BERLIN (AP) — A Google subsidiary has apologized for making Nazi concentration camps part of a mobile role-playing game.Niantic Labs says players of ‘Ingress’ can propose historic location and monuments for inclusion in the game, in which two factions use smartphones to battle for control of these sites. The German weekly Die Zeit reported Thursday some of the sites, known as ‘portals,’ were located within concentration camps such as Dachau and Sachsenhausen. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Patients with chronic pain give advice Gabriele Hammermann, director of the memorial site at Dachau, told the dpa news agency that Google’s actions were a humiliation for victims and relatives of the Nazi camps.In a statement to The Associated Press, Niantic Labs’ founder John Hanke said the company has begun removing the offending sites from the game. He said “we apologize that this has happened.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of Comments Share Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home The vital role family plays in society
The National Convention Centre Canberra’s (NCCC) contribution to the local tourism industry has been recognised with the venue taking out the Meetings and Business Tourism award at the Canberra and Capital Region Tourism Awards 2010, held at the Parliament House last week.A first time entrant to the annual regional awards, the NCCC was hailed the most successful in maximising the local tourism experience for meetings and business travellers to the ACT in the past 12 months.The Meetings and Business Tourism award was judged on quality of customer experience, staff development, community engagement and financial returns. Accepting the award on behalf of the team, NCCC manager Cindy Young was delighted to see the venue recognised as the frontrunner, especially given the strength of the competition.“We are very proud to receive this coveted award, which highlights our ongoing commitment to providing an authentic local experience to visitors, while they conference, meet or enjoy a concert within the many and varied event spaces the NCCC has to offer,” Cindy said.“Our major refurbishment in 2007 truly propelled our convention and meeting offerings onto the world stage, and since then, the NCCC has gone from strength to strength. “We have seen an increase in business year-on-year, bringing a wide variety of events and conferences to Canberra and introducing thousands of interstate and international delegates to the spoils of the city and surrounding region.“What’s more, our relationships with Crowne Plaza Canberra, Parliament House Catering, local event organisers, suppliers and businesses, have allowed us to maximise the tourism experience for delegates, providing unique access to our local icons and a different perspective on Canberra.”The NCCC will represent the ACT and region as a finalist in the Meetings and Business Tourism categoryat the 2010 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, to be held on March 11, 2011 in Perth. It was a double celebration for the NCCC, with one of the venue’s team also being recognised with an individual award. Event coordinator, Emma Papas won the Young Achiever award, recognising the contribution of an individual, aged 26 or under, to the tourism industry. Emma has been working in the events team at the NCCC since 2007, when she joined as a banquets attendant while completing her Diploma in Event Management and Certificate IV in Tourism at the Canberra Institute of Technology. Emma was promoted to events assistant in 2008, and this year was promoted again to event coordinator. Source = National Convention Centre
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J American Airlines (AA) and Qantas have released plans to expand its codeshare partnership on routes across North America and Australia. As part of the agreement the Australian flag carrier will codeshare on 28 new destination on AA’s flights from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, while the American carrier will codeshare on Qantas routes between Sydney and Dallas as well as other Australian domestic services. The expanded partnership will increase Australian travellers reach into major cities within the US, Canada and Mexico including Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, New York, Toronoto, Vancouver, Cancun and Calgary, a statement from Qantas read. “Expanding our codeshare arrangement with American Airlines allows us to capitalize fully on DFW’s position as a major hub airport for business and leisure travel,” Qantas Airlines Commercial group executive Rob Gurney said. “Our expanded codeshare relationship with Qantas makes it easier and more convenient for our customers to travel on the global networks of both airlines,” AA chief commercial officer Virasb Vahidi added. Members signed up to both airlines’ loyalty programs will also be able to add on and redeem miles/points across the combined networks of the carriers’. Fares for the codeshare flights will be available for purchase over the next month.
