Financial Advice

Unparalleled Personal Financial Advice

Financial Advice

Hoxton Capital Management was founded in 2018 by UK financial advisers, Chris Ball and Matt Dean, and quickly established itself as one of the fastest growing independent advisory companies. With operations in London, Sydney, Texas and Dubai, the firm manages a growing client base of mostly expatriate clients, endeavouring to provide them with the highest possible service in the industry – And this hasn’t gone unnoticed, with MEA Markets magazine recognising it as 2022’s Most Outstanding Tailored Investment Solutions Provider – Dubai. Join us as we learn more about what the firm has to offer clients.

Hoxton Capital Management prides itself on its personalised, honest and committed approach, offering tailored solutions and relevant advice that can only come from a deep understanding of the client and their personal requirements. It works with the client to understand their financial goals and offer the right strategies to help their investments develop and move forward so they can live their financial dreams.

Putting this into action is its highly qualified team of highly experienced advisers, who offer sound knowledge and transparent advice with a personal approach. Its consultants are always available to the client, providing an unsurpassed service that is honest and informative. They focus on quality and performance in everything they do, guaranteeing that the advice they provide is best-in-class.

Once the consultant understands what is important to the client, they will set realistic goals and create a made-to-measure financial strategy tailored to their individual circumstances. Hoxton Capital is a firm believer that its financial propositions offer the best value for its clients’ investments. Its people work tirelessly to move clients’ financial strategies forward, ensuring smooth and timely delivery.

Hoxton Capital is vigilant about keeping its clients on track to reach their financial goals and maximise their financial positioning, so it offers regular updates and monthly valuations on their investment performance with complete transparency. Alongside this, the client’s investments are accessible at any time through the company’s detailed online platform, which means everything is kept in one place. The client’s personal consultant will guide them on their investments to ensure they remain updated on performance.

The firm’s unique fee structure means that clients can choose an option that best suits their circumstance. Its fee-based structure means the client pays a direct fee, agreed upon prior to service, while its commission-based structure means the client’s product provider pays a varied rate on their behalf, based on portfolio performance with no extra fees. All fees are communicated with the client before any engagement is finalised.

With a 4.8-star rating on Trustpilot, Hoxton Capital’s clients delight in its “good solid advice”, “very efficient communication”, and “fantastic support through the whole process”, with “nothing but praise for their work”. Having earned a great reputation for its unrelenting commitment to safeguarding its clients’ finances, Hoxton Capital only intends to continue in this way as it heads towards the bright future that is ahead of it.

For further information, please visit www.hoxtoncapital.com

Digital Payments

Nearly 9 in 10 People in the Middle East Report Increased Use of Digital Payments in the Past Year

Digital Payments

Since acquired habits stay with people, 92% of those surveyed intend to use Internet banking and e-wallet services more often even after the end of the pandemic

According to the Kaspersky Digital Payment survey, 93% of respondents from the Middle East reported an increase in their use of e-wallet and mobile banking in 2021. COVID-19 was one of the main factors for that: 64% report that they only started using online payments services during the pandemic. In particular, online payment services helped 61% of the respondents to maintain social distancing. Since acquired habits stay with people, 92% of those surveyed intend to use Internet banking and e-wallet services more often even after the end of the pandemic.

Convenience compelled people in the Middle East most to embrace financial technologies – 91% of those surveyed appreciated the ability to pay whenever and wherever they are. 55% also stated that Internet banking and mobile wallet services make it easier to manage financial information.

Another factor that closely correlates to the popularity of digital payment services is the decrease in financial malware attacks in the UAE by more than 70% in 2021 compared to 2020 according to Kaspersky experts. While the decrease in numbers is reassuring, the country also saw an increase in financial malware attacks on Android devices by 42% in 2021 compared to 2020. Given that online services are rapidly growing in size and numbers, new vulnerabilities are welcoming complex cyberattacks.

When asked about their reservations prior to using mobile banking and payment apps, users admitted their fears – afraid of storing their financial data online (37%) and worried that their personal devices are not secured enough (27%). 4 in 10 also revealed they do not trust the security of these platforms. 28% don’t have any reservations at all.

“Digital payment services are gaining more adopters despite the concerns and reservations. The pandemic was an opportunity in disguise for people to understand, learn and use digital payments services at their disposal for their own benefit”, said Emad Haffar, Head of Technical Experts at Kaspersky. “However, as the cashless economy grows and evolves to accommodate the needs of the new normal, it is also important to understand and stay vigilant to the cyber-risks pertaining to online transactions. Since people are becoming increasingly comfortable with accessing digital payment applications, app developers and providers should now look into cybersecurity gaps at each stage of the payment process and build security features that will win the trust of potential users, as well as keep the existing customers protected at all times”, adds Emad Haffar.

