Monday, April 15, 2024
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Google Goes Big With AI, Instagram Tests NFTs, Deutsche Telekom Triumphs – Tech Weekly Update

We are back with the tech weekly update, giving you the summary of the most important headlines that happened in the past week. Take a look at the stories we summarize this time. Santander takes the majority of its infrastructure to the cloud. Google is getting ready to launch virtual cards. The UK initiates new anti-fraud legislation. Big banks invest in Tlaos. Instagram tries out NFTs. One of Canada’s most popular fintechs gains unicorn status. A one of its kind blockchain hub launches in Kenya. SCA is shown to prevent 2000 cases of fraud each month. Google goes big with AI updates. Deutsche Telekom triumphs in Q1. Danaher joins the Gene Therapy Consortium. 

The Majority Of Santander’s Infrastructure Moves To The Cloud 

The Spanish Banco Santander is one of the first large banks that digitized the majority of core banking as it is now migrating as much as 80% of IT infrastructure to the cloud. The lender is using its Gravity software and the move to the cloud will result in a much simpler process, faster time-to-market, a significant improvement in terms of fast data access, and more app updates. 

At the same time, Santander highlights that because of the move, they will be able to leverage real/time analytics and, in turn, provide more tailored and better services and solutions. 

Dirk Marzluf, chief operating and technology officer at Santander, says: “Gravity will help transform Santander into a ‘digital-native’ company, with the agility and capabilities to offer the best customer experience, while continuing to provide the solid security for data and assets we’ve always delivered our customers.

“The initiative is an important next step in the bank’s transition to a common tech stack that is utilised across the group’s footprint for the benefit of both customers and shareholders. We are now closer to Santander’s aim of becoming the best open financial services platform,” he adds. 

Google About To Launch Virtual Cards 

Google is cooperating with the major card companies – Visa, Mastercard, and American Express – as it tries to launch virtual cards for Chrome and Android. The new service is set to launch during the summer and the customers will be able to replace their physical card number with a virtual alternative using the Autofill option on Chrome or Android. 

Once this has been done, the clients will be able to make payments for their purchases using the virtual card number, without having to enter the card details or the CVV code. The virtual cards will be managed through the pay.google.com website.

“This is a landmark step in bringing the security of virtual cards to as many consumers as possible,” says Arnold Goldberg, the VP and GM of payments at Google.“Shoppers using Autofill on Chrome and Android can enjoy a fast checkout experience when shopping online while having the peace of mind knowing that their payment information is protected.”

UK Initiates New Rules Against Fraud

For the past months, we have been describing the UK’s attempts to protect the customers and ensure reimbursement in case of authorized push payment fraud. Last week, there has been an update on the topic as the Financial Services and Markets Bill was announced in the speech at the state opening of parliament. According to the speech, the bill will “ensure the continued availability of withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK, and that the country’s cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term”.

According to the Financial Services and Markets Bill, banks will now be required to reimburse the scam losses when it comes to the authorized push payment (APP). 

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said: “We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially those in vulnerable groups. We promised we would protect it, and through this Bill, we are delivering on that promise.”

“We are also sticking up for victims of financial scams that can have a devastating impact, by ensuring the regulator can act to make banks reimburse people who have lost money through no fault of their own,” he added. 

Although we may have to wait for further details until the Bill is officially introduced, it will build on the groundwork which was the Financial Services Act of 2021. 

Big Banks Invest In The Crypto Trading Platform 

The institutional crypto trading platform Tlaos has just closed its Series B funding that was joined by big names such as Citi or Wells Fargo. The funding round was led by General Atlantic and there were a lot of newcomers joining the round, including Stripes, BNY Mellon, DRW Venture Capital, SCB 10x, Matrix Capital Management, Fin VC, Voyager Digital, Graticule Asset Management Asia and LeadBlock Partners.

Talos become known for its full trade lifecycle services management that includes liquidity sourcing, direct market access, algorithmic trade execution, price discovery, as well as reporting or settlement. The funds gathered will support the acceleration of the company’s expansion into the European and Asia Pacific market. 

Anton Katz the CEO of Talos, said: “This funding round represents a major inflection point for the industry. We’ve long heard that ‘the institutions are coming’. The institutions are nowhere, and we’re extremely proud to be the digital asset trading platform of choice for leading institutions around the world”

“We believe that the digital assets infrastructure will have a wide-scale impact on the entire financial industry and ultimately, we will see traditional asset classes migrate to use this new technology as well,” he added. 

Instagram Launches NFTs In a Trial 

Last week, Instagram announced it is starting to test NFTs, with selected creators and collectors being able to display NFTs on their profiles. The handful of creators selected for the test will be able to share the non-fungible tokens on their feed, as well as Stories and Instagram messages, and link the third-party wallets in the Instagram app. 

So far, the wallets included are Rainbow, MetaMask, and Trust Wallet. They are expected to be joined by Coinbase, Dapper, and Phantom in the near future. A similar function will also appear on Facebook in the near future. 

“Starting this week, select creators and collectors can share their digital collectibles on Instagram,” we read in Instagram’s official statement. “Creators are using new technologies like NFTs to take more control over their work, their relationship with their fans, and how they can monetize. At Meta, we’re looking at what creators are already doing across our technologies in order to improve the experience, help them create more monetization opportunities, and bring NFTs to a broader audience.”

