Curation used to be about assembling and organising artworks and artefacts. Now, in the effort to put a more human face on technology, businesses are claiming to be “curators” putting customers together with … fintech? A recent announcement by KMPG Bahrain said the company will acquire Matchi, which puts together financial institutions and fintech companies. Jalil AlAali, partner and head of financial services at KPMG in Bahrain, said that “fintech companies and solutions need to undergo a curation process in order to qualify to appear on KPMG’s innovative Matchi platform”. Financial institutions can use Matchi’s ‘Innovation Challenge’ “to present specific problem statements to the global fintech market and receive recommendations on solutions from fintech innovators”. Wading through the PR-speak, it appears that the offer at hand is a tech platform and database operated with the assistance of KPMG professionals. We trust the curators have the powers of discrimination appropriate to their role.
Could the astonishing events in the Gulf have been set in motion by a hacker? The Qatari government, currently blockaded by its GCC partners, claims that its state broadcaster was hacked to deliver purportedly official statements supporting terrorism. (The FBI allegedly claims that Russia was behind the hacks.) A Saudi-led block last week issued a list of individuals resident in Qatar who are designated as terrorists or as having terrorist links, and now banks in the region are following through. “Banks and other financial institutions in the United Arab Emirates have been instructed to search for and freeze any accounts, deposits or investments held by individuals or entities designated as terrorists or terrorist organizations,” reports Bloomberg. “The [UAE] central bank also asked lenders to do enhanced customer due diligence for any accounts they hold belonging to six Qatari banks — Qatar Islamic Bank, Qatar International Islamic Bank, Barwa Bank, Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar National Bank and Doha Bank.” It has not gone unnoticed in the region that Qatar’s strength in the liquefied petroleum gas market and its eagerness to grow markets in Europe for this product has tested Saudi Arabian resolve as it prepares to IPO the country’s economic champion, Saudi Aramco.
If you’re already overwhelmed, get ready for more. The average human will be far more connected in ten years, according to research by the Pew Centre, which takes a refreshingly honest approach that risk is part of life. Yes, despite the threat of hacked networks, the Internet of Things seems certain to wrap us in its embrace. The extent of cybersecurity defences can be read in the latest smartphone release, the Samsung S8. Thumbprint readers are almost ubiquitous on new devices. In addition, the front-facing camera automatically maps out the user’s eyes to take an iris-scan for security purposes. But the visible features pale next to what is happening below the surface: there’s a growing market for invisible security protocols, which we have written about extensively at Lafferty News. These include speed of typing, angle of holding the phone, your walking speed, and so on: these offer hundreds, if not thousands, of alternative data points to check to make sure that it is indeed you holding your phone. An extensive survey done by Pew suggests that despite the dangers, we’re going to plunge further into the connected world, with one respondent suggesting that people will trade their safety for convenience: “They always have. They always will.” And according to Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at Mimecast: “There are few examples in human history of people making rational decisions about privacy or security.”
Bitcoin’s spectacular rise over the past several weeks has serious commentators wondering if the cryptocurrency now represents a new asset class. For the past couple of years, a “bitcoin bad, blockchain good” narrative has prevailed, but several countries and even more regulators have started paying close attention to bitcoin — and viewers of YouTube will have noticed an increasing concentration of ads encouraging investors to take a look at Bitcoin or Ethereum. However, another “new asset class” is offering competition: peer-to-peer lending. As the Financial Times noted, recent approval of Funding Circle by the FCA means that the peer-to-peer lender will be able to issue Individual Savings Accounts (Isas) in the UK market, offering tax-free benefits. “The biggest sites are set to launch peer-to-peer lending within tax-free Isas in the coming weeks, which is expected to further raise its profile,” writes the FT. “‘Peer-to-peer is coming of age; lending is up to £3bn now and certainly having the new ISA gives it much more credibility’, says Danny Cox of Hargreaves Lansdown, an investment broker and advice firm. Hargreaves Lansdown is planning to launch its own peer-to-peer ISA, allowing people to lend, after 2018, through its site to borrowers tax-free. ‘Ever since rock bottom interest rates, people have been looking for better ways to attract yield,’ says Mr Cox. ‘Fixed interest is the closest thing to P2P, but yields have been squeezed significantly for some time, so people have been looking at alternatives.'”