Importance of Virtual Data Rooms

Virtual data rooms are becoming popular with time. Their need has shown a sudden rise over the past couple of years. As the business world is expanding, so is the competition that comes along with it. Competitors are in search of each other’s weak points. Nobody wants to see anyone standing ahead of them. You never know who is preying on your confidential documents secretly. A single leak of any piece of information might cause your company to suffer a huge loss. You need a system that keeps all your files and records secured so that nobody has any chance to break into your files. With the introduction of virtual data rooms, this problem has been solved. Virtual data rooms provide you with a highly innovative platform that serves as a warehouse for your files.

Importance of Virtual Data Rooms

Gone are the times when you had to keep a hardcopy of all your business-related files. Keeping files in hard copy is not safe at all. Moreover, many businessmen are so busy with tight meeting schedules that they are often seen forgetting important files at home or end up misplacing them. This causes inconvenience at the time of work. With virtual data rooms, all your files are saved online and with just one click, you can have the file in front of you.

Data Room provide you with all the safety you want with your documents. There is no chance that someone gets into your stuff. You can only share the files with specific people. This keeps your documents under tight security and ensures that there is no preying eye out there, spying on your documents.

You do not have to carry your documents in a hard drive or mail to someone over the email. Now with the virtual data rooms, you can share the documents with anyone around the world with just one click. It doesn’t matter which device the other person might be using or which country they are in, they can always get access to the documents within seconds.

In case you couldn’t conduct a meeting in person with your employees, you can start a meeting using a data room. This ensures that no amount of time is wasted and all the employees can be a part of that meeting.

With virtual data rooms, you do not have to worry about the size of the file that you intend to upload. You can upload bulk files at one time. The sizes of the files can vary. All kinds of files can be uploaded within no time, provided you have a fast internet connection. The files can be shared with anyone irrespective of the size.

Virtual data rooms are an organized file management system. Your files are well managed and organized in a proper manner over there. You do not have to go through a bulk of files to find that one single file anymore. With virtual data rooms, all your files are displayed with just one click.

Philippine Bureau of the Treasury is among Asia’s pioneers in leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain) for bond distribution

The Philippine Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), together with Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) and the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) – a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) licensed entity, is the first in Asia to launch an app for the distribution of government bonds enabled by Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

Philippine Bureau of the Treasury is among Asia’s pioneers in leveraging Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain) for bond distribution

National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon said, “The launch of Bonds.PH paves the way for all Filipinos, particularly the unbanked, to easily and affordably invest in the BTr’s newest retail treasury bond, RTB-24. The mobile app presents a compelling opportunity for all to invest and help the Republic raise funds for economic recovery and COVID-19 response.”

Bonds.PH makes bond investing easy. It’s completely digital and available 24/7. Filipinos can invest in retail treasury bonds by downloading the app and pay, for as low as PHP 5,000.00, using InstaPay, GCash, Paymaya, and digital as well as over-the-counter at UnionBank.

Treasurer De Leon, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and UnionBank Vice Chair Justo Ortiz onsite, together with BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua virtually, did a demo of the Bonds.PH app at the official launch held yesterday.

“This is the first retail treasury bond issuance to leverage on blockchain technology – in Asia, and likely the world,” said Edwin R. Bautista, UnionBank President and CEO. “The Philippines is ready to lead the way into the future and tech up the nation with innovative, inclusive opportunities, powered by emerging technologies, for the benefit of all Filipinos.”

Bonds.PH is blockchain-enabled as transactions are recorded in a DLT-based registry in addition to the existing NROSS system. DLT enables immutable and tamper-proof record-keeping as it is recorded on the blockchain.

According to Nichel Gaba, Founder and CEO of PDAX – a fintech investment of UBX (a UnionBank subsidiary), “DLT or blockchain technology is governance by design with its cryptography and programmable smart contracts. This advantage allows the blockchain not only to preserve truth, but also to automate payments, enforce rules, and facilitate complex transactions via smart contracts at little to no cost.”

As such, DLT reduces manual verification and simplifies reconciliation bringing down processing time and costs. This is why the BTr sanctioned the pioneering effort so that through the pilot it can determine if leveraging DLT makes retail treasury bond distribution to the unbanked feasible and economically viable.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) commended the groundbreaking endeavor.

“I want to congratulate the Philippine Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) for this important milestone,” said MAS Chief FinTech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty.

