Trade finance still constrained, finds ICC and Swift
In a new report Rethinking Trade Finance 2010, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Swift have found that prospects for a strong and lasting trade recovery are mixed; with access to affordable trade finance constrained and trade protectionism remaining a problem. It said banks would also face tougher capital requirements for their trade assets. While the survey found that world trade has fallen 12% since the start of the global financial crisis, the drop was "less marked" in Asian regions.
The ICC and Swift concluded that improving the resilience of emerging market economies is still important and that there is a continuing need to provide comprehensive statistics on trade finance.
AmBank introduces RMB trade settlement
Malaysia's AmBank introduced a renminbi trade settlement pilot programme to its customers last week, joining CIMB and Maybank. The bank's trade finance customers can now settle transactions directly in yuan when trading with the 432 enterprises designated by the People's Bank of China to participate in the scheme.
"With the introduction of this programme by Chinese authorities, AmBank customers have an alternative to settle their cross border transactions in renminbi," said Cheah Tek Kuang, AmBank group managing director, in a statement.
AmBank expects the trade settlement scheme to drive a 30% increase in its trade business. This March, BoA Merrill began offering renminbi trade settlement services in 12 Asian markets and Standard Chartered Bank joined Chinese officials promoting the programme on a roadshow around the region.
BoA Merrill enhances CashPro e-portal
Bank of America Merrill Lynch will work with Cachematrix, a provider of custom trading solutions, to develop a new application named CashPro Invest. The new service will provide users with a higher level of research and reporting in their investment activities.
"By leveraging the latest technology and best practices, CashPro Invest will deliver the investment capabilities that our clients expect from an industry-leading financial services firm," said Fred Berretta, global liquidity solutions executive at BoA Merrill, in a statement. "This new application will offer clients improved navigation, faster speed and other benefits, and serves as an example of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's ongoing investment in innovation and commitment to global expansion."
CashPro Invest will be integrated with the bank's treasury management portal, CashPro Online. BoA Merrill said it would be enhancing the treasury platform over the next year with new payments and information reporting applications. CashPro Invest will be available to the bank's US and Asia-Pacific clients later this year and globally by 2011.
Google targets Malaysian SMEs with product suite expansion
Google has plans to introduce new products similar to Google Maps and Google Places to encourage small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia to expand their businesses online. According to the SME Corporation Malaysia, there are approximately 598,000 SMEs in the county, but only around 100,000 of them have websites.
"SMEs must realise that online marketing is a way to communicate directly with their customers," said Julian Persuad, managing director of Google Southeast Asia, in a statement. "SMEs must leverage the usage of the internet to their advantage. Consumers today use search engines for researching product and services online. About 83% of digital lifestyle consumers in Malaysia use the internet during purchase processes."
The Silicon Valley-based company's plans are part of an effort to expand Malaysia's digital economy by allowing SMEs to connect directly with their customers. Last year, Google partnered with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Multimedia University and the Tunku Abdul Rahman College in a campaign to encourage small businesses to build a website with help from students of the two institutions.