Debt Fund: Kholo Capital Mezzanine Debt Fund I achieve first close at R870m

Kholo Capital Mezzanine Debt Fund I has secured R870m in commitments for long-term mezzanine debt investment in support of growth, job creation, and advancement of transformation within mid-market companies with operations in Southern Africa. These first close commitments have been secured from leading institutional investors, including the 27four Black Business Growth Fund, RisCura, the Mineworkers Provident Fund, the National Fund for Municipal Workers, and Thuso Partners. Kholo Capital aims to reach a target final close of R1,5bn.

The mezzanine debt funding approach, being a subordinated loan position that sits between senior debt and equity in the capital structure of a company, is attractive because it provides companies with a tailored, more flexible solution in support of their growth needs. Kholo Capital’s selection criteria means it will focus on investing in companies generating a minimum R25m EBITDA across various growth sectors of the economy, providing access to capital within a preferred range of R50-200m per investment. As Kholo Capital, they aim to partner with businesses over a 4–7-year investment period, realizing not only commercial returns but with a focus on achieving more holistic impact.

Kholo Capital Mezzanine Debt Fund I is passionate about making investments that actively take social, environmental, and economic impact into account. It will provide financing, with a focus on growth capital, into sectors of the southern African economy with high social impact, including social housing, renewable energy, healthcare, education, telecommunications, and infrastructure. The mezzanine debt fund will use the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals as guiding principles, with a key focus on those linked to job creation and climate action.

Kholo Capital’s mission aligns with that of its investors, as stated by Rory Ord from 27four Investment Managers, “This type of growth capital is sorely needed in South Africa, and we are proud to back the Kholo Capital team in their dual goals of strong investor returns and positive impact.” Principal Officer Frans Phakgadi from Mineworkers Provident Fund added, “We are excited to support Kholo Capital Mezzanine Debt Fund I to invest directly in the local economy for growth and job creation, which are sorely needed.”

Leslie Ndawana, the Principal Executive Officer at the National Fund for Municipal Workers, stated, “We are proud to be an investor alongside Kholo Capital and are looking forward to a long and rewarding relationship with them.” With a strong pipeline of opportunities, Kholo Mezzanine Debt Fund I is well positioned to advance its investment objectives, making a substantial impact in support of the real economy.

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Vertiv Introduces New Single-Phase Uninterruptible Power Supply for Distributed Information Technology (IT) Networks and Edge Computing Applications in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA)

Vertiv, a global provider of digital infrastructure and continuity solutions, has introduced the Vertiv Liebert GXE, an online double-conversion single-phase uninterruptible power supply (UPS) designed to provide reliable power to distributed IT networks and edge computing applications in various industry segments. The product is globally available and is now shipping from stock in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

Vertiv has launched the Vertiv Liebert GXE, an online double-conversion single-phase uninterruptible power supply (UPS) available in 6 and 10 kVA power ratings in tower or rackmount configuration. The system performs with high efficiency up to 94% in online mode and up to 98% in ECO mode, which can drive energy and operational cost savings. The product is designed to protect small and micro IT sites against power outages and can accommodate various micro data center and edge computing needs.

The Liebert GXE offers a high output power factor of 1.0, enabling continuous and reliable power to more connected devices, and the input surge protection protects them against many disturbances in the AC mains with the online double conversion technology. The flexible rackmount or tower form factor simplifies installation and facilitates stock management for distribution in the IT channel. The unit’s runtime can be extended with up to four external battery cabinets (EBC) for longer back-up protection, and the hot-swappable VRLA batteries can be easily replaced by users without the assistance of skilled personnel and without shutdown of the loads for smoother operations and minimized maintenance costs.

The Vertiv Liebert GXE includes a user-friendly LCD color display that makes it easy and intuitive to use, and offers remote monitoring capabilities through the optional Vertiv Liebert Intellislot Unity Communications card and a free download of Vertiv Power Insight software. Moreover, customers can also rely on Vertiv LIFE Services to support remote maintenance and servicing of the UPS for maximum availability. The product is globally available and is now shipping from stock in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

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Kenanga Investors Sweeps Five Awards at 2023 Best of the Best Awards by Asia Asset Management

Kenanga Investors Berhad has received five awards at the 2023 Best of the Best Awards by Hong Kong-based Asia Asset Management. The awards include Malaysia Best Impact Investing Manager, Malaysia Best Equity Manager, Malaysia CEO of the Year, Malaysia Best House for Alternatives, and Malaysia Most Improved Fund House. These awards recognize the firm’s exceptional performance, solidifying its position as a leading player in the industry.

Kenanga Investors’ Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Wira Ismitz Matthew De Alwis, was named Malaysia CEO of the Year, marking the fourth year that he has received this prestigious award. The firm has been awarded the Best House for Alternatives for four years running. Additionally, the fund house has expanded its Kenanga Sustainability Series, which offers multi-asset class products rooted in sustainability considerations to generate social financial value for surrounding communities.

The firm’s long-standing investment strategy of bottom-up stock picking ensures that it selects quality companies with robust financial fundamentals. Its investment philosophy dictates that differing investment objectives require tailored solutions that cater to the unique needs of each investor. The fund house has leveraged existing resources and grown its distribution network, as part of its multi-product and multi-segment strategy, which has driven customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as robust growth in its assets under administration.

The Malaysia Best Impact Investing Manager award recognizes a firm’s success in deploying impact investing strategies in either public or private markets to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside sustainable financial returns. The Malaysia Best Equity Manager award is in recognition of the success of the fund house’s equity products within Malaysia’s domestic market, given the challenging trading conditions and its abilities in capturing potential growth opportunities. The Malaysia Best House for Alternatives award recognizes the firm’s achievements in growing the alternatives market, its performance record, and its growth in client base. The Malaysia Most Improved Fund House award recognizes a manager’s strong financial performance by growth in revenues and profits in the past two years.

AAM is the world’s longest-running publication focused on Asia’s institutional asset management and pension fund industry. Its Best of The Best Awards recognizes the finest performers in Asia from financial services companies and institutional investors to service providers whose influence and excellence expands beyond borders. For more information about Kenanga Investors, please visit here.

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Nokia and Bosch set a new bar for 5G positioning and look ahead to 6G #MWC23

Nokia and Bosch have developed 5G-based precision positioning technology for Industry 4.0. The technology has been tested in a Bosch production plant in Germany, with accuracy within 50 cm in 90% of the factory’s footprint. Nokia and Bosch are continuing their research to explore the integration of sensing technologies in future 6G systems.

The 5G-based positioning technology tracks the positions of mobile and portable devices, accurately determining their locations where there is no global navigation satellite service coverage. It is especially important in industrial environments for applications such as robot navigation, asset tracking, and worker safety. An enhanced private 5G network was used in the factory test to determine the precise position of assets such as automated guided vehicles, mobile robots, and mobile control panels.

Nokia and Bosch’s technology works by equipping 5G nodes with multiple receive antennas, allowing the network to detect incoming angles of signals. The time-delay and angle-of-arrival information are interpreted using advanced Nokia Bell Labs algorithms to determine the most probable position of the mobile device. The accuracy level achieved by the proof-of-concept is beyond the current cellular position state-of-the-art and provides a glimpse of what 5G networks will be capable of in the future.

In addition to the operational benefits, realizing both high-performance connectivity and high-accuracy positioning within a single private network’s infrastructure has many other advantages. The collaboration between Nokia and Bosch on the precision positioning technology is a significant milestone, with Nokia and Bosch already conducting joint research on future 6G networks.

The next generation of networking, 6G networks, will be commercially available by the end of the decade. 6G will have the ability to track the position of any object, whether connected or unconnected, and will function similarly to radar, giving users an awareness of their surroundings beyond their traditional senses. Nokia and Bosch are exploring how future 6G networks could be used for both communications and sensing.

Peter Vetter, President of Bell Labs Core Research at Nokia, said that they are creating networks that will endow humans with a digital 6th sense. The Nokia and Bosch joint research underpins Bosch’s leading role in exploring new opportunities for their customers and developing the Factory of the Future. Meet Nokia and Bosch at the Mobile World Congress 2023 #MWC23.

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Stanley Capital Partners Announces Launch of Leading Digital Capabilities With Creation of SCP Digital

Stanley Capital Partners has recently created SCP Digital, which will offer AI, automation, and technological consultancy services to SCP’s portfolio as well as non-SCP clients. The creation of SCP Digital is supported by significant investment from Stanley Capital Partners as the General Partner and involves merging three existing businesses to form a global market-leading platform.

Stanley Capital Partners (SCP) has announced the creation of SCP Digital, which is a leading intelligent automation and Artificial Intelligence technology consultancy. With over 85 professionals operating across the EU, US, and LATAM, SCP Digital will provide digital transformation services to SCP’s portfolio and non-SCP clients, including Telefonica, VW, and Williams Lea. Seeded with the existing S-Labs platform, SCP Digital will operate independently from SCP and is poised to establish a truly global market-leading AI, pure play digital/automation, and transformational consultancy.

SCP Digital has a highly experienced management team that has worked together for more than 20 years and served an extensive blue-chip client list. The creation of SCP Digital represents a significant and sustainable competitive digital advantage for SCP’s own investments, from initial diligence to post-acquisition assessment and ultimately the implementation of transformational growth plans. SCP Digital has already generated a system-wide, perpetuating impact across the entire portfolio, taking portfolio companies from “good to great.”