He added that, “2020 will be the year of commercialization of blockchain technology in the ASEAN region, and BTr’s efforts to build a DLT registry for bond issuance accelerates the success of the most exciting technology of our time. The blockchain community in Singapore will work together with the Philippines to share learnings, open-source resources and also facilitate connecting corresponding nodes to integrate market infrastructure for transparency and interoperability. The recently released Project Ubin Phase 5 findings by MAS will facilitate the creation of robust blockchain rails for future value creation.”

Chia Hock Lai, Co-Chairman of the Blockchain Association Singapore (BAS) and Chairman of the Singapore Fintech Association (SFA) said BAS and SFA are one with the MAS in fully supporting the Philippines and UnionBank in utilizing blockchain for financial inclusion.

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) likewise offered its support.

“With our mandate to facilitate financial inclusion while maintaining investor protection, we support this initiative, which makes use of Distributed Ledger Technology,” said SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong. “We look forward to the results from this initiative, which will contribute greatly to future DLT use cases for capital markets,” he added. The Philippine SEC is among the more progressive regulators in the world having released rules on crowdfunding, as well as draft rules on digital assets and digital exchanges.

Meanwhile, the BSP lauded the initiative for its impact on inclusive prosperity, “Given our advocacy to accelerate the digital delivery of financial services while deepening financial inclusion, we view Bonds.PH as a welcome addition to the expanding suite of available financial products serving wide market segments via innovative delivery channels and bridging the financially excluded,” said BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno.

“From the basic easing of the public’s access to transaction accounts to now this offering of retail treasury bonds to the masses in a simplified yet secure manner, shows the remarkable progress of our shared financial inclusion agenda. This surely marks the transition of blockchain technology from its buzzword status to a feasible, production grade solution capable of democratizing access to digital financial services,” said the Central Bank Chief.

“We look forward to the expansive adoption and success of this initiative and the public can always count on the BSP to remain supportive of responsible digital financial innovations,” he added.

UnionBank Vice Chair Ortiz, who also serves as Chairman of the Distributed Ledger Technology Association of the Philippines (DLTAP) and the Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI) added that, “Democratizing investment through digital channels and Distributed Ledger Technology allows all Filipinos to contribute to and accrue the benefits of nation building. Every Aling Belen and Mang Juan can save and invest. Download Bonds.PH now from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and invest in our country!”

WISeKey Receives Best IoT Semiconductor Innovator Global 2020 Award

Geneva, Switzerland – July 14, 2020 – WISeKey International Holding Ltd (“WISeKey”, SIX: WIHN / Nasdaq: WKEY), a leading global cybersecurity and IoT company today announced that it was recognized by CFI.co, a print journal and online resource reporting on business, economics, and finance, with the “Best IoT Semiconductor Innovator Global 2020” award.

Each year, CFI.co seeks out individuals and organisations that contribute significantly to the convergence of economies and truly add value for all stakeholders. This year, CFI.co judges have conferred WISeKey the award for Best IoT Semiconductor Innovator Global 2020.

Highlights of the judging panel’s findings include:

  • Operating at the leading edge of the digitalised world, WISeKey is engineering a hack-proof yet user-friendly environment. Unique amongst its peers, the company develops and manufactures its own chips that help establish fully secured data generation and injection capabilities.
  • WISeKey was founded in 1999 and was an early promotor of strengthened security in electronic communication. To that end, the company engages with key organisations, such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
  • The CFI.co judging panel remarks that the company is forward thinking and actively pursues new opportunities to grow organically and through acquisitions.

The judging panel’s full report:

WISeKey: Best IoT Semiconductor Innovator Global 2020

The Next Big Thing is already here and will revolutionise our way of living – yet again. However, fear not: The naming of the Internet of Things (IoT) may have been unimaginative, but its applications are not. According to WISeKey, a Swiss-based innovator and disruptor, the IoT is growing exponentially, connecting mere billions of devices today, but will link well over a trillion ‘things’ by 2030. Operating at the leading edge of the digitalised world, WISeKey is engineering a hack-proof yet user-friendly environment. Unique amongst its peers, the company develops and manufactures its own chips that help establish fully secured data generation and injection capabilities. To protect against hackers, WISeKey has created scalable hardware and software suites that provide secure connections from the edge, where data is gathered, to the cloud where the processing takes place. WISeKey was founded in 1999 and was an early promotor of strengthened security in electronic communication. To that end, the company engages with key organisations, such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Listed on Nasdaq, WISeKey is recognised for its adherence to a well-defined and clear mission statement. The company also excels in transparent corporate governance. Thanks to its expertise, size, and domicile, WISeKey has maintained – and expanded – its edge over the competition. The CFI.co judging panel remarks that the company is forward thinking and actively pursues new opportunities to grow organically and through acquisitions. The judges are delighted to offer WISeKey the 2020 award Best IoT Semiconductor Innovator (Global).