J.K. Khalil, Country General Manager, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Levant at Mastercard, said: “As the world grows increasingly connected through the power of digital transformation, cyberattacks have escalated, leaving people and businesses at risk of financial or reputational damages. As such, it is more vital than ever for industry leaders to act as the first line of defense to create a secure financial ecosystem. At Mastercard, we aim to stay ahead of fraudsters and to continually evolve and enhance our protection of cyber environments for our bank and merchant customers as we work towards a safer future for all.”

To help users in the Middle East embrace digital payment technologies securely, Kaspersky experts suggest the following:

  • Do not share your PIN, password or any other financial information with anyone online or offline.
  • Avoid using the public Wi-Fi to make any online transactions.
  • Use a separate credit or debit card to make online transactions. Set a spending limit on the card which can help keep a track of financial transactions.
  • Shop from trusted and official websites

For developers, banks and companies involved in providing digital payment services, Kaspersky recommends:

  • Invest in holistic cybersecurity solutions that can help detect fraud across multiple levels of online payment processes and consumer touchpoint.
  • Complex attacks by APT groups on financial institutions are also on a rise. In-depth visibility and threat intelligence are a necessity to keep customers protected and to ensure business continuity. Using the Kaspersky Threat Intelligence service is helpful to support your IT teams in analysing and mitigating threats.
  • Conduct cyber awareness training for employees continuously. This will help employees know the red flags to look for when an organization is under attack and to understand their role in protecting the organization.
Investing

Africa is the Place to Invest, Visiting US Congressional Delegation Acknowledges to African Development Bank Chief

Investing

United States Congressman Gregory Meeks has warned that the United States will only be part of the future if it invests in Africa now.

The congressman from New York and Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee was speaking during a visit to the African Development Bank Group on Saturday, as he and a team of congressional colleagues concluded a tour of four African countries. African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina and several senior Bank officials welcomed the group to the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan.

“If the United States is not investing in Africa today – especially when we look at the size of Africa’s youth population, which is larger than America’s entire population– then we are not going to be a part of the future,” Meeks said. He added: “My singular focus had been to make sure Africa moves “from the back to the front. There’s a lot of work to do. Governments can’t do it alone. The African Development Bank will play a big role. When Prosper Africa needs guidance, I will point them to the African Development Bank.” 

Meeks was accompanied by Congressman Ami Bera of California, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, and Congressman Troy Carter of Louisiana.

The group had visited Sierra Leone, Liberia and Tanzania before their arrival in Côte d’Ivoire. Members said they were inspired by the immense opportunities the African continent offers American investors.

Adesina thanked the United States for its continued support, including support for the Bank’s general capital increase in 2019, which saw its capital base rise from $93 billion to $208 billion. Adesina said the United States, the second-largest shareholder of the Bank, was “working with the right institution.” “We are African, we understand the needs of Africa, and we are driving change in Africa,” he said.

Adesina and the visiting members of Congress agreed on the need for closer cooperation between the African Development Bank and US investors. Adesina said the Bank would open an office in Washington, D.C., once Board approval was secured. He explained that the office would provide guidance about how to structure substantive US private sector investment in Africa. “We’d like to see a lot more US direct investment in infrastructure,” Adesina said. “We look forward to working with the United States Trade and Development Agency and others on this.”

Adesina said African economies were rebounding, but the continent faced mounting commercial debt, the adverse impacts of climate change, lack of opportunities for youth, and poor access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The African Development Bank is leading calls for the reallocation of $100 billion in International Monetary Fund special drawing rights (SDRs) to African countries. It is advocating that these funds be channeled through the Bank as a prescribed holder of SDRs, and as an institution which has a AAA credit rating. “SDRs offer African countries a tremendous opportunity to deal with debt,” the Bank chief said.  

Adesina asked for the United States’ support in tackling climate change. He explained that the Bank was investing heavily in climate adaptation and was working closely with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on climate finance.

In April 2021, the African Development Bank, together with the Global Center on Adaptation, launched the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program to mobilize $25 billion to support climate adaptation on the African continent. 

Africa’s youth featured prominently in the discussion. The visiting delegation learned that the African Development Bank is supporting entrepreneurship and skills development, especially digital skills, and has been working to develop youth entrepreneurship investment banks, which will support the businesses of young people.     

On health, an equally important subject given the realities of the last two years especially, the Bank president explained that as part of its plans for quality health care infrastructure, the institution would invest $3 billion in building Africa’s pharmaceutical industries and vaccine manufacturing capacities.

