Payment news, June 22

China expands its RMB cross-border trade settlement programme, while US Ex-Im lends to Vietnam.

RMB trade settlement scheme expanded

Chinese officials have announced that the country's cross-border trade settlement programme will be expanded to approved corporates in 20 provinces, up from an initial two. The move is the latest government effort to internationalise the renminbi, a policy that began in 2009.

Launched last year, the trade settlement scheme allows approved users to settle cross-border trade transactions with Hong Kong, Macau and select Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) states in the Chinese currency. Only select businesses in Guangdong province and Shanghai municipality were initially allowed to participate. Numerous banks offer the service, including HSBC which offers trade customers renminbi current accounts in Hong Kong and Standard Chartered Bank which participated in a roadshow with the People's Bank of China through Southeast Asia to promote the scheme in March.

According to Chinese news agency, Xinhua, only Rmb44.55 billion ($6.5 billion) worth of transactions were settled in renminbi from July 2009 to May 2010, a tiny fraction of the country's overall trade.

US Ex-Im signs loan facility with Vietnam

The Export-Import Bank of the US (US Ex-Im) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Vietnamese government to provide $500 million in financing for the export of US equipment to the country last week. The deal will support infrastructure projects in the Southeast Asian nation. It was signed by US Ex-Im chairman and president Fred P Hochberg and Vietnam Development Bank general director Nguyen Quang Dung.

"Vietnam is one of the world's key growing economies," said Hochberg, in a statement. "US Ex-Im is pleased to provide a $500 million financing facility to support the nation's infrastructure growth through the purchase of US goods and services by the government and private companies. It expresses our readiness to help finance Vietnam's infrastructure development in key sectors such as communications, transportation including highway and rail projects, renewable energy and other types of power, wastewater treatment and medical equipment and services."

Deutsche launches Islamic settlement in Malaysia

Deutsche Bank Malaysia has launched an online zakat, or tithe collection, solution in the country to complement its suite of Islamic banking products. Corporate customers can now send and approve their staff zakat deductions automatically as part of their overall staff payroll and claim process.

"In a fast-growing economy like Malaysia, the collection and distribution of zakat is important to Muslims," said Setia Haji Mohamad Adzib bin Mohd Isa, chairman of Majlis Agama Islam Selangor, the state body governing collection of Islamic tax and disbursement of zakat funds. "We are pleased to partner with Deutsche Bank in offering a seamless, secure and automated online zakat settlement solution to the business community in Malaysia."

According to the bank, the new solution leverages its db-direct internet platform and is the first such solution offered by a foreign institution.

Manhattan Associates offers supply chain solution

Manhattan Associates has launched its portfolio of supply chain solutions in China. The supply chain management services provider now offers customers in the country its Manhattan Scope Distribution Management and Extended Enterprise Management solution suites -- services that the company says provide significant cost savings to users.

"The biggest obstacle for companies is their inability to bridge supply chain silos -- they separate order management, product development, procurement and manufacturing from the final delivery process," said Brian Hancock, vice-president of supply chain at Whirlpool, in a statement. "For our supply chain to deliver on our corporate promises, we realised the way to attain the necessary efficiencies was to build seamless visibility inside and outside our warehouses." The manufacturer of consumer white goods currently uses Manhattan Associates' supply chain solutions.

Since implementing the firm's solutions in 2008, Whirlpool said it has eliminated an estimated 40 million travel miles between facilities, reduced pick-up processing time and cut damage to products by 50%, developed an accurate real-time view of inventory and improved order-to-delivery time.

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