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How Supply Chain Issues Contribute To Inflation

How Supply Chain Issues Contribute To Inflation

Escalating tensions in the Middle East increased prospects of renewed supply chain disruptions following Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel and Israel’s subsequent invasion of Gaza. A new phase of the ongoing conflict saw Yemeni-based Houthi militants attacking cargo ships using the Red Sea and Suez Canal to move goods, particularly oil. This is a major trading route, but several cargo ship operators suspended Red Sea operations over concerns about possible attacks.

Read also: Global Commodity Prices Plateau, Threatening Inflation Targets Amid Geopolitical Tensions

The Red Sea’s role in global trade is significant. It allows cargo traffic to move between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, a much more efficient route compared to others. With some shippers choosing to use longer routes, it can delay the delivery of goods, with oil being one of the major commodities shipped through the Red Sea route to reach Europe and the United States. Choosing a longer delivery route could cause potential delays and near-term supply shortages. Markets will be watching closely to see if supply chain disruptions resulting from impediments to shipping on the Red Sea will have inflationary effects.

By early January of this year, oil prices remained steady and overall inflation moderated significantly, indicating that to this point, shipping challenges on the Red Sea had not yet translated to discernible changes to inflation’s impact. After peaking at a 9.1% rate for the previous 12-month period as of June 2022, inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was down to 3.4% for all of 2023. Supply chain bottlenecks were a major concern during inflation’s surge in early 2021. The gradual resolution of many of those issues contributed to the improved inflation environment.

Will supply chain issues again become a flashpoint for the markets given the ongoing conflict in the Middle East?

EVOLVING SUPPLY CHAIN CONCERNS

Supply chain issues in 2024 differ from what initially sparked inflationary concerns in 2021. At that time, pent-up consumer demand spiked following the economy’s “shutdown” phase, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As consumers ramped up spending, supported by emergency government support programs to households and businesses, the global economy faced a shortage of commodities, parts or products that resulted in a supply-demand imbalance, forcing prices higher.

“Higher inflation reflected a restricted supply of goods at the same time that there was strong demand for many of those same goods,” says Tom Hainlin, national investment strategist at U.S. Bank. Energy and food products were leading drivers as inflation soared. The war between Russia and Ukraine, for a time, interrupted some shipments of energy and agricultural commodities from both countries. China’s COVID-19 lockdown policies, which were in place until late 2022, hampered manufacturing and shipment of goods from Chinese firms.

The Red Sea’s role in global trade is significant. It allows cargo traffic to move between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, a much more efficient route compared to others.

Yet supply chain issues affecting a wider range of products also contributed to the problem. Some companies had difficulty keeping up with demand, sourcing components needed to manufacture products or finding enough workers to fill production needs. In addition, transportation challenges arose, including a backup of shipping traffic in some ports and a shortage of truckers to haul freight over long distances.

For the most part, the worst of these challenges have subsided. Manufacturer supplies improved and consumers are finding most goods readily accessible. The economy also transitioned from one driven by demand for goods to increased spending on services, including travel and entertainment.

COMMODITIES MARKETS ADJUST

Significant improvement occurred in the broader commodity markets by the end of 2022. For example, in the spring of 2021, shortages of building materials hindered construction of new homes and remodeling projects for existing homeowners. That drove prices of lumber and other materials dramatically higher. Since that time, supply levels improved, and lumber and other materials costs declined. 

Similar trends occurred in the energy sector. The price of a barrel of crude oil  topped out at $123.70 in March 2022. For a period of several months, Americans paid much higher gasoline prices than they had over the prior two years. 

However, supplies were bolstered, and demand eased, helping bring prices down. As of mid-January 2024, oil stood slightly above $70/barrel a drop of more than 40% from its peak. 

LABOR SHORTAGES AND OTHER CHALLENGES

Some issues may persist because there are not enough workers to fill available American jobs. “While supplies and transportation hubs seem to be keeping pace these days, labor shortages may be the biggest issue affecting the supply chain,” says Rob Haworth, senior investment strategy director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. 

Based on recent jobs data, 1.5 positions are open for every available worker, demonstrating a need for more workers to fill available jobs. 

In today’s environment, unemployment lingers near historic lows and job openings remain high. “The major challenge for many employers is whether they can attract and retain sufficient quality labor to meet their production demands,” says Hainlin.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE

The Red Sea shipping issue is one of the latest challenges facing supply chains. It’s not clear at this point whether it will create a significant economic impact that could fuel an inflation uptick. The Federal Reserve remains focused on bringing inflation down to its target range of 2%. The Fed raised the short-term target federal funds rate by 5.25% over a 16-month period. Because inflation dropped significantly from its peak, the Fed has indicated it may be prepared to start cutting the fed funds rate this year, but the timing of such a move is difficult to predict. Interest rates remain higher across the broader market, resulting in more expensive borrowing costs. This was one of the Fed’s objectives, designed to help lower demand, which could also help ease supply pressures and slow inflation.

Through all of this, the U.S. economy demonstrated resilience in 2023, avoiding a recession. The economy grew by about an annualized rate of 2% in the first half of the year. Growth jumped to an annualized rate of 4.9% in the third quarter. Persistent consumer demand and a strong jobs’ market greatly influenced economic growth. Investors will continue to monitor these data points in the months ahead to determine the impact on corporate profits and stock prices.

