Your weekly resource for noteworthy news, fascinating features, and fintech titbits that caught our eye. Whether you live by your Twitter lists, save your Google Alerts or simply scroll through LinkedIn for insights and commentary – there is a wealth of content that weaves a global story around fintech.
Our job at Fintech Talents is to work within that global story – finding the news items, conventional wisdoms and hard data that aids us in bringing the industry the best content, community and experiences in the business. This week’s FTT Bookmark of timely resources and real time conversations that are shaping fintech is brought to you by VC Innovations Product and Content Manager, Laura Camplisson.
A Tip Jar half empty for Twitter, after privacy flaws revealed
This week Twitter introduced Tip Jar, providing users with a secure method of accepting tips from their followers. Tip Jar is to allow for payments to be sent through Bandcamp, Cash App, Patreon, Venmo or PayPal.
Unfortunately, due to PayPal’s standard protocol for managing payments between buyers and sellers, a shipping address is included with receipt of any payment. Twitter users quickly realised this meant sending someone money via PayPal on Tip Jar, would reveal to them their home address.
In my opinion this is a concerning privacy flaw, as users were not warned and would be very unlikely to assume their address would be given out, since no goods were to be shipped in return for their payment!
I’d imagine many Twitter users would have serious safety concerns around revealing their real-world identities. Even those who are more laid-back about their personal data, would probably not knowingly give out their home address unnecessarily.
PayPal does have the functionality for users to hide their address, but these settings were not automatically enabled. This raises the question of how far users should be responsible for their own privacy protection, as opposed to the service provider, in this case Twitter.
Twitter Product Lead Kayvan Beykpour replied to one Twitter user who had raised the privacy concern, “this is a good catch thank you,” before stating Twitter would add a warning to users sending payments through PayPal.
While it’s good to see Twitter acknowledge the problem, I think this is really something that should have been identified way before Tip Jar was introduced, rather than having to be flagged by users of the service!
A victory for voice biometrics in the fight against fraud
Voice biometrics took the limelight this week after HSBC revealed its Voice ID programme has reduced telephone banking fraud over the past year by £249 million. Voice ID detects whether the caller’s voice matches the customer’s voice held on file, therefore making sure the call is genuine and not an attempt at fraud.
Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, so we use advanced #technology to help tackle them. Like your fingerprint, your voice is unique, which is why we created Voice ID – to help us identify fraudulent phone calls and protect our customers’ money https://t.co/O5DVc4vOG1 pic.twitter.com/NJ0YX9xZDp
— HSBC (@HSBC) May 6, 2021
It’s no secret that criminals have taken full advantage of the disruption caused by the pandemic. Reports of increased fraud instances have become all too familiar, so I think it’s refreshing to see a financial institution report promising results in preventing such attacks.
Of course, fraudsters are constantly developing new methods to overcome security features, one of the latest causes for concern are vocal deepfakes – AI trained to imitate a person’s voice profile. In theory it would be possible to capture an individual’s voice via a scam phone call, in order to create a deep fake.
That being said, I think HSBC’s results are very positive, especially the reported uptake of Voice ID from all customer demographics. Unlike a lot of authentication methods, the technology is relatively easy for those of limited technical abilities to set up and doesn’t require smartphone access.
The fact that a technology-fearing relative of mine aged 92 years old, proudly told me recently that “their voice is now their password”, is surely positive proof of the system’s inclusivity!
Big Issue vendors able to leverage contactless payments
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I was carrying around a significant amount of spare change. If I had to guess, I would say before the pandemic led to me relying entirely on contactless payments, for the rare times I wasn’t shopping online.
A few weeks ago I made my first journey on the London underground since the UK’s most recent lockdown. I found myself considering not for the first time, how London’s homeless population has been impacted by the pandemic. Many rely on donations from passers-by, who are far less likely to have cash on them, or to want to stop and engage.
So I welcomed the news this week that vendors of The Big Issue, a magazine sold by homeless people across the UK, will now be able to accept contactless QR code payments. Enabled by a roll-out of PayPal owned iZettle card readers, the move has led to a 30% increase in sales.
Of course the issue of digital inclusion is nowhere near the extent of the impact coronavirus has had on the homeless population. But this is a very positive move for inclusion, ensuring Big Issue vendors can respond to the demand for digital, touch-free payments that has become the new norm.
And finally this week’s wildcard story… Doughnuts, Croissants and the fight against cancer?
A few days ago, Twitter drew my attention to an extraordinary article about an AI designed for bakeries, which turned out to have unexpected uses in the medical world. This story is the perfect example of how an invention designed to solve one problem, might end up solving quite another!
BakeryScan, developed by computer system research company BRAIN, used a sophisticated, early AI to distinguish between baked goods. BakeryScan knew its tiger bread, from its chocolate eclairs, with a very high level of accuracy.
Amazingly, a doctor watching a TV segment about the tech realised that cancer cells look very similar to bread under a microscope. He contacted BRAIN, who were able to develop a version of BakeryScan for pathologists.
Instead of analysing one cell at a time, the AI can look at an entire microscope slide and identify cancerous cells, massively improving the success rate and speed of analysis. It just goes to show, an innovation may not appear to be world-changing, but you never know where it might lead!
That is the round up of my fintech news for the week. Look out for the views of my colleague Liz Lumley in next week’s FTT Bookmark.