Sun. AM TNT News Articles 10-10-21

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TNT

Harmabe:
Time is right for Vietnam’s digital transformation | Asia Times

It’s a bold vision for a digital future: Vietnam is aiming for its digital economy to account for 30% of GDP by 2030. To make this a reality, the government has embarked on an ambitious program for businesses to ramp up their digital transformation. The program will help enterprises, cooperatives and household businesses with their digital efforts through a multifaceted approach. 

This is a fantastic effort by the government to bring business leaders, financial institutions and technology experts to harness the potential of digital innovation. It also provides a critical opportunity for the Vietnamese economy.

Not only will businesses strengthen their technological approach and strategies, but there will be incentives to digitize their business, administration, and production activities from 2021 to 2025, and training, consultancy and access to digital solutions. 

The timing couldn’t be better. With a population of 97 million, the Internet penetration in Vietnam is high, standing at 70% and increasing by 6.2 million in a single year. The nation is set to see its mobile transactions increase by 300% between 2021 and 2025 due to the strong growth anticipated in mobile payments. 

Covid-19 has accelerated the shift toward digitization for many businesses across the country. It has highlighted the importance of technology and digital transformations to the evolution of organizations across all sectors – particularly in banking. One of the most significant changes that technology has successfully leveraged during the crisis is how society currently interacts with financial services and pays for goods and services. 

As the pandemic rages on, people are traveling less and staying home during lockdowns and avoiding handling cash to minimize the spread of the virus. 

This lifestyle change prompted by the pandemic has led to heightened demand for seamless, contactless payments. Around 80% of Vietnamese consumers predict an increase in their use of cashless payments and a diminishing reliance on cash. 

The ability to offer simplified payments has a profound impact on individuals, businesses and economic development, especially as we continue to battle a global crisis. By making it easy to spend, share and save money, people can take financial control of their lives while mitigating the risk of infection through the use of cash. And the easiest way to simplify payments is through a mobile phone.

Until now, traditional banking services have failed to bring millions into the formal economy. Commonly cited barriers to accessing financial services have positioned formal accounts as too far to access, too expensive to use, or too complicated to open because of documentation requirements. As a result, about 69% of the adult population in Vietnam are unbanked. 

However, with 68 million Internet users, Vietnam is one of the nations with the highest such rates in the Asia-Pacific region. Internet usage is mainly mobile-based, thanks to the high smartphone penetration rate. This trend has helped financial technology to boom in the country, with e-wallets becoming a highly popular and competitive space. 

Banks have caught on to this opportunity, and most of them now offer similar services as e-wallets, but will have to find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. That is why many of the top banks are looking at the potential of new technology to help customize services, especially during the pandemic, when people are isolated at home and need to pay for things remotely. 

More than ever, the banks striving to maintain a lead in this highly competitive environment are investing in innovations that can facilitate cross-institutional payments and enable customers to send or receive money digitally while enhancing the efficiency and security of the payment system. They can also harness the power of data to personalize their services even further. 

The shift toward digital has been given a further boost by the government’s approval of the pilot application for Mobile Money, which would enable small-value goods and services to be paid for by mobile phone credit. The pilot aims to develop non-cash payments and improve the access and use of financial services in less accessible areas.

However, despite this approval six months ago, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the implementation, although telecom operators Viettel, VNPT and MobiFone have already applied for pilot licenses to deploy the initiative.

The uptake of initiatives like this will lead to more convenient shopping for consumers and support for businesses, not to mention quick and transparent remittance flows. It will also improve accessibility to banking services, leading to greater financial inclusion across the country.  

In this new digital future, banks will play a bigger role in payments everywhere, including public transport, which is also going through its own digital transformation. Frictionless payments will also fuel an e-commerce boom, providing gateways for banks to onboard merchants easily and grow their businesses in this area. 