About WISeKey

WISeKey (NASDAQ: WKEY; SIX Swiss Exchange: WIHN) is a leading global cybersecurity company currently deploying large scale digital identity ecosystems for people and objects using Blockchain, AI and IoT respecting the Human as the Fulcrum of the Internet. WISeKey microprocessors secure the pervasive computing shaping today’s Internet of Everything. WISeKey IoT has an install base of over 1.5 billion microchips in virtually all IoT sectors (connected cars, smart cities, drones, agricultural sensors, anti-counterfeiting, smart lighting, servers, computers, mobile phones, crypto tokens etc.). WISeKey is uniquely positioned to be at the edge of IoT as our semiconductors produce a huge amount of Big Data that, when analyzed with Artificial Intelligence (AI), can help industrial applications to predict the failure of their equipment before it happens.

Our technology is Trusted by the OISTE/WISeKey’s Swiss based cryptographic Root of Trust (“RoT”) provides secure authentication and identification, in both physical and virtual environments, for the Internet of Things, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. The WISeKey RoT serves as a common trust anchor to ensure the integrity of online transactions among objects and between objects and people. For more information, visit www.wisekey.com.

Disclaimer

This communication expressly or implicitly contains certain forward-looking statements concerning WISeKey International Holding Ltd and its business. Such statements involve certain known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which could cause the actual results, financial condition, performance or achievements of WISeKey International Holding Ltd to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. WISeKey International Holding Ltd is providing this communication as of this date and does not undertake to update any forward-looking statements contained herein as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

This press release does not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities, and it does not constitute an offering prospectus within the meaning of article 652a or article 1156 of the Swiss Code of Obligations or a listing prospectus within the meaning of the listing rules of the SIX Swiss Exchange. Investors must rely on their own evaluation of WISeKey and its securities, including the merits and risks involved. Nothing contained herein is, or shall be relied on as, a promise or representation as to the future performance of WISeKey.

Contact

WISeKey Investor Relations (US)

Lena Cati

The Equity Group

212 836-9611

Phone: 212 836-9611

Email: [email protected]

€60 million for innovators awarded under EIT Crisis Response Initiative

30 June 2020, Budapest, Hungary – Almost 1 500 innovators from 44 countries applied for the EIT’s € 60 million Crisis Response Initiative. The funds have now been unlocked by the EIT Governing Board to ensure critical support swiftly reaches entrepreneurs. This will allow high-impact start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs to benefit from additional funding under the ‘Venture Support Instrument’; and will enable the launch of new innovation projects tackling COVID-19 related challenges as part of the ‘Pandemic Response Projects. By deploying a rapid response mechanism, all EIT Crisis Response activities will be completed by the end of 2020 to help Europe recover.

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responsible for the EIT said: ‘This action of the EIT is part of the EU’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis, including substantial support to innovation. I am glad to see the efficient mobilisation of all EU instruments that we have at our disposal. Thanks to the EIT’s funding, hundreds of innovators and companies will be given the opportunity to participate in the collective effort to overcome this crisis and rebuild our economy sustainably.’

Under the EIT Crisis Response Initiative, each EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community launched Calls for Proposals for ventures and for innovation projects. Close to 1 500 proposals were received from 44 countries (including all 27 EU Member States as well as the Israel, Northern Macedonia, Norway, United Kingdom, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey).

Dirk Jan van den Berg, Chair of the EIT Governing Board, added: ‘This is the EIT in action: agile mobilisation of Europe’s largest innovation community to deliver innovative solutions and a boost to Europe’s economy. With the EIT’s rapid response and additional € 60 million funding, our Knowledge and Innovation Communities will now ensure high-impact ventures and ground-breaking projects help accelerate Europe’s recovery. The submission of almost 1 500 proposals highlights the depth of talent of innovators and the need for crisis recovery support in Europe and beyond.’

The quality and relevance of the EIT’s eight Knowledge and Innovation Communities’ Calls for Proposals under the EIT Crisis Response Initiative were evaluated. Based on this, the EIT Governing Board decided to allocate the following grants: 

EIT Climate-KIC: EUR 8.40 million

EIT Digital: EUR 7.65 million 

EIT Food: EUR 10.25 million

EIT Health: EUR 9.85 million

EIT InnoEnergy: EUR 7.40 million

EIT Raw Materials: EUR 9.80 million

EIT Manufacturing: EUR 3.30 million

EIT Urban Mobility: EUR 3.35 million

 Following the EIT Governing Board decision, each EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community will now finalise its selection processes based on the available budget. It is foreseen that 60% of the EIT Crisis Response funds will be awarded to highly innovative start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs as part of the ‘Venture Support Instrument’, and 40% to innovation projects under the ‘Pandemic Response Projects’. More details on the selected ventures and innovation projects to be financed will be announced in the coming weeks.

