 Participants and Sub-Participants. "The close collaboration between EBA CLEARING and the SWIFTRef team has made this project a true success," said Patrik Neutjens, Head of Reference Data - SWIFTRef at SWIFT. "The valuable enhancements to the EURO1/STEP1 Directory will benefit the payments industry as a whole and, in particular, our mutual clients - which was the real driver behind the project. The initiative confirms also SWIFTRef as a global utility for payments reference data." "We are very happy to offer to our users a state-of-the-art directory service, which they can conveniently access via SWIFTRef or via the EBA CLEARING website", said Alan Taylor, Director, EURO1/STEP1 Services at EBA CLEARING. "The enhanced usability will make it easier for our customers to fully reap the benefits of the EURO1/STEP1 Directory, which helps them to route their payments in a more liquidity-saving and costeffective manner." The original EURO1/STEP1 Directory went live in April 2009 to support EURO1/STEP1 Participants in routing payments to third party banks that are clients of EURO1/STEP1 Banks. The Directory allows the originator banks to identify the EURO1 or STEP1 Banks through which the beneficiary banks can be reached. Today, the EURO1/STEP1 Directory lists more than 18,000 reachable banks in addition to over 8,000 participant BICs. Access to the EURO1/STEP1 Directory is open only for participants and sub-participants in the EURO1/STEP1 Services. The access and usage is free of charge for the participating banks

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Umpqua Holdings agrees to acquire Sterling Financial for $2bn 12 September, 2013 | BBR Bank holding company Umpqua (UMPQ) has inked an agreement to acquire Sterling Financial (STSA), in a transaction valued at nearly $2bn, to boost its geographic footprint. Post-transaction and subsequently integration, the new financial service company will have nearly $22bn in assets, $15bn in loans and $16bn in deposits, with 5,000 associates and 394 stores throughout five states, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California and Nevada. Based on the terms of definitive agreement, the combined entity will operate under the Umpqua Bank brand and remain offering an array of products and expertise in retail, small business, private and corporate banking, asset and wealth management and securities brokerage. Sterling president and CEO Greg Seibly will assume the designation of co-president at Umpqua Bank, while current co-president Cort O'Haver will continue to serve in the same capacity. Umpqua president and CEO Ray Davis said that the united company will be able to deliver the products and expertise of a large bank with the personal service and commitment of a community bank. For each share of Sterling common stock, its shareholders will receive 1.671 shares of Umpqua common stock and $2.18 cash, based on the terms of the transaction. The transaction, which has been unanimously endorsed by the boards of directors of both companies, is likely to conclude during the first half of 2014, pending receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. JP Morgan Securities was hired to offer financial advice and provided a fairness opinion to Umpqua's board, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz served as legal counsel to Umpqua. Sandler O'Neill + Partners, acted as financial advisor and provided a fairness opinion to Sterling's board, and Davis Polk & Wardwell served as legal counsel to Sterling

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Think Finance takes 'elastic' approach to payday loans 12 September, 2013 | Finextra Think Finance, a leading developer of online financial products that bridge the gap between payday loans and credit cards, today announced the launch of elastic, a line of emergency credit for employers to offer to their employees priced at one-fourth of the cost of a payday loan with a much more flexible repayment period. Credit options are limited for many Americans today, putting a strain on employees in need of emergency credit and making their financial difficulties a workplace concern. Eighty-three percent of HR professionals said that personal financial problems impact the work performance of employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, and according to MetLife's 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends, 58 percent of employers said financial 'illness' contributes to employee absences. Another 78 percent said employees can be less productive when they are worried about personal financial problems. Elastic can help ease employees' financial concerns, increase productivity and provide employers with a valuable tool to build loyalty and prevent loss or theft. Elastic seamlessly integrates with company payroll systems so there is nothing for the employer to manage. With elastic, companies can offer a convenient, secure and responsible way for employees to access a confidential emergency advance line of credit ranging from $200 to $1,000. Elastic is available 24/7 and is deposited directly into the employee's personal bank account, payroll card or prepaid card as early as the next business day. Employees can choose to pay back the advance in one to five payments, and payments can come directly from the employee's paycheck, making elastic the most flexible and convenient emergency cash option available. "At Think Finance, our purpose is to provide relief and help people build a brighter financial future. We strive to develop innovative and affordable options for those who can't access traditional credit," said Ken Rees, CEO of Think Finance. "Elastic gives employers the opportunity to offer a responsible and speedy solution that is much lower in cost than other emergency cash products. It's a win-win solution for employees and their employers." Employers can offer elastic through their payroll provider at no additional cost. Employees simply sign up for an account online and once approved, requested salary advances are provided within one to two business days. Advances and the associated fees are automatically deducted from the employee's next eligible paycheck, with the option to pay back the advance in up to five payments. Elastic is much more affordable compared to other forms of emergency credit like payday loans, bank direct deposit advance or even bank overdraft charges. The initial fee for an advance is just five percent of the total loan. If an employee makes all payments on or before the due date, there are no additional fees or charges. Elastic also offers tools to increase employee financial literacy. To help improve credit scores, Think Finance reports elastic payments to a major credit bureau.

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As the technology and marketing provider, Think Finance has partnered with a bank to offer elastic to payroll platform companies. Currently, elastic is integrated with four of the leading payroll software platforms and 35 payroll companies are offering elastic as a benefit to their employer customers

Barclays draws GBP1.4bn plan for retail banking businesses 11 September, 2013 | BBR UK-based lender Barclays has drawn a £1.4bn ($2.2bn) investment plan to modernize its retail banking operations across the country, in a bid to compete with the rivals by providing modern banking experience to the customers. Orchestrated by its CEO Antony Jenkins, the overhaul strategy with a total proposed budget of £2.7bn will continue until the end of 2015. As per the initial planning, the lender will invest nearly £1.4bn for retail banking renovation, approximately £600m in the revamp of investment banking business. A further £400m will be spent for the modernization of wealth management unit, while the remaining £300m has been allocated for corporate banking. Jenkins announced a cost-cutting plan in February 2013, whereby he vowed to reduced the operational expenses by £1.75bn by 2015. The goal will be achieved through investment in modernization of all banking operations. The London-based lender also said that it will slash nearly 3,700 jobs and trim down costs to nearly 55% of income from 71% in the first quarter of 2013. In a statement, Barclays said that it expects nearly £800m of cost savings from operations and technology, £700m from the front office and £200m human resources, finance and risk. Barclays is engaged in personal banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking and wealth and investment management, trades in more than 50 nations and has a work force of circa 140,000 staff

