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Industry Pioneers will Define How FinTech is Accelerating Digital Transformation of Banking at Finnovation South Africa 2018

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Finnovation South Africa Fintech 2018

Nvalaye Kourouma

The unique environment for financial services in Africa is fertile ground for innovative FinTech players who are capitalising on the opportunities to disrupt or leapfrog established business models to make financial services more affordable, accessible and profitable across the continent.

Finnovation South Africa 2018, which will be held on the 6thof June 2018 at the Radisson Blu Gautrain, will gather international FinTech experts together with African pioneers, investors, government policymakers, entrepreneurs and leading bankers to harness the FinTech revolution to explore how the major banks and financial institutions on the continent are addressing the digital transformation of financial services and how their own digital innovations are being shaped and accelerated as a result of the gathering momentum of FinTech disruptors.

Finnovation South Africa Game Changers

Finnovation South Africa Game Changers

Finnovation South Africa 2018 is delighted to welcome a stellar list of keynote speakers, including David Gyori, CEO of Banking Reports and Founding Member of World FinTech Association; Chris Principe, CEO of Chain2Trade, Inc. and Publisher FinFuture & and Financial IT; Paul Mitchell, FinTech and Blockchain Lead of PWC South Africa; Nick Ogden, Executive Chairman of ClearBank; Assel Zhanassova, Chief Digital Officer of Astana International Financial Center (AIFC); and Nvalaye Kourouma, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, ROA of Barclays Africa Group Limited. The opening keynote session will define directions on Aligning the Role of Government Policymakers, Incumbent Banks, FinTech Innovators, Investors, Multilateral Agencies and MNOs to drive a positive Eco-System for FinTech in Africa.

Juan Engelbrecht, CEO of MOBU, speaking ahead of his participation in the event, said that: “Throughout history, there have always been revolutionary ideas but those who lack the vision to embrace the future invariably get left behind. As the cryptocurrency market evolves, the global adoption of ICO fundraising structures has led to an explosion of new capital formation that has outpaced both the seed and venture capital investment markets. The 86 ICOs that were launched during the first term of 2018 were able to raise a mammoth amount of US $3,4 billion in total. The total costs of launching successful ICOs are a lot more cost effective in raising funds than IPOs. However, approximately 98% of these ICOs launched utility tokens.

Finnovation South Africa Interview

Finnovation South Africa Interview

The securities market is a multi-trillion-dollar arena which remains virtually untouched in the blockchain space. We know that a security token start-up can be a legal, technical and regulatory nightmare. MOBU is a decentralised organised all-in-one platform that facilitates the release of validated security tokens. By partnering with MOBU, cryptocurrency developers will be able to navigate the process with ease. Imagine unlocking that vast potential through a consolidated, enabling and self-regulating platform? MOBU offers a complete blockchain solution, by bypassing barriers and introducing a simple marketplace for security issuances and secondary trading. MOBU offers KYC, AML and SEC approval, escrow (safe-keeping proceeds of ICO funds), bank support to investors when fiat is converted to crypto and smart contract development, and facilitates all other processes needed to raise funds. MOBU’s user-friendly platform offers non-tech companies the opportunity to expand their horizons to launch security tokens with negligible fees, instant settlement times and round-the-clock trading. MOBU creates a network of confidence and trust that will boost economic and operational efficiency.

MOBU recognises the invaluable contributions of FinTech in accelerating these changing customers’ behavior and expectations. MOBU also looks forward participating in Finnovation South Africa 2018 by engaging with Fintech pioneers and leaders to address the most pressing questions for the digital transformation of financial services in the world and in South Africa. And this is only the start of this revolutionary epoch. Let MOBU take you there!”