SCP Digital’s value add was validated by SCP’s 2022 exit of Noden Pharma for an outstanding 6.7x/151% IRR (gross). Noden was acquired in September 2020 with SCP Digital’s support to consolidate the mature-product Speciality Pharma marketplace. SCP’s total investment track record to date across 27 deals and with ~$4.1bn equity invested is 3.3x MOIC/85% IRR. SCP Digital’s capabilities enabled SCP to complete five bolt-on acquisitions for Qinecsa and Laboratoire X.O, which enabled Qinecsa to become a technology-enabled pharmacovigilance company and Laboratoire X.O to internationalize its Speciality Pharma platform.

SCP Digital has helped SCP identify attractive relative value in growth assets and supports Stanley’s ability to buy well in highly attractive growth markets. The creation of SCP Digital represents a game-changing opportunity for SCP in terms of accelerating the transformation of portfolio companies and its own growth. SCP looks forward to continuing the successes of 2022 with a strong platform and pipeline for further growth, targeting an existing $3bn pipeline of potential deal activity.

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Technology: Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage: Game-Changing Technology for Africa (By NJ Ayuk)

Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology presents an important opportunity for the oil and gas industry in Africa. With many oil and gas-producing countries under pressure to shift to green energy sources and leave their petroleum resources untouched, CCUS can provide a solution for African states to attract international oil companies and benefit from their hydrocarbon wealth while reducing emissions and promoting responsible fossil fuel use.

It is vital for African governments to adopt CCUS technology to keep up with global emissions-reduction goals, as stated by the African Energy Chamber (AEC) in their recent discussion on the topic. While the implementation of CCUS will require collaboration and financial support, the rewards will be immense for the continent’s energy industry and the African people.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the value that carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology offers Africa’s oil and gas industry. With oil and gas-producing countries facing tremendous pressure to transition to green energy sources and leave their petroleum assets in the ground, CCUS can act as a lifeline for their energy industries. The technology offers African states a way to continue attracting international oil companies (IOCs) and to prosper from their vast hydrocarbon wealth while simultaneously meeting global emissions-reduction goals and setting an example for responsible fossil fuel extraction and use.

The African Energy Chamber (AEC) discussed this topic in-depth last July when we, in collaboration with the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), hosted a webinar on CCUS technology and the key role it will fulfill for Africa’s oil and gas industry in the years to come. We will make CCUS a key point at African Energy Week and our advocacy work with African governments and also the energy industry. We should not shy away from taking the lead on this.

During the webinar, Jean-Patrice Bellier, an associate partner in the energy and ESG practices at consulting company Bain & Company, spoke bluntly about the need for African CCUS adoption as soon as possible. “Limiting the global temperature rise in line with the Paris agreement is impossible without carbon removal, forcing countries and firms to consider CCUS,” Bellier said.

But CCUS is not a burden, it’s an opportunity. As AEC advisory board member Rolake Akinkugbe pointed out, CCUS is a significant draw for investors. “You need to incentivize companies to be willing to invest, so you need to get the public companies on your side,” said Akinkugbe-Filani, who also is the chief commercial officer at real estate company Mixtra Africa. “Before large-scale oil and gas projects reach final investment decisions, they need to include CCUS and I see huge opportunities in this regard.”

CCUS technology manages to capture the carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels or as a byproduct of the industrial manufacturing processes behind products such as cement and steel. Pipelines or ships then transport the compressed carbon dioxide for storage within deep underground rock formations like saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas reservoirs.

The CCUS process prevents carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. The same forces that hold oil and gas within the Earth’s crust for millions of years can trap the captured carbon permanently, or other industries can make use of it in the production of synthetic hydrocarbon fuels, alcohol, or long-lasting plastics and adhesives.

Incorporating CCUS technology into the game plan for the future of Africa’s oil and gas industry offers multi-faceted benefits. While the expansion of hydrocarbon operations in Africa faces much opposition from environmental activists and Western powers, CCUS provides an alternate path allowing African oil and gas production to continue. CCUS integration with natural gas-fueled power generation can also bolster our efforts to eradicate energy poverty and foster socioeconomic growth across the continent

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Mizuho International Plc Selects SymphonyAI Sensa To Raise the Bar in High-Tech Fight Against Money Laundering

Mizuho International has partnered with SymphonyAI Sensa to detect and deter financial crime within its European Capital Markets Division. The London-based securities and investment banking arm of Mizuho Financial Group has chosen Sensa to provide anti-money laundering (AML) detection to refine its rule detection and AI solution for accurate AML risk detection.

Mizuho International has selected SymphonyAI Sensa to improve its anti-money laundering (AML) detection capabilities in its European Capital Markets Division. The financial institution aims to reduce false positives and analyst review times while finding real AML risks. SymphonyAI Sensa’s comprehensive scenario rules, advanced machine learning models, and user interfaces empower Mizuho’s financial crime team to expedite investigations for more effective risk detection. Existing SensaAML customer deployments have shown a significant increase in the discovery of risks compared to existing methods, with a reduction in false positive alerts by over 60 percent.

SensaAML is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that helps Mizuho achieve better results in its fight against financial crime while reducing implementation times and costs. “Our objective is to catch crime consistently missed, to find crime deliberately hidden, and to find the signal in the noise that has been so elusive in the past. This is next-generation AML TM today,” said Simon Moss, CEO of SymphonyAI Sensa. Mizuho EMEA’s Chief Compliance Officer Dinesh Joshi said that SensaAML would make a significant difference in their long-held fight against money laundering, empowering and increasing the effectiveness of their financial crime team.

Mizuho International is a London-based securities and investment banking subsidiary of the Mizuho Financial Group, Inc., wholly-owned by Mizuho Securities Co., Ltd. The institution’s focus is on client-based activities, including sales and trading in debt and equity securities, the underwriting of new issues, and M&A advisory services. Mizuho International is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Prudential Regulation Authority, and is a member of the London Stock Exchange and LCH.Clearnet Limited. Mizuho International also has branches in Dubai and Madrid, with a subsidiary in Frankfurt.

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36% Increase in Complaints Against BNPL Firms to Financial Ombudsman Service as Treasury Announces Consultation on Regulation of Sector

Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service against Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) firms have jumped 36% over the last three years, highlighting the need for robust regulation of the BNPL market to boost consumer protections.

Analysis of exclusive figures from the Financial Ombudsman Service by responsible lender, Creditspring, reveals 220 complaints were made against BNPL firms during 2022, compared to 208 in the previous year and 162 in 2020. The rise in complaints made against BNPL firms to the Financial Ombudsman Service comes as people are increasingly reliant on BNPL and other credit products as households struggle with rising living costs.

As the cost of living crisis continues to impact UK households, people are turning to borrowing for everyday essentials, leading to an increase in complaints against BNPL firms. While the Financial Ombudsman Service is not yet responsible for BNPL complaints, a rise in people contacting the service with issues highlights the need for stringent legislation to protect borrowers.

Although the Financial Ombudsman Service is not yet responsible for BNPL complaints, the fact that people are increasingly contacting the service with issues indicates people have nowhere else to turn. Data from Equifax shows that over 4.1m shoppers used BNPL products for the first time in 2022 while Creditspring’s research reveals that almost a third (29%) of people now use BNPL at least once a month with one in ten (9%) unable to repay the money they owe – rising to 16% for 18-34 year olds.

The Treasury recently announced details of the proposed enforcement powers for the FCA to regulate the BNPL sector as well as an industry consultation. Incoming regulation is vital to tackle the growing risk of debt many households are facing due to increased reliance on credit and BNPL in particular. However, misconceptions around the risks of using BNPL are also putting financial strain on borrowers – for example, 8m people in the UK wrongly believe that you can’t get into debt from using BNPL.

Worryingly, misconceptions are worse amongst the younger generation who use BNPL products most frequently – over half of 18-34 year olds aren’t aware BNPL can lead to debt, compared to a third of all adults in the UK. Neil Kadagathur, Co-Founder and CEO of Creditspring, comments: “Rising complaints against BNPL firms indicate the desperate need for strong regulation across the sector. However, given it has taken two years to reach this point, we’re unlikely to see the much-needed consumer protections appear anytime soon.

“Household budgets are set to take a further hit over the next few months with another wave of increased costs from rising water bills to council tax hikes. This will inevitably lead to an even greater reliance on credit products – with BNPL likely to grow in popularity. Borrowers need protection and support now, not in several months or even years’ time when regulation finally kicks in. If used correctly, BNPL offers more flexibility to UK shoppers. However, like many credit options, these products are offered or promoted in a way that encourages people to use them recklessly. If people use BNPL for multiple purchases at once, in a couple of months’ time the total repayment amounts due can rapidly spiral out of control. Borrowers urgently need support now so the onus is on lenders to ensure that they’re educating borrowers over credit the risk, protecting borrowers from debt and lending more responsibly with stringent affordability checks.”

BNPL providers can charge users interest as well as late fees for missed payments. For example, Clearpay charges a £6 late fee (which can be charged twice on purchases over £24 but capped at 25% of the order’s cost or £36 – whichever is lower). Similarly, Laybuy also charges a £6 late fee but users can be charged up to four times per purchase – totaling £24.

Creditspring is an FCA-regulated, credit subscription service offering affordable, responsible credit to borrowers. Members pay a fixed membership fee every month to allow them to access two loans per year with clear repayment terms, capped costs, and no hidden charges, interest, or APRs. Creditspring’s members also benefit from the platform’s education tools, including its Stability Hub service, which offers members a financial health audit and personalized tips to improve their financial situation.

Creditspring recently launched its latest education tool – Spring Score – which provides insight into members’ eligibility for Creditspring products to improve access to financial support tools, such as ‘Step’ credit builder which helps members gradually improve their credit score without running the risk of incurring further debt.

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Financial Vulnerability: Understanding the Impact on Budget and Credit

Budgeting and credit are indispensable tools for managing finances, particularly for those experiencing financial vulnerability due to escalating living costs, as revealed in a recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, it is becoming increasingly challenging for many people, particularly those in the lower income brackets, to implement effective budgeting and responsible credit use. Adults with an income of £10,000 up to £15,000 annually face over four times higher odds of financial vulnerability than those earning £50,000 or more per year. Moreover, the report highlights the need for better financial education and support for the most vulnerable.

Credit is also becoming a common means for people to make ends meet. In fact, adults aged 25 to 34 years are more likely to borrow money or use credit than usual, with 34% of this group admitting to doing so. Similarly, a higher proportion of adults earning £20,000 to £30,000 per year report using more credit than usual compared to those in the lowest and highest income groups. Although Buy Now Pay Later schemes are becoming more popular, it is important to use credit responsibly and consider alternative options before taking out a loan. Accumulating debt can be difficult to pay off, particularly if interest rates are high.

Parents with dependent children are also feeling the financial pressure, with those living with a child aged 0 to 4 years or aged 5 years or over being the most likely to report being unable to afford an unexpected expense of £850. They are also more likely to report borrowing more money or using more credit than usual compared to non-parents. Financial support and education must be accessible for parents as the cost of raising a child continues to rise.

Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Private Sector at Sopra Steria UK, notes that “With over a quarter of adults across Great Britain now experiencing some form of financial vulnerability, today’s ONS report indicates a significant rise in the number of people unable to keep up with the rising cost of living. As the results have shown, this will likely lead to more and more people turning to credit schemes such as Buy Now Pay Later to simply make ends meet.”

Despite more people now seeking support, many are either unaware of the different types of financial aid available, or are reluctant to identify themselves as vulnerable in the first place. Therefore, energy companies, financial service providers, and government organizations have a responsibility to educate consumers on the types of support available and improve access to services for society’s most vulnerable.

In conclusion, financial vulnerability is a growing concern in Great Britain due to rising living costs. Budgeting and responsible credit use are crucial for managing finances, particularly for those most vulnerable. However, better education and support are needed to help people make informed financial decisions.

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Sanctuary Wealth Partner Alluvial Private Wealth Expands With New Office in Cleveland Opportunity Zone

 Sanctuary Wealth, home to the next generation of elite advisors, announces the sub-acquisition by partner firm Alluvial Private Wealth of a team from HB Wealth Advisors in Concord, Ohio, with $70 million AUM and led by Randall Bliss, CFP® and Kerry Bliss.  This is the first M&A activity for Alluvial Private Wealth who originally launched with Sanctuary in January 2021, and the fifth acquisition under a program whereby Sanctuary partners with its firms to acquire other practices. The sub-acquisition will allow Alluvial to open a new office in downtown Cleveland’s Opportunity Zone district.

This closely follows the tuck in of Morgan Stanley wealth advisor Brandi Cooper’s business within Sanctuary partner firm G Squared Private Wealth, the College Station, Texas firm led by Chief Executive Officer George Georgiades, CIMA®, CEPA ®, and Chief Investment Officer Victoria Greene, CFA®, CRPC®.

Vince Fertitta CFP®, CIMA®, CRPC®, President of Sanctuary Wealth, said, “Since 2019, when I joined Sanctuary Wealth from Merrill Lynch after spending decades of my professional life as a financial advisor and senior executive with major wirehouse firms, we have developed and executed a focused and disciplined growth plan. Our model of fully supported independence continues to attract top-caliber wealth advisors, either directly to our platform as new partner firms, or to our existing partner firms to further fuel their growth. 2023 has been off to a robust start, and we expect significantly more growth to come throughout the year.”

“Our goal since first launching Sanctuary was to provide the assistance our partner firms need to grow to the next level, including through mergers and acquisitions,” said Michael Longley, Chief Growth Officer of Sanctuary Wealth. “Alluvial Private Wealth have shown themselves to be great partners and we’re proud to help them expand through this strategic acquisition and excited to welcome Randy and Kerry Bliss into the Sanctuary network.”

“Randy and Kerry Bliss have built a highly successful business by delivering outstanding service and advice to their clients. The fact that so many of their clients represent multiple generations of the same family is indicative of the quality of the work that they do on behalf of their clients,” said Lars Olson, CFP®, ChSNC®, CPFA, CAP®, CRPS®, Founder & Financial Advisor, Alluvial Private Wealth. “We’re thrilled they’ve chosen to partner with us as we continue to grow Alluvial Private Wealth. We chose to open in an Opportunity Zone because we are committed to helping to revitalize our communities by bringing jobs and economic activity back into the heart of downtown Cleveland.”

Randall Bliss has almost 40 years of financial services experience and for the last 21 years has been an independent financial advisor affiliated with Concourse Financial Group. He spent 16 of those years as a supervising principal while also building his own practice, but six years ago, he resigned that position to better focus on helping his clients retire comfortably. He is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in accounting and earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation in 2004.

“There were numerous reasons why I decided to join with Lars and Alluvial Private Wealth but was really impressed with the Sanctuary platform and the deep bench and more sophisticated approach that I would have access to through Alluvial,” explained Randall Bliss, CFP®, Wealth Advisor, Alluvial Private Wealth Cleveland. “Having additional support to handle a lot of the day-to-day processes will free me up to do what I do best—providing financial planning and advice to my clients.”

Joining Randall Bliss in opening Alluvial’s Cleveland office will be his wife, Wealth Associate Kerry Bliss. She has over a decade of financial services experience and holds Series 6, 7, 63, and 65 licenses, as well as an Ohio Life & Accident insurance license. She attended Miami University and Cleveland State University, earning her bachelor’s degree in political science.

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OCR Labs Joins FinTech Australia’s Partnership Program as Gold Partner

OCR Labs, a global identity verification tech leader founded in Australia, has become a Gold Partner in FinTech Australia’s corporate partnership program.

OCR joins over 37 members as part of the program, including: Google, Oracle, Mastercard, American Express and Moody’s.

FinTech Australia’s ecosystem partnership program assists in the fostering of relationships with the fintech industry’s key players and aims to further embed them in the growing ecosystem.

In becoming a partner, OCR Labs aims to work more closely with fintechs and their partners to advise on and educate around the growing role fintech will play in underpinning future identity solutions.

FinTech Australia General Manager, Rehan D’Almeida said: “We’re pleased to confirm that the partnership program continues to grow from strength to strength. Organisations are evaluated based on their interest in engaging with the members and giving back to the community.”
“As such we welcome OCR Labs as a gold member in our corporate partnership program, and look forward to their contribution to our community.”

Paul Warren-Tape, GM APAC, OCR Labs said: “Identity empowers lives. Whether it’s accessing financial services, securing digital communications or opening online accounts, the modern digital world needs reliable identity verification.”

“As the sector continues to diversify and new entrants challenge traditional financial business models, we look forward to collaborating with Australian fintechs, to achieve Zero-bias with our community, prioritising inclusion and building identity systems that work for everyone.”

The partnership lands ahead of FinTech Australia’s next major annual event, The Finnie Awards, which will be held on May 31 at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne. Entries for the awards close March 10, 2023.

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Market Report: Quiet Pulse of Positivity but Caution Over Interest Rates Set to Hold Back Gains

Several notable developments have been observed in the world of finance. It is anticipated that the FTSE 100 will commence trading above the crucial threshold of 8000, which holds psychological significance for trading. Furthermore, crude oil prices have risen, fuelled by China’s reopening hopes and despite demand concerns caused by a rising interest rates market. Conversely, gas prices have reached a 17-month low as we approach the spring season, with stock levels remaining high. Lastly, amidst talks of EU trade negotiations, the pound remains stable, hovering around the $1.20 mark. These financial events hold significant implications for investors and financial analysts alike.

Susannah Streeter, the Head of Money and Markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, has commented on the current state of the financial markets:

‘’There’s a quiet pulse of positivity on the markets with investors still cautious about the direction of interest rates in the United States, but hopeful that recovery elsewhere will lend a hand to trade. The FTSE 100 is expected to cling on above the psychologically important 8000 level at the open. Volumes are set to be more muted during the sessions in Europe given that Wall Street is closed for the President’s Day holiday, so traders are likely to be searching around for a bit of a sense of direction today, looking ahead to fresh data out this week.  The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee due out on Wednesday will be closely watched for fresh indications about just how strong those disinflationary winds are blowing. Worries are still hanging around that US inflation will still take significant time to be whipped into a shape which will mean higher rates will have to linger for longer, sentiment which has been supporting the dollar.

For now, it seems optimism about the recovery of demand in China is outweighing worries about a slowing US economy, with stocks on Chinese indices buoyed by the status quo decision to keep rates on hold. This has helped push up the price of crude oil, off the back of expectations that companies in China will be hungry for more energy, particularly as consumer sentiment rebounds. On the supply side, the  threat of fresh sanctions and export controls on the Russian energy and financial sectors are also supporting oil prices, with Brent Crude trading up 0.7%, above $83 a barrel.

The huge sigh of relief that Europe’s energy crisis appears to be over is still a cooling force on gas prices. UK natural gas futures are hovering around 120 pence per therm, levels not seen since early September 2021, while EU prices have edged up a little but still at 17-month lows. With green shoots of spring appearing amid warmer than average temperatures and European storage levels still 65% full, significantly above the 10-year average, the region appears to be out of the energy security danger zone. But energy saving measures and secure new lines of supply will continue to be needed as a cold shock next winter could still prove highly difficult for nations to navigate.

The pound is wavering on the edge of $1.20 as investors assess the direction of Fed policy and also the chances of Britain breaking the deadlock on talks with the EU over trade. The so-called Northern Ireland protocol designed to avoid a hard physical border in Ireland has instead caused friction in the flow of goods between the province and the rest of the UK.  Hopes are rising that a new agreement could be close, which could help pave the way for more stable trading relationship with the EU going forward.’’

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Tradefeedr Launches FX Algo Forecasting Suite

Tradefeedr, the independent FX data analytics platform, has recently launched its Algo Forecasting Suite. This new suite is designed to help clients analyze and choose the most appropriate FX execution algorithms. The Algo Forecasting Suite has been developed and rigorously back-tested against Tradefeedr’s global database, resulting in industry-leading accuracy, with a mean global forecast differing from the actual result by only 0.06 basis points.

“FX Algo” is a term used to describe computer programs that use algorithms to automatically execute trades in the foreign exchange market, based on specific criteria and conditions.

The suite supports client decision-making in terms of whether to use an FX algo, expected algo behavior, and the most suitable algo given market conditions, risk appetite, time, or audit constraints. It also provides post-trade analytics compared to Tradefeedr forecasts and the opportunity cost of not using alternative execution algos.

FX Algo Forecasting is available via API and Excel, which allows clients to create their own pre- and post-trade automation. Over the coming weeks, it will be added to the Tradefeedr dashboard of services. The new service is expected to allow clients to access accurate and independent data to better inform their algo execution strategies and analyze performance after the trade. The Tradefeedr Cost Of Liquidity Score is also a key feature, allowing the analysis of algo performance across different markets and conditions on a like-for-like basis.

“The Algo Forecasting Suite allows clients to access accurate and independent data to better inform their algo execution strategies, and to analyse performance after the trade,” Tim Cartledge, Chief Data Officer at Tradefeedr has commented “At the heart of the new service, we have developed the Tradefeedr Cost Of Liquidity Score, where we have pioneered a method of collapsing volatility, liquidity provider pricing, currency pair and time of day down to a single number. This allows us to analyse algo performance across significantly different markets and conditions to ensure that comparisons are made on a like for like basis.”

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Perenco Reaches Another Milestone in its Gas Agenda with Final Investment Decision (FID) Secured for the Gabon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Facility

Following a series of industry achievements by Perenco in the last year, the independent oil and gas company has reached another milestone in its African gas agenda, reaching a final investment decision (FID) for a 700,000-ton Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility in Gabon – based at the Cap Lopez terminal. The move not only represents a critical step forward towards achieving fuel security in West Africa but serves to enhance Perenco’s expansion into the African natural gas landscape, positioning the company at the forefront of the continent’s energy transformation.

With FID secured, construction of the large-scale LNG facility can officially kick off. For its part, the project represents a significant development for Gabon (, with an initial investment of $1 billion and a development timeline of up to three years. Production is likely to commence in 2026, with the facility producing 700,000 tons of LNG per year as well as 20,000 tons of butane per year. With the project, Perenco will position the country as a self-sufficient nation in terms of butane supply as well as a major exporter of natural gas through LNG.

With an extensive track record of delivering successful oil and gas projects in Gabon – as well as across the African energy landscape –, the FID consolidates Perenco’s commitment to monetizing African gas. Having started producing oil in Gabon in 1992 with the acquisition of mature fields off Port-Gentil, 26 years on, the company has increased production from 8,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 100,000 bpd. Now, the company operates both on- and offshore licenses in addition to two floating offshore storage and offloading (FPSO) units. As such, the company has been producing and supply gas, critical for power generation industrialization and economic growth, to the country for over ten years, a trend which is only set to continue with the company’s upcoming LNG facility.

“The drive by Perenco in Gabon as well as across other resource-rich countries in Africa solidifies the company’s commitment to ushering in a new era of economic prosperity across the continent on the back of oil and gas. We are excited to see the company hit another milestone with the securing of FID for an LNG facility in Gabon, and we consider this a critical step forward towards achieving energy security and fuel independence in Africa. This achievement represents just one of the many driven by Perenco and we look forward to seeing a fruitful and successful future, both for the company and the countries in which Perenco operates,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).

This achievement follows a series of other sector expansion milestones reached by the company in recent years. Under a broader gas expansion agenda in Africa, Perenco developed and is now operating the Hilli Episeyo Floating LNG facility in Cameroon – the first of its kind worldwide -; acquired Glencore’s entire upstream interests in North Africa, with the company now holding full operatorship of PetroChad Mangara – the operator of the Mangara, Badila and Krim oilfields in Chad -; now operates both the Emeraude and Likouala fields as well as the Yombo field with a FPSO unit and the PNGF South Fields in the Republic of Congo; and represents the only operating company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 11 fields producing approximately 25,000 bpd. All of these milestones have not only positioned the company as a major player in the Africa oil and gas sector but have consolidated its role as a partner of choice for governments across the continent.

Achievements such as this will be further unpacked during the continent’s premier event for the oil and gas sector, African Energy Week (AEW) 2023 – taking place from 16-20 October in Cape Town. Under a mandate of making energy poverty history by 2030, the event represents the official platform where deals are signed and developments kicked off. As Gabon enters into a new era of industry growth on the back of LNG, AEW 2023 will drive new investment into other large-scale gas projects across Africa, with major players such as Perenco driving this expansion.

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Häagen-Dazs Launches the Start-Up Innovation Challenge

Häagen-Dazs, together with EIT Food (European Institute of Innovation and Technology), today launches The Start-Up Innovation Challenge. This global project aims to explore the potential for innovation in technology and ingredients, with a particular focus on opportunities to further increase the sustainability potential of the iconic ice cream brand.

General Mills, which owns Häagen-Dazs, recently opened a brand-new Research & Development (R&D) center in Tilloy-lès-Mofflaines (North of France), next to Häagen-Dazs’ production site. This R&D center aims to research and innovate, whilst developing the ice cream flavors and processes of tomorrow for 90 countries around the world. The Start-Up Innovation Challenge will be an important part of Häagen-Dazs’ ambition to accelerate innovation by building direct collaborations with start-up companies from all over Europe and partner countries, on five issues related to the different ways of developing, distributing, and consuming ice cream.

Start-ups can apply via the EIT Food website. Ten businesses will then be selected to take part in a demonstration day at the Häagen-Dazs R&D Center on June 13th, 2023 in Tilloy-lès-Mofflaines, where they can showcase their brilliant ideas. After this demo day, at least two winners will be given the opportunity to partner with Häagen-Dazs and develop a POC (“Proof of Concept”).

Five key challenges for Häagen-Dazs, with a strategic focus on the environment

Participating start-ups will be asked to find innovative solutions to five key challenges for Häagen-Dazs. The environment is a key strategic focus, given the growing expectations of consumers as well as the ambitions of General Mills as a group, which is committed to:

  • Reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050;
  • Achieving 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025 in Europe.

The five key challenges on which start-ups will be asked to pitch ideas are:

  1. Indulgent sugar reduced Ice cream;
  2. Making Ice cream more resilient towards fluctuations in temperature;
  3. Creating Ice cream with the lowest carbon footprint;
  4. Improving the energy efficiency of the refrigerated dipping cabinets for Häagen-Dazs in shops;
  5. Creating the Ice cream packaging of the future with low environmental impact.

Start-up companies who wish to participate or find out more on the Häagen-Dazs Start-Up Innovation Challenge should visit the EIT Food website and complete the application form.

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Scam of the month: As Tax Year Ends Metro Bank Issues Scam Warning

HMRC Hoaxes Scam of the month: As Tax Year Ends Metro Bank Issues Scam Warning

Metro Bank is warning consumers about the sharp rise in HMRC hoaxes and investment scams ahead of the current tax year ending on April 5th.

Impersonation scams are one of the biggest and most successful scams with £90.5 million lost in the first six months of 2022.  HMRC is often impersonated by fraudsters pressuring UK taxpayers to send money to pay an outstanding tax debt.  Consumers need to be aware that telephone numbers can be spoofed and that HMRC will never pressure anyone to make immediate payments. These type of scams are so common, the government has its own web page advising on how to identify tax scam calls, emails and texts, together with a list of genuine HMRC contacts.

Last year saw a 95% increase in investment scams losses to over £100 million (£107.7m) industry wide – this equates to 30% of all authorised push payments scams. The three most common investment scams are impersonation of genuine investment companies – especially using celebrities, cryptocurrencies and precious gems or metals.  If in doubt consumers can check the validity of investment or pension opportunities on the FCA warning list, especially as the number of unregistered and unauthorised firms rose by 33% in the last 12 months.

“The key to preventing both these types of scams is to take a few minutes to check you are dealing with a legitimate source and never be pressured to act quickly,” warns Metro Bank’s Head of Fraud & Investigations, Baz Thompson. “Avoid clicking on any advert you see on social media and be aware that most fraudsters want to make the offer seem appealing by offering great returns on your money quickly – both the rate and speed should make you suspicious and act with caution.  Sadly, consumers should also be aware that scammers can compromise the social media accounts of their friends and then make contact as if it was their friend making a recommendation. A good rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”

To help educate consumers, Metro Bank explains how a classic investment scam works:

Emma wanted to invest her long term savings into an ISA for the new tax year. She wanted to find the best rate available and searched online for high-return ISA accounts.  After just a few clicks, she recognised the company at the top of the results and followed the link – they offered accounts with great but seemingly realistic interest rates.

Emma went ahead and signed up to enquire – that afternoon Emma received a call from a savings manager at the company who understood her needs and helped her to open a one year fixed term ISA. She was sent confirmation details and given access to her account the same day.

Once it was time for the ISA to mature Emma to begin to look in to her options. She tried contacting the company to collect her funds, only to find they had no accounts relating to her and she had no investments with them.

What happened?

Scammer creates fake websites and documents to lure you in – Emma hadn’t visited the genuine website or spoken to a genuine savings manager – it was a façade created by scammers to steal her money.

Baz Thompson concludes: “Fraud is the most common crime in the UK and there are simply not enough resources to fight it.  Despite accounting for 40% of recorded crime, only 2% of police funding is dedicated to tackling fraud.  Consumers need to do more to protect themselves – so if you are being pressured to act quickly, or give money, please be aware that this is likely to be a scam. Stop, Challenge and Protect yourself from becoming a scam victim.”

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AXA XL Names New Leadership for Its Fine Art and Specie Business in the Americas

To align underwriting capabilities more closely to the broader Americas regional operating model, AXA XL has appointed the following new regional and zonal leaders for its Fine Art & Specie (FAS) business:

  • Casey Santangelo, Head of Fine Art & Specie, Americas
  • Gary Kerr, Underwriting Manager, US East Zone
  • Barbara Corvino, Underwriting Manager, US Central Zone
  • Jake Burgess, Underwriting Manager, US West Zone
  • Farzina Coladon, Underwriting Manager, Canada
  • Natasha Fekula, Claims Manager, Americas

Commenting on Ms. Santangelo’s appointment to lead the broader FAS team, Maria Duhart, Chief Underwriting Officer, Americas Specialty Niche said: “We are pleased to have Casey join us, her underwriting expertise and track record driving business growth will be a fantastic asset not only for our FAS business, but for the broader Americas specialty insurance team as well.”

Ms. Santangelo joins AXA XL with more than fifteen years’ experience underwriting Fine Art, Construction, and Inland Marine Risk at Travelers. Most recently she served as President of Fine Art at DUAL North America. She is a graduate of Rutgers University where she obtained a B.S. in Business Management.

Regarding the zonal appointments, Ms. Duhart commented: “By aligning the FAS underwriting managers with the company’s zonal teams, we are bringing our experts closer to our clients and creating regional hubs to improve access and reach of our products and services. It is great to be able to promote talent from within and enable our experts to work closely with our insureds in each region of the continent.”

AXA XL, a division of AXA, is one of the largest fine art insurers in the world. Our fine arts professionals have built a solid foundation based on years of industry experience in understanding the value, both financial and sentimental, when it comes to safeguarding a collection. With AXA XL’s global footprint that includes over 1,200 highly experienced, locally empowered claims professionals managing covered claims in more than 200 countries and territories, we’ll be there for you – wherever and whenever you need us. We partner with those who move the world forward. To learn more, please visit

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CEO Conference 2023 Brings Together Public and Private Area Leaders for Discussing Monetary, Economic and Fiscal Policies

There were more than 20 panels in the two days’ event that brought together attendees such as Finance Minister, Fernando Haddad; the President of the Central Bank, Roberto Campos Neto; the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira; the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, and top executives who discussed investment perspectives in Brazil and macroeconomic issues

On February 14 and 15, the main business and political leaders gathered at the 24th edition of CEO Conference organized by BTG Pactual, the largest investment bank in Latin America. Over two days, the event’s 23 panels addressed the main challenges and trends in the economy, politics and technology for Brazil, bringing together more than 50 spokespersons, such as BTG Pactual Chairman and Senior Partner, André Esteves; Brazil’s Finance and Justice Ministers, Fernando Haddad and Flávio Dino, respectively; the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira; the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco; and the President of the Central Bank of Brazil, Roberto Campos Neto.

“Our intention with the CEO Conference is to help investors, financial agents, public administrators, and society to have a clearer vision of what to expect from the Brazilian economy and greater predictability of the monetary and fiscal policies adopted. Our wish is that everyone has the necessary trust to continue investing and, thus, increasingly generate more jobs, income, and taxes that make our country more prosperous and inclusive”, said BTG Pactual CEO, Roberto Sallouti, during the opening of the conference.

In all, 50,000 people followed the program online and another 2,000 guests and representatives of 180 companies were present at the space, which also hosted more than 2,000 business meetings with investors. Following BTG Pactual’s social responsibility guidelines, the CEO Conference was a carbon neutral event. All the scenery that was used is being transformed into furniture and toys for donating to Non-Governmental Organizations. In addition, during the conference, products were offered by small businesses run by women entrepreneurs who underwent management development workshops administered by the bank’s social responsibility area.

All the CEO Conference 2023 panels can be watched at

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Payments Global Market Report 2023: Market is Expected to Grow to $847.59 Billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 8.5% – Long-term Forecast to 2032 Featuring PayPal, Apple, Square, & Amazon

A report on the global payments industry titled “Payments Global Market Report 2023” report has been added to’s offering.

Major players in the payments market are PayPal, Square Inc., Apple Inc, Amazon Payments, Flagship Merchant Services, GoCardless, Bitpay, Stripe, Payline Data, FIS., ACI Worldwide, MasterCard, Fiserv.

The global payments market will grow from $561.77 billion in 2022 to $612.04 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9%. The payments market is expected to grow to $847.59 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 8.5%.

The payments market consists of revenues earned by entities that are engaged in facilitating payment transfers between individuals, companies, or both. The payments industry consists of establishments primarily engaged in processing money transfers and payments between various accounts. This includes all institutions involved in payment processing such as banks, non-banking financial institutions, and others.

Revenue generated from the payments market includes all the processing and services fees levied by the banks and financial institutions for payment processing. The market value includes the value of related goods sold by the service provider or included within the service offering. Only goods and services traded between entities or sold to end consumers are included.

Payment instruments are systems that enable funds held in accounts at credit, payment or similar institutions to be transferred to a payee on receipt of a payment order.

Asia Pacific was the largest region in the payments market in 2022. The main types of payments are credit transfer, direct debit, check payment, and cash deposit. Credit transfer refers to the payment method of credit transfer from one account to the other. The various applications include banks, non-banking financial institutions, and other applications. These are used by retail, banking and financial services, telecommunications, government, transportation, and other end users.

The outbreak of COVID-19 is expected to drive the growth of the payments market over the forecast period. Contactless payments are becoming a preferred payment method in the current pandemic situation because less human contact is required.

The increasing fraud in payments has impacted the growth of the payments market. Payment fraud is a form of fraudulent or unlawful transaction carried out by a cybercriminal. Fraudsters use third-party platforms such as e-commerce portals to defraud consumers by charging for products or items that are never shipped.

The integration of biometric authentication technology into payments is a key trend gaining popularity in the payments market. Biometric authentication is a specific and significant payment method that integrates and offers accuracy, effectiveness, and protection within a single package.

Find a selection of the companies mentioned in this report in the tags.

Key Topics Covered:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Payments Market Characteristics
  3. Payments Market Trends And Strategies
  4. Payments Market – Macro Economic Scenario
    4.1 COVID-19 Impact On Payments Market
    4.2 Ukraine-Russia War Impact On Payments Market
    4.3 Impact Of High Inflation On Payments Market
  5. Payments Market Size And Growth
    5.1. Global Payments Historic Market, 2017-2022, $ Billion
    5.1.1. Drivers Of The Market
    5.1.2. Restraints On The Market
    5.2. Global Payments Forecast Market, 2022-2027F, 2032F, $ Billion
    5.2.1. Drivers Of The Market
    5.2.2. Restraints On the Market
  6. Payments Market Segmentation*
  7. Payments Market Regional And Country Analysis
    7.1. Global Payments Market, Split By Region, Historic and Forecast, 2017-2022, 2022-2027F, 2032F, $ Billion
    7.2. Global Payments Market, Split By Country, Historic and Forecast, 2017-2022, 2022-2027F, 2032F, $ Billion

*6.1. Global Payments Market, Segmentation By Type, Historic and Forecast, 2017-2022, 2022-2027F, 2032F, $ Billion:

    • Credit Transfer
    • Direct Debit
    • Check Payment
    • Cash Deposit

*6.2. Global Payments Market, Segmentation By Application, Historic and Forecast, 2017-2022, 2022-2027F, 2032F, $ Billion

    • Banks
    • Non-Banking Financial Institutions
    • Others Applications

*6.3. Global Payments Market, Segmentation By End-user Industry, Historic and Forecast, 2017-2022, 2022-2027F, 2032F, $ Billion

    • Retail
    • Banking and Financial Service
    • Telecommunication
    • Government
    • Transportation
    • Other End User Industries

For more information about this report visit here.

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Public Procurement in Mauritius Shows Progress, but Room Remains for Improvement – African Development Bank Assessment

Mauritius has made critical strides in its public procurement system, but additional reforms are needed, according to an assessment report the African Development Bank (AfDB) released to the government on Tuesday.

African Development Bank Director of Fiduciary Services and Inspection, Frank Mvula, said that following presentation of the report, the next step should be the development of a detailed action plan on how the assessment’s recommendations would be implemented.

Mvula made his comments during a workshop in the country’s capital Port Louis on the 14th of February where he presented a copy of the report to Mahensingh Bheekhee, Director in the Mauritian Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.

Members of the assessment team presented the report’s findings and recommendations to 100 Mauritian chief executives, directors, and other stakeholders.

The African Development Bank led the assessment in partnership with Mauritius’s Procurement Policy Office (PPO) using the Methodology for Assessing Procurement Systems (MAPS) framework. MAPS is a universal standard for evaluating strengths and gaps in public procurement systems. The bank also provided a grant of $134,013 for technical assistance to the government.

In his opening statement, PPO director Hirendranath Rhambojun stressed that Mauritius had begun pushing reforms after seeing an early version of the report.

Director Mvula commended the government for taking ownership of the assessment process “Every year, during the budget speech, we have brought improvements to the Public Procurement Act and procurement regulations,” he said. The PPO is part of the finance ministry. The public procurement system in Mauritius is reasonably robust and this has culminated from the reforms they have undertaken over many years,” Mulva assured the government of the bank’s continued support in addressing remaining gaps.

Among the report’s key findings are that Mauritius has a well-established legal and regulatory public procurement framework that is comprehensive and accessible.

The country also demonstrates good governance and strong political commitment to enhance its e-procurement system. Critical shortcomings uncovered by the assessment include a stipulation concerning mandatory participation by local companies on public contracts, which may restrict foreign bidders, the process of selecting contractors and awarding contracts can be protracted.

In remarks to close the workshop, Bhagwansingh Dabeesing, a PPO member and part of the assessment, outlined the next steps. He said the government intends to comprehensively review its public procurement laws and regulations to update them and align them with the e-procurement system. Dabeesing said other plans include implementation of sustainable public procurement. This entails factoring socio-economic and environmental considerations into the public procurement process. The PPO intends shortly to submit an action plan to the national cabinet for approval.

The African Development Bank is a longtime funder of the MAPS secretariat and has participated in several assessments.

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Transactions for Success: SmartOSC and Gr4vy Join Forces To Improve Customer Payment Experience

SmartOSC has officially partnered with Gr4vy, an award-winning cloud-native payment orchestration platform renowned for taking the complexity out of building and managing payment stacks.

With a focus on redefining payments by delivering an intuitive and secure experience for both merchants and consumers, Gr4vy has quickly become a sought-after solution for businesses looking to streamline their payment processes and security. The company doubled its valuation since launching to an impressive $115M, allowing the company to further accelerate its global expansion and meet demand.

SmartOSC has partnered with Gr4vy to ensure that their existing and future clients no longer have to face this kind of complexity alone. Gr4vy’s architecture is built to offer merchants the ability to access multiple payment providers and payment methods through a single integration. Independently of how many providers merchants want to work with, they will only need to integrate with Gr4vy once.

Adding any additional payment method after this first integration requires no more additional development. Their low-code single integration allows merchants to optimise their payments stack and scale their business all in one place.

Speaking about the partnership, Tim Street, Commercial Director at SmartOSC UK said; “We are extremely proud to announce our partnership with Gr4vy. We believe their innovative hassle-free offerings are poised to bring significant benefits to current and future clients of SmartOSC. Our clients turn to us when they need solutions to complex problems, and Gr4vy was created with solving complex problems at the heart of their business. This collaboration is a natural fit, and we look forward to the results it will bring.”


“SmartOSC works with some of the most innovative and renowned brands globally, helping businesses to boost their bottom line with strategic insights and effective solutions. One of the core complexities merchants face today is payments,” comments John Lunn, Founder and CEO of Gr4vy “…more and more merchants are recognizing a need for payment orchestration as they continue to scale globally and need to be on top of evolving consumer payment preferences, and local data/privacy regulations. It’s great to see companies like SmartOSC recognizing this need, and partnering with Gr4vy to help eCommerce merchants continue to grow.”

In today’s world, demand is consistently growing for payment systems to deliver greater efficiency, transparency and protection. With more options open to consumers, the need for reliable and modern payment infrastructures is soaring.

Together through this partnership, SmartOSC and Gr4vy will support businesses with lead times, resources and security as it pertains to payment methods and expanding into new markets.

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January Sales Tempted Squeezed Shoppers: But It’s Just a Blip

According to recent data, retail sales volumes in January increased by 0.5% compared to the previous month, which saw a decrease of 1.2%. However, despite the recent uptick in sales, the figures show that retail sales are still struggling to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic, with sales volumes remaining 1.4% below their pre-Covid levels in February 2020. Furthermore, sales are continuing on a downward trend that has been in place since the summer of 2021. A closer look at the data reveals that the increase in non-food sales, which included petrol, was not enough to offset the decline in food sales.

January retail sales were announced today: Retail sales, Great Britain – Office for National Statistics (

“January sales tempted even the most squeezed shoppers, as deals pushed overall retail sales up 0.5%. Things looked even healthier for non-food stores – up 0.6%, department stores – up 0.8%, and online retailers – up 2%. However, this isn’t a turnaround in the fortunes of the retailers: it’s highly likely that this is just a bump in the slide that started back in summer 2021.” Sarah Coles, head of personal finance, Hargreaves Lansdown comments, “Non-food sales benefited from the January sales – which started as early as Christmas Eve and ran to the end of the month. However, this rise is only likely to be a temporary blip, as we seized the chance to snap up everything from cosmetics to carpets while there were some decent bargains around. Given the fall in December, there’s a decent chance some of this was us putting off seasonal spending until the sales kicked in.”

“On a rolling three-month basis, sales are clearly still on the slide that  kicked off back in summer 2021. Prices have been rising for so long that more of us are running on empty. The HL Savings & Resilience Barometer shows that we’ve lost three fifths of the boost we got during the pandemic from things like lockdown savings, so we’re having to make difficult choices about what we can afford. Food sales volumes fell 0.5% – following a 0.7% drop a month earlier, as we continued to tighten our belts in the supermarket. Separate ONS figures show that almost half of us are spending less on food and non-essentials (44%). And because food prices were up 16.7% in the year to January, it means we’re putting less in the trolley, to avoid busting the budget. Drivers took the opportunity to fill the tanks in January as fuel prices fell back to the levels we last saw in February last year, and sales volumes rose 1.7%. Finally, we took the trips we’ve been postponing ever since a tank of petrol started to become a rare and expensive treat.”

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New IGEL App Portal Cloud Service Delivers Fast, Efficient App Delivery via the New IGEL COSMOS Platform

IGEL, provider of the managed endpoint operating system for secure access to any digital workspace, today announced the IGEL App Portal. Part of the new IGEL COSMOS Cloud Services and unveiled today at the DISRUPT23 – The Ultimate Global EUC event in Munich, the IGEL App Portal extends the access and delivery of IGEL-validated applications, clients, and interfaces via the cloud for users of the new IGEL COSMOS platform (see related press release here). Offering the latest apps from IGEL Ready partners, the IGEL App Portal supports faster, more timely application availability and seamless updates for extensive IT efficiency gains and a superior digital experience (DEX) for end users.

The IGEL App Portal delivers a full range of validated applications for use on IGEL OS-powered devices from IGEL’s vast IGEL Ready technology partner community of more than 130 partners. Available for download at no extra cost, these apps can be rapidly qualified and delivered as a feature-rich experience for users, while reducing the app qualification, implementation and update processes for IT. Initial applications to be available in the IGEL App Portal include the IGEL AVD client for accessing Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, VMware Horizon client, Citrix Workspace app, Chromium Browser, Zoom Media Plugins for VDI, ControlUp and more.

“The anywhere digital workplace requires increased agility, while delivering security and management confidence for IT,” said Simon Townsend, Field Chief Technology Officer, EMEA, IGEL. “To support these new work requirements, IGEL has transformed the way it delivers access to the apps users need to be productive from everywhere they want to work. Leveraging the new modular IGEL COSMOS platform where the endpoint OS is now separate from the apps and services, we are empowering organizations with the ‘future proofed’ end user computing environment they need to be ready for the unfolding future of end user computing.”

Upon its launch, the IGEL App Portal will include cloud-based access to the following apps:

  • Citrix® Workspace app
  • IGEL AVD client
  • VMware Horizon client
  • Chromium Browser
  • Zoom Media Plugins for VDI
  • ControlUp
  • CUPS printing system
  • SafeSign Identity client
  • SafeNet Authentication client
  • Cryptovision Scienterface

“Citrix has worked closely with IGEL for many years and is already an active IGEL Ready alliance partner. We are proud to further this longstanding relationship as a COSMOS launch partner, including having Citrix® technology in the IGEL App Portal from day one,” said Calvin Hsu, Vice President, Product Management, Citrix, a business unit of Cloud Software Group. “Coupled with our own speed of innovation, the new IGEL App Portal enables Citrix and IGEL to provide their joint customers with new features and updates with unprecedented speed and frequency. With significantly less testing, qualification, and management required for IT teams, employees can benefit from these new features and updates faster than ever.”

“The ability to update the VMware Horizon client independently from IGEL OS in COSMOS allows our customers and their users to access VMware’s latest innovation Apps on Demand faster and more efficiently than before,” said Terry Vaughn, Director Global EUC Business Development VMware. “The additional ability to now update the Zoom and Webex offloading clients, independently from the VMware Horizon client also provides customers with the ultimate flexibility and agility they require when deploying today’s workloads.”

“By providing faster security updates from IGEL and ControlUp, our joint security position gets even stronger. ControlUp is pleased to be an IGEL App Portal launch partner,” said Robin Brandl, Vice President Global Strategic Alliances, ControlUp. “ControlUp is proud to partner with IGEL to improve IT visibility, deliver IT efficiency, and empower hybrid work for all our joint customers.”

Future availability in the IGEL App Portal will include an additional 10 apps, including a Windows 365 Cloud PC and RDP client as well as solutions for Cisco Webex and Cisco Jabber, 7signal, Cameyo, Cendio, deviceTRUST, Imprivata, Nutanix Frame, Tricerat, and Vasion PrinterLogic. IGEL also offers an IGEL OS SDK (software development kit) for software providers that want to validate their solution for availability using COSMOS and the IGEL App Portal.


The IGEL App Portal is a key cloud service app delivery portion of the unified, modular, agile IGEL COSMOS platform which also incorporates the new IGEL UMS 12 (the next generation of the IGEL Universal Management Suite) along with parallel integrations for IGEL OS 11 and IGEL OS 12 operating system. The IGEL App Portal along with COSMOS, IGEL UMS 12, and IGEL OS 12 will be available April 1. Existing users of IGEL OS 11 will be able to engage IGEL UMS 12 via a transition path to access COSMOS advancements for existing and new devices running IGEL OS 12 in the future. For more information visit To schedule a discovery meeting and get early access to GA code, visit

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Senior Policymakers and Financial Leaders to Convene at Point Zero Forum on Generative AI, Digital Assets, and ESG Technologies

The Swiss State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF) and Elevandi, a company set up by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) today announced the agenda for the second edition of the Point Zero Forum.

The by-invitation only Forum will take place from 26 to 28 June 2023 in Zurich, Switzerland, and will be jointly opened by Switzerland’s Federal Councillor and the Head of the Federal Department of Finance, Karin Keller-Sutter and Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Heng Swee Keat.

The Forum will convene 1,000 policymakers, financial leaders, and investors for dialogues on three innovative technologies shaping the future of financial services.

  • Digital Assets — Stocktake on the use cases for adopting digital assets, asset tokenisation and distributed ledger technology
  • ESG Technologies — Showcasing the technologies and solutions that can accelerate the fair transition towards climate neutrality
  • Generative AI — Deep-dive into generative AI (Artificial Intelligence), the potential use cases in financial services and the roadmap towards adoption

The need to convene the key leaders has hardly ever been greater. The Forum’s agenda was established against a backdrop of significant uncertainty in the digital assets industry resulting from various factors; including market volatility, regulatory uncertainty, and a lack of public trust.

Additionally, the world is confronted by two powerful disruptive forces: the rapid advancement of technologies like AI, which has exploded in popularity since the introduction of ChatGPT — now with an estimated 100 million monthly active users in January 1; and the pressing issue of the climate crisis, which is predicted to necessitate the largest reallocation of capital since World War II, coupled with a massive influx of financial innovation.

Daniela Stoffel, Secretary of State for International Finance, Swiss Federal Department of Finance, said: “Recent market dislocations have shown the importance of good regulation and supervision. At the same time, the potential of digital innovation in finance is tremendous. The upcoming Forum in Zurich will bring together all stakeholders and identify concrete ways in which technological innovation can help achieve the UN’s sustainability goals while strengthening the competitiveness of the financial sector.”

Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS and Chairman of Elevandi Board, commented: “Recent market headwinds and tailwinds have significantly impacted the three technology areas fundamentally driving the future of financial services: AI, Digital Assets, and ESG Tech. In light of this, the Point Zero Forum is taking a proactive approach by hosting a dialogue between policymakers and the proponents of these technologies to identify responsible, use-case-driven pathways for their adoption. The outcomes from the dialogues will help serve as a roadmap for navigating these technologies, and we will continue the progress made at the Forum when we reconvene at the Singapore FinTech Festival in November.”


The first two days will feature:

  • High-level dialogues with public and private sector leaders on the Forum Stage
  • The Capital Meets Policy Dialogue, an investor dialogue with policymakers, regulators, and investors to share perspectives on FinTech regulation and investment capital allocation
  • In-depth roundtable discussions with public and private sector organisations to address challenges faced by the financial sector to deliver key outcomes, such as pledges or commitments that will be announced in published statements after the event
  • Industry workshops and networking opportunities

The final day includes innovation tours, which allow participants to visit leading companies and innovation labs to experience their latest cutting-edge projects and developments. Participants include Google, BIS Innovation Hub, and the University of Zurich Blockchain Center.

To register your interest in attending the Point Zero Forum or to nominate a guest, please visit

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Vinter, the Crypto Index Provider, Announces New Partnership With K33

Vinter, the crypto index provider, announces that it has partnered with digital asset brokerage K33 to build regulated financial products for their portfolio of upcoming investment products. Vinter’s indexes will serve as the reference rates for these products, as K33 – formerly known as Arcane Crypto (“Arcane”) – seeks to provide a rule-based and transparent way for investors to track the value of their portfolios.

The partnership will commence with the launch of the K33 Vinter Quality Index. The index is an equal-weighted index of crypto assets that are qualitatively evaluated from an investor’s standpoint; offering high-quality assets with a small probability of permanent financial loss. The index is rebalanced quarterly.

Although all assets from the crypto ecosystem are eligible for selection, they must pass through a quality filter consisting of five key criteria:

  1. Persistent network effects
  2. Use
  3. Regulatory risk
  4. Ecosystem size and liveness
  5. Inflation schedule and ownership concentration

Torbjørn Bull Jenssen, CEO of K33 comments, “Our goal is to provide investors access to the crypto ecosystem through products that are backed by our expertise and research in the industry. Vinter was a natural choice when looking for an index provider to help launch some of our investment products; they have an excellent track record in providing the most reliable and accurate data, and Jacob and his team are experts in their field. We look forward to working with them as we meet the growing demands of clients and fund managers and continue to strengthen our position in the EMEA.”

Jacob Lindberg, CEO of Vinter, adds “We are pleased to be partnering with K33 as their preferred index provider. Arcane – the precursor to K33 – is globally renowned for their high-quality research. I learn something new about crypto every time I speak with Torbjørn or read their research. As the index provider of choice, Vinter will help them leverage this research to offer investors interesting exposures. Our crypto quality index is the perfect way to start our partnership.”

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Liquid C2 Recognised as the 2022 Cloudflare Partner of the Year and Certification Champions of the Year

Liquid C2, a business of Cassava Technologies, a pan-African technology group, has been awarded the Cloudflare Partner and Certification Champions for 2022. This double honour from Cloudflare reiterates Liquid C2’s commitment to skill growth, sales contribution and bringing the best-in-class solutions to customers on the African continent.

David Behr, CEO of Liquid C2, commented on this recognition, “The partnership with Cloudflare has been a tremendous success for our customers as we can deliver more customised cyber security solutions, improve customer service, and create long-term relationships with customers. This award emphasises the power of collaboration between Cloudflare and Liquid C2 as we help our customers safeguard their operations and continue their digital transformation journeys”.

In the last year, the collaboration between Liquid C2 and Cloudflare has helped enterprises and SMEs understand the importance of investing in cyber security solutions considering the ever-growing threat landscape. This award is a competitive, worldwide recognition of excellence among cyber security partners and is a testament to the work undertaken to deliver people-centric, secure workplaces.

Despite being a relatively young player in the cyber security industry, Liquid C2 has demonstrated a deep understanding of the requirements of its African customers. The organisation was the first African company to launch a matrix of Cyber Security Fusion Centres in Africa. Through its strategic partnerships with international players like Microsoft, Oracle, and AWS, Liquid C2 understands how to create cloud solutions that deliver our customers’ every business need.

“Liquid C2 team is proud of this recognition as the 2022 Partner of the Year Award, and it will help us to continue our vision of a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind. Our cyber security experts are here to give your business the robust protection it needs. What-ever your business challenge – We’ll C2 it,” concluded Behr.


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Diner’s Club Launches Ecuador’s First Digital Bank in the Cloud With Temenos

TEMENOS today announced that Diner’s Club Ecuador has gone live with Temenos Core Banking, Payments and Analytics on the cloud with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The completion of the project marks the launch of Diner’s Club Ecuador as the first digital bank in the country.

Diners Club Ecuador was the first issuer of credit cards in Ecuador, and has become its largest provider, processing 75% of the country’s credit and debit card transactions. The company is a franchise of Diner’s Club International, which operates worldwide with an extensive network in more than 200 countries.

To launch its digital bank, Diner’s Club Ecuador selected Temenos’ modern, scalable, cloud-native banking platform. Temenos is the only banking platform readily available on all major public cloud providers for banks to run themselves or as a SaaS solution via Temenos Banking Cloud. Diner’s Club Ecuador opted to host Temenos banking platform on AWS, benefiting from 99.99% availability, flexibility to deliver innovative products, and scalability to support growth alongside the launch of new business lines. Diner’s Club Ecuador initially implemented deposit accounts, with plans to launch interest-bearing deposit accounts, advance billing services for businesses, and mortgages. The bank has already granted 14 million (USD) in loans.

Temenos Analytics will also extend Diner’s Club Ecuador’s use of predictive models and AI beyond credit scoring and risk management to understand client behaviors in more depth and provide hyper-personalized services. By analyzing member behavior, Diner’s Club Ecuador will be able to offer products based on buying preferences, and create unique and relevant products like ‘one-click loans’ which the bank launched for current business clients.

Mónica Carrión, Vice President of Services Center Club Ecuador, said: “Our mission is to be a lifelong partner for our clients, helping them at every stage of their lives. We wanted to embrace a digital-first model, giving clients the flexibility to access our services online at the click of a button on a 24/7 basis. By launching the first digital-only bank in Ecuador with Temenos and AWS, we are setting the standard for banking innovation in Ecuador and within the Diners Club International franchise network globally.”

Rodrigo Silva, Senior Vice President – Sales for Latin America and the Caribbean, Temenos, said: “The barriers between e-commerce brands, technology companies, and financial institutions are lowering, opening up a new world of banking. Temenos empowers all participants in the banking ecosystem to operate efficiently, respond to market demands with agility, and deliver compelling experiences. We are offering our clients more choice in embracing the cloud through Temenos Banking Cloud as a SaaS offering or by running the platform themselves on any public cloud. By bringing together Temenos’ modern technology on AWS, Diner’s Club Ecuador will offer its clients seamless, hyper-personalized banking services that are revolutionary for our industry.”

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B2B Fintech Sikoia Secures $6M in Seed Funding to Simplify Client Onboarding and Risk Evaluation

London-based Fintech Sikoia has successfully raised $6m in seed funding, bringing its total capital raised to over $8.3m, including a pre-seed round from the previous year. This milestone caps an exceptional year for Sikoia, which saw the company grow its international client list, make key senior hires, and generate strong momentum across credit and lending, payments, and international e-commerce.

Sikoia is a category-defining Unified Data Platform (UDP) that centralises client financial and identity data to simplify onboarding and verification, monitoring, and risk evaluation. It is accessible through the Sikoia portal, an intuitive 360° Customer dashboard and decisioning tool for risk and compliance teams, or a comprehensive suite of APIs for developers. Sikoia’s UDP includes access to a growing marketplace of international data partners and compliance services, including credit bureaus, public registries, identity verification, fraud screening, AML screening, and more. Their customers can choose to use their existing providers or expand their capabilities with ready-to-go, turnkey agreements.

Regulated businesses and financial institutions in particular have to manually collect, validate, and verify customer information across siloed sources. This can be time-consuming, costly, and prone to errors – often leading to delays in onboarding new customers and increasing the risk of fraud.

“Besides assessing consumers applying for financial products, many Sikoia customers also onboard and verify international business clients,” said Alexis Rog, Sikoia’s CEO. “They need to assess information from multiple public and private data sources, covering the corporate entity itself as well as the directors, shareholders and associated entities. This often results in poor customer experience and unnecessary operational costs.”

The round was led by MassMutual Ventures, a global venture capital firm with over $1bn AUM, with participation from Coalition Capital and existing investors Earlybird and Seedcamp following-on. Ryan Collins, MMV managing partner, said: “Sikoia’s platform is set to transform financial institutions’ client management throughout the lifecycle – especially onboarding, underwriting and ongoing monitoring – streamlining risk and compliance processes, and measurably improving financial performance. Sikoia’s extensive identity and financial data coverage is well-suited to complement and enhance our own business verification efforts. We are delighted to bring Sikoia to the MassMutual Ventures ecosystem. “

“Last year has been an exciting and transformative year for us. We scaled up the team, expanded our platform capabilities, and supported our ever-growing list of customers and marketplace partners. We’re excited to continue delivering on our ambitious targets for 2023 and beyond,” said Sikoia CEO, Alexis Rog. “This capital will help Sikoia accelerate our international expansion, deliver further data coverage and workflow automation, and develop unique technology to help our clients deliver exceptional client experiences.”

For further information and to see Sikoia’s latest data integrations, API and workflow templates: visit


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Refinitiv Publishes New USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks to Support Migration From LIBOR

Refinitiv commences publication of new versions of USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks

Refinitiv USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks now support new Federal Reserve Board and Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) selected benchmark replacements based on 30-day average SOFR to help clients prepare for USD LIBOR cessation on June 30, 2023.

Effective today, and following the January 30 announcement, Refinitiv has commenced publication of new USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks that are consistent with the Federal Reserve Board and ARRC benchmark replacements for FHFA-regulated-entity contracts (except Federal Home Loan Bank advances) and Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Asset-Backed Securitizations (ABS).

“Refinitiv has commenced publication of new USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks that are consistent with the Federal Reserve Board and ARRC benchmark replacements for FHFA-regulated-entity contracts (except Federal Home Loan Bank advances) and Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Asset-Backed Securitizations (ABS),” said a Refinitiv spokesperson.

In 2021, the ARRC selected Refinitiv to calculate and publish industry recommended fallback rates for cash products. This benchmark family, USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks, first launched on November 30, 2021, supports a range of different conventions for both consumer and institutional products.

March 15, 2022 – Congress enacted the Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act to support legacy LIBOR contracts to smoothly transition to a replacement benchmark.

December 16, 2022 – The Federal Reserve Board issued its Final Regulation Implementing the Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act, which specifies the Board-selected benchmark replacements.

January 19, 2023 – The ARRC voted to adjust its recommendations to conform with the Federal Reserve Board’s benchmark selections for FHFA-regulated-entity contracts and FFELP ABS.

Refinitiv has supplemented existing USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks with new rates that are consistent with the Federal Reserve Board’s December 2022 announcement. These new rates adopted the Federal Reserve Board’s selected benchmark replacements methodology for LIBOR contracts that are an FHFA-regulated-entity contract (except Federal Home Loan Bank advances) and LIBOR contracts that are a 1-, 6- or 12-months FFELP ABS. They are based on 30-day compounded average SOFR published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) plus the applicable static tenor spread adjustment used in other USD IBOR Institutional Cash Fallbacks.

Refinitiv already calculated the 1-month rate based on 30-day average SOFR and has complemented it with the new 3-months, 6-months and 12-months rates. In the methodology document, these rates are referred to as:

  • Refinitiv USD IBOR Institutional Cash Fallbacks (In-Advance, 30-day Average SOFR) 1 Month¹
  • Refinitiv USD IBOR Institutional Cash Fallbacks (In-Advance, 30-day Average SOFR) 3 Months²
  • Refinitiv USD IBOR Institutional Cash Fallbacks (In-Advance, 30-day Average SOFR) 6 Months³
  • Refinitiv USD IBOR Institutional Cash Fallbacks (In-Advance, 30-day Average SOFR) 12 Months⁴


Firms can receive the new versions of Refinitiv USD IBOR Cash Fallbacks through the full suite of Refinitiv products, including Refinitiv Workspace, Refinitiv Eikon, Refinitiv Real-Time, and Refinitiv DataScope, as well as via the Refinitiv website.

Find out more – Refinitiv 


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Summer Holidays Support Spending in January, as Consumer Activity Slows

CommBank HSI Index Falls 6.9% in January as Spending Wanes Following Holidays

The CommBank Household Spending Intentions (HSI) Index for January fell 6.9% led by normal seasonal declines in retail and entertainment spending after Christmas and with signs of slowing activity following recent interest rate increases.

The first “normal” summer break since Covid supported general spending during the month and a lift in both domestic and international travel boosted the Travel spending index by 8.2% on the month. There was a large lift in spending on airlines and more modest gains in cruise lines, trailer parks and campgrounds, and travel agents, while spending on accommodation fell.

Entertainment spending fell 13.2% in original terms and in line with usual seasonal falls in January after stronger spending on eating and drinking out in December, but was marginally higher when seasonally adjusted — reflecting pent-up demand after two years of holiday breaks impacted by the pandemic.

Retail spending in the month of January fell by a large 21.3% in original terms but was marginally higher when seasonally adjusted. Annual retail spending was up 5.9% in the year to January, but with inflation running at 7.9% over this period, this points to slowing activity in the retail space.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia Chief Economist Stephen Halmarick said January’s CommBank HSI Index highlighted that Australians had made the most of the summer break following several years of Covid impacts and natural disasters, while households were beginning to feel the pinch from rising interest rates and bills.

“Australians certainly took advantage of the first ‘normal’ summer break since the beginning of the pandemic to take a holiday and this helped support general levels of spending across the economy,” Mr Halmarick said.

“With the CBA predicting further interest rate hikes from the RBA in the coming months and a high volume of fixed rate home loans expiring over the next 12 months, household budgets are becoming increasingly constrained. We expect a slowdown in consumer spending in 2023 and downside risks are building for the Australian economy.”

CBA’s Economics team is forecasting two further 25bp interest rate increases in March and April 2023 to a peak cash rate of 3.85% following last week’s 25bp hike to 3.35% by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The CommBank HSI Index combines analysis of CBA payments data (Australia’s largest consumer spending data set covering approximately 40% of payment transactions), loan application information and Google Trends publicly available search activity data.

To access this powerful insight into spending trends, visit:

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