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Securing $10 Trillion in International Financial Transactions Through Operational Independence

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Securing $10 Trillion in International Financial Transactions Through Operational Independence

By Roy Hilliard, VP of Business Development, NJFX

Recent headlines have put cybersecurity front and center for consumers and companies alike.

But cybersecurity is only part of the security story. The very infrastructure that data traverses can be prone to destruction, area wide isolation, congestion, erratic latency, cuts, and so on, keeping even the most pragmatic administrator up at night.  This level of complexity is heightened as you expand globally. Subsea fiber optic cables are critical to financial transactions, including credit, debt financing, funding, investing, procurement and more, and account for US$10 trillion in transactional value each day, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

So how do financial institutions and other business make sure that disruptions do not affect mission critical services?  A key for network security resides in operational independence by confirming diversity, resiliency, and redundancy.  Global solutions require a new level of interconnectivity.  Establishing access to interconnectivity hubs is how institutions will have the ability to safely control, monitor, maintain, and maximize the underlying network. By using these hubs in conjunction with advanced network orchestration, companies can insulate applications from isolation, vulnerability, and interruptions.  If there is a hard cut or a fiber optic cable is damaged, traffic can be redirected. If there is congestion or concern of a breach, similar redirection of traffic can be accomplished.  In the past, networks were linear and static.  It was difficult to turn paths on and off.  If a circuit went down, resolution could very easily take days or longer.  With advances such as SD WAN and NFV, institutions can react in real time to redirect data traffic if they have deployed an interconnected network framework and corresponding partners.  Institutions historically engineered multiple paths but were beholden to what was offered by carriers as to routes and diversity.  Much of this holds true today, however in the always on, always available climate, network design must get smarter for both the steady state and when systems are disrupted.  Flexibility to control and redirect the network needs to be the new norm.  The ability to do so comes back to having access to hubs that can maintain connectivity as well as offer alternate pathways.

Roy Hilliard

Roy Hilliard

Case in point is the New York Stock Exchange.  Founded in 1792 with an agreement made under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street, New York was cemented as the financial capital for the U.S. and as connectivity expanded, became one of the most  critical exchanges in the world.  Today, New York means not just the exchange, but areas throughout Manhattan and northern New Jersey.  So much so that data centers and businesses are connected through overlapping routes,many susceptible todamage from flooding, cuts and other disruptions A recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Oregon found that thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable are at risk of drowning under the rising seas. This isn’t something that will happen far in thefuture, but rather could be a realitywithin two decades with New York as one of the most susceptible locations.

To get a glimpse of what this might look like, you only need to look back to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Millions in the Northeast were without power and many industries and businesses struggled to provide mission critical services. Data centers in the heart of the financial district were among those that faced challenges.  The issue is many core network interconnections run through Manhattan.  It is a very complicated system with so many parties being involved for so long with legacy setups too entrenched to alter. However, the issue is compounded in that much of the east coast subsea capacity lands beyond NYC, but is also routed into the same complex web, nullifying what is often thought to be redundant solutions.

So much so that diversity and redundancy need to be viewed and acted upon separately to gain operational independence.  Without such an audit, a firm can have the false sense of securityderived from choosing different suppliers, but not diverse routes.  For example, a redundant system will help if one path goes down. But there may be several carriers in the same ductwork or have crisscrossing typology.  Even diligence in this aspect can still be thwarted by chokepoints in the case of large hubs such as New York.  Here again, separate suppliers, but the same buildings.  Physical, known diversity to and from application hosting platforms creates the infrastructure that is resilient to the cascading effect of a building or area being taken offline.  Examples are clear in the case of hurricanes like Maria or Sandy but there are certainly other events, ranging from power outages to terrorist threats.

Furthermore, this operational independence goes beyond a focus on keeping the lights on.  Having the ability to keep access to data and properly manage such data is equally critical when faced with the level of scrutiny often required byregulatory requirements, archival restrictions, and privacy.  Again, always available and always accessible requires options.  The OTT firms have seen this from the start as the user experience is paramount.  Granted the builds for these firms were predominantly greenfield designs, but conflicts and overlaps were soon evident with growth.  The reaction in that segment has been to take ownership in the physical underlying assets and facilities.  Sure, the owner economics is advantageous for the business model, but it may be that the operational clarity that comes from knowing what is behind the network curtain is more valuable.

As I speak with firms across verticals, it becomes more evident that the need for network infrastructureclarity will only continue to grow for not only securing data but maintaining the access to it.  Redundancy, diversity and resiliency are the cornerstones for a secure network.  They combine to provide the operational independence that firms will require for the many advances in banking, as well as other verticalsas AI, blockchain, 5G, IoT and so many more, usher in even greater solutions and demands.

About the Author:

As Vice President of Business Development, Roy Hilliard is responsible for developing and strengthening partnerships for NJFX in the enterprise, financial, gaming, service provider, and educational verticals. With over 20 years of multinational experience, Roy brings a wealth of networking knowledge, helping clients leverage the latest in technology and embrace innovative ways to addressnetworking and global communications.

Through strategy, product management, and account director roles Roy has been a part of noteworthy career projects including managing network supplier teams serving the top global financial firms as well as the AT&T team that designed, implemented and maintained the network for the Olympic games. Roy has worked on several government network projects and led securing the AT&T India licensing agreement for Tata and in establishing AT&T as a stand-alone operator in India.

