Tech » FD tech update including Amazon, Facebook and Google

FD tech update including Amazon, Facebook and Google

Financial Director's weekly guide to the tech innovations that are driving the business models of the world's most successful companies.

Facebook may introduce its cryptocurrency this month

Global social networking giant Facebook may finally roll out its cryptocurrency “Project Libra” sometime later in June. Project Libra will allow Facebook’s global users to transfer money across borders as well as make online purchases. With this cryptocurrency, the social networking giant is planning to include bonuses for merchants that adopt it. Facebook is known for its security management and it is said that the blockchain would be far more centralized than Bitcoins.  The giant has also set up a group within the company which will be led by Messenger chief David Marcus and they will work towards Blockchain technology and its potential use for the platform.

Facebook launches PyTorch Hub for reproducing AI model results

Facebook has rolled out the beta release of PyTorch Hub, an API workflow for research reproducibility and support. Currently, PyTorch is available with access to roughly 20 pretrained versions of Google’s BERT, WaveGlow and Tacotron 2 from Nvidia and the Generative Pre-Training (GPT) for language understanding from Hugging Face. A few audio and generative models as well as several computer vision models trained using the ImageNet database. PyTorch 1.1 was released in May with TensorBoard support for ML training visualisations and an improved JIT compiler.

Amazon will serve any government agency with facial recognition technology, so long as it’s legal

Global tech and cloud computing giant Amazon announced that the company would work with any government agency that followed the law. Law enforcement in Oregon and Florida have used the Amazon’s facial recognition technology, face and image ID service, known as Rekognition.

Amaiz launches biz banking app for UK ‘solopreneurs’

UK start-up fintech company Amaiz, has launched an app-based banking service for freelancers, gig workers, entrepreneurs and contractors. The firm will offer a business current account on the app that will give users a host of tools designed to minimize admin and paperwork. Other features of the app include; ability to create and send customised invoices, categorise expenses charged to a Mastercard, manage debits and get to view cashflows and balances. The fintech will also offer a human element int eh form of customer care on a 24/7 basis along with advice from accounting experts. The app is currently free for the first three months, with a flat monthly fee of £9.99 thereafter.

LINE Pay and Visa announce strategic partnership to implement new fintech solutions

Global payments provider Visa has partnered with digital wallet LINE Pay to create a new block-chain based solution for B2B clients, cross border payment and alternative currency payments. An add on will be that LINE users will be able to get a digital visa card within the LINE app as well as they will be able to pay with the app at Visa’s merchants. LINE initially began as a messaging app but has now launched several finance products to meet consumer needs for integrating more services within one app.

Salesforce is buying data visualization company Tableau for $15.7bn in all-stock deal

CRM and Cloud solutions provider, Salesforce has announced the acquisition of data visualization company Tableau for $15.7 billion in an all-stock deal. As Salesforce is looking to diversify beyond CRM software and into deeper layers of analytics, this deal will seem beneficial to the cloud solutions provider to extend its engagement and data intelligence. Salesforce also mentioned that Tableau will operate independently and under its own brand post-acquisition.

Salesforce Embraces blockchain to extend Customer360 Vision

CRM and Cloud solutions provider, Salesforce is built on the on its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software-as-a-service platform and continues to be the core of the company. Apart from the tremendous growth of its CRM, Salesforce also made known that its new Einstein Platform Services enables less tech savvy individuals to build custom AIpowered apps with just a few clicks. It is the world’s first declarative blockchain service solution and is built natively on its platform letting customers create blockchain applications through simple drag-and-drop like every other Salesforce app.

AWS is now making Amazon Personalize available to all customers

Amazon has rolled out Amazon Personalize, an API that enables developers to add custom machine learning models to their apps, including ones for personalized product recommendations, search results and direct marketing. This API processes data using algorithms created for Amazon’s retail business but will now be kept private, owned entirely by the customer.

The service is now available to AWS users in Ohio, North Virginia, West Oregon, Tokyo, Singapore and Ireland with more regions coming soon. The pricing model charges five cents per GB of data uploaded on Personalize and around 24 cents per training hour.

Google Cloud splashes $2.6bn On acquiring data analytics firm Looker

Cloud computing services provider Google Cloud has acquired data analytics form, Looker for $2.6bn. The two companies together share more than 350 joint customers including Buzzfeed, Hearst, King, Sunrun, WPP Essence and Yahoo. Looker’s analytics platform provides applications for business intelligence and use-case specific solutions including sales analytics as well as a flexible, embedded analytics product to collaborate on business decisions.

This acquisition will enable Google Cloud to deliver industry specific analytics solutions in key verticals including supply chain analytics in retailing; media analytics in entertainment; or healthcare analytics at global scale. With the integration of Looker onto Google Cloud’s Platform, customers will benefit from Looker’s multi-cloud functionality and its ability to bring together data from SaaS applications.

Google’s AI generates videos with ‘unprecedented complexity’

Scientists at Google Research speak about the progress they have made in producing diverse and surprisingly realistic frames from open source video data sets at scale. They have described their method in a newly published paper and on a webpage containing selected samples of the model’s outputs. The researcher’s systems are auto aggressive, and they generate pixel by pixel.