Finnovation South Africa Keynote Speakers

Finnovation South Africa Keynote Speakers

Finnovation South Africa 2018 will also provide a platform to connect innovative start-ups with leading investors in the African FinTech space and the Enter the Wolves’ Den session is one of the most dynamic features of the event.The Wolves’ Den enables innovative FinTech start-ups and trail-blazers to real-time test the positive impact of their solutions. A panel representing savvy Investors/Venture Capitalists and seasoned Fintech Leaders and Pioneers will evaluate the business model of each chosen start‐up or trail‐blazer in a high-stress 10 minute “elevator pitch” to the “Wolves” who will ask the tough questions and provide the illuminating insights.

Speaking ahead of his participation in Finnovation South Africa 2018, Chris Principe, CEO of Chain2Trade, Inc. and Publisher FinFuture & and Financial IT, said that: “A very positive story, if one that is not yet well understood, is unfolding in Africa. New technology, new ideas and new business models are producing new opportunities. The distinctions between telecom services providers, payments services providers and financial institutions are breaking down. In virtually all African countries, there are sufficient numbers of mobile phones ‐ which are not necessarily smartphones ‐ for previously unbanked people to have access to high quality financial services at low cost. Innovative companies are using Blockchain technology and crypto‐currencies to resolve fundamental problems such as lack of access to electricity and lack of access to global financial markets. Finnovation Africa highlights how FinTech is transforming Africa for the better, facilitating payments, boosting financial inclusion and developing new enterprises. However, the conference does much more than that, as it engages key stakeholders to reveal how the entire world is changing. In many ways, Africa is a FinTech leader, rather than a follower.”

From the perspective of a leading fintech pioneer, Paul Mitchell, Fintech and Blockchain Lead of PwC South Africa, reinforced that “South African financial services players, old and new, are uniquely positioned on a high growth continent to seize the opportunities to create innovative solutions and harness the impact of FinTech in Africa, which could well make a more significant contribution and impact than what we are currently seeing in the US and Europe. Customers’ behaviour, and their expectations around how financial services companies traditionally interact with them, is changing rapidly. FinTech is accelerating these changes and the established players who recognise this are having to learn fast. This is leading to a reassessment of many elements of the customer experience and engagement process that will play out over the next few years. I look forward to participating in Finnovation South Africa 2018 and engaging with Fintech pioneers and thought leaders to address the most pressing questions for the digital transformation of financial services in South Africa.”

Finnovation South Africa logo 2018

Finnovation South Africa logo 2018

Finnovation South Africa 2018 will take place at the Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 6thof June 2018 and will gather all stakeholders and influencers in the African FinTech ecosystem, from innovative start-ups to banking powerhouses, representing the key markets across Africa and internationally.

Ethico Live Limited UK is an international trade & investment nexus that focuses on the digital transformation of financial services and the role that Fintech is playing in driving positive and profitable change through blockchain, AI, mobile money, finclusion, ethical finance/Islamic banking, payments, and data driven innovations. We support our clients who are transforming the global financial markets through our high-profile engagement platforms that connect investors, government policymakers, bankers and game-changing start-ups from across the Middle East and Asia – with a special focus on the exciting high-growth markets of Africa.

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‘Spooky’ AI tool brings dead relatives’ photos to life

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'Spooky' AI tool brings dead relatives' photos to life 1

By Umberto Bacchi

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Like the animated paintings that adorn the walls of Harry Potter’s school, a new online tool promises to bring portraits of dead relatives to life, stirring debate about the use of technology to impersonate people.

Genealogy company MyHeritage launched its “Deep Nostalgia” feature earlier this week, allowing users to turn stills into short videos showing the person in the photograph smiling, winking and nodding.

“Seeing our beloved ancestors’ faces come to life … lets us imagine how they might have been in reality, and provides a profound new way of connecting to our family history,” MyHeritage founder Gilad Japhet said in a statement.

Developed with Israeli computer vision firm D-ID, Deep Nostalgia uses deep learning algorithms to animate images with facial expressions that were based on those of MyHeritage employees.

Some of the company’s users took to Twitter on Friday to share the animated images of their deceased relatives, as well as moving depictions of historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Ancient Egypt’s lost Queen Nefertiti.