As part of cost saving measures, British Airways has released plans to axe or transfer hundreds of its employees based at Gatwick Airport.Up to 400 ramp and baggage handlers are said to be losing their jobs to outsourcing while a further 170 customer service staff will be laid off, Mail Online reported.The news comes weeks after the airline’s parent company IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said the company was facing the same struggles as others in the industry with high fuel prices, the UK air passenger duty tax as well current ongoing industrial action with Iberia’s pilots.In a statement the airline explained the job cuts were part of a union approved proposal to transform the way British Airways does business at Gatwick and would help “build a stronger and more cost-competitive business… for the future”.“Proposals include outsourcing the ramp work, including baggage, de-icing and coaching operations, and the arrivals baggage service and combining roles within customer services,” the carrier said. “We hope to agree a proposal with the trade unions to offer anyone who works on the ramp a role with a new external supplier, under TUPE transfer legislation.”The airline added that it would work towards minimising the impact on people in the customer service teams but expects staff reduction in this area as well as the management team and support structure.“As a traditional full-service carrier with a long history, we have to meet the challenge of transforming our cost base to compete more effectively in the short-haul market, while continuing to deliver outstanding service and value for our customers,” the carrier noted. Meanwhile holiday-makers travelling with Iberia are expected to face possible delays as its pilots take industrial action every Monday and Friday from week starting 9 April this year to 20 July 2012. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson exhibited his commitment to the Indian market by introducing the India 2020 strategic plan at the Australian Tourism Exchange 2012.According to Mr Ferguson, India is one of the fastest growing outbound tourism markets and one of the key Asian markets driving growth in Australia.“The objective [of the plan] is to identify the opportunities that can assist Australia in winning further market share and in doing so, grow the Indian travel market by up to 2.3 billion in annual visitor expenditure by the decade’s end,” Mr Ferguson said.Mr Ferguson illustrated that India is Australia’s tenth most valuable market and outlined five core issues that helped in developing and aim to sustain the new 2020 strategy.Click back onto e-Travel Blackboard for more next week.
Source = Crystal Cruises Crystal Cruises has yet again claimed the crown as World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line in the annual Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards readers’ survey — making the win Crystal’s seventeenth consecutive triumph. The ultra-luxury holiday company is the only cruise line, hotel, or resort to win its category every year since the awards began. Crystal’s winning score for 2012 reflects thousands of jet-setting readers’ ratings across six areas: service, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, and value. The results are published in the renowned magazine’s August issue.“While we have delighted travellers this year with newly designed spaces, new services, and new value-conscious pricing, we have offered a consistency of experience that is unmatched in our industry,” says Crystal President Gregg Michel. “Travel + Leisure’s discerning readership clearly recognises the best when they see it, and I couldn’t be prouder of our staff for their generous service, creativity and attention to detail.”In recent months, Crystal has spent US$40 million on stylish redesigns of its award-winning Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity, and US$100 million in a little over five years. Its Six-Star service, quality, and choices were also enhanced by introducing “All Inclusive” fine wines, premium spirits, and gratuities; partnering with renowned organisations like USC’s School of Cinematic Arts for a complimentary sophisticated filmmaking curriculum; crafting dozens of innovative, maiden port calls and itineraries, including more local overnights and shorter voyages; helping travelers get to and from ships more easily via Crystal’s new Fast Track Check-In and VIP Airport Services; and adding Bistro tapas and casual evening Chinese Comfort Food to a range of gourmet dinner options that includes Nobu Matsuhisa and Piero Selvaggio cuisines. Local European entertainment and experts on board, Elton John and Diva-homage shows, Facebook and iPad classes, 360-day previews of shore excursions, and a new marketing campaign entitled “Begin a New Story” were also introduced to the Crystal landscape this year.The Travel + Leisure 2012 World’s Best Award joins several other high-profile honours bestowed upon the luxury line since the end of 2011, including Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Service (Large-Ship); Condé Nast Traveller’s Best Mid-Sized Cruise Line (18th year), Cruise Ships (#1 and 2), and Spa; and ground-breaking design awards, including Hospitality Design magazine’s first-ever Distinctive Cruise Design award.