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Calastone receives $18 million investment led by Accel Partners 11 September, 2013 | Finextra Calastone, the independent cross-border transaction network for the global funds industry, today announces an 18 USD million round of investment led by Accel Partners with participation from existing investor Octopus Investments. The investment will be used to accelerate the company's global growth strategy, with a focus on Asia Pacific and Europe, in addition to expanding its product range. Calastone was launched in 2007 with the primary objective of significantly reducing the cost and risks associated with mutual fund transaction processing. Calastone's approach to introducing interoperability for the industry has been to build out a global network, complemented by a wide and growing range of innovative products, supported by exemplary client service. By removing all of the technical barriers to the automation of fund transactions, Calastone has enabled the industry to reduce its transaction costs by more than 60%. Calastone's unique network enables any party involved in the production, distribution or management of funds to transact electronically, regardless of size or location. Calastone acts as a translation hub, meaning that participants can connect quickly and communicate using any messaging format, standard or protocol. Connecting to Calastone is very straightforward and does not require investment in new technology or changes to existing communications processes. Julien Hammerson, Chairman and CEO of Calastone, said: "Calastone has been in an expeditious growth phase since inception, and now we are accelerating that evolution. "Building on the support we have had from Octopus and our other early investors, this latest fundraising, in partnership with Accel, will enable Calastone to further deliver against its ambitions and truly compete in the global arena. "With strong connections in a number of domiciles, we are poised to build on these foundations and further strengthen our position in Europe, across Asia, Australia and beyond. "Having received a great deal of interest from third party investors, we decided to work with Accel due to its strength as an international venture capital group as well as the level of professionalism and industry acumen demoonstrated by the team. We are looking forward to working together in taking Calastone forward into the next phase." Calastone has gained significant traction since launch and now has more than 450 clients and 4,200 network connections. Over the past 12 months, Calastone has carried order value in excess of $280 billion, and, since inception, has doubled message volume year-on-year.

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Sonali De Rycker, Partner at Accel Partners, has joined the Calastone board. She said: "In a short space of time, Calastone has emerged as a leader in the global funds technology industry and is rapidly expanding to service new markets and new geographies. We are excited to be working with them to help achieve their global vision." Alex Macpherson, head of the Ventures team at Octopus Investments, said: "We continue to be really impressed by the team at Calastone and are excited about the business' next stage of growth. Since we first backed the team in 2008, Calastone has successfully established itself as a critical service to the mutual funds industry. We look forward to continuing to partner with the team as the business expands its services and develops internationally."

European Central Bank to get back EUR5.9bn of crisis loans from banks 09 September, 2013 | BBR The European Central Bank (ECB) will start receiving the loans amounting EUR5.9bn ($7.75bn) it gave to banks to keep them afloat during different phases of financial crisis. The repayment of the crisis loans is expected to start as early as next week, as the banks operating in the euro zone are returning to the profitability. The withdrawal of loans from the European banks is likely to shoot up the interest rate in the region, while the ECB is planning to mitigate this negative effect with its forward guidance, Reuters reported. The ECB was quoted by the news agency as saying that it was ready to cut interest rates or infuse more money into the euro zone economy if needed to bring down money market rates. In order to clamp down the market interest rate, the central bank will implement another ultra-longterm funding operation (LTRO) with more favorable terms than the existing loans to attract banks. In December 2011 and February 2012, banks operating in the euro area availed more than €1trn of three-year loans from the ECB in two LTROs, of which the first maturity time will be January 2015. Although the lenders have the option to refund the loans early, they have already returned approximately a quarter of the money. Most recently, the ECB said that five lenders are likely to pay back €3.705bn from the first LTRO on 11 September 2013, while two lenders would pay back €2.2bn from the second LTRO

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China extends probe into brokerage IT after Everbright reports $85.5 million loss due to glitch 09 September, 2013 | Finextra China Everbright Securities lost $85.5 million due to a technical glitch in its order management system which flooded the market with erroneous buy orders and seriously disrupted trading in China last month. The full extent of the losses were revealed in a statement filed to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. They are in addition to a fine of $86 million imposed by the country's securities regulators. The erroneous order caused chaos in the Chinese securities market as the Shanghai Composite index surged nearly six per cent in seconds for no apparent reason. The blame for the glitch was placed on Mercrtsoft, the company which supplied Everbright's order execution engine as a custom build. Mercrtsoft also supplies high frequency trading software to 17 other brokerages and four futures companies. China's Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has decided to widen its investigation of stock trading systems to all brokerages, amid concerns that local trading houses have been cutting spending on IT in the face of sluggish markets. Last week, Everbright was ordered to suspend lead-underwriting of any new debt financing instruments in the interbank bond market after another trading mistake, attributed to human error, resulted in a trading loss of $32 million

CrĂŠdit Agricole divests 7.6% stake in Bankinter for EUR224m 05 September, 2013 | BBR CrĂŠdit Agricole, a French diversified financial service conglomerate, has disposed 7.6% shareholding or nearly 66,197,765 shares in Spanish lender Bankinter, in a deal valued at nearly â‚Ź224m ($303.44m). The move, which forms part of the French lender's plan to exit overseas markets and focus on domestic market, was executed through private placement to institutional investors using an accelerated book-building process.

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The bank is curtailing its global operations, following losses sustained by its investment banking division during the financial crisis of 2008 as well as by the eurozone debt crisis. By selling the entire shareholding at a price of €3.39 per share, the bank booked a net capital gain of €106m. Post transaction, Crédit Agricole will not own any Bankinter shares and it has agreed with the banks in charge of the placement not to divest or otherwise transfer the convertible bonds or the underlying shares for a period of 90 days after completion of the sale. However, the French bank will hold of 1.1 million convertible Bankinter bonds, which could be converted into up to 17.7 million shares of the Spanish bank. In 2007, Credit Agricole acquired 19.53% of Bankinter, including 4.54% in the open market and 14.99% from a group of investors for €809m. Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank served as sole global coordinator and joint bookrunner, while UBS acted as joint bookrunner, to manage the placement process. With a network of 11,300 branch offices and 1,50,000 employees, Crédit Agricole serves nearly 51 million customers, 6.9 million mutual shareholders and 1.2 million shareholders

JP Morgan agrees to reimburse $18.3m to settle mortgage case 05 September, 2013 | BBR JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay $18.3m to settle a lawsuit, which accuses that its Bear Stearns division failed to reveal the authentic interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgage documents. Filed in 2007 in US District Court in Los Angles by claimants who refinanced their home loans with adjustable-rate mortgages, the lawsuit claims that the US bank and units of Bear Stearns did not divulge resetting of introductory interest rates properly. Further, the plaintiffs alleged that the mortgage documents failed to reveal that the loan's principal balance would increase if the borrowers reimburse the minimum monthly payment. As per the court papers, the loans were purchased by Texas-based EMC Mortgage, the lending division of Bear Stearns, which was acquired by JP Morgan in June 2008. The settlement will be effective following the approval of US District Judge S James Otero in Los Angeles, who will consider whether to approve the agreement or not in October this year.

