Thursday, September 21, 2023
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New CBDC Legislation in Europe, Singapore’s Rules For Ethical AI, iPhone as a Payment Terminal- Tech Weekly

We are looking at the latest tech news, giving you a summary of the most important headlines from the fintech, biotech, and telecom world. This week, we talk about EU Commission introducing new legislation on CBDC and instant cross-border payments, Fed launching a toolkit supporting banks in fighting identity fraud, the US making two arrests connected to the huge Bitfinex crypto attack, the Asia Pacific showing the most interest in NFTs, SMEs potential huge savings due to open banking, Intel’s new blockchain chip, Singapore outlining the rules for ethical AI, Telefonica expanding its cloud partnership, Qualcomm investing in European metaverse, iPhone’s new update that will transform it into a payment terminal, and Fujifilm’s new venture into innovative biotech.  

EU Commission Will Introduce New Legislation on CBDC and Instant Sepa Payments 

The European Commission announced it will be introducing legislation regarding the digital euro and EU-wide coverage of instant payments at the beginning of next year. The legislation will be the groundwork for the European Central Bank’s efforts on CBDC. It will also address the proposed changes to the currently fragmented cross-border real-time Sepa payments sector. Although there are not many details on the bill as of yet, the EU commissioner for financial services, Mairead McGuinness said the rules are expected to accelerate the roll-out of instant payments across the whole EU. 

Joe Morley, GM for Europe at TrueLayer, commented on the development saying, “This can’t happen soon enough with so much efficiency currently being lost due to the lack of a coherent implementation of Sepa Instant Payments in the EU. It needs to be ubiquitous and become the default option. There is no compelling reason why this cannot be the case when the solution exists – to date it’s been an adoption problem. European business deserves better and this is an easy win-win for cross border competitiveness within the EU – both for merchants and consumers.”

Fed Launches Toolkit To Support Banks In Tackling Identity Fraud 

According to the new data published by the Federal Reserve, US banks have accumulated up to $20 billion in losses because of synthetic identity fraud in 2020. In order to assist banks in tackling cybercrime, the Fed has launched a Synthetic Identity Fraud Mitigation Toolkit. 

“Synthetic identity fraud, where fraudsters create an identity out of pieces of real and/or fictitious information, continues to grow,” says Jim Cunha, executive vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. “Following years of research and collaboration with fraud experts, the Fed is taking the next step to support the payments industry in its battle against synthetic identity fraud by developing this toolkit.”

The first version of the toolkit includes resources that provide insights on how to identify synthetic identities. The second version that is expected to roll out later this year will expand on the initial version and go deeper into the most effective strategies of validating identities to minimize the risk of synthetic identity fraud. 

US Authorities Make Arrests Connected To The Bitfinex Crypto Attack 

On Tuesday, the US authorities have arrested two people in connection with the 2016 hack of Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange. $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin was seized under the arrest. The individuals suspected are Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife Heather Morgan who allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of almost 120 000 bitcoin stolen from the platform after a hack. According to the authorities, following the hack, over 2000 unauthorized transactions using stolen bitcoins were sent to a digital wallet that was controlled by Lichtenstein. 

Since 2016, roughly 25 000 bitcoins (out of the 120 000) were moved through a “complicated money laundering process”.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O Monaco says: “Today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals.

“In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions. Thanks to the meticulous work of law enforcement, the department once again showed how it can and will follow the money, no matter what form it takes.”

Lichtenstein and his wife currently face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and commit money laundering and could face up to 20 years in prison for the latter. 

Asia Pacific Is On Top When It Comes To NFT Trending

According to the latest research that focused on the Google Trends data, NFTs may have surpassed standard cryptocurrency’s popularity in the past year. The region that showed the most interest in NFTs was the Asia Pacific, with Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Australia all seeming to be more interested in NFTs rather than cryptocurrencies. 

Khashayar Abbasi, Bankless Times contributor and founder of the analysis newsletter Crypto With Kash, commented: “Asian countries are typically more used to cashless and digitized systems than western ones, so this could be why their adoption of NFTs has been so widespread.”

“China’s Alibaba, one of the world’s largest companies, has launched its own NFT marketplace as well. Meanwhile, the country recently banned cryptocurrency trading, which could see crypto-keen investors move over to NFTs,” he added.

However, the country with the highest ratio of NFT searches as compared to cryptocurrency is Japan, where the new tech sector is clearly getting a huge surge of attention. 

SMEs Could Save Up Thousands Each Month By Using Open Banking 

Yolt released its newest research on Open Banking. The results show that an SME online retailer could save up to roughly £19,000 by using open banking, as the transaction costs would be reduced. Currently, retailers pay approximately 1.8% transaction fees using the different payment methods which account for £22,000 worth of transaction fees each month. By adopting Open Banking solutions, those costs could be heavily deducted as Open Banking does not use commission-based transaction fees. 

“The retail industry has been incredibly hard-hit by the economic challenges of the past few years. Small businesses in this sector, in particular, are likely still finding their feet and recouping losses. Open Banking technology can provide solutions which alleviate common financial stressors on these businesses and allow them instead to focus their spending on strategies to improve growth”, says Nicolas Weng Kan, CEO of Yolt.

