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Mexican banks to scrap digital account fees; US levies sanctions against Bandes

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Mexican banks to scrap digital account fees; US levies sanctions against Bandes

* Mexican banks have pledged to scrap commissions on all digital accounts and work to lower charges linked to remittances, El Financiero reported, citing the incoming president of the ABM industry association, Luis Niño de Rivera. He expressed confidence that commissions across the sector would continue to fall in the years ahead, but cautioned that the reduction in fees for remittances must be achieved through increased competition. Meanwhile, senators said they will ask the central bank to conduct a study of bank charges and issue new regulations to tackle any problems it identifies, El Economista reported.

* The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Venezuelan state-run development bank Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela and several of its local and international subsidiaries. The sanctions are a response to the arrest of the chief of staff of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido earlier in March, the Treasury said.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Mexican Senator Ricardo Monreal Ávila, whose proposal to cut banking commissions has rattled the country's banks, said his initiative was an opportunity to promote financial inclusion and modernize credit and banking institutions, El Economista reported. He said banks "should not be scared" by the reform proposals but said there should be "moderation" in the sector's profits.

* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government is willing to grant more banking licenses in an effort to boost competition and spur financial inclusion, Reuters reported. He also reiterated that his administration will not introduce laws to regulate commissions charged by local banks.

* Mexican central bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon said a number of companies operating in Mexico, including U.S.-based ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc., have expressed interest in using new mobile payments system CoDi, Reuters reported. The central bank is developing CoDi as part of its efforts to improve financial inclusion.

* Juan Pablo Graf Noriega, the head of the banking, securities and development unit at Mexico's Finance Ministry said that differentiated regulation should be applied to the varied companies operating in Mexico's fintech sector, in the same way that the government has pledged to distinguish between different kinds of banks when stipulating regulatory requirements, El Economista reported.

* The credit portfolio of Panama's international banking center grew 5% in 2018 to reach $54.12 billion, El Capital Financiero reported, citing data from the SBP regulator. The corporate loan portfolio doubled to $25.11 billion from $12.71 billion a year earlier.

BRAZIL

* An appeals court in Brazil will decide on March 27 whether to approve a petition calling for former President Michel Temer's release from custody, Reuters reported. Temer was arrested March 21 as part of an investigation into alleged corruption.

* Joaquim Levy, president of Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social, said he expects demand of 1 billion reais for a new credit line for micro and small companies, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported.

* Since taking over as CEO at Brazilian card processor Cielo SA in November, Paulo Caffarelli has been shifting the company's focus from large retailers and maintaining margins toward small businesses in a bid to recover market share, Valor Econômico reported. His target is for small businesses to account for 65% of total transactions.

* Brazil's government wants to reduce state-run Banco do Brasil SA's participation in agricultural credit in order to open the market up to more private banks, Valor Econômico reported.

ANDEAN

* Colombia's central bank maintained its benchmark interest rate at 4.25%, noting that annual inflation declined to 3.01% in February. The country's GDP growth of 2.9% in the last quarter of 2018 "was somewhat higher than anticipated" due to improved domestic demand, Banco de la República said.

* Bancolombia SA appointed Maria Cristina Arrastía vice president of business, a newly created position responsible for the company's individual banking, small and medium-sized enterprises, and corporate business segments. Gonzalo Toro is retiring from his role as vice president of corporate banking, while Gabriel Di Lelle is retiring as vice president of digital innovation and transformation.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Banco Central del Paraguay decided to lower its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.75%, noting that domestic growth is likely to slow for several sectors. In a statement, the central bank also highlighted Argentina's complex economic situation and Brazil's slower-than-expected recovery.

* Banco del Estado de Chile booked net income attributable to owners of 42.41 billion Chilean pesos for the fourth quarter of 2018, up 23.3% from 34.41 billion pesos in the year-ago period. The bank's net interest income grew 3.5% year over year to 216.85 billion pesos, while fee income increased 27.4% to 83.81 billion pesos.

* Zurich Santander Seguros Generales Chile SA and Santander Seguros de Vida SA named Sabrina Otero finance manager, according to regulatory filings. Otero, who was previously controller at MetLife Chile and risk manager at ING, will take office April 10.

* Chilean card payment processor Transbank SA is to start operating a new "four-part" model from April, which will see the company starting to operate Banco Santander Chile debit cards in the last quarter of the year, La Tercera reported. Banco Santander Chile announced in 2018 that it would not renew its contract with Transbank, which is jointly owned by 12 local banks.

* Chilean banking association ABIF said banks temporarily halted remote access for company customers on March 23 following a malware alert the previous day, La Tercera reported. ABIF said the move was a preventive measure.

* Chilean payment application Khipu has closed a deal with Transbank SA to incorporate webpay services, Diario Financiero reported. As a result, Khipu expects to double the number of transactions it handles this year.

* Argentine bank deposits in dollars have exceeded a record $30 billion, increasing by $4 billion over the last year despite paying interest rates of only 1.2%, El Cronista reported. It said persistent uncertainty among investors and the peso's weakness were behind the growth in dollar saving.

PAN LATIN AMERICA

* There is a growing argument for central banks across the world to issue their own digital currencies as the use of cash declines, but it is not the role of central banks to take risks with financial innovations, Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, said in a speech. "Central banks do not put a brake on innovations just for the sake of it," he said. "But neither should they speed ahead disregarding all traffic conditions. We have to make sure that innovations set the right course for the economy, for businesses, for citizens, for society as a whole."

* A delay in the implementation of the new IFRS 17 accounting standard will allow insurers and reinsurers to reduce operational risks, according to Fitch Ratings. "We believe that the one-year delay is beneficial to the insurance industry overall, by allowing more insurers to fully implement the requirements and build long-term sustainable solutions," the rating agency said.

* Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has found that the Donald Trump campaign did not conspire or coordinate with Russia in its efforts to influence the election, according to Attorney General William Barr's summary of Mueller's report.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Asia-Pacific: China Pacific Insurance FY'18 profit up; Karnataka Bank reports fraud

* Middle East & Africa: UAE's ADFG, Shuaa in merger talks; Angola recoups assets; Tunisia holds key rate

* Europe: Deutsche CEO 'skeptical' of Commerz deal; Deutsche exec pay; Brexit turmoil

Helen Popper contributed to this article.

The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 8:00 a.m. São Paulo time, and scans news sources published in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.