Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘financial services’ Category

Moving Insurance

leave a comment »

You may think the insurance business is boring, but hey, my dad was an insurance agent, and he sure was never boring (anything, but!)

But he’s been retired for a few years, and the insurance biz is changing.

Example: TechCrunch is reporting on a London-based startup called Zego, a firm that foresaw the need for gig-economy workers to have insurance. 

Though its first products were pay-as-you-go scooter and car insurance for food delivery workers, it has now announced a $42M Series B raise that will help it cater to a variety of “the new mobility services,” including ride-hailing, ridesharing, car rental and scooter sharing.

From a risk management perspective, things get even more interesting, because the company will now offer a range of policies, “from minute-by-minute insurance to annual cover[age], providing more flexibility than traditional insurers, with pricing based on usage data from vehicles.”

Zego’s mission statement in a nutshell can be found in this quote:

Sten Saar, CEO and co-founder of Zego, said: “When we built Zego from scratch three years ago, our mission was to transform the insurance sector by creating products which truly reflected the rapidly changing world of transport… The world is becoming more urbanized and because of this, we are moving from traditional ownership of vehicles to shared ‘usership’. This means that the rigid model of insurance that has existed for hundreds of years is no longer fit for purpose.”

Written by turbotodd

June 18, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Apple’s Supply Chain, RapidAPI’s Boost

leave a comment »

So what happens if this U.S.-China trade war gets outta hand? What, in particular, happens to Apple, whose supply chain purposely extends throughout the Middle Kingdom?

Bloomberg is reporting that Apple has a fallback plan, that its primary manufacturing partner, Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd), "has enough capacity to make all iPhones bound for the U.S. outside of China, if necessary."

“Twenty-five percent of our production capacity is outside of China and we can help Apple respond to its needs in the U.S. market,” said [Foxconn semiconductor division chief, Young] Liu, adding that investments are now being made in India for Apple. “We have enough capacity to meet Apple’s demand."

According to the report, Apple has not given Foxconn instructions to move production out of China…yet.

Foxconn is now running quality tests for the iPhone Xr series there and plans to begin mass production at a facility in the suburbs of Chennai. Older models are already assembled at a Wistron plant in Bangalore.

Foxconn had also committed to building a 13,000-worker facility in Wisconsin, but the fate of that plant seems to have been up and down. But Foxconn executives maintain the employment goal remains, and that "construction remains on schedule and that it will hire as many as 2,000 Americans by the end of 2020."

Meanwhile, the tech consolidation buying spree continues.

Intel is acquiring Barefoot Networks, which specializes in programmable networking chips, for $155M. Interesting to note that Barefoot’s fund raises amounted to $155M from a variety of firms, including Chinese Internet giants Tencent and Alibaba.

TechCrunch provides a backgrounder:

Based in Santa Clara, Calif., Barefoot Networks was launched from stealth in late 2016 by Dr. Craig Barratt, a former Stanford University professor whose work was critical to the development of the networking architectures that allowed Alphabet, Facebook and others to operate at the massive scale they now have.

As these companies demanded more customized hardware ranging from chipsets to enable their various machine learning algorithms to manage and monitor content (and win Go games), to the servers and routers that they’ve put up in their own internal networks Barratt realized they’d need chipsets that they could modify.

With the acquisition, Intel adds a core knowledge set around p4-programmable high speed data paths, switch silicon development, P4 compilers, drivers oftware, network telemetry and computational networking.

It’s not just speed in the chips that will transform cloud-based AI…it’s speed in the networking infrastructure and at the edge of the network.

H&R Block is acquiring Toronto-based Wave Financial, a financial planning platform for small business owners (surely you’ve seen their TV spots!) for $537 million CAD (Canadian dollars).

The acquisition, which is still subject to regulatory approval and closing conditions, expands H&R Block’s product and client portfolio with Wave’s accounting, invoicing, payroll, and payments software solutions and will also see Wave adding H&R Block tax solutions to its suite of products.

In 2014, Wave reached over 2.5 million customers worldwide, and launched its Invoice feature the following year. Last year, the company surpassed 3.5 million customers, and launched Wave Plus, launching its Receipts and Payments features the following year.

