Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Qatar rated negative by Moody's; Boom in fintech jobs; Sex bots are revolutionary and risky

1 Qatar rated negative by Moody’s (Babu Das Augustine in Gulf News) Moody’s Investors Service has changed the outlook on Qatar’s credit rating to negative from stable and affirmed the long-term issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings at Aa3.

The key driver for the outlook change to negative is the economic and financial risks arising from the ongoing dispute between Qatar and a group of countries, including its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council neighbours Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, as well as Egypt.

In Moody’s view, the likelihood of a prolonged period of uncertainty extending into 2018 has increased, which carries the risk that Qatar’s sovereign credit fundamentals could be negatively affected.

The coalition countries have enacted a series of measures such as severing diplomatic relations, closing land, sea and air links, and expelling Qatari nationals from their countries. In addition, they have submitted a list of 13 demands as condition for removing these actions.

Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) was the first to take rating action on Qatar within days after the diplomatic row erupted. The rating agency has lowered its long-term rating on the State of Qatar to AA- from AA and placed the rating on credit watch with negative implications.

2 Boom in fintech jobs (Yasmine Yahya in Straits Times) Never mind numeracy skills. To work in a bank these days, a job-seeker is better off being a designer, digital data analyst or tech developer.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore in its annual report last week noted a net increase of 2,800 financial sector jobs last year, despite the slowdown in financial sector growth to 0.7 per cent from 5.7 per cent in 2015.

MAS managing director Ravi Menon noted that with digitisation and automation gathering pace, many global financial institutions have been downsizing and restructuring their operations, mainly in back office functions such as operations, IT and technical support.

Banks and human resource experts said the rise of technology has led to an increase in demand for many new positions in the banking sector which did not previously exist, such as UX/UI designers, digital data analysts and app developers. Management consultancy Kelly Services estimates that IT on the whole will require between 15,000 and 30,000 more workers by 2020.

OCBC Bank is looking to recruit more talent with expertise in cyber security, digital and Web development and data analytics. Similarly, DBS Bank has been looking for data scientists, UX/UI designers, app developers and people familiar with cloud computing, agile development, development operations and information security to support its digital initiatives.

3 Sex bots revolutionary and risky (Haroon Siddique in The Guardian) Sex robots have the potential to provide a valuable service for people who are elderly, disabled or who find intercourse traumatic, but they also carry ethical risks, experts say. Sex robots that look like humans can already be bought or leased for parties in the US, and plans for a cafe staffed by “erotic cyborgs” in Paddington, London, have been mooted.

The authors behind the Foundation for Responsible Robotics’ report believe they could herald a “revolution” in sex, helping people who would otherwise find it hard to have intimate relationships. But they also raise concerns that sex robots could increase the objectification of women, alter perceptions of consent and be used to satisfy desires that would otherwise be illegal.

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