We are back with the tech weekly update, sharing the best stories from the fintech, telecom, and biotech sector. This week, we talk about a telco bank cooperation between Bharti Airtel and Axis, the closure of all crypto ATMs in the UK, an executive order on digital assets issued by The White House, an alarming number of customers using BNPL to pay for essential goods, the progress on digital shekel in Israel, Telefonica’s new joint venture, BT’s five-year public cloud deal with Google, Deutsche Telekom’s expansion, satellite mobile broadband by Lynk, and FDA’s green light to the spinal cord stimulation services.
Bharti Airtel and Axis Bank announced they formed a partnership that will result in launching a variety of financial services to over 340 million of Bharti Airtel’s customers. The offering included a credit card, BNPL services, and instant loans. What’s in it for the Axis Bank? Well, they will be able to leverage all the digital services that Airtel has in its suite including its C-PaaS platform including spans voice, messaging, video, streaming, virtual contact centers, or cybersecurity services.
Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel says: “Airtel is building a formidable financial services portfolio as part of its endeavor to offer world-class digital services to its customers. Through this win-win telco-bank partnership, Airtel customers will get access to Axis Bank’s world-class financial services portfolio and exclusive benefits, while Axis Bank will benefit from Airtel’s strong digital capabilities and deep distribution reach.”
Amitabh Chaudhry, MD&CEO, Axis Bank adds: “This one of its kind collaboration will help widen the access to credit and various digital financial offerings from Axis Bank for Airtel’s 340 million customers. On the other hand, we will leverage Airtel’s widespread reach and services ranging from mobility and DTH to utility bill payments, offering our customers the opportunity to maximize value, while also aiding the digital economy exponentially.”
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK has ordered all of the cryptocurrency ATMs across the country to close down, claiming they have been operating in the country illegally. In a statement issued last week, the FCA argued that the crypto ATMs are obliged to register and comply with the money laundering regulations in the country. Currently, none of the crypto firms that are registered have been given the green light for ATM services. Hence, all the crypto ATMs in the UK have been operating illegally.
“We regularly warn consumers that crypto assets are unregulated and high-risk, which means people are very unlikely to have any protection if things go wrong, so people should be prepared to lose all their money if they choose to invest in them,” FCA statement reads.
Last week, The White House issued an executive order connected to the oversight of cryptocurrencies. At the same time, it urged the Federal Reserve to accelerate the research on the central bank digital currency (CBDC).
The Order outlines six key priorities in terms of digital assets: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; US leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation.
In a statement, NEC director Brian Deese and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, say: “We are clear-eyed that ‘financial innovation’ of the past has too often not benefited working families while exacerbating inequality and increasing systemic financial risk. This history underscores the need to build robust consumer and economic protections into digital asset development.”
In order to furtherly support the reforms, the Secretary of the Treasury is currently working with the relevant stakeholders to create a report on the future of the payment systems. The report will include detailed implications for financial and economic growth, as well as national security and inclusion. At the same time, the Order has also highlighted the “urgency” on the exploration of the possible CBDC in the United States.
According to the newest data coming from Citizens Advice, increasingly more customers use BNPL to cover the basic costs of essential goods and rely on the service to a dangerous point. BNPL is a dynamically growing field, with £2.7billion spent through BNPL transactions in the UK alone in 2020, and that number more than doubling last year, with £5.7billion.
Gillian Percival, a benefits caseworker at Citizens Advice Copeland in Cumbria, said: “BNPL is a double-edged sword. It can be useful if you understand what you’re getting into, but if you’re using it out of desperation you probably have no way to repay.
“We try to help people with foodbank and fuel vouchers, but some people are embarrassed to ask for help if they’re struggling. If they use Buy Now Pay Later they’re invisible. They don’t need to speak to anybody, with a few clicks they can borrow instead,” she added.“They can resolve their problems immediately without having to worry about the consequences.”
As they released their new data, Citizens Advice has urged the regulators to speed up the work on regulating the sector.
“The fact that people are turning to Buy Now Pay Later for their groceries really hammers home the urgent need for industry regulation,” said Citizens Advice Chief Executive Dame Clare Moriarty. “As living costs spiral, we fear more people in desperate situations will see this unregulated form of credit as the answer. The Government must keep pace with these firms and ensure consumers are protected.”
Israel is among many other global countries that are currently focusing on exploring the CBDC sector. Now, Israel’s central bank, the Bank of Israel (BOI) published a statement in which they claim that adopting the digital shekel is not expected “to materially affect the banking system.” At the same time, BOI has warned that issuing a CBDC will most likely be connected to the decline of public deposits volume claiming that it would lead to “some increase in the banking system’s interest expenses.”
The BOI has not yet made a final decision about the digital shekel. Having said that, in the most recent statement, the central bank of Israel said it “is building an action plan for the potential issuance”
The statement reads, “Transferring a certain volume of money from the public’s deposits to SHAKED would have various effects on the balance sheets of the banking system and of the Bank of Israel. The banking system’s balance sheet would contract due to the decline in the ‘Public’s deposits’ item on the liabilities side and in the ‘Deposits at the Bank of Israel’ on the assets side.”
