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African mobile banking picks up; IMF critical of Israeli banking reforms

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African mobile banking picks up; IMF critical of Israeli banking reforms

Foreignbanks big on Africa mobile banking: confirmed that itinjected €1 million in TagPay in mid-June, taking an 8% stake in the Frenchmobile banking provider, Financial Afrikreports.The French bank's investment in TagPay, which is used in about 15 Africancountries, is aimed at developing mobile banking in the continent, Jeune Afrique adds.

* Meanwhile, AgenceEcofin notes that Standard Chartered Plc rolled out a range of mobilebanking and online services in the first half across eight African countries —Tanzania, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe —servicing about a million clients. The British bank is set to launch its fingerprint-enabledbanking app in Africa in a few months.

* CitigroupInc. is merging its Middle East, Europe and Africa consumer bankingbusiness with Asia, Reuters reports.The move is not expected to affect headcounts in the EMEA or Asia regions.

MIDDLEEAST AND NORTH AFRICA

IMFcriticizes Israeli banking reforms: The IMF said certainrecommendations by the Israeli government on banking reform "could affectthe financial system in ways that would be potentially destabilizing," Haaretz reports.Under the proposals, Bank Leumile-Israel BM and BankHapoalim BM would have to spin off their credit card units to boostcompetition, while IsraelDiscount Bank Ltd. and First International Bank of Israel Ltd. could be forcedto offload their credit card joint venture.

* Dubai will benefit from Brexit as investors seek shelter,Dubai Wholesale City's chief executive tells Gulf News. Abdullah Bel Houl believesthat European investors will seek shelter in Dubai, saying the dirham's peg tothe dollar is an advantage.

* Gholamali Khoshroo, Iran's ambassador and permanentrepresentative to the U.N., criticized the recent "politicaldecision" of U.S. courts to seize properties of the Central Bank of Iranas a "clear example of abusing banking and financial networks for fake andunsubstantiated claims to pressure our nation," Mehr News Agency reports.

EASTAND WEST AFRICA

Ghana'srising NPLs: Ghanaian universal banks booked a provision of 231.5million cedis for bad loans in the first quarter, up from 140.2 million cedisin the same period in 2015, The Finder reports.The Bank of Ghana said in its latest financial stability report that banks'loan quality generally deteriorated this year, with NPLs increasing 59.9% yearover year to 4.9 billion cedis at March-end.

* Ghana is on track to meet requirements for an IMF loandespite spending pressures, an insider tellsReuters. The IMF earlier said Ghana has been upholding terms of a deal worth upto $918 million. The next tranche of aid depends on the country's passing of alegislation aimed at ending central bank financing for fiscal deficits.

* The Bank of Ghana granted Ghana Home Loans a provisionalbanking license, paving the way for the country's biggest mortgage financingfirm to launch operations as a universal bank, Citi Business News reports.

* Analysts do not expect the Central Bank of Kenya tofurther reduce its benchmark rate ahead of the 2017 general elections, Business Daily Africa writes.Recent tax increases and an expected increase in government spending tocomplete projects before the elections are expected to impact inflation in thesecond half.

* Meanwhile, Mark Bohlund, Africa and Middle East economistat Bloomberg Intelligence, noted that the central bank's rate reductions do notnecessarily translate into lower lending rates at Kenyan banks, Business Daily Africa reports."This has at least partly been due to a lack of credit information sharingpreventing banks from competing for each other's clients by offering lowerinterest rates," Bohlund explained.

* Proparco, the private sector arm of the Agence Française de Développement, approved a €15million credit line to Société Générale'sBurkina Faso subsidiary, Agence Ecofin writes. The credit line is aimed at improving financing for local smalland medium-sized businesses.

CENTRALAND SOUTHERN AFRICA

IMFsuggests South Africa hold rates: The IMF called on SouthAfrica's central bank to consider keeping interest rates unchanged unlessinflation expectations increase significantly, Reuters reports.Since January 2014, the South African Reserve Bank has increased rates by 200basis points.

* The IMF revised its 2016 economic growth forecast for SouthAfrica to 0.1% from 0.6%, noting that the country is failing to keep up withits growing population, Reuters reports.

* Insurance companies in South Africa are expected to reportsubdued results for the first half due to the impact of weak economic growth, Business Day reports.

* The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange's demutualization is complete, accordingto The Zimbabwe Independent. The bourse, which held its first meeting as aprivate company last week, reported a $1.1 million loss for the full year to December2015 on the back of weak trades, compared to $300,000 in profit booked a yearearlier.

* A council of ministers is to meet before the end of theweek to make final arrangements for the implementation of a new legal codeliberalizing the insurance market in the DemocraticRepublic of the Congo, Financial Afrikreports. The new code has been effective since mid-March, buta new regulatory authority, which will approve new insurance companies, has notyet been established.

*Insurance companies in Angola have been accused of violating the law as ratesfor compulsory car insurance premiums vary widely among insurers although thelaw mandates price standardization, Angop notes.

* StandardBank Namibia Ltd. appointed Mercia Geises head of personal andbusiness banking, New Era reports.Geises takes over from Bradwyn Beukes, who has held the position on an interimbasis since January, when Baronice Hans vacated the post. Geises was previouslyCEO of Old Mutual Plcunit Old Mutual Investment Group Namibia.

*Banco Sol SA grantedmore than $160 million in microloans inthe first half, Angop reports.

INOTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: BOCapplies for Chilean branch license; Citi to merge EMEA, Asia consumer bankingops

Europe: EBA tohold transparency exercise in September; Deutsche Bank mulls shipping loanssale

Latin America: BM&FBOVESPA acquires almost 10% stake in Colombian stockexchange

North America: Citi may sell Yield Book; Avant cuts more than expected

North America Insurance: Justice Department skeptical about Anthem/Cigna deal; 2 BerkshireHathaway units receive cease-and-desist order

XanaKakoty, Sarah Raslan, Mariana Aldano and Sophie Davies contributed to thisreport.

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