Kenya’s profile as a preferred tourist destination has received a boost with the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) winning the bid to host this year’s World Travel Awards (WTA) Africa region on 16th October this year. The WTA nominations will recognise excellence in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry, thus encouraging nominees to uphold constant improvement in products and delivery of service.Kenya as a host destination comes hot on the heels of KTB’s award as the Africa’s leading Tourism Board by WTA in December last year. In February this year, KTB was also honoured as “Best African Tourism Board” in the Africa Safari awards held in London England.“World Travel Awards (WTA) is coming to Kenya at the right time after a successful and peaceful general election under a new constitution. This has further raised the country’s profile as a safe destination” Says KTB Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa. “That WTA has chosen Kenya for the African region ceremony as part of the world grand tour, is an endorsement of the country as a preferred tourism destination in the world”, added the Managing Director.Graham E. Cooke, President and Founder, WTA, added, “The selection of our hosts is fundamental to the success of our awards programme, and Kenya as a nation has all the ingredients to rise to the challenge of hosting our Africa Ceremony – a warm, vibrant and progressive nation, brimming with enthusiasm and creativity. Tourism is vital to Kenya’s economy, contributing 12 percent to its GDP and sustaining one in ten jobs. The future is bright for Kenya, given the nation’s overwhelming natural resources, its unrivalled wildlife experiences and pristine beaches.”Kenya is located in East Africa and boasts white sandy beaches bathed by the Indian Ocean as well as the majestic snow-capped Mount Kenya. It is increasingly emerging as an Adventure destination offering activities from hot air ballooning, to authentic cultural interactions with the local ethnic communities, as well as visits to the world renowned Masai Mara, with breath taking safaris and wildebeest migrations, supported by a miscellany of unique superior class accommodation.WTA’s 2013 Grand Tour will include regional events in the Dubai (UAE), the Maldives, Turkey, Kenya, Peru, Antigua and Singapore throughout the year. The winners of these regional events will progress to the Grand Final, which will take place at the end of 2013. The ceremonies are widely regarded as possibly the best networking opportunities in the travel industry, attended by government and industry leaders, luminaries, and international print and broadcast media.The 2012 WTA Grand Tour ceremonies were attended by more than 3,000 guests from 92 countries, as well as media from 194 TV channels and publications.Source = World Travel Awards
Former Australian cricketer Brett Lee joined the Mission to talk about how Indians would be able to enjoy Melbourne during its finest events period which will include events such as the Melbourne Grand Prix and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tourism Victoria is also planning to develop travel three to ten night packages for Indians for the 2015 World Cup. Focused on leveraging Tourism Victoria’s 2.4 million Indian Facebook fans, the campaign will feature Indian bloggers Tanmay Bhat and Rohan Josh writing about their social, culinary, cultural and natural experiences in Melbourne. The campaign was launched following a high profile three-city Super Trade Mission in India. “The kind of feedback we get from our audience during this trip will determine our assessment about the growth potential in other cities which will help us decide whether to include them in the future,” Tourism Victoria chief executive officer Leigh Harry said. Tourism Victoria is trying to entice Indian tourists to come to Melbourne with its new “Come Alive in Melbourne” digital campaign. Source = ETB News: T.N. The Super Trade Mission used to launch the campaign included a roadshow in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.
Mantra Hotel Group has announced the acquisition of two properties in Tasmania, the Hotel Collins in Hobart and the Hotel Charles in Launceston.These two properties will be rebranded as Mantra Collins Hotel Hobart and Mantra Charles Hotel Launceston on 30 April 2015, and will expand the hotel group’s presence in Tasmania.The new hotels will increase the number of Mantra Group hotels in Tasmania to six, joining Mantra One Sandy Bay Road in Hobart and the three regional Peppers properties, Peppers Seaport Launceston, Peppers York Cove and Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge.Mantra Group negotiated an off-market opportunity to secure the leaseholds from Tasmanian businessman Lyndon Jago, who currently markets the hotels under the Stay Tasmania brand.Mantra Group chief executive officer Bob East, said the new hotels were a significant addition to the Mantra portfolio.“Hobart and Launceston are strong markets and with forecasted domestic leisure visitation growth, future market conditions are favourable for each. Both hotels have an excellent reputation, ranking in the top ten for their respective cities on TripAdvisor, and they are an ideal addition to the Mantra brand,” Mr East said.Hotel Collins was constructed in 2009 and boasts an enviable location in the heart of Hobart‘s waterfront district.It consists of 80 guest rooms and apartments, all stylishly furnished with a contemporary design, with views of Mt Wellington, Queens Domain or the waterfront.Hotel Charles opened in July 2010 as part of an iconic Launceston redevelopment and has 99 contemporary rooms and an extensive range of facilities including a 60 seat restaurant, and conference room for up to 60 delegates.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wiseman