Since the Lincoln administration signed its national bank charter No. 24 in 1863, U.S. Bank has drawn on its financial strength to serve customers. This has been especially evident in times of need, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Bank was proudly named the most essential bank amid the pandemic in a ranking by The Harris Poll. Notable recent honors include being named one of the 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, the ninth consecutive year U.S. Bank has been honored; its U.S. Bank Mobile App being rated best for customer service by Business Insider Intelligence; and being honored with a spot on the 2023 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

global trade supply chain

Resiliency, Wherever You Can Get It: Uncertainty In Global Supply Chains Is Going To Stay

Citi has launched its latest Global Perspectives & Solutions (Citi GPS) report titled “Supply Chain Finance: Uncertainty in Global Supply Chains Is Going to Stay.” Its findings indicate that in an environment of stabilizing trade flows and cooling goods demand, disruption remains top of mind for businesses reliant on global supply chains.

Read also: Geopolitics, not Economics, is Front and Center for Global Supply Chains

The report, which follows 2021’s report titled “The Complicated Road Back to ‘Normal,’” draws insight from Citi Research’s propriety Global Supply Chain Pressure Index, trade flows and survey responses from multinational corporations and their suppliers globally.

As Citi’s premier thought-leadership product, Citi GPS is designed to help readers navigate the most demanding challenges and greatest opportunities of the 21st century. Citi accesses the best elements of a global conversation with senior Citi senior professionals, academics and corporate leaders to anticipate themes and trends in today’s fast-changing and interconnected world.

The Citi Global Supply Chain Pressure Index, outlined in the report, continued to ease on the back of a slowdown in global consumer’s demand for goods. Core goods inflation is expected to alleviate as heightened supply chain pressure has been a key driver of price pressure. The report cautions that while the decrease in demand is an important driver of loosening supply chain pressures, these developments are also a sign of mounting recessionary risks across countries and globally.

Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) enables clients’ success by providing an integrated suite of innovative and tailored cash management and trade finance services to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations across the globe. Based on the foundation of the industry’s largest proprietary network with banking licenses in over 90 countries and globally integrated technology platforms, TTS continues to lead the way in offering one of the industry’s most comprehensive range of digitally enabled treasury, trade and liquidity management solutions.

By analyzing the $4 trillion of average daily payment flow that TTS processes, the report finds that flows have largely stabilized after multiple disruptions in 2021 and early 2022. It is against this backdrop of stabilization, that Natural Resources and Clean Energy Transition (NRCET) trade flows grew 65% through the first three quarters of 2023 as energy prices soared globally.

“The pandemic and then the war in Ukraine demonstrated the fragility of supply chains. Many companies and customers experienced the pain of those disruptions and are now looking for resiliency wherever they can get it. While reshoring and nearshoring may seem like the next steps, buyers and suppliers alike indicate that the higher priority is resiliency or redundancy deeper into the supply chain,” notes Jane Fraser, CEO of Citi in her forward to the report. 

Citi and its research partner surveyed 2,327 global corporates for its Supplier & Large Corporate Survey as part of this report. This survey garnered powerful insights into the challenges facing companies large and small around the world, from which five themes emerged:

  • Rising prices and rising interest rates have had impact as corporates take steps to boost financial supply chain resilience
  • Corporates and their suppliers want to strengthen relationships and broaden their supplier base to mitigate further disruption
  • Pandemic disruption has given way to geopolitical tension as the primary threat to supply chain funding stability
  • Despite economic headwinds, respondents remain optimistic about the prospect for export growth
  • ESG remains an area of focus, but lack of clarity has impeded meaningful progress.

Chris Cox, global head of Trade and Working Capital Solutions at Citi said: “Given the impact from global events businesses have re-evaluated supply chain strategies. Notably, resiliency and continuity are taking center stage on sourcing through the production cycle. Another developing trend is the shift from ‘Just in time’ to ‘Just in case.’ Buyers are now building-in more resilience by purchasing earlier and holding more inventory. As a result, financing the end-to-end supply chain remains top priority.”

He continued: “How this trend plays out long term remains to be seen. Buyers, however, are focused on ensuring their suppliers have access to better and stable working capital solutions. Businesses are also accelerating the digitalization of supply chains. Digitalization enables ease of monitoring and management throughout the chain, enabling the robustness for any future disruptions.”

The digital copy of the report is available at tinyurl.com/ms64jvbt

Citi is a preeminent banking partner for institutions with cross-border needs, a global leader in wealth management and a valued personal bank in its home market of the United States. Citi does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions, providing corporations, governments, investors, institutions and individuals with a broad range of financial products and services. 

Additional information may be found at citigroup.com X: @Citi; YouTube: youtube.com/citi; Blog: blog.citgroup.com; Facebook: facebook.com/citi; and LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/citi.  

 

retail banking frontline

Retail Banking Market Set to Reach $3.15 Tillion by 2032 with High Growth in Large Bank Segment 

The retail banking market will witness over 5% CAGR between 2023 and 2032, propelled by surging deals and sales, enticing retail bankers seeking mutual benefits. This trend mirrors a symbiotic relationship among banking enterprises, where in seller and buyer both have their benefits from the deals. For instance, in November 2023, Citi, the New York-based organization, initiated the divestiture of 14 retail banking branches globally, aligning its focus towards higher-margin sectors like wealth management. Recently, the sale of its Indonesia consumer banking arm to United Overseas as Bank Indonesia (UOB), headquartered in Singapore, marked Citi’s ninth divestment in line with its strategic overhaul. This transaction represents the conclusive consumer business divestment in Asia, encompassing retail banking, credit card, unsecured lending divisions, and staff transfers, as stated by the US corporation.