Additionally, by using Open Banking, the retailers would be able to reduce the prevalence of authorized push payment fraud, cyber attacks, account takeovers, and supply chain fraud.

Intel Launches a  Blockchain Chip 

On Friday, Intel launches its new blockchain chip, trying to capitalize off the crypto and NFT market. The chip is expected to ship to customers later this year and some of the chips will go to Block Inc or Square Inc. Intel described its new chip as an energy-efficient “accelerator” that will speed up blockchain tasks.  

Singapore Outlines The Use Of Ethical AI In a New White Papers 

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) released a total of five white papers on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in financial institutions. The white papers were published by the Veritas Consortium and aim at outlining in detail how AI can bring benefits to the industry and at the same time, how the sector should ensure it is being used responsibly and ethically. 

The research includes:

  • a comprehensive FEAT checklist for FIs to adopt during their AI and Data Analytics (AIDA) software development lifecycles;
  • an enhanced Fairness Assessment Methodology to enable FIs to define their AIDA system’s fairness objectives, identify personal attributes of individuals and any unintentional bias;
  • a new Ethics and Accountability Assessment Methodology, which provides a framework for FIs to carry out quantifiable measurement of ethical practices, in addition to the qualitative practices currently adopted;
  • a new Transparency Assessment Methodology which helps FIs determine whether and how much internal/external transparency is needed to explain and interpret the predictions of machine learning models.
  • To accelerate FIs’ adoption of the FEAT methodologies and principles, the Consortium has developed an open-source software toolkit. The toolkit enables the automation of the fairness metrics assessment and allows for visualization of the interface for fairness assessment and for the plug-ins to integrate with FI’s IT systems.


Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer, MAS, said: “The new open-source software, assessment methodologies, and enhanced guidance will further improve the technical capabilities of financial institutions in developing responsible AI for the financial sector. The Veritas initiative continues to deliver tangible outcomes that demonstrate collaborative public-private partnership to drive trust in the adoption of AI technology, enhance confidence and foster innovation in Singapore’s fintech ecosystem.”

Telefonica Expands Its Partnership With Oracle And Strikes A Global Cloud Deal 

Telefonica has decided to upgrade its current partnership with Oracle, as the two companies will launch the platform as a service (Paas). It seems to be a mutually beneficial deal. Telefonica will make its way into the global cloud without being forced to build its own infrastructure. At the same time, Oracle will increase the take-up of its current portfolio. 

“One of the key drivers for success in the cloud market is to help our customers in their digital transformation by offering a complete and differential portfolio with the support of reference partners,” said María Jesús Almazor, CEO of cybersecurity and cloud at Telefónica Tech, in a statement. “This agreement with Oracle will allow us to expand our cloud services and strengthen our strategic positioning in PaaS, as well as reinforce our value proposition of databases and middleware applications with one of the market leaders.”

“With Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, we are complementing Telefónica’s robust cloud services offering with a cloud platform that has seen strong growth over the last year as customers all over the world use it to run their most mission-critical workloads,” said Albert Triola, country leader, Oracle Spain.

Qualcomm Invests In Metaverse In Europe 

US telecom giant Qualcomm is investing in the European sector and opening six XR labs across the continent. 

“The opportunities for XR are significant,” said Enrico Salvatori, President of Qualcomm Europe. “Combine that with Europe’s rich R&D and leadership in XR and we see the XR labs in Europe as being a big contributor to XR development worldwide. Brilliant minds are already working at speed to realize our vision of XR and bring a plethora of revolutionary experiences to everyone from consumers, healthcare, and industry. These labs join our already significant R&D presence in Europe.”

“A new era of spatial computing is upon us and working behind the scenes on a new generation of experiences has been inspirational,” said Hugo Swart, GM of XR at Qualcomm. “Bringing XR to life for consumers and the enterprise is our mission and we are strengthening that commitment with the XR Labs in Europe. These labs will be the key to building out our XR portfolio which encompasses best-in-class platforms, software, and innovative technology features, and to make it available to all developers helping to build out the metaverse through Snapdragon Spaces. We cannot wait for everyone to see what is next.”

Using iPhones For Taking Contactless Payments 

Apple is preparing to roll out a new feature that will be exciting for many businesses. It will basically turn iPhone into a payment terminal and businesses will be able to receive contactless payments using their phones. The Tap to Pay is expected to launch as a part of the iOS software beta. 

“As more and more consumers are tapping to pay with digital wallets and credit cards, Tap to Pay on iPhone will provide businesses with a secure, private, and easy way to accept contactless payments and unlock new checkout experiences using the power, security, and convenience of iPhone,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. “In collaboration with payment platforms, app developers, and payment networks, we’re making it easier than ever for businesses of all sizes — from solopreneurs to large retailers — to seamlessly accept contactless payments and continue to grow their business.”

Fujifilm Is Starting VC Fund For Cutting Edge Biotech 

Fujifilm seems to go into the early-stage innovative biotechs as it is starting a new VC fund, looking to invests in areas such as regenerative medicine or cell therapies. 

“In many cases, early-stage companies are the first to develop cutting-edge technologies and innovative business models. I believe LS-CVC activities will enable us to speedily develop new partnerships with such promising companies and to deliver value to society through innovative products,” Takatoshi Ishikawa, general manager of Fujifilm’s life sciences strategy headquarters, said in a statement.


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