Yet in order for Vietnam to reach its full potential, it needs to invest in the right innovation and influence consumer behaviour through education. Rural areas, which are home to about 60% of the population, have resisted cashless payment. Changing people’s consumption habits and educating them on the possibilities of digital finance provide a crucial foundation to raising consumer confidence and awareness. 

Alongside this, it is crucial to optimize the digital infrastructure currently available in remote areas. The government also needs to develop an open banking system with stronger cooperation among commercial banks, fintech and payment intermediaries.

We at BPC are excited not only to witness all these changes but to play an integral part in creating a rich payment ecosystem and online marketplace that can rival those that are making waves in other countries across Asia and beyond.

Step by step, Vietnamese banking is moving toward cloud-based services, not just for core banking but also for CMS (cash management services) and payment businesses. 

BPC has already worked alongside banks in Vietnam to support their digital transformation, applying best practices that have been developed through years of global experience. We are committed to doing more in the country, and to work closely with government, fintechs and regulators to facilitate the country’s transformation journey.

Vietnam has the potential to become a digital leader.

https://asiatimes.com/2021/10/time-is-right-for-vietnams-digital-transformation/

Iraq’s Election to Have Repercussions Far Beyond Ruling Baghdad | Bloomberg

(10/10/21)

As promised by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, voters get an early chance Sunday to judge Iraq’s 17-month government at parliamentary elections, leaving the premier’s attempts to calm a major source of Persian Gulf insecurity and repair his nation’s oil industry hanging in the balance. 

Sectarian allegiances, anger over crippling power cuts and entrenched corruption will be uppermost in the minds of Iraqis who vote, and will likely prompt many others to boycott the first poll since 2019 protests toppled a predecessor administration.

But the ballot will have far broader repercussions. Unable to forge a consensus in Iraq’s fractured politics on tackling domestic crises, and aware Baghdad needs all the friends it can get to recover from years of ruinous conflict, al-Kadhimi, 54, has invested political capital in brokering talks between Shiite power Iran and Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy, whose rivalry convulses parts of the Middle East. 

And he’s sought to replace international oil companies exiting Iraq, securing a $27 billion investment agreement with France’s TotalEnergies SE. Both could be in peril if al-Kadhimi’s supporters fail to win enough of parliament’s 329 seats to propel him to a new term. 

Iraq Eyes New Regional Role and Looks for Help to Rebuild The Saudi-Iran diplomacy “has continued because of the personal involvement of the Iraqi prime minister,” said Renad Mansour, director of the Iraq Initiative at Chatham House in London. 

“He has a personal history with the actors in both countries and used that leverage when he became prime minister,” Mansour said. “In the context of the potential U.S. withdrawal, Saudi Arabia and Iran also saw the need for a security dialogue so that there would be no vacuum.”

Al-Kadhimi and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in June to wind down the American combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year, leaving only a training presence to help confront Islamic State militants. The deal relieved pressure on the Iraqi leader, with hard-line Shiite groups demanding all of the remaining 2,500 American troops leave the country. 

Iran-backed militias in Iraq have launched rocket and drone attacks against bases housing U.S. troops, especially following the January 2020 drone strike that killed a top Iranian general at Baghdad’s airport. The assassination was part of a proxy conflict that sparked to life after former President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 deal that had capped Iran’s nuclear program. Talks to revive the pact have stalled.

A former intelligence chief, al-Kadhimi’s not personally contesting Sunday’s ballot. After the protests ebbed, he emerged in 2020 as a compromise candidate capable of securing the backing of the influential Shiite movement of populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, some Sunni moderates and ethnic Iraqi Kurds. 

Their support is his most probable path to another term. Results are due Monday but it might take months of horse-trading before a new coalition government is installed. The wrangling will most likely delay resumed talks with the International Monetary Fund for a loan of up to $4 billion.

Al-Sadr’s alliance, whose nationalist credentials are a counterweight to the more pro-Iran Shiite factions who have ruled over Iraq for much of the period since the 2003 U.S. invasion ousted Saddam Hussein, is expected to do well. But it’s unclear whether it can repeat its 2018 success of seizing 54 seats in parliament, the biggest single bloc. 

