Let’s start the week off with the latest tech stories. During the past week, some of the biggest headlines included the research on financial phishing, the first-of-its-kind digital trade deal between the UK and Singapore, Sweden’s biometric payment card that can revolutionize paytech, Mastercard and Visa joining in on the Russian blockades, FCA investigating 50 crypto companies, Danske Bank successfully completing the quantum communication data transfer trial, Nokia sealing the 4G and 5G expansion deal in Indonesia, Telefonica launching its OpenRAN small cells solution, and Rakuten’s claims regarding the lack of innovation in telecom during the MWC 2022.
Atlas VPN team did research showing that PayPal and Mastercard are the two companies that are impersonated in the financial phishing the most. Paypal’s brand was used for 37.8% of phishes in 2021, with Mastercard coming in second and being used 12.2% of the time. The final company on the unfortunate podium was American Express, adding up to 10% of phishing attacks related to financial brands.
Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN, Vilius Kardelis said,
“To avoid getting tricked by a phishing attack targeting payment systems, users should keep in mind several things. Websites impersonating popular brands will always have suspicious domain links, which can help to recognize whether the page is legit easily. Also, emails from scammers might contain grammatical errors, so keep an eye out for that.”
E-shops are also hugely abused in phishing attacks, with Apple and Amazon being the two most impersonated e-shop brands. Apple was significantly more used, accounting up to almost half of the financial phishing attacks in 2021. Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba followed with 21.48%, 5.32%, and 4.14% respectively.
The International Trade Secretary in the UK has finalized a new trade deal with Singapore. The partnership aims at setting the ground rules for modern trade and supporting the businesses in both countries in finding new opportunities. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan signed the UK-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) together with her Singapore counterpart, the Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, S. Iswaran.
As of now, the DEA is supposed to be the most innovative trade agreement and a one-of-a-kind deal in Europe.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said, “This digital agreement plays to our strengths as a services superpower, and will ensure our brilliant businesses can build back better from the pandemic and benefit from easier, quicker, and more trusted access to the lucrative Singapore market.”
“We’re using our independent trade policy to strike these groundbreaking agreements that create high-skilled, well-paid jobs across the UK – paving the way for a new era of modern trade,” she added.
Some of the many benefits of the deal include the free and trusted cross-border data flows,
binding commitments that ensure individuals and businesses know their data, money and intellectual property are safe. It will also strengthen the UK and Singapore’s relationship regarding financial services. The plan also includes building highly efficient and strong cybersecurity defenses.
Rocker, a challenger bank based in Sweden has partnered with IDEX Biometrics and augmented identity startup IDEMIA to create and launch biometric payment cards. Such cards have not been utilized and many believe it can be a revolution in the paytech sector.
Rocker’s card is built on IDEMIA’s F.CODE that mixes chip technology and fingerprint biometrics to accurately verify the cardholder’s identification. The new Rocker Touch card has been designed in a way that will be compatible with the regular EMV machines worldwide.
“As a challenger bank, we are constantly testing new technology to develop smarter financial services that are easier to use and that help our customers improve their everyday financial lives,” comments Andreas Norberg, VP Save & Spend at Rocker. “Launching Rocker Touch is part of our strategy to offer smart and secure payment solutions across platforms, whether you wish to pay with your mobile, a card, or with a transfer.”
The offering is already past its beta testing and customer satisfaction is estimated at roughly 95%. The global market survey showed that over ¾ of the surveyed want to use such a solution for high-value payments. 81% said they were interested in using a fingerprint as an alternative authentication method replacing the PIN code.
“Rocker leads the field among Swedish fintechs in terms of innovation and with Rocker Touch, we are revolutionizing and simplifying the way our customers authorize their payments,” continues Norberg. “This premium product will be offered as a new service in our comprehensive and growing offering of retail financial services that are easier to use, more flexible, and better priced.”
“This groundbreaking solution meets customer needs by bringing additional convenience and peace of mind. The biometric payment card is certified by Visa and Mastercard and Rocker Touch will work seamlessly with any payment terminal. We are pleased to work with Rocker and IDEMIA to contribute to smarter and more secure card payments and as trailblazers for this innovative technology,” said Catharina Eklöf, Chief Commercial Officer at IDEX Biometrics.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mastercard and Visa became the next two big financial institutions that decided to block multiple companies from their payments networks. This news came just a couple of days after the Western countries decided to exclude Russian banks from the SWIFT network.
In a statement, Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach says: “As a result of sanction orders, we have blocked multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network. We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve.”
In 2021, about 4% of Mastercard’s revenue came from its Russian operations.
Miebach also highlighted Mastercard is closely watching cybersecurity as for “the threat of which is heightened significantly in the present environment”.