BACKGROUND: EIT- MAKING INNOVATION HAPPEN!

What is the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)?

The EIT strengthens Europe’s ability to innovate by powering solutions to pressing global challenges and by nurturing entrepreneurial talent to create sustainable growth and skilled jobs across Europe. The EIT is an EU body and an integral part of Horizon2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The Institute supports the development of dynamic pan-European partnerships – EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities – among leading companies, research labs and universities.

What is the EIT Crisis Response Initiative?

The EUR 60 million EIT initiative launched in May 2020 consists of two main tracks of activities to be implemented by the EIT’s eight Knowledge and Innovation Communities across Europe:

  • Venture Support Instrument: Start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs have been enormously impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Additional EIT support (financing, technical assistance and network) will help highly innovative ventures weather the crisis and accelerate their growth.
  • Pandemic Response Projects: More than ever, innovations and new solutions are needed to tackle the current crisis and prevent its resurgence. The EIT ecosystem is agile and will mobilise innovators to address the COVID-19 crisis, both in terms of the immediate health concerns and the wider response needed.

Learn more about the EIT Crisis Response Initiative in this factsheet.

EIT powers innovative solutions to global challenges

The EIT’s eight Knowledge and Innovation Communities work to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy (EIT Climate-KIC), drive Europe’s digital transformation (EIT Digital), lead the global revolution in food innovation and production (EIT Food), give EU citizens greater opportunities to lead a healthy life (EIT Health), achieve a sustainable energy future for Europe (EIT InnoEnergy), strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s manufacturing industry (EIT Manufacturing), develop raw materials into a major strength for Europe (EIT RawMaterials), and solve the mobility challenges of our cities (EIT Urban Mobility).

Together with their leading partners in Europe, they offer a wide range of innovation and entrepreneurship activities. This includes education courses that combine technical and entrepreneurial skills, business creation and acceleration services and innovation driven research projects.

EIT Facts & Figures

  • Proposed budget of EUR 3 billion between 2021 and 2027 under the EU’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Framework Programme 
  • Europe’s largest innovation network: 2 000+ partners from top business, research and education organisations across Europe in 60+ innovation hubs across Europe
  • Europe’s tried, tested and proven innovation engine: powered more than 2 000 start-ups and scale-ups, created more than 900 new products and services. To date, EIT-supported ventures have raised more than EUR 1.5 billion in external capital. More than 2 200 students have graduated from EIT labelled master and doctoral programmes.
Image

More information: EIT in a nutshell Infographic

Discover EIT Community innovators: EIT Community COVID-19 solutions

Bitcoin halving highlights crypto is part of mainstream finance: deVere CEO

Bitcoin’s historic halving event on Monday underscores that the “long-term future of cryptocurrencies is secure”, says the CEO and founder of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

The comments from deVere Group’s Nigel Green come as the world’s supply of Bitcoin was forever slashed on Monday. The highly anticipated halving event, occurring only every four years, means that less and less Bitcoin – which is limited to 21 million units – will now been mined.

Monday’s was only the third ever halving. In 2012, the number of new Bitcoins issued every 10 minutes fell from 50 to 25. In 2016, it went down from 25 to 12.5. Now, in the 2020 halving, it will drop from 12.5 to 6.25.

The halving happened on block 630,000.

Nigel Green says: “The historic Bitcoin halving event has demonstrated in two ways that digital assets’ long-term future is secure.

“First, the price had been rising steadily ahead of the highly anticipated event – almost three-fold in the last three months – and then dropped back just before and after it took place.

“This shows that there has been increasing retail demand for Bitcoin as investors see and understand the growing influence and huge opportunities of digital currencies in an increasingly tech-driven world.

“With this in mind, large cryptocurrency investors, known as ‘whales’, accumulate crypto at much lower prices then start a sell-off to capitalise on this sustained growing demand.”

He continues: “Second, history teaches us that after this post-halving drop in price, there is a subsequent bull run. 

“Previous Bitcoin halving events have prompted impressive price climbs. The 2016 halving triggered a 300% jump in the value of Bitcoin. 

“There is no reason to believe this time the market will not respond with a longer-term upward trajectory.