Wave provides its software for free to more than four million customers in 200 countries worldwide. Revenue is generated from Wave’s paid financial services, including Payments and Payroll by Wave. The company’s general software is free, rather than “freemium” model, meaning that its tools can be used without tiers or limitations.

Upon closing, writes BetaKit, the deal "would make one of the largest ever Canadian tech exits."

And if you’re a developer, this one’s for you: RapidAPI, which devs used to search for, pay, and connect to public APIs, has closed a Series B round of $25 million.

The funding comes at a time of decent growth for the startup. The company now counts 10,000 APIs in its marketplace, which it estimates covers 33% of all publicly available APIs globally (leaving lots of room still to grow); with developers using RapidAPI, now standing at 1 million, who now collectively make 500 billion API calls each month from a wide variety of companies big and small, including Microsoft, SendGrid, Nexmo, Telesign, Google, Skyscanner and Crunchbase.

TechCrunch reports that the funding will help bolster development of its tools, including RapidAPI for Teams, "which will help them not only manage their use of public APIs but also organse and use their own internal APIs and microservices.

If you build it (your API), they will come…but they have to find it first!

RapidAPI currently has 1 million developers and counting…I would expect somebody will take them off the board and soon. Microsoft may have first right of refusal, as RapidAPI’s Series B was led by the company’s venture arm, M12.

Written by turbotodd

June 11, 2019 at 10:00 am

IBM and Dream Payments Expand Payment Services on the Cloud

leave a comment »

IBM has announced it is teaming up with Toronto-based FinTech company Dream Payments to bring new revenue generating mobile payment offerings to financial institutions and merchants in the United States via the IBM Cloud.

Historically, financial institutions are slow to bring new products to market due to culture, legacy systems and heavy regulations within the payments industry.

To stay competitive, they must be able to rapidly implement new mobile and digital payment solutions for their small business customers. Dream enables powerful partnering options by connecting banks, acquirers, retailers and value-added apps to deliver services that meet the demands of today’s mobile merchants.

IBM and Dream Payments are rolling out Dream Payments Cloud to U.S. financial institutions –a scalable platform that enables financial institutions to provide business customers with secure mobile and digital payment services that help them go to market faster and improve customer experiences.

With this platform, which is delivered via the IBM Cloud, financial institutions can avoid investing in the expensive and lengthy IT projects required to build these services in-house. For example, financial institutions can leverage Dream Payments’ offering to rapidly launch solutions that work with emerging payment technologies like mobile wallets, CHIP cards and contactless payments.

Dream Payments turned to IBM because they needed a partner that could help them rapidly deploy cloud infrastructure while maintaining a high level of control and security. With IBM Cloud for VMware solutions, Dream Payments accelerated its cloud infrastructure deployment from three months to just days, while avoiding the cost and complexity of procuring, provisioning and managing new data centers.

This deployment also enables Dream Payments to provide financial institutions with the level of control they need to maintain Payment Card Industry (PCI) certifications in the cloud.

“The combination of IBM’s banking and financial services expertise along with IBM Cloud has allowed Dream Payments to build and scale its cloud infrastructure, right down to bare metal hardware access, to maintain bank grade security, PCI compliance and data sovereignty,” said Chad Whittaker, CIO, Dream Payments.

Dream Payments also plans to leverage IBM Managed Security Services including IBM QRadar on Cloud, a network security intelligence and analytics offering to help detect and take action against cybersecurity attacks and network breaches and improve their response to incidents. 

Written by turbotodd

October 16, 2017 at 8:57 am

IBM, Banks Collaborate to Advance an Open, Blockchain-based Trade Finance Platform

leave a comment »

Bank of Montreal (BMO), CaixaBank, Commerzbank and Erste Group have joined an initiative launched by UBS and IBM in 2016 to build a new global trade platform based on blockchain technology.

This new platform, called Batavia, is built to be openly accessed by organizations of all sizes anywhere in the world, and can support trade finance for transactions across all modes of trade, whether goods are being transported by air, land or sea.

Batavia advances the work initiated by UBS and IBM to develop a trade finance platform built on the IBM Blockchain Platform powered by the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain framework.

The development work is being done collaboratively by the five banks and IBM in consultation with transportation industry experts as well as the banks’ customers to ensure that the platform is flexible and intuitive for customers and can be commercialized.

Batavia is targeting pilot transactions with customers on the network in early 2018 to test and refine the platform.