NSW is the number one State in Australia for total visitor nights, visitor numbers and visitor expenditure in both the international and domestic stakes with Regional NSW far ahead of its rivals in visitor numbers.In the year ended December 2015, Regional NSW received 689,700 international visitors who stayed 14 million nights in the State and spent AU$914 million, according to Tourism Research Australia’s International Visitor Survey.Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres has welcomed this announcement pointing out that NSW was the clear winner in regional tourism within Australia.“It’s pleasing to see the whole State benefit from Regional NSW’s thriving visitor economy. Best of all these figures represent an increase on the previous year ended December 2014, with Regional NSW experiencing 8.5 per cent more visitors, 15.1 per cent more nights and 30.2 per cent more visitor expenditure,” said Minister Ayres.Regional NSW outperformed Regional Australia which experienced growth in nights of 9 per cent (compared to NSW’s growth of 15.1 per cent), and where expenditure grew at 14.4 per cent (compared to NSW’s growth of 30.2 per cent).“The international appeal of regional NSW destinations including Byron Bay on the North Coast and the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains have encouraged significant growth in international visitor numbers, with the unspoilt South Coast and famed wine producing Riverina region also recording growth from international markets,” said Minister Ayres.The research also showed that Regional NSW recorded increases from domestic travellers including 54.3 million overnight and daytrip visitors, an increase of 6.2 per cent. These travellers stayed 66.3 million nights in Regional NSW and spent $13.2 billion.“From pristine beaches to snowfields, and rainforests to the awe-inspiring Outback, NSW is Australia’s most geographically diverse State and offers international visitors an experience like no other. Combine that with a world-class calendar of regional events and you have the complete visitor experience,” Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said.These results reflect the success of ongoing campaigns from Destination NSW, the State Government’s major events and tourism agency. Designed to stimulate consumer action and attitudinal change, Destination NSW’s marketing and advertising programs work closely with Regional Tourism Organisations to promote Regional NSW destinations and events.The agency combines regional events, marketing and publicity campaigns to drive domestic and international visitation to achieve the NSW Government’s targets of doubling overnight visitation by 2020 and positioning the State as the number one tourism and events destination in Australia. Visit Regional NSWSource = Destination NSW
Source = Vietjet Vietjet’s first domestic flights take offVietjet’s first domestic flights take offVietjet’s first two flights serving the domestic Thai travel market launched today on Bangkok-Phuket and Phuket-Chiang Rai routes. The airline brings its new-age approach, quality service, low-cost flights and promotional fares from zero Baht to the domestic Thai travel market. Customers on the inaugural flights enjoyed in-flight gifts as a keepsake of this important movement in Thai travel.Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Binh, Vietjet Vice President, said, “The official launch of Vietjet operations in Thailand extends the value and convenience to Thai travel market. This brings Vietnamese travelers more opportunities to enjoy different destinations in Thailand, which will contribute hugely to Thailand tourism industry.Vietjet already operates three daily return flights between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City and one daily return flight between Bangkok and Hanoi. The success and popularity of these recently expanded routes has also been a driving influence for the airline’s introduction of its new Thai flight expansion program. Aside from Bangkok-Phuket and Phuket-Chiang Rai routes, the airline also announces flights for Bangkok-Chiangmai, scheduled on September 26, 2016 and Bangkok– Haiphong (Halong Bay) on November 9, 2016.Tickets can be booked at www.vietjetair.com (also compatible with smartphones at https://m.vietjetair.com) or at http://www.facebook.com/vietjetthailand (just click the “Booking” tab). Payment can be easily made with debit and credit cards of Visa, MasterCard, JCB, and American Express.The airline also continues its everyday promotion from now until further notice under the “It’s time to Vietjet” promotional campaign with tickets from Zero Baht. Tickets can be booked from 12:00 to 14:00 daily at www.vietjetair.com Amazing ThailandAbout VietjetVietjet is the first airline in Vietnam to operate as a new-age airline with low-cost and diversified services to meet customers’ demands. It provides not only transport services but also uses the latest e-commerce technologies to offer various products and services for consumers. Vietjet recently became a fully-fledged member of International Air Transport Association (IATA) after receiving the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate two years ago. Vietjet was also named as one of the Top 500 Brands in Asia 2016 by global marketing research company Nielsen and “Best Asian Low Cost Carrier” at the TTG Travel Awards 2015, which compiles votes from travelers, travel agencies and tour operators in throughout Asia. The airline was also rated as one of the top three fastest growing airline brands on FaceBook in the world by Socialbakers.Currently, the airline boasts a fleet of 40 aircraft, including A320s and A321s, and operates 350 flights each day. It has already opened 53 routes in Vietnam and across the region to international destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Myanmar. It has carried nearly 30 million passengers to date.Looking ahead, the airline plans to expand its network across the region. To prepare for this plan, Vietjet has signed agreements with the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers to purchase more brand-new and modern aircraft.
