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5G Standalone Disappoints, Amazon Defers Visa Ban, UK’s New Cyberlaw – Tech Weekly

We are back with the tech weekly update, looking at the most important tech stories you could have missed last week. This week, we will look at Amazon turning its decision on the Visa ban, Mastercard’s new B2B Virtual Card, a new cyber law proposal in the UK, a big antitrust tech bill advancement in the US Senate, Numbrs transforming into a bitcoin vault, the first licensed EU neobank fully on the blockchain, disappointing results on the 5G standalone, MediaTek’s Wi-Fi 7 reveal, and the 5G deployment near US airport delayed. 

Amazon Deferred Its Visa Ban 

In one of our previous tech news round-ups, we reported the story on Amazon banning the use of Visa. However, the tech giant has now suspended its decision last minute. As it was previously reported, Amazon was planning to refuse Visa cards on January 19th. The reason behind it was allegedly charged for credit card transactions. Now Amazon says it is working on a “potential solution” together with Visa. According to the statement published on Visa’s website, “Amazon customers can continue to use Visa cards on Amazon.co.uk after January 19, while we work closely together to reach an agreement.”

Neil Smith, head of strategic partnerships, EMEA & APAC, Forter, is not surprised by the deferral of the ban, as he says “there has been plenty of speculation in recent days on who would back down first.” Smith adds that Amazon’s turn on the Visa decision “could signal a degree of compromise from both companies, with a 2021 survey indicating a potential loss of £1.4bn for the e-commerce giant. However, given Amazon’s UK market share, it’s likely that Visa has agreed to negotiate on the fees it charges for credit card transactions – and may even have agreed to follow MasterCard’s position.”

Roger De’Ath, head of UK, TrueLayer, said: “For too long, cards have been retrofitted into online checkouts, creating an invisible web of hidden costs and unwieldy payment structures that affect the cost base of every single retailer. With new technologies available that can move money at a fraction of cost and time, the industry no longer needs to be held hostage to card networks for all transactions.”

Mastercard Shows Off Its New B2B Payments Virtual Card

Mastercard just launched a new virtual card that leverages machine learning and straight-through processing for instant payment. Mastercard Track Instant Pay is supposed to authorize instant payment in a safe and secure way. 

Ron Shultz, EVP, new payment flows, North America, Mastercard, says: “Delayed payments create significant challenges for businesses financially and operationally, especially in today’s environment. Track Instant Pay helps solve these pain points by enabling buyers and suppliers to automate their manual payment processes, unlocking valuable time, working capital, and choice.”

UK Government Proposes New Cyber Laws

The UK government is proposing new cyber laws striving to achieve greater resilience across British businesses. The new laws are a part of a £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy that was established after a long period of large cyber attacks. As a part of the efforts to boost British cybersecurity, the UK Cyber Security Council may also soon gain the authority to create qualifications and certifications to improve the current recognition system for those working in the sector. 

Julia Lopez, Minister of State for media, data, and digital infrastructure said: “The plans we are announcing today will help protect essential services and our wider economy from cyber threats. Every UK organization must take its cyber resilience seriously as we strive to grow, innovate and protect people online. It is not an optional extra.”

The UK government has already launched a consultation regarding the Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulators that include proposals such as: 

  • Expand the scope of the NIS Regulations’ to include managed services. These are typically provided by companies that manage IT services on behalf of other organisations.
  • Require large companies to provide better cyber incident reporting to regulators such as Ofcom, Ofgem, and the ICO, including a requirement to notify regulators of all cyber security attacks they suffer, not just those which impact their services.
  • Give the government the ability to future-proof the NIS regulations by updating them and if necessary bring into scope more organizations in the future which provide critical support to essential services.
  • Transfer all relevant costs incurred by regulators for enforcing the NIS regulations from the taxpayer to the organizations covered by the legislation to create a more flexible finance system and reduce the taxpayers’ burden.
  • Update the regulatory regime so the most critical digital service providers in the economy have to demonstrate proactively they are following NIS Regulations to the ICO, and take a more light-touch approach with the remaining digital providers.

NCSC Technical Director Dr. Ian Levy, said: “I welcome these proposed updates to the NIS regulations, which will help to enhance the UK’s overall cyber security resilience. These measures will ensure that cyber security risks are properly managed by organisations and those on whom they rely.”

US Senate Advanced a Major Antitrust Tech Bill 

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee in a vote 16-6 advanced a crucial tech antitrust bill that has been described by many as the best possible chance to reform big tech laws. 

“Despite millions of lobbying dollars by monopolists spent to influence lawmakers, a bipartisan group of senators just stated with a clear voice that Big Tech is too powerful,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, in a statement.

The proposed bill would protect businesses that depend on dominant big techs such as Apple or Microsoft. 

“We heard enough reservations from senators to make clear that this legislation is not ready for the Senate floor,” said Adam Kovacevich, CEO of tech-funded Chamber of Progress, in a statement following the vote. “The problems that Democrats are raising aren’t just tweaks – they are fundamental issues with how the bill could impact consumers, competitiveness and security.”

