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Far Eastern International Bank hacked; SBI Life gets nod to open Bahrain branch

GREATER CHINA

* Far Eastern International Bank Ltd. incurred less than US$500,000 in losses following a cyberattack in the week of Oct. 2, in which hackers made virtual transactions to move nearly US$60 million from the bank's accounts to a number of foreign destinations, including Sri Lanka, Cambodia and the U.S., Central News Agency reported. Taiwanese Premier Lai Ching-te asked relevant agencies to review the island's information security following the cyberattack.

* S&P Global Ratings said in a commentary that China's banking sector showed a change in its growth pattern due to the government's push for deleveraging. The country's overnight interbank repurchase rate jumped 75 basis points to 2.85% in the first eight months of 2017, while the banking sector's asset expansion slowed to 5.5% from a 15.2% average in the preceding five years.

* Peter Crewe, Hong Kong CEO of AIA Group Ltd., said the insurer is looking to invest more in technology to help its 14,000 agents sell more efficiently, the South China Morning Post reported. However, Crewe said the company would not replace its sales team with digital channels as many customers still prefer transactions via face-to-face meetings with agents.

* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission will hold talks with Taipei's municipal government to set up the island's first substantial fintech zone in the capital, and will invite international private equity and venture capital firms to the fintech zone, the island's Economic Daily reported.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Mizuho Bank Ltd., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. will begin testing a new payment process using customers' phone numbers or e-mail addresses linked to bank accounts, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. The system, based on blockchain technology, will be designed to fulfill 24-hour real-time payments at a low cost.

* South Korea's insurance industry is voicing opposition against domestic banks' demand for relaxed bancassurance rules, the Maeil Business News reported. Currently, South Korean banks are facing a number of restrictions on their ability to sell insurance through their sales channels.

* The proportion of deposit and withdrawal transactions conducted at South Korean bank branches fell to 10.6% at the end of June from 13% at the end of 2012, amid a continuing transition to internet banking, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing data from the Bank of Korea.

* Negotiations over the South Korean deployment of Google Inc.'s Android Pay are currently on hold due to unresolved differences over cost-sharing with South Korean credit card companies, The Financial News reported.

ASEAN

* The Bank of Thailand said it expects the country's economy to grow by 3.8% this year and in 2018, citing the country's export and tourism sectors as contributing factors, Manager Daily reported.

* Indonesia's Financial Services Authority will issue new regulations governing the issuance of sukuk, or Islamic bonds, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* PT Bank Tabungan Negara (Persero) Tbk is confident that its life insurance and finance subsidiaries will be established by the end of the year, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' monetary board said it has made amendments to relevant guidelines to simplify requirements on bond and commercial paper issuances made by banks and quasi-banks. Caps on certain requirements will be removed to provide greater flexibility to entities tapping the capital market as an alternative funding source.

SOUTH ASIA

* SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd. may set up a branch in Bahrain by December after receiving approvals from the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, Press Trust of India reported, citing an unnamed "top company official." The insurer will offer traditional, unit-linked and term products to both nonresident Indians and locals.

* National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development bought an additional 7% stake in Small Industries Development Bank of India, or SIDBI, from IDBI Bank Ltd. for 9 billion Indian rupees, Mint reported, citing "two people familiar with the matter," including SIDBI Chairman Mohammad Mustafa.

* The Indian government acquired an additional 3.81% stake in IDBI Bank through a preferential allotment of equity shares, bringing its shareholding in the bank to 77.79% from 73.98%.

* The Reserve Bank of India has initiated prompt corrective action on Oriental Bank of Commerce in view of its high level of net nonperforming assets, according to a bourse filing. It is the seventh state-owned bank to be placed under a corrective action plan, under which the bank is required to rein in hiring, branch expansion and taking on fresh loans, Reuters reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said up to 65% of its A$387.7 million in total budgeted resources will come from regulated entities through levies, the Australian Associated Press reported. The regulator added that its costs will be allocated between 48 subsectors of the finance industry.

* National Australia Bank Ltd. is set to become the first major Australian lender to share positive and negative credit information about its customers with credit bureaus, as it will launch comprehensive credit reporting by February 2018, The Australian reported.

* Commonwealth Bank of Australia CEO Ian Narev said he was accountable for the bank's alleged violation of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws and apologized to its retail shareholders, The Australian reported. Narev added that the bank was focused on "putting things right" after its failure to meet appropriate standards.

* Ken Costa, former chairman of investment bank Lazard International, said a royal commission into Australia's banking industry would only lead to "indiscriminate legislation," The Australian reported. Costa added that excessive regulation could "destroy the risk appetite" for Australian banks and hinder the country's long-term economic growth.

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

R Sio, Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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