A lot of inspiring quotes by Nelson Mandela adorned the walls of the classrooms to celebrate ‘Nelson Mandela International Day 2016’ this year on July 18 in Mumbai. The South African Consulate in partnership with other South African state entities, businesses and partners spent time with underprivileged children of ‘Smile Foundation’ in Mumbai. The Consulate called upon others to take up this challenge too and joined hands to helping those less privileged in India. ‘Take Action. Inspire Action. Make Every Day a Mandela Day’ was the slogan to mark the celebrations!Maropene Ramokgopa, South African Consul General, shared, “We are urging every Mumbaikar to do something good or every day spend some time which would make a difference in the life of somebody. We really had a good time with the Smile Foundation children. We simply intended to spread some happiness and love amongst the less fortunate.”“We are humbled to be a part of this celebration to commemorate the legend called Nelson Mandela and would also like to request people to join this movement to make the world a better place,” shared Santanu Mishra, Executive Trustee and Co Founder, Smile Foundation.The evening on July 18 saw a special screening for the Consular Corps and other business people of the movie ‘Invictus’ based on President Nelson Mandela.
Sanjiv AgarwalThe 50 days of demonitisation have been perhaps most demonising ones in the economic life of the country, since liberalisation. At the heart of it may be the trust deficit of private citizens in the government, due to unreasonably high taxes.If Singapore and soon, the USA could manage with 15% kind of Income Tax on businesses, why cannot our Government of India?Some would say smaller portion of Indians than Singaporeans and Americans pay taxes, but that may indeed be due to high tax rates in India. Others may say tax rates of European countries should be our benchmark, as we are supposed to be a Socialist welfare state like them. But where is the welfare one may ask?Not even drinkable water in the taps, leave alone high-quality free education and civic amenities these as well as Singaporean and American governments provide.Simply redistribute, some of the pundits would say. Let the higher tax collection be doled out in the jan-dhan accounts. But if private fellows could use the poor (and often illiterate) holders of these accounts for a cut, how would the government protect from abuses by the babus and the State apparatchiks?Then how can high-taxes be justified? Either way, it may be foolhardy to keep a high tax rate and expect high collection, when the evidence has shown the opposite is the cause and effect Even the argument for a cashless or less-cash economy completely disregards the high-cost of plastic often subsidised by the poor who can only afford to pay in cash! The other problem is the chor-police game it wants to build on as a principle.Now let’s address the question: isn’t it better to do something about so called black money than nothing? Of course it is better. But it better be logical and effective?Abolish or reduce business Income Tax to 15%. Let the money parked abroad be brought back in India with a penalty of 10% (as in Trump tax plan has it).Make sure GST on services, including Tourism, if not on everything, is not more than a single digit. (Singapore’s GST on everything is 7%). Give some kind of a staggered tax credit or refund to those who have paid high-income tax in the recent past. Where will the money come for running the country then?That is the magic of lower taxes. Expect the collection to rise as a result of the tax-cut. Expect the private citizen to fall in line and pay the reduced taxes, as the incentive in avoidance would have gone.Reign-in the corrupt tax administration. Declare a war on tax-terror rather than on poor tax payers! (Every citizen pays tax, even while buying a matchbox!)Make a just, simple and trust-based tax compliance system and then expect the citizens to be patriotic. Walk the talk, be a small government in-deed (not just a smaller cabinet of Ministers!).If you keep saying it is not the business of governments to run businesses, sell the banks. Sell all the public sector enterprises. Give voluntary retirement to the redundant and sack the corrupt babus. These measures will reduce the government expenditure and unproductive bleeding.Do as Singapore does.If Donald J Trump can learn from Singapore, why can’t we?
The Florence Municipality, the Florentine Chamber of Commerce and the University of Florence signed an agreement to outline new and effective strategies in the tourism field, relying on the governance of tourism and the ability to directly foster agreements between institutions and individuals, while defining and clarifying the roles of various on-site actors.The agreement is dedicated specifically to the MICE tourism and to better the quality of tourism in all the Florentine territories and it has the aim of choosing a partner to develop activities and strategies.Thanks to the winning of a competition notice, Destination Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau has been selected as the unique partner of the City of Florence and its partners to promote destinations all over the world and acquire more conferences and events.Destination Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau has been operating for over 20 years as a destination agency to attract large events, congresses, international marriages, and individual tourists. It represents a comprehensive outlet for tourism thanks to more than 300 partners, a network that makes it possible to have a synchronised bond with the territory and the operators functioning within, strengthened by signed agreements with trade associations of reference.The Ministry of Tourism of the city of Florence, Cecilia Del Re said, “We are very proud to have selected a unique partner for the promotion of the city. Florence is a unique city to host conferences and events also thanks to the new tramvia, the huge renovation of our congress centre and the future major enlargement of our airport.”Destination Florence CVB presented a project to better tourism within the city of Florence with specific activities and two main goals: acquire more conferences and events and attract qualified tourism.Carlotta Ferrari, Director of Destination Florence CVB said, “Florence is one of the most attractive destinations of the world, in fact, it is in the top five cities to host conferences and events. We will continue to promote Florence to acquire more conferences and events each year.”“Also, thanks to the Destination Florence project, we will develop and promote tourism offerings, proposing a benchmark for a single, potential national model. We are working with the most innovative technology like our new chat-bot that we will present in the next few months and we are also opening our official account on WeChat to promote Florence in the Chinese market.”