Designed to support more efficient, transparent and cost-effective transactions, the new global trade financing platform will help organizations more easily build multi-party, cross-border trading networks worldwide.

Batavia will allow transacting parties to view the progress of a shipment as it leaves the warehouse, is loaded onto a plane, truck or boat and arrives at the receiving port, automatically releasing payments incrementally along each step of the process.

The platform will help connect participants in a trading network, delivering the potential to transform global trade. The open nature of the platform, which encourages broad participation by many banks, vendors and regulators, will also help open new trade corridors, bring new players into the market and expedite processes that before were prohibitively time-consuming and expensive.

Traditionally, trading partners, including buyers, sellers, their banks, transporters, inspectors and regulators have relied on large volumes of paper-based documentation to securely conduct trade transactions. This process can take up to weeks, incurring costs, making data vulnerable to errors due to repeated manual reprocessing and tying up capital.

Delays and lack of transparency in trade can make it difficult for companies to access financing, limiting their ability to trade across borders and grow revenues. The Batavia platform will eliminate the necessity to handle and compare documents, allowing buyers, sellers and their banks to execute transactions with a high degree of efficiency and transparency.

Blockchain enables greater transparency by digitizing agreements entered into a permanent, immutable ledger that all involved parties in a trade transaction can view. The status of a contract until its fulfillment is updated automatically through IoT sensor data or user input.

Batavia will save users time and reduce costs by ensuring the integrity of data as it changes hands, reducing third-party verification processes and minimising the potential for errors, tampering or disputes. When all participants in a transaction can access a shared version of the truth, they can interact with greater trust, build larger and more distributed networks, and in turn, grow revenue.

You can learn more about the IBM Blockchain Platform here.

Written by turbotodd

October 5, 2017 at 11:22 am

IBM Launches Cognitive Era of RegTech With New Watson Financial Services

leave a comment »

IBM has launched the first suite of cognitive solutions to help financial institution professionals manage their regulatory and fiduciary responsibilities.

The Watson-powered software, which can be deployed on the IBM Cloud, is designed to help financial professionals in three areas: understanding regulatory requirements, delivering increased insight into potential financial crimes, and managing financial risk with a new architectural approach for data.

Managing risk and compliance currently consumes 10 to 15 percent of operational spending budgets among major banks, with annual spending estimated at $270 billion per year for financial services organizations.

This burden is expected to only grow in the coming years. By 2020, the global financial services industry will contend with an estimated 300 million pages of regulations, with thousands of new pages added each year after that.

Promontory Financial Group
, an IBM subsidiary that specializes in risk management and regulatory compliance, has trained Watson initially on 60,000 regulatory citations.

Watson has also started to review transactions and cases related to potential financial crimes. The result is a suite of cognitive solutions that are designed to offer professionals assistance in making better-informed risk and compliance decisions with greater speed.

Over time, additional data sets will be added, which will allow the machine learning and analytics embedded in Watson Financial Services to further expand and help improve the insights provided to professionals.

Gene Ludwig, founder and chief executive officer of Promontory Financial Group , added, “The speed and volume of information that financial institutions must manage is already daunting and yet still growing rapidly. The answer to this problem is cognitive technology taught by industry experts, like those at Promontory. Essentially, we’re embedding our deep regulatory experience into Watson so that a broader group of professionals can benefit from this knowledge and help their organizations operate more effectively and efficiently.”

The solutions are available to financial services industry clients, many of whom have worked with IBM and Promontory to address their risk and compliance needs.  

The specific products launched by Watson Financial Services today include:

Watson Regulatory Compliance
Watson Regulatory Compliance will help financial institutions better understand and address the constantly changing regulatory requirements. Watson’s natural language processing capabilities are being used to train and understand the language of regulation, and IBM has started the process of feeding regulations from 200 different sources into the system in order to identify and tag potential obligations. This will help simplify the daily, manual activities of compliance professionals by providing a company-specific view of regulatory requirements. 

Compliance professionals using Watson Regulatory Compliance will have access to a customized and searchable library of regulatory requirements, with the ability to identify the obligations and controls applicable to their business, which can be easily filtered by geography, line of business, product, process and compliance area.

They will also be able to more easily track changes, with the ability to subscribe to only the specific parts of the regulation that are directly relevant to them.