Microsoft and Oracle partner for cloud interoperability services

Global tech giants Microsoft and Oracle will operate in agreement and they hope to pose a stiff challenge to competitor Amazon and AWS cloud services. The partnership will encourage business wanting to migrate and run mission-critical enterprise workloads across either Microsoft Azure or Oracle Cloud. The basic idea is that cloud users will be able to seamlessly connect Azure Services like analytics and AI to Oracle cloud services like an autonomous database. There will be unified identity and access management through a single sign-on experience and automated user provisioning.

Octo Telematics partners with SAS

Data analytics solution for auto insurance Octo Telematics has joined forces with analytics solution provider SAS to improve property and casualty (P&C) insurance carrier’s capabilities by leveraging IoT devices. SAS’s analytics will be integrated within Octo’s insurance IoT platform to support the full data lifecycle, from data ingestion, normalization and validation through to model deployment. The Octo IoT and data analytics platform gives auto insurers improved ability to price risk, manage claims and engage customers.

 Bank of England will monitor AI performance

The executive director for UK’s deposit taking supervision conducted a survey about whether insurers and financial market infrastructure should make use of AI for detecting money laundering, the results of this survey will be released later in 2019.  With the use of AI/ML on the rise in financial services, the boards will need to oversee and mitigate to keep away risk and the unfair use of data.

IBM to build AI centre with Melbourne University

US-based tech giant IBM has partnered with Melbourne University to build a US$10m artificial intelligence (AI) centre that will focus on using AI in healthcare and medical technologies. The new centre, which has received a few million dollars in funding from the Australian Research Council, will be led by computing and information systems professor Tim Baldwin and researchers are targeting four main streams of research.

The centre has been modelled on IBM’s $240 million joint venture with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and will follow a start-up style approach to the commercialisation of the projects.

IMF’s Lagarde raises concerns over Big Tech’s finserv Push

At the Fukuoka symposium on financial technology, International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Director Christine Lagarde has released a statement that warns financial organisations about the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) may have on the financial systems across the world.

In her statement, Largarde has stated that the use of big data and AI by technology companies often increases the dominance of big tech companies in the mobile payments market and this may result policymakers around the world rethinking how they regulate the banking system and how they ensure financial settlements are made safely and securely.

She also mentioned, “Over the last five years, technology growth in China has been extremely successful and allowed millions of new entrants to benefit from access to financial products and the creation of high-quality jobs. But it has also led to two firms controlling more than 90% of the mobile payments market.” Reuters noted that looking at the pros and cons of financial innovation is one of the many topics that will be discussed among the Group of 20 finance ministers.”

 Machine Learning has significant potential for the manufacturing sector

Currently, AI is instrumental in the manufacturing sector in three aspects of their business: operational procedures, production, and post-production. Machine learning has helped factories optimize the speed, cost and efficiency of their operations; it could also enable manufacturing plants to react quickly to changing instructions. Machine learning can also help identify the factors contributing to accidents and develop solutions to prevent any reoccurrences.

It can be significant in production outcomes – quality and versatility or products that a plant manufactures. AI can allow manufacturers to build relationships with their customers event beyond the point of sale. Machine learning can open streams of revenue by letting buyers access expert technicians whenever the device needs repairs.  It can help producers by giving them ways to streamline their operations, and it can help consumers by making better products available at reasonable prices.

UK invests £18.5m to boost diversity in artificial intelligence

UK has announced an investment of £18.5m to enhance diversity in AI and data science roles. Around £13.5m of the funding will go towards up to 2,500 AI and data science conversion courses for professionals as well as 1,000 scholarships. The programmes will aim to support professionals returning from a career break as well as women and those from minority ethnic or lower socio-economic backgrounds. Around £5m will be invested into the Adult Learning Technology Innovation Fund which will encourage companies to use AI and automation to improve online learning platforms.

Etihad Airways uses AI to source ideas from staff

Etihad Airways is working with a tech start up Swae, to create a platform for its employees to put forward their ideas to help the business. Known as iFikra, it will use AI technology, it enables the airline’s staff to propose ways of solving business challenges or take new opportunities. Employees can vote, comment and provide constructive feedback and AI will be used to strengthen written ideas from staff and analyse feedback before escalating the best ideas to the next level. The Airline launched its AI academy in association with Microsoft, a platform where the employees have access to a training programme and instructor-led classes to drive AI literacy across the company.

Cybertonica and Credit Kudos partner on AI-powered credit scoring

Financial services provider Credit Kudos has partnered with FinTech company which detects and prevents fraudulent transactions, Cybertonica and the use of their new ScreenWiZe product will enable new features and behavioural analytics, improving scores and speed by more than 30%. The two companies will use their combine platforms to automate credit scoring, harnessing Open Banking. This partnership will see a reduction in non-paying lenders by 50% or more while growing approval levels across a portfolio that grows 20% faster.

Cisco embeds more AI, machine learning across the network

Cisco debuted a series of software enhancements including new network automation and analytics tools that are meant to help enterprise IT teams gain more insights and visibility from network data. Cisco’s machine learning correlates network data against baselines to uncover potential network issues and alert IT before problems occur. New machine-reasoning algorithms for improved troubleshooting, giving IT admins and network engineers the power to detect and correct issues instantly. Integration of SD-Access with SD-WAN and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) will make it easier for IT teams to authorize, onboard and segment users and devices across branch, data center and cloud networks.

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