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JP Morgan is facing a string of legal cases, including infamous London Whale trading scandal, which forced the lender to swallow $6.2bn losses. Over the last two years, it has incurred nearly $10bn in legal cases and at the end of June 2013 it raised its estimate of losses to more than its reserves to $6.8bn from $6bn at the end of March 2013. Most recently, the US Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) asked JP Morgan Chaseto pay $6bn to settle cases over sale of bad mortgage bonds to government-backed finance companies

CIBC Q3 2013 net profit increased to C$890m 04 September, 2013 | BBR The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) has registered net income of C$890m, or $2.16 diluted earnings per share for the third quarter of 2013, against C$841m for the corresponding period last fiscal. Commenting on the financial result, CIBC president and CEO Gerald McCaughey said that the bank posted solid results this quarter across its core businesses such as retail and business banking, wealth management and wholesale banking. "These results reflect our strong focus on our clients as well as our underlying business fundamentals," McCaughey commented. Net income in retail and business banking division increased to C$638m, while revenue rose to C$2.1bn, from year ago quarter. Wealth Management net income increased to C$102m, whereas revenue jumped to C$458m, against the comparable period last financial year, backed by higher client assets under management driven by market appreciation and higher net sales of long-term mutual funds. For the quarter period ended on 31 July 2013, its wholesale banking net income grew to C$217m, while revenue stood at C$596m, from the prior quarter this year. At 31 July 2013, CIBC's Basel III Common Equity Tier 1 ratio was 9.3%, and its Tier 1 capital ratio and Total capital ratio stood at 11.6% and 14.7%, respectively

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Technology First National Bank of Long Island deploys Fiserv’s common origination platform 20 September, 2013 | BBR New York-based First National Bank of Long Island (FNBLI) has deployed Fiserv’s Common Origination Platform, to fulfill its consumer, business and mortgage lending needs. Designed as a single-platform solution, the Common Origination Platform offers lenders a holistic view of their borrowers across all lending channels and products, combining data in one place regardless of the point of origination or loan type. FNBLI, the independent commercial bank, selected an ASP delivery model for Common Origination Platform. The lender, which has already been using Fiserv's Signature account-processing platform, said that the common origination platform will enable it to originate all types of loans, while increasing efficiencies and minimizing time required for employee training. FNBLI executive vice president Rich Kick said that by implementing Common Origination Platform from Fiserv, the bank is giving its staff the best tools available to provide its customers with the levels of service they have come to expect. Fiserv lending solutions division president Kevin Collins commented, "Fiserv will help First National Bank of Long Island to drive down operational costs, reduce redundant processes and comply with increasing regulatory demands." Using the common origination platform, lenders can establish their own business standards including operating procedures, conditions and limits to automate virtually every origination transaction

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Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks launch Apple and Android mobile banking apps 20 September, 2013 | Finextra Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks have launched both Apple and Android mobile banking apps as part of a series of measures to support and listen to its customers. The apps will help customers to manage their money while on the move. Customers will be able to view transactions and accounts, make intra account transfers and check available funds. They will also have the ability to set up and manage text message alerts which will notify them when they are nearing the limits they set up, helping them to stay in control of their finances. The service is one of the key requests from customers picked up in the recently launched Clydesdale Bank Connects and Yorkshire Bank Connects programmes, which have involved over 20,000 customer responses to date. Andrew Pearce, Retail Director for Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, said: "We are a strongly customer focused Bank, very much committed to serving and supporting the communities we're part of. Customers very clearly told us that they rely on their smart phones and tablets more than ever before and the app has been developed in direct response to that feedback." In addition to investing in mobile banking technology, the Banks have also signed up to the new industry's switching initiative and continued to invest in its infrastructure as part of an enhanced support programme for customers and communities. The new banking apps are available to all customers with a personal current account and can be downloaded free from the app store for Apple users, and from Google Play for Android devices. An app for Blackberry devices will follow

US Bank, Western Union partner to boost mobile banking services 19 September, 2013 | BBR US Bank has teamed up with Western Union (WU) to expand the reach of WU Money Transfer services to the bank’s customers through online banking as well as by mobile banking. Based on the terms of the agreement, the US-based lender has integrated the Western Union global money transfer capability directly into its mobile banking application.

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Since 2009, US Bank has been providing WU money transfer services through its branches, and now customers can benefit from their mobile app, and, eventually, through their online banking portal. US Bank digital money movement manager Brendan Devine said that the bank's customers will benefit from the company's active push into the person-to-person mobile payments space, making money transfer more convenient for customers. The lender said that its mobile banking customers can view the WU logo in their person-to-person money transfer options now, and online banking customers will see Western Union as a funds transfer option as they upgrade to the new platform. In order to avail the new services, users must be a customer of US Bank for at least a year and have a registered mobile phone and eligible deposit account, including checking or savings. US Bank is a subsidiary of US Bancorp (USB), with $353bn in assets as of 30 June 2013. The company manages 3,087 banking branches in 25 states and 5,032 ATMs and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services

Accenture to build new mobile wallet for Belgacom, BNP Paribas Fortis 18 September, 2013 | BBR Belgium-based lender BNP Paribas Fortis and telecom firm Belgacom have selected Accenture to create the country’s first Mobile Wallet, allowing smartphone users to execute secure mobile shopping and reimburse payments. The new mobile platform will allow Belgian consumers to use their mobile devices to make "in-app" payments, receive tickets and coupons, and participate in loyalty programs for mobile shopping. Based on the terms of the agreement, Accenture will assist Belgacom and BNP Paribas Fortis to design and build a mobile wallet and platform based on the Accenture Mobility platform. Furthermore, Accenture has agreed to offer application maintenance services and create a developer community for participating Belgian merchants to create mobile apps. Being designed to integrate directly with merchant mobile apps to build an ecosystem for mobile commerce, the Belgacom's and BNP Paribas Fortis' joint platform is expected to be deployed in the spring of 2014. Irrespective of smartphones and mobile operators, all customers can access the mobile wallet, who have a debit or credit card from any Belgian bank. Belgacom Enterprise Business Unit evp Bart Van Den Meersche said, "This mobile commerce platform opens the door to a level of modernization, efficiency and customer satisfaction that could

