Thursday, September 21, 2023
HomeWeekly HighlightsVideo Leaked On Lloyds' Issues, FDA Approval For Pfizer Covid-19 Pill, UK...

Video Leaked On Lloyds’ Issues, FDA Approval For Pfizer Covid-19 Pill, UK Doubles 5G Coverage in 2021 – Tech Weekly

Although even the tech world slows down a little during the Christmas break, there are still several big developments that should not be overlooked in the tech sector. Swift is trying to expand into the digital asset market. Mastercard acquires a personalization platform by McDonald’s. BIS Chief says the regulators should reach an agreement on crypto regulations in 2022. Video leak shows Lloyds senior executive talking about its on-site technology being “not-fit for purpose”. UK doubles its 5G coverage in 2021. BT creates a clinical advisory board as it tries to increase its smart health technology offerings. FDA grants Pfizer emergency approval for the Covid treatment pill. Dutch watchdog says Apple broke the country’s competition law and requires adjustments on App Store. 

Swift Wants To Expand Into The Digital Asset Market 

Swift is partnering with Clearstream, Northern Trust, SETL, and others in order to support interoperability in the tokenized asset market. Swift wants to improve how the participants and systems can enjoy a more efficient system during the transactional lifecycle. The Brussels-based company will be conducting several experiments in early 2022, exploding the issuance, delivery versus payment, and redemption processes. 

Thomas Zschach, chief innovation officer at Swift says, “As a neutral cooperative with a reach across 11,000 institutions in more than 200 countries, and oversight by central banks globally, Swift is uniquely placed to engage closely in the future of securities,” says. “We look forward to this set of new experiments and innovating collaboratively with market participants on the emerging trend of tokenized assets.”

“Our vision for instant and frictionless transactions not only applies to traditional securities instruments but also to new asset classes as well,” adds Vikesh Patel, head of securities strategy, Swift. “The insights from this exercise with leading capital markets participants will help us define and prioritize the concrete steps required to enable seamless processes for tokenized assets.”

Mastercard Acquires The Personalization Platform Dynamic Yield 

Mastercard is acquiring the personalization platform and decision engine from McDonald’s. The Dynamic Yield SaaS platform is known for its AI expertise that delivers product recommendations and content based on past searches, purchases, page views, and trending products. Mastercard’s goal behind the acquisition is to increase the personalized experience for their customers. 

“The notion of going into a store or opening a webpage to find an experience perfectly tailored to you is no longer farfetched. It’s a reality that more brands are deploying and more consumers expect,” Raj Seshadri, president, data and services, Mastercard, says.”With Dynamic Yield’s expertise and our scale and relationships, we’ll be able to bring the connections between the end consumer and our customers to new heights.”

BIS Chief Says Regulators Will Likely Reach An Agreement On Crypto Framework In 2022

Chief of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Benoît Cœuré, claimed in a conversation with Financial Times that a cryptocurrency regulatory framework should be finalized in 2022, adding that a decentralized finance (DeFi) boom this year has been a “wake up call”. He explained that the opportunities and challenges that DeFi is introducing can no longer be ignored by regulators. 

“These [new] services will be competing with traditional finance, and money will flow in and out from one universe to another. This creates a compelling reason to start a discussion on global principles for crypto regulation,” he said, adding that currently, we are facing a big risk with global inconsistencies as different jurisdictions are progressing at their own pace. 

“That’s a risk that should be avoided and there’s still time to avoid it,” he said. 

“The final decisions of sovereign states will be . . . a balance between sovereign strategic considerations on the one side and considerations about the good functioning of the financial system on the other,” he added. “That’s not new, it’s just that . . . these balances are shifting because technology is so important. The new risk is governments raising technological fences which create fragmentation in the global financial system.”

Video Leaked About Lloyds On-Site Technology Not Being Fit For Purpose  

Last week, a video featuring the senior Lloyds banker was leaked. A video shows a recorded internal meeting where the group transformation director, Nick Williams, says that the current on-site technology that holds most of the bank’s data and services is “not fit for purpose”. One of the things Williams mentions is the video is the “on-premise” software, saying “The bottom line is our prem [premises] capability today is not fit for purpose.

“So we’ve got to sort that problem out as well. We do need to move them forwards. The age of our estate is a real concern,” we can hear Williams say. He later moves on to comment on how “99%” of Lloyds’ data and services is hosted on the bank’s own servers. However, a source close to the bank reports that Lloyds technology is still robust, reporting one of the lowest levels of outages.

Williams continued: “To move forwards and progressively modernize and simplify what we’re doing, we’ve got to move on to more modern architecture. That’s not just a case of let’s go and buy new hardware. Quite a lot of the reasons why we’re still stuck on the aging infrastructure is because the applications won’t work on new hardware, so it’s very much a collective effort.”

Mark Brown, general secretary of trade union BTU, said: “Given the billions the bank’s investment in IT over the years, for a senior executive to be forced to admit that the bank’s current on-premises IT infrastructure ‘is not fit for purpose’ is both astonishing and deeply worrying. But he should be commended for his honesty. The question Mr. Nunn needs to answer is how much money is the group prepared to invest to make its IT infrastructure fit for purpose?”

After the leak was released, Lloyds commented on it, stating: “We continue to modernize our technology infrastructure in order to retain our leading UK customer position and our cost leadership in an increasingly competitive operating environment. This aims to deliver increased agility and responsiveness to customer trends while supporting our broader strategic priorities around customer services and products and operational efficiency.”