Adesina also looked ahead to the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the African Development Bank Group’s concessional lending arm. He is promoting reform of the Fund to enable it to leverage its equity and tap into capital markets in support of Africa’s low-income countries.

The  US Congressional members and the Bank’s senior leadership  shared consensus on the transformative roles of women.  According to Adesina, the Bank, through its Affirmative Finance Action for Women initiative, would disburse $500 million to women businesses across the continent.  

Delegation members expressed strong support for the African Development Bank’s priorities and  appreciation of its development impact.

According to Congressman Butterfield, a constant refrain during the Africa visit was: “Congressman, we appreciate your aid but what we really want is trade and investment.”

Congresswoman Omar underscored the need for partnerships. She said: “We know Africa is resource-rich. Resources can only be well utilized if they are developed. Africa needs partners to prosper.” 

Congressman Bera stressed the need to address Africa’s governance issues and the importance of keeping revenue from its resources within African countries.

Discussions also covered the role of the African diaspora and the need to stem the brain drain of African professionals from the continent.    

Accompanying the African Development Bank president at the meeting were several senior officials of the institution, notably Senior Vice President Swazi Bajabulile Tshabalala, Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Kevin Kariuki, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development Beth Dunford, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management Kevin Urama. Others were Acting Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Yacine Fal, Acting Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Hassatou N’Sele, and Acting Director-General, Office of the Bank President Alex Mubiru.

Joining virtually were the Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure, and Industrialization Solomon Quaynor, and Senior Director of the Africa Investment Forum, Chinelo Anohu. The Africa Investment Forum, Africa’s premier investment platform, has played a key role recently in driving closer ties between the Bank and the US investment community as well as with certain business-related arms of the US government like the United States Trade and Development Agency. 

In late 2021, the Africa Investment Forum signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Trade and Development Agency to support high-quality infrastructure solutions for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mobile Payments

Mobile Payments in Africa Continue to Grow in Popularity, Proving Importance of Local Payment Methods

Mobile Payments

Mobile payments in sub-Saharan Africa are predicted to grow by over 60% in the next 5 years, showcasing that Local Payment Methods like these are key for more expansive e-commerce opportunities.

 

The total value of mobile money transactions in emerging markets is predicted to exceed $870 billion in 2026; this growth tendency can also be seen in sub-Saharan Africa, where mobile payments are expected to grow by over 60% in the next 5 years. Seen as one of prominent payment trends in emerging markets for 2022, the popularity of mobile payments is emphasizing the importance of Local Payment Methods, and could open up the African market to a number of global e-commerce opportunities.

Mobile payments as a Local Payment Method (LPM) appeared in the sub-Saharan region in the early 2000s with Safaricom, a Kenyan mobile network operator, offering one of the first mobile payment solutions. The importance of this LPM only grew with new players and more regional countries entering the space. While mobile payments were not automatically available to each sub-Saharan country, as some still lacked technical solutions, it has become a widely spread trend that continues appearing in more African countries.

Frank Breuss, CEO of Nikulipe, a Fintech company creating and connecting Local Payment Methods to access Emerging and Fast-Growing Markets, notes that this payment trend has grown popular due to the particular circumstances sub-Saharan Africa is in.

“More than half of the African population remains without a traditional bank account even today, so solutions like mobile payments are most convenient for the region,” explains Breuss. “Mobile phones are widely available across the region, making mobile money payments the primary way for Africans to pay for goods and services like groceries, food delivery or taxi rides, or even utility bills.”

Breuss continues, adding that mobile phones in Africa are used in a very different way than they are in the US or Europe; they are often not based on monthly subscription models, but rather balances are topped up by purchasing prepaid airtime credits, that can be purchased at thousands of shops or agent-kiosks even in the most rural areas.

“This allows people, even those without a bank account or a credit card, to buy phone credits not just to make calls, but also to top-up their phone to pay local merchants for goods and services—logistically, it’s the simplest and most convenient LPM to use. Knowing all of this, understanding why mobile payments are popular in this region can, in turn, open up more global e-commerce opportunities for both international merchants and African shoppers, looking to shop more globally.”

Since much of Africa’s population has limited access to financial services, the continent is regarded as one of the world’s most attractive banking opportunities for developing the existing financial industry and introducing new products to improve financial accessibility. After previously disregarding mobile money’s target market in favor of Africans with higher income, Africa’s traditional banks are, too, looking into entering telecommunications territory. This move by local banking institutions indicates that the mobile payments market will continue growing in the upcoming years.

While mobile payment penetration varies from one sub-Saharan African country to another, at the end of 2020, 495 million people were using mobile services, which represents 46% of the region’s population. It is predicted that by 2025 this number will reach 615 million—equivalent to 50% of the region’s population. This shows that Local Payment Methods will remain an important part of not only sub-Saharan Africa’s but also fast-growing and emerging markets e-commerce growth.

