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Industry roundup: 9 February

Veriton awarded Artificial Intelligence (AI) partnership by the US Department of Defense JAIC

The US Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) awarded Veritone Inc., an enterprise AI solutions provider and creator of aiWARE ™, with an AI partnership under a US $249 Million Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). The agreement terms enable JAIC to leverage the Veritone aiWARE platform and its core applications for testing and evaluation (T&E) capabilities to accelerate the full range of the US government's evolving AI technologies, including machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL) and Neural Networks (NN).

Jon Gacek, Head of Government, Legal & Compliance, Veritone, commented that they will support the DoD’s mission to accelerate its deployment of AI-enabled capabilities, scale the department-wide impact on AI, and synchronize DoD AI activities to expand the Joint Force advantages. He further stated that in order to accommodate the continuous growth of speed and influx of multi-intelligence (INT), the DoD will need to introduce a platform capable of custom AI models to extract actionable insights from all INT types. Additionally, the DoD will need the capability to assess and evaluate all subsequent model forecasting at scale. Given the flexibility to assess, evaluate and operate these AI models, the requirement for long-term monitoring of these ongoing processes is important for performance, cost maintenance and control parameters at an acceptable level of processing.

Veritone aiWARE enables these processes to scale at the organizational level across many development and operational environments as needed. Establishing T&E of AI/ML models in a methodical, scalable, maintainable and user-friendly method will enable non-technical staff to analyse and determine model performance, accuracy, bias and vulnerabilities. Additionally, the simplicity and ease of the system will foster reliability of deployed AI solutions.

According to the press release, Veritone supports Machine Learning Operations (MLOps) in deployment, integration, scaling and compliance methodologies. Additionally, Veritone has a set of tools under development or commercially available that enables users to deploy, integrate, assess, evaluate and monitor performance while adhering to ethical standards and best practices in a seamless and automated manner. These toolsets include Veritone Developer for uploading and connecting in-house developed models to the aiWARE platform, along with previously deployed models and other related commercial models. Veritone aiWARE will also be deployed to the United States Air Force to support GeoINT's digital transformation.

Ryan Steelberg, President, Veritone, commented that they will continue to strive to improve operational efficiency and help accelerate decision-making across the US government by providing agencies with Veritone aiWARE, a proven enterprise-grade AI platform that significantly minimizes deployment costs. Additionally, Veritone aiWARE has shown significant progress within the DoD’s FedRAMP, a civilian agency. Steelberg further added that the award reflects both the accelerated pace at which JAIC evaluates AI use cases and Veritone's ability to provide state-of-the-art AI-driven platforms and tools.

Cybersecurity alliance program to combat third-party risk through Mastercard

Financial institutions in the United States are increasingly reliant on external service providers for most facets of their operations leading to potential risk exposures. In order to mitigate that risk, Mastercard launched its own global cybersecurity alliance program to help financial organizations and their vendors secure financial data and reduce threats. Stephanie Watkins, President for global product owners, HSB, part of Munich Re, commented that Mastercard’s Global Cybersecurity Alliance Program is an ambitious initiative to help businesses manage cyber risk. Additionally, by utilizing Mastercard’s risk rating data, HSB is able to collaborate with their alliance partners in providing cyber insurance to SMEs globally while staying ahead of emerging cyber threats.

Sixty percent (three out of five) of cyberattacks stem from external providers. Cyber ​​infringement on multiple parties can cause 26 times more financial damage than an attack affecting a single target, according to a study by Mastercard-sponsored RiskRecon and Cyentia Institute.

Managing third-party risks can be a time-consuming task, as it depends on the analysis of various factors that contribute to a company's overall rating. According to the press release, it is becoming increasingly important for many companies to understand their risk rating status as customers are thoroughly researching providers' risk profiles as a condition of business partnerships.

Johan Gerber, Executive Vice President of Security and Cyber ​​Innovation, Mastercard, stated that the evolution of the digital landscape is becoming more interconnected, with companies of all scopes working with other organizations to access the services and support needed to function effectively. Additionally, the complexity of these interconnected platforms poses many challenges. Mastercard’s global cybersecurity alliance program aims to provide user-friendly APIs to develop new technologies, enhanced cyber risk monitoring, and sophisticated scoring applications that will improve the security for financial institutions, fintechs and third parties.

The first group of members include Aravo, Archer, Argos Risk, ComplyScore, CyberGRX, Deloitte, EY, HSB / Munich Re, Interos, Kroll, LogicGate, OneTrust, Privva, ProcessUnity, Standard Fusion, TealBook, Tech Mahindra, Venminder, Whistic and Wipro. Bill Diaz, CEO of alliance partner, Archer, commented that integration with Mastercard's alliance program and RiskRecon enables companies around the world to understand and manage the overall picture of risk exposure across third-party and fourth-party supply chains.

For more information about Mastercard’s Global Cybersecurity Alliance Program, visit riskrecon.com/alliances or contact alliances@mastercard.com.