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make Belgium a leader in the worldwide mobile revolution." With 200,000 staff in 2012, BNP Paribas Fortis provides an array of financial services for private and professional clients, wealthy individuals, corporate clients, public entities and financial institutions

HSBC rolls out new mobile banking application 18 September, 2013 | BBR London-based diversified financial conglomerate HSBC has rolled out a new mobile banking application for customers, available now on iOS and Android devices, enabling customers to better manage their finances. Leveraging the latest applications, the customers can view account balances and up to 90% transactions, as well as make bill payments to existing beneficiaries. Further, they can also transfer funds between HSBC accounts, and read secure messages, claims the lender. The bank said that the launch of the application is part of the bank's investment in digital channels and services, enabling customers to manage their money in branch, online, through telephone and mobile. HSBC direct banking head Carl Howard said, "We now offer our customers a simple and convenient option for banking on the move that complements the service we provide in our branches and UK Contact Centres. "As the ways in which customers choose to do their banking change, its critical we offer customers the ability to bank with us securely, in which ever way is most convenient to them." Trading across 80 nations and regions, the bank has a strong market shares across the fastergrowing markets, and is well positioned to benefit from the long-term trends in the global economy

Standard Chartered launches mobile payment service for Kenyan clients 17 September, 2013 | BBR Global financial service conglomerate Standard Chartered in partnership with Safaricom’s M-PESA wallets, has rolled out its new mobile payment service for corporate clients in Kenya.

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Dubbed as 'Straight2Bank Mobile Wallet', the new service allows clients, including development organizations, insurance firms and FMCG companies to make payments to both banked and unbanked individuals, aid workers, policyholders and farmers using their M-PESA mobile wallet. The lender said that the new mobile payment aims to trim down the risks and slash cash handling costs, while simplifying and expediting the payment processes of administration and reconciliation. Safaricom launched a mobile-phone based electronic payments system M-PESA in March 2007, which enables individuals and corporates to exchange cash and electronic money using a network of over 65,000 agent outlets in Kenya. Straight2Bank Mobile Wallet offers completely end-to-end automated transaction process, which eliminates the need for manual intervention, and offers efficiency, scalability and decreased error rate. The lender said that the mobile payment service will be particularly useful in Kenya where many people do not have access to the traditional bank services and need to send and receive money in rural parts of the country. Standard Chartered transaction banking client access global head Gautam Jain said that millions of unbanked individuals, including those living in remote regions without access to banks, are now part of the formal financial framework. "We believe mobile devices will become the prime modes of financial interaction and transaction in the coming years," Jain added

Ares helps Taiwan Cooperative Bank to deploy core-banking platform in Cambodia 12 September, 2013 | BBR Taiwan Cooperative Bank’s Cambodian operation has implemented Ares core-banking platform to offer improved banking products and services, including deposits, loans, importing and exporting trading finance, and remittance. Dubbed as eAresBank, the technology implementation in Cambodia was successfully completed in just three months period, claims the lender. Taiwan Cooperative Bank, which has already been using eAresBank, manages nine overseas bank offices located in Belgium, Seattle, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Philippines, Manila, Sydney, Beijing, and Suzhou.

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Designed to combine the requirements of international financing business and the functions of commercial banks, the eAresBank international finance integration system leverages on-line realtime operation model and consolidates retail & wholesale banking. Furthermore, the platform can be linked to the global connection system of SWIFT. The core-banking platform enables the banks to simplify operation process, collect strategic information, and bring stronger international competitive edge

Lombard Risk launches upgraded collateral management platform 11 September, 2013 | BBR Lombard Risk Management, an integrated collateral management, regulatory compliance and reporting technologies provider, has introduced an upgraded version of its collateral management platform, to deal with clearing and regulatory demands. Dubbed as (V12.3) of COLLINE, the new platform has been designed by experienced business practitioners for end-to-end, cross-product collateral management and clearing. Besides reducing risk exposure, the new technology fulfills the requirements of the increasing demand for multiple/global entities, cross-product margining, clearing, optimization, master netting, MIS reporting, dispute management and electronic messaging. Changing the track from a bilaterally-cleared to a centrally-cleared model, the G20 moved for standardized over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives after the 2008 crisis. This transformation will enable financial organizations to support existing bilateral agreements and those cleared on an exchange either directly, through a clearing broker. Developed to support both house and client-clearing for direct and indirect clearers, COLLINE's Clearing Module V12.3 also delivers flexible functionality with rule builders to allow clients to manage their on-going requirements. Lombard Risk CEO John Wisbey said, "Our COLLINE clients benefit from regular functionality enhancements that meet market demands as they arise. "Our dedicated product team applies 'at the market' expertise in the ongoing development of the product, always designed to enable our clients to operate at maximum efficiency." Lombard Risk COLLINE product director Helen Nicol commented, "COLLINE collateral management and clearing has been designed to meet the Dodd-Frank and EMIR market regulations for mandatory central counterparty clearing

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Fiserv launches customer predictive modeling technology 09 September, 2013 | BBR Fiserv, a global financial services technology provider, has debuted its predictive modeling solution Predictive Scores to help financial organizations boost the efficacy of their customer growth and relationship-building efforts by reducing costs and providing enhanced profit lift. In order to deliver timely, actionable information, the new predictive modeling technology for customer behavior uses insights from multiple, complex data sets (Big Data), to enhance the success of marketing and performance management strategies within financial institutions. The new system does not require additional investment in hardware, software, or data scientists and output can easily be incorporated into marketing and performance management efforts. Predictive Scores addresses the challenge of harnessing multi-channel transaction data, which includes information from account processing, debit and credit card processing, online and mobile banking, and electronic bill pay systems. Fiserv financial & risk management solutions vice president Danny Baker said, "The knowledge gained from Predictive Scores provides more accurate, detailed support for building and managing customer-centric growth strategies, particularly for acquiring new customers and expanding existing relationships." The company said that combining customer predictive modeling capabilities with direct marketing services, including strategy, analytics, creative and multi-channel delivery, a more complete solution can be offered. Predictive Scores is available as an in-house solution or through software-as-a-service accessed via Intelligent Workplace from Fiserv

IBM launches comprehensive digital loan processing platform 06 September, 2013 | BBR Global technology firm IBM has rolled out its latest comprehensive Digital Loan Processing platform, which enables lenders to transform the online mortgage lending experience for customers.