October 27, 2011 401 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Share “”National Bank of Kansas City””:www.bankofkc.com/ is adding to its arsenal of technology tools. Recently announcing that it will now utilize “”DocuSign’s””:www.docusign.com/ eSignature platform to enhance all aspects of mortgage processing, the financial institution will be able to boost borrower’s integration into loan procedures.[IMAGE]Through eSignature, customers of National Bank have the option to quickly complete their residential home loans online from end-to-end, and the bank is hoping to reap the financial benefits provided by abbreviated closing times. Making the mortgage process more user friendly while cutting costs and time-to-revenue totals, eSignature’s fully automated capabilities provide advantages to both lenders and consumers.Specifically, eSignature is known for accelerating loan closings, facilitating better speed-to-revenue numbers, increasing client satisfaction, and lowering costs. Additionally, DocuSign’s product will also enhance National Bank’s risk mitigation measures through its document and data management capabilities.Dan Stevens, sales operation manager for National Bank, said of the company’s new tech initiatives, “”DocuSign was the natural choice when we looked at electronic signature providers because it’s already the industry standard for real estate agents. DocuSign helps us get signed documents back right away so we can quickly close loans for our customers. DocuSigning is a much faster, better experience for our customers.””Echoing Stevens’ positive sentiments, DocuSign’s chief marketing officer, Dusting Grosse, commented, “”Mortgage companies measure success by the quality of their customer experience and speed in closing loans. DocuSign is proud to work with financial institutions like National Bank Of Kansas City to provide their customers with the easiest, fastest, most secure way to get a signature.””In a company statement, DocuSign went on to note the added safety, reliability, and security gained by companies using eSignature. DocuSign’s enterprise-class network has a global presence and boasts processes that have passed the security audits of the world’s largest financial services institutions. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-10-27 Abby Gregory Kansas Bank Boosts Borrower’s Tech Options
“”Bank of America””:https://www.bankofamerica.com/ and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ jointly announced Monday an agreement resolving all remaining rep and warranties claims on loans BofA sold to the GSE through the end of 2009.[IMAGE]Under the terms of the agreement, BofA will pay Freddie Mac a total of $404 million (subtracting $13 million in credits on repurchases already made) to be released from existing and future repurchases on approximately 716,000 loans originated in the 2000s. [COLUMN_BREAK]The payment also compensates Freddie Mac for past and potential future losses relating to denials, rescissions, and cancellations of mortgage insurance.The agreement doesn’t cover loan servicing obligations, loans contained in private label securitizations, or securities and disclosure claims.””We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Bank of America, which now allows both companies to move forward,”” said Freddie Mac CEO Donald H. Layton. “”We continue to make very good progress in recovering funds that are due to the American taxpayer, as well as resolving Freddie Mac’s legacy repurchase issues.””The payments are fully covered by BofA’s existing reserves as of the end of Q3, the bank said in its statement.The latest agreement furthers BofA’s efforts to clear out issues between itself and the GSEs stemming from mortgage issues on its own legacy loans and those sold by Countrywide, which it acquired in 2008. Previous agreements resolved claims on loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through 2008. in Secondary Market December 2, 2013 428 Views Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank of America Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage-Backed Securities RMBS Service Providers 2013-12-02 Tory Barringer BofA, Freddie Mac Come to $404M Agreement on Legacy Loans
Mortgage originations are soaring but bank’s are not reflecting this rise in their portfolios, which are suffering from new tax policies, fluctuating interest rates, and regulatory changes in mortgage lending.The shared frustration among many mortgage bankers in today’s housing market consists of concerns as to why their mortgage loan portfolios remain stagnant while originations keep rising.Equifax’s National Consumer Credit Trends Report showed that total mortgage originations increased to $1.2 trillion through the first nine months of 2015. The data also found that first mortgage originations rose 63 percent year-over-year, home equity installment loan originations have increased 20 percent, and HELOCs rose 23.3 percent to a new seven-year high.However, banks are not experiencing the same growth with their mortgage portfolio. Total mortgage and home equity balances remained at $8.84 trillion at the end of September, almost the same number for the last 18 months, the Equifax data showed.”We have huge growth in mortgage originations with nearly stagnant mortgage balances, which is seemingly illogical,” said Amy Crews Cutts, chief economist at Equifax. “The reasons are many, including changes in tax policy, fluctuations in interest rates, and regulatory changes affecting mortgage lending.”According