Options markets send cautiously bullish signal on U.S. stock rally

As Wall Street stocks pause for breath following a blistering three-week surge, signals from the options market are suggesting that some investors believe the gains may endure.The Cboe Volatility Index , known as “Wall Street’s fear gauge,” ended below 40 on Tuesday for the first time since March 5, after rising as high as 82.69 during a sell-off that took the S&P 500 down as much as 34% from its peak.
That 40 level is a significant one for some VIX watchers: The previous bull market began in March 2009, when the VIX fell to similar levels after having hit a closing high of 80.86 in November 2008.

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Fintech

KBRA Assigns Preliminary Ratings to APL Finance 2023-1 Designated Activity Company

KBRA | December 08, 2023

KBRA assigns preliminary ratings to four series of notes issued by APL Finance 2023-1 Designated Activity Company and APL Finance 2023-1 LLC (together, Ashland 2023-1), an aviation loan ABS transaction. Ashland 2023-1 represents the inaugural aviation loan ABS transaction that is sponsored and serviced by Ashland Place Finance LLC (APL or the Company). The Company is owned by Davidson Kempner Capital Management LP (DKCM), and, together with DKCM, is comprised of over 500 individuals operating out of seven offices with headquarters in New York City. Proceeds from the Notes will be used to acquire a portfolio of 11 loan facilities (the Facilities) comprised of 26 loans (the Assets, and together with the Facilities, the Portfolio). The 11 Facilities are limited recourse facilities. As of October 31, 2023, the Portfolio has an initial aggregate loan balance of approximately $350.8 million, an average Asset balance of $13.5 million, and a weighted average remaining loan term of approximately 2.8 years. The Portfolio has a weighted average seasoning of 18 months. The Facilities are secured by 19 narrowbody aircraft (56.4%), three widebody aircraft (40.0%) and four narrowbody host aircraft engines (3.6%) (the Underlying Collateral) on lease to 12 lessees located in 11 jurisdictions. As of October 31, 2023, the Underlying Collateral has a weighted average age of 10.0 years (excluding the engines) and an initial appraised value of approximately $612.2 million based on the average of half-life base values provided by three third-party appraisers as of the second quarter of 2023. Disclosures Further information on key credit considerations, sensitivity analyses that consider what factors can affect these credit ratings and how they could lead to an upgrade or a downgrade, and ESG factors (where they are a key driver behind the change to the credit rating or rating outlook) can be found in the full rating report referenced above. A description of all substantially material sources that were used to prepare the credit rating and information on the methodology(ies) (inclusive of any material models and sensitivity analyses of the relevant key rating assumptions, as applicable) used in determining the credit rating is available in the Information Disclosure Form(s) located here. Information on the meaning of each rating category can be located here. Further disclosures relating to this rating action are available in the Information Disclosure Form(s) referenced above. Additional information regarding KBRA policies, methodologies, rating scales and disclosures are available at www.kbra.com. About KBRA Kroll Bond Rating Agency, LLC (KBRA) is a full-service credit rating agency registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an NRSRO. Kroll Bond Rating Agency Europe Limited is registered as a CRA with the European Securities and Markets Authority. Kroll Bond Rating Agency UK Limited is registered as a CRA with the UK Financial Conduct Authority. In addition, KBRA is designated as a designated rating organization by the Ontario Securities Commission for issuers of asset-backed securities to file a short form prospectus or shelf prospectus. KBRA is also recognized by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners as a Credit Rating Provider.

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Financial Management, Payments

Orange Finances Money Mali and TerraPay Forge Strategic Partnership for Seamless Cross-border Payments

