Tech » FD Tech Update featuring Facebook, IBM and Oracle

FD Tech Update featuring Facebook, IBM and Oracle

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

Facebook gets big backers for GlobalCoin project

Global social networking giant Facebook has been on the lookout for the funding of its Global Coin and has been in talks with several major financial services. As per the Wall Street Journal, Paypal and Uber have invested $10 million into a foundation that will govern the coin. Other institutions are Stripe, travel-reservation site and e-commerce site MercadoLibre.

In return, each firm will receive a node on the network as well as access to user’s transactional data. Facebook is likely to issue a white paper stating the use of the coin and describing its functions. Ed Bowles, Standard Chartered’s European head of corporate and public affairs will join Facebook in September as its London-based director of public policy.

Facebook research open-sources tools to Improve AI And AR In virtual spaces

To improve its AI capabilities and to ensure if its virtual assistants can navigate clearly, Facebook has open-sourced a simulation called AI Habitat and a dataset called Replica. Replica, a research project, is a photo-realistic version of 18 sample spaces created by Facebook Reality Labs (FRL). These virtual spaces will be used to train AI bots, for instance if an AI agent can successfully search for missing keys in the virtual environment, it will be able to do the same in the real world someday.

Replica is helpful in terms of tiny details such as mirror reflections and rug textures. AI Habitat is an open platform to train AI agents in simulated home and office environments. Using this platform, an AI bot can be placed in a replica environment where it can carry out tasks like locating the keys which are placed on the desk of the bedroom, the bot will first need to locate the bedroom (Replica environment) to find the keys.

IMF warns of Big Tech threat to financial stability

The International Monetary Fund states that with the rise of Big Tech firms in financial markets, a disruption in the financial landscape can be predicted. These Big Tech firms are most likely to use their enormous customer bases and network to offer financial products based on big data and artificial intelligence. Although, these developments show promise of modernizing the financial markets but also give rise to several issues including privacy, competition and market concentration.

Adobe AI can spot facial manipulations in Photoshop

Computer software company, Adobe is working towards a tool using AI to spot fake images and photo-shopped facial images. To highlight the ethical implications of Photoshop, Adobe has partnered with researchers from the University of California at Berkeley. The result of their partnership is a tool which was able to spot altered faces 99% of the time in comparison to the human eye which was 53% of the time. The tool could also revert the images to their original state and is currently in its initial stages.

Salesforce launches a trio of AI engagement and asset-tagging tools, debuts Commerce Page Designer

CRM and cloud solutions provider Salesforce has announced three new AI features, Einstein Engagement Frequency is the first of the new feature in salesforce service cloud that draws on marketing interaction data determining the emails that go to customers. This is complimented by Einstein Send-Time Optimization, which selects the time to send the emails; Einstein Content Tagging, which recognizes the proper names and expanded marketing cloud messaging support which integrates transactional messages into sales.

Salesforce has also launched a new web-embeddable channel menu in service cloud that lets clients start conversations with companies on chat channels like SMS, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp as well as voice and other traditional mediums. Salesforce announced Commerce Page Designer, a new low code feature in commerce cloud that allows companies to create and manage ecommerce sites visually.

IBM takes another big step to hybrid computing

Information technology company IBM has taken a leap ahead of its competitors by enabling some of its last platforms, IBM i and AIX to leverage cloud services on IBM Cloud. It is working towards creating a true hybrid environment where applications are portable across platforms. IBM is acquiring Red Hat to enhance its hybrid cloud platform and the company expanded the potential and portability of its DB2 data management platform. Extending both IBM I and AIX operating systems to cloud will enable customers to expand their resources ondemand, to migrate to the cloud, to leverage to the latest Power9 servers. In addition, IBM also announced a program to validate business partners with Power Systems expertise.

Oracle adds ML capabilities to its Exadata Database

Global computer software company will update its Exadata Database with hardware and software enhancements, machine learning capabilities including automatic indexing which will tune the database as per usage. Oracle’s Exadata is the foundation of Oracle autonomous database the world’s first self-driving database, and Oracle Cloud Applications. Exadata X8 also comprises of new automated performance monitoring that combines AI, real-world performance triaging experience and best practices to detect root cause without human intervention.

Experian adds Cazana valuation data to credit offering

Consumer credit reporting company Experian will add Cazana’s vehicle valuation data to its own customer credit data to better understand the risk in the automotive sector. Cazana’s AI technology provides an accurate view of the current and future value of vehicles. This is essential to ensure that a fair priced finance product is offered to car buyers. Experian’s partnership with Cazana will help their customers make better decisions, sharpen their business effectiveness and drive consumer loyalty.

Emirates NBD partners with SAS to enhance customer services through AI

Emirates NBD has partnered with analytics solution provider SAS to ensure optimisation and reallocation of resources, automate credit and drive smart decision making to deliver enhanced customer experience. The bank will look to implement the SAS DMS platform across its entire range of products. The partnership will see SAS enabling the bank to make better credit decisions and to main acceptable levels of risk while focusing on growth.

Amazon Dives Deep into Reinforcement Learning

Global tech and cloud computing giant Amazon is looking to apply Reinforcement Learning (RL) to their own real world scenarios. The company combines RL with other machine learning methods to optimize its warehouse and logistics operations and while discovering optimal paths for delivery. The latest application is visible in its autonomous drone delivery device.

Unveiled at Amazon’s Re:MARS 2019 conference, Amazon will soon be seen delivering packages via airborne drones to houses around the world, subject to regulatory approvals and technological advancements. The drone can fly vertically as well as hover like a quadcopter and can also fly like an airplane. The system has multiple sensors and cameras to handle navigation.

