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China: Update on Shanghai FTZ Financial Reform

In year 2014 we expect to see numerous new policy and regulation updates on the financial reform of Shanghai FTZ. Where are we today?

Shanghai local government and Chinese central government will endeavor to expand the market functions, deepen the opening of local financial markets to foreign investors, increase the number of financial institutions in the FTZ, encourage the financial business innovation and make Shanghai more of an international financial center.

Many reform details are under consideration or have already been executed in 2014, such as setting up crude oil futures, international gold trading, financial asset trading, syndicated loan trading platforms and building nationwide trust registry service institutions. Besides, rules regarding foreign and FTZ-registered firms’ parent companies RMB bonds issuance are on the way. Moreover, Shanghai FTZ regulators will also consider introduction of free trade account management by allowing financial institutions to set up FTA (Free Trade Account) accounting units segregated for residents and non-residents. Furthermore, Shanghai FTZ regulators encourage direct investment abroad from local firms and private equity funds. The main contents of Shanghai FTZ’s reform could be described as a ‘1+4’ policy, where ‘1’ stands for risk control segregate account system; ‘4’ stands for interest rate liberalization, foreign exchange liberalization, RMB cross-border utilization and RMB capital account opening.

FX reform and FTA accounts

PBOC announced that, starting on March 17, 2014, the interbank RMB/USD spot price’s fluctuation spread increased from 1% to 2%. For commercial banks, the fluctuation range of RMB/USD spot price offering to the clients could be expanded from 2% to 3% from the mid-price calculated by Chinese interbank FX market. This is the third time for PBOC to expand the fluctuation range. Analysts say the expansion in RMB/USD spot fluctuation range is a clear signal that RMB will be internationalized in the near future and Shanghai FTZ is thought to be a test-bed for that. The most prominent aspect of Shanghai FTZ FX reform is the FTA (Free Trade Account). FTA is essentially a free trade bank account for Shanghai FTZ registered firms, very similar to an offshore bank account, which enables free capital flow inside the FTZ. FTA system allows both foreigners and local residents to get their money in and out through FTZ. Overall, there are mainly 3 types of FTA accounts. Local firms in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; individuals in the FTZ could open FTA accounts; foreign firms in the FTZ could open FTN accounts. As regulators are treading conservatively with hot money inflows and money laundering risks in mind, there is still no detailed timeline. However, we believe the FTA mechanism will be released in 2014 or 2015 as a momentous milestone in the financial history of China.

Interest rate reform

In March, 2014, a PBOC official claimed that the sequence of Shanghai FTZ interest rate reform will be ‘liberalize interest rates for foreign currencies prior to RMB interest rates; free the loan rates prior the deposit rates’.
There were actions towards interest rate reform in Shanghai FTZ from the regulators. PBOC announced that from March 1st, 2014, the deposit rate of foreign currencies below the amount of USD3 million would be liberalized, which actually removed the ceiling for foreign currencies’ deposit rate. This is thought to be an important step on the road to fully liberalized interest rate reform. The next step could be liberalization of the deposit rates of the local currency, which may not only be applicable in Shanghai FTZ, but also the rest of China.

Cross-border RMB utilization

On Feb 21, 2014, PBOC released the detailed regulation on expanding the usage of RMB overseas, which simplified the process of RMB overseas usage under current and direct investment account. However, overseas RMB financial scale and usage range will still be restricted, as well as cross-border e-commerce transactions and RMB trading services.
Six banks constitute the first batch of firms applied for the cross-border RMB settlement licenses. ICBC and Bank of China helped their clients within the zone to make an overseas RMB loan; Bank of Shanghai, HSBC and Citi Bank launched cross-border RMB current account centralized collection and payment services; Bank of Communications signed the first overseas RMB borrowing service for the non-bank financial institutions.

Capital account liberalization (to be announced)

In the future, the capital account might be opened for local and foreign investors. As Chinese reformers are relatively prudent and conservative, the liberalization process of capital accounts have been advancing relatively slowly so far. One important step in the process will be a gradual opening of commercial futures market to foreign institutional investors.

2014 version of ‘negative list’ (possibly to be released in the 1st half of 2014)

In the 1st half of 2014, a new version of ‘negative list’ will be released to update the 2013 version. Although it is not clear what items this version may include, there are two aspects which are certain. One aspect is that the contents included in the negative item list will be shortened, which implies that the restrictions on types of companies to register in the zone will be reduced. The other aspect is that Shanghai FTZ might cooperate with Hong Kong to introduce advanced practices from the city.

In-depth report on Shanghai FTZ are available here.

Source: Kapronasia, 05.06.2014

For more news and insights into Chinas Financial markets please visit www.kapronasia.com

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Filed under: China, News, Risk Management, , , , , ,

Option the Dragon: Stock Options set for launch in China

On August 6, 2013, Chinese securities companies received ‘the notice of preparing the initiating stock options full simulating trading works’ sent by the Shanghai Stock Exchange. This information implies that SHSE is already fully prepared for the launching of stock options. Although there is no clear timetable for launching the stock options, it is likely that they will appear in Chinese capital markets in 2013 or 2014.

Exchange traded stock options are new to Chinese capital markets and these derivatives provide a number of benefits. For one, both long and short-term trading are accessible and, similar to other derivatives such as futures, t+0 is allowed. Another benefit, which is an advantage over futures, is that leverage is provided but buyers can only lose the amount that they paid for the option. Options traders can also execute more complicated strategies through the combination of buying and selling call and put options, including straddles and spreads. Moreover, stock options are perfect hedging tools for individual stocks. Currently, Chinese stock index futures can only hedge the risks of the CSI 300 index and can not directly hedge non-systematic risks from individual stock options. And, despite providing leverage, security companies charge high transaction fees and interest rates for customers interested in selling short and buying long. Furthermore, the introduction of stock options comes with a high minimum threshold, which may largely change the structure of investors in the stock market by increasing the proportion of institutional investors. Thus the introduction of stock options may largely change the landscape of Chinese stock markets and may stimulate trading volumes.

However, there are also potential problems and doubts from the public that my come with the introduction of Chinese stock options. One issue regards the minimum threshold for investors of stock options. Some market analysts estimate that this threshold could be as high as one million yuan, which is higher than thresholds for index futures and securities lending services from securities companies. Currently, only 1% of accounts in the stock market can meet this requirement. Critics argue that stock options may serve as a tool to short the market by institutional investors and rich individuals, who may be in a disadvantaged position. But there are also analysts stating that the threshold may be lower, which would give normal individual investors a better opportunity to participate. The minimum threshold will depend on the final decision from CSRC.

Another problem has to do with the underlying stock that stock options are based upon. Currently, it seems as though only very large blue chip listed companies can enjoy stock options, so not all stocks can be optioned. Because large-cap stocks fluctuate less dramatically than small-cap and medium-cap stocks, the meaning of stock options may not be as transparent as in the fully opened western markets. But for institutional investors like mutual funds, as large-cap stocks take larger proportions of their shares, stock options may be an ideal hedging tool for stabilizing the performance of their portfolios. As current stock markets have adopted t+0 and t+1 trading, short-term day trade for hedging is not feasible. Thus traders may either choose longer-term hedging strategies or speculate through high-frequency intra-day trading.

Furthermore, large amounts of speculation in stock options may lead to dramatic fluctuations in stock prices. Similar to trades within A-share markets, the cost of short-selling is much higher than longing the stocks. So under the current unbalanced system, both hedgers and speculators may choose short in the stock options and the performance of A-share markets in the future may weaken. This has already been proven from the stock index future’s impact on A-share stock markets.

In conclusion, despite the risks, the launching of stock options is important for the development of Chinese capital markets.

Source: KapronAsia, 20.08.2013

Filed under: Asia, China, Exchanges, News, Risk Management, , , , , , , ,

Private banking in China finally taking hold

Considered one of the best retail banks in China, China Merchant Bank (CMB) has started their private banking business in 2007. At the end of 2012, CMB’s pre-tax profit from their private banking business reached 2.3 billion yuan. Other major banks in China have similarly increased their wealth management profit since 2010, when growth of the market really accelerated.

ICBC and BOC still have the largest private banking AUM among the top 5 while CMB has the most private banking centers to serve its HNWI customers. The high net worth customer segment (over 10M RMB in investable assets) is growing at 18% growth rate and reached to 700,000 by the end of 2012. It seems that banks have finally cracked the code and wealth management is set to grow in China.

Potential of private banking

Up coming Webinar on Banking and Risk Management in China on August 7th, 2013.

Source: KapronAsia, 18.07.2013

Filed under: Banking, China, Wealth Management, , , , , , ,

China Insight: QDII Program Overview and Technical Challenges; More Bank Reforms to come? – KapronAsia

Reform in China’s Banking Sector: More to come?

In recent years, Chinese banking sector profits have skyrocketed to new levels, in part due to the Beijing imposed ceiling on the rates banks pay depositors, providing banks with a source of cheap funds, which banks then in turn lend out at much higher rates. Net profits for commercial banks grew 36 percent last year, reaching 1 trillion Renminbi. Chinese banks are enjoying year-on-year rises of more than 30 percent in their first-half net profits. In one example, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s fees and commission income for the year 2011 was close to 100 billion RMB, compared to 72 billion in 2010 and 55 billion in 2009.

The Technical Challenges for QDII Funds in 2012

Since the first QDII quota of US$500 million was allocated to the HuaAn fund in 2006, the quota allocated to security companies and fund companies has maintained steady growth. As of the end of February 2012, US$44.4 billion of investment quota was allocated to fund companies and security companies, compared to US$44.4 billion and US$40.6 billion for 2011 and 2010.

Overview of the QDII Program in China
The QDII (Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor) program was first launched in 2004 initially for insurance companies to invest their foreign exchange funds in the Chinese companies traded in overseas markets, with PingAn insurance company being the first institutional investor to receive a QDII quota of US$8.89 billion. Since then, the program has expanded and now allows institutional investors, including commercial banks, security companies, fund companies, insurance companies and trust funds to raise funds in mainland China and invest in offshore capital markets under the control of China’s foreign exchange regulator.

Disaster Recovery for Chinese Banks
In recent years, since Chinese banks have been working on data consolidation at the national level, the establishment of disaster recovery systems has become one of the key considerations for banks. Today, banks must ensure the stability and security of their national data center in the event of a disaster to ensure uninterrupted business operation through disaster recovery systems.

Source: KapronAsia, 15.05.2012

Filed under: China, Risk Management, Trading Technology, , , , , , , ,

China Insight: QDII updates, Disparated Financial Standards and new Market Reforms – KapronAsia

Overview of the QDII Program in China

The QDII (Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor) program was first launched in 2004 initially for insurance companies to invest their foreign exchange funds in the Chinese companies traded in overseas markets, with PingAn insurance company being the first institutional investor to receive a QDII quota of US$8.89 billion. Since then, the program has expanded and now allows institutional investors, including commercial banks, security companies, fund companies, insurance companies and trust funds to raise funds in mainland China and invest in offshore capital markets under the control of China’s foreign exchange regulator.

China’s Disparate Financial Standards

China’s financial standardization lags behind the relatively rapid development of the financial industry globally and has yet to meet the demands of technology innovation and business expansion. This can slow the pace of technology advancement as competing standards add layers of complexity and make it more difficult to come up with straightforward technology solutions to clients’ problems. The PBOC has realized that financial standardization does and will continue to play a pivotal role in financial informationization and regards standardization work as an important strategic measure to promote China’s financial industry.

Further Reform of China’s Stock Markets in 2012
After being stuck in a bear market for the past few years, China’s stock market hasn’t kept up with the country that has become the world’s second largest economy following the U.S.. Facing this bear stock market, Guo Shuqing, the new chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), seems confident in China’s stock market, saying that the blue chips in China’s stock market are of real value, although overhaul and reform are necessary now to move the market forward. He has raised several new ideas that may contribute to this needed reform.

Source: KapronAsia, 10.04.2012

Filed under: China, Exchanges, Standards, , , , , , , , , ,

Webinar: Top-10 China Financial Technology Trends for 2012 – January 18,2012

While the rest of the world struggles with a lingering financial crisis, Chinese Financial institutions will continue investing in financial technology innovation in 2012. New technologies such as EMV and mobile near-field payments will drive significant investment as financial institutions continue to modernize and expand both the breadth and depth of their product offerings.

This webinar from Kapronasia will look at some of the key insights from Kapronasia’s “China Financial Technology 2012 – Top 10 Trends Shaping the Industry” report, a comprehensive look at the key issues and challenges and how banks are overcoming them.

 Title: A look at the Top-10 China Financial Technology Trends for 2012
Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Time: 5:00 PM -6:00 PM CST

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar

Space is limited

Reserve your Webinar seat at   https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/840131302

Source: KapronAsia, 09.01.2012

Filed under: Asia, China, Events, Exchanges, News, , , ,

2011 China Financial Technology Investment is set to be driven by Mobile Banking, Online Payments and Business Intelligence – says Kapronasia

An increasingly sophisticated customer-base is pushing Chinese financial institutions to change the way they interact with their customers. In 2011, Chinese financial industry executives will be focused on developing more robust channels and customer insight to better interact with clients and understand their specific financial needs believes Kapronasia. These insights and more are detailed in the report entitled “China Financial Technology 2011 – Top 10 Trends shaping the Industry” which details Kapronasia’s predictions on the 10 key technology areas that Chinese financial institutions will be focused on in 2011.

“The Chinese financial services industry is becoming increasingly competitive,” says Elsa Yan, a Senior Consultant at Kapronasia. “Institutions are looking to develop channels and analytics to better serve customers who have an increasingly wide choice of providers. Mobile Banking, Online banking, and more robust Business Intelligence are just three of the ways banks will be accomplishing this.”

This push to innovate is largely being driven by increasing competition, not necessarily from foreign banks, who are largely, due to regulations, limited in the products and services they can offer the market. The real competition is coming from the small and medium banks in China who are looking to capture market share from the larger incumbent banks as well as their increasingly competitive peers.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

• Mobile Banking is set to grow as more banking applications are moved onto a mobile platform and consumers adopt newer richer mobile devices. However, safety and security remain the biggest concerns among consumers to readily embrace mobile banking.

• Online payment is growing rapidly, driven by the increasing popularity of online personal wealth management transactions; and it is expected to grow faster, underpinned by its cost efficiency and more value-added services provided by banks.

• Demand for business intelligence (BI) is on the surge, thanks to wider applications; Small and Medium Sized Banks are actively adopting BI solutions to increase their competitiveness. “With China recently reporting GDP growth of over 10% in 2010, the country remains a key part of the global economic story and will only increase in importance in 2011,” said Zennon Kapron, MD of Kapronasia.

“China’s financial industry is changing rapidly and so are the demands on the technology that supports it. Channels and analytics are two of the key ways Kapronasia sees the industry changing in 2011.”

Besides providing Chinese financial institutions with a look at what their competitors will be focusing on in 2011 to innovate and drive their business, the report also offers key insights for technology vendors on how best to position their offerings to complement the priorities of their customers.

The report is available through the Kapronasia website and will be distributed on January 31st, 2011.

Source: KapronAsia, 25.01.2011

Filed under: Banking, China, Data Management, News, Trading Technology, , ,

Asia E-Trading: Electronic Trading in China – Webinar September 7th

Asia E Trading presents the free  1 hour web-seminar : Electronic Trading in China

  • Overview of the Electronic Trading industry
  • Buy-side Algorithmic Trading
  • CSI300 Index future
  • Latest news on QFII and QDII
  • High Frequency Trading and Colocation
  • Update: Shanghai and Shenzhen Exchange

Speakers are:

Lionel Sancenot – Sungard- MD NE Asia & Greater China

Bill LiuQing Ma Investments -Portfolio Manager

Zennon Kapron – KapronAsia- Principal

REGISTER HERE

Date: 07. September 2010

TIME: 5pm Hong Kong, 10am London, 5am New York

The seminar will be recorded and available on demand

Filed under: China, Exchanges, FIX Connectivity, Trading Technology, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,