Information & Technology

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    Edward George: ‘Banks are in danger of becoming utilities’

Edward George: ‘Banks are in danger of becoming utilities’

As the market for fintech grows in Africa, Ecobank Transnational Inc., a pan-African banking conglomerate headquartered in Togo, has built a digital strategy that includes acquisitions, partnerships and in-house IT development. Having a large network of branches is no longer considered sustainable in the long run, as banking moves online. The bank is instead acting as an incubator of African fintech […]

Blockchain and bitcoin: In search of a critique

One of the few things that has grown as fast this year as the price of cyptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, is the number of books available about them, along with blockchain technology and their many derivatives. There are now in excess of 500 books available on Amazon on these topics. These books include excellent technical guides like “Mastering Bitcoin: […]

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    Clarence Blay: ‘Ghana has 140,000 mobile money agents versus 1,300 bank branches’

Clarence Blay: ‘Ghana has 140,000 mobile money agents versus 1,300 bank branches’

The most famous mobile payments system in Africa, MPesa, allows users to make payments by sending text messages from simple mobile phones, not necessarily smart ones. The idea has started a new wave of mobile payments and transfers in the continent, and governments are taking steps to help this ingenious solution usher in a new era of financial inclusion for their countries. Clarence Blay, who […]

Humans and artificial intelligence: Rivalry or romance?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been developing at a frightening pace. It is debatable to what extent it has improved our lives – being able to use geolocation and search for the best restaurants or places of interest is great; however, AI is at the same time eliminating plenty of jobs, fast. A frequently cited report points out that a […]

Will online platforms be able to access your bank data?

The increasing importance of digital platforms and data to our lives is perhaps the defining trend of the 21stcentury so far. Facebook, in particular, wants to be essential to you: you can connect with friends, shop in the marketplace, and read the headlines, all for the cost of nothing more than tens of thousands of data points about you […]

How to design and price information for sale to others

Everyone seems to be talking about “big data” these days — what it is, where it is, why it’s important, who owns it and how to mine it. It’s like a gold rush with numerous prospectors jumping into the game, dreaming of striking it rich and cornering a market before others discover the location and size of their mine. […]

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    Our private data and the market for third-party providers of functionality to websites

Our private data and the market for third-party providers of functionality to websites

Your personal information is out there. You did not give it out, so how did it get there? Internet websites provide visitors with different levels of interaction, ranging from delivering basic information to providing sophisticated features and tools such as profile management, interactive visual communication, and of course, advertising. Like many traditional businesses, websites turn to third-party outsourcing to […]

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    Robo-advice in ten points – asset management on the cusp of dramatic change

Robo-advice in ten points – asset management on the cusp of dramatic change

The asset management industry is currently in a state of flux, and the manner in which individuals and institutions interact with their wealth managers is on the cusp of dramatic change. Digitisation and increased use of technology should mean that we are at the point of a low-cost revolution. This is likely to impact job security in financial services […]

Can Twitter sentiment predict stock market behaviour?

The stock markets are an incredibly competitive environment and nowadays hedge funds and investment managers are rushing to find innovative ways to produce profits for their investors and their institutions. In addition to therefore understanding the impact of macroeconomic events or regulatory constraints on specific investments, they are looking at new datasets as main sources of competitive advantage.

Someone is […]

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    Naps in the office – perhaps the secret of China’s digital success?

Naps in the office – perhaps the secret of China’s digital success?

We have just spent a week visiting Shenzhen, China, to see the headquarters of one of the world’s most innovative and fastest-growing companies – Huawei. Since its founding in 1987, Huawei has grown to become one of the world’s largest telecoms companies, with revenue of $75 billion. Globally it employs 180,000 with nearly 60,000 of these based at the […]

The iPhone X in context

So, there is another line of iPhones out – big deal? The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and the X. The iPhone X – or, for people without knowledge of Roman numerals, the one-phone-ten – has a brighter and more advanced screen, can recognise you through 30,000 facial features, and has a number of other improvements over the previous versions. It is […]

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    Traditional firms are opening up to blockchain and its decentralised apps

Traditional firms are opening up to blockchain and its decentralised apps

Many decentralised applications (dapps) are in their beginning phases in terms of technology and regulation, which for some means the future of blockchain has an uncertain look. Some investors question whether or not these dapps will be useful, and struggle as the business models have yet to be proven. Few companies have undergone a large-scale transformation to blockchain, and […]

Wake up, algorithms are trawling your phone while you sleep

Wake up, machine learning algorithms have been trawling your phone whilst you slept. If you did. If you had a long sleep your health profile will record positive. Your health data is one signal that will be built into a profile of all your behaviour. It will be used to inform decisions about credit ratings and health provision. Unhealthy […]

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    Thoughts on the future of human knowledge and machine intelligence

Thoughts on the future of human knowledge and machine intelligence

Throughout history, nations and armies have brawled for knowledge. The burning of the Library of Alexandria, the destruction of Xianyang Palace’s archives, the secret investigations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the destruction of the Mayan Codex, and many other examples illustrate the continuous human quest for owning knowledge or eliminating it from an enemy.

Knowledge however, has a peaceable face; […]

For 3D printing to go mainstream, it needs a platform

It is a truth all but universally acknowledged that in our digital age every great technology is in need of a platform to enable it to make the leap from technological renown to mass application. We have all heard of the stories of how sector after sector has been transformed by platforms. Think of telecommunications, media and entertainment and, […]

The regulatory future of algorithms

Automated decisions systems are becoming more and more common. Algorithms are used by banks, employers, schools, police and social care agencies. They might help to run institutions more efficiently, but if badly designed they have the potential to bring about significant harm such as discrimination or social marginalisation. Currently, there are expectations that the EU’s data protection reform (the General Data […]

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    Could the EU’s new data regulation be the catalyst for a more ethical social media?

Could the EU’s new data regulation be the catalyst for a more ethical social media?

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect May, 2018. Every firm, irrespective of its physical location, interacting with EU citizens, will need to make changes to oversight, systems and processes to comply with the new rules.

Little known and even less discussed, the GDPR is the most important change in how we are store and process […]

The bitcoin fork: What’s happening

Background

For the past number of years we’ve been hearing a lot about bitcoin – how the technology of a blockchain, coupled with certain restrictions and incentives for various parties, could produce a viable currency, independent of either physical collateral or the authority of a state. In many respects it would seem that bitcoin has been a success. Now when […]

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    The end of net neutrality is not the end of the open internet

The end of net neutrality is not the end of the open internet

Say what you will about the merits of net neutrality; we are unlikely to reach consensus, much like academics and policy-makers have not reached consensus over the past 15 years ever since the term was put on the policy table. I have explored elsewhere the reasons why I think consensus has been elusive and what to do about it, but suffice […]

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    What to do when your clients’ data is breached: The case of Sony Playstation

What to do when your clients’ data is breached: The case of Sony Playstation

Sony, Adobe, Home Depot, eBay, Blue Cross — what do they all have in common? Not just that they are extremely successful companies but that they have all experienced a major data breach.

Sometime between April 17 and April 19, 2011, a group of hackers gained privileged access to the Sony PlayStation Network (PSN). Within a matter of hours, the […]