The most known Spanish telecom Telefonica has revealed on Thursday that a joint venture has been formed between them and the energy giant Repsol. The joint venture will offer solar power products, combining the distribution channels of Telefonica and the renewables expertise of Repsol.
The offering is allegedly going to be competitively priced, and the installation will have the option of remote monitoring.
“This is a strategic agreement between two leading companies that contribute their knowledge in two fundamental aspects to build a solid and innovative value proposition for both individuals and companies; on the one hand, connectivity, and on the other, the installation and management of solar photovoltaic panels to take advantage of solar power,” said Telefónica Spain chairman Emilio Gayo in a statement. “Our customers, in addition to efficiently managing their expenses and saving money, will be contributing to creating a more sustainable society.”
“This important partnership shows both companies’ commitment to the consumers, who increasingly want to be part of the energy transition by producing their own energy. Both companies also open the way for us to explore additional solutions within this alliance to expand the value of our current customer proposal,” said María Victoria Zingoni, executive managing director of client and low carbon generation at Repsol.
On Thursday, BT announced its five-year deal with Google Cloud, leveraging the variety of products and services that Google offers, including ML and AI, data analytics, API management, and of course – cloud infrastructure. This is the next in the series of moves that BT has made to accelerate its digital transformation. The new partnership with Google will be overseen by the newly formed Digital unit at BI.
“Our partnership with Google is one of a series of strategic moves that BT Digital is taking to help accelerate BT’s growth and digital transformation,” said Harmeen Mehta, BT’s chief digital and innovation officer, in a statement. “This is a partnership that is deeper than just at the technology level. It will help Digital as a whole supercharge BT and drive its return to growth.”
“By deploying our full cloud capabilities, and support from our SRE organization, our goal in this partnership is to set up BT with the tools it needs for future growth and innovation,” said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.
The work to integrate Google Cloud technology into BI has already started and the data migration is supposed to by completed by 2023.
Deutsche Telekom is expanding its cloud impact as it announced that its subsidiary, T-Systems which is responsible for the Open Telekom Cloud will open new data centers in the Switzerland region.
The public cloud platform by T-System has been available in Germany since 2014 and made its first appearance in the Netherlands last year. With the Switzerland expansion, Deutsche Telekom will have its Open Telekom Cloud available in three European regions. DT is pitching its expansion as a ‘community cloud developed specifically for Switzerland’, highlighting it is targeting ‘strictly regulated’ industries such as finance, insurance, healthcare, and the public sector.”.
“By expanding our offering to Switzerland, we are consistently continuing the growth of the Open Telekom Cloud,” says Adel al Saleh, member of the Telekom Board of Management and CEO of T-Systems. “All data will be processed and stored exclusively in Swiss data centers, preserving the national data sovereignty of Switzerland and its economy.”
We have already spoken quite a bit about the MWC 2022 that took place at the beginning of March. However, one of the big stories from the MWC that has not yet been covered is the bold claim by the satellite base-station company Link that believes they will be providing the fastest speeds in mobile broadband via satellite.
Link establishes a direct connection thanks to using a satellite rather than a terrestrial hub.
“We hired Dan Dooley, former president of Sprint Wholesale as Chief Commercial Officer back in July, and he signed his first deal within a month in August,” CEO of Lynk, Charles Miller said. “He’s been signing one mobile network operator deal a month, and we have 8 contracts signed now and a whole bunch more coming. There’s a real interest from mobile network operators for connectivity everywhere that we solve.”
“The mobile network operators are focused on faster speeds, which is called 5G. We think that what we’re doing is the biggest thing after 5G, faster speeds where you don’t have that connectivity. 5G doesn’t solve the zero-G problem. Lynk solves the zero-G problem. So we think both 5G and Lynk are the future of mobile network operators everywhere. By 2025 we’re going to have broadband everywhere to your phone – web, voice, data, continuous broadband data. And then within ten years, we’re going to have the fastest speeds in broadband possible to your phone from satellite. That’s our vision.”
The global medical device company Saluda Medical is known for its innovative therapies connected to neuromodulation. The company is growing its portfolio of treatments tackling neurological disorders. Last week, the company received the FDA approval for its Evoke® Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) System that should be used for chronic pain of limbs or back.
“The groundbreaking technology behind the Evoke System’s ability to intelligently measure spinal cord activation has had many of us excited for a long time,” said Nagy Mekhail, MD, PhD, Professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Director of Evidence-Based Pain Medicine Research and Education in the Department of Pain Management at the Cleveland Clinic, and lead author and medical monitor for the EVOKE Study. “More exciting than the technology, though, is the unparalleled quality of the evidence backing this system which demonstrates pain relief coupled with clinically significant improvements in physical and emotional functioning, sleep quality, and health-related quality of life. This evidence gives me confidence that Evoke is well-suited to address the unmet need of providing long-term, durable pain relief with this therapy. Simply put, this is one of the most important innovations in the field of Neuromodulation since Dr. Norman Shealy developed the first spinal cord stimulation device in 1967.”