The evolving landscape fosters a reciprocal dynamic, fostering a win-win scenario and further supporting the retail banking market outlook. As bankers harness innovative products and services, customers are lured by tailored offerings, augmenting transactions. Such heightened activity signifies a pivotal shift in the industry, where the exchange of value between retail bankers and customers heralds a new era of mutually advantageous engagements.

Community bank segment will undergo significant development from 2023 to 2032. These smaller financial institutions serve as pillars in local economies, catering to the unique needs of communities. Community banks foster personalized customer relationships, offering tailored financial solutions and a sense of belonging. Their emphasis on local engagement and flexible services resonates strongly, attracting customers seeking a more intimate banking experience. This elevated retail banking market demand reflects a shift towards community-centric financial services.

Debit card segment will register a noteworthy CAGR from 2023 to 2032. Debit cards offer unparalleled convenience, enabling seamless transactions while curbing debt. Their widespread acceptance and ease of use make them indispensable in everyday financial activities, resonating with a populace inclined towards prudent spending. As consumers prioritize transparency and control over finances, the escalating retail banking market share from debit cards underscores their pivotal role in reshaping payment norms.

Asia Pacific retail banking market will showcase a commendable CAGR from 2023 to 2032. With a burgeoning middle class and digital adoption, there’s a surge in demand for accessible, tech-driven banking solutions. Financial inclusivity drives innovation, propelling a need for personalized services and mobile banking.

As the region embraces fintech advancements and disruptive models, the escalating demand reflects a pivotal shift in banking paradigms, amplifying opportunities for tailored, customer-centric financial experiences in the Asia-Pacific market. For instance, in November 2023, the State Bank of India (SBI), the nation’s largest lender, and Bank of Baroda, another significant state-run bank, are intensifying efforts to expand their customer base within the CBDC pilot project’s retail segment. They aim to elevate their user count from the current 400,000 and 250,000 respectively, to reach the ambitious 1 million target set by the RBI.

 

The Rising Risk of Cybercrime in the Supply Chain bank

The Importance of Cybersecurity Training for Bank Employees

Introduction

In today’s digital age, where technology is integral to the functioning of financial institutions, the importance of cybersecurity training for bank employees cannot be overstated. As banks increasingly rely on technology to provide services and manage customer data, they become attractive targets for cybercriminals. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of cybersecurity training and how it helps safeguard the sensitive information entrusted to banks.

Understanding Cybersecurity Threats

Cybersecurity threats have become more sophisticated over the years. From phishing attacks to ransomware and data breaches, banks face a myriad of threats that can have severe consequences. It’s essential for employees to be aware of these threats and how to counteract them.

The Vulnerability of Banks

Banks store vast amounts of sensitive information, including financial data and personal customer details. This makes them a prime target for cyberattacks. Without proper cybersecurity measures and a trained workforce, banks risk exposing their customers to financial losses and identity theft.

Benefits of Cybersecurity Training

1. Enhanced Security Awareness

Cybersecurity training increases employees’ awareness of potential threats and how to identify them, making them more vigilant.

2. Effective Response

Training equips employees with the skills to respond effectively in the event of a security breach, minimizing damage.

3. Reduced Risk

A well-trained workforce is less likely to fall victim to cyberattacks, reducing the bank’s overall risk.

The Role of Bank Employees

Bank employees play a crucial role in safeguarding the institution’s digital assets and customer data. Their daily actions can either enhance or undermine the bank’s cybersecurity posture.

Elements of Effective Training

Effective cybersecurity training program involves a combination of theory and practical exercises. Employees should be well-versed in security protocols, and regular drills should be conducted to ensure readiness for real-world situations.

Compliance with Regulatory Standards

Regulatory bodies often require banks to meet specific cybersecurity standards. Proper training not only helps meet compliance but also ensures that the bank’s reputation remains intact.

Real-World Case Studies

Analyzing real-world case studies of cyberattacks on banks can serve as a powerful teaching tool. It helps employees understand the consequences of inadequate cybersecurity measures.

The Cost of Inadequate Training

The financial implications of a data breach can be catastrophic for a bank. Cybersecurity training is a proactive investment that pales in comparison to the potential losses from a security incident.

Cybersecurity Training Best Practices

A combination of continuous training, simulated attacks, and regular updates on emerging threats should form the basis of cybersecurity training best practices.

The Human Factor in Cybersecurity

Employees are often the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity. Cybersecurity training addresses this by making employees the first line of defense against attacks.

Staying Ahead of Evolving Threats

The digital landscape is constantly evolving, with new threats emerging regularly. Ongoing training ensures that bank employees stay ahead of these threats.

The Return on Investment

Effective cybersecurity training is not just a cost; it’s an investment. The money saved from preventing a data breach far outweighs the training costs.

Building a Security-Centric Culture

An organization that prioritizes cybersecurity training fosters a culture of security awareness, making it an integral part of daily operations.

Conclusion

The importance of cybersecurity training for bank employees cannot be emphasized enough. It is not a luxury but a necessity in today’s technology-driven banking sector. With the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, safeguarding sensitive customer data and the financial well-being of the bank itself depends on the knowledge and vigilance of its employees.

 

retail banking frontline

Staffing Shortages are a Competitive Risk for Banking Institutions, Educating Frontline Staff can Provide an Edge

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we can’t function without our frontline workforce. But the next time you walk into your local bank branch and see a lineup of four tellers serving customers, know that one of those tellers won’t be working there this time next year. The annual turnover rate for frontline bank employees has risen to 23.4%. Coupled with pandemic-induced staffing shortages across industries, including banking, customer service at bank branches and financial service call centers is subsequently at a nadir. To delight customers, banks need to recruit and retain frontline talent by providing real, substantive learning opportunities tied to career advancement.