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Combining the core lending business process with mobile applications and analytics, the new system offers every aspect of the loan application process in real-time, including applying online, uploading documents, acting on inquiries and monitoring loan approval status. Ideal for smartphone or tablet devices, the new secure integrated managed services platform will allow customers to apply for and quickly close a mortgage loan, in context of their busy lives, how when and where they desire from any mobile device. IBM financial services sector general manager Eric Ray said, "By partnering with IBM, lenders can out-maneuver the competition with a rich digital customer experience that gives borrowers the self service and transparency they desire." In a situation, where mortgage lenders will have to administer application data and documents, provide suitable loan products and close loans swiftly, the IBM Digital Loan Platform automatically aggregated and indexed application forms to ensure consistency for efficient underwriting. This capability is beneficial for both borrowers and lenders as it significantly compressed cycle times, reduce origination costs, lessen errors, and compliance enforcement

PayPal to introduce Seller Protection program in Asia Pacific region 05 September, 2013 | BBR PayPal, an online payment company, will roll out its expanded Seller Protection policy in Asia Pacific (APAC) region, with a strategy to safeguard merchants from counterfeit transactions and situations where goods are not received by buyers. The program, which is designed to allow merchants explore growth opportunities in new markets, decrease risk and boost seller confidence, will be launched on 11 October 2013. The new policy will be available for its merchants in Australia, New Zealand, mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. PayPal Asia Pacific vice president Rohan Mahadevan said that the company acts together with merchants to overcome any obstacle they might face when doing business online from logistics, to customer service, to checkout integration and cash-flow. "This will empower online businesses to capitalize on the multi-billion-dollar cross-border trade opportunity in Asia's fast growing economy," Mahadevan added. Online businesses can get the advantage of Seller Protection without additional investment and need of subscription, provided they meet the eligibility criteria, PayPal said.

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PayPal serves approximately 132 million active accounts in 193 markets and 25 currencies across the globe

EVO Payments buys Integrated Payments technology license from IP Commerce 05 September, 2013 | BBR EVO Payments International (EVO), a payments service provider, has purchased a perpetual software license from Denver-based IP Commerce, for an undisclosed sum. EVO can strengthen its online payment offering by leveraging the license's processing platforms. The acquisition will also support the software community, point-of-sale, mobile, and e-Commerce developers, with required tools to develop a comprehensive suite of multi-channel, multi-service technologies to serve EVO's merchants globally. IP Commerce's core payments team, comprising senior members of the sales, operations and technology teams, will join EVO, based on the agreement. EVO CEO James Kelly said that it is vital for the growth strategy of the company to provide with intelligent software technologies to fulfill the growing needs of merchant customers. The company will provide new and existing IP Commerce software developers the same services domestically and throughout 47 international markets where EVO has licenses to process payments. Besides license acquisition, EVO also obtained certain assets of IP Commerce's technology infrastructure and is mulling to launch the platform during the fourth quarter of 2013. The company trades as payments processor and acquirer for merchants, independent sales organizations (ISOs), financial institutions, among others, and deliver safe, modern products and solutions that support the growth of its highly valued customers and their businesses

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Siam Commercial Bank taps Nasdaq OMX'S BWise to boost business 04 September, 2013 | BBR Thailand-based Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) has decided to implement Nasdaq OMX BWise eGRC platform, which will assist the lender to automate and integrate its initiatives for internal audit, risk management, business continuity management and compliance. Based on the terms of the agreement, the technology firm will deliver and deploy BWise eGRC platform for the lender. BWise Asia regional director Sebe Gerritsen said that the bank's approach towards internal audit, risk management, compliance and business continuity management is mature and sophisticated and requires a robust but flexible eGRC software platform. "Our global expertise and many years of experience in deploying eGRC software in banking, combined with our local presence through our competent Thai partner Yip in Tsoi, allow us to provide SCB with a first-class GRC solution," Gerritsen added. Amid heightened regulated environment combined with local standards, the technology upgrade will allow the Thai lender to boost its operations without being worried about internal audit, risk management, and compliance. Founded in 1906, Siam Commercial Bank manages a network of 1,154 bank offices, 108 exchange booths, and 8,872 ATMs

United Overseas Bank to deploy FlexTrade technology suite 03 September, 2013 | BBR Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (UOB) has selected FlexTrade Systems’s MaxxTrader and FlexFX as its white label and enterprise FX trading technologies, with an aim to boost FX trading across the globe. Under the contract, the lender has also decided to tap FlexTQM, FlexTrade's comprehensive transaction quality management platform for real-time and historical transaction cost analysis.

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The implementation of MaxxTrader, FlexFX and FlexTQM will enable the bank to cover the full trading life cycle, such as price construction, distribution, trade execution, hedging, position management and post trade analysis. FlexTrade Systems Singapore managing director Manish Kedia said, "By using FlexFX, MaxxTrader and FlexTQM as a comprehensive solution, UOB will be able to successfully facilitate and navigate trading in the global currency markets. "MaxxTrader will serve as the aggregation and distribution platform to UOB's global branches while FlexFX and FlexTQM will be used for market making, auto hedging and transaction cost analysis, respectively." Due to growing demand for electronic trading in the region, the bank has leveraged FlexTrade's technologies to deliver its customers an enhanced FX trading platform for better global FX trading and risk management. Incorporated in 1935, UOB manages a global network of over 500 bank branches across 19 nations and regions in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America

Euroclear Nederland, notification service






03 September, 2013 | BBR Dutch central securities depository Euroclear Nederland and Broadridge Financial Solutions have teamed up to roll out an automated, ISO-compliant shareholder meeting notification service in the Netherlands. Following the launch of the new service, the Dutch and foreign institutional investors can receive meeting notifications for equities listed on NYSE Euronext-Amsterdam and NYSE Alternext. Information from issuers and their agents will be gathered by the Euroclear Nederland, and partnering with Broadridge, the upcoming annual and extraordinary shareholder meeting notifications will be distributed to Dutch and international investors in electronic form. Aligned with the European Market Standards for General Meetings (MSGM), the new notification service will enhance the flow of information between end investors and issuers by ensuring costefficient communication between all parties involved in shareholder meetings. Euroclear Nederland chief administrative officer Hugo Spanjer said, "The launch of the joint Euroclear Nederland/Broadridge service in the Netherlands is key in maintaining the momentum we have built to further improve shareholder influence in the companies they own."

