PayPal CEO's lofty digital payments vision; Danske’s troubles grow

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More trouble
Danske Bank said it is shutting its operations in Estonia, the heart of the massive money laundering scandal at Denmark’s largest bank. Estonian regulators gave the bank eight months to close its branch there and return depositors’ money. Danske also said it is voluntarily closing down activities in neighboring Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.

At the same time, the European Banking Authority said it has launched a formal investigation into whether Estonian and Danish regulators broke the law by failing to prevent the scandal. The bank is already under investigation in five countries, including the U.S., U.K. and France. Wall Street Journal, Financial Times

Wall Street Journal

Unintended consequences
Critics are arguing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are “enriching landlords at the expense of tenants” as they have “emerged as the dominant source for rental apartment mortgages.” While the agencies’ “comparatively cheap loans are intended to promote affordable rental housing,” they also have had the opposite effect by “pushing up property values and attracting investors to buildings in gentrifying urban neighborhoods. In some cases, the landlords have then raised rents on these properties, making them less affordable for renters.”

Not so easy
HSBC’s full-year 2018 pretax results, which missed consensus forecasts by 24%, “gave investors a shock on Tuesday. More than that, these results are a stark reminder that the bank is more complicated than many would like to think.” The bank “is meant to have a simple story, driven by Asian loan growth. These numbers underline that it is still a complex beast.”

Financial Times

Happy trails
Ken Hitchner, Goldman Sachs’ Asia-Pacific chairman and CEO, is planning to retire later this year, after 27 years at the bank. “The change comes after several personnel shifts at the top of the U.S. investment bank in recent months, as it deals with the fallout from its connection to Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal.” Hitchner has managed the region, which excludes Japan, since 2017.

Bank talk
Anne Finucane, Bank of America’s vice chair, guests on the paper’s Banking Weekly podcast, which includes a discussion about “how banks are preparing for Brexit, including Bank of America's costly European restructuring, Citigroup's property investment in London, as well as the bank's plans to replace some of its staff with artificial intelligence.”

New York Times

Don't blame housing
Whether or not the U.S. enters a recession this year, “housing is unlikely to be the cause, because it never really recovered in the first place.”

Elsewhere

To infinity and beyond
PayPal CEO Dan Schulman suggested the digital payments market may reach $100 trillion. “There's an explosion in digital commerce and we're riding that wave. What we see is pretty positive,” he told CNBC. “People are thinking about how can they use technology to better serve customers. I think it's going to be less and less about how does one company hyper-serve customers. I think the new way of the world going forward is how do companies take the best of their platforms [and] put them together to better serve companies.”

Quotable

“The sheer scale of the money-laundering scandal at Dankse Bank in Estonia has shaken Europe to its core. We must see Danish and Estonian authorities, Danske Bank and senior bankers held to account to make sure this never happens again.” — Nienke Palstra, an anticorruption campaigner at Global Witness.

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