“Indeed, the rally which is likely on its way could potentially be even more dramatic because there is more mass awareness than ever before of the long-term use of and need for digital currencies.”

The deVere CEO adds that in these unusual times, central banks have increased monetary supply and this will further drive prices of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

“Traditional currencies are devalued and inflation fears rise on the back of the mass printing of money, the likes of which we have recently seen in the U.S., where the nation’s central bank has added trillions of dollars to the money supply,” he says.

“Such measures will inevitably encourage even more investors to consider decentralised, non-sovereign digital currencies.”

Mr Green concludes: “Looking ahead beyond the halving event, cryptocurrencies are increasingly becoming regarded as the future of money due to the real-world issues they address and growing mass adoption.”

Bitcoin’s coming of age? May’s historic halving taking place in a new era

The Bitcoin price will hit ‘at least $10,000’ even before the four-yearly ‘halving’ event taking place in two weeks, predicts the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations. 

The prediction from the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, Nigel Green, comes as the price of the world’s largest cryptocurrency suddenly soared by more than $1,500 on Thursday, moving it to its highest value since February.  It peaked at $9,400.

It comes ahead of May’s highly anticipated halving event. Occurring every four years, halving means that less and less Bitcoin – which is limited to 21 million units – will be mined.

In 2012, the number of new Bitcoins issued every 10 minutes fell from 50 to 25. In 2016, it went down from 25 to 12.5. Now, in the 2020 halving, it will drop from 12.5 to 6.25.

Mr Green says: “We see the cryptocurrency market already significantly picking up pace ahead of the historic event in May.  

“Investors are now increasing their exposure to Bitcoin as the halving – only the third in its 11-year history – will push up prices sharply due to the dramatically lower supply combined with a steady demand and increasing awareness of digital currencies.”

Previous Bitcoin halving events have prompted impressive price climbs. The 2016 halving triggered a 300 per cent jump in the value of Bitcoin.  

But the 2020 one could be even more remarkable, believes the deVere CEO.

He notes: “May’s event could herald Bitcoin’s coming of age. 

“It will, of course, drive prices higher – but, in my opinion, the jump could be even more impactful due to these unprecedented times.

“The digitalisation of our lives is accelerating at a faster pace than ever before. We’re in an exciting new era driven by technology.

“This new world needs new ways of doing things to fit the new normal.  Clearly, one of those things which is needed now more than ever, as the world becomes ever-more digitalised and globalised, is digital and global currency, such as Bitcoin.

“This will not have gone unnoticed by investors who are increasingly piling into cryptocurrencies.”

Mr Green continues: “Also, these unusual times have forced central banks to increase monetary supply. By printing never-seen-before amounts of money, traditional currencies are devalued and inflation fears rise.

“This will also drive investors towards decentralised, non-sovereign digital currencies.”

Mr Green concludes: “The excitement of the forthcoming rare halving event, together with the new era we’re in, will drive the price of Bitcoin exponentially and sustainably.

“I believe we can expect it to hit at least $10,000 before the May event itself.  

“Beyond that, we could see an explosion in the price of Bitcoin due to real-world issues it addresses and increasing adoption.”

How can cloud-based analytics help banks drive digital transformation?

By Paul Jones, Head of Technology, SAS UK & Ireland

Fintechs are turning up the heat in retail and corporate banking. As smaller, more agile providers have entered the banking market, customers are getting used to a higher level of service – a personalised, digital experience that guides them to make quicker, smarter decisions about their finances. For traditional banks to compete, they need to transform the way they operate. On the retail banking side, that means digitising customer-facing services. No queuing in branches, no paperwork. And when customers apply for a credit card or loan, they get a decision in seconds.

Meanwhile, on the corporate side, the aim of transformation is often to enable an everything as a service (XaaS) strategy, building smart packaged offerings such as treasury as a service or risk management as a service, which the bank can both consume in-house and provide to enterprise clients.

Data-driven digital transformation

To foster this type of digital business transformation, banks need to redesign both internal and customer-facing processes to embed data-driven decision making. By integrating intelligent automation and decisioning capabilities into their operations, banks can eliminate paperwork and manual processing. This will greatly improve service levels to customers while keeping the cost-to-serve to a minimum.

The creation of these data-driven services depends on the ability to design, build, test and deploy processes that embed predictive models using both well-established statistical methods and new artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) techniques. The development life cycle for these models is inherently experimental. It’s vital to try different approaches, test the results, and iterate on the candidates that offer the greatest potential. To remain relevant in the digital age, organisations must deliver such experiments with agility and speed.

