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Best of the Web

China risks a bond market crash in its bid to thwart shadow banking, Thai banks look to a new payment system to save in costs and Australian consumers are at risk from scammers once a new payment system goes live.

China's shadow banking crusade risks bond market crash

China is risking a bond market crash from its crackdown on shadow banking transactions. China's campaign to shrink high debt levels could drain a source of income for the country's banks and funding for the bond market, Reuters reported. Analysts are particularly concerned about the latest rules that place banks' wealth management products under the oversight of the People's Bank of China. Wealth management products are the biggest component of shadow banking and financial institutions have placed a large amount of money into credit products through this instrument. A crackdown on wealth management products could result in more pressure on bonds, according to analysts.

Thai Digital-Payment System May Save Banks $2 Billion

Thailand banks are hoping to leverage the new national digital-payment system to help them save costs, Bloomberg News reported. The so-called PromptPay service will help banks save some 77 billion Thai baht in the next 10 years, according to Thai Bankers' Association Chairman Predee Daochai. The savings will offset the revenue loss from money transfers and payments, Predee said. The national payment system will be unveiled in the first quarter and is meant to help boost the economy. Thananchai Jittanoon, an analyst at UOB Kay Hian Securities (Thailand) Pcl., said that PromptPay will pressure banks' fee income in the early years of implementation, but will benefit them in the long term due to lower costs on transportation and insurance.

Online sales of insurance products surge in 2016

South Korean consumers bought more nonlife insurance products through the internet as local insurance firms rolled out cheap and online-only products to entice customers, The Korea Herald reported. Data from the General Insurance Association of Korea found that local nonlife insurance companies raised 1.4 trillion won in premiums in 2016 by selling products through the internet, up 34.3% from the prior-year period. The growth rate is far higher than the 1.3% year-over-year increase in overall insurance premiums during the same period in 2015. Online-only insurance products are usually cheaper than those sold through face-to-face marketing, which helped boost sales. Insurance firms also launched a unified online platform in 2015 to help facilitate the sale of such products.

Rising fraud risk tipped from move to real-time payments

Australian consumers will need to protect themselves from fraudsters and scammers as they become more attractive targets to such criminals once the A$1 billion real-time payments system launches in 2017, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The new payments system, under the New Payments Platform, or NPP, will allow customers of different banks to transfer money in real time. While the system promises greater convenience for customers and businesses, it also increases the risk of fraud since banks will no longer have a day to stop suspicious transactions. Albert van Wyk, the head of fraud at information agency Experian, expects scammers to increase their attempts to get consumers' private financial information. Meanwhile, NPP Australia CEO Adrian Lovney said banks have already conducted real-time fraud screening and will continue to use other security measures to protect transactions against fraud.

China turns to blockchain to make markets clearer and cleaner

Chinese banks are placing their trust in blockchain as the government moves to increase transparency in the financial sector, Reuters reported. Banks are looking to use blockchain to leapfrog a generation of technology at a time when many Chinese banks still use paper, faxes and traditional means to verify documents. Blockchain is a system that processes and stores digital information. Blockchain documents are also harder to tamper with, making the technology a good candidate for providing more transparent and secure transactions. Banks are now looking for talent in Chinese universities and luring tech startup executives with impressive salary offers. Demand for blockchain is increasing rapidly and shows no sign of slowing, said Simon Lance, managing director of executive search firm Hays in China.