ECB picks SIA and Colt to provide access network to Eurosystem infrastructures

The European Central Bank (ECB) has chosen the partnership between SIA and Colt Technology Services to provide connectivity services to the central and commercial banks, central depositories and automated clearing houses. The system used will be Eurosystem Single Market Infrastructure Gateway (ESMIG) to provide direct connection to market infrastructures such as Target2-Securities (T2S), the instant payments settlement service, and the Eurosystem Collateral Management System. This partnership is expected to bolster the evolution of payments, securities and collateral infrastructures and provide secure functionalities.

Singapore and UK to deepen collaboration on cyber threat

Singapore and the UK will soon join forces to raise cyber security in their respective financial sectors. Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the City of London on cooperation data flows, enhancing cross-border KYC processes, skills development in the financial sector, and green finance. MAS will also work with the Bank of England to share information and arrange for staff exchanges and are in terms of preparing a Memorandum of Understanding to mark the partnership. The memorandum has arrived at a time when the wo countries are engaged in the SG-UK “Partnership for the Future” campaign, launched in January 2019 by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Singapore minister for foreign affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.

StanChart looking for fintech investment opportunities in the GCC

British multinational banking and financial services company Standard Chartered announced that it plans to invest in fintech startups based in the Middle East and Africa. Recently, Standard Chartered partnered with PCCW, Hong Kong Telecom Trust and Ctrip Financial Management to launch a new digital-only retail bank in Hong Kong. Alex Mason, the head of SC Ventures after meeting some of the bank’s strategic clients and investors in the UAE says that he sees potential investments in the UAE. Manson said: “This place is ready. There’s lots of ideas and energy behind financial innovation in this market … there are a number of things we want to follow up in the UAE.”

Fintech unicorn Monzo Is expanding into the US

London based digital mobile-only bank Monzo, revealed that it plans to expand its firm into the United States of America. Aside from its existing offices in London, Cardiff, and Las Vegas, Monzo now plans to introduce itself in Los Angeles while adding around 70 to 80 employees over the next 12 months. Monzo wishes to be the only interface for money transactions.

Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield commenting on the plan said: “We want to be the single control hub, a single interface for money.” Monzo speaking in terms of how beneficial the app could be, stated: “Let’s say you go to a jeweler to buy an expensive gift and pay for it using your Monzo card. Imagine being able to insure it from within the app in a single click.”

Paytm introduces Artificial Intelligence to its payment gateway

Indian e-commerce payment system and digital wallet company Paytm announced the launch of an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based router. With the launch of this AI based router that makes use of big data analytics, merchants can now have a comprehensive analysis of their transactions, sales and success rates in a dashboard that is easy to refer.

Puneet Jain, vice president, Paytm Payment Gateway said: “Our partnered merchants spend massively on customer acquisition and retention. The last thing they want is losing a customer due to payment failure. We are excited to introduce an AI-based routing engine that addresses this problem by optimizing the payment workflows and routing the transaction to the best performing payment aggregator in real time. Further, this will help online merchants reduce development effort to enable various PG providers and achieve faster time to market.”

Microsoft launches AI digital labs in India

Redmond-headquartered multinational technology company Microsoft launched AI digital labs in India by partnering with 10 higher educational institutions. Microsoft with its three year programme intends to support institutions with infrastructure, curriculum and content along with access to cloud and artificial intelligence services as well as developer support.

Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari said: “As AI becomes mainstream, organisations will require talent with skill sets that are very different from what exist now. Educators and institutions are integral to the skilling revolution taking root in the country.”

British Airways Looks to Artificial Intelligence to change air travel

British Airways (part of IAG) aims to introduce artificial intelligence to improve the flying experience. The company looks forward to use AI for tracking and predicting delays before they can happen, streamlining the movement of cargo and luggage, and reducing queues.

CEO Alex Cruz says that his team is already working on machine learning algorithms to finetune the quantity of fresh food that gets placed on any flight, reducing waste and ensuring everyone gets their choice. Cruz says that it may take time but will be a benefit once accomplished.

Lloyds app now lets customers see savings and credit card accounts from other banks

Retail bank Lloyds Banking Group launched a new feature to its Open Banking. This feature allows customers to view their savings and credit card account details from another banking app. The feature currently includes only the three sister brands- Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland. For example, customers with a Halifax account can view their Lloyds Bank account in their Halifax app.

Stephen Noakes, transformation director, Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Customers are already using Open Banking to get a fuller view of their finances at their fingertips. Adding savings accounts and credit cards to the mix will help provide an instant snapshot of their financial lives and make it easier to make decisions about spending and saving.”

Visa launches DLT-based cross-border payments platform

Card giant Visa has launched its distributed ledger-based, noncard platform for high-value corporate, cross-border payments. Visa collaborated with FIS and Bottomline Technologies to bring the platform to bank clients as it seeks to take on interbank funds transfer network Swift and Ripple.

Kevin Phalen, SVP, global head, Visa Business Solutions, said: “By creating a solution that facilitates direct, bank to bank transactions, we are eliminating friction associated with key industry pain points.”

Trustly and PayWithMyBank agree merger

Stockholm-headquartered fintech company Trustly collaborated with PayWithMyBank to create a transatlantic payment network that would allow customers to pay directly from their bank account while shopping online. Trustly presently offers cross-border payments to and from consumer bank accounts at over 3000 banks in 29 European markets.

Oscar Berglund, CEO of Trustly, said: “This transformative merger creates the first and only online banking payments network with transatlantic coverage and accelerates our path towards global coverage. Together we’re thrilled to be able to offer merchants and billers a unique alternative to card payments, allowing them to accept payments from 600 million consumers across Europe and the US.”

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