Global Economy Recovery

Finance, Digital Economy Key to Driving Growth of ASEAN Markets: Industry Experts

Global Economy Recovery

Finance and digital economy are key pillars that will drive the reform agenda of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and support the region’s economic growth in the coming decades, industry experts speaking at the Global Business Forum ASEAN in Dubai said today.

Organised by Dubai Chamber under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the two-day forum explores investment and trade opportunities emerging across ASEAN markets, and positions Dubai as a global gateway for ASEAN companies.

Outlining priorities of ASEAN countries, a session titled Financing Growth brought together Stephen Moss, Regional Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT) at HSBC, based in the UAE, and Winfried Wicklein, Deputy Director General for the Southeast Asia at Asian Development Bank, based in the Philippines, both of whom joined the discussion remotely.

“The pandemic undoubtedly had a disruptive impact on the economy and adversely affected growth in South-East Asia, with the region registering a 4% contraction last year – its deepest in the last decade,” said Winfried Wicklein. “The good news is that we are expecting the region to bounce back with growth of more than 3% in 2022 and 5% in 2023. The economic recovery has been driven to a great extent by the bounce-back in the agricultural sector, as many of those who lost their jobs in tourism headed to agriculture.”

Wicklein went on to list four strategies that are necessary to lead the region’s recovery in the period ahead: “First, there is strengthening social protections, especially for vulnerable groups. Then strategy number two is to enhance the competitiveness of ASEAN’s business environment in order to attract further investments, including investment in human capital to build a competitive workforce and economy.”

“The third strategy is maintaining the ongoing digital transformation in order to generate jobs and income,” he continued. “And finally, there is ensuring that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is green.”

For his part, Stephen Moss asserted that interest in ASEAN from the Middle East is at an all-time high, citing several reasons for this development. “First, if we look at ASEAN as one entity, it would be the third-largest economy in Asia and fifth-largest in the world; the region is also expected to become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2030. It sits right in the middle of two of the world’s largest trade agreements – the CPTPP and RCEP.”

“Furthermore, exports from ASEAN are valued at over USD1.3 trillion – a figure that is expected to more than double to USD2.8 trillion by 2025, making ASEAN the world’s fastest-growing trade bloc,” he continued. “In terms of digital adoption, ASEAN already has one of the world’s most digitally enabled populations, with 40 million additional internet users reported in 2020 alone. The total number of users is expected to rise from 130 million to 300 million by 2030. This is not to mention the dynamic population, 35% of which are under 20 years old – a population that is fast moving into the middle class.

“Given all of this, we can see why investors from the Middle East are increasingly looking East towards ASEAN,” Moss concluded.

In the second session, ‘ASEAN’s Digital Landscape,’ Dr Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer ADDO AI, a global artificial intelligence and big data firm that headquartered in Singapore and with clients and employees located in the Middle East, Asia and the US, discussed how digitalisation was underpinning the recovery from the pandemic.

She highlighted the ‘e-Conomy Southeast Asia (SEA) Report – Roaring 20s: The SEA Digital Decade,’ published by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company in 2021, that revealed that 40 million new internet users came online this year, bringing the internet penetration in South East Asia to 75%, with eight out of 10 of these users having purchased something online at least once.

“Not only are people in ASEAN using digital more than ever before they are using it more frequently than ever before. It is not only the scale of penetration but also the depth of penetration as more and more digital services are added. That has risen to a sense of the digital decade for ASEAN – 2020 to 2030,” she said.

“One in three of these customers think that we would not have survived without these digital services – e-commerce, transport and food, and then to financial services and travel. As it matures, it comes to education and health-tech. We have seen great examples of how people are now, using more than four digital services than they were doing before the pandemic – food and grocery delivery have gone up the most, but digital merchants for all the centres are merging,” she added.

“The net positive impact that digitisation has on the country as a whole, benefitting both end users as well as the merchants and suppliers, range from job creation to business opportunities. More than 83% SME survey say it has created more jobs and if it weren’t for digital their revenues would have declined. In fact, six in 10 of them have said they would like to maintain the use of digital supply chain financing and consumer financing as the next thing to explore. What we are seeing is that we are in a position now to move beyond just consumer services to helping small businesses,” she continued.

Dr Khanna concluded by highlighting that in her base of Singapore, startups raised $11.2bn in the first nine months of 2021 – more than double raised in the whole of 2020.

“Singapore has made a great deal of effort to attract ASEAN unicorns. The country is one of the top investment destinations in south East Asia, from where family offices and investment offices, sovereign wealth funds can have a channel and exposure to all the growing startups, billion dollar value startups, across ASEAN. This is the opportunity that we see in both ASEAN and the Middle East as well, a flourishing of digital services,” she said.

