We start the week with the most important tech headlines from the past seven days. This time, we will focus on the new report estimating Metaverse’s value by 2030, the latest acquisition by the London Stock Exchange, Klarna’s ambitious plans to take on big techs, US banks united stand towards ID verification, EU’s call for ideas regarding CBDC legislation, a criminal case against Danske Bank launched by the country’s watchdog, the official introduction of stablecoin regulations in the UK, inadequate cyber protection of small businesses, augmented reality shopping pilot in Spain, and an AI solution that can predict a potential cardiac arrest 10 years ahead of time.
The new report published by Citi showed that The Metaverse economy is estimated to reach $13 trillion in valuation by 2030. In its report “’Metaverse and Money, Decrypting the Future’, Citi goes into the details of the Metaverse’s functioning, including in-game tokens, stablecoins, CBDCs, and fiat currency. The full report is almost 200 pages long.
One of the key takeaways from the report is that the massive Metaverse sector will require a different perspective on money. “The definition of what counts as money in the Open Metaverse is also likely to be very different from what counts as money in the real world today,” the report claims. “Interoperability and seamless exchange between underlying blockchain technology is critical to ensure a frictionless user experience. Different forms of cryptocurrency are expected to dominate, but given the multi-chain trend in the crypto ecosystem, cryptocurrency will likely coexist with fiat currencies, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and stablecoins.”
Citi is highlighting the example of Second Life launched back in 2003 and by last year reached 345 million transactions and developed its own Linked dollar currency. The difference is that while Second Life is a centralized platform, Metaverse aims to become an alternate economy. “We expect the Metaverse of the future would encompass existing forms of money and also a set of digitally-native primitives, tied to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other tokens, that were out-of-scope for a pre-blockchain virtual world,” the report claims.
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has made several acquisitions lately and their newest addition is the digital ID company Global Data Consortium. Founded back in 2012, the GDC is specializing in KYC. The company’s services have already been used within the LSEG Customer business and after the acquisition is finalized, GDC will become a part of the Data & Analytics division of LSEG.
Phil Cotter, group head of customer & third-party risk solutions, LSEG, says: “This transaction delivers a compelling opportunity to acquire a strategic capability aligned to our vision of becoming a market-leading global Digital Identity and Fraud (DI&F) solutions provider. The acquisition of GDC, combined with our existing capabilities from GIACT and Qual-ID, will enable customers to verify digital identity and protect against fraud globally with a suite of real-time, accurate solutions.”
Klarna’s ambitious plan to take on the big techs is becoming more and more real with the newest acquisition of the comparison shopping service PriceRunner. Once the acquisition is complete, there will several new features available on the Klarna app, including product discovery, price comparisons, and reviews. At the same time, merchants will be able to dive deeper into behavioral insights and broaden their marketing opportunities.
PriceRunner is currently available across Scandinavia and the United Kingdom and is comparing almost 3.5 million products across 25 countries.
David Fock, Klarna’s chief product officer comments: “The acquisition will serve to strengthen our consumer offering and that Klarna will not be a marketplace but a viable and competitive alternative for retail partners vs Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Klarna and PriceRunner are united in our fundamental belief that tech companies, no matter where they operate, compete on the basis of their own merit with the best products and services to gain consumers’ trust.”
Some of the largest banks in America are working together with Early Warning to deploy a service that will allow customers to use the bank login details as an identity verification when using other apps and websites. Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, PNC Bank, Truist, US Bank, and Wells Fargo are all participating in the project.
Al Ko, CEO, Early Warning, says: “Authentify gives companies and consumers the ability to leverage bank-trusted data to help provide even greater levels of identity assurance.”
As the European Commission is working on the ground rules for the digital euro, they just published a “call for ideas” regarding the legislative challenges connected to CBDC.
In a statement, the Commission says: “For a digital euro to be used as the single currency, concurrently with euro banknotes and coins, it would require a Regulation of the co-legislator, upon a proposal by the Commission, on the basis of Article 133 TFUE. For the Regulation, an impact assessment will be prepared, which will be supported by consultations carried out by both the Commission and the ECB.”
The EU Commission is focusing on certain areas such as:
- Users’ needs and expectations for a digital euro
- The digital euro’s role in the EU’s retail payments and the digital economy
- Making the digital euro available for retail use while continuing to safeguard the legal tender status of euro cash
- The digital euro’s impact on the financial sector and the financial stability
- Application of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML-CFT) rules
- The privacy and data protection aspects
- International payments with a digital euro
The Danish Data Protection Agency (DPA) has launched a criminal case against Danske Bank, based on the alleged violation of the General Data Protection Regulations. In 2020, Danske Bank notified DPA that in certain instances, customer data has been stored for longer than necessary and that full compliance with GDPR rules has proved more complex than it was anticipated.
