Receiving Wide Coverage…

Not Without a Trace: Security researchers have found evidence linking North Korea to three recent attacks on Asian banks — in the Philippines in October, Vietnam in December and the $81 million theft from the central bank of Bangladesh in February. They said in each event the attackers used a piece of rare but identical code seen in just two cases before: the Sony hack in 2014 and one on South Korea banks and media companies the year before — both of which the U.S. and South Korea government officials have blamed on North Korea, but haven't verified. "If you believe North Korea was behind those attacks, then the bank attacks were also the work of North Korea," said one of the security researchers. "We've never seen an attack where a nation-state has gone in and stolen money. This is a first." Meanwhile, those investigating the Bangladesh attack have discovered a 2013 theft of $250,000 from Bangladesh's state-owned Sonali Bank, in which the thieves used methods similar to those found of the February incident: they obtained the bank's Swift transfer funds to accounts in Turkey. The money was never recovered. Wall Street Journal, New York Times.

Blockchain Bet: Santander Bank introduced an app Thursday that uses blockchain technology to power international money transfers. Santander claims it is the first British bank to offer a payments service using blockchain technology, the underlying architecture of digital currencies like bitcoin to which banks have become attracted for its record-keeping feature and ability to transfer data more quickly and more accurately. Specifically, it is using technology provided by fintech company and payments network Ripple, in which the bank's fintech venture capital arm invested $4 million in October. Users can send payments between £10 and £10,000 (roughly $15 and $15,000) in euros or dollars across 21 different countries. Currently, the app is limited to bank staff but the Spanish bank plans to roll it out to customers sometime next year. Financial Times, New York Times.

Wall Street Journal

A proposal by the National Credit Union Administration to help boost credit union membership that could be complete by this fall is coming under fire from the banking industry, which claims it would blur the lines between credit unions and community banks. Those groups already tend to target similar customers — individuals and small businesses — and both are currently facing greater competition for loans, increased regulatory and technology costs and low interest rates. The rule would include more than a dozen changes to how credit unions define their "field of membership" and determine whether or not they can continue growing without bumping against regulatory restrictions. Banks feel pressure to preserve their market share, which is already being threatened by marketplace lending startups.

Goldman Sachs its scrapping numerical ratings in performance reviews as employees requested more frequent and constructive feedback and directives on how they can improve at work, as opposed to a grade. It's the latest measure by the bank — which recently announced it would expedite promotions for top-performing analysts and associates — to retain its junior bankers as the industry more broadly strives to be more welcoming to younger employees. Goldman will keep its 360-degree annual review, in which employees solicit feedback from their managers and a select group of colleagues.

LendingClub is reportedly in talks with Citigroup about the bank buying or providing financing for future loans made by the marketplace lending platform, as it seeks to strengthen investor confidence following the forced resignation of ex-chief Renaud Laplanche earlier this month. A Citi spokesperson said the two companies are "productively engaged… on a number of fronts." Last year, they announced the bank would buy Lending Club loans to help it meet community lending requirements as part of a separate agreement.

Loans to U.S. farmers are hard to come by this year, as banks are tightening credit in response to rising delinquencies. Farmers are turning to sources like CHS, a farmer-owned cooperative in the Midwest that operates grain elevators and retail stores. It says loans to farmers have increased 48% in number and volume since March 2015, and more than doubled since 2014. "There's hardly a day that goes by that I don't get approached by someone turned down by another bank," said Grant Lindell, vice president of First United Bank in Michigan, N.D.

Barclays has hired Mark Ashton-Rigby as chief information officer, effective late August. He is currently J.P Morgan Chase's chief information officer for corporate and investment banking.

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