* Chinese regulators banned the country's 23 consumer finance companies from providing funds to institutions without qualifications under new rules aimed at regulating their cash loan businesses, Shanghai Securities News reported. The rules also forbid the companies from issuing loans to institutions that do not declare how the loans will be used.
* China's financial regulators imposed a combined penalty of more than 8 billion yuan in 2017 and issued more than 20 major supervisory papers during the year, Xinhua News Agency reported. Industry insiders expect 2018 to see even stricter supervision and harsher penalties over rule violations.
* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. expects China's central bank to further raise its monetary market interest rates by about 35 basis points in the coming 12 months, given the gradual normalization of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy, Reuters reported.
* Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. Ltd. met with representatives of eight Chinese banks to talk about financing for 2018, after some of its units scrapped bond offerings due to the recent increase in borrowing costs, Bloomberg News reported, citing the company's statement posted on its WeChat account. The possible lines of credits were not disclosed.
* Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission said it will not interfere with layoffs at AIA Group Ltd. and Nan Shan Life Insurance Co. Ltd. despite protests from labor unions, the Taipei Times reported. AIA Group is letting go of 300 insurance sales agents, while Nan Shan Life plans to cut 130 back-office jobs.
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. Ltd. will join a group of companies that aim to test blockchain technology in the international trade environment, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported.
* Japan's SBI Holdings Inc. plans to offer financial services to Japanese companies entering Russia through its wholly owned Russian unit Commercial Bank YAR Bank (LLC), The Nikkei reported. SBI Holdings acquired YAR Bank earlier this year, and the bank is expected to change its name to reflect its Japanese parent's brand.
* Bank of Korea said an increase in interest rate by one percentage point will have limited effect on households and corporate borrowers in general, but noted that borrowers with floating-rate loans and high debts in relation to their income will be adversely affected, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a central bank report submitted to parliament.
* A number of South Korean banks said they will close down virtual accounts linked to cryptocurrency exchanges in a bid to help the government cool down the cryptocurrency frenzy in the country, The Korea Times reported. The government recently said it may also impose capital gains tax for cryptocurrency transactions.
* Kasikornbank PCL collaborated with Thailand's largest oil and gas company PTT PCL to roll out quick-response code-based payment services at gas stations in the country, Thai Rath reported. The move will allow retailers at 2,200 PTT gas stations nationwide to process mobile payments made through barcodes.
* Thailand's Government Savings Bank collaborated with the Ministry of Commerce's Department of Business Development to extend "franchise loans" to low-income earners in the country, Thai Rath reported, citing the bank's president and CEO, Chatchai Payuhanaveechai. Individuals can borrow up to one million baht and get 0% interest for one year under the project aimed at creating jobs for the poor, he said.
* Bank Indonesia kept its seven-day reverse repo rate unchanged at 4.25%, saying previous monetary easing remains sufficient to continue driving the nation's economic recovery. The central bank also maintained the deposit facility and lending facility rates at 3.50% and 5.00%, respectively.
* Bank Negara Malaysia will require digital currency exchange operators to report their activities to the regulator in a bid to make virtual currency activities more transparent, The Star reported. The central bank reiterated that cryptocurrencies are not legal payment methods in Malaysia.
* Temasek Holdings (Pte.) Ltd. unit Fullerton Financial Holdings Pte. Ltd. partnered with Canadia Investment Holding plc to launch a new digital wallet and payment platform, called DaraPay, in Cambodia, The Business Times reported.
* The central bank of the Philippines maintained its policy rates, citing a stable outlook for inflation. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas kept the overnight reverse repurchase rate at 3% and the corresponding interest rates on the overnight lending and deposit facilities. The reserve requirement ratios were also left unchanged.
* Securities and Exchange Board of India Chairman Ajay Tyagi said that lenders should report corporate loan defaults, just as it reports on corporate bonds, adding that it was an issue that regulators needed to address, Reuters reported.
* Union Bank of India said it raised approximately 20 billion rupees through a qualified institutions placement. The lender issued 129,324,280 shares at a price of 154.65 rupees per share.
* Indian Bank intends to raise equity capital of up to 70 billion rupees through a private placement or rights issue, among others. The lender may raise the equity in one or more tranches.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said it found "additional compliance concerns" in the peer-to-peer lending sector, including inadequate disclosure of fees and risks to investors, The Australian reported. ASIC said it will keep an eye on the sector, which has doubled in size over the past year.
* ASIC canceled the Australian financial services license of Anquan Securities & Investments Pty Ltd. due to its inability to comply with license conditions.
* New Zealand's nonbank lenders saw profits increase by 10% to NZ$216.7 million in 2017 from NZ$196.6 million in 2016, BusinessDesk reported, citing KPMG's annual sector update. The increase was driven by record sales of new cars, the report said.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Saudi Arabia, UAE lift rates; Fitch takes Qatari banks off Rating Watch Negative
Europe: UBS reshuffles top brass; Aegon chair retiring; SEB divests Danish pension biz
Latin America: Ecuador VP jailed in graft case; Itaú to buy back up to 1.18B reais of shares
North America: Fed raises rates; Yellen says bitcoin 'highly speculative'
North America Insurance: GOP tax bill to repeal individual mandate; Maryland extends enrollment deadline
Janna Estares, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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