Digital banking landscape transformation: Fiserv acquires Finxact

Fiserv Inc., global provider of payments and financial services technology, is acquiring Finxact Inc., a cloud-native banking SaaS solutions developer, powering digital transformation throughout the financial services sector. Fiserv’s digital banking strategy will enable Finxact to increase account processing, digital and payments solutions. Additionally, the integration will position Fiserv as the partner of choice for customers trying to scale, boost up and increase the digital banking experiences they deliver to their customers. According to the press release, Fiserv, an early investor in Finxact, will acquire the final ownership interest for approximately US $650 million.

Finxact, created in 2016, provides customers with state-of-the-art, scalable, real-time banking solutions that enable financial institutions to gain greater access to their data. Additionally, Finxact helps organizations of all sizes introduce new products and digital capabilities with maximum flexibility and scalability through a robust set of modern APIs.

Increasingly more financial institutions and businesses throughout many industries around the globe are adopting the ever-evolving, innovative digital technologies for embedded commerce, finance and payments. Fiserv will be able to provide its customers with the latest, flexible, sophisticated and personalized digital banking experience.

Frank Bisignano, President and CEO, Fiserv, commented that the delivery of innovative digital banking experiences to customers will enable them to increase their competitiveness in these rapidly changing markets. The combination of Fiserv's account processing solution and Finxact's expertise in flexible and scalable API-first capabilities will provide clients with a comprehensive portfolio of digital financial solutions.

Finxact provides domain proficiency and an innovative approach, enabling Fiserv to introduce an innovative paradigm into the integration of open banking and fintech. In addition, customers can significantly improve the agility of their digital banking operations and significantly lessen the time to market for new customer experiences. Financial institutions interested in introducing digital brands, offering new products and services or modernizing their core infrastructure will benefit from Fiserv’s innovative technology landscape.

Frank Sanchez, Chairman and CEO, Finxact, stated that as banks are transforming into a digital ecosystem, Finxact’s technology can help improve the industry's delivery infrastructure. Combining the scope and depth of Fiserv's capabilities with Finxact will enable them to serve far more organizations of all sizes.

The contractual agreement transaction is subject to normal approval and completion conditions, expected to close in late 2022.

City of Toronto and PayIt partner to digitize government payments

PayIt, a digital government SaaS provider, launches the new payment solution MyToronto Pay to make it more convenient for residents from Toronto to pay invoices in one safe place. Using cloud-native technology, PayIt's platform simplifies business with government agencies of all sizes and integrates hundreds of services and payments into a single connected experience for users. PayIt provides a platform for citizens to handle all important government tasks (taxes, driving documents, permits, licenses, fines) with a 90-day launch period.

New online payment options such as property taxes and utilities are available through MyToronto Pay. The citizens of Toronto can use this service to make immediate payments, plan future payments, view the amount they are borrowing, and view their transaction history in one location. Additionally, the new digital government solution can also provide email confirmations and reminders. MyToronto Pay provides users with a simple navigation interface and user-friendly features. In addition, the solution offers convenient payment options to enable users to pay from their bank account (electronic funds transfer) or by credit or debit card (Visa or American Express card). Users are also able to add and store their preferred payment methods in a secure and personalized digital wallet.

The partnership between PayIt and the City of Toronto was formalized in the summer of 2021. PayIt currently serves more than 80 million citizens by providing a secure digital platform for residents of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America.

Initiative to boost cross-border payments in China via Visa and Ascenda partnership

The Visa and Ascenda partnership introduced an innovative customer engagement program to enhance cross-border transactions and further promote cardholder loyalty. Furthermore, it will provide reward opportunities and drive high-value client spending for major issuers in China.

With Ascenda’s technology, card payments are rewarding through the customer engagement program. Leveraging Ascenda's global customer engagement capabilities and integrating TransferConnect’s largest redemption platforms, Visa is delivering innovative rewards and benefits quickly to the market in China.

According to the press release, more than twenty major Visa issuers in China will have captivating alternatives to the traditional cashback programs to increase cross-border spending. This program allows issuers to add value to Chinese Visa cardholders through innovative engagement campaigns, which will automatically receive USD cashback or earn points in hotel loyalty programs.

Larry Ma, Senior Director of Digital Loyalty Solutions, Visa, commented that China is a significantly important growth market to modernize cross-border payments and foster cardholder loyalty to Visa issuers. Enabling issuers the ability to capture cross-border spending in China is increasingly important as consumers are digitally knowledgeable and deeply involved in international e-commerce, added Ma.

As the international e-commerce landscape continues to grow at a rapid pace, the partnership with Visa will bring innovative and sophisticated rewards to consumers, disrupting the cashback era in China, commented Kyle Armstrong, CEO, Ascenda.

Major accomplishments in sterling markets, transitioning away from LIBOR 

The key steps needed to shift the global interest rate market towards more robust fundamentals were achieved on December 31, 2021, when most LIBOR adjustments were last announced. The sterling market managed this transition in a timely manner with minimal interruption and supported global efforts towards an alternative risk-free reference rate (RFR). The Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Working Group are now in a position to provide up-to-date information on how the Working Group will function in the future.

The overnight compound interest rate SONIA is now fully integrated into the sterling market. The CCP conversion process