TerraPay | January 09, 2024

Orange Finances Money Mali, a leading Electronic Money Establishment and subsidiary of Orange Mali, is proud to announce a groundbreaking partnership with TerraPay, a global cross-border payments network with an extensive reach. This partnership marks a significant milestone in the digital financial landscape for Mali, connecting over 12 Million Malians to the vast diaspora residing across the globe, including other African countries. Bringing together Orange Finances Money Mali's commitment to promoting financial inclusion and TerraPay's proven expertise in facilitating secure cross-border payments, this partnership is set to empower Malians with innovative and seamless financial services. Financial inclusion continues to be one of the biggest challenges across West Africa and Orange Finances Money Mali has been dedicated to bridging this gap by striving to boost accessibility and inclusion through their services. One of the key highlights of this alliance is the ease with which Orange Money Mali customers can either cash out the funds received in their wallets or directly use them for everyday needs, including bill payments, supermarket purchases, and person-to-person transfers. Orange Finances Money is dedicated to issuing, managing, and distributing electronic money under the Orange Money brand in Mali. Djeneba Tandjigora, Chief of Transfer Services and Core Business at Orange Finances Money Mali, expressed his enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating, "Orange Money Mali customers can now receive money transfers from several countries using TerraPay's global network. This strategic collaboration simplifies transactions making them quick and secure, enhances the customer experience for Orange Money users and strengthens financial inclusion in Mali." Amel Kane, Regional Sales Manager Francophone West Africa at TerraPay, views this collaboration as an opportunity to enhance the quality of service and customer satisfaction. "With a direct connection to Orange Finances Money Mali, TerraPay can ensure a seamless cross-border payment experience, reducing operational issues and providing prompt assistance to our partner's clients. This collaboration reinforces our commitment to expanding our direct rails and continually improving our service offerings," stated Amel. Combining Orange Finances Money Mali's rapidly growing client database and TerraPay's wide network spanning 120+ receive countries, 210+ send countries, 7.5Bn+ bank accounts, and 2.1Bn+ mobile wallets – this partnership is poised to make a significant impact on the region's digital and financial services landscape. Partnering with Mali's biggest mobile money operator enables TerraPay to stay true to its commitment to quality and provide the best cross-border payment services in the region. Orange Finances Money Mali and TerraPay's strategic partnership not only strengthens connectivity between Mali and the global financial network but also positions both entities for accelerated growth in the digital payments landscape. The convenience and accessibility offered by this collaboration will undoubtedly benefit industry players, the public, customers, and merchants alike. About TerraPay TerraPay simplifies the movement of money everywhere – providing a single connection to the most expansive cross-border payments network regulated in 29 global markets and enabling payments to 120+ receive countries, 210+ send countries, 7.5Bn+ bank accounts and 2.1Bn+ mobile wallets. TerraPay is on a mission to connect a borderless financial world, making moving money everywhere instant, reliable, transparent and fully compliant. TerraPay pushes the boundaries for global businesses – ranging from banks, fintechs and money-transfer operators to travel businesses, creator economy platforms and e-commerce marketplaces – while driving financial inclusion in even the most inaccessible markets. Founded in 2014, TerraPay is headquartered in London, with global offices in Bangalore, Dubai, Miami, Bogota, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Hague, Dakar, Joburg, Nairobi, Milan, Singapore and is expanding rapidly, having received funding from leading investors, including the IFC (the World Bank), Prime Ventures, Partech Africa and Visa. About Orange Finances Money Mali Orange Finances Money Mali is an Electronic Money Establishment, subsidiary of Orange Mali and approved by the Central Bank of West African States. Created in 2015, the company guarantees the issuance, management, and distribution of electronic money under the Orange Money brand in Mali.

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Financial Management

Finix Launches Payouts: A Standalone Solution for Fast and Secure Money Movement

Finix | January 10, 2024

Finix, the payments technology provider enabling businesses to accept and send payments online or in-person, announced the launch of Payouts, its latest standalone product line. Payouts enables businesses across all industries to efficiently send money at scale, regardless of whether they utilize the broader Finix payments platform. Businesses often encounter challenges when they need to disburse funds due to siloed payment flows and needing to manage multiple vendor relationships to send and receive payments through various payment methods. In addition, businesses can be delayed waiting for bank approvals and integration resources. Now, Finix Payouts enables fast and reliable money movement–to one or many recipients at once–via a single developer-friendly API. Payouts has many use cases such as business-to-business (B2B) account payables, gig economy wages, insurance claims, tax refunds, sales commissions, tips, contractor payouts, and more. "Businesses can encounter many challenges when sending money at scale. Teams may face cumbersome technical integrations, manual payment operation workflows, and cash flow challenges, which can create a reconciliation nightmare," said Richie Serna, CEO and co-founder of Finix. "With Finix Payouts, companies of all sizes can get started in a few hours, configure their payment flows and methods to satisfy their business needs, help alleviate complications and intermediaries, and start sending money without spending an extensive amount of time or resources. Instead, they can focus on what matters most: their product, customers, and business growth." "Launching this separate product line, Payouts, is further evidence that Finix is continually and rapidly evolving to meet the dynamic needs of businesses," said Anthony Sharett, President of Pathward®, N.A. and Pathward Financial, Inc. "Pathward is proud to deepen our partnership with Finix and continue working together to broaden accessibility to the financial system." Finix will utilize Mastercard Send™ and Visa Direct to enable card-based payouts allowing U.S. businesses to quickly send money to bank accounts or eligible cards. Key features of Payouts include 24/7 Card Payout Availability Disburse funds to cards in near real-time1, 365 days a year – including weekends and holidays. Real-time Bank Account Validation With Finix's integrations, businesses can get up and running quickly and seamlessly link and validate bank accounts in real-time. Flexible Payment Maximums Based on Industry: Businesses can have custom disbursement limits for push-to-card and bank transfers to effortlessly scale their processes. All-in-One Platform By integrating with Finix's complete solution, users can send payments via ACH, real-time payments, and to cards with Mastercard Send™ and Visa Direct, in a single API. Embedded Compliance Finix conducts the necessary compliance checks on recipients ahead of sending money between parties. Reliable, Detailed Reporting Businesses can manage their payout services with out of the box tools, customizable reporting, and detailed recordkeeping. "In today's digital environment, it's vital that businesses of all sizes can securely access and send funds in near real-time, whenever and wherever their work takes them," said Silvana Hernandez, Executive Vice President, Product and Engineering, North America, Mastercard. "By working with Finix, we're helping businesses meet the demands of our always-on digital world, enabling them to seamlessly integrate Mastercard Send into their day-to-day operations to move money safer, faster and more efficiently." "Visa Direct provides a single point of access and reach to over 8.5B+ endpoints capability, including 3B+ eligible cards, 3B+ bank accounts and 2.5B+ wallets around the world," said Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore, North America Head, Visa Direct. "This collaboration reflects our shared commitment to streamlining global money movement and we're excited to bring streamlined disbursement capabilities to more businesses across the U.S., enabled by Visa Direct." About Finix Finix is a full-stack payment processor and infrastructure provider powering customers such as Clubessential, Passport, and Kabbage. From startups to publicly traded companies, Finix offers everything needed to deliver a world-class payments experience. Leading software platforms, marketplaces, retail, and e-commerce businesses use Finix's universal payments API and dashboard to accept payments, automate workflows, enhance customer experiences, and quickly grow revenue.