“Takes my breath away. This is my grandfather who died when I was eight. @MyHeritage brought him back to life. Absolutely crazy,” wrote Twitter user Jenny Hawran.

While most expressed amazement, others described the feature as “spooky” and said it raised ethical questions. “The photos are enough. The dead have no say in this,” tweeted user Erica Cervini.

From chatbots to virtual reality, the tool is the latest innovation seeking to bring the dead to life through technology.

Last year U.S. rapper Kanye West famously gifted his wife Kim Kardashian a hologram of her late father congratulating her on her birthday and on marrying “the most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world”.

‘ANIMATING THE PAST’

The trend has opened up all sorts of ethical and legal questions, particularly around consent and the opportunity to blur reality by recreating a virtual doppelganger of the living.

Elaine Kasket a psychology professor at the University of Wolverhampton in Britain who authored a book on the “digital afterlife”, said that while Deep Nostalgia was not necessarily “problematic”, it sat “at the top of a slippery slope”.

“When people start overwriting history or sort of animating the past … You wonder where that ends up,” she said.

MyHeritage acknowledges on its website that the technology can be “a bit uncanny” and its use “controversial”, but said steps have been taken to prevent abuses.

“The Deep Nostalgia feature includes hard-coded animations that are intentionally without any speech and therefore cannot be used to fake any content or deliver any message,” MyHeritage public relations director Rafi Mendelsohn said in a statement.

Yet, images alone can convey meaning, said Faheem Hussain, a clinical assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

“Imagine somebody took a picture of the Last Supper and Judas is now winking at Mary Magdalene – what kind of implications that can have,” Hussain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) animations could be use to make someone appear as though they were doing things they might not be happy about, such as rolling their eyes or smiling at a funeral, he added.

Mendelsohn of MyHeritage said using photos of a living person without their consent was a breach of the company’s terms and conditions, adding that videos were clearly marked with AI symbols to differentiate them from authentic recordings.

“It is our ethical responsibility to mark such synthetic videos clearly and differentiate them from real videos,” he said.

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi in Milan; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

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Does your institution have operational resilience? Testing cyber resilience may be a good way to find out

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REMOTE WORKING STRATEGY REQUIRED TO STRENGTHEN CYBER RESILIENCE

By Callum Roxan, Head of Threat Intelligence, F-Secure

If ever 2020 had a lesson, it was that no organization can possibly prepare for every conceivable outcome. Yet building one particular skill will make any crisis easier to handle: operational resilience.

Many financial institutions have already devoted resources to building operational resilience. Unfortunately, this often takes what Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, calls a “near death” experience for this conversion to occur. “Recent years have seen a number of cases of loss of reputation, reduced enterprise value and senior executive casualties from operational incidents that have been badly handled,” he wrote.

But it need not take a disaster to learn this vital lesson.

“Operational resilience means not only planning around specific, identified risks,” Charlotte Gerken, the executive director of the Bank of England, said in a 2017 speech on operational resilience. “We want firms to plan on the assumption that any part of their infrastructure could be impacted, whatever the reason.” Gerken noted that firms that had successfully achieved a level of resilience that survives a crisis had established the necessary mechanisms to bring the business together to respond where and when risks materialised, no matter why or how.

We’ll talk about the bit we know best here; by testing for cyber resilience, a company can do more than prepare for the worst sort of attacks it may face. This process can help any business get a clearer view of how it operates, and how well it is prepared for all kinds of surprises.

Assumptions and the mechanisms they should produce are the best way to prepare for the unknown. But, as the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The aim of cyber resilience is to build an effective security posture that survives that first punch, and the several that are likely to follow. So how can an institution be confident that they’ve achieved genuine operational resilience?

This requires an organization to honestly assess itself through the motto inscribed at the front of the Temple of Delphi: “Know thyself.” And when it comes to cyber security, there is a way for an organization to test just how thoroughly it comprehends its own strengths and weaknesses.

