Receiving Wide Coverage ...

A modest proposal: British regulators are calling on U.K. banks to do more to help customers struggling with heavy credit card debt. Under proposals published by the Financial Conduct Authority on Monday, credit card lenders would be forced to prompt customers who have been in "persistent" debt – meaning interest and charges exceed their monthly payments – for 18 months to make faster repayments. If the customer remains in debt for another 18 months, lenders would have to propose a repayment plan, with the customer's card suspended if they fail to pay faster. As a last resort, lenders would need to take additional steps, including reducing or eliminating interest charges for customers who are still unable to make faster repayments.

According to the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column, the proposal "may take a chunk out of the credit card industry's revenues, just as the debt cycle looks ripe for a rise in defaults." For three banks in particular – Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds – "this will likely prove painful." At Barclays, for example, credit cards account for nearly 30% of Barclays's U.K. revenues.

Wall Street Journal

Cautious optimism: The vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said the chamber won't be ready to vote on overhauling Dodd-Frank until this summer. "The whole year is shifted because we have taken longer on health care," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. However, when it does come up for a vote, McHenry said there is "no question" the House can "pass a major change to financial services law."

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

Meet Alexis: Bank of New York Mellon is building a voice-controlled artificial intelligence system that will help its technology staff manage enterprise storage and eventually enable all of its 55,000 employees to use the platform for human resources questions and technical help. The chatbot, called Alexis – which stands for "artificial language experience intelligence simulation" – is expected to be available to the bank's IT employees this fall and then rolled out further.

"Instead of having to find out and memorize how to do very mundane tasks, somebody will be able to ask a question or pose a command to (Alexis) in a very natural way and then have that action be completed," Marek Kwasniewski, vice president and head of platform architecture at BNY Mellon, told the paper. Employees will be able to communicate with Alexis by voice or text.

AML risk: Bank of America is using a recent assessment of money laundering by the international Financial Action Task Force to help determine risk among its customers. "If you haven't briefed senior management [about the report], you should think about it," William Fox, the bank's global head of financial crimes compliance and the former director of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, warned those attending a conference at which he spoke. "The risk is there."

Financial Times

Pay gaps: American financial companies, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, MasterCard and American Express, are under increasing shareholder pressure to reveal what they pay their female employees compared to their male counterparts. There may be showdowns at their annual meetings this spring.

New York Times

Vindicated: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ordered Wells Fargo to rehire and pay $5.4 million in back pay, compensatory damages and legal fees to a former manager who said he was fired in 2010 after reporting what he suspected was fraudulent behavior at the bank. The award is the largest individual award ever ordered through the agency's whistle-blower protection program, according to an OSHA official.

Quotable ...

"I don't believe analysts who say the branch is dead; that's just lame. But we're at the forefront of trying to change the model. We have to evolve." – Charles Liu, head of branch transformation at Bank of America, which has opened three "robo-branches" which have no employees

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.