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Core Banking

Backbase Enters Into an Agreement With Danske Bank to Enhance Its Digital Customer Experience

Backbase | January 12, 2024

Backbase, the global leader in Engagement Banking, has made an agreement with Danske Bank, a leading Nordic bank based in Copenhagen, Denmark. This agreement provides Danske Bank with access to Backbase's Engagement Banking Platform, which will progressively be implemented across our digital channels in the coming years. This will enable Danske Bank to offer its customers a continuously improved digital customer experience, as the enhanced flexibility allows it to tailor its business operations around customer journeys. Frans Woelders, Chief Operating Officer at Danske Bank, highlights: “This engagement is a testament to our customer focus and our commitment to ensuring the best digital banking experience for the future. A new platform that works across the web, mobile apps, and our adviser tools is one of the ambitions in Danske Bank’s Forward ’28 strategy, and the agreement with Backbase is the next step towards achieving that ambition.” Our Engagement Banking Platform plays a pivotal role in achieving Modernization and simplification of the existing IT landscape by reducing the number of silo-ed channel applications. Mobile-first engagement model, establishing a customer-centric approach, seamlessly guiding customers between automated and expert advice. Unified platform, consolidating data, business logic, and workflows into a single, customer-centric platform for efficient journey orchestration, benefiting both customers and bank employees. Agility and freedom, enhancing flexibility to swiftly implement business capabilities and adapt to evolving market dynamics. Christian Bornfeld, Head of Personal Customers and Financial Crime Risk and Prevention at Danske Bank, says: “This platform will allow us to take our interaction with customers through our digital solutions to the next level and to introduce enhancements at greater speed than ever before. It will thus enable us to provide market-leading convenience and personalization for our customers with great insights, increased proactivity, and easy access to assistance and advice.” Jouk Pleiter, Founder and CEO of Backbase, shares, “We are thrilled to announce the engagement with Danske Bank, a visionary collaboration set to redefine the future of banking. Together, we will execute a bank-wide, digital transformation program and elevate Danske Bank's customer experience to new heights.” About Backbase Backbase is on a mission to re-architect banking around the customer. Backbase created the Backbase Engagement Banking Platform – a unified platform with the customer at the center, empowering banks to accelerate their digital transformation. From customer onboarding to servicing, loyalty, and loan origination, our single platform — open and frictionless, with ready-to-go apps — improves every aspect of the customer experience. Built from the ground up with the customer at the heart, our Engagement Banking Platform easily plugs into existing core banking systems and comes pre-integrated with the latest fintechs so financial institutions can innovate at scale. Industry analysts Forrester, Gartner, Celent, Omdia, and IDC continuously recognize Backbase’s category leadership. Over 120 financials around the world have embraced the Backbase Engagement Banking Platform - including AIB, Banorte, Barclays, BIAT, Bank of the Philippine Islands, BDO, Banque Saudi Fransi, BRD, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Discovery Bank, First National Bank, HDFC, Ila Bank, KeyBank, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest, Navy Federal Credit Union, OTP Group, PostFinance, Raiffeisen, RBC, Standard Bank, Saudi National Bank, Société Générale, Truist, and TPBank.

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Tax groups have a meaningful opportunity to enhance the value of their organization’s digital transformation effort. This priority, which involves migrating tax automation to the cloud in tandem with larger enterprise resource planning (ERP) cloud migrations is becoming even more time sensitive. This white paper examines leading

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