The obstacle of legacy infrastructure

The problem is that banks’ traditional IT architectures – built around legacy on-premises systems – are a uniquely bad environment for developing these models. Due to the experimental nature of the models, it’s very difficult to forecast what type of infrastructure banks will need for upcoming projects. For example, different machine learning algorithms run best on hardware that has been optimised for that category of model building. If you invest in a cluster of servers with a particular configuration of memory and processors, it may only be suitable for a small subset of the work you actually need to do. And every time you need to change your approach, you’ll face high fixed costs and a long lead time to get the right infrastructure in place.

Instead, you need an IT architecture that allows you to set up experiments quickly and manage them flexibly. When an idea doesn’t work out, you should have the ability to fail fast and cut your losses. And when an idea succeeds, you need to get it into production rapidly and roll it out for enterprise-scale deployment.

The promise of cloud-based analytics

The cloud is the perfect environment for these exploratory projects. It gives you the freedom to spin up almost any type of infrastructure within minutes, and either scale it or shut it down instantly depending on the results.

Cloud environments also free you from dependencies on departmental silos and the quirks of your internal network. They give you a green-field site where cross-functional teams can collaborate freely, enabling you to build models that combine domain knowledge from different areas of the bank and create opportunities for XaaS offerings that would never have been possible in the past.

Regulatory hurdles

While most of the major public cloud providers now offer a range of analytics-specific infrastructure services, they come at a price. Once your data and models live in a particular proprietary cloud repository, they can be difficult to get out again. You’re locked into their infrastructure for the foreseeable future.

Besides the commercial implications, this lock-in poses a major regulatory problem for banks. According to the latest consultation paper on outsourcing and third-party risk management from the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA), regulators expect banks to be able to port any outsourced services over to another provider or bring them back in house without any risk to business continuity.

The right tool for the job

I’ve had conversations about moving to the cloud with CIOs at banks of various sizes, and this issue of portability has been a recurring theme. They are looking for analytics solutions that work with any vendor and run on any cloud platform – or move between platforms – without significant disruption. In fact, since many banking use cases involve analysing data that is too sensitive to store outside the internal network, one of the most-requested offerings is a hybrid cloud/on-premises solution. Banks could then perform experimental projects with anonymised data in the cloud and then bring the successful models back into their own data centre for deployment in production.

Finally, while there’s a lot of buzz around AI/ML techniques, it’s important to recognise that they are not always the best option. Traditional statistical methods can be equally powerful, cost less to maintain, and can be easier to explain and audit – an increasingly important capability, as a recent legal case in the Netherlands demonstrates. My advice is always that banks should look for a single platform that gives equal support to both statistical and AI/ML modelling techniques and provides easy-to-use visualisations that make models easier to interpret. This allows your data scientists to pick the best tool for the job. And makes it easier for you to ensure the safe and responsible use of your data.

We’re working with a number of leading banks to power their digital transformation initiatives and build towards the XaaS future in the cloud. Find out more about what’s possible with cloud computing.

The Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG to lead the development of sustainable transportation by forming joint venture for large-scale production of fuel cells

Sharing the Green Deal vision of sustainable transport and a carbon neutral Europe by 2050, two leading companies in the commercial vehicle industry, Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group, have signed a preliminary non-binding agreement to establish a new joint venture. The intention is to develop, produce and commercialize fuel cell systems for heavy-duty vehicle applications and other use cases. Daimler will consolidate all its current fuel cell activities in the joint venture. The Volvo Group will acquire 50% in the joint venture for the sum of approximately EUR 0.6 billion on a cash and debt free basis. 

“Transport and logistics keep the world moving, and the need for transport will continue to grow. Truly CO2-neutral transport can be accomplished through electric drive trains with energy coming either from batteries or by converting hydrogen on board into electricity. For trucks to cope with heavy loads and long distances, fuel cells are one important answer and a technology where Daimler has built up significant expertise through its Mercedes-Benz fuel cell unit over the last two decades. This joint initiative with the Volvo Group is a milestone in bringing fuel cell powered trucks and buses onto our roads,” says Martin Daum, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler Truck AG and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.

“Electrification of road transport is a key element in delivering the so called Green Deal, a carbon neutral Europe and ultimately a carbon neutral world. Using hydrogen as a carrier of green electricity to power electric trucks in long-haul operations is one important part of the puzzle, and a complement to battery electric vehicles and renewable fuels. Combining the Volvo Group and Daimler’s experience in this area to accelerate the rate of development is good both for our customers and for society as a whole. By forming this joint venture, we are clearly showing that we believe in hydrogen fuel cells for commercial vehicles. But for this vision to become reality, other companies and institutions also need to support and contribute to this development, not least in order to establish the fuel infrastructure needed,” says Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Group President and CEO. 

The Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG will be 50/50 partners in the joint venture, which will operate as an independent and autonomous entity, with Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group continuing to be competitors in all other areas of business. Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems in products used for heavy-duty transport and demanding long-haul applications. In the context of the current economic downturn cooperation has become even more necessary in order to meet the Green Deal objectives within a feasible time-frame.

The common goal is for both companies to offer heavy-duty vehicles with fuel cells for demanding long-haul applications in series production in the second half of the decade. In addition, other automotive and non-automotive use cases are also part of the new joint venture’s scope. 

To enable the joint venture, Daimler Trucks is bringing together all group-wide fuel cell activities in a new Daimler Truck fuel cell unit. Part of this bundling of activities is the allocation of the operations of “Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH”, which has longstanding experience in the development of fuel cell and hydrogen storage systems for various vehicle applications, to Daimler Truck AG. 

The joint venture will include the operations in Nabern/Germany (currently headquarters of the Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH) with production facilities in Germany and Canada.

The signed preliminary agreement is non-binding. A final agreement is expected by Q3 and closing before year-end 2020. All potential transactions are subject to examination and approval by the responsible competition authorities.

Facts: Fuel cells and hydrogen as fuel
•  A hydrogen fuel cell converts the chemical energy of the fuel, in this case hydrogen, and oxygen (in the air) into electricity. The electricity powers the electrical motors that propel an electrical vehicle. 
•  There are two main ways to produce the hydrogen needed. So-called green hydrogen can be produced locally at the gas station, using electricity to convert water into hydrogen. Blue hydrogen is expected to be produced from natural gas, utilizing carbon capture technology to create a carbon neutral fuel.

2020-04-21

For further information, please contact:
Claes Eliasson, Volvo Group Media Relations, +46 31 323 72 29
Florian Martens, Daimler Trucks & Buses Media Relations +49 160 8687552

How Has The Outbreak Of COVID-19 Impacted the Horse Racing Industry?

There aren’t many sports that have been hit harder by the outbreak of COVID-19 than horse racing. Some of the biggest events on the racing calendar have already been lost, while some remain hanging by the thinnest of tightropes.

How Has The Outbreak Of COVID-19 Impacted the Horse Racing Industry?

Racing continues to take place in Australia, the USA and various parts of Europe, but not all countries have been as fortunate. The lucrative industry has been hit as most of businesses have, even though online gambling seems to be on the rise due to the self-quarantine inflicted to millions of people.

 However, which events on the horse racing calendar have been lost, which ones have face criticism, and which have been re-arranged for a later date?

Kentucky Derby

Few would argue against the Kentucky Derby being the biggest race of the year, and it is huge for the American industry. That is highlighted by the amount of money that is gambled on the race day, with the 2019 event eclipsing records. The 14-race card saw over $227.5 million gambled, while the Kentucky Derby itself saw around $150 million worth of bets. The Kentucky Derby is the most attended event on the US racing calendar, and that meant that cancelling the event altogether wasn’t an option.

Instead, for the first time this year, the Kentucky Derby will be taking place as the final event of the Triple Crown as opposed to the first. The event was cancelled in March, as it was revealed that it would instead take place on the 5th September. Nonetheless, you can still place your bets on the Kentucky Derby through Twinspires.com.

This marks the first time since 1945 that the event has been suspended. The Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes are still slated to go ahead on their original dates.

The Grand National

The most lucrative betting day in the United Kingdom didn’t go ahead as planned for the first time since the Second World War. The decision to cancel the event meant that the betting industry in the UK lost half a billion pounds, while Tiger Roll missed his opportunity at making history by becoming the first horse to win three successive Grand Nationals.

The horse racing industry did still put a show on for racing fans however on Grand National day on the 4th April, as a virtual race was broadcast, with all proceeds going towards the NHS. The event raised £2.6 million for the service, while the virtual race was won by Potters Corner.

Cheltenham Festival

Just a few weeks before the Aintree Festival, there was the Cheltenham Festival, which is the most prestigious jumps festival of the year. That event went ahead as planned, but organisers have already drawn criticism for their decision to do so.  There were reported symptoms shown by some that attended; including Andrew Parker Bowles.

However, the Jockey Club reiterated that they accurately followed all the guidelines that were put in place by the British government at the time. The Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday 13th March was the final noteworthy sporting event to take place in the UK as the Premier League announced that it would be suspending fixtures on the same day.