Al-Kadhimi’s leading opponent for the top office could be Hadi Al-Amiri, a leader with close links to Tehran whose Fatah Alliance came second three years ago. Former prime ministers Nouri al-Maliki and Haider al-Abadi are also in the running.

It’s the first vote under a new map that divides the country into smaller electoral districts, with party lists abolished and all votes now cast for an individual candidate. 

The changes were designed to boost the chances of independents and reduce the power of established parties. Both were central demands of the protesters in 2019. But candidates unaffiliated with major groups have struggled to make an impact since al-Kadhimi advanced a vote originally scheduled for next year.

Ali Hussein, a 51-year-old shopkeeper in northern Baghdad, said Al-Kadhimi deserved more time to fix some of Iraq’s problems. 

“He has balanced the influence of neighboring countries and is doing as much as he can for the people,” he said. But in Iraq, when “we wish for something, compromise brings something else. This is how politics work here.” 

http://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/iraq-s-election-to-have-repercussions-far-beyond-ruling-baghdad-1.1664437

Tishwash:
The Saudi Minister of Commerce announces the imminent opening of the first Iraqi bank in Riyadh

Saudi Trade Minister Majid Al-Qasabi said, on Saturday, that Riyadh’s investments in Iraq have already begun, stressing that the relationship between the two countries is strong and strong, and that no “stumbling” will occur between them.  

Al-Qasabi added, during a meeting with colleague Saif Ali, which was followed by “Nas” (October 9, 2021), that “Saudi Arabia is working to restore bridges of communication with Iraq through several channels,” noting that “the two countries witnessed differences in the past, but they did not disagree on each other, and this is what It happens between brothers, especially since Iraq is part of the nerve of the nation and part of the region.”  

Al-Qasabi pointed out, “The relationship between Iraq and Saudi Arabia during the era of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi witnessed a comprehensive openness and a remarkable and significant improvement, not only at the level of governments, but even among businessmen, which resulted in the establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Council and many other things.”  

He continued, “At the beginning of the establishment of the Iraqi-Saudi Coordination Council, the Crown Prince directed me, quoting the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, as a minister in the Iraqi government, and my work is evaluated by the Iraqi Prime Minister,” saying: “We worked much better than the first, opened all files and discussed frankly all the challenges and bureaucracies that we suffer.” More than one file has been resolved.  

And the Saudi Minister of Commerce added, “There are Saudi investments in Iraq, and the Saudi-Iraqi Company has also been established with a capital of $500 million, and this will be a guarantor of investment,” saying, “We have passed the difficult stage.”  

He pointed out that “the council has achieved many achievements, including the opening of the consulate in the capital, and obtaining visas in Baghdad instead of going to Amman, and three other consulates will be opened in Iraq, and the commercial attache in Iraq has also been opened, as well as the Arar port, which was closed for a period of 29 years.” year”.  

 Al-Qasabi stressed that “Iraq and Saudi Arabia are in a close and strong relationship, and Iraq must return to the Arab embrace, and Iraq is Arab before anything else and our interests are common.”  

 And he indicated that “strengthening commercial communication between the two countries will provide job opportunities for young people in the two countries, and this matter has actually begun,” offering his thanks “to Al-Kazemi for solving many challenges, and this is what often happens. There is no work without problems.”  

Al-Qasabi stressed the importance of “Iraq developing itself for it, getting out of the old bureaucracy and overcoming investment obstacles.”  

The Saudi minister explained that Iraq’s problem lies in “its financial infrastructure, especially banks, where we personally suffer from transferring money, which takes an estimated time of 15 days, and this problem also occurs in the salaries of embassy employees, which causes delays, although we are in the age of speed.” .  

He stressed that “Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi pledged to open an Iraqi bank in Saudi Arabia, and the procedures began, as the site was rented and the license was obtained, and this bank is the first Iraqi bank in Saudi Arabia.”    link

Source: Dinar Recaps

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