Callum Roxan

Callum Roxan

The Bank of England was the first central bank to help develop the framework for institutions to test the integrity of their systems. CBEST is made up of controlled, bespoke, intelligence-led cyber security tests that replicate behaviours of those threat actors, and often have unforeseen or secondary benefits. Gerken notes that the “firms that did best in the testing tended to be those that really understood their organisations. They understood their own needs, strengths and weaknesses, and reflected this in the way they built resilience.”

In short, testing cyber resilience can provide clear insight into an institution’s operational resilience in general.

Gaining that specific knowledge without a “near-death” experience is obviously a significant win for any establishment. And testing for operational resilience throughout the industry can provide some reminders of the steps every organization should take so that testing provides unique insists about their institution, and not just a checklist of cyber defence basics.

The IIF/McKinsey Cyber Resilience Survey of the financial services industry released in March lasy year provided six sets of immediate actions that institutions could take to improve their cyber security posture. The toplines of these recommendations were:

  1. Do the basics, patch your vulnerabilities.
  2. Review your cloud architecture and security capabilities.
  3. Reduce your supply chain risk.
  4. Practice your incident response and recovery capabilities.
  5. Set aside a specific cyber security budget and prioritise it
  6. Build a skilled talent pool and optimize resources through automation.

But let’s be honest: If simply reading a solid list of recommendations created cyber resilience, cyber criminals would be out of business. Unfortunately, cyber crime as a business is booming and threat actors targeting essential financial institutions through cyber attacks are likely earning billions in the trillion dollar industry of financial crime.A list can’t reveal an institution’s unique weaknesses, those security failings and chokepoints that could shudder operations, not just during a successful cyber attack but during various other crises that challenge their operations. And the failings that lead to flaws in an institution’s cyber defence likely reverberate throughout the organization as liabilities that other crises would likely expose.

The best way to get a sense of operational resilience will always be to simulate the worst that attackers can summon. That’s why the time to test yourself is now, before someone else does.

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Thomson Reuters to stress AI, machine learning in a post-pandemic world

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gbaf1news

By Kenneth Li and Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp will streamline technology, close offices and rely more on machines to prepare for a post-pandemic world, the news and information group said on Tuesday, as it reported higher sales and operating profit.

The Toronto-headquartered company will spend $500 million to $600 million over two years to burnish its technology credentials, investing in AI and machine learning to get data faster to professional customers increasingly working from home during the coronavirus crisis.

It will transition from a content provider to a content-driven technology company, and from a holding company to an operational structure.

Thomson Reuters’ New York- and Toronto-listed shares each gained more than 8%.

It aims to cut annual operating expenses by $600 million through eliminating duplicate functions, modernizing and consolidating technology, as well as through attrition and shrinking its real estate footprint. Layoffs are not a focus of the cost cuts and there are no current plans to divest assets as part of this plan, the company said.

“We look at the changing behaviors as a result of COVID … on professionals working from home working remotely being much more reliant on 24-7, digital always-on, sort of real-time always available information, served through software and powered by AI and ML (machine learning),” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in an interview.

Sales growth is forecast to accelerate in each of the next three years compared with 1.3% reported sales growth for 2020, the company said in its earnings release.

Thomson Reuters, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment and other items.

Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals, and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit. As part of the two-year change program, the corporate, legal and tax side will operate more as one customer-facing entity.

Adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were ahead of the 46 cents expected, based on data from Refinitiv.

The company raised its annual dividend by 10 cents to $1.62 per share.

The Reuters News business showed lower revenue in the fourth quarter. In January, Stephen J. Adler, Reuters’ editor-in-chief for the past decade, said he would retire in April from the world’s largest international news provider.

Thomson Reuters also said its stake in The London Stock Exchange is now worth about $11.2 billion.

The LSE last month completed its $27-billion takeover of data and analytics business Refinitiv, 45%-owned by Thomson Reuters.

(Reporting by Ken Li, writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

 

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