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Sweded’s CBDC Pilot, Telecoms Getting Ready For MWC 2022, IBM’s Report On Cybersecurity in Europe – Tech Weekly

Every Monday, we prepare for you the condensed summary of the most important happenings in the tech sector. This week, we look at LHV Bank applying for a banking license in the UK, Revolut launching a new feature in Australia, European Central Bank leveraging Squirro’s augmented intelligence toolkit, Sweden completing phase 2 of CBDC pilot, and a new report on Cyberthreats in Europe by IBM. On the telecom side, Ericsson is working with Samsung and Telefonica on interactive 5G phone calls, ETNO is favorable towards the EC’s Data Act, and Nokia is getting ready to showcase software at MWC 2022. We also look at the first-of-its-kind AI-powered aneurysm detection solution that just got clearance from FDA. 

LHV Bank Is Applying For a Banking License in the UK 

LHV that is known as a payment infrastructure provider has now applied for a banking license in the UK. Currently, its business is operating through LHV Bank’s UK branch. Having said that, having a UK banking license will help LHV separate its UK activities from those in the Baltic States. 

At this moment, the UK branch has customers such as Wise, Monese, Coinbase Trustly, Paysafe, Airwallex, TransferGo, Blockchain, and Currencycloud. Their application for a banking license will have to be approved by the PRA and FCA with the process taking up to 12 months. 

Erki Kilu, CEO of LHV UK said: “It took exactly a year to prepare the materials needed to apply for the banking license. We have been in constant communication with the regulators and promptly addressed any recommendations and feedback. In addition to working on the application, we have also grown our team in London to 25 people, with new people joining every week. If we take into account the 55 people in LHV’s Tallinn office who are directly involved in supporting LHV’s UK business, it is already a fairly large company.

“LHV UK will invest £8.5 million this year into people, technology, and risk control systems. We will also open our second UK office in Leeds, where we plan to hire IT, specialists and engineers. The complete separation of business activities also includes staffing and technology. LHV UK will use modern outsourced technology and cloud-native solutions like modular banking platform Tuum, payment processing platform Form3, anti-money laundering, and compliance solution Salv, CRM system Salesforce, etc,” he added. 

Revolut Launches a New Feature in Australia 

Australian customers of Revolut will now be able to buy and sell fractional shares that are listed on Nasdaq and NYSE in the app. Clients will have the chance to invest anything starting with $1 into a chosen stock. The newly implemented feature includes real-time market data, stock charts, price alerts, market graphs, and market news as well. 

Matt Baxby, CEO of Revolut Australia, says: “There are so many barriers for Aussies who want to invest in the US stock market. Traditional providers sting customers with a whole slew of hidden fees including brokerage, markups on the foreign exchange into US dollars, as well as deposit and withdrawal fees. By offering commission-free trades and our market-leading FX rates, our stock trading feature sets out to simplify things and give investors more money on their trades, and less on fees.”

At this point, more than 100 000 Australians are using Revolut that launched over there back in the summer of 2020. 

European Central Bank Is Using Sqirro’s Augmented Intelligence Toolkit 

After its significant deals with the Bank of England and German Bundesbank, Squirro just got another large customer. The European Central Bank is the latest institution that will leverage the company’s offering. The Insight Engine developed by Squirro is a tremendous help in access to information as it is applying natural language processing and ML to connect all data sources and provide users with the right information. 

Dorian Selz, CEO, and co-founder of Squirro. “Our Insight Engine overhauls enterprise access to information, providing relevant and context-based results to improve the efficiency of business processes. In addition, our Risk Insights solution provides more effective risk mitigation, supporting the digital transformation processes in financial services institutions.”

At the same time, Squirro announced it acquired a US startup specializing in deal sourcing, open.exchange. With this move, the company is making its impact in the US bigger while at the same time rounding out its tech offering.

“Our growth curve continues to rise sharply, and this acquisition puts us firmly on the map in the US,” continues Selz. “Open.exchange has a highly complementary proposition to Squirro’s and allows us to expand our technology footprint in the important territory. We have already established a strong US presence, and the acquisition will greatly expand our market reach as demand for AI-derived insights increases,” he added. 

Sweden Completes Phase 2 Of Its CBDC Trial 

Sweden’s Riksbank has just extended its contract with Accenture that has been a supplier in Sweden’s CBDC pilot after Phase 2 technical trials have been completed. Sweden’s central bank has started its work on CBDC back in 2017 and in its most recent phase, they were focusing on offline function, integration of external participants, and integration. 

Mithra Sundberg, head of the e-krona division, says: “In phase 3 we will begin to formulate a basis for the requirements for an e-krona if a decision is made to issue it. All the tests, analyses, and investigations carried out will form a base for this work. We will also draw on experience from the rapid international development that is now taking place in this field.”

“We will also continue, to a limited extent, with some technical tests simply to learn more. We have therefore extended the agreement with Accenture as technical supplier for another year from February 2022,” says Sundberg.

All conclusions from the phase 2 trial will be published as a report in the coming months. 

UK’s Energy Industry Is The Top Target For Cyber Criminals 

According to the 2022 X Force Threat Intelligence Index published by IBM, the UK was Europe’s most targeted country in terms of cyberattacks. The energy industry specifically seems to have been the top target on the cyber criminals’ list, as it accounted for ¼ of all incidents. The manufacturing and financial services sectors follow closely with 19% of all attacks. 

During the past months, the UK has been working hard on increasing its cybersecurity efforts. The UK government has recently proposed amendments to the Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulations, aiming at boosting UK businesses’ cyber defenses. 

Laurance Dine, Global Partner, X-Force Incident Response, IBM, said, “Cybercriminals worldwide are becoming increasingly resilient, resourceful, and stealthy in their pursuit of critical data. In Europe, we saw adversaries overwhelmingly exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities to infiltrate victim environments in 2021, highlighting the importance of adopting a Zero Trust approach to security. Businesses must start operating under the assumption of compromise, putting the proper controls in place to defend their environment and protect critical data.

“In the UK, critical industries such as energy, manufacturing and finance are key targets for cybercriminals, underlining the importance of the government’s National Cyber Security Strategy to ensure the economy remains resilient in our fast-moving digital world,” she added. 

Ericsson, Telefonica, and Samsung Work On Interactive 5G Phone Calls 

Ericsson, MNO Telefonica, and Samsung have partnered on a project that aims at highly “remote interaction” through 5G phone calls. In a joint release, the companies describe it as an ‘addition of real-time, remote interaction between people and things, through a regular mobile phone call’, referring to a phone call based on more than a person’s voice alone. What does it mean? It can involve anything from gaming and AR to inputting information while waiting in the customer service queue. The offering is claimed to be a “shared vision for a 5G connected world’ where other ways of interacting or collaborating are built into a regular voice call –  removing the need for ‘separate apps that have to be downloaded, maintained and secured.’

“We are constantly working on developing new 5G innovations and future communication services are a priority area for us in 5G,” said Cayetano Carbajo, Director at Telefonica CTIO. “We are now co-developing and testing 5G interactive calling together with Ericsson and Samsung, among other partners. This could bring new capabilities to 5G voice calls in the future which will benefit our consumer and enterprise customers.”

David Bjore, Head of Solution Area Communication Services at Ericsson added: “We have during the past years been working on bringing voice services to the 5G era, by building a new 5G 3GPP-standards-based technology enabler, IMS data channel, which could be used for many different types of real-time interactive voice services in the future. With this proof-of-concept together with Telefónica and Samsung, the next major milestone has been achieved by showcasing the technology and example use cases on 5G smartphones.”

The companies will demonstrate some of the use cases during the Mobile World Congress happening this week in Barcelona. 

ETNO Approves The EC’s Data Act 

ETNO seems to be on board with the new Data Act prepared by the European Commission and aiming at improving data privacy and protection. The Data Act is focusing on providing users with more access to the data they generate, giving small players more advantages as compared to the telecom giants, and giving the public sector the ability to get private data. 

“We want to give consumers and companies, even more, control over what can be done with their data, clarifying who can access data and on what terms,” said Margrethe Vestager, EVP for a Europe fit for the Digital Age. “This is a key Digital Principle that will contribute to creating a solid and fair data-driven economy and guide the Digital transformation by 2030.”

After European Commission’s announcement, ETNO has spoken favorably about it, saying:

“ETNO supports the objective of fostering data sharing in the single market that underlies the proposed Data Act regulation issued by the European Commission yesterday,” it said in a published announcement. “Very-high-speed connectivity will enable the rapid growth of the Internet of Things, and new streams of data coming from millions of sensors connected over 5G will need to be exploited.”

It Looks Like Nokia Will Focus On Software During MWC 2022 

As we are going into the week of the Mobile World Congress, Nokia seems to be going big on software as they are drip-feeding the public with product launches. Last week, they launched Intelligent RAN Operations which Nokia claims is the biggest hit of its new OSS offering. According to the Finish operator, the solution would be able to remove the human errors from the radio network sector. 

“As mobile networks have evolved from 2G through 5G they have become much more performant and sophisticated,” said Omdia Analyst James Crawshaw in the press release. “Management and configuration tools largely kept pace with this evolution – until now. To optimize operational, capital, and energy efficiency in the 5G era requires a paradigm shift.

“Manual configuration of the thousands of parameters available in network nodes, a ten-fold increase on 4G, is no longer feasible. Operators need automated solutions that leverage artificial intelligence to augment and relieve human intelligence which can then be brought to bear on the manifold RAN operational challenges that computers are not yet able to solve,” he added. 

“Nokia’s Intelligent RAN Operations helps operators deliver 5G services to their customers in the most efficient and effective way possible,” insisted Mark Atkinson, SVP of Radio Access Networks PLM at Nokia. “Through intelligent machine learning, it boosts network performance, quality, and the subscriber experience whilst reducing power consumption and operational costs.”

Last week, Nokia has also launched to SaaS offerings that cover analytics, security, and monetization for CSPs. Additionally, there is the iSIM Secure Connect that is basically a more integrated eSIM. 

Viz.ai Received FDA Clearance For Its AI-Powered Aneurysm Detection 

Last year, Viz.ai debuted with the first-of-its-kind AI-powered aneurysm detection solution. On Thursday, the company got the FDA clearance for its Viz ANEURYSM. The algorithm used by Viz.ai can hugely improve the detection and quick follow-up of cerebral aneurysms. 

According to a study done at the University of Toronto, the accuracy of Viz ANEURYSM was 94%. 

“[Aneurysms] can be often missed because they require a very methodical diagnostic approach. The Viz.ai aneurysm algorithm was able to detect cerebral aneurysms in consecutive CTAs. The model has demonstrated that a deep learning AI algorithm can achieve clinically useful levels of accuracy for clinical decision support and will help us to improve how we help aneurysm patients,” concluded Dr. Vitor Mendes Pereira, director of Endovascular Research and Innovation, University of Toronto.

“Viz ANEURYSM has the potential to significantly increase the number of aneurysms detected and clinically followed,” said Jayme Strauss, chief clinical officer, Viz.ai. “The combination of detection with an ability to schedule patients for neurovascular specialist follow-up is an important advancement for aneurysm patients, helping patients obtain the necessary follow-up from this potentially deadly disease and driving improved outcomes on the population health level.”


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