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Economy

Future of the Banking Industry: Not without Blockchain

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If you are reading this article it means you are directly involved in the world of internet, this wonderful innovation has made it possible to connect everyone around the world directly. Through this innovation, the most promising new disrupt technologies have emerged for the future; Thus, the world of the blockchain. It is right to ask if the blockchain technology is a disruptive innovation?why is this novelle technology pacing slowly? This because the technology has only reached the required level of maturity wide mainstream use. What is a disrupting technology? It is the one that displays established technology and revolutionizes industry or ground shaking product that creates a completely new industry.

Today disruption, change and competition dictate the new paradigm for the banking industry, the financial institutions are no exception to the dynamics of industrial advancement which is driven by a fast-growing cost and great pressure. The implementation of the blockchain influences a lot of stakeholders in the financial services which include customers, employees, shareholders, investors, suppliers, industry associates, education institutions, government and non-governmental organizations. The banking world is involved in quick changes of digitalization, a potential cost and labor-savinginstrument, the prospects for the global finance market are so appealing that many major financial institutions are investing millions of dollars to research on what will be the best way to implement it.

The high-priced and opaque involvement of a third party in a transaction is the main problem that has been solved by the creation of the Blockchain due to one centralized shared database. In the past, it was impossible because every transaction requires communications between two single databases and thence another authorized controlling layer was needed. A simplified example of remittance can be used in espousing the concept lucidly, your relative who wants to Transfer money from another country to you, but before you receive the money it might take hours perhaps days for you to be able to receive the said money.

This is because transferring money involved some other parties who must authorize and control the transactions. That kind of frustrating and arduous processes get vaporized under Blockchain. The blockchain is a conceptually stored and synchronized distributed ledger that enables safe and transparent transaction across its networks. Every party involved has an identical copy of the shared ledger that is used to record and store information of the asset such as monies and properties.

Every change to the ledger will be synchronized and copied almost directly and transparently to the network where it will be seen as a block. The blocks are linked by cryptographically. An example to illustrate how this works is a situation where A wants to send money to B. The transaction is represented online in a block without a middleman. After the block is sent to every party on the network, approval is given by nodes to validate every transaction. If the transaction is approved the block will be added to the chain which revises the permanent and transparent records of the transactions Finally, the money will move from A to B and this is done in few minutes.

The blockchain network relies on the decentralized systems making it attainable for one person or group of persons to get in control of it. This safe and transparent transaction is facilitated through a decentralized system of the payment system which is allowed by the blockchain technology. Hereby staring in the era that extends beyond financial capital market, global payment, Corporate Governance social institutions and democratic participation Before Digitalization every action in the traditional banking industry had to be done manually. The industry has homogeneously surfaced centralized data stored and many intermediaries linked, this result to poor customer service through complex clearing processes, large amount manual inspections, leaking personal information and high costs.

The practice of keeping ledgers dates back in centuries, the blockchain story started in 2008 when an anonymous person or group of persons with pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper which proposes an Electronic peer to peer cash system called Bitcoin The blockchain was originally developed to support bitcoin but now it is used for more than thousand cryptocurrencies which resulted in a long trail effect.

The said technology can be used in so many sectors such as cybersecurity, supply chain, forecasting, networking, insurance, private transport, online storage, charity, voting, government, energy, online music, retails, health care, real estate, crowdfunding and identification As explained earlier the blockchain technology eliminates the involvement of a third party in transactions, or as prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic coined: “Hegemony orhegemoney, a debtor empire/s’ fiat-papers.”

This chain is disrupting the banking industry as secured, cut cost, reduce delay and it is hugely efficient. Because it is decentralized and permissionless, it can lead to more disruptions in the financial sector, especially in payment clearing. Recently international organizations as well as developed countries and other countries have been paying close attention to the blockchain technology and are exploring their application in various fields.

For the financial sector, a number of the international financial institution have begun to formally plan for the blockchain technology since 2015, Goldman Sachs and other banking Giants have established their own blockchain laboratories working in close collaboration with the blockchain platforms.

Major Financial Institutions have a relatively positive attitude towards studying and improving the beck and processing efficiency of the blockchain technology and place a significant emphasis on its potential to reduce operational cost. In fact, IBM predicted that in four years sixty-six percent of the banking industry will have commercialized the blockchain at a scale. What are our indigenous Africa banks or Ghanaian own banks doing about this? Will they be part of the sixty-six percent as stated in the prediction above, it is high time we start giving opportunities to the IT department in the banking Industry to study this new technology so that we rise to be counted. Other opportunities with this new technology are a point to point payment, sharing credit data, smart contract all this using the blockchain technology.

This technology can drastically reduce the manual intervention of supply chain in finance and employ smart contract or digitized procedures that rely heavily on paperwork, numerous intermediaries, high risk of illegal transactions, high cost and low efficiency. As transaction occurs simultaneously each transaction will need to be verified by all the nodes in the entire network which is harmful to speed this impact will become especially needy when the nodes in the blockchain increase.

Despite the permission-less and self-govern nature of the blockchain the regulation and the actual implementation of a decentralized system are problems that remain to be resolved, however, it is important to note that any beneficiary technology is accompanied by risks, therefore, the blockchain regulation is necessary and should be considered earnestly. The Financial industry is highly sensitive to technological changes.

To keep up with these changes, banks must invest more into research on the blockchain not forgetting the development and empowerment of its staff in knowing more about this new technology. Although the blockchain technology is still unregulated and it could have its limitations, banks would have to improve their position in the industry.

The banks will try to improve their payment systems and overcome information communication resulting in a better customer experience hence the blockchain will become the core underline technology of the financial sector in the future.

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Economy

Turkey’s financial crisis raises questions about China’s debt-driven development model

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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Financial injections by Qatar and possibly China may resolve Turkey’s immediate economic crisis, aggravated by a politics-driven trade war with the United States, but are unlikely to resolve the country’s structural problems, fuelled by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s counterintuitive interest rate theories.

The latest crisis in Turkey’s boom-bust economy raises questions about a development model in which countries like China and Turkey witness moves towards populist rule of one man who encourages massive borrowing to drive economic growth.

It’s a model minus the one-man rule that could be repeated in Pakistan as newly sworn-in prime minister Imran Khan, confronted with a financial crisis, decides whether to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or rely on China and Saudi Arabia for relief.

Pakistan, like Turkey, has over the years frequently knocked on the IMF’s doors, failing to have turned crisis into an opportunity for sustained restructuring and reform of the economy. Pakistan could in the next weeks be turning to the IMF for the 13th time, Turkey, another serial returnee, has been there 18 times.

In Turkey and China, the debt-driven approach sparked remarkable economic growth with living standards being significantly boosted and huge numbers of people being lifted out of poverty. Yet, both countries with Turkey more exposed, given its greater vulnerability to the swings and sensitivities of international financial markets, are witnessing the limitations of the approach.

So are, countries along China’s Belt and Road, including Pakistan, that leaped head over shoulder into the funding opportunities made available to them and now see themselves locked into debt traps that in the case of Sri Lanka and Djibouti have forced them to effectively turn over to China control of critical national infrastructure or like Laos that have become almost wholly dependent on China because it owns the bulk of their unsustainable debt.

The fact that China may be more prepared to deal with the downside of debt-driven development does little to make its model sustainable or for that matter one that other countries would want to emulate unabridged and has sent some like Malaysia and Myanmar scrambling to resolve or avert an economic crisis.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is in China after suspending US$20 billion worth of Beijing-linked infrastructure contracts, including a high-speed rail line to Singapore, concluded by his predecessor, Najib Razak, who is fighting corruption charges.

Mr. Mahathir won elections in May on a campaign that asserted that Mr. Razak had ceded sovereignty to China by agreeing to Chinese investments that failed to benefit the country and threaten to drown it in debt.

Myanmar is negotiating a significant scaling back of a Chinese-funded port project on the Bay of Bengal from one that would cost US$ 7.3 billion to a more modest development that would cost US$1.3 billion in a bid to avoid shouldering an unsustainable debt.

Debt-driven growth could also prove to be a double-edged sword for China itself even if it is far less dependent than others on imports, does not run a chronic trade deficit, and doesn’t have to borrow heavily in dollars.

With more than half the increase in global debt over the past decade having been issued as domestic loans in China, China’s risk, said Ruchir Sharma, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Global Strategist and head of Emerging Markets Equity, is capital fleeing to benefit from higher interest rates abroad.

“Right now Chinese can earn the same interest rates in the United States for a lot less risk, so the motivation to flee is high, and will grow more intense as the Fed raises rates further,” Mr. Sharma said referring to the US Federal Reserve.

Mr. Erdogan has charged that the United States abetted by traitors and foreigners are waging economic warfare against Turkey, using a strong dollar as ”the bullets, cannonballs and missiles.”

Rejecting economic theory and wisdom, Mr. Erdogan has sought for years to fight an alleged ‘interest rate lobby’ that includes an ever-expanding number of financiers and foreign powers seeking to drive Turkish interest rates artificially high to damage the economy by insisting that low interest rates and borrowing costs would contain price hikes.

In doing so, he is harking back to an approach that was popular in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s that may not be wholly wrong but similarly may also not be universally applicable.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) warned late last year that Turkey’s “gross external financing needs to cover the current account deficit and external debt repayments due within a year are estimated at around 25 per cent of GDP in 2017, leaving the country exposed to global liquidity conditions.”

With two international credit rating agencies reducing Turkish debt to junk status in the wake of Turkey’s economically fought disputes with the United States, the government risks its access to foreign credits being curtailed, which could force it to extract more money from ordinary Turks through increased taxes. That in turn would raise the spectre of recession.

“Turkey’s troubles are homegrown, and the economic war against it is a figment of Mr. Erdogan’s conspiratorial imagination. But he does have a point about the impact of a surging dollar, which has a long history of inflicting damage on developing nations,” Mr. Sharma said.

Nevertheless, as The Wall Street Journal concluded, the vulnerability of Turkey’s debt-driven growth was such that it only took two tweets by US President Donald J. Trump announcing sanctions against two Turkish ministers and the doubling of some tariffs to accelerate the Turkish lira’s tailspin.

Mr. Erdogan may not immediately draw the same conclusion, but it is certainly one that is likely to serve as a cautionary note for countries that see debt, whether domestic or associated with China’s infrastructure-driven Belt and Road initiative, as a main driver of growth.

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Economy

3 trends that can stimulate small business growth

MD Staff

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Small businesses are far more influential than most people may realize.

That influence is felt well beyond Main Street. Small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S., and these firms employ nearly half (48 percent) the workforce, according to the 2018 Small Business Profile compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In addition, take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.

Big companies have big opportunities for small firms

Back in the 20th century, a large company would get things done in this very straightforward way. Wherever there was a need, they hired someone directly to perform that task, whether it was a driver or an accountant.

Under today’s leaner models, these big companies are finding it’s much more efficient to partner with other firms to fulfill certain needs. According to Deloitte, 31 percent of IT services have been outsourced, as well as 32 percent of human resources. This increasing acceptance of outsourcing is a huge growth opportunity for small businesses owners.

For example, Amazon recently announced it is actively seeking and helping entrepreneurs who are willing to deliver packages as their contractors. The mega retailer will even go as far as helping with startup costs so long as these smaller firms deliver their packages. Landing a contract with a big corporation is a significant milestone for any company, but starting out with that lucrative contract is sure to let these startups hit the ground running.

Better connections for greater flexibility

When today’s entrepreneur has a new role to fill, they’re not confined to the talent pool in their immediate community. Because we now have the tools and connectivity to work from anywhere, a business owner can expand the search across multiple states!

What’s more, these flexible, work from anywhere options can give business owners the inspiration to do things differently. Having greater collaboration means having access to more options to fit specific needs.

For example, what is the very nature of being a small business owner? It’s dealing with a fluctuating volume of work. Tapping into the talent pool of freelancers to work on these specific, short-term tasks and projects is easier than ever, because for a segment of workers, freelancing is increasingly becoming a way of life. Freelancers currently make up 36 percent of the workforce, according to a study from Upwork. And, if trends maintain, most Americans will be freelancers by 2027.

Thanks to remote options with easy access to talent, small businesses can easily set up temporary or ongoing as-needed work arrangements. When you partner with Dell for your computing needs, you’ll get the expert help and support so you can set up the perfect flexible workspace system.

More automation brings better efficiencies

Without a doubt, new technology works in favor of small businesses and entrepreneurs because they have many tools at their disposal to automate labor intensive processes, be more productive and cut costs. For example, entrepreneurs can use software to process client payments and even set up automated payments, saving hours and costs associated with collecting, processing and reconciling under the traditional paper check payment system. That translates into a more efficient billing department that can spend more time focused on complex issues.

Let Dell equip your small business with the right tech tools, tailor made for your venture and backed with support, so you can focus on running your business.

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Economy

Transitioning from least developed country status: Are countries better off?

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The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are an internationally defined group of highly vulnerable and structurally constrained economies with extreme levels of poverty. Since the category was created in 1971, on the basis of selected vulnerability indicators, only five countries have graduated and the number of LDCs has doubled.  One would intuitively have thought that graduation from LDC status would be something that all LDCs would want to achieve since it seems to suggest that transitioning countries are likely to benefit from increased economic growth, improved human development and reduced susceptibility to natural disasters and trade shocks.

However, when countries graduate they lose international support measures (ISMs) provided by the international community. There is no established institutional mechanism for the phasing out of LDC country-specific benefits. As a result, entities such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund may not always be able to support a country’s smooth transition process.

Currently, 14 out of 53 members of the Commonwealth are classified as LDCs and the number is likely to reduce as Bangladesh, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu transition from LDC status by 2021. The three criteria used to assess LDC transition are: Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI), Human Assets Index (HAI) and Gross National Income per capita (GNI).  Many of the forthcoming LDC graduates will transition based only on their GNI.  This GNI level is normally set at US $ 1,230 but if the GNI reaches twice this level at US $ 2,460 a country can graduate.

So what’s the issue?  A recent Commonwealth – Trade Hot Topic publication confirms that most countries graduate only on the basis of their GNI, some of which have not attained significant improvements in human development (HAI) and even more of which fall below the graduation threshold for economic development due to persistent vulnerabilities (EVI).  This latter aspect raises the question as to whether transitioning countries will, actually, be better off after they graduate.

Given the loss of ISMs and the persistent economic vulnerabilities of many LDCs, it is no surprise that some countries are actually seeking to delay graduation, Kiribati and Tuvalu being two such Commonwealth countries despite easily surpassing twice the GNI threshold for graduation.

How is it possible that a country can achieve economic growth but not have appreciable improvements in resilience to economic vulnerability?  Based on a statistical analysis discussed in the Trade Hot Topic paper, a regression model, based on all forty-seven LDCs, was produced.  The model revealed that there was no statistically significant relationship between economic vulnerability and gross national income per capita.  The analysis was repeated just for Commonwealth countries and similar results were obtained.

Most importantly, analysis revealed that there was a positive relationship between GNI and EVI. In other words, increases in wealth (using GNI as a proxy) is likely to result in an increase in economic vulnerability.  This latter result is counterintuitive since one would expect more wealth to result in less economic vulnerability.

So what’s the take away?

The statistical results do not necessarily imply that improving the factors affecting economic vulnerability cannot result in improvements to economic prosperity.  It does suggest, however, that either insufficient efforts have gone into effecting such improvements or that there are natural limits to the extent to which such improvements can be effected.

One thing is clear, the multilateral lending agencies should revisit the removal of measures supporting climate change or other vulnerabilities for LDCs on graduation, since the empirical evidence suggests that countries could fall back into LDC status or stagnate and be unable to achieve sustainable development. Whilst transitioning from LDC status should be desirable, it should not be an end in itself. Rather than to transition and remain extremely vulnerable, countries should be resistant to such change or continue to receive more targeted support until vulnerabilities are reduced to more acceptable levels.

What are your thoughts?

Commonwealth

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