In the last six months, The Financial Conduct Authority opened more than 300 cases related to crypto companies and it currently has 50 live investigations. The extensive investigation does not come as a surprise. The FCA’s website ScamSmart received over 4000 reports regarding alleged crypto scams in Q2 and Q3 of 2021 alone.
Sarah Pritchard, executive director, markets, FCA, says: “Consumers need to have confidence when making investment decisions and the data we’ve published today shows how prevalent scams can be.
“Before investing, check you know who you are really dealing with, check if they are authorized by the FCA, and do your research to understand the risks that might be posed.”
After the trial of using quantum communication to transfer data between computers, the Danish researchers believed they have come up with a breakthrough in IT security. Danske Bank was working on the project together with the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and KPMG and they managed to successfully transfer the data between two of Danske Bank’s computers. This marked the first-ever data transfer that was secured by quantum keys in the Nordics.
The data transfer was enabled due to DTU’s technology, continuous-variable quantum key distribution (CV-QKD). Lance McGrath, chief security officer, Danske Bank, said, “We are very proud to help the researchers reach this milestone and at the same time gain first-hand experience of quantum-safe data transfer, which potentially has great significance for the future security of digital communication.
“As a bank, we have a responsibility to constantly seek new ways to protect our customers’ data and ensure that we are a step ahead of the criminals in the tech arms race,” he added.
Indonesian telecom Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison has signed Nokia for a three-year 4G and 5G expansion deal. Nokia will use solutions from its AirScale portfolio, including the 5G Single Ran. The spectrum that Indosat owns will be merged and upgraded to 5G and all of it is meant to be activated remotely. The rollout is supposed to take place already this month.
“We are excited to collaborate with our long-standing partner Nokia on this crucial project to consolidate and expand our networks for optimal utilization of our resources while providing a world-class digital experience to our subscribers,” said Vikram Sinha, President Director and CEO of Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison. Nokia’s 5G-ready and industry-leading solution will help us maximize the asset utilization even as we future-proof our investments and enhance network performance.”
Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia, added: “We are looking forward to supporting Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison in this crucial initiative to expand its coverage footprint and prepare the networks for more innovative 5G services in the near future. Nokia’s 5G-ready AirScale portfolio will help Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison to launch next-generation services while helping it to bring down its operational expense.”
Telefonica Germany is rolling out OpenRAN small cells to increase the capacity of its network in urban and particularly dense areas. It has a supporting role that offers targeted coverage and improves the overall performance of Telefonica’s 5G network in Germany.
“We are proud to have launched Germany’s first small cells built on innovative OpenRAN technologies that help to complete the delivery of granular, high-quality connectivity in dense urban areas,” said Matthias Sauder, director, mobile access and transport at Telefónica Germany, in a statement.
During the Mobile World Congress that took place last week, OpenRAN was one of the big topics with companies such as Mavenir, Qualcomm, and Rakuten Symphony all coming with their ideas about leveraging it.
When presenting its new OpenRAN-focused offering, Rakuten highlighted that the so-called
“‘legacy way of thinking” is disturbing meaningful innovation in the telecom sector, pointing out the operators must adopt new business models.
Symphony, Rakuten’s OpenRAN offering gained significant attention at the Mobile World Congress, and Geoff Hollingworth, CMO at Rakuten Symphony in Barcelona had a lot to say regarding telco relying too much on the more traditional business models when discussing the advantages of Symphony. “We think this is the operating platform for the industry. We think the whole industry has to move to this form of the model to be competitive with all other industries. If it maintains its legacy way of thinking and operating then the reality of today will continue, and the truth is that telecom is not competitive with other technology leaders from other industries in the market. And the reason is that they can’t engage with the same speed and automation and speak software to these other people. They still speak hardware. If you want to do something with a telecom today, you still have to meet somebody and then you have to physically do things. We’ve moved everything into the software.”
Hollingworth added: “I think doing business with telecoms is very, very challenging for other companies outside of telecoms. I think we see it reflected in the speed in which they adopt new technologies. I mean, we see a big problem. The real innovation these days is happening in very small companies. And very small companies can’t afford to work with telecom as a customer, because the lead times are too long and the chances of being successful are too small, which means VCs won’t back innovators to target telecoms.”
When Hollingworth was asked further questions about the alleged innovation slump in the sector, he said, “It’s an absolute problem, because there’s no way for that technological innovation to actually enter the telecoms operating model today, so there are no software interfaces, and there’s no accessibility. Telecoms networks are exactly like what it was like before the iPhone and the App Store. If you wanted to try and get the software on a phone to scale, it was completely fragmented. You had to integrate your software with the manufacturer. Each integration was unique, it was unique with each operator. We remember that experience and it didn’t deliver a business result, it was like a walled garden. The iPhone came along, and really what it did was remove the friction of software supply chain onto handsets, and we see the results of that. So we’re trying to build the exact same software supply model on the telecom networks.”