GBF ASEAN forms part of Dubai Chamber’s flagship Global Business Forum series, which was launched in 2013 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to provide Dubai’s business community with new opportunities and strengthen the emirate’s position as a dynamic global business hub. GBF ASEAN represents the latest in the programme, which also has GBF Africa and GBF LATAM under its umbrella.

Investment Banking

Hundreds of African Financial Professionals Benefit from European Investment Bank Banking and Microfinance Academy

Investment Banking

Abidjan hosting the EIB’s first banking best-practice engagement in West and Central Africa; Central Bank governors from West and Central Africa to highlight financial challenges; 2021 SME Banking and Microfinance Academy follows EIB training more than 40,000 finance professionals across Africa over past 7 years; Industry experts share experience and solutions to strengthen gender and agriculture finance, digitalisation and understanding of climate risk.

Financial and banking leaders and experts from across West and Central Africa will participate in the European Investment Bank’s 2021 SME Banking and Microfinance Academy, the first to be held in the region. More than 1000 banking, microfinance and development finance participants from 67 countries will share technical and practical experience of successfully increasing access to finance by smallholders, entrepreneurs and business in the fully bilingual virtual event.

“The European Investment Bank recognises the importance of ensuring that private sector financing unlocks sustainable economic and social development. This inaugural EIB West and Central Africa SME Banking and Microfinance Academy brings together partners that share the same goal and long term objective of strengthening resilience and unlocking economic and social opportunities for local communities, small holder farmers and entrepreneurs across Africa. Building on a previous best-practice sharing that strengthened specialist skills for more than 40,000 African financial professionals for the benefit of many more entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers, I am convinced of the success of the Academy.” said Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President.

Opened by Jobst von Kirchmann, European Union Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire and hosted by the European Investment Bank’s Regional Representation for West Africa in Abidjan the Banking and Microfinance Academy will provide an opportunity for African and international financial partners to share experience of supporting economic resilience crucial to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating digitalisation and green finance, and improving access to finance by women, remote communities and vulnerable groups.

Over two days, experts from leading financial institutions, the EIB and partners Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) will share practical insights and technical best-practice that will further strengthen access to finance and facilitate investments in targeted sectors particularly in climate change mitigation and adaptation, social, gender, and the advancement of innovation and digital technology.

Central Bank governors from across West and Central Africa will also participate and discuss current challenges and financial services trends.

 

Expanding successful exchange of banking best-practice to West and Central Africa

The 2021 SME Banking and Microfinance Academy is the first time that the European Investment Bank has held the event in West and Central Africa. This follows previous banking and microfinance Academies held in East and Southern Africa since 2016.and dedicated best-practice training with more than 40,000 financial services professionals across Africa.

Banking professionals and private sector SME banking and microfinance clients across Africa already benefit from dedicated business management, banking risk management and specialised training provided by the European Investment Bank through technical assistance programmes across Africa.

Over the last decade the EIB has provided dedicated training for financial professionals in 288 banks and microfinance partners and enhanced business skills for entrepreneurs, small holder farmers and refugees across the continent.

 

Driving transformational change through increased access to finance

The 2021 SME Banking and Microfinance Academy will allow African and international banking and microfinance practitioners from across west and central Africa to share insights into the latest banking best-practices. Experience from previous academies in Nairobi and Pretoria have shown how closer cooperation and knowledge sharing is key to expanding access to finance to targeted market segments, to overcome key challenges and to foster and accelerate high-impact investment.

Participants will exchange experience and expertise on financing climate action, scaling up digitalisation, enabling financing to better reflect the needs of private sector entrepreneurs, smallholders and agriculture, and ensure that female entrepreneurs and women led business can overcome banking barriers.

Speakers will also highlight how to financial institutions are reinforcing digital investment to improve financial services delivery, sustainability reporting as well as to enhance environmental and social ratings.

 

Building on 58 years of EIB support for private sector growth and transformational investment across Africa

In recent years the European Investment Bank has worked with West and Central African based financial partners including Baobab, ECOBANK, Microcred, Kafo Jiginew, BDEAC, Société Génerale, Commercial Bank of Cameroon and PRO PME to enhance access to specialist and targeted finance.

The EIB promotes the development of the financial sector through technical assistance for both financial intermediaries and private sector final beneficiaries to strengthen managerial and financial skills.

Recent programmes have provided targeted support for African banking institutes. This includes recent partnership between the EIB and International Monetary Fund to support financial sector development across the continent. The joint EIB-IMF online course on financial inclusion and financial development.

By offering specialized technical assistance and fostering closer cooperation with its partners, across the continent the European Investment Bank is contributing to a lasting legacy of building local capacity and even developing stronger technical skills to ensure that increased access to finance overcomes daily challenges faced by small African businesses.

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank, owned directly by the 27 European Union member states.

The EIB has operated across Africa since 1965 and last year provided EUR 5 billion for private and public investment across Africa.

Digital Economy

Vertiv Joins the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance to Help Drive a Climate-neutral Digital Economy

Digital Economy

Vertiv, is a global a global provider of critical digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, today announced that it has become a lead sponsor of the Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance (SDIA).

Established in 2019, the SDIA is a non-profit network of more than 65 organizations across Europe and beyond, working to catalyse the transition to sustainable digital infrastructure. It aligns all stakeholders of the digital ecosystem – from energy supply and data centres, to fibre-optic networks and software – on the mission of fostering a sustainable digital economy and realizing their Roadmap to Sustainable Digital Infrastructure by 2030.

Max Schulze, SDIA executive chairman, welcomed Vertiv to the Alliance. “Vertiv’s experience and expertise in the critical infrastructure sector, including data centres, is well established. Together we will continue to develop new concepts and technologies to make climate-neutral data centres and digital infrastructure a reality.”

Commenting on the partnership with the SDIA, Giordano Albertazzi, president for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Vertiv, said: “Achieving a successful transition to a sustainable and digital future will require the cooperation of a wide variety of stakeholders, including governments as well as organisations from across the energy and technology industries. Vertiv is proud to support a group such as the SDIA which can help bring together these contributors and align them towards the common goal of developing a sustainable digital economy.”

Initially, Vertiv and the SDIA will focus their relationship around Europe – currently at the forefront of sustainability technology development as well as government regulation and investment.

Vertiv’s membership of the SDIA follows similar initiatives with organisations such as the European Data Centre Association (EUDCA), which Vertiv joined in 2018. Vertiv, via its membership of the EUDCA, is also helping to contribute to the development of the recently announced Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact. The pact is a major self-regulatory initiative setting targets that put the cloud and data centre industry on a path to meet the European Commission’s goal for climate-neutral data centres by 2030, and supporting the wider goal of the European Green Deal to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Some of the immediate areas of cooperation between SDIA and Vertiv will include the advancement of grid-interactive technologies. SDIA’s membership, which spans data centre technology suppliers and operators as well as energy companies, is well placed to help with the development and deployment of new solutions which can improve the integration between critical infrastructure and energy grids.

Dubai Business Bay

Young Saudi Arabia Consumers Bring Spending Back, 88% Ready to Embrace Pre-pandemic

Sitecore®, the global leader in digital experience management software, today released its Holiday Shopping Trends 2021 report exploring how consumers in Saudi Arabia intend to celebrate, indulge, and recuperate this holiday season.

Saudi Arabia’s residents are eager to resume their normal lives and make up for last year’s COVID-controlled holiday, with 88% of those age 25-34 saying they are ready to embrace pre-pandemic shopping, travel, and holiday experiences.

About four-fifths (79%) of Saudi Arabia consumers surveyed plan to make bigger and more mindful holiday purchases this year, fueled in part by the fact that 76% of Saudi Arabia consumers say they have more savings set aside for the holidays this year compared to last year.

Sitecore’s Holiday Shopping Trends 2021 report surfaces insights from consumers around holiday shopping, gift giving, spending, and sentiment. The data arms marketers in categories like retail, travel, automotive, and others with the intelligence they need to deliver winning experiences that satisfy the evolving tastes and demands of consumers.

“As 88 percent of consumers in Saudi Arabia are very clearly ready to move on from the pandemic, they are looking at Holiday 2021 as the beginning of the rest of their lives,” said Mohammed Alkhotani, Area Vice President – Middle East and Africa, Sitecore. “Our research shows pent-up demand and more savings than usual will result in younger consumers splurging on self-care and big-ticket items at the register, which is great news for those in retail, travel, and hospitality. It’s also heartening to see that 69 percent of Saudi Arabia consumers want to support their local community, including locally-owned businesses. The industry will need to respond with more offerings from these businesses.”

