This week in the tech weekly news update, we will look at several stories from the US and the UK highlighting what was happening in the biotech, fintech, and telecom sector during the last week. Take a look at the most interesting studies, trials, and launches that you may have missed. An instant cross-border payment pilot has been successfully completed. UK launched the Digital Pound Foundation as it prepares for the CBDC push. Bank of England tries to decrease the risk associated with DeFi. Eftpos is getting ready to roll out its QR payments app and the Australian banks and fintechs seem to be on board. T-Mobile seems to be way ahead of its US rivals in the 5G experience according to the newest study. The latest research shows a bright future for IoT spend across all sectors. FDA approves a first-of-its-kind Medtech wearable. Respiratory patients receive a support app.
Swift, EBA Clearing, and The Clearing House have just completed the trial testing the real-time cross-border payments. The proof-of-concept pilot was done as a part of the Immedia Cross-Border Payments (IXB) that aims at synchronizing settlement in the domestic and abroad instant payment systems and converting the real-time messages between both systems. The planning was done by eleven banks across the world, and several big names such as Bank of America, Citi, HSBC, or J.P Morgan participated in the proof of concept.
“By leveraging the RTP network in the United States and (EBA Clearing’s) RT1 in Europe, along with ISO 200022 message formats, IXB demonstrates that a faster cross-border payments capability is possible and can be delivered using existing technology,” says Russ Waterhouse, EVP for product development and Strategy at The Clearing House. “By utilizing existing faster payments systems, financial institutions can leverage existing processes, protocols and technology to make the user experience seamless across payment types, whether domestic or cross border.”
The next steps will be developing a working model that can be utilized for other countries, currencies, and payment systems.
A digital pound foundation was just launched by an independent forum backed up by some huge names in the UK finance sector (e.g., Accenture or Ripple). The launch happens as the UK prepars for the digital pound and CBDC ecosystem. Jeremy Wilson who is a long-time Barclays veteran was named the chair for the Digital Pound Foundation and the forum states the use of CBDC will accelerate UK’s path to an “innovative, inclusive digital economy and society”.
In June, BofE governor Andrew Bailey spoke highly of the project saying,“I’m very encouraged by progress on that [CBDC] front and the fact that we are getting to grips with this critical innovation. If this comes to pass, it will be one of the most fundamental innovations in the history of central banking, it will move us into a new era.”
Wilson, together with selected experts that will co-lead the operations, will research and advocate for CBDCs. “Technology is transforming human interaction and money must adapt to that. The world has become a global laboratory realizing the benefits of a new form of money. The social ramifications of this shift will affect everyone. The Digital Pound Foundation seeks to support the UK in bringing that about for the benefit of all,” Wilson says.
Accenture, Avalanche, Billon Group, CGI Group, Electroneum, Quant, and Ripple have all backed the foundation, with Accenture being involved in a Digital Dollar Project across the Atlantic as well.
As decentralized finance (DeFi) continues to grow and increase its impact, the Bank of England has officially started its work on risk assessment and management regarding the DeFi applications. With the use of DeFi ranging from lending to insurance, derivatives, or even trading and its decentralized nature, it poses a new set of challenges and possible risks for the regulators. Jon Cunliffe, the Bank of England deputy governor for financial stability said, “Even on an initial view it is clear that the sector is opaque, complex and undertakes financial activities that carry risk – activities that are regulated with the traditional financial sector. There are pronounced market integrity challenges given the absence of investor protection, AML, and other market integrity provisions.”
“In an extreme form, a DeFi platform could be completely decentralized with no identifiable legal entity, ownership nor even a point of human contact,” states Cunliffe. “DeFi is still in its early infancy but its rapid growth means that regulators, domestically and internationally, need to think seriously now about the risks of a broad range of financial services being effected through DeFi platforms and how to ensure risks are managed in the DeFi world to the same standards as they are managed in traditional finance. At the Bank of England we have begun work to this effect,” he adds.
Eftpos Australia is getting ready to launch its QR payments platform eQR and it looks like the most important banks and financial institutions in Australia including Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Coles, Woolworths, Azupay, Beem It, and Merchant Warrior are all on board to support it.
eQR is currently being tested with the Australian merchants, with the Christmas season as the planned launch period for online and in-store payment options. Eftpos CEO Stephen Benton, says: “The eQR platform aims to provide better experiences for consumers and merchants through added security, loyalty, offers, and digital receipts, no matter where they choose to shop – online, on their mobile, or at the checkout.”
“We expect eQR will quickly become the QR equivalent of eftpos Tap& Pay on debit cards. Covid has changed customer behavior and Australians are now ready for the enhanced payment experience offered by eQR. It is great to have the support of iconic brands like Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Coles, Woolworths, Azupay, Beem It, and Merchant Warrior as we roll this out across the country,” he adds.
The newest study about the 5G mobile experience in the US had a clear winner: T-Mobile. In the latest report that T-Mobile US released on Thursday, it says, “T-Mobile customers get the fastest average 5G speeds – both download and upload – and can connect to 5G more often and in more places than anyone else,” the mobile operator declared. “And the report shows T-Mobile’s average 5G download speed is now more than twice as fast as Verizon and AT&T’s.”