Although the White House has not yet given any formal statement of support to the bill, there is a good reason to believe such support will be granted given the White House’s desire for increased competition in tech. 

Numbrs Transforms Into a Bitcoin Vault 

The Swiss account aggregation startup Numbrs has just converted into a bitcoin storage vault. The surprising transition occurred shortly after Numbrs accused banks of destroying their original business model. 

Just last year, Numbrs accumulated CHF27 million in a funding round. Earlier in 2021, another funding, described by Numbrs as a “high double-digit million range” fell through. After a turbulent year, the startup decided to pivot and launch a bitcoin wallet app. 

Numbrs CEO and chair Fynn Kreuz said, “It should have allowed us to roll out our business by storm. But some banks tried their best to make the lives of third-party providers as complicated as possible and squeeze them out,” he said. “We came to the conclusion that increasingly complicated regulation around mobile banking and our dependency on banks prevented us, in the long run, from building the quality product that we wanted to build.”

Benker To Become The First Blockchain Neobank in Europe 

Benker is about to debut as the first licensed blockchain neobank in Europe. The neobank just received approval under the Electronic Money Institution (EMI) by the Bank of Lithuania. It is also the first provider of financial services in the EU that is operating on the blockchain only. 

Viktor Bodnár, the CEO of Benker said, “We’re introducing a new brand in financial services that can challenge the established order by extending existing legal and regulatory safeguards with the advanced technology-based guarantees achieved through blockchain. In obtaining our EMI license we have been allowed to radically diminish client exposure to the actors of financial markets, and I see this as a move towards the ‘New World Order’.”

“By adding blockchain to the way in which customer accounts are managed securely, we are offering constant transparency, traceability, and complete control over financial matters for our clients, creating the highest level of freedom. This is what we’re calling Compliant Client Autonomy and it’s an idea that is at the heart of BENKER,” he added. 

5G Standalone Not Quite Up To Expected Speed 

The new analyst report by Dell’Oro Group shows that the standalone 5G is not up to expected speed. Currently, only 19  5G standalone networks have been reached, and according to the report, it is hugely impacting mobile core network growth.  

“The cumulative revenue forecast for the period 2022 to 2026 is over $50 billion. The overall revenues and the CAGR have been dampened by the muted uptake in 5G SA networks,” said Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro. “5G SA network deployments have not matched the hype, with only 19 networks launched to date,” he confirmed.

Although the report did not go into details regarding the 19 networks, based on the easily available information we know that Germany comes out as the key player in Europe; all three of the biggest operators in Germany are working on the standalone 5G. 

“Only 5G SA requires the new 5G Core and many CSPs seem content for the time being to stick with DSS and 5G NSA,” Bolan pointed out. “At the same time, CSPs are evaluating the option of moving 5G workloads to the public cloud, which is delaying the market uptake for 5G SA,” he said.

MediaTek Demonstrates Wi-Fi 7 Products 

One of the most prominent chip makers in Asia, MediaTek, has just showcased its Wi-Fi 7 products to some customers and partners. The new products are aimed at putting the Taiwanese company ahead of its competitors. In Wi-Fi 7, we can expect to speed up to 46Gbps which is a huge difference from Wi-Fi 6 which offered up to 9.6 Gbps.

“The rollout of Wi-Fi 7 will mark the first time that Wi-Fi can be a true wireline/Ethernet replacement for super high-bandwidth applications,” claimed Alan Hsu, corporate vice president, and general manager of MediaTek’s Intelligent Connectivity division, in a statement on Wednesday. “MediaTek’s Wi-Fi 7 technology will be the backbone of home, office and industrial networks and provide seamless connectivity for everything from multi-player AR/VR applications to cloud gaming and 4K calls to 8K streaming and beyond.”

“Faster broadband Internet access and more demanding applications such as higher resolution video streaming and VR gaming are driving demand for Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and soon Wi-Fi 7,” said Mario Morales, group vice president, Semiconductors at IDC. “Wi-Fi 7’s advances in channel width, QAM, and new features such as multi-link operation (MLO) will make Wi-Fi 7 very attractive for devices including flagship smartphones, PCs, consumer devices, and vertical industries like retail and industrial.”

5G Deployment Near Airport Delayed 

Last week, we have reported the most popular telecom story that swept the news – the US urging the telecom giants to delay 5G activation near US airports. This has been strongly opposed by Verizon and AT&T as the companies claimed they would not be turning off the networks. However, it looks like the two leading telecoms in the US decided to comply after all. 

“As the nation’s leading wireless provider, we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports,” Verizon said in a statement. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully resolve to navigate 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries. Thanks to the best team in the industry for delivering this technology which promises a revolutionary next step in wireless communications including tremendous benefits for our nation.”

Light Reading reports that AT&T said: “At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment since they have not utilized the two years they’ve had to responsibly plan for this deployment.

“We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it does so in a timely manner. We are launching our advanced 5G services everywhere else as planned with the temporary exception of this limited number of towers.”


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