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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 21 March 2017

Daily briefing - 21 March 2017

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Apple stock hit record highs yesterday as the computer giant looks to bring augmented reality (AR) to the iPhone's next iteration. "Monday's gain came after Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski raised her price target for Apple to $150," according to CNBC. "She said she is more confident that an upcoming 10th anniversary iPhone will feature augmented-reality technology, which could help boost demand in a saturated smartphone market."

Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, appears convinced that augmented — rather than virtual — reality is the way forward for the business. Think of it this way — in Virtual Reality, one is immersed inside a virtual world, with the real world eclipsed: thus the instructive example of a world champion falling through thin air where he expected a snooker table. Augmented Reality is closer to superimposing a digital layer on our view of the world, as with directional arrows layered onto a Street View. Players of Pokemon Go already have some insight into the power of this technology. Speculation abounds that the AR plans will see Apple introduce camera-loaded glasses of the sort tried by Google Glass and popularised by Snap. Not far behind, Visa is supporting an innovative surfer's contactless payment sunglasses: "It was my turn to pay for a round of coffees with friends and I realised I didn't have any wallet or cash to pay. I had a light bulb moment and thought 'wouldn't it be great if I could go surfing, even go for a run or bike ride and not have to carry my wallet or mobile phone'." Lafferty News is barely able to keep up. Do people wear sunglasses while surfing?

It's hardly news that upwards of twenty billion dollars moved out of Russia by money launderers ended up in Europe, but this week The Guardian has helpfully completed the picture of what exactly has been going on. The 'Global Laundromat' was first exposed three years ago by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which has roots in investigating corruption in the Balkans, and uses visualisation tools to map connections across money laundering networks. Police in Latvia and Moldova traced much of the money to anonymously owned companies registered in London. "The records show British banks and foreign banks with offices in London processed $738.1m in transactions apparently involving criminal money from Moscow," writes the Guardian, which "showed details of the transfers to L Burke Files, an international financial investigator. He said compliance checks at many Western banks were desultory, and often little more than 'box ticking'. 'Typically the compliance and investigations department is treated like an unwanted stepchild. The directors of a bank see compliance as an expense without any return. The compliance professionals are underpaid, underskilled and receive little or no effective training in spotting criminal patterns', he told the paper. Mr Files added: "Most of the transactions I'm seeing here would have required substantial enhanced due diligence. It isn't just individual transactions. It's the repeated pattern."

Chinese authorities meanwhile are tightening controls on outbound investment, with conglomerate Sanpower announcing that it would pull back on a second tranche of funding for British digital challenger bank Tandem. Sanpower had planned to invest $35 million via its UK high-street chain House of Fraser. The story was broken by London paper City AM, which noted that the halting of the $29 million due to Tandem means the bank will miss its targets and therefore lose its current licence. "The startup will fall back on existing investors for some of the cash but is open to looking for new investors to make up the shortfall from the nixed deal. It's understood a fresh deal with Sanpower in future has not been ruled out and a partnership with House of Fraser that will offer Tandem services to shoppers will continue. Funding for the startup stands at £39m to date from top names such as Omidyar Network, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's venture capital firm, and Route 66 Ventures. It also raised £1m via crowdfunding," according to City AM. Tandem co-founder Ricky Knox said in a statement that the bank will continue to develop but will now not offer savings accounts until a new licence is obtained.

The merger between Vodafone's Indian operation and local player Idea Cellular will create the biggest mobile phone operator in India. "The UK carrier will own 45.1 percent after selling a 4.9 percent stake to billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla's holding companies, the companies said on Monday," writes Bloomberg. "Birla's holding companies will initially own 26 percent in the publicly traded company, with the right to equalize their stake by buying more from Vodafone. Vodafone and Idea will share control of the entity." The new business will overtake Bharti Airtel in size but it is Reliance Jio that is driving much of the change in the Indian market. Reliance Jio's Prime membership, echoing Amazon's successful programme, can be paid using Paytm and it's the future riches to be earned through mobile payments and mobile banking that is driving rapid changes in the market.

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