Royal Ascot

The biggest flat festival of the season in the UK is still planning to go ahead as planned, but this year it will take place behind closed doors. The event is famous for those attending to get dressed up smart, while Queen Elizabeth has been known to visit most days. The festival is due to begin on the 16th June, but the announcement that it would be taking place behind closed doors was made on the 7th April.

The organisers admitted that they were pressing ahead with the event, but no spectators would be able to attend. However, the statement released also admits that there is still a chance that the event may not take place at all. The organisers will have to follow the guidelines by the British government and the BHA, who have currently suspended all racing in Britain until the end of April.

Online Gambling Industry rising as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic

We are living in unprecedented times with a global pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands and countries all over the world ordering their citizens to self-quarantine. 

With the suspension of all but the most critical industries business owners and governments alike are preparing for the arrival of a global recession – one which is feared to be far more devastating than the Great Depression and the 2009 Global Financial Crisis.

Given that COVID-19 spreads via water droplets expelled from an infected person,social distancing measures have been implemented in order to help break the chain of infection with many governments enforcing a strict curfew.

Online Gambling Industry rising as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic

Now with the United States becoming the epicenter of the pandemic, entire industries including casinos have been left in a lurch. According to a report by the American Gaming Association (AGA), the industry is slated to lose an estimated $21.3 billion in direct spending from consumers alone. 

Here, we take a look at how we can expect the outbreak of COVID-19 to change the face of online gambling.

1. A Massive Increase in Customers

In early-April, Nevada’s Clark county reported more than 1000 COVID-19 cases and almost 30 deaths which prompted Governor Sisolak to order a shutdown of all casinos in the state despite severe pushback from various stakeholders including the Mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman (I). 

With almost all casinos in the United States shutdown, punters all over the country have turned to online gambling for all of their gaming needs. This has resulted in a windfall for online casinos everywhere with a nearly 50% increase in revenue with punters avoiding land-based casinos in favour of online ones.

Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown no signs of letting up and with a vaccine far off, the remainder of 2020 and 2021 is set to be a good year for the online gambling industry. 

As the global economy grinds to a halt and uncertainty reigns supreme, many have begun to ask the question – will things ever be the same again? According to many experts, the answer is a resounding no. 

The highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 virus and the variety of health complications means that social distancing measures will have to be practiced for the foreseeable future or until a vaccine is developed – which is highly unlikely.

Until a solution is found, it is highly likely that online casino betting will be able to enjoy an unprecedented increase in customers.

2. The Entry of New Competitors

While some may point out that casinos in Macau – the world’s largest gambling hub were able to resume operations after just 15 days, the stark reality is that things are far from normal. Casino floors are relatively empty and foot traffic remains low with many punters staying away from crowded areas.

Given the relatively low-barriers for entry and a market filled with investors hungry for opportunity, it is only a matter of time before new competitors begin appearing on scene. This can potentially be a problem for current online casinos who may want to consider diversifying their range of games offered.

With sports betting also affected by the lockdown, punters have begun turning towards online casinos and slot games for their gambling needs which may in turn encourage bookmakers to open up their own online casinos in order to capitalize on shifting market demands.

3. Stricter Compliance

Casinos and other gambling outlets have always been closely monitored and regulated by government bodies given the nature of the business. Now with the economy taking a turn for the worst and with jobs at stake, people are likely to be more anxious and stressed which in turn leads to compulsive gambling and other risky behavior.

This has forced governments everywhere to introduce more stringent regulations with regards to gambling, these measures have included restricting advertising, minimizing payouts and even banning gambling outright in some areas.

Given the current state of affairs and the increased levels of vigilance, online casinos and gaming sites may begin imposing limits on bet sizes and practice more thorough screening of punters. 

4. Potential cash flow issues

Whilst the online casino business is and has always been a solid one, it is not entirely recession-proof. As businesses all over the world shut down or scale back on their operations, employees and business owners everywhere face the very real prospect of losing a significant portion of their incomes.

This in turn overlaps onto the online betting industry as punters begin to suffer from problems related to cash flow. Initially, the effects may not be tangible as we are yet to feel the true impact of a pending global recession.

Only when businesses begin to shut down and unemployment numbers rise 6 to 8 months down the line, will we begin to see a drop in revenue and takings. Consequently, operators should seriously consider putting aside cash reserves for the lean months ahead in order to stay afloat.

As the old proverb goes, “All Good Things Must Come to an End”, so will the windfall from the sudden influx of new punters. The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything that humanity has seen in over a century and even the most resistant of industries will not be safe.