 

  • Saudi Arabia’s Shift in Perspective:
    • 73% of consumers would prefer experience gifts to “more stuff”
    • 85% of consumers are now planning “the trip of a lifetime”
    • 73% of consumers under the age of 44 said they are now more spontaneous, more social, and enjoying life more
  • Young Saudi Arabia consumers bringing spending back:
    • 87% of those under the age of 44 stated that following their experiences during the pandemic they now “value travel and appreciate other cultures more” 
  • Saudi retailers could support more locally-owned businesses:
    • 95% of consumers believe it is essential that retailers offer more products from locally-owned businesses, but only 66% report seeing more locally-owned products when shopping 
  • Buying local and being mindful with purchases is a priority for Saudi Arabia:
    • 69% of consumers are willing to pay more for locally made gifts
    • 59% of consumers are annoyed when they find a purchase was made in China, when they thought it was a local purchase
    • 93% of consumers stated that the pandemic has made them think more carefully about how they spend their money
  • In Saudi Arabia, self-care now includes self-gifting:
    • 46% of those buying a gift for themselves cite “therapy” as the main reason
Online banking

Al Ain Finance Selects HID Global to Offer a Secure and Seamless Mobile and Online Banking Experience to Customers

As customers increasingly gravitated to digital channels, it became essential to secure customer access and all transactions using multi-factor authentication

HID Global, a worldwide leader in trusted identity solutions, today announced that Al Ain Finance has selected its cloud-based HID Authentication Service and HID Approve mobile-based authentication application to offer its customers a secure and seamless online banking experience.

Al Ain Finance built its UAE operation from the ground up on a foundation of cloud-native banking software that optimized both its agility and resilience, especially during the global pandemic. As customers increasingly gravitated to digital channels, it became essential to secure customer access and all transactions using multi-factor authentication.

As the company took its next step with the addition of digital front-office omnichannel banking, it turned to HID Global for the vital consumer authentication portion of the solution. Pre-integrated with Al Ain Finance’s existing banking software, HID Global’s consumer authentication offering was easy to deploy under a tight deadline.

It has enabled Al Ain Finance to protect its customer’s data and transactions with maximum flexibility while delivering a seamless online and mobile app-based customer experience. The intuitive HID Approve app combines the security of public key-based cryptography and out-of-band transaction signatures that offer the convenience of push notifications.

“We can now offer a growing set of banking services through efficient and seamless digital channels with the highest levels of identity assurance,” said Ajith Nayak, Operations Manager with Al Ain Finance. “The HID interface makes enrollment and use easy, secure and effective across many different types of devices, and because the solution was already integrated with our existing banking software, no customized development was required.”

The HID solution has reduced the time and cost of delivering intelligence-based authentication and transaction signing on Al Ain Finance’s existing core banking platform. Customers particularly enjoy how HID’s authentication solution enables them to securely use Al Ain Finance’s quick account login and powerful self- service capabilities. HID Approve also gives them a simple and secure way to authenticate and validate each transaction.

“In order to offer customers secure access without invasive identity checks, organizations need to deploy seamless identity verification, intelligent threat detection and adaptive authentication,” said Paul Jones, Senior Director of Strategy and Product Delivery for IAM Consumer Authentication HID Global. “The HID Approve and HID Authentication Services helps Al Ain Finance to deliver a new, secure way for their customers to authenticate mobile access requests and verify transactions.”

UAE economy

CBUAE Governor and Bank CEOs Discuss Continued Support to the UAE Economy

His Excellency Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), today held a meeting with the CEOs of all banks operating in the UAE to discuss the macroeconomic environment, provide the CBUAE’s assessment of financial stability, and inform about the CBUAE’s ongoing regulatory and supervisory initiatives. A particular focus of the meeting was on the role of banks in supporting the UAE’s economic recovery by ensuring the continued flow of credit to the economy.

The Governor informed bank CEOs of the CBUAE’s assessment of financial stability in the UAE. The CBUAE assesses the financial system of the UAE as stable. Liquidity and capital buffers of banks remain adequate, supported by stable deposit volumes and growth in capital market funding. Meeting participants also discussed areas subject to close monitoring by the CBUAE, which included asset quality and credit conditions.

The CBUAE emphasised the role of the banking sector in the continued flow of credit to the private sector, supported by different components of the CBUAE’s Targeted Economic Support Scheme (TESS). His Excellency emphasised that the TESS was extended until 30 June 2022, in the expectation that banks will continue to support the UAE’s recovery by continuing to lend to creditworthy customers. 

Against the background of gradual economic recovery, continued government support and healthy funding growth, bank lending remains flat, reflecting subdued demand and the conservative risk appetite of banks. Meeting participants discussed the pre-requisites and critical enablers for the banking sector to increase their support of the UAE economy, especially during the early stages of recovery.

Meeting participants also discussed the trends in the real estate market and the CBUAE’s proposed framework for surveillance and supervision of real estate exposures, with a view of addressing the risks associated with lending to this sector.