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The MSGM and the EU Shareholder Rights Directive are both aimed at increasing transparency and improving the level of automation associated with the proxy voting process. Broadridge business development global proxy head Bruce Babcock commented that the service provides enhanced communications between issuers and end investors envisioned in the MSGM, importantly not only within the Netherlands but also for cross-border communications for issuers and investors in all the ESES markets - and beyond. Earlier this year, Euroclear France introduced automated meeting notification service and now Euroclear Nederland becomes the second of the three ESES CSDs to automate the services. Euroclear Belgium is expected to launch its notification service in the fourth quarter of 2013. The Euroclear Settlement of Euronext-zone Securities (ESES) central securities depositories consist of Euroclear Nederland, Euroclear Belgium and Euroclear France

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Strategy SIX acquires Austria's PayLife 20 September, 2013 | Finextra Swiss payments processor SIX has acquired Austrian bank-backed PayLife for an undisclosed amount. The sale - which has been ongoing for 18 months - was approved by the Austrian Cartel Court and completed yesterday. PayLife currently has 1.4 million cards in circulation. In total, over 195 million transactions were processed by PayLife in the first half of 2013, with a sales volume of EUR10.14 billion. SIX has been PayLife's central processor since 2004. PayLife last year contracted with VeriFone to update its entire POS estate to support contactless and NFC-based transactions via the Quick pre-paid card. Since the introduction of Quick Contactless, more than 500,000 transactions have been performed and over 43,500 Quick contactless prepaid cards have been issued. There are currently around 6500 PayLife terminals equipped for contactless in Austria, and by the end of the year this number will have grown to more than 10,000. As a wholly owned subsidiary of SIX, PayLife and its 330-strong staff will be incorporated into the company's Payment Services Division during the next few months

Aquis Exchange adds AlgoSpan as extranet supplier 20 September, 2013 | Finextra Aquis Exchange, the proposed pan-European equities trading exchange*, has added AlgoSpan Ltd's AlgoNet network as an extranet supplier. AlgoNet's infrastructure services are designed to increase the speed of market data delivery and reduce order execution latency. Aquis Exchange has been created to operate a pan-European equities trading exchange and develop exchange software. It is set to revolutionize the European trading landscape by its introduction of subscription pricing and innovative order types. The aim of Aquis Exchange is to bring fresh competition into the marketplace in order to lower trading costs. AlgoSpan is a network carrier providing low latency connectivity solutions to the global financial

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community. Our network capabilities create real-time competitive advantage, reducing execution times to all major trading venues and market data feeds across Europe and the United States. Commenting on the agreement, Aquis Exchange CEO Alasdair Haynes said: "We believe in providing our Members with as many connectivity options as possible and being able to offer them AlgoNet's low latency infrastructure is particularly useful for those Members for whom speed of execution is very important. We are very pleased to be working with AlgoSpan." Robert Bicket, CEO of AlgoSpan, added: "With a focus on distance-related network latency, AlgoNet applies our 'shortest path' philosophy to target delays between trading venues and the customer's trading systems. We deliver unrivalled latency delivering a bespoke trading infrastructure solution to meet specific needs."

PlainsCapital Bank plans to purchase First National Bank 16 September, 2013 | BBR PlainsCapital Bank, a subsidiary of Hilltop Holdings (HTH), has reached a purchase and assumption agreement with the FDIC to assume all of the liabilities and purchase assets of Edinburg, TX-based First National Bank. Following completion of the transaction, which has been structured as a whole bank purchase and assumption agreement with loss share coverage, the acquirer will manage all offices under its brand name. PlainsCapital Bank acquired at book value nearly $2.6bn of assets and assumed almost $2.4bn of liabilities, as on 19 April 2013 balances of First National Bank. Based on the agreement, the acquirer assumed all deposits and did not pay a deposit premium to the FDIC. The acquirer said that the acquired bank's deposit franchise and extensive branch network enables it to further strengthen its Texas footprint. Moreover, with completion of the transaction, PlainsCapital Bank will be able to foray into the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, Corpus Christi, Laredo and El Paso markets, among others. Hilltop Holdings president and CEO Jeremy Ford said, "The First National Bank transaction provides an extension of PlainsCapital Bank's franchise into new Texas markets and strengthens our franchise in markets that we are already serving." Depositors may access their accounts as usual through automated teller machine transactions, cheques, online banking and debit card transactions. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz were hired to serve as legal counsel to Hilltop Holdings and PlainsCapital Bank.

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Managing three banking subsidiaries, including PlainsCapital Bank, PrimeLending, and First Southwest, Hilltop had a workforce of approximately 4,000 staff and managed nearly 350 offices in 43 states, at 30 June 2013

Standard Chartered plans to launch 100 bank branches in Africa by 2016 13 September, 2013 | BBR Global banking major Standard Chartered is planning to open approximately 100 new bank offices in Africa by 2016, as it aims to boost its profitability from the growth prospects in the continent. The UK lender, which earns major chunk of its profit from Asia, said that it will concentrate on small and medium-sized firms and private banking operations, as reported by Bloomberg. According to an estimate, African retail spending stood at nearly $1trn per annum. An e-mail statement of Standard Chartered Middle East, Africa and Pakistan consumer banking head Raheel Ahmed was quoted by the news agency as saying that the lender will also substantially invest in digital technology over the next four years. "There is so much growth potential, particularly where economies are growing rapidly," Ahmed told the news portal. Standard Chartered, which opened 27 new bank outlets in 2012 in the continent, said that its operating revenue from Africa consumer banking unit increased by 9.4% in the first half of 2013 to $257m. Ahmed further said that the UK bank's income from retail banking in Africa, including credit cards and personal loans, is growing backed by expansion in Kenya and Botswana. During the first half of the year, its income in Ghana and Zambia rose by 32% and 45%, respectively. In May 2013, the lender said that it is mulling to expand its banking operations in two more African countries, including Angola and Mozambique. In August this year, the bank introduced its cross border banking services in East Africa, with a strategy to offer a comprehensive banking facility to small business customers across the region

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Fidelity presents mobile cheque deposit technology for financial advisors 11 September, 2013 | BBR International financial services provider Fidelity Investments has introduced a new mobile cheque deposit for registered investment advisor, broker-dealer and family office clients. Leveraging its mobile check deposit technology, financial advisors and family office professionals can click a photo of a cheque using a camera on a smartphone or tablet and securely deposit the funds directly into their clients' brokerage accounts. The launch comes after the company realized that nearly 77% of advisors use at least one mobile device for business purposes and there have been over 22,000 downloads of Fidelity Institutional's mobile applications, representing 42% of users on Fidelity's clearing and custody platforms. The new technology enables financial advisors, broker-dealers, and family office clients can boost efficiencies and slash cost associated with the current processes required to ship cheques quickly. Fidelity Institutional platform technology head and senior vice president Edward O'Brien said that this new mobile offering illustrates its commitment to anticipating technology shifts and helping its clients leverage innovations effectively. Using Fidelity's remote and mobile check deposit, advisors, broker-dealers and family office professionals can get real-time account validation to decrease errors, slash courier and overnight expenses associated with the current model. Additional advantages include reduced cycle time for posting deposits to clients' brokerage accounts, integration with Fidelity's brokerage bookkeeping system, subscription-based, near realtime alert notification of remote check deposit status. Instituted in 1946, Fidelity Investments served more than 20 million individuals and institutions and had assets under administration of $4.3trn, as of 31 July 2013