As we stand now, customers across our country are paying attention to this shortfall in customer service. A wide-ranging survey of 229,000 banking customers from Rivel, a data-driven consultancy, notes that the number of households that believe their primary banking institution is not responsive to their needs has risen by an astonishing 212%. Branch closures, happening at double the rate compared to before the pandemic, are now moving banking institutions further from their customers than ever before.

While the connection between depreciated employee bases and customer service is no surprise, the consequences to brick and mortar banking might be dire. Staffing shortages that lead to poor customer service in 2023 pose a significant risk to banking institutions which are facing pronounced competitive pressures from FinTech rivals. A key competitive differentiator for financial services companies has always been the ability to provide unrivaled, personalized care to customers with a diverse workforce that looks like the communities the bank serves. When customers no longer feel like their bank knows them and their needs, FinTech firms are poised to press the perception that they provide similar services at lower prices.

So how do banks compete with the tech sector’s increasing encroachments on established institutions? They can double down on what has always set them apart: their people.

Lowering the turnover rate for frontline staff and upskilling team members to be ambassadors of the benefits of experienced banking institutions can resuscitate customer experiences. As can attracting a diverse and inclusive workforce that can make meaningful connections, forged in mutual lived experience, with their customers. Fortunately, the pandemic has placed renewed focus on the people functions of companies and the CHROs who lead them. Attracting, retaining, and training diverse talent is possible and the financial services companies that excel in this will fend off FinTech’s attacks and in doing so, rise above others in the industry.

What FinTech companies generally fail to realize about employee benefits is that employees don’t place significant value on unlimited paid time off (which people don’t feel like they can actually use) and cold brew coffee on tap. Employees do place value on a company’s commitment to a worker’s career aspirations – and financial services institutions can outperform here. Due to their sheer size, a frontline worker can aspire to a long and fruitful career at a banking institution, but this is possible only if the bank creates career pathways for them.

For instance, Desert Financial offers employees 100% tuition paid up front for skill-building courses and undergraduate degrees, and up to $10,500 tuition coverage per calendar year for graduate degrees or graduate certificates. Investing in workers and tying educational attainment to career growth demonstrates a tangible commitment on behalf of the employer to the employee, leading to a reciprocal commitment. This is how high-performing staff, those who are homegrown, can and will create a powerfully positive customer service experience, whether at a teller window or in a call center.

A culture of continuous learning is not aspirational, it’s simply smart business. Recent surveys have shown that 68% of workers would stay with an employer if the employer offered opportunities for learning and upskilling.

The remedy for 25% frontline turnover and a reduction in bank branches is to double down on investing in the team members who directly interact with customers: the frontline.

intermediary banks laundering

A Guide to Choosing AML Solutions for Banks and Fintech

If you’re a bank or financial institution, it’s important to be aware that instances of online money laundering are on the rise. 

However, with the help of suitable transaction monitoring software, banks and financial institutions can help prevent fraud and stay compliant with AML regulations. 

Let’s look at the basics of transaction monitoring as well as key features to look out for.

The new face of money laundering

According to the UNODC, money laundering losses amount to 2% to 5% of the world’s GDP. 

It is also becoming an increasingly online pursuit for criminals, catching onto new trends like the increased popularity of cryptocurrencies and blockchain – a report by Chainalysis found that cryptocurrency money laundering rose by 30% in 2021. This is possibly due to the increased anonymity in cryptocurrency transaction processes.

Naturally, these developments make it harder and harder for banks and financial institutions to catch money launderers, meaning that they need the latest technology to keep up with these increased risks. It’s not just banks and financial institutions either eCommerce sites are also seeing a rise in fraudsters targeting their operations as well as their customers. 

Fortunately, with the help of modern AML technology, you can catch online money launderers more easily. Transaction monitoring software in particular helps banks and financial institutions spot suspicious transactions and fulfill their legal obligations.  

Read on to find out why it’s important to stay compliant with AML regulations, how transaction monitoring software works as a solution to money laundering, and how to get the most out of features currently on the market. 

Transaction monitoring vs AML

To develop a good understanding of the differences between transaction monitoring and AML, it’s first important to know that AML stands for Anti Money Laundering.

Although related, there are some key differences between the two terms to look out for. Transaction monitoring is part of AML, but AML goes beyond this to include measures such as identity verification of each customer at onboarding, as keeping certain information about them up to date at regular intervals.

How does transaction monitoring software work?

During any financial transaction – deposit, withdrawal, payment and so on – a customer creates data on the bank or financial organization’s system. This is even the case when they transact offline, in person, as the transactions are still subject to these regulations. 

Behind the scenes, in the bank’s digital infrastructure, transaction monitoring software feeds this data through risk rules. These risk rules are based around flagging suspicious actions such as the following:

  • suspicious account activity and nature of the transaction
  • high value transactions (the threshold is different for each country)
  • high value cross-border transactions
  • cash withdrawals and deposits of a large sum
  • the source of inbound and outbound funds is unknown

Separating this information out from regular customer behavior, transaction monitoring software puts the data from these suspicious transactions, withdrawals and deposits into what is known as a SAR file, or Suspicious Activity Report. The file is designed in such a way so that financial analysts and regulators can review it. 

There are online systems in place that allow you to file a SAR if you need to, and transaction monitoring software options on the market that do this automatically for you. 

So, how do you know when you need to file a SAR? If your customer’s transaction doesn’t match that of a customer’s usual behavior nor their stated purpose, then this is cause for suspicion. An example of this might be that a customer declares their purpose for a bank transfer is to purchase a house but then, contrary to this, the money is left untouched in their account for a suspiciously long time.