Bo Svejstrup, EVP and CIO of core banking and data at Danske Bank says: “Unfortunately, the process has taken longer than we would have wished for. This is mainly because of the volume of the task, but also because it is our clear aim to make the implementation as hassle-free as possible for our customers.”
Considering the continuous issues with GDPR compliance since then, the DPA has started the criminal proceeding and is calling for the prosecution service to impose a fine on the Danske Bank.
Svejstrup highlighted “We have continuously focused on adjusting and implementing time limits for deleting data in our systems, and we have made good progress with our efforts. However, we have also had to recognize that the task is very complex and that the implementation of time limits for deleting data in certain systems has proven time-consuming. We now take note of the DPA’s recommendation and continue the task of deleting the data that we no longer have any reason to store while we await the outcome of the matter.”
Last Monday, during the Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) conference, Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen confirmed that the UK will introduce the legislation to integrate some stablecoins into the payment framework in Great Britain. At the beginning of 2021, HM Treasury started investigating the topic, and as Glen said “today we are publishing our response, as part of which I can confirm that we will be legislating to bring certain stablecoins into our payments framework, creating conditions for stablecoin issuers and service providers to operate and grow in the UK.”
Glen also highlighted that while the UK government was focusing on stablecoins mostly at first, this has now changed and the scope is much broader.
“We think the market has changed sufficiently for us to look at regulating the broader set of crypto activities, including trading tokens like Bitcoin, and we will consult on a world-leading regime for the rest of the crypto market too,” he said. “Looking ahead, the legal landscape will also be crucial. English law and our world-leading legal services and courts are already a huge asset and can play a big part in making the UK an attractive hub for all things digital and for new technologies.”
British telecom group BT has published their latest research that shows that thousands of small businesses across the country do not have sufficient security and can very easily be targeted in a cyberattack. The report estimates that roughly half of the micro-business sector is still using security tools that are meant for consumers and do not account for adequate protection of a business. This can be furtherly shown by the fact that half of UK small businesses fell victim to either an attack or a security breach last year.
“There has been a huge shift over the past two years in the number of small firms moving their business online,” said Chris Sims, MD for BT’s Single Office/Home Office unit. “Whilst that’s a really encouraging trend, being an online business can also bring its challenges, particularly around cyber security. Any digital business – large or small – can be a target for cybercriminals, and this is something we’ve seen during the pandemic.
“And whilst consumer-grade products are great for protecting you while surfing the web, accessing emails, and other personal use, they’re not designed for running a business which requires more robust protection and safeguards. It’s clear that the UK’s smallest firms need more support in this area, so today we’re launching new free cyber security tools for our BT business broadband customers, together with free online advice to help upskill small businesses on how to stay safe online.”
The Catalan telecom Parlem has revealed its pilot project that makes online shopping easier through the use of IoT, edge computing, and 5G. The customers are given a fully virtual shopping experience using AR technology that can make the remote shopping as close as possible to the traditional experience. Customers using the solution can feel like they are in the physical shop as The Augmented Reality Personal Shopper app gives users the option to select products in real-time and get additional information using AR. The trial was conducted in Barcelona’s La Boqueria.
Parlem Telecom CEO Ernest Pérez-Mas said: “The development of an innovative application with augmented reality in an environment as emblematic as La Boqueria can be a step forward for the e-commerce sector and ensure that local businesses can evolve digitally without losing their identity, thanks to the potential of 5G.”
Red.es general director Alberto Martínez Lacambra added: “5G is a technology with a transformative power that will mark a revolution and is an essential vector in the digitization drive envisaged in the Spanish government’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and is one of the pillars of the Digital Spain 2025 strategy. Today we have seen a clear example of the real impact that the use cases of the 5G pilot projects will have on our way of life, on the way we move around or shop – without doubt a unique opportunity for our cities, our citizens and to improve the productivity of our economy.”
Johns Hopkins University team has developed an AI solution that can estimate when a person could experience a cardiac arrest based on heart scans. The AI algorithm can accurately predict risk up to 10 years ahead of time by analyzing scar tissue patterns in the cardiac muscle over time.
“Sudden cardiac death caused by arrhythmia accounts for as many as 20% of all deaths worldwide, and we know little about why it’s happening or how to tell who’s at risk,” said Natalia Trayanova, a professor at Johns Hopkins.
Now, after testing the AI solution on thousands of heart scans, the researchers concluded that it is outperforming the estimates of the doctors, at about 74% accuracy.
“The images carry critical information that doctors haven’t been able to access,” first author Dan Popescu said. “This scarring can be distributed in different ways, and it says something about a patient’s chance for survival. There is information hidden in it.”
“There are patients who may be at low risk of sudden cardiac death getting defibrillators that they might not need and then there are high-risk patients that aren’t getting the treatment they need and could die in the prime of their life,” Trayanova added. “What our algorithm can do is determine who is at risk for cardiac death and when it will occur, allowing doctors to decide exactly what needs to be done.”