Canadian Neo Financial Becomes A Unicorn 

One of the most popular fintechs in Canada, Neo Financial, has just hit the unicorn status as the Series C investment round closed. The funding was led by Valar Ventures with participation by Tribe Capital and Maple VC.

Neo Financial is a relatively new fintech, founded only in 2019. However, since then, the company has gathered more than a million users and has managed to gain the interest of the public with its app-based offering. 

In the statement by Neo Financial, we read, “We started Neo with the belief that Canadians deserve a better financial experience, and our team of over 650 people has been working tirelessly to reinvent the ways Canadians spend, save, and grow their money – all together, in one place.”

Swiss Non-Profit Starts Blockchain Hub In Kenya

Swiss non-profit organization, NEAR Foundation, has started a partnership with a blockchain community in Kenya, Sankore, as they try to start a regional blockchain hub. The aim behind it is to encourage innovation and talent development in the blockchain field across the continent. 

The hub will be led by Sankore’s founder – Kevin Imani. The hub is expected to comprise an incubation program, events, and education. The distinguishing factor is that it will also operate in cities other than Nairobi. As of now, no other Layer 1 blockchain has expanded outside of the country’s capital. 

Imani commented: “Our dream is to lead the way in blockchain innovations in providing solutions to Africa’s biggest problems. The NEAR Protocol allows tomorrow’s brightest developers to build custom solutions with scalability, security, and transparency and this hub is the next step in turning our shared vision into reality.”

“We are excited by the potential avenues throughout Africa for blockchain solutions, which come from innovation in development, education, and talent,” said Marieke Flament, CEO of the NEAR Foundation. “This hub represents a unique opportunity to partner with local talent not only for the opportunities that we know exist today but also for the opportunities yet to be created in the future.”

Nationwide Able To Stop 200 More Frauds Each Month Because Of SCA 

The introduction of the Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) rules in the United Kingdom has been very controversial. The payment regulation has been implemented in March of this year and it has been the biggest change in terms of the payments regulations in the UK since 2006. With SCA, all online transactions that are over £25 have to go through a two-factor authentication check, as a precaution against online fraud. 

While retailers have been criticizing the new regulation, claiming they are losing customers who are abandoning the transactions due to the long process, the Nationwide Building Society said the rules allow them to detect and prevent 2000 cases of online fraud each month. 

Matt Cox, chief product owner, digital payments, Nationwide, says: “Many people prefer the convenience of online shopping and, while merchants strive to make the checkout experience as quick and easy as possible, we generally accept that a small delay is worth it when it comes to our security and personal details.”

The problem remains that many retailers are not yet fully compliant with the rules, and as we wrote a couple of weeks ago, Barclaycard Payments’ research showed that the merchants in the UK lost out on £130m due to insufficient compliance with the new rules. 

AI Is The Central Theme Of Google’s I/O 

AI seems to have been the central theme of Google I/O, as the enhancements were clearly visible in Google’s product set. Among other things, Google added the “immersive view” feature to Google Maps, allowing for a place representation in very high quality, thanks to 3D mapping and machine learning that merge billions of images together. As Google describes, “Say you’re planning a trip to London and want to figure out the best sights to see and places to eat. With a quick search, you can virtually soar over Westminster to see the neighborhood and stunning architecture of places, like Big Ben, up close. With Google Maps’ helpful information layered on top, you can use the time slider to check out what the area looks like at different times of day and in various weather conditions, and see where the busy spots are.”

There are also quite a few AI enhancements in the Google Docs suite. Due to the use of natural language processing, it will be possible to automatically create summaries of long documents. This feature will also be available on Google Chat. 

Google has also launched the LaMDA 2 and AI Test Kitchen. While LaMDA 2 has been described as the “most advanced conversational AI yet”, the AI Test Kitchen is an offering that allows people to develop things using AI resources. 

Deutsche Telekom’s Q1 Numbers Are Better Than Expected 

Deutsche Telekom posted its Q1 report and the results speak for themselves. The Q1 revenue grew by 6% which was higher than it was forecasted. Due to that, the company has slightly adjusted its 2022 plan, going for 36.6 billion euros in 2022, instead of 36.5 billion euros. “This was a strong start to the new year,” said CFO Christian Illek. “We are continuing to grow on an organic basis and are therefore in a position to raise our guidance for 2022.”

Apart from the growth in the revenue, there was a significant increase in net profit, and earnings per share went 80% up. 

Danaher Joins The Gene Therapy Consortium For Rare Diseases 

Last week, Danaher announced it became part of the Bespoke Gene Therapy Consortium (BGTS) which was launched back in 2021 and aims at providing the gene therapy resources for the research community, in order to streamline the development of gene therapy for rare disorders. The BGTS comprises of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), twelve pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and nine non-profits.

“Danaher’s companies have a history of working with drug developers to provide new technologies and services that enable the advancement of breakthrough genomic medicines,” said Sadik Kassim, Chief Technology Officer, Genomic Medicines for the Life Sciences companies at Danaher. “We are committed to continuing our work in this space and to collaborating with the NIH, FDA, and like-minded industry partners to accelerate the development of platform technologies and diagnostics that enable the next generation of breakthrough therapies.”


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