The average download speed for T-Mobile customers came at just about 118.7 Mbps in the Opensignal testing, which marked the first time the 100Mbps limit was exceeded. As compared, Verizon and AT&T, the other two US giants recorded the average speed of 56Mpbs and 51.5Mbps respectively. T-Mobile also exceeded the other telecoms when it comes to availability and reach, with the customers having active connection 34.7% of the time. This is way ahead of 16.4% for AT&T users and 9.7% for Verizon users.
“The largest and most notable improvement that we have observed in this 5G report compared to the previous one was driven by the expansion of mid-band 5G,” Opensignal noted. T-Mobile’s surge in average download speed – that 118.7 Mbps figure was an increase of 35.6% on the July report that covered mid-March to mid-June – was driven by the expansion of its 5G service at 2.5 GHz.
“T-Mobile’s progress in the deployment of mid-band 5G clearly displayed in our recent 5G reports and allowed T-Mobile to build an impressive lead in 5G Download Speed. But AT&T and Verizon are about to receive the first tranche of C-band spectrum (3.7–3.98 GHz) — which will be released in December 2021 and have made plans already to deploy their own mid-band 5G and follow the path T-Mobile pioneered with the deployment of its 2.5 GHz spectrum,” Opensignal points out.
Thus, the results may quickie change after AT&T and Verizon will get their fair share of spectrum in December. There is also a 110 auction occurring right now and all three major US telecoms are taking a part in it. This could also quickly get Verizon or AT&T closer to their biggest competition.
According to the latest research by Inmarsat, published last week, it looks like global businesses will spend most of their IT budget on the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT).
According to Inmarsat’s report, ‘Industrial IoT in the Time of Covid-19,’ companies across all sectors will spend an average of $2.8 million on IoT through 2024.
Apart from the increased spending on IoT, the report also highlighted the amount of saved money due to the use of IoT. According to the answers from the IT experts, organizations currently save roughly 9% of their yearly operating expenses by using the technology, and this number is expected to jump up to 15% by the end of 2022, and up to 22% in the next three years, reaching 30% cost saving by the end of 2026.
“The emergence of IoT as an investment priority for businesses, and the increasing level of cost-savings they expect IoT to deliver in the years ahead, demonstrates how well-established a technology IoT has become across multiple industries,” said Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise. “Despite already seeing rapidly increasing levels of IoT adoption, Covid-19 has emphasized the importance of Industry 4.0 technologies like IoT for business continuity,” he added. “With the world’s production and supply chains becoming increasingly interconnected and digitalized, those companies producing digital twins of their supply chains and sharing data, are the ones reaping the benefits.”
During the last few years, the market has gained an impressive number of wearables that monitor everything from heart rate, blood oxygen levels, sleep activity to SpO2 or breathing disturbances. Now, FDA gives the green light to ScanWatch which became the first approved wearable device to record ECG & SpO2 measurement simultaneously.
Mathieu Letombe, CEO of Withings, said: “ScanWatch received three CES Innovation Awards when it was announced, and we are now thrilled to bring it to the United States following robust FDA scrutiny. At Withings our core mission is to create beautiful devices people choose to use and wear every day so the medical data they provide can make meaningful impacts on their lives. ScanWatch has been clinically validated to detect AFib and can aid in the detection of breathing disturbances at night, which can be signs of sleep apnoea. It is our most ambitious medical watch to date and has the potential to benefit millions of people.”
Although the number of new Covid-19 infections is decreasing due to the vaccination progress around the world, one of the repercussions of the pandemic is a growing number of patients struggling with respiratory issues. Now, doctors and physiotherapists at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) in Dublin developed an app that will support respiratory patients with their home exercise. The app offers short exercise classes, as well as motivation and advice on how to improve life quality for people struggling with respiratory diseases.
Dr John Cullen, consultant in general internal & respiratory medicine in the Acute Medical Unit at TUH, as well as clinical senior lecturer in respiratory medicine in Trinity College Dublin said, “None of the currently available apps and technologies addressed our specific needs, that is how to incrementally and automatically increase activity levels based on patient progress; tailor the exercise program according to the patient’s ability to exercise; and incentivize this activity to ensure ongoing and long-term patient engagement with the exercise program. Most of the currently available apps are so-called “flat apps” with no in-built mechanism for automation or progress. We needed something innovative and unique, and this is the challenge we presented to the companies.”
Kevin Auton, managing director of Aseptika commented: “What attracted us to this opportunity was the very detailed description of the problem the clinical team needed to solve. What they wanted was very close to our existing product, but their vision would push this to an entirely new level of automation for health service delivery. This new product was prototyped at record speed in just four months.
“It works by asking each patient how breathless their prescribed exercise class or walking is making them. As patients get fitter over time, knowing how much exercise they are doing and how they are coping with their activity goals, it automatically adjusts the exercise program up or down for each patient.
“How they are doing is feedback to the clinical team, along with information about how well they are feeling, whether they have had another flare-up of their lung condition, what medication they are taking, and whether they feel well enough to continue to exercise.”
The team behind the app wants to get it approved in the UK and across the EU during 2022.