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IBM and Crédit Mutuel Strengthen Their Strategic Partnership to Build the Bank of Tomorrow

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IBM and Crédit Mutuel Strengthen Their Strategic Partnership to Build the Bank of Tomorrow

Crédit Mutuel to deploy Watson across all business lines

At VivaTech today, Crédit Mutuel announced a sweeping digital reinvention, partnering with IBM (NYSE: IBM) to devise new ways of working to better serve the bank’s 12 million customers. Crédit Mutuel has selected IBM Cloud, Watson and advanced cybersecurity technologies to fundamentally change how its customer relationships are developed and maintained.

As part of a bold strategy to embed artificial intelligence solutions in most of its banking and insurance businesses, Crédit Mutuel will now deploy IBM Watson across all of its business lines – Consumer Credit, Personal Protection, Health, Payment Instruments and Risk and Compliance. For its next wave of transformation, Crédit Mutuel will combine multiple technologies from IBM – IBM Cloud, Security, and Watson – to reconceive partner relationships and operations. For example, Crédit Mutuel will now be able to reassign 200,000 working days annually towards training, upgrading advisors’ skills and expanding sales activities. This follows last year’s successful Watson deployment of an e-mail analyzer and virtual assistant to 20,000 advisors.

“Crédit Mutuel is deeply involved in a strategic partnership with IBM that will enable it to use technology and innovation to help people,” said Nicolas Théry, chairman of Crédit Mutuel CM11 Group. “Through this new joint-construction stage, Crédit Mutuel is enabled to transform its productivity gains and growth opportunities and pave the way for new services for millions of Crédit Mutuel customers and members.”

Protecting customer data with Cloud
Under the extended partnership with IBM, Crédit Mutuel will be equipped to manage risk and compliance issues such as anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism, with tighter controls and monitoring with business and client identification.

In the IBM Cloud, Watson services will be secured in a fully encrypted, dedicated and isolated environment in France with back-up in Germany. In keeping with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, Crédit Mutuel customer data is private and will never be for sale. Crédit Mutuel and IBM are fully aligned on their values around customer data protection.

Additionally, Crédit Mutuel has chosen IBM QRadar Security Intelligence to collect all major cyber security information across the world, and make it available to its security analysts. This allows Crédit Mutuel to accelerate analysis on every cyber attack attempt they face and resolve them much faster. The bank is also using IBM MaaS360 to protect 10,000 advisors’ mobile phones used across the overall Crédit Mutuel Group. Crédit Mutuel will continue to use an IBM Mainframe to ensure a robust, redundant, secure and encrypted environment for customer data and support large business process operations.

The Cognitive Factory: an innovation incubator

IBM Services and Crédit Mutuel are inaugurating the Cognitive Factorybringing together AI engineers and line of business experts from Crédit Mutuel into a partnership with IBM experts. A result of a two-year experiment conducted through a joint taskforce from both companies, the Cognitive Factory can be deployed to foster more robust innovative solutions that better meet the needs of customers, members, and advisors.

This team of 100 professionals and experts, within Euro-Information, the FinTech IT group of Crédit Mutuel, will focus on skills, training and recruitment for the bank’s technical team to ensure they remain at the forefront of innovation when implementing new AI projects across the bank. Crédit Mutuel and IBM are also creating and running a joint University program to recruit interns and experts to provide them with dual competencies in banking and AI, as well as Mainframe.

“Crédit Mutuel and IBM share a deep-rooted commitment to empowering professionals with AI to drive innovation, while ensuring this technology is adopted with utmost responsibility and care,” said David Kenny, senior vice president, IBM Watson & Cloud platform. “Crédit Mutuel is turning these values into action by using Watson to build intelligence into every fabric of its company, while training its employees to collaborate effectively with the technology and guaranteeing complete data security and protection of customer information.”

Last year, Crédit Mutuel and IBM announced the start of this journey to strengthen customer relationships, teaching IBM Watson the French language to turn data into new ways of doing business. Crédit Mutuel’s advisors previously received 350,000 emails daily related to inquiries such as loan options or insurance coverage. IBM Watson is now deployed to more than 20,000 advisors across 5,000 branches and agencies, helping them to identify frequent requests, determine level of urgency, and respond more quickly and accurately. In addition, IBM, jointly with Euro-Information, designed and deployed virtual assistants to empower relationship managers across Insurance, Automotive, Savings, Health and Pension funds.

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears 1

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law.

Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.

Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution.

Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no breakthrough.

As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments.

“The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.

The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way”.

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.

While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Birmingham added.

A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate.

A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, they commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content; informing users of the origins of content; and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Hugh Lawson)

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback 2

By Pushkala Aripaka and Matthias Blamont

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.

The British and French drugmakers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter, and if the results are conclusive, hope to see the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year.

In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed towards the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.

Disappointing results were probably caused by an inadequate concentration of the antigen used in the vaccine, Sanofi and GSK said, adding that Sanofi has also started work against new coronavirus variants to help plan their next steps.

Global coronavirus infections have exceeded 110 million as highly transmissible variants of the virus are prompting vaccine developers and governments to tweak their testing and immunisation strategies.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.

Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from July.

Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Matthias Blamont in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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Don’t ignore “lockdown fatigue”, UK watchdog tells finance bosses

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Don't ignore "lockdown fatigue", UK watchdog tells finance bosses 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists.

“During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”

Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.

“The impact of COVID-19 is creating a huge workload for those considered to be high performers, while the remote environment potentially makes it much more challenging for those who were previously considered low performers to change that perception,” Blunt told a City & Financial online event.

Companies should consider “psychological safety” or ensuring that all employees feel confident about speaking out and challenging opinions.

“We’ve heard varying reports of how successful this has been,” Blunt said.

Pressures in the financial sector were highlighted this month when accountants KPMG said its UK chairman Bill Michael had stepped aside during a probe into comments he made to staff.

The Financial Times said Michael, who later apologised for his comments, had told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

Blunt was speaking as the FCA next month completes the full rollout of rules that force senior managers at financial firms to be personally accountable for their decisions to improve conduct standards.

There have only been a “modest” number of breaches reported to regulators so far as firms worry about being “tainted” but more cases will become public as sanctions are revealed, Blunt said.

“Regulators won’t be impressed by lowballing the figures.”

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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