Even when the transaction does match a customer’s usual behaviors, you still ought to also check if your customer has been involved with any sanctions lists, politically exposed persons (PEP) lists and other blacklist mandates.

When customer behavior looks out of the ordinary, you can consider whether they have made a high value transaction or withdrawn a large sum of money. If there’s a reasonable explanation, such as moving house, or going on holiday, then this isn’t usually cause for concern. 

Most financial organizations have defined workflows for gathering evidence from their customers on the source of funds, for example, when the software does flag such cases. They either employ workflow software for this, as explained in a guide to automation by Integrify or integrate the process into their AML/transaction monitoring platform. If there’s no reasonable explanation, then this is flagged as a potential case of money laundering and usually results in a SAR.

As you can see, it’s a process of elimination, which helps to find the best possible story to explain a suspicious transaction. After all, a number of transactions can look suspicious to a bank but for legitimate customers, there are logical explanations that often have to do with a change of life circumstances, for instance. 

Transaction monitoring software usually flags suspicious behavior instantly, meaning that if you’ve got software, you don’t have to manually check every single customer transaction, deposit or withdrawal to see if it’s a case of money laundering. A manual strategy is completely unrealistic – even for challenger banks and neobanks, which tend to be smaller in scale.

Ultimately, transaction monitoring is broad in its scope, covering all aspects of a customer’s credit behavior, transaction activity, currency exchange or wire transfer activity. However, as elaborated in an explainer on transaction monitoring on the SEON website, transaction monitoring software solutions tend to also address other AML requirements, such as identity verification and KYC – and beyond, sometimes including customer monitoring and onboarding checks, transaction velocity monitoring, and so on, all of which are fraud prevention measures.

Which rules do I need to be compliant with?

There can be damaging repercussions to not complying with AML legislation.

These include fines, business disruption and potential damage to your reputation as an institution. For repeat offenders, extreme cases can even result in removal of the organization’s banking license. 

Different countries have different thresholds for when it’s right to flag and scrutinize a transaction. For instance, the US has a transaction threshold of $3,000.

AML is a set of requirements that banks and financial institutions have to comply with. Banks and financial institutions therefore have to have AML strategies in place to make sure that they achieve this successfully. 

How to choose transaction monitoring software

Now that you have an understanding of what transaction monitoring software is as part of your AML approach, you can look at choosing the best transaction monitoring software for your bank or financial institution’s needs. 

There are many pluses of doing so, such as increased efficiency in detecting money laundering, and compliance peace of mind. This software can also help you to rank the suspiciousness of user behavior, allowing for a degree of prioritization. In the case of high risk operations and regulatory environments, transaction monitoring software can be adjusted to more strict rulesets. 

Despite its efficiency and outright necessity, a transaction monitoring software option can still be costly. It can also take up a lot of your valuable business time and often requires a full risk management team even if the software’s helping you process more data than usual. You might be looking at outsourcing this solution to a third-party or deploying a specialized, onsite solution – which will have to be managed primarily by your own team. Keep in mind that, in addition to the AML solution, the fraud/risk team who operates and maintains this software can also be on-site or off-site as well. 

Whatever your solution, every bank is probably trying to increase efficiency while remaining complicit with AML requirements. 

In reality, there’s no one-size-fits-all transaction monitoring software solution, especially as organizations have additional pain points and mandates to address. But, fortunately, there are a lot of options out there. 

  1. Organizations are well advised to start the process with their legal and compliance consultant, to fully map out the legal landscape that applies to their activities. 
  2. Then, you may want to continue with listing your adjacent and additional risk prevention needs as an organization – meaning those features that transaction monitoring software sometimes has, and you may be interested in.
  3. From there, consider whether it’s going to be in-house or outsourced software, the size of your team of fraud analysts, the level of automation you desire, and your overall risk tolerance, and you’ll be able to create a shortlist to investigate further.
  4. Investigate your shortlisted software, including getting quotes and hands-on demos, when available.

Key transaction monitoring software tips 

In terms of key features, we suggest looking at how flexible the product is (in terms of rules setting), a user experience that is seamless with an UI that’s functional and easy to navigate. 

  • In terms of flexibility, the more your transaction monitoring software can create advanced statistical models that enable easier detection of obscure money laundering methods, the better. 
  • Preconfigured rules are also very useful to have, as it means that you don’t have to have an engineer to set up new rules, which could be often as the requirements of your business change. 
  • Software that allows for flexibility where the growth of your business is concerned can be useful, as it will be able to handle an increased transaction volume. 
  • User friendliness is also something one might want to consider. Is the software intuitive and easy to use, while providing sufficient functionality to your in-house team? Also, does it negatively affect your customer journey compared to other compliant software? 
  • Keep your eye out for customizable rulesets and scoring methods – this makes the tool you deploy adaptable to different regulations as they change or as you expand to other locales. If there are any criminal or legislative changes, your AML compliance team can set new parameters. 
  • Data transparency and granularity is also key. Some transaction monitoring software allows your team to manually review customer activity according to criteria created for high risk activity. This is especially useful if you want to bring in your own expert team to review human activity. Human judgment can play a useful part in spotting money laundering, especially if automatic transaction monitoring software processes themselves haven’t quite caught up with new money laundering methods.

In 2022, efficient AML software has never been in higher demand, largely due to the exponential growth in challenger banks and fintech startups. 

Per Statista, 38% of personal loans in the US are granted by fintechs rather than legacy institutions, while fintech revenue is projected to reach $190 billion by 2024. But money laundering is equally on the rise. 

When it comes to transaction monitoring, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Put the above tips to good use to choose the software that’s right for your organization.

About the Author

Gergo Varga has been fighting online fraud since 2009 at various companies – even co-founding his own anti-fraud startup. He’s the author of the Fraud Prevention Guide for Dummies – SEON Special edition. He currently works as the Evangelist at SEON, using his industry knowledge to keep marketing sharp, communicating between the different departments to understand what’s happening on the frontlines of fraud detection. He lives in Budapest, Hungary, and is an avid reader of philosophy and history.

central Russian economic contraction was caused by drop in oil prices, resulting in lower values of export cargo and import cargo begin shipped in international trade.

Why Central Banks Aren’t Worried About The Global Economy Despite All The Warfare

Whether you’re filling up your tank or grocery cart, you’ve probably felt the sting of inflation in your wallet. The war between Russia and Ukraine has exacerbated food prices, but that’s not the full story. Inflation, driven primarily by the post-economic boom after the Covid pandemic, has seen prices rising out of control. Governments and central banks are enacting anti-inflationary policies to help combat these issues.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the impact of the war on the global economy, what leaders are worried about with regard to the economy, and how governments are reacting to help curb inflation.

The Global Economic Impact of the War in Ukraine

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, no one was quite sure how it would play out. Months later, Russia continues to advance in Ukraine, and the effects of the war are being felt across the globe. One of these impacts has been driving more and more people into poverty around the globe. In reality, post-Covid recession inflation is actually the primary concern. The war between Russia and Ukraine is just merely exacerbating an already struggling global economy.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) found that more than 51.6 million people fell into poverty in the first three months after the war. These people were living off of $1.90 or less every day. Western sanctions on Russia and disrupted supply chains throughout Ukraine have led to port blockages driving up the cost of wheat, sugar, and cooking oil. Despite these acute problems directly related to the war, the cost of goods and commodities has already been rising since Covid restrictions began to ease.

The Real Global Economic Threat

The real global economic threat faced today is rapidly increasing inflation. Underlying inflation trends from the Eurozone, UK, and the US, reveal the composition of this inflation. The US, for example, is still experiencing a red-hot labor market. Ultimately, this labor market is one of the key drivers of inflationary problems in the US. Worse still, inflation of this type doesn’t usually disappear without some kind of intervention.

Comparatively, the Eurozone and UK are experiencing inflationary problems as a result of energy prices being driven higher. Some of this can be attributed to European reliance on Russian natural gas, but also newly enacted green energy policies are also driving up the cost of energy.

Developing economies and the global south, however, are among the countries worst hit by inflation and supply chain disruptions in Ukraine. Countries such as Haiti, which depend on foreign imports, like wheat, are already experiencing some of the worst inflation and price hikes around the globe.

Can Central Banks Save the Global Economy?

The Bank for International Settlements recently urged prioritizing inflation above any other goal. In an annual report, the BIS observed that the Covid recession and following expansion have created a situation where there are high inflationary pressures in addition to other elevated financial vulnerabilities.

When the pandemic occurred, economies ground to a halt due to lockdowns and policies that put the clamp on consumer spending, crippled supply chains, and minimized demand causing factories to close down. Once all of these restrictions were lifted, economies saw huge upshots in housing prices, stock markets, and wages. Pandemic policies of low-interest rates, high government spending, and stifled demand caused an explosion in economic activity.

Consumers have been feeling these problems since 2021. Small businesses especially have been faced with cash flow problems. Even without hard data, everyone can see how prices increase week by week.

In May, the US saw inflation climb to 8.6%, the highest in four decades. In Europe, inflation reached 8.1%. In order to combat this inflation, central banks across the globe have begun raising interest rates in order to bring them back towards a 2% benchmark. Combating inflation by hiking interest rates can have negative consequences, though. The duty of the Fed, and other central banks, is to combat inflation without triggering a full-blown recession.

What Policies are Central Banks Implementing to Stop Inflation?

The primary tool for combating inflation, from an institutional standpoint, is raising interest rates. In June, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points to 1.5%-1.75% in June, with another expected to come this July. The Fed anticipates a range of 3.25%-3.5% by the end of the year.

Similar measures are being taken by other central banks that are also raising their rates. Interest rate increases work like an economic tax and can help bring balance to the supply and demand of goods in the market.

These rising rates can have a wide range of impacts across the economy, though. Banks and other lenders often use the Fed as a benchmark for establishing their own interest rates. If you have a small business loan or a business checking account, this can impact you. When interest rates on things like mortgages, credit cards, and other types of debt rise, it means less money consumers can spend in other areas, thus reducing demand.

The Threat of a Recession Still Exists

One issue with hiking rates, whether it’s slow or quick, is that they can trigger a recession. Currently, unemployment is at around 3.6%, but too much change could send that higher to 6%. Experts argue that it’s unlikely that a recession will occur. 80% of US small businesses believe they could withstand a US recession.

The key here is that central banks are trying to navigate a soft landing versus a hard landing. A hard landing occurs when an economic slowdown or downturn occurs after a period of rapid growth (i.e., a recession). In a soft landing, the government is able to reduce inflation without harming jobs or causing too much economic pain for consumers.

Despite assurances that no recession will occur, tech stocks have been rocked in recent months, with huge layoffs and even rescinding offers in the case of Twitter, Redfin, and Coinbase. In any case, central banks are working their hardest to ensure that inflation is brought under control without making things worse. Global foreign direct investment has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but as the economy slows, this too could change.

Conclusion

Even with the continuing war between Russia and Ukraine, economic pressures persist because of inflation. Central Banks across the globe are enacting policies to help combat inflation and prevent damage to consumers from getting worse. Experts believe interest rate hikes can help combat out-of-control inflation that is sending millions into poverty.

EXIM

Export-Import Bank of the United States President and Chair Reta Jo Lewis Addresses Global 2022 Export Conference in Lisbon

On Wednesday, President and Chair of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) Reta Jo Lewis concluded a successful visit to Lisbon, Portugal, where she addressed the TXF Global 2022 conference, “Export, Agency and Project Finance,” and held numerous bilateral meetings with key stakeholders.

Kicking off the conference, Chair Lewis participated in a panel discussion with other export credit agency (ECA) heads, “Sustainability, decarbonization, project pipelines and policy.” Chair Lewis emphasized EXIM’s commitment to clean energy and President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to leading the global energy transition. During the panel, Chair Lewis also spoke about EXIM’s financing tools and programs, highlighting the latest initiative, Make More in America, designed to provide financing to support U.S. exports.

While in Lisbon, Chair Lewis also met with numerous ECA heads, financial institutions, trade associations such as AmCham Portugal, and various American exporters including SunAfrica. During these discussions, Chair Lewis outlined key EXIM priorities and worked to identify potential avenues for future partnership and collaboration.

ABOUT EXIM

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is the nation’s official export credit agency with the mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating U.S. exports.  To advance American competitiveness and assist U.S. businesses as they compete for global sales, EXIM offers financing including export credit insuranceworking capital guaranteesloan guarantees, and direct loans.  As an independent federal agency, EXIM contributes to U.S. economic growth by supporting tens of thousands of jobs in exporting businesses and their supply chains across the United States.  Since 1992, EXIM has generated more than $9 billion for the U.S. Treasury for repayment of U.S. debt.

 

jpmorgan

Money Bags: GLOBAL TRADE’S TOP BANKS FOR 2022

To determine the Top Banks for Global Trade 2022, we devised a points system based on the 2021 rankings of The Banker, which has
engaged in “global bank benchmarking since 1970,” Statrys, which was launched in 2018 with the goal of becoming the most accessible and feature-rich payment option for small and medium-sized enterprises, and a third, knowledgeable yet undisclosed source.

If you are wondering why our list includes so many Chinese banks, we’ll let The Banker and its ranking of 1,000 banks worldwide explain.

“There is little evidence of China— the country first hit by COVID-19—suffering any long-term economic damage as a result of the pandemic,” the site reports. “Its banks have actually managed to consolidate their position even further, with ICBC, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China
holding the top four positions for the fourth year in a row.”

Bank of America, which occupies Global Trade’s top slot as the points leader, and our runner-up JPMorgan Chase, which has been ranked as the top bank in the world by sources we did not rely on this year, can also thank The Banker for reaching as high as they did.

“For the most part, the major U.S. banks have held fast to their positions from the previous year,” The Banker states. “JPMorgan Chase remains in fifth position and is still the highest ranked U.S. bank in the Top 1,000 with $234.8 billion in Tier 1 capital, a 9.5%
year-on-year increase. Bank of America also remains in sixth position.”

Here are Global Trade’s top 10 banks of 2022.

1. Bank of America
Founded: 1998
Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina

From a naming perspective, Bank of America was founded in San Francisco in 1904, but it took its present form when NationsBank of Charlotte acquired it in 1998. BofA is now the second largest banking institution in the U.S., after JPMorgan Chase, and the eighth
largest bank in the world. Commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking are its primary financial services.

2. JPMorgan Chase
Founded: 2000
Headquarters: New York City

As of Sept. 30, 2021, JPMorgan Chase was the largest bank in the U.S., the largest bank in the world by market capitalization and the globe’s fifth largest in terms of total assets ($3.758 trillion).

While it’s not topping this list, JPMorgan Chase was No. 1 on Global Finance’s World’s Best Bank 2021 while also ranking as the World’s Best Investment Bank and the World’s Best Private Bank.

The institution has a reputation for being a commanding global presence in raising capital, processing payments, and committing to sustainability.

3. HSBC
Founded: 1836
Headquarters: London

The British multinational banking and financial services organization boasts of an international network that comprises around 7,500 offices in more than 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa.

4. (tie) ICBC, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China
Founded: 1984 (ICBC), 1954 (CCB) and 1951 (AgBank)
Headquarters for all three: Beijing

Industrial and Commercial Bank, which is owned by the Chinese government, was ranked as the largest bank in the world in 2017 and 2018. Besides heading The Banker’s Top 1,000 World Banks rankings each year from 2012 to 2019, ICBC was number one on Forbes’ list of the world’s biggest public companies of 2000.

Founded as the People’s Construction Bank of China, the name changed to China Construction Bank in 1996. In 2015, CCB was
the second largest bank in the world by market capitalization and the sixth largest company in the world. AgBank, as the hip kids call it, has 320 million retail customers, 2.7 million corporate clients and nearly 24,000 branches throughout mainland China and the world.

7. (tie) Citibank, Bank of China
Founded: 1998 (Citi) and 1912 (BofC)
Headquarters: New York City (Citi) and Beijing (BofC)

Citigroup, the third largest banking and financial services institution in the U.S., owns Citicorp, which is the holding company for Citibank. Yes, that’s a lot of Citi details, but it’s appropriate when the whole shebang has often been cited as being too big to fail. Citigroup has
more than 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries.

