Each week The Fintech Times takes a lot at some of the top stories in UK fintech. This week, Ransomware is the biggest online threat to people in the UK, consumers accept cryptocurrency as the future of finance and London is the best city to start and grow a business.
Ransomware is the biggest online threat to people in the UK
The head of GCHQ’s cybersecurity arm is to warn Ransomware represents the biggest threat to online security for most people and businesses in the UK. Ransomware incidents have soared over the past two years globally as criminal gangs operating from countries such as Russia and other former Soviet states, which turn a blind eye to their activities, generate tens of millions of dollars by extorting money from companies.
Charlie Smith, consulting solutions engineer at Barracuda Networks, said: “Ransomware is, without doubt, the biggest security threat facing individuals and businesses and has been for some time. We’ve already seen numerous incidents of ransomware attacks on councils, schools, hospitals and other areas of critical national infrastructure and this trend is likely to continue indefinity. The devastation caused by these attacks can be catastrophic, especially when critical data is hijacked and frozen, leaving organisations paralysed.
“The truth is that many organisations are woefully unprepared for such an attack, with the majority having no backup and recovery process in place or the right security protection to defend themselves. Key to this effort includes regular scanning of email and web apps for suspicious content, robust firewall protection and backup solutions to restore important files in the event of such an attack.
“Ransomware poses a huge threat to UK PLC and the sooner we all wake up and recognise it, the better.”
Consumers accept cryptocurrency as the future of finance
Coinbase, the global cryptocurrency exchange platform, has found that one in three Brits (31%) were either likely or very likely to consider applying for a cryptocurrency debit card, with those who had prior investment knowledge more inclined to do so. In fact, investors considered themselves more than double as likely to apply for a cryptocurrency debit card than non-investors did (61% vs 25%).
Commenting on these findings, Marcus Hughes, Managing Director for Europe at Coinbase said: “Our findings show that the attitudes of British consumers towards cryptocurrency have significantly evolved to become more accepting of this highlighting that whilst some barriers to utilisation remain, cryptocurrency as mainstream finance is far closer than we previously expected.
“Females and millennials, who have traditionally been less engaged with investing, have expressed an acute interest in cryptocurrency adoption recently. This demonstrates the power of the crypto economy when it comes to democratising the wider financial playing field, which we believe can only be a positive outcome. With 2% of the UK population [1.2m] currently unbanked, a cryptocurrency debit card has the potential to be a catalyst for getting Brits better in tune with their assets and finances.”
Nude wants to make saving for a first home fairer, easier and faster
Nude is a new finance app that’s specifically designed to help people reach a major life goal — buying their first home. Their aim is to make it easier for aspiring homeowners to build their deposit, so they can buy their home sooner.
On top of many other features, what makes Nude unique is that it’s the first finance app in the UK that uses time as a motivator. In the app, Nude helps customers set how much they’ll need for a deposit and within seconds Nude then shows how long it could take to get there. No need for spreadsheets and calculators. They can then track their progress with the in-app countdown and see how the money they put aside impacts the time it’ll take them to buy a home.
Crawford Taylor CEO and Co-founder of Nude commented: “There’s a lot of noise out there telling people how difficult it is to buy a home. We all know it’s not easy but this constant sense of doom is enough to make anyone feel discouraged. With Nude, we want to cut through that noise and instead, give people support, tools and encouragement to show them they can do it. Saving for your first home should be a fun and exciting time. My daughter, who has never saved before, told me she gets a kick of serotonin when she gets a push notification from Nude about her Lifetime ISA bonus arriving. I want more people to feel that.”
Businesses face tipping point as Covid-19 and Brexit fuel concerns over barriers to international commerce
Bottomline, a provider of financial technology that makes business payments simple, smart and secure, has revealed that almost half of business across Great Britain (47%) that intend to stop processing outbound international payments are doing so due to the difficulty in tracking them, while 40% plan to stop as they find it difficult to pay international suppliers on time. These issues are acutely felt by small businesses, who are more hesitant than their enterprise counterparts to start making international payments (38% vs 10%).
“To benefit trade and economic growth, more must be done to highlight the opportunity of using modern digital payment tools that can simplify cross-border payments and streamline operations. It’s perfectly reasonable that all businesses should pay international invoices, overseas staff or transfer funds, with the same degree of security, ease and control as making a local payment,” said Paul Fannon, Managing Director, Global Business Solutions at Bottomline.
The average investor could have made more than £8k buying and selling bitcoin this year
New research has revealed that if someone followed the British public’s interest when buying and selling bitcoin this year, they would have made a 27% profit – equivalent to £8,602.37 profit on one bitcoin, or £272.80 for someone who originally invested £1,000.
The analysis by money transfer experts RationalFX calculated what return someone could expect if they invested in the cryptocurrency when internet searches for “buy bitcoin” were at their highest, and then sold it when searches spiked for “sell bitcoin”.
Based on daily Google search trends for this year, searches for “buy bitcoin” compared to “sell bitcoin” were at their highest on Monday 8th February, when the price of one Bitcoin closed at $44,716.69 (£31,534.21). Then on Wednesday 10th March, searches for “sell bitcoin” were at their highest compared to “buy bitcoin”, when the cryptocurrency closed at $56,915.17 (£40,136.58).
Therefore someone who chose to invest on the first date and sell on the second date would have made 27% profit. That equates to $12,198.49 (£8,602.37) profit for one full bitcoin, or £272.80 if someone had invested £1,000.
London is one of the leading global cities to start and grow a business
Oberlo.com – the e-commerce tool that helps entrepreneurs set up their own online business – has released an analysis that shows the leading cities to start and grow a business venture worldwide. After reviewing a list of over 200 global metropolises, Oberlo shortlisted the top 75 global cities based on factors relating to innovation, economic strength and entrepreneurial spirit. This ranking was based on an index that combines different data points and sources from third parties:
It found that London ranks the highest for overall entrepreneurial success overall in the study, with
New York and San Francisco placing second and third.
“London’s reputation for building globally successful start-ups means it is no surprise it ranks number one in the study, particularly in the tech/digital realms. The city boasts a plethora of venture capitalists, incubators, accelerators, networking opportunities and entrepreneurial events both online and under normal circumstances”, comments Audrey Liberge. “Despite Brexit and the pandemic, it remains the top city in its geographical region for entrepreneurs to found a world-renowned business. It will be interesting to conduct the study again in a few years’ time to see if the financial instability of the period will have an impact on the resilience of its entrepreneurial ecosystem
Student Loans Company staffers complete 20,000 cybercrime training courses
The Student Loans Company (SLC) has spent over £76,800 on cybersecurity training for its staffers over the two most recent financial years (FY 19/20, FY 20/21), according to official figures.
The data obtained and analysed using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by Griffin Law shows that nearly 20,000 specialist courses were completed in areas such as phishing, password protection, bribery, corruption, and privacy standards. The data shows that 9,334 cyber courses were completed in FY 19/20 with 10,142 completed in FY 20/21. The SLC has just over 3,300 staff, meaning many participants attended multiple courses.
Security expert Chris Ross, SVP, Barracuda Networks, comments: “It is encouraging to see the SLC making a proactive effort to equip and train its employees with the latest cybersecurity skills, especially given the high volume of financial data it is tasked with managing. This effort must be supported by the necessary cyber protection systems to identify and quarantine malicious attacks before they reach the inbox of employees as well as having the right backup systems in place in the event of a ransomware attack.”