He may be contacted at [email protected]

NJFX COMPANY PROFILE:

NJFX owns and operates a 64,800 square foot purpose built Tier3 colocation facility in Wall, NJ, supported by several route-independent carriers who offer direct access to multiple independent subsea cable systems interconnecting North America, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. High and low-density colocation solutions are available with 24/7 support. NJFX’s low latency offerings provide the flexibility, reliability and security which global carriers, content providers, and enterprise/government entities require to drive revenue, reduce expenses and improve service quality. The facility features 24/7 on-site security and secure loading dock access, as well as CAT-5 hurricane resistant infrastructure and onsite generators with fuel for up to five days of uninterrupted emergency service.

The NJFX facility itself is located at the point where subsea cables from the Domestic US, South America and Europe meet – at the United States’ easternmost edge – offering service providers, enterprises, carrier-neutral operators and cable companies direct interconnection options directly at the cable-head without recurring cross-connect fees. The NJFX facility also provides global connectivity to 200+ countries and territories as well as 99.7% of the world’s GDP by way of Tata Communications’ global subsea fiber network, one of the largest and most advanced in the world.  This is a paradigm shift from traditional fiber backhaul to the nearest metro area without consideration of potential bottlenecks found in congested areas such as New York and Northern New Jersey.

Having multiple physical subsea sea cables interconnecting with multiple backhaul fiber providers facilitates the most reliable global network architecture available. Conveniently located within 60 miles of New York City, Philadelphia and New York / New Jersey Financial Exchanges, the NJFX facility is accessible via public transportation, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.  NJFX broke ground on the facility in 2015, under the leadership of CEO Gil Santaliz.  Mr. Santaliz realized that bringing NJFX to the site where cables land, avoiding the congestion of lower Manhattan, would be a great benefit to connectivity. NJFX chose to create a place to interconnect with subsea networks as close to the cable landing site as possible and saw the value in a proper Tier 3, purpose-built facility to drop off traffic. When the facility was designed, executives and architects sat down with backhaul providers.  The providers detailed how they entered NJFX, and NJFX in turn made sure the paths were as diverse as possible from each other.  The result is a secure location for U.S. fiber backhaul solutions avoiding traditional legacy network points of failure.

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 1

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.

Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.

“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.

“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”

Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.

He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.

“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.

Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.

“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.

Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.

It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.

The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.

Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 2

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.

“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.

Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.

Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.

The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.

“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.

Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.

The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.

It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.

“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.

“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”

SCALING UP

Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.

“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.

A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.

“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.

The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).

“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.

($1 = 0.7064 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)

 

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G20 to show united front on support for global economic recovery, cash for IMF

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G20 to show united front on support for global economic recovery, cash for IMF 3

By Michael Nienaber and Andrea Shalal

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/ROME (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders are expected on Friday to agree to continue supportive measures for the global economy and look to boost the International Monetary Fund’s resources so it can help poorer countries fight off the effects of the pandemic.

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s top 20 economies, called the G20, held a video-conference on Friday. The global response to the economic havoc wreaked by the coronavirus was at top of the agenda.

In the first comments by a participating policymaker, the European Union’s economics commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the meeting had been “good”, with consensus on the need for a common effort on global COVID vaccinations.

“Avoid premature withdrawal of supportive fiscal policy” and “progress towards agreement on digital and minimal taxation” he said in a Tweet, signalling other areas of apparent accord.

A news conference by Italy, which holds the annual G20 presidency, is scheduled for 17.15 (1615 GMT)

The meeting comes as the United States is readying $1.9 trillion in fiscal stimulus and the European Union has already put together more than 3 trillion euros ($3.63 trillion) to keep its economies going despite COVID-19 lockdowns.

But despite the large sums, problems with the global rollout of vaccines and the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus mean the future of the recovery remains uncertain.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz warned earlier on Friday that recovery was taking longer than expected and it was too early to roll back support.

“Contrary to what had been hoped for, we cannot speak of a full recovery yet. For us in the G20 talks, the central task remains to lead our countries through the severe crisis,” Scholz told reporters ahead of the virtual meeting.

“We must not scale back the support programmes too early and too quickly. That’s what I’m also going to campaign for among my G20 colleagues today,” he said.

BIDEN DEBUT

Hopes for constructive discussions at the meeting are high among G20 countries because it is the first since Joe Biden, who vowed to rebuild cooperation in international bodies, became U.S. president.

While the IMF sees the U.S. economy returning to pre-crisis levels at the end of this year, it may take Europe until the middle of 2022 to reach that point.

The recovery is fragile elsewhere too – factory activity in China grew at the slowest pace in five months in January, hit by a wave of domestic coronavirus infections, and in Japan fourth quarter growth slowed from the previous quarter with new lockdowns clouding the outlook.

“The initially hoped-for V-shaped recovery is now increasingly looking rather more like a long U-shaped recovery. That is why the stabilization measures in almost all G20 states have to be maintained in order to continue supporting the economy,” a G20 official said.

But while the richest economies can afford to stimulate an economic recovery by borrowing more on the market, poorer ones would benefit from being able to tap credit lines from the IMF — the global lender of last resort.

To give itself more firepower, the Fund proposed last year to increase its war chest by $500 billion in the IMF’s own currency called the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), but the idea was blocked by then U.S. President Donald Trump.

Scholz said the change of administration in Washington on Jan. 20 improved the prospects for more IMF resources. He pointed to a letter sent by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to G20 colleagues on Thursday, which he described as a positive sign also for efforts to reform global tax rules.

Civil society groups, religious leaders and some Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have called for a much larger allocation of IMF resources, of $3 trillion, but sources familiar with the matter said they viewed such a large move as unlikely for now.

The G20 may also agree to extend a suspension of debt servicing for poorest countries by another six months.

($1 = 0.8254 euros)

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Gavin Jones in Rome; Andrea Shalal and David Lawder in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Susan Fenton and Crispian Balmer)

 

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