UK Doubled Its 5G Coverage This Year

Global Wireless Solutions which is a network analysis firm issued a press release where they provide detailed statistics on streaming and video calling. One of the main interesting findings was that the vast majority of the major operators in the UK have doubled their 5G coverage during 2021. According to the statistics, EE’s 5G coverage increased by roughly 120%, O2’s 260%, Three’s 150%, and Vodafone’s 90%.

However, it was not all good news. The report has also highlighted “the issue of poor video quality, which can damage the inclusive feeling of remote celebrations with family and friends”. Based on the GWS’s speed testing, 33% of British citizens struggle with speed too poor to broadcast a live HD stream in a good quality (defined as speeding less than 5Mbps to watch and 4.5 Mbps to broadcast).

“The pandemic continues to underline the importance of robust digital connectivity that allows people to meet virtually when the risks of in-person socializing are high,” said Paul Carter, CEO, Global Wireless Solutions. “Video calling and live streaming have provided so many with much-needed relief when families and friends are forced apart over important celebrations like Christmas, New Years, and other occasions. Our data points to the fact that whilst current network capabilities allow people to feel connected, there are limitations.

“The increased importance of high-quality streaming services, enabled by reliable connectivity, shows that the UK must continue to embrace technological innovation and invest in its digital infrastructure to ensure people can continue to come together virtually. 5G technology, with its reliability, super-fast speeds, and low latency provides an answer to this issue. Online connections with friends and family will once again provide a lifeline for many through this coming Christmas period. Our investments in 5G technology will ensure that this is an option open to all,” he continued.

BT Starts A Clinical Advisory Board To Increase Smart Healthcare Offering

BT decided to create a “Clinical Advisory Board” to increase the new smart connected healthcare tech. The new board will be joined by eight NHS clinicians, among them Dr. Peter Ingham, Dr. Michael Quinn, Professor Ann-Marie Cannaby, Dr. Sandeep Bhansal, and Dr. Mateen Jiwani. The main task of the clinicians will be assessing the tech and aligning it with the real-world issues that frontline med workers are facing in the medical facilities. 

“I am delighted that BT has secured a group of top-class clinicians from the NHS with hands-on experience of change management, technology, and new care models,” said Professor Sultan Mahmud, Healthcare Director at BT’s Enterprise unit. “This demonstrates BT’s commitment in supporting the digital transformation of the NHS, which is critical for its future sustainability. As a national enabler for the UK, it’s vital that we have experts on board who can advocate for our working heroes of the NHS as well as the health and wellbeing of our citizens who rely on the NHS day in, day out.”

FDA Gives a Green Light To Pfizer Covid Pill 

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration gave Pfizer an emergency authorization for the Covid treatment pill. This is a huge milestone as it marks the first oral Covid treatment to be approved by the FDA. The pill may be available to patients as soon as this week and the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, told CNBC last week that some of the pills have already been sent to the U.S, making for a faster prescription once the FDA approval is in the box. 

The medication is currently recommended for those facing a high risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms and will be used for patients aged 12 and older that have mild or moderate Covid and are considered as most vulnerable in terms of hospitalization/death risk. 

“Today’s authorization introduces the first treatment for COVID-19 that is in the form of a pill that is taken orally — a major step forward in the fight against this global pandemic,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “This authorization provides a new tool to combat COVID-19 at a crucial time in the pandemic as new variants emerge and promises to make antiviral treatment more accessible to patients who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.”

The FDA highlighted that the vaccines remain the best protection against Covid and the Pfizer drug is simply an additional tool that may be used to fight the virus. Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an FDA advisor explained that while the FDA clearance is positive news, the biggest challenge is still immunizing those who are not vaccinated. 

“Would you be more likely to take this drug than you would get a vaccine? I think the answer to that question is yes,” Offit said in a phone interview. “So therefore it is of value for those 40 million, 50 million people in this country who simply refuse to be vaccinated. I mean, this may keep them out of the hospital.”

So far, the U.S. has purchased 10 million doses of Pfizer’s drug, in a $5 billion deal. The treatment will be administered in two 150 milligram tablets with an additional 100-milligram tablet of an HIV drug, ritonavir, twice per day. The addition of the HIV drug is needed to slow the patient’s metabolism in order to let Paxlovid remain active in one’s body for a longer period of time. According to the last clinical trial that Pfizer submitted to the FDA at the beginning of December, the treatment is 89% effective in preventing hospitalization. 

Dutch Watchdog Says Apple’s App Store Broke Competition Laws 

The Netherlands’ main competition regulator, Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), said on Friday that Apple broke the Dutch competition laws. As a result, the company will have to change the App Store payment policies. The competition law violation comes from Apple’s requirement toward app developers, forcing them to use the in-app payment system and pay a 15% to 30% commission on digital goods purchases. Such a practice has already been scrutinized by various regulators across the world. The ACM started the investigation on Apple’s practices back in 2019. After the decision was reached late last week, Apple issued a statement that reads, 

“We disagree with the order issued by the ACM and have filed an appeal,” Apple claims, adding that “Apple does not have a dominant position in the market for software distribution in the Netherlands, has invested tremendous resources helping developers of dating apps reach customers and thrive on the App Store.”

If Apple fails to make the adjustments until the deadline of 15th of January, they are facing a fine of up to 50 million euros. 

“We applaud the ruling issued today by a Rotterdam Court affirming the ACM’s decision that Apple’s forced use of its in-app payment systems and other practices violate Dutch and EU competition law, and must be eliminated by January 15th,” Match group said in an email statement.


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