to Cutts, there are a number of reasons for this vast difference, but the majority of it rests on first mortgage balances. These are the largest portion of total mortgage balances that have remained steady for a long period of time.”Across the nation, we have seen growth in total credit that mirrors the overall improvement of the U.S. economy,” Cutts said. “The only exception is mortgage debt, which has remained tepid despite a lively originations market.”Cutts identified several other contributors to sluggish mortgage portfolios including:Loan payoffs Buoyed by an improved economy and household finances, homeowners have been paying down debt faster through cash-in refinancing or by curtailing their debt by adding extra dollars to each month’s payment.Mortgage refinancing Consumers continue to refinance existing mortgage debt into lower rates and shorter terms also putting downward pressure on overall mortgage debt.Severe derogatory As loans at the end of the foreclosure process are converted to bank-owned real estate, the amount of overall mortgage debt is reduced. The severe derogatory rate (as a share of balances) on first mortgages falling to 4.5 basis points (bps) in September, compared to 6.7 bps a year ago. Severe derogatories are now at the lowest level since August 2007 as a share of both outstanding loans and balances.Home Purchase Activity In 2014 changes in federal tax policy removed the exemption on short sale debt forgiveness, which suppressed overall homes sales. Sales have recovered in 2015 but they are barely covering principal repayments rather than driving mortgage debt higher. Mortgage Originations Uptick Not Reflected in Bank Portfolios November 4, 2015 480 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News, Origination Banks Mortgage Loan Portfolios Mortgage Origination 2015-11-04 Staff Writer Share
Under severely adverse economic conditions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are projected to need another bailout totaling as high as $126 billion, according to a report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).The Dodd-Frank Act Stress Tests (DFAST)—Severely Adverse Scenario report, released by the FHFA on Monday, indicated that when hypothetical severely adverse economic conditions for a forecast horizon from December 31, 2015, to March 31, 2018, are applied, the GSEs would be projected to make incremental draws on Treasury ranging between $49.2 billion and $125.8 billion depending on the treatment of deferred tax assets.Certain financial institutions with more than $10 billion in assets are required by the Dodd-Frank Act to conduct annual stress tests to determine if they can absorb losses during a period of adverse economic conditions. The conditions applied in the 2016 DFAST Severely Adverse scenario include an immediate decline in real GDP until it reaches a trough in Q1 2017 (representing a decline of 6.26 percent from the pre-recession peak); an increase in unemployment rate from 5 percent at the beginning of the forecast horizon to a peak of 10 percent in Q3 2017; and an increase in the consumer price inflation rate from 0.25 percent to a peak of 1.9 percent in Q3 2017.Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received a combined $187.5 billion bailout from taxpayers in 2008, at which time they were taken into conservatorship by the federal government. Stakeholders in the industry, as well as lawmakers, have been concerned for at least a few years that the GSEs would need another draw on Treasury, since taxpayers remain on the hook while the FHFA’s conservatorships of the GSEs (which was intended to be temporary) is now in its eighth year.FHFA Director Mel Watt sounded the alarm in February when he gave a speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center in which he stated there were risks that were certain to escalate as long as the conservatorships continue—namely, the GSEs’ lack of a capital buffer puts them at risk of another taxpayer bailout. The capital buffer, currently $1.2 billion, is required by law to be reduced to zero by January 1, 2018.”I have consistently stated that our responsibility and role at FHFA as conservator is to manage in the present,” Watt said in his February speech. “However, as we work to appropriately manage challenges and risks in the present, we also have a responsibility to assess when these challenges and risks may escalate to the point that they negatively impact the Enterprises and the broader housing finance market in the future. By giving this speech today, I am signaling my belief that some of the challenges and risks we are managing are escalating and will continue to do so the longer the Enterprises remain in conservatorship.”Another concern among industry stakeholders, which has prompted several lawsuits from GSE investors, is the fact that since 2012 all GSE quarterly profits have been swept into Treasury. The original agreement called for the GSEs to pay an annual dividend of 10 percent to Treasury.Click here to view FHFA’s complete report. August 8, 2016 447 Views Share Stress Tests Show GSEs Would Need Another Bailout Dodd-Frank Stress Tests Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Severely Adverse Economic Conditions 2016-08-08 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Secondary Market