H.E. Khaled Mohamed Balama, Governor of the Central Bank of the UAE, said: “Our assessment and recent economic data point to a post-pandemic rebound of the UAE economy. The UAE banking system remains resilient, and our support measures in the form of the CBUAE’s Targeted Economic Support Scheme and other measures will remain in place until the middle of next year. Against this background, we expect banks to support the economy and ensure a continued flow of funds to creditworthy retail and corporate clients.”

Zambia covid relief

Zambia: African Development Bank Approves $1.4 Million Grant to Improve Household Food Security in the Wake of Covid-19

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a $1.4 million grant from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program to reduce malnutrition among the Southern African nation’s most vulnerable households.

The Mitigating Impacts of Covid-19 on Household Food Security Project will create about 150 permanent skilled or semi-skilled positions and 40 part-time unskilled jobs in crop, livestock and fisheries value chains. The project will supply inputs for crops, livestock and aquaculture enterprises to promote good agricultural practices and increase food production. There will also be a capacity building component.

“The agriculture sector is an important source of livelihoods, employment and GDP in Zambia. Increased food supply resulting from additional grant funds will lead to more jobs, improved quality of life, and reduction of malnutrition in many impacted communities,” said Martin Fregene, African Development Bank Director of Agriculture and Agro-industry.

The project provides supplementary funds to the ongoing Agriculture Productivity and Market Enhancement Project, a $32 million grant-funded initiative also from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which has been managed by the Bank in the Sinazongwe, Gwembe, Chongwe, Rufunsa, Serenje and Chitambo districts of Zambia over the past five years.

Global Agriculture and Food Security Program administrators said the six districts were selected based on poverty levels, food insecurity and malnutrition prevalence. However, with this funding and program, these districts have the potential for economic growth, and to promote crop diversification. Some 5,000 people, including 3,750 women and 1,000 youth, will benefit. Some 5,000 people will also benefit indirectly along the commodity value chains.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Zambia has implemented bold measures to protect the health and economic well-being of its citizens. These steps included a nationwide program to scale up agricultural diversification. The Bank’s Covid-19 Response Facility launched in 2020 has been a lifeline to member governments by providing resources to tackle the pandemic.

“The facility will consolidate the Bank’s support for Zambia’s economic diversification and impact mitigation against Covid-19,” said Mary Monyau, the Bank’s Country Manager in Zambia.

The Zambian project is in line with the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities, specifically, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. Similar Bank projects have been successfully undertaken in Malawi, Niger, Liberia, Senegal and the Gambia.

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program was established as a response to the 2008/09 world food price crisis, following a commitment by the Group of 8 nations (G8) in September 2009 to mobilize up to $20 billion for agricultural development and food security. The World Bank supervises about half of the project portfolio of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. The African Development Bank managed about a quarter in December 2019, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, 11%.

Africa

Ghana: African Development Bank Group Supports Risk-based Supervision for Capital Markets

The African Development Bank Group and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Ghana today launched a $400,000 project to strengthen the development of Ghanaian capital markets. This follows the signing of a grant agreement to develop a risk-based supervisory solution for the local capital market.

The grant, from the African Development Bank’s Capital Markets Development Trust Fund, will finance the provision of technical assistance and capacity building for the SEC, the markets regulator, and the Ghana Stock Exchange.

The project will enhance the SEC’s institutional capacity and readiness to transition from a compliance-based to a risk-based supervision approach for the securities market. It will also enable the development and streamlining of policy and regulatory frameworks for pooled funds, and support the broadening of market instruments through the introduction of products such as asset-backed securities.

At the launch event, Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, Director-General of the SEC, commended the African Development Bank for supporting the development of a risk-based solution, which is expected to bolster the Commission’s capacity to fulfill its mandate.

The objectives of the project align with the priorities of the Bank’s Country Strategy for Ghana, which envisages measures to stimulate capital market development and unlock financial resources that will advance Ghana’s industrialization, the private sector and infrastructure development.

“The collaboration with the Securities and Exchange Commission to promote an enabling regulatory and supervisory environment with diversified financial market products and instruments is timely. This support demonstrates the Bank’s desire for a deepened and broadened financial system – a driver of investment and economic growth in Ghana,” said Ahmed Attout, Manager of the Bank’s Capital Markets Development Division.

The project will benefit capital market participants in Ghana, including securities issuers and investors. It will also help broaden available products and structures for savings and investment.

Mr. Ekow Afedzie, Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange, expressed his appreciation to the Bank and noted that this project has come at an opportune time when the stock market is introducing new products to deepen the market and improve liquidity. “Thus, the introduction of the new products will boost investor confidence and achieve the ultimate goal of making the Ghana Stock Exchange a preferred investment destination in the sub-region,” Mr Afedzie said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission will cooperate closely with the Ghana Stock Exchange and other market stakeholders to implement the project.