HSBC Holdings Plc is blocking staff from texting on their work phones, in the latest fallout from regulatory probes into the industry’s use of unauthorized communication methods.
(Bloomberg) — HSBC Holdings Plc is blocking staff from texting on their work phones, in the latest fallout from regulatory probes into the industry’s use of unauthorized communication methods.
The firm is in the process of disabling the function on employees’ company-issued phones, meaning they will be unable to send or receive text messages, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The ban on SMS applies across the bank, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
HSBC had already blocked staff from using WhatsApp on work phones earlier, the people said.
“Banks use a wide range of approved channels to communicate in compliance with regulatory obligations,” a spokesperson for the bank said. “HSBC, like many other banks, reviews and adjusts functionality on its corporate devices as needed.”
A small number of workers in regulated roles will still be allowed to send text messages on phones where the activity is archived, one of the people said. Personal devices remain unaffected, the people said.
The move comes as financial watchdogs investigate the devices and systems used by traders and dealmakers to share information, and the way their employers keep track of these. It’s aimed in part at preventing financial misconduct after high-profile cases of market manipulation at some of the biggest banks on Wall Street.
Read More: Wall Street Hit With $2 Billion of Fines in WhatsApp Probe
Earlier this year, HSBC agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars in settlements to US regulators over its failure to monitor employees’ communications on unauthorized messaging apps, including WhatsApp. HSBC paid $30 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and another $15 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Overall, financial firms including Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., Barclays Plc and Citigroup Inc. have agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion to US regulators for violating recordkeeping rules.
Under regulators’ rules, firms must keep an eye on their employees’ communications with clients to track conduct. In addition to large investment banks, major private equity firms and hedge funds have also being probed for their use of apps and personal phones.
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