IBM Financial Crimes Insight with Watson
Each year, financial institutions spend $18 to $21 billion on anti-money laundering (AML) activities, $16 to $19 billion on know-your-customer (KYC) requirements, and $11 to $15 billion on conduct surveillance. These activities are extremely manual in nature, often requiring significant time to collect information from various sources. The final decision is often subjective and dependent on the experience of individual analysts.

IBM Financial Crimes Insight with Watson applies cognitive computing, intelligent robotic process automation, identity resolution, network analysis, machine learning, and other advanced analytics capabilities to accelerate due diligence activities and help organizations more effectively understand and manage the plethora of AML alerts generated by today’s transaction monitoring systems.

Combined with Promontory’s expertise, financial institutions can increase the speed and accuracy of customer verification and adverse news collection for KYC requirements, help reduce false positives and speed up case investigations for AML alert reviews.

In addition, IBM’s solution for conduct surveillance is being expanded to address broader conduct risks such as sales practices, client suitability and fiduciary responsibilities. This solution goes beyond traditional rules-based and lexicon approaches and generates increased insight by identifying the various activities and behavior associated with misconduct.

It will also advance complaint management in ways that can further assist professionals responsible for identifying misconduct.

IBM Algo One Big Data Foundation
For many financial institutions, it is a challenge to scale their existing systems, and yet, scaling is necessary to meet the dramatic increase in requirements for Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB) regulations, Valuation Adjustments (XVA) measures, and liquidity analysis.

IBM Algo One Big Data Foundation is a new architectural approach to help clients achieve the performance that is required to address regulatory compliance.

The solution integrates big data technology with the core risk data management applications of Algo One. This enables financial firms to examine risk in a shorter amount of time with an intuitive user interface. By utilizing structured and unstructured data to its fullest potential, the solution is designed to encourage decision makers to ask more complex questions and get better answers faster when developing new business strategies.

This moves the use of big data from an experimental or niche use at a bank to that of daily production to help satisfy banks’ regulatory and financial planning. The first solutions available as part of the new architectural approach focus on liquidity, application lifecycle management, and market risk.

All of the new Watson Financial Services solutions are available today on the IBM Cloud. For more information about IBM Watson Financial Services, visit https://www.ibm.com/watson/financial-services/.

Written by turbotodd

June 14, 2017 at 9:15 am

IBM Launches Blockchain Accelerator Program

leave a comment »

IBM today announced the IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator to help enterprises and enterprise developers take blockchain networks into production faster.

The accelerator is the first program available that provides expertise and support across the technology, legal and business considerations of establishing new blockchain networks. Enterprises can join to gain exclusive access to technology and consulting expertise.

As an expansion of the blockchain ecosystem program, the IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator is designed to address the key challenges many early adopters and enterprise developers have identified through the development of leading blockchain networks. It aims to share this collective knowledge with enterprise founders to drive the rapid adoption of production blockchains.

The program provides one-on-one mentorship and support by network founders and technologists across a range of needs such as business case development, network membership incentives, technical development, governance and legal issues.

In addition, members of the Founder Accelerator will receive early access to new prebuilt software assets, delivered via IBM Cloud, to help reduce the time and technical expertise needed for developers to write complex blockchain code.

These assets are based on IBM experience in building blockchain networks with more than 400 clients globally. Along with IBM’s established blockchain cloud services, these new capabilities will help clients rapidly create highly secure, cloud-based blockchain ecosystems.

IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator

Eight new blockchain network founders will be selected by IBM for this fee-based accelerator across a range of industries such as banking, logistics, manufacturing and retail. The program provides organizations with guidance, support and technical expertise to get their networks up and running and supporting an ecosystem of users and partners by the end of the year. Scholarships are also available.