MoneyGram inks money transfer agreement with Turkish DenizBank 10 September, 2013 | BBR US-based money transfer company MoneyGram has inked a money transfer agreement with DenizBank, a private lender based in Turkey, in a bid to enhance its money transfer network in the

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country. Based on the terms of the agreement, the lender will offer funds transfer services to both its own customers as well as other banks' customers, across all banking locations in the country. Commenting on the agreement, MoneyGram CEO and chairman Pam Patsley said this significantly increases MoneyGram's footprint in Turkey while decreasing the distance its customers have to travel to send money to friends or family worldwide. "Now that we have achieved additional territory coverage in Europe, we are also enabling customers across the globe to reach their loved ones back home in Turkey more easily," Patsley added. A World Bank study points out that the Turkey remittance market is estimated to be over $1bn, after this agreement, sending remittance from the US, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Russia, will become easy. Addressing a press conference, DenizBank CEO and president Hakan Ates said that the bank has teamed up with a well-respected company to offer fast, secure and easy money transfer service to their customers. Set up in 1938 as a state economic enterprise, DenizBank was purchased by the Zorlu Holding in the form of banking license from the Privatization Administration in the early 1997, and in October 2006, a European financial group, Dexia incorporated it to its structure. MoneyGram offers money transfer services through a international network of 327,000 agent locations, comprising retailers, international post offices and financial institutions across 200 nations and regions

NYSE Euronext and ACE to establish strategic alliance 10 September, 2013 | BBR Global public financial markets operator NYSE Euronext (NYX) has formed a strategic partnership with transaction management platform ACE for new issuances of private securities with improved transparency and efficiencies to the private market. As per the terms of the agreement, NYSE Euronext has acquired a minority ownership stake in ACE and both companies will set up an independent technology platform. NYSE Euronext global listings evp and head Scott Cutler said that the partnership with ACE is a strategic extension of its institutional capital formation expertise in the public market. "ACE has taken a unique approach to improving the market for private placements and our goal is to

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make the private placement process more transparent, efficient and auditable for issuers, investors and placement agents," Cutler added. Designed to address the challenges, including market efficiency, cumbersome regulations, and the absence of a centralized infrastructure, the ACE platform efficiently offers required support for more innovative technologies in the private market. ACE offers investment banks and other placement agents with complete transaction management and marketing tools for new issuances of private securities. NYSE Euronext, the transatlantic exchanges operator, manages exchanges in Europe and the US, including the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Euronext, NYSE MKT, NYSE Alternext and NYSE Arca, and trades equities, futures, options, fixed-income and exchange-traded products

OptionsCity opens first international office in London 09 September, 2013 | Finextra OptionsCity Software, a leading provider of electronic trading solutions, today announced the opening of a London office, the company's third location and its first in Europe. The new office, located in the City of London, will service OptionsCity's existing clients and growing customer base in the European region. The London office will be managed by Darran Hodder, Director of Sales EU / UK and Head of London office, who joins the company with over a decade of sales and management experience in the trading software industry, most recently as Sales Director at both Sungard and T-Bricks. Mr. Hodder joins other recent key hires who will oversee OptionsCity's growth and development in Europe. These recent developments signal OptionsCity's intent to forge deeper inroads into the European trading community. "OptionsCity has rapidly become a leader in the North American professional trading market, specifically in Interest Rates, Bonds, Indices, Energy and Commodities, " remarked Darran Hodder, "The company's existing technology provides a strong foundation for us to build a successful business in the EU/UK market, and I am excited to help lead the company's expansion." "We are pleased to launch our first international office and to welcome Darran to our team," said OptionsCity CEO Hazem Dawani. "We have a longstanding interest in the region and the addition of a London office is a logical step in the development of the company as a global technology provider." The company's two core software offerings are OptionsCity Metro and OptionsCity Freeway. Metro is a fully configurable electronic trading and market making platform that gives traders full control over trading, safety, and risk management. Recently named "Best Options Trading Platform" for a second consecutive year in the Wall Street Letter Institutional Trading Awards, Metro fully integrates with Freeway, OptionsCity's multi-asset automated trading solution. Freeway offers traders and

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developers a complete algorithmic developmental environment coupled with powerful execution capabilities

Stonegate Bank to purchase Florida Shores Bancorp 06 September, 2013 | BBR Florida's lender Stonegate Bank has agreed to purchase the entire operations of Florida Shores Bancorp and its two subsidiaries, Florida Shores Bank - Southeast and Florida Shores Bank Southwest, as part of strategy to expand its business in the region. Post completion of the transaction, which also comprises the acquisition of minority stakes in the subsidiary banks held by other investors, the acquirer's total assets will surge to $1.7bn. As per Florida Shores Bancorp's consolidated financial statements as of 30 June 2013, the deal has been valued worth nearly $48.8m, however the final purchase price and the consideration will be subject to final pricing adjustments, to be finalized before closing. Florida Shores Bancorp had total consolidated assets of $555.1m as of 30 June 2013 and currently operates four bank offices on Florida's west coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers and three branches on Florida's east coast in Boca Raton, Pompano Beach and Ft. Lauderdale. Stonegate Bank president and CEO Dave Seleski said that the deal will expand its market share in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, while enhancing its footprint across Southwest Florida, with coverage of the Gulf Coast from Naples to Tampa. This transaction, which marks Stonegate's sixth and largest acquisition since 2009, is likely to conclude during the fourth quarter of 2013, pending satisfying certain customary closing conditions as well regulatory approvals. Sandler O'Neill+ Partners and Gunster law firm were hired by Stonegate Bank to offer financial advice and legal counseling, while Hovde Group offered financial advice to Florida Shores Bancorp and its banking subsidiaries banks and rendered fairness opinions over the transactions. Smith Mackinnon acted as legal counsel to Florida Shores Bancorp and its subsidiary banks