December 7, 2017 566 Views HOUSING mortgage OCC wildfires 2017-12-07 Nicole Casperson OCC Allows Banks and Associations Affected by Wildfires to Close Share On Thursday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a proclamation allowing national banks and federal savings associations affected by the California wildfires to close.Toney M. Bland, Senior Deputy Comptroller, Midsize and Community Bank Supervision issued the proclamation, which states:“Because of emergency conditions caused by wildfires in California, I find that emergency conditions exist pursuant to 12 USC §§ 95(b)(1), 1463(a)(1)(A), 3102(b), and 12 CFR §§ 7.3000(b) and 28.13(a)(1). Accordingly, the Comptroller of the Currency, or his or her designee, hereby authorizes national banking associations, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks at their discretion, to close offices in the areas affected by these emergency conditions for as long as deemed necessary for bank operation or public safety. In addition, bank management is encouraged to consult OCC Bulletin 2012-28, “Supervisory Guidance on Natural Disasters and Other Emergency Conditions” (September 21, 2012). This guidance lists some actions bankers could consider implementing when their bank operates or has customers in areas that are affected by a natural disaster or other emergency condition. Dated this 7th Day of December 2017.”In issuing the proclamation, the OCC expects that only those bank offices directly affected by the extreme emergency conditions to close. Those offices should make every effort to reopen as quickly as possible to address the banking needs of their customers.OCC Bulletin 2012-28 “Supervisory Guidance on Natural Disasters and Other Emergency Conditions” provides guidance on actions bankers could consider implementing when their bank or savings association operates or has customers in areas affected by a natural disaster or other emergencies. in Government, Headlines, News
From new appointments and partnerships to new campaigns and technology, get the latest news from the mortgage industry in this weekly update.Equifax Inc., a global information solutions company, announced that it will be working with Freddie Mac to fully automate the assessment of borrower income. This will be done via the integration of Equifax’s income verification tool, The Work Number, with Freddie Mac’s Loan Advisor asset assessment tool. The goal will be to streamline the process for homebuyers working with Freddie Mac to secure a mortgage, thus making the origination process easier and more efficient from point-of-sale through securitization.Equifax’s Work Number database is the nation’s largest centralized repository of payroll data, containing more than 350 million payroll records. Equifax made its income verification data available to Freddie Mac last year as part of a limited release, but Freddie Mac now plans to offer it broadly to its clients in the coming months._____________________________________________________________________Ellie Mae, a cloud-based platform provider for the mortgage finance industry, announced the launch of the “Driving Innovation Home” campaign. Ellie Mae customers, prospective customers, and partners can visit EllieMae.com/innovation which kicked off on October 15, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2019.To participate in Ellie Mae’s Driving Innovation Home “digital mortgage journeys,” visitors can fill out a “custom passport” online and then launch one of five journeys: using Ellie Mae’s Consumer Engagement to find new borrowers; using eClosing and Investor Delivery to automate key workflow; learning about Ellie Mae’s Encompass digital mortgage solutions to drive down costs per loan; charting a path of compliance with the latest regulatory changes, whether the Home Mortgage Act (HMDA) or Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA)._____________________________________________________________________FirstClose welcomes Pat Downing as their new CTO. Based out of Austin, Texas, FirstClose was founded in 2001 and provides software solutions for mortgage lenders by delivering middleware vendor management and real-time order-tracking tools online or via direct integration of various loan-origination systems. Downing’s chief role with FirstClose will be overseeing development of all technical efforts.Downing comes to FirstClose from Mozido, another Austin-based company. He brings with him more than 20 years’ experience in IT operations and customer support services. In addition to his experience in technology operations, infrastructure, development, and customer support, Downing has overseen global team-building, budget creation, budget management, and the precise alignment of technology with business needs._____________________________________________________________________Northpointe Bank welcomes Kate Higgins as a Senior Loan Officer. Higgins joins the bank’s lending team in Denver, Colorado. Her responsibilities include attracting and cultivating business relationships with a focus placed on customers, considering clients’ needs, and acting to exceed their expectations. Higgins handles multiple niche products including land loans, from construction to permanent, and can lend in all 50 states.Higgins comes to Northpointe Bank from Unibell Financial, Inc., where she acted as a residential mortgage broker, handling both forward and reverse mortgages with access to multiple lenders. Higgins has more than 30 years worth of experience in sales and customer service. Eye on the Industry: Updates on Freddie Mac, Ellie Mae, and More Ellie Mae Equifax FirstClose Freddie Mac Northpointe Bank 2018-10-25 Radhika Ojha Share in Daily Dose, Featured, News October 25, 2018 907 Views