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FD tech update

Financial Director's guide to the technology innovations taking place around the world that are set to influence the corporate landscape.

Facebook announces two new algorithm updates aimed at improving engagement

Facebook has announced a couple of algorithm updates to its News Feed to prioritise personalised content for users. The News Feed will have two prominent ranking updates: prioritizing the friends a user wants to hear from the most, and links that a user may find worthwhile. In order to better inform their data, Facebook has begun using surveys that ask users to list people that they’re closest to and which posts are worth their time.

Inside Facebook’s new robotics lab, where AI and machines friend one another

Facebook has revealed that the company is experimenting with robots to push its AI research forward. It aims to use AI and data to help robots and machines learn tasks independently. Current experiments involve using a sense of touch to help a robot complete simple tasks like rolling a ball or teaching six-legged robot to learn to walk on its own. While none of these experiments are breakthroughs, it is still notable that Facebook’s AI research lab is pursuing this line of work.

Google AI engineers introduce Translatotron

Google AI engineers have introduced Translatotron, an end to end, speech to speech translation model. Still in an experimental phase, Translatotron can directly translate speech from one language into another. Moreover, it is also able to retain the original speaker’s vocal characteristics in the translated speech, which makes the translated speech sound more natural and less jarring.

Google’s new ad formats leverage machine learning to sharpen privacy focus

Google has announced several new ad formats that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to help marketers reach bigger audiences and sell more products. The new advertisements will come primarily in two formats: ‘gallery’ ads, which include multiple images that users can swipe through, and ‘discovery’ ads that place sponsored posts in places where people are typically looking for content tailored for them. The company claims that the format has produced 25% more interactions than more static ads.

Salesforce reveals Einstein Analytics for financial services

Salesforce has debuted unveiled Einstein Analytics for Financial Services, a suite of AI-driven customizable tools targeted at wealth advisors, retail bankers, and money managers. The new tool draws from Salesforce’s Financial Services Cloud and other data sources to deliver AI-powered insights and intelligent recommendations to grow the business and deepen client relationships. Credit union Elements Financial and Royal Bank of Canada are already using the AI analytics package to better serve its clients.

HDFC Ergo and IBM to jointly set up data lab in India

India-based general insurer HDFC ERGO has partnered with IBM to co-develop artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions to improve customer experience. Leveraging IBM Garage, teams from both the companies will work together to develop and test new solutions. This will help to better address customer queries, ensure faster turnaround time and draw deeper customer insights for a better omni channel experience.

Amazon considers AI-powered doorbell cameras to stop package theft

Amazon’s subsidiary Ring has filled patent applications to develop AI-powered doorbells that can combat neighbourhood crime, in particular stealing of e-commerce packages from doorsteps. The patent application illustrates how the Ring doorbell would be configured to monitor a package drop zone using artificial intelligence and send out an alert to the smartphone of the homeowner if the package disappears.  The homeowners can then alert neighbours or the law enforcement through alerts on their smartphones.

Soros Fund Management increases stake in Tesla convertible bonds

Soros Fund Management has increased its stake in Tesla Inc’s convertible bonds. The company added 17.5 million convertible bonds to bringing the total convertible bonds held by Tesla to 37.5 million. Due in 2021, the new addition follows up the firm’s purchase last year of another Tesla convertible bond that came due in March.

UK becomes world’s top fintech hub as start-ups rake in £4.5bn

According to a new Tech Nation report, fintech is leading the way as the UK’s strongest tech sub-sector, where it currently ranks as number one in the world. Investment in UK high growth fintech firms reached £4.5 billion between 2015 and 2018.

Unsurprisingly, London continues to remain the UK’s leader in attracting high-growth tech investment, receiving £9 billion from 2015 to 2018. Cambridge is second, at £583 million, and other UK cities are continuing to make considerable ground.

In total, investment in the technology businesses totalled £6.3bn during 2018, making the UK the fourth-most important international market for investment in the technology sector, behind only the US, China and India.

LG developed its own AI chip to make its smart home products even smarter

Consumer electronics giant LG has announced in-house development its own artificial intelligence processor chip, that will be used in its own future smart home appliances like robot vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners.

Based on its proprietary neural engine, the chip improves the deep-learning algorithms and can work independently without the need of an internet connection. The AI chip will also feature voice intelligence to recognise vocal commands and enhanced visual intelligence tech to recognise objects, location and space.

HSBC taps AI to simplify procurement process

HSBC has partnered with Globality to adopt its artificial intelligence platform for sourcing and procurement of services. Utilising Globality’s AI-powered smart sourcing process, the bank will be now able to scope projects in hours rather than days and match unique requirements to relevant suppliers around the world. It will enable HSBC to save costs, increase collaboration and speed up decision making.

Binji, a New fintech Ccompany, launches first full-service financial platform

US-based fintech Binji has launched a personal finance solution that combines all major aspects of digital banking into one platform. The solution offers a digital display Mastercard, app-based banking, card consolidation of up to 24 debit and/or credit cards to fund one’s Binji account, and instant peer-to-peer payments. There is no minimum balance required for the account and it also offers early access to paychecks for users who enroll in direct deposit. The company also working to launch an interest-earning savings account in the future.


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