In February 2021, Jane Fraser became CEO and the first woman to hold such a position at America’s “Big Four” banks (Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo). The second oldest bank still in existence in China, BofC became the second largest lender in its home country and the ninth biggest bank in the world by market capitalization on Dec. 31, 2019.

By the end of 2020, it was the fourth largest bank in the world by total assets, preceded by the big three China banks occupying No. 4 on our list.

9. BNP Paribas
Founded: 1848 (as BNP)
and 1872 (as Paribas)
Headquarters: Paris

The French international banking group, which became BNP Paribas in the year 2000, leads Europe in terms of business and profitability and was the seventh largest international banking group as of October 2021. It has a presence in 65 countries.

10. Santander Bank
Founded: 1902
Headquarters: Boston

Founded in 1902 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, as Sovereign Bank, it
is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Spanish Santander Group. But Santander Bank is based in Boston and principally serves the northeastern United States. 

B2B

6 B2B payment trends in 2022

CFOs face a daunting list of challenges in 2022: Managing cash flow and controlling overhead. Getting access to capital. Protecting the organization against fraud. Supply chain chaos. The Great Resignation and the talent shortage. Digital transformation.

How a business makes its payments touches on all of them.

The new imperatives of work from home drove more change in the long overlooked area of B2B payments than we’ve seen in decades. But there’s more room for improvement. This is a huge market–$22 trillion domestically–where banks still have 90% market share. The bank to fintech share shift movie we’ve seen in consumer payments over the past decade is really just beginning to play out in B2B. Here are some of the things I think we’ll see unfold in the year ahead:


 

Check use declines

Just a few years ago, over 50% of US B2B payments were made by check. Now we’re closer to 40%. That’s still a lot of checks, but the percentage will keep dropping. In Europe and LATAM, they don’t use checks, period. They have to transmit data to the government to report and remit VAT. They have to be able to transmit data across borders and banking systems. Imagine trying to do all that using paper.

Checks have persisted in US businesses because they are the only payment method that enjoys near universal acceptance. But as the whole world becomes more digital, maintaining manual check processes will become an increasingly unacceptable burden.

Greater focus on efficient processes

According to the 2022 AFP Payments Cost Benchmark Survey, efficiency–rather than cost savings–is now the top reason for moving to electronic payments. But just shifting to electronic payment types doesn’t create efficiency.

What does payment process efficiency look like? Technology that gives you a single workflow for any type of payment; centralization of digitized information in the cloud; support services such as error resolution, and outsourced vendor enrollment and data management.

Fintechs gain market share

There are a lot of companies in the check elimination business, but not all approaches are equally effective. Banks mainly offer check replacements such as cards or ACH. They’re not offering the combination of technology and services that companies need to become fully digital.

For example, enrolling vendors for electronic payments, and managing and securing their data has historically been a big obstacle to digitization. It can be cost prohibitive to do in-house. Fintech providers use both technology and services to offer a complete solution.

Cards see wider adoption

The percentage of card payments will rise because credit cards simply offer too many benefits to ignore.

On the customer side, you get an electronic process that reduces costs and makes expense tracking and reconciliation easier. Cards free up working capital, and generate rebates. They fight fraud–it’s easier to cancel payment, and to control spend through limits and category blocks.

On the vendor side, payments are received and cleared faster, and they don’t bounce, all of which means improved cash flow. You get better remittance data than you do with an ACH or even with a check. Perhaps more subtly, it enhances the image of your business when you’re big enough to accept credit cards.

Fighting fraud at scale

Criminals always follow the money. When money moved by stagecoach, they robbed stagecoaches. When it moved by train, we had train robbers. As money moves digitally and more people become computer literate, hackers are the new robbers.

Unfortunately today’s robbers enjoy all the same advantages of scale that legitimate businesses do. As it gets harder and harder for individual companies to keep up with fraud at scale, they’ll turn to payment service providers that take on the risk for them.

Blockchain yes, crypto not yet

Cryptocurrencies and NFTs made headlines in 2021. But, it’s still too early to fully understand how cryptocurrencies and blockchain/distributed ledgers will impact business payments.

Blockchain has made banks a tad bit uncomfortable with promises of being able to offer close to real-time transactions while reducing operational costs. In fact, FLEETCOR already partners with RippleNet in our global payments business. Their distributed ledger technology lets our clients pay their beneficiaries in hours instead of the days it would take using the SWIFT settlement network. For customers that are on RippleNet, all the KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti Money Laundering) information is vetted and there are bank accounts–not crypto accounts–on either side.

Cryptocurrencies still don’t have those required regulatory frameworks in place. Their untraceable nature, volatility, and lack of widespread acceptance are big challenges that must be overcome before we see mainstream business adoption.

In a nutshell

The digitization of B2B payments is happening. It will take a lot longer than it has with consumer payments, because change happens slower and the market is so big. There’s also more complexity. It’s not enough just to move the money electronically. You have to make all the surrounding processes electronic too.

In 2022, we’ll continue to see companies replace checks with electronic payments. But we’ll also see a growing realization that this isn’t true digital transformation.

Even if you’re making 100% of your payments via ACH and credit card, you still have people doing manual work that could be done much more efficiently through a full service payments provider. That reduces your costs, frees up people and capital, generates rebates, and makes your vendors happier because it’s more efficient for them too.

Rick Fletcher, Group President of Corpay Payables, entered the world of payables through leadership roles at Deloitte Consulting, GE Capital, and Comdata. His passion lies in helping customers operate better through making better decisions and gaining payment efficiency. Rick holds a degree in management from Northwestern University.