Program participants will gain access to:

  • Design Thinking Workshops – Based on the principles and methodologies of IBM’s global network of Bluemix Garages, network founders will get access to agile design “bootcamps” designed to help them quickly build, iterate and launch the networks, leveraging the best practices and founder experience gained from over a dozen blockchain networks in production.
  • Founder Mentorship One-on-Ones — Technical and business mentors from IBM Research team creating Blockchain solutions and assets, IBM Labs contributing to and helping maintain Hyperledger Fabric (a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation) and the IBM Bluemix Garage delivering blockchain projects, as well as major contributors to Hyperledger Fabric and early users of IBM Blockchain will work directly with the participants and provide counsel including code review and business coaching.
  • IBM Cloud Services — IBM technology resources will be available to founders, including IBM Blockchain solutions via IBM Bluemix, IBM’s cloud platform. Bluemix hosts IBM’s enterprise-ready blockchain service that supports the Hyperledger Fabric. All participants will also receive up to $120,000 worth of IBM Cloud credits to fully leverage the ecosystem, as well as access to IBM Bluemix Garage sessions for development.
  • Co-Marketing Potential –Participants will work with IBM and our blockchain ecosystem to position themselves as technology leaders through joint marketing opportunities.

“As a founder of security and privacy solutions addressing the cost and complexity of complying with regulatory requirements such as the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation, the guidance and support that IBM provided us in bringing DataPassports to market was invaluable in accelerating the development and delivery of our blockchain based services,” said Kevin Ellison, CEO, Schedule1.

Fast-Track Development with Pre-Built Blockchain Software Assets

New software capabilities via the IBM Cloud are based on experience from IBM’s largest blockchain initiatives and experience with production blockchain networks across shipping, manufacturing, supply chain and finance. Designed to help organizations speed the deployment of code from months, to just a few days, participants in the program will have first access prior to the general availability of the code.

These assets include IBM innovations incorporated into major projects across global trade digitization, supply chain finance, transaction settlement, procurement trade finance, supply chain visibility and food safety. Initial software assets include:

  • Document Store – allows network members to store and control documents and related events in a security-rich environment. This provides a source of validation to support mission-critical business processes where the lack of proper documentation can delay outcomes and potentially void the transaction.
  • Provenance Engine– maintains a comprehensive history of industry assets, both physical and digital, throughout their lifecycle, from creation to decommission as immutable transactions. It provides the capability to track an asset’s owner, location and status, and any supporting documents relevant to the asset at each stage of the business process.
  • Process Engine – provides all workflow orchestration on the blockchain network. It provides tamper-resistant document maintenance and authorization features, and answers communication requests among network members to support each transaction’s integrity.
  • Member Management and Onboarding – enables identity management of members in the blockchain network, including the registration and authorization of member organizations and their individual users.

The software assets will complement Hyperledger Composer, a collaboration tool for building blockchain business networks, and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation.

Hyperledger Composer is an open source tool for developing and deploying chaincode, and the efficient development of business logic in Smart Contracts.

Organizations can learn more about pricing and apply to the IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator program by visiting http://ibm.com/blockchain/accelerator.

Written by turbotodd

May 18, 2017 at 10:00 am

IBM And Chile’s Santiago Exchange To Deliver First Securities Lending Blockchain Solution

with one comment

IBM and Chile’s Santiago Exchange, the largest in the country, today announced a partnership to introduce blockchain technology across the country’s financial sector.

The agreement makes the Santiago Exchange the first stock market in Latin America to apply IBM Blockchain technology within its short selling system for securities lending. Blockchain works as an immutable ledger that records transactions, allowing secure information exchange.

Built by IBM and Chile’s Santiago Exchange, the solution is designed to help reduce errors, possible fraud, and processing time for each transaction, while also improving transaction management and lowering costs. In the case of the Santiago Exchange, the solution will result in significant time savings for the back-office processes.

“The Stock Exchange is a technologically advanced company, which provides the infrastructure and systems for all types of securities transactions and their clearing and settlement.  The Stock Exchange also provides information services and management systems for intermediaries. Incorporating blockchain into our business processes is in line with that purpose and positions us as a forerunner in the financial market,” said the Santiago Exchange CIO, Andrés Araya.

IBM Chile General Manager, Francisco Thiermann, highlighted the fact that the Santiago Exchange is the first stock exchange in Latin America to implement a securities lending blockchain solution. “Our agreement with Santiago Exchange marks another new era of innovation in the stock market. Santiago Exchange is a pioneer in its industry, and the blockchain adoption establishes a transformational precedent in the financial market, not just in Chile but in this region and the world,” he said.

The solution developed by IBM is based on the open source Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. The solution is expected to be widely available to support multiple parties across the financial industry ecosystem this year.

Written by turbotodd

May 17, 2017 at 11:02 am

%d bloggers like this: