The Banker Best Bits

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As we come to the end of this year, our editors look back on their own coverage for The Banker in 2022: Here are our ‘best bits’. 

The past 12 months was a year of immense change. Most of the world continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic amid a changed economic climate of rising interest rates and inflation. Most banks are well on their way to migrating to ISO 20022 to enable cross-border payments, as well as better addressing their role in combatting climate change. In the non-traditional space, meanwhile, the crypto world is wrapping itself up against the ongoing winter while entertaining itself with the bankruptcy soap opera that is the demise of the FTX exchange. 

As we come to the end of this year, our editors look back on their own coverage for The Banker in 2022: Here are our ‘best bits’. 

Joy Macknight, editor

Three themes stood out for me in 2022: innovation, diversity and sustainability. Here are my best bits from 2022:

Reimagined rooftops – March 2022

While banks have a crucial role to play in facilitating the financing programmes needed to fund cities’ transition plans, they are also looking at their own urban footprint. Some institutions have begun at the top, reimagining their roof space to support their sustainability commitments.

Transforming the work environment with women in mind – March 2022

Some form of a return to the office also presents banks with an opportunity to reimagine the space as an attractive and collaborative environment to benefit all staff.

Five actions for central banks to address biodiversity risks – March 2022

Central banks and banking supervisors are recognising how biodiversity loss could threaten financial stability and are now considering their role in addressing nature-related risks.

Liz Lumley, deputy editor

This past year was one of finding inspiration within a war zone, shining a light on global fintech and finding magic in a bank that works. Here are my best bits from The Banker 2022.

A fintech boom blossoming in Africa – January 2022

Several areas in Africa are making a name for themselves as fintech hubs, with Nigeria leading the way. This article was also responsible for me winning a 2022 UK Institutional Press Award for Journalist of the Year for Technology and Digital Finance.

Andrii Hrytseniuk: Team spirit in a war zone – August and September 2022

Andrii Hrytseniuk, chief information officer (CIO) at Alfa-Bank Ukraine was named The Banker’s CIO of the Year in the annual Innovation in Digital Banking Awards. Mr Hrytseniuk and his team were well on their way to revamping the Ukrainian bank when Russia invaded the country. The bank not only managed to maintain services for customers – sometimes from bomb shelters – but continued building innovation to create a modern bank. 

Making banks a ‘safe space’ – May 2022

The past year saw the launch of a new podcast from The Banker: Functional banking magic. Each podcast episode seeks to examine the stories of innovation from the banking community. This second episode, looking at how banks can protect people who find themselves in vulnerable situations, such as domestic abuse, brings home the important place banks have in society and why being in control of your money is power.  

Marie Kemplay, capital markets and investment banking editor

The past 12 months was a year when the capital markets and the transition towards a more sustainable future continued to come together. As my top three picks of the year highlight, the energy transition will have many facets and considerations, including for the banks financing it, as businesses and governments across the world grapple with this global priority area.

A charged market for EV infrastructure investment? – October 2022

We are fast entering the era of electric vehicles (EVs). But if EVs are really going to take over the world there will need to be a significant upgrade in the charging infrastructure available to support their use. Despite the growing demand, this area is surprisingly complex for investors to navigate.

A just energy transition for Africa? – February 2022

Despite only being responsible for a small minority of global carbon emissions, Africa risks bearing the brunt of some of the worst impacts of climate change. Many Africans also continue to face significant economic difficulties in their day-to-day lives, even before considering climate change. Achieving a greener and fairer future for the continent will be fraught with complexity.

True north, strong and green: Canada’s energy transition – June 2022

Finding a way to harness Canada’s vast resources that delivers both a prosperous and sustainable economy is key to its future. But with a patchy track record on environmental targets, there are questions about whether the reality will live up to its ambition.

Barbara Pianese, Latin America editor

Latin America is often overlooked in the news. However, if we look closely, we realise how much expanding our horizons can give us a different perspective on the same issue. It has been very interesting to explore global topics and trends through the lens of this region. Here are my best bits from 2022:

Is dollarisation back in fashion? – September 2022 

Dollarisation, the use of foreign currency in addition to or instead of the domestic currency, is widespread in Latin America due to exchange rate volatility and high inflation. This article explores how dollarisation became a built-in characteristic of the Latin American economy. It also questions how much currency substitution can solve the issue facing economies with high inflation.

Cover story: Latam – waiting for the next commodities boom – November 2022

Climate change and clean energy technologies are on everybody’s agenda. The green transition will fuel demand for minerals such as copper and lithium and will paradoxically require an increase in energy-intensive mining. This feature explores the challenges Latin America must face for the next commodities boom to be a game changer for the regional economy.

The talk of Felaban 2022 – December 2022 

The podcast “The talk of Felaban 2022” explores the current hot topics for Latin American banks. The podcast was recorded in Guatemala City at the annual congress of Felaban, the Federation of Latin American Banks. This first episode focuses on how the current challenging macroeconomic and political context is affecting the Latin American region. We also discuss recent developments regarding financial inclusion in Latam.

Kimberley Long, Asia editor 

During 2022 we saw banking enter a whole new realm, but also looked at those who are still struggling to get into the formal banking space. And with so much change happening, we looked at the women who are making it possible. Here is a list of my favourite stories from 2022:

Banks’ experiments in the metaverse – April 2022 

Banks are regularly exploring the possibilities of the digital world, and the arrival of the metaverse has been no different. I’ve received more comments and questions from readers about this than any other piece I’ve written this year. 

Closing Asia’s gender finance gap – January and September 2022 

Financial inclusion is a huge issue globally, especially among women in emerging markets. In the first piece, I looked at how Asia’s banks are taking the steps to encourage more women into the formal banking space for the first time. Meanwhile, in the second feature Digital bridge for Asia’s gender gap, I looked at how fintechs are taking up some of the space, and the barriers that are impacting tech adoption. 

Disruptive voices – October 2022 

This year I launched my new podcast series Disruptive voices, with the aim of giving a platform to women working across the fintech sector. Each episode covers a different topic, asking these women about their experiences in their sector and the obstacles they have faced. After being told time and again how few women there are in fintech I wanted to make a point of finding them, looking globally to shine a light on the work being done by women in this most innovative of financial sectors. 

John Everington, Middle East and Africa editor

Crypto's annus horribilis from an African perspective – August 2022

Even in its short and volatile history, 2022 set a new benchmark for chaos for the global crypto sector. The collapse of some of the industry's biggest names – FTX, Celsius, Terra, Three Arrows Capital and others – has led to a widespread re-evaluation of cryptocurrencies' value as an asset class, and their utility beyond a handful of small niche use cases. 

Yet as my August feature highlighted, crypto usage has exploded in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in large economies including Kenya and Nigeria. While the prospect of quick and stratospheric returns (remember those?) enticed many on the continent, use cases such as remittances, e-commerce and even a store of value remain more than a niche proposition.

Of course the picture looks very different going into 2023, as regulators and law enforcement agencies worldwide deal with the fallout of FTX's sudden collapse in November. Yet Africa is likely to remain one of the world's key crypto geographies for a while yet. 

Lebanon's tragedy – July 2022

Those concerned about the strength of the dollar and the rise of inflation should take comfort from the fact that things could be a lot worse. Data released in December in The Banker's home market of the UK suggest that inflation may have hit its peak at 11.1% in October. The British pound, while trending lower throughout the year, has regained the ground lost following the disastrous mini-budget announcement of late September. 

In Lebanon, by contrast, the country's economic woes seem deeper than ever, with inflation surging to over 200% in early 2022. The value of the Lebanese pound – still nominally pegged at around 1507.5 to the US dollar – has collapsed to around 44,000. 

As outlined in my July feature article, the roots of Lebanon's economic and banking crisis run deep, and are intertwined with the country's complicated political history. While many share the blame for the banking sector's demise, the country's long-serving central bank governor, Riad Salamé, has been vilified for his programme of financial engineering, and has been the subject of several probes both in Lebanon and abroad about the sources of his personal wealth. Mr Salamé defended his record in an exclusive interview with The Banker in late July. 

Africa's financial gender gap – December 2022

The explosion of mobile money services across sub-Saharan Africa has prompted a large jump in financial inclusion across the continent. Despite notable advances, African women have not yet experienced the full benefit of such services, with the gender gap for financial services in sub-Saharan Africa more pronounced than anywhere in the world apart from the Middle East and north Africa. 

In a recent episode of The Banker's Africa's digital financial journey podcast, I spoke with The World Bank's Leora Klapper about why women are often left behind – in Africa and elsewhere – when it comes to financial inclusion. Chloe Gueguen, a digital finance specialist with the World Food Programme, talks about some of the initiatives underway that are aiming to narrow the gender gap. 

Sam Friend, digital content editor

This year individuals from academia as well as the legal and other finance-adjacent industries have contributed valuable perspectives to The Banker. We have learned from those who apply and advise on legislation that affects the finance industry, and from those who originate academic theories on how the industry interacts with the new technologies that are shaping our future. 

The new directions we find ourselves swept in – towards sustainability and ESG, an endless stream of new fintech applications and functions, and the encroachment of multinational tech behemoths into the finance world, among others – have long been on the horizon, but this year have accelerated and are increasingly being borne out in regulatory and other legislative frameworks.

My top picks of the year were contributed by key individuals affecting and effecting industry change, and reflect these themes.

Big techs in finance raise complex policy trade-offs – October 2022

Big techs are continuing to diversify their reach across a spectrum of industries at a global level, not least of all financial services. Opportunity lies especially in emerging markets where wider gaps exist for them to penetrate. This is leading to a push/pull between a triad of areas for the industry: financial stability, competition concerns and privacy/consumer protection, and disrupting the market for incumbent banks.

Rewiring financial services for education and inclusion – October 2022

The development and uptake of technology across the world continues apace, with social media – including relative newcomers such as TikTok – looming larger as a channel for financial education and inclusion. Banks must stay alert to these new pathways to stay relevant to a tech-savvy generation.

The growing threat of human rights-based climate litigation – October 2022

While the need for sustainability and the combatting of climate change has long been of issue, we are now hurtling towards it as real-world impacts such as extreme weather events and deforestation are felt more acutely. Investors, legislators and regulators are tightening the screw and it appears to be increasingly foolish for banks not to alter their operations accordingly.


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