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There is something off here: you can use your credit card to buy pornography of the most awful and depraved kinds ,you can use your credit card to place illegal wagers or take part in illegal gambling, you can use your credit card to buy drugs, legal and illegal from illegal or at least dubious sources or to put money at risk in pump and dump schemes and the banks and credit card companies are adamant that they cannot identify and prevent such transactions. And yet, when their own business models are under threat, suddenly they are able to identify and prevent the purchase of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple plus many, many more.

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When Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank, told the bank's 50th Anniversary meeting that it would become "the most progressive bank" in the Gulf and would become a "branchless bank" he was the latest in a line of bankers who has said this can happen. But while some internet only banks have been launched, no bank has ever succeeded in closing its branch network. Nigel Morris-Cotterill looks at some examples and says that Britain's Midland Bank developed, 30 years ago, the concepts that are now at the core of the delivery of real-world retail banking.

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The UK's Lloyds Banking Group took on a huge loan book when it took over the rapidly imploding HBOS group that included Halifax and Bank of Scotland. Halifax was the UK's largest mortgage lender. And now it's offering a helping hand to those who can afford to pay off their loans more quickly.

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