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Randolph Bank to merge with BNC Bancorp 06 September, 2013 | BBR Randolph Bank's shareholders have given their consent for the impending merger with Bank of North Carolina (BNC), which was initially signed in May this year. The transaction has also been approved by the North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks and the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). BNC Bancorp had entered into an agreement to integrate with Randolph Bank & Trust Company (RDBN), in a bid to boost its footprint in the Piedmont-Triad Area of Central North Carolina. Subject to certain collars, for a combined deal value for common shareholders of nearly $10.4m, Randolph Bank & Trust common shareholders will get an amount of cash or shares of BNC common stock equal to $10 per share. Under the agreement, Bank of North Carolina, a subsidiary of BNCN, will purchase three branches in Asheboro, North Carolina and one each in Burlington, Mebane and Randleman, North Carolina, as well as $168m in loans and $270m in deposits. After completion of the acquisition, the acquirer will own nearly $1bn in loans and $1.5bn in deposits in Piedmont-Triad area of central North Carolina. BNC has acquired many financial organizations in North and South Carolina, including Beach First National Bank in Myrtle Beach, SC, Blue Ridge Savings Bank in Asheville, Regent Bank in Greenville, SC, KeySource Commercial Bank in Durham and, most recently, First Trust Bank in Charlotte. Bank of North Carolina manages a network of 32 branch offices in North and South Carolina and delivers banking and financial services to individuals and businesses in the region

Aquiline, Genstar Capital purchase Genworth Wealth Management for $412.5m 04 September, 2013 | BBR San Francisco-based middle market private equity firm Genstar Capital and Aquiline Capital Partners have acquired Genworth Wealth Management in a transaction worth $412.5m.

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The acquisition includes Genworth Financial Wealth Management (GFWM), an investment management and consulting platform, and premier alternative investments provider Altegris. The acquirers will assist GFWM and Altegris to increase their scale and capabilities, expand product development and technology offerings at GFWM, and enhance distribution channels as well as launch new alternative products at Altegris. Aquiline chief executive Jeff Greenberg said that the acquired entities are strong brands, with experienced management teams and high growth potential, which will offer strategic resources that differentiate them from their competitors in rapidly growing industries. Aquiline and Genstar were advised by Deutsche Bank, while a debt financing commitment has been provided by Credit Suisse regarding the acquisition, which was initially inked in March 2013. A New York-based private equity firm, Aquiline invests in financial services enterprises in industries, including asset management, property and casualty insurance, banking, securities, life insurance and financial technology. With over $4bn of committed capital under management, Genstar Capital operates in partnership with its management teams and its network of strategic advisors to transform its portfolio companies into industry-leading businesses

National Commercial Bank awards core banking contract to TCS 04 September, 2013 | BBR Dubai-based National Commercial Bank (NCB) has contracted Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), for the deployment of a new software platform to meet its core banking requirements. The technology upgrade drive is part of the lender's strategy to develop electronic service and ensure quality service to its customers across all channels. The lender, which posted 21.4% rise in net income for the first half of 2013, said that TCS was chosen due to its expertise in core banking technology and delivery of IT services. Founded in 1953, the National Commercial Bank claims to be the first Saudi bank, and delivers a number of banking products and services leveraging the latest banking trends and technology

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Deutsche Bank acquires Xchanging Transaction Bank 03 September, 2013 | BBR Germany-based diversified financial services organization Deutsche Bank has acquired Xchanging Transaction Bank (XTB), in a transaction valued at approximately â‚Ź40.5m in cash. As per the terms of the acquisition, which was initially inked in May 2013, the German lender agreed to acquire 51% shareholding in the bank, with a strategy to takeover the full control on XTB. The transaction will complement the German bank's strategy of new IT and process platform, to facilitate front-to-back process integration and to reduce complexity. Xchanging chief executive Ken Lever said, "The transaction announced today completes the last substantial strategic element of the Four Part Action Plan launched in 2011." Following approvals from the concerned regulators as well as shareholders of Xchanging, the acquisition is effective from 1 September 2013. The acquired entity has been rebranded as DB Investment Services and will be combined into Deutsche Bank's infrastructure operations. Based on the terms of the agreement, Holger Wegmann will become the CEO, Catrin RĂśthe will be the chief production officer (CPO), while Dr Thomas Beemelmann will assume the post of chief operating officer (COO). Set up in 1870, Deutsche Bank has a workforce of 78,000 employees in more than 70 nations across the globe and the lender delivers banking and wealth management services, among others

Religare agrees to acquire wealth management business from JV partner 03 September, 2013 | BBR India-based diversified financial services company Religare Enterprises has embarked on an agreement with Australia-based Macquarie Financial Services to purchase its 50% stake in wealth management joint venture (JV).

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Known as Religare Macquarie Wealth Management, the JV was instituted by both companies in 2007 with equal shareholdings, to tap up the growing demand of wealth management services in the country. The disposal of its holding will mark the exit of Australian company from Indian wealth management business landscape, which also complements with its plan to quit Asian market. Post-acquisition, the JV will be renamed as Religare Wealth Management, which had assets worth INR28bn ($420m) on behalf of approximately 4,800 clients as on 31 March 2012. Religare Enterprises group CEO Shachindra Nath said, "Macquarie has decided to exit the wealth management business from Asia including India and this has created for us the opportunity to further consolidate our financial services platform in India." Under the terms of the agreement, the acquirer will no implement any change in the management and the wealth management team, which will report to Basab Mitra, chief executive, capital markets and wealth management, Religare Group. The acquisition will enable the acquirer to boost its financial services portfolio, while it gears up to apply for a banking license in the country

Moscow Exchange migrates equities and bonds market to T+2 03 September, 2013 | Finextra The first day of T+2 trading on the Equities and Bonds market following the full switch to partial preliminary depositing of funds and postponed accounting has gone smoothly. Turnover in equities and bonds was RUB 56.3 bln, of which RUB 14.3 bln was volume in equities. The volume of repo trades with the Central Counterparty (CCP) was RUB 18.0 bln. All of Moscow Exchange's markets were quiet due to the US public holiday. Of the 567 market participants, 222 companies made deposits in the Financial Stability Fund, which was created to cover risks from partially secured deals. 242 participants are admitted to trading with 100% prior depositing. We thank participants for their prompt technical support of end users, who updated their trading terminals and reconfigured them during the first trading day under the new mode. The Closing Auction was held to define a representative closing price for the first time. A new algorithm was adopted that uses the principle of random auction termination, which precludes the market price from being artificially increased or decreased. The Closing Auction generates price which are recognised as the official closing price for the Russian market

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Sutherland insights banking news flash 20092013  
Sutherland insights banking news flash 20092013