British Airways faces a record-breaking fine following data breach.

The UK’s data watchdog has announced plans to fine British Airways $183 million following last year’s data breach which compromised the data of about 380,000 customers.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) believes it was the company’s “poor security arrangements” which led to the breach of these details.  The credit card information, names, addresses, travel booking details, and logins of around 500,000 customers were all accessed by hackers who used the same skimming tactics which breached the TicketMaster UK defences in June last year. 

The fine looks set to break ICO records and would be the largest ever imposed. It would far exceed the £500,000 figure doled out to Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica scandal that affected millions.  Facebook were lucky…their breach came prior to the new GDPR regulations which were launched in May 2018. At the time regulators said it would have been “significantly higher” under the new GDPR rules.

Under the new GDPR legislation, a company can be fined a maximum of 4% of its worldwide turnover; BA’s fine amounts to 1.5% of its 2017 revenue.

Elizabeth Denham fronts the ICO.   In a statement, she highlighted that the failure to protect the data was “more than just an inconvenience” to those affected and remarked that companies should take appropriate steps “to protect fundamental privacy rights.”

In response to the ruling, British Airways have commented that they are both “surprised and disappointed”.  They added that after investigation, they have found no evidence of fraudulent activity on accounts linked to the breach. 

British Airways have made security improvements since the breach was discovered, and intend to use their 28-day window of opportunity to appeal the ruling before it is made final.  International Airlines Group chief executive, Willie Walsh said;

“British Airways will be making representations to the ICO in relation to the proposed fine”, and that “We intend to take all appropriate steps to defend the airline’s position vigorously, including making any necessary appeals”.

Starling Bank join forces with Credit Ladder.

The UK Fintech landscape is enjoying a boom.  With investment amongst this dynamic sector at a record high, challenger enterprises are expanding their portfolio.  They are growing like never before, and are proving to be a very real threat to the large, high street models which have formed the foundations of banking for years.   

This week, it has been announced that Starling has announced a partnership with CreditLadder, the UK’s largest rent recognition platform.   This looks set to boost the fortunes of thousands of Starling’s customers; seeing them improve their credit score and climb a rung or two on the housing ladder. 

By proving to lenders and credit reference agencies that consumers can pay their rent both reliably and on time, CreditLadder will enable Starling customers to use these payments to help build a credit history.  This level of evidence will also facilitate better rates on a range of financial products; mortgages, loans, credit cards and mobile phone contracts for example.

Starling’s in-app Marketplace launched in February 2018, and harnesses OpenBanking to offer customers direct access to a range of financial services and products securely on their phone.   

CreditLadder have become the latest to join Starling’s in-app Marketplace.  They already have existing partnerships with pension provider PensionBee, digital investing services Wealthsimple and Wealthify, mortgage broker Habito, insurance provider Churchill Insurance and loyalty partner Flux.

With Open Banking in action, the service will provide faster and more convenient access to the benefits CreditLadder’s service offers without the need to navigate away from Starling’s app. 

Both parties seem to be revelling in the opportunities the new partnership will provide. They align in their vision of providing customers with the best opportunities in order to make the most of their finances.   Confirming this is Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank. She says;

“Our Marketplace is designed to help customers make the most of their finances. CreditLadder shares this vision and is giving people a much-needed advantage in today’s tough property and credit climate.”

The Fintech merger and acquisition scene has been both dynamic and fast moving.  Since January 2019, the ecosystem has borne witness to some of the largest and most exciting deals going.   In March this year, Fidelity National Information Services set Worldpay in their sights and shook hands on a figure of $33.5 billion.  Shortly before that, January saw Fiserv acquired First Data for $22 billion.

Increasingly, disruptive startups are offering products which were formerly the remit of more traditional financial institutions.  Meanwhile, those same legacy organisations are investing more and more in technology bringing their products into the 21st century.  The two worlds are colliding, making partnership and acquisition a priority for savvy investors looking to make the most of an ecosystem that shows no signs of slowing. 

Amazon team up with the NHS

Amazon have teamed up with the NHS to bring health advice to those persons who may find it difficult to access information on the internet through more traditional means.  The blind and the elderly are just two groups who look set to benefit.   

The health service hopes patients will use AI voice assistant Alexa to answer routine health concerns, such as “what are the symptoms of flu?” or “How should you treat a migraine?”.

