Distributed ledger technology Blockchain could cut the costs of cross-border payments in countries like Saudi Arabia that record high volumes of remittances, a Moody's report said on Tuesday. Victor Besa / The National
Distributed ledger technology Blockchain could cut the costs of cross-border payments in countries like Saudi Arabia that record high volumes of remittances, a Moody's report said on Tuesday. Victor BShow more

Saudi blockchain pilot could save banks up to $400m per year, Moody's says



Saudi Arabian banks could save up to $400m per year using blockchain software to facilitate cross-border payments, which is a credit positive move for the lenders, according to Moody's Investors Service.

In particular, the cost of processing the high volume of remittances sent home by migrant workers in the kingdom could fall by 50 per cent through use of the distributed ledger technology, a Moody’s report said on Tuesday.

The kingdom’s central bank, Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (Sama), signed an agreement with US fintech company Ripple last week, to run a pilot project to help banks settle payments using blockchain.

"Moody's estimates that even a 10 per cent reduction in the cost of completing and managing a cross-border transaction will translate to savings of roughly $200m-$400m per year system-wide," said the Moody's report.

GCC countries are increasingly looking to fintech (financial technology) to improve efficiency in their banking industries, with financial free zones including the UAE's Abu Dhabi Global Market and Dubai International Financial Centre issuing regulations to govern the fast-growing sector.

Bahrain, which aims to become a global hub for fintech, launched a fintech ‘regulatory sandbox’ last year, enabling firms to test and develop products in a virtual space.

Sophisticated ledger technology such as blockchain could be of particular value in remittance transactions, Moody's said.

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Blockchain is an electronic transaction-processing and archive system that allows parties to track information in a secure network without the need for third-party verification. Banks and foreign exchanges currently have to fork out hefty administrative costs in the form of third-party foreign exchange handlers, which also hikes costs for their customers.

Saudi Arabia, like other GCC countries, has a large number of migrant workers that account for a high proportion of low-value transactions when they remit money to their home countries. The World Bank estimates that fees on remittances average 7.1 per cent of each transaction, but the costs could fall by 50 per cent if firms used blockchain to facilitate the payments, Moody’s said.

“A successful pilot with Ripple would help participating Saudi banks to improve payment transparency and efficiency, and ultimately improve their profitability on cross-border transactions by reducing the cost of each transaction,” the report said.

In the longer term, banks would also reap higher revenues through larger volumes of transactions as the customer experience improves due to money and time savings.

Under the terms of the deal signed last week, Sama and Ripple would provide programme management, training and other support to participating banks.

However, even if the pilot is successful, imminent widespread take-up of blockchain technology in cross-border payments is unlikely, either in Saudi Arabia or globally, Moody’s cautioned.

It would, though, enable banks, regulators and fintech incubators to learn more about how the software is deployed, and inform any regulations introduced in the future.

In numbers: China in Dubai

The number of Chinese people living in Dubai: An estimated 200,000

Number of Chinese people in International City: Almost 50,000

Daily visitors to Dragon Mart in 2018/19: 120,000

Daily visitors to Dragon Mart in 2010: 20,000

Percentage increase in visitors in eight years: 500 per cent

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Packages which the US Secret Service said contained possible explosive devices were sent to:

  • Former first lady Hillary Clinton
  • Former US president Barack Obama
  • Philanthropist and businessman George Soros
  • Former CIA director John Brennan at CNN's New York bureau
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder (delivered to former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz)
  • California Congresswoman Maxine Waters (two devices)
Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

How to report a beggar

Abu Dhabi – Call 999 or 8002626 (Aman Service)

Dubai – Call 800243

Sharjah – Call 065632222

Ras Al Khaimah - Call 072053372

Ajman – Call 067401616

Umm Al Quwain – Call 999

Fujairah - Call 092051100 or 092224411

The specs: 2018 Infiniti QX80

Price: base / as tested: Dh335,000

Engine: 5.6-litre V8

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 400hp @ 5,800rpm

Torque: 560Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.1L / 100km

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo (BMW B58)
Power: 340hp at 6,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm from 1,600-4,500rpm
Transmission: ZF 8-speed auto
0-100kph: 4.2sec
Top speed: 267kph

On sale: Now
Price: From Dh462,189
Warranty: 30-month/48,000k

RESULTS

6.30pm Handicap (TB) $68,000 (Dirt) 1,200m

Winner Canvassed, Par Dobbs (jockey), Doug Watson (trainer)

7.05pm Meydan Cup – Listed Handicap (TB) $88,000 (Turf) 2,810m

Winner Dubai Future, Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor

7.40pm UAE 2000 Guineas – Group 3 (TB) $125,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner Mouheeb, Ryan Curatolo, Nicholas Bachalard

8.15pm Firebreak Stakes – Group 3 (TB) $130,000 (D) 1,600m

Winner Secret Ambition, Tadhg O’Shea, Satish Seemar

9.50pm Meydan Classic – Conditions (TB) $$50,000 (T) 1,400m

Winner Topper Bill, Richard Mullen, Satish Seemar

9.25pm Dubai Sprint – Listed Handicap (TB) $88,000 (T) 1,200m

Winner Man Of Promise, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

PROFILE OF INVYGO

Started: 2018

Founders: Eslam Hussein and Pulkit Ganjoo

Based: Dubai

Sector: Transport

Size: 9 employees

Investment: $1,275,000

Investors: Class 5 Global, Equitrust, Gulf Islamic Investments, Kairos K50 and William Zeqiri

While you're here
EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

UAE v United States, T20 International Series

Both matches at ICC Academy, Dubai. Admission is free.

1st match: Friday, 2pm

2nd match: Saturday, 2pm

UAE squad: Mohammed Naveed (captain), Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Shaiman Anwar, Rameez Shahzad, Amjad Gul, CP Rizwan, Mohammed Boota, Abdul Shakoor, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Amir Hayat

USA squad: Saurabh Netravalkar (captain), Jaskaran Malhotra, Elmore Hutchinson, Aaron Jones, Nosthush Kenjige, Ali Khan, Jannisar Khan, Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel, Timil Patel, Roy Silva, Jessy Singh, Steven Taylor, Hayden Walsh

A Dog's Journey 

Directed by: Gail Mancuso

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott

3 out of 5 stars

Pros and cons of BNPL

Pros

  • Easy to use and require less rigorous credit checks than traditional credit options
  • Offers the ability to spread the cost of purchases over time, often interest-free
  • Convenient and can be integrated directly into the checkout process, useful for online shopping
  • Helps facilitate cash flow planning when used wisely

Cons

  • The ease of making purchases can lead to overspending and accumulation of debt
  • Missing payments can result in hefty fees and, in some cases, high interest rates after an initial interest-free period
  • Failure to make payments can impact credit score negatively
  • Refunds can be complicated and delayed

Courtesy: Carol Glynn

The stats

Ship name: MSC Bellissima

Ship class: Meraviglia Class

Delivery date: February 27, 2019

Gross tonnage: 171,598 GT

Passenger capacity: 5,686

Crew members: 1,536

Number of cabins: 2,217

Length: 315.3 metres

Maximum speed: 22.7 knots (42kph)

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Match info

Manchester United 1
Fred (18')

Wolves 1
Moutinho (53')

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
THE BIO

Ms Al Ameri likes the variety of her job, and the daily environmental challenges she is presented with.

Regular contact with wildlife is the most appealing part of her role at the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.

She loves to explore new destinations and lives by her motto of being a voice in the world, and not an echo.

She is the youngest of three children, and has a brother and sister.

Her favourite book, Moby Dick by Herman Melville helped inspire her towards a career exploring  the natural world.

The Energy Research Centre

Founded 50 years ago as a nuclear research institute, scientists at the centre believed nuclear would be the “solution for everything”.
Although they still do, they discovered in 1955 that the Netherlands had a lot of natural gas. “We still had the idea that, by 2000, it would all be nuclear,” said Harm Jeeninga, director of business and programme development at the centre.
"In the 1990s, we found out about global warming so we focused on energy savings and tackling the greenhouse gas effect.”
The energy centre’s research focuses on biomass, energy efficiency, the environment, wind and solar, as well as energy engineering and socio-economic research.