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Morning Briefing

Morning Briefing

Some of the biggest players in the financial industry are investing in a blockchain start-up as enthusiasm for the technology continues to grow across the sector.

Visa, Nasdaq and Citi Ventures (part of Citigroup) have joined Capital One, Fiserve and Orange in a $30 million equity financing round for Chain, a start-up that helps financial services companies build blockchain networks, according to the Financial Times.

A working group of central bankers is developing a code of conduct for foreign exchange traders in order to make market manipulation more difficult, according to a report in the Telegraph.

"The identification of poor behaviour sooner rather than later will be one measure of success," said Guy Debelle from the Reserve Bank of Australia, who is heading up the working group. "Another metric of success will be improved confidence within the industry."

Mobile payments company Monitise is in crisis following the sudden departure of chief executive Elizabeth Buse only six months into her tenure.

Ms Buse leaves as the company reported an annual pre-tax loss of £227 million, more than three-and-a-half times its losses for the previous year. Following her departure, investors offloaded Monitise shares, halving its value in one day's trading.

At least one bank is backing branches despite the growth in online banking. The UK arm of Sweden's Handelsbanken is opening its 200th branch as it continues to grow its presence in the market — the bank has doubled in size in just three years.

"The more branches we open, the more our reputation among customers grows and we find it increasingly easy when we open new branches to get them going," chief executive Anders Bouvin said.

In the US, the Justice Department has issued guidelines to its prosecutors aimed at increasing criminal and civil cases against corporate executives.

The move follows criticism about the department negotiating multi-billion dollar settlements with banks but not prosecuting individuals for financial misconduct.

The pace of the Indian banking revolution is showing no signs of letting up as the Reserve Bank of India has indicated that it will announce the names of successful applicants for small finance bank licences within the next few days.

There have been 72 applications for the licences. In August, the RBI announced the awarding of 11 payments banks licences but, unlike the payments banks, small finance banks will be able to offer loans — aimed mainly at the unserved and underserved.

Also in India, the government has decided to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment in white label ATM (WLA) operations in order to boost WLA roll out in semi-urban and rural areas. The WLA initiative is intended to boost financial inclusion in India but it has been slow to take off.

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