It is hoped that by using information from the NHS website, Amazon’s algorithm would ease pressure on the NHS alongside empowering patients by providing reliable and accurate information on common illnesses.

This collaboration was announced on Wednesday and was heralded as a world first.  It comes at a time when the NHS have committed to improving their services across the board using technology and digital advancements.  Under their long term plan, they have aims to improve the quality of care and health outcomes by making more of their services available digitally.  

Matthew Gould is chief executive of NHSX, and is heading up the digital drive.   He says;

“By working closely with Amazon and other tech companies, big and small, we can ensure that the millions of users looking for health information every day can get simple, validated advice at the touch of a button or voice command …Part of our mission at NHSX is to give citizens the tools to access services and information directly, and partnerships such as this are an important part of achieving this.”

Despite this pledge though, the NHS will not be handing out Alexa devices to those who may benefit from voice-activated health searches.  Instead, users will be able to readily access information through a free app.

AbiltyNet is a charity which supports people with disabilities to use innovation.  Adi Latif is a consultant there and is registered blind. He already uses Alexa for everyday tasks, and is welcoming of these latest developments.  He remarked that 

“searching online…can be daunting and a traumatic experience for many…especially those who are disabled or not familiar with technology”

Alexa and other voice assistants like her are no doubt hi-tech, but are designed in a way in which you can converse with them, which he believes “make them less daunting to use”.   

These are great strides forward and will have significant benefits for patients and the NHS alike.   However, it can’t be denied that such tech WILL be daunting to the demographics it most hopes to help.   We hope steps will be taken to educate, teach and empower the elderly in particular to use Alexa and the smartphone app – if they even own one.

Mobile becoming increasingly unpopular with UK game studios.

Just as most of the digital world makes optimising their tech for mobile a priority,  data released by the Independent Game Developers’ Association (TIGA) has revealed that the focus of UK game studios has moved away from mobile over the last five years. 

According to TIGA’s findings, 40% of the studios in the UK are mainly focused on mobile in 2018; a 9% drop since 2013.  

The figures also demonstrate that the PC was the preferred platform for 36% of the UK studios during the period, which is 34% up from 2013.  This ‘PC’ categorisation includes both retail and online PC games, social network games and massively multiplayer games which are available online.  

Development for console platforms predominantly remains limited to larger studios.  15% of the studios in the country focused on developing for these platforms compared to 16% in 2013.  Despite this small dip, TIGA further stated that the console category remains the largest employer of development staff; representing 47% of developer and publisher studio’s creative staff.

The study also suggests that over the past few years, VR and AR have enjoyed a little more attention from the UK gaming studios.  Today, 8% of studios are primarily focusing on VR/AR – a 2% increase from March 2016. Although these fluctuations are only small,  they do nod towards a shift in focus across the tech ecosystem as a whole; AR and VR were just two trends predicted to be industry game-changers over 2019. 

Perhaps what makes this data so interesting are its somewhat contradictory findings! We agree that Augmented Reality games are becoming the frontrunners of the gaming industry, but over the last few years it could be argued that it is the mobile games which have steam-rollered their success.  Pokemon Go is one such phenomenon. Since 2016, perhaps billions of Pokemon have been captured; bringing Augmented Reality technology to the masses.   “Harry Potter Unite” is this years’ Pokemon Go and is another example of what we are sure will become another cult AR smartphone phenomena.   With the schools breaking up shortly, we are sure the take-up among Potter crazed families will be huge. It is fun, free and the real world aspect facilitates exercise and exploration.  A magic way to spend the summer! 

DocuSign & GoCardless partner to target payment subscriptions in Europe.

DocuSign software helps organisations (Ignite Digital included!) to connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act on, and manage agreements.  

This week it has been announced that DocuSign.inc have selected recurring payments fintech, GoCardless to provide their European customers with a new way to pay for their DocuSign subscriptions.  Its customers will now be able to subscribe using GoCardless, as an alternative to submitting payments via credit or debit cards and PayPal.  

They join a host of well known, global subscription businesses that have chosen GoCardless to provide direct debit payments.  Among them, SurveyMonkey and TripAdvisor.

Robin Joy, SVP of Digital, Demand & Web Sales at DocuSign remarks that they “are delighted” to partner with GoCardless, and that this latest collaboration will “ensure customers are able to complete quick and easy transactions with DocuSign”.

It appears that this was a smart business choice.  In the first phase of the roll out, the figures indicate that a significant portion of DocuSign’s new customers in Europe have chosen to pay by direct debit when given the option.  This echoes findings from the recent Global Payment Preferences research report conducted by YouGov and GoCardless. This research reveals that at least one-third of consumers are likely to choose Direct Debit to pay for online subscriptions.

Indeed, Hiroki Takeuchi, CEO of GoCardless endorses this research;

“Historical payment options designed for eCommerce are just not fit for purpose when it comes to collecting recurring revenue – and a binary choice between cards and PayPal can be a blocker on growth. Businesses are realising that there is a better way to solve their recurring payment needs.”  He attributes GoCardless’ success to the fact that they are able to provide a service which meets changing payer preferences and saves businesses time, effort and money.

Furthermore, research by GoCardless and YouGov on business payer preferences shows that in the UK, 44% of businesses were likely to pay by Direct Debit; considerably more than those who prioritise corporate cards, bank transfers and digital wallets for example.

Quick, easy and reliable are all buzzwords that business owners, big and small love to hear!  Any software that eases the path of enterprise is to be welcomed. DocuSign SaaS is certainly a product that has streamlined our workflow here at Ignite HQ.  We are sure that by affording its customers another payment option, DocuSign will entice more custom from those businesses looking to change how they handle agreements.

Coding remix site, Glitch hits 2.5 million apps

Collaborative coding site, Glitch hit a milestone this week.  Glitch announced that more than 2.5 million apps have been made on its website since its 2017 launch.  To add the proverbial cherry to their cake, they also revealed that they raised more than $30 million in funding last year.

Their success in part could be attributed to their user-friendly and collaborative open-source framework.  Apps on Glitch are smaller, simpler and on average, quicker to make. For example, many are single focussed; making sign bunnies or pulling up album artwork thumbnails through an iTunes API.   Additionally, since they are all open-source, devs can collaborate and extend projects; remixing them into their own creations.

Anil Dash became the CEO of Glitch shortly before it launched.  He believes it is the complex tools available to would-be developers that incite the belief that creating on the web is hard.  One of the overarching aims of Glitch is to make coding available to everyone. The vision is to make it as simple as possible; to be the quickest and easiest way to create an app and get it live on the web.

The company is now solely dedicated to building out Glitch.  The company believes that they have the ability to become a core web development tool on the level of GitHub or Amazon Web Services.  It could be they are well on their way. They also used this week to disclose that its coding tools are being built into Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code.

As a hint as to what they plan to do with their $30 million raise, Glitch revealed their desire to release specialised and more powerful features for businesses later this year.  It is the enterprise market they wish to infiltrate; believing this is where the money is to be made.

And Finally:

Tech Giants top the list of the UKs most attractive companies.

This week Universum Global have released the findings of their latest research, in which they have studied almost 40,000  students across 97 UK higher education establishments.

When questioned about their career aspirations, goals and workplace requirements, these graduates revealed a spot behind the desks of Google to be their most desired opportunity.  This is nothing new; Google has topped the list for seven consecutive years.

What is new, however, is that while Google has always been popular among those students studying STEM and business-related subjects, interest in the company has widened.  Google is now highly desired by graduates from other educational spheres. Graduates with a background in humanities and law ranked the organisation in their top two and four companies to work for respectively.

Increased interest in tech and innovation roles is a trend being reflected across many subject areas.  It is not surprising that UK STEM graduates are looking toward organisations who are welcoming of digital innovation and new technologies.  Not only this…Google in particular offer highly coveted graduate schemes and internship programmes. They are also reputed to reward their employees handsomely;  competitive salaries and generous benefits packages are all on offer to successful candidates.   

The study also revealed interesting findings with regard to how digital technologies and in particular social media, are being used by graduates to influence their job search.   Facebook, Instagram and most surprisingly, YouTube were amongst the top five online platforms used to learn about future employers. These came ahead of more formal, employer-focused resources; Glassdoor and the Times Top 100, for example.   This was found to be true across both business and STEM students.  

It seems then that tech is influencing the grad landscape across the board.  Tech companies are not the only ones riding the wave of the digital revolution.  Students from all backgrounds are fully immersed in the very arena they wish to work; they are harnessing the power of tech to get their feet in the doors of the most desired companies across the globe.

Are you a graduate looking for your first digital, tech or data role?  

We can help!  Get in touch with our knowledgeable, skilled and committed team today!

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