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The European Commission sets out new ambitious mission to lead on supercomputing

21 October 2020
Knowledge Base

Recently, the Commission takes further steps in the Digital Decade agenda to strengthen Europe’s digital sovereignty, as announced by President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union Address on Wednesday. The Commission has proposed a new Regulation for the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking to maintain and advance Europe’s leading role in supercomputing and quantum computing. It will support research and innovation activities for new supercomputing technologies, systems and products, as well as foster the necessary skills to use the infrastructure and form the basis for a world-class ecosystem in Europe. The proposal would enable an investment of €8 billion in the next generation of supercomputers – a substantially larger budget compared to the current one. Continue reading…

And what did the authorities do?

19 October 2020
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by Geert Vermeulen

The FinCEN files have caused quite some commotion recently. A large amount of secret information about suspicious transactions has been revealed and we are still working our way through the information. Most of the newspaper articles commenting on the FinCEN files focus on what went wrong at the banks. And as with many of these X-leaks, Y-papers and Z-files, the revelations will likely lead to a number of prosecutions, more legislation and stricter supervision. But what do we see when we take a step back and look at it from a distance? Above all, we see a lot of suspicious transactions. That was to be expected, of course, because that was the reason why these transactions were reported to FinCEN in the first place. You could also say that the system is working! And perhaps the banks on the other side of the transaction reported them as well? We don’t know. Continue reading…

Photo: freight forwarding company

Customs Union: New Action Plan to further support EU customs in their vital role of protecting EU revenues, prosperity and security

16 October 2020

The European Commission recently launched a new Customs Union Action Plan setting out a series of measures to make EU customs smarter, more innovative and more efficient over the next four years. The announced measures will strengthen the Customs Union as a cornerstone of the Single Market. They also confirm its major role in protecting EU revenues and the security, health and prosperity of EU citizens and businesses. In her political guidelines, President von der Leyen announced that the Customs Union needed to be taken to the next level, in particular, by ensuring an integrated European approach to customs risk management, which supports effective controls by EU Member States. The Action Plan does just that. Continue reading…

FSB report highlights increased use of RegTech and SupTech

13 October 2020

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) recently published a report on the use of supervisory (SupTech) and regulatory (RegTech) technology by FSB members and regulated institutions. The report finds that technology and innovation are transforming the global financial landscape, presenting opportunities, risks and challenges for regulated institutions and authorities alike. The opportunities offered by SupTech and RegTech have been created by the substantial increase in availability and granularity of data, and new infrastructure such as cloud computing and application programming interfaces. These allow large data sets to be collected, stored and analysed more efficiently. Authorities and regulated institutions have both turned to these technologies to help them manage the increased regulatory requirements that were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. Continue reading…

FCA bans the sale of crypto-derivatives to retail consumers

12 October 2020
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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published final rules banning the sale of derivatives and exchange traded notes (ETNs) that reference certain types of cryptoassests to retail consumers. The FCA considers these products to be ill-suited for retail consumers due to the harm they pose. These products cannot be reliably valued by retail consumers because of the: 

inherent nature of the underlying assets, which means they have no reliable basis for valuation prevalence of market abuse and financial crime in the secondary market (eg cyber theft) extreme volatility in cryptoasset price movements inadequate understanding of cryptoassets by retail consumers lack of legitimate investment need for retail consumers to invest in these products  

Continue reading…

Supervisory statement on the Solvency II recognition of schemes based on reinsurance with regard to Covid-19 and credit insurance

10 October 2020

The risk of a rapid contraction of the credit insurance business following Covid-19 has led the European Commission to take similar initiatives as in the financial crisis in 2008. Firstly, on 19 March 2020 the European Commission adopted a “Temporary Framework for State aid measure to support the economy in the current Covid-19 outbreak” (Temporary Framework), which enables Member States to adopt temporary measures, including schemes to support export and trade in general. Measures taken under the Temporary Framework require individual approval from the European Commission. Secondly, on 28 March 2020 the European Commission published Communication C/2020/2044 that considers all commercial and political short term export as temporary non-marketable until 31 December 2020. This allowed state insurers to temporarily cover all short-term risks without requiring prior approval from the European Commission. The coverage provided following that Communication shall comply with a set of requirements that ensure that no advantage is passed on to exporters. Continue reading…

From video games to chocolate – what’s the next target for money launderers!

06 October 2020
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by Ahsan Habib

Criminals have long been coming up with creative and innovative ways to launder their illicit funds. When they started exploiting video games to satisfy their bad intentions, we the Risk Managers thought, maybe this is their last unconventional way of wrongdoing. But our thought has been proven wrong. In reality, bad actors did not stop their ‘winning race’. Yes, I am pointing at video games and the chocolate industry. Bad actors did not even spare these innocent products; rather to some extents they put question marks on the faces of online video games and chocolates. Continue reading…

ECB intensifies its work on a digital euro

05 October 2020
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The European Central Bank (ECB) recently published a comprehensive report on the possible issuance of a digital euro, prepared by the Eurosystem High-Level Task Force on central bank digital currency (CBDC) and approved by the Governing Council. A digital euro would be an electronic form of central bank money accessible to all citizens and firms – like banknotes, but in a digital form – to make their daily payments in a fast, easy and secure way. It would complement cash, not replace it. The Eurosystem will continue to issue cash in any case. Continue reading…

Photo: closeup of some piles of euro coins, against an off-white background, with a blank space on top

Coal, climate change and capital – Part III

02 October 2020
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by Lieve Lowet

This is the final part of a series of three articles about my investigation into coal, climate change and capital. Ending exposure to coal can benefit (re)insurers in three ways, Moody’s suggested in its 2020 report: they will less likely have to pay damages and legal fees for climate litigation targeting their clients, they can avoid troubled customers who may be tempted to cut corners on maintenance and they can protect themselves from the risk that their investments become “stranded”. Indeed, a lot of attention of (re)insurers and regulators has been going and is currently still going to the investment side (see for example (ironically) Lloyd’s in its 2017 Stranded Assets Report, part of its Emerging Risk series, and Europe’s sustainability package of May 2018).   Continue reading…