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Eurasian Business Briefingbanks & financial services

Financial centre planned for Iran’s Qeshm Island as window to mainland

Qeshm IslandIran wants to set up a financial centre on Qeshm Island in the Strait of Hormuz to act as a gateway for banks and other institutions looking to gain a foothold in the country, according to Farhad Taghizadeh-Hesary, a senior adviser to the island’s development agency. A number of Chinese and (more…)

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China to open yuan trading branches in London and New York as currency


The China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS), China’s state-owned currency marketplace is preparing to open yuan trading branches in London and New York as part of efforts to promote the yuan’s global status, it has confirmed. It is also planning (more…)

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Bejing opens up $8trn Chinese credit card clearing market up to competition

Chinese credit cardsBeijing this week officially ended UnionPay’s longstanding monopoly and opened up the CNY 55 trn ($8.4bn)  Chinese credit card clearing market to domestic and foreign players. The move has been four years in the making since (more…)

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Paypal to quit Turkey after licence application is rejected

Paypal TurkeyTurkey’s determination to localise its fintech infrastructure has prompted  Paypal to announce that it is halting operations in the country. In a statement released this week, the international payment system said that the decision by Turkey’s Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) to reject its licence application (more…)

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ICBC and Visa hook up to launch credit card for expats in US

ICBCICBC and Visa: The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) yesterday launched its first credit card in the United State in a bid to attract custom from Chinese people living and working there, as well as to promote tourism between the two nations. The new card (more…)

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Tatfonbank to open first Russian Islamic bank in Kazan next month

Islamic bankingThe first Russian Islamic bank will open in the Tatar capital of Kazan next month as a joint pilot project between Tatfonbank and Tatagroprombankom, “This will be the first bank in the country whose work is completely compatible with the principles of partnership funding [that are (more…)

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$100bn of Iranian assets unfrozen as banks reconnect to SWIFT

women in Iranian bankIranian assets unfrozen:  Iranian assets worth $100bn that had been frozen since sanctions were imposed on the country more than two decades ago have now been freed up, Government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht has confirmed.
“These assets have fully been released and we can use them,” Nobakht said in comments posted on the website of state-run Press TV earlier this week. Most of the money belonged to Iran’s central bank and National Development Fund, he added, and that it would not all be repatriated but used to purchase goods and services abroad. A significant proportion of the money has been piling up in banks in China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey since international sanctions were tightened in 2012 over Tehran’s nuclear program.
In the meantime, nine Iranian banks have now been reconnected to the SWIFT financial messaging service, although not as yet their network of ATMs, according to senior central bank official Nasser Hakimi. 

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Azerbaijan to issue $2bn Southern Gas Corridor bonds

Southern Gas Corridor

Southern Gas Corridor

Southern Gas Corridor bonds: Azerbaijan is getting ready to go on the road next month in a bid to sell $2bn worth of bonds in the Southern Gas Corridor on the international market, its Finance Minister Samir Sharifov told a press conference yesterday. The bonds will be issued by Southern Gas Corridor CJSC, he said, and three banks – Citibank, JP Morgan and Unicredit Bank – have been appointed to manage the process.
On completion, the Southern Gas Corridor is intended to transport gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Georgia and Turkey and is considered to be of high priority by the EU in its efforts to wean its members off their dependence on Russian gas by securing alternative supplies. It will initially be used to distribute gas from Azerbaijan’s giant offshore Shah Deniz, and may tap into other sources (including fields in Turkmenistan and possibly Iran) at a later stage.
“This project is of great importance for Azerbaijan,” Sharifov said.

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HKEx planning mainland commodities trading platfrom

HKEx CEO Charles Li XiaojiaHong Kong’s Futures and Securities Exchange HKEx is planning to launch a commodities trading platform in mainland China, its chief executive Charles Li Xiaojia announced last week. The platform would most likely be located at Shenzhen, an hour’s drive from Hong Kong. The mainland commodity futures market (more…)

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SWIFT and Lloyd’s welcome back Iran

SWIFTIranian banks and their foreign branches will be able to reconnect to the SWIFT international payment system following the lifting of sanctions earlier this week, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) announced yesterday.
“Those banks (more…)

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Sberbank to launch yuan deposit accounts as Sino-Russian trade grows

Russian women shopping in China

Russian women shopping in China


Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank is planning to test the viability of yuan deposit accounts for its Far East retail customers next year, the Vladivostok-based Zoloty Rog business publication reported this week.“We’ll initially focus on deposits,” Sberbank Chief Executive German Gref is reported as saying. “Demand for loans is very small.”
Bilateral trade between Russia and China 2003-2014His announcement follows the IMF’s decision to add the yuan to its reserve currency basket, and is also response to the growing volume of Sino-Russian bilateral trade that is particularly strong in the border provinces and regions. According to the Russia-China Investment Fund, this had grown from $15.8bn in 2003 to $65.3bn by 2014.

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Russia to issue yuan-denominated sovereign bonds

Gazprombank VP Denis Shulakov

Gazprombank VP Denis Shulakov

Russia is looking to raise $1bn in yuan-denominated sovereign bonds, the Financial Times reported this week. on Dec. 7. The bonds would set a benchmark interest rate in yuan (or renminbi) for the Russian government, and subsequently for corporate issuers, Denis Shulakov, head of capital markets at Gazprombank, which is providing informal assistance in preparing the issue, told the paper.
The International Monetary Fund (more…)

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New Post Bank to serve Russian regions with 40,000 branches

Russian PostPost Bank: The Russian government has approved the establishment of a massive new bank that will eventually have more retail branches than all other Russian banks combined. Based on the country’s postal service, (more…)

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Beijing launches China International Payment System

100 Yuan notes are seen in this illustration picture in Beijing November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee


Reuters/Jason Lee

 The China International Payment System (CIPS), China’s answer to the SWIFT secure financial messaging service, officially came into operation yesterday. CIPS “will allow increasing efficiency of cross-border settlement in yuans and encourage the yuan’s use globally,” the deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China Fan Yifei told guests at an opening ceremony in Shanghai.
The new payment system (more…)

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Tencent named China’s most valuable brand

Tencent logoWith an estimated worth of $44,700m, Internet services giant Tencent has been named China’s most valuable brand for the second year running in the annual rankings compiled by the Hurun Institute.
The top ten is dominated by the ICT and banking sectors, with Alibaba subsidiary Taobao in second place. The ten most valuable brands are

  1. Tencent $44,700m, IT
  2. Taobao – $42,900m E-commerce (more…)
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Qiwi planning Russian version of Bitcoin – the ‘bitrouble’

bitcoinBitcoin: The Cyprus-based online electronic payment system operator Qiwi is planning to launch a Russian version of the bitcoin open source peer-to-peer ‘cryptocurrency’ next year, according to its CEO and co-owner Sergei Slonon. The so-called bitrouble would use bitcoin’s blockchain technology, he said, and claimed that Qiwi had already held informal meetings with the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) whose official blessing will be needed before the new service can be launched. That is by no means a foregone conclusion, as CBR’s CEO Elvira Nabiullina has repeatedly warned that digital currencies can be used for carrying out suspicious transactions.
Blockchain technology works by creating a huge, decentralized ledger of every bitcoin transaction ever made that is verified and shared by a global network of computers and therefore is virtually tamper-proof, and could well become mainstream in the near future; according to Ars Technica, nine of the world’s biggest financial institutions have partnered with financial technology specialists R3 to develop their own proprietary blockchain. 

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VTB to ditch Bank of Moscow brand

Bank of MoscowRussia’s state-run VTB is to replace its troubled Bank of Moscow brand name and replace it with M Bank during the course of next year , according to reports in Kommersant this week. Once Russia’s fifth-largest financial institution, the (more…)

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Iran and Azerbaijan plan new joint bank to boost bilateral trade

Mahmoud VaeziThe Republics of Iran and Azerbaijan have opened talks about the possibility of establishing a joint bank, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi told Trend this week. Officials from the two countries are also discussing (more…)
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Record $4bn Kazkhstan bond sale as Greek deal calms markets

Astana Business CentreKazakhstan bond sale: Kazakhstan put a record $4bn of bonds up for sale this month, the first among developing nations to take advantage of the calming effect of Greece’s deal with creditors. The central Asian country is selling $2.5bn in 10-year bonds at 285 basis points over Treasuries and (more…)

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Russian mortgage loans down over 40%

Russian housing developmentRussian mortgage loans: The value of rouble-denominated mortgage loans issued by Russian banks fell by 41.5% to RUB 379.1bn in the first five months of 2016 compared to the same period in the previous year, according to figures released by the country’s Central Bank this week.

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