Asia-Pacific Financial Services Insights - March & April 2020

Asia-Pacific Financial Services Insights - March-April 2020
Asia-Pacific Financial Services Insights - March & April 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of Protiviti’s Asia-Pacific (APAC) Financial Services Insights. In this monthly newsletter, we provide a summary of important developments across the APAC financial services sector, including those related to the ever-changing regulatory landscape. 

COVID-19 continues to present challenges for financial industry executives and supervisory authorities throughout APAC and tackling these challenges with a disciplined approach has never been more important. This month’s newsletter lays out where each market stands in the evolution of this pandemic and provides a glimpse of the differences in how it is being addressed by individual financial markets. 

In addition to sharing news headlines from across the region, Protiviti and Robert Half have been producing content around how to face these challenges. Click here to read our thought leadership and blogs, aimed at helping organisations deal with their business continuity and their organisational and talent challenges in this difficult time. 


Singapore central bank launches US $60Bn scheme for banks

The MAS said that the established US $60Bn swap facility is a part of coordinated central bank actions to calm financial markets, which are being impacted by coronavirus pandemic which will trigger a global recession.

(The Star, 26/03/2020)

MAS and financial sector role out package to ease financial strain arising from COVID-19 crisis

Individuals can apply to their banks and insurers to defer repayment of property loans, as well as premium payments for life and health insurance plans, as part of a package of measures to ease their financial strain arising from the Covid-19 outbreak. The package also offers cash flow support to small and medium-sized enterprises, such as by ensuring continued access to bank credit and insurance cover.

(Strait Times, 31/03/2020)

Coronavirus: Singapore unveils additional US $3.6Bn stimulus package for battered economy

Singapore’s Finance Minister unveiled the country’s third stimulus package, with the government once again drawing on its deep sovereign reserves to fund new measures aimed at tiding businesses and citizens through a month-long partial lockdown to stem a surge in Covid-19 cases.

(SCMP, 06/04/2020)


Asia Pacific banks lag in integrating fraud compliance functions: FICO survey

A recent survey reveals only 18 per cent of APAC banks have a strategic plan to fully integrate their fraud and anti-money laundering compliance functions while 71 per cent acknowledge the need to do so in order to stop fraud and financial crimes. 

(News Today, 06/03/2020)

Merchants shun cash as coronavirus infection fears widen

The global health crisis is speeding up cashless payments in Asia. Retail traders across region are increasingly refusing to handle cash, sparking an increase in electronic and contactless payments through the first part of 2020.  

(Nikkei Asian Review, 26/03/2020)

Covid-19 hits investment banking revenues

As the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the global economy and puts millions of people under a lockdown, S&P Global Ratings estimates the economic storm will test the rating resilience of the Asia-Pacific region’s 20 banking sectors.

( 03/04/2020)

Hong Kong

Hong Kong regulator considers easing strict data storage rules

Hong Kong is considering softening new data storage rules, amid concerns of conflict with confidentiality laws elsewhere as authorities globally look to balance regulatory requirements, companies’ needs and privacy concerns.

(Reuters, 11/03/2020)

In Hong Kong, stage is set for repeat of financial era after 2008

With a 61-basis point gap between Hong Kong and US central bank lending rates, the stage is set for a repeat of 2008, the start of a decade-long era of cheap financing that would eventually create the world’s most expensive property market.

(SCMP, 19/03/2020)

HKMA and banking sector join forces to help local economy overcome COVID-19 outbreak

The HKMA together with major banks and HKMC Insurance Limited met representatives from the commercial sector to exchange views on the effectiveness of banks’ measures to support SMEs and discuss future follow up work in this regard.

(HKMA, 03/04/2020)


China central bank calls for stepped-up global policy coordination

A Chinese central bank official recently called for stepped up global policy coordination to manage the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, saying Beijing’s recent policy measures were gaining traction while it had capacity for further action.

(Reuters, 22/03/2020)

China's central bank unexpectedly cuts reverse repo rates to support economy 

China's central bank lowered the interest rate on reverse repurchase agreements by 20 basis points, as authorities stepped up easing measures to relieve pressure on the economy that has been hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic

(Reuters, 30/03/2020)

China releases US $56Bn to banks in COVID-19 response

China's central bank said it would cut the reserve requirements for smaller banks to release around ¥400Bn (US $56.3Bn) in liquidity, a move to counter the coronavirus impact on enterprises.

(Channel News Asia, 03/04/2020)


BOJ ramps up risky asset buying as central banks fight coronavirus fallout

The Bank of Japan eased monetary policy by pledging to buy risky assets such as exchange-traded funds at double the current pace, joining global central banks in combating the widening economic fallout from the coronavirus epidemic.

(Japan Times, 16/03/2020) ​

Fintech-based financing thriving in Japan amid coronavirus crisis

The presence of fintech-based financing services is increasing at a time when numerous cash-strapped business operators are seeking consultations with public and private financial institutions.

(Japan Times, 01/04/2020)


Reserve Bank of Australia cuts interest rates to record low 0.5% amid coronavirus concerns

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut interest rates to a record low of 0.5% due to the outbreak of the coronavirus on the Australian economy and has signalled it is prepared to cut further if needed. Home lending has become a focus area for assessing whether banks have passed through the full benefit of rate cuts to their customers, and on loans to businesses to reduce the effects of coronavirus crisis.

(The Guardian, 03/03/2020)

Australia's banks must disclose terms, volume of loans subject to COVID-19 support - regulator

Australia’s prudential regulator, APRA, announced that banks are required to report and publicly disclose the nature of any repayment deferrals as well as the volume of loans impacted by coronavirus support packages.

(Reuters, 23/03/2020)

Australia at risk of losing its AAA credit rating after massive stimulus spend

Major ratings agency S&P Global has revised its forecast for Australia’s ability to repay debt. The country is now at risk of losing its coveted AAA credit rating after being assessed as negative, a shift lower from its stable position as the economy faces “substantial deterioration” and a deep recession.

(, 08/04/2020)

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Nigel Robinson, Protiviti Singapore
Nigel Robinson
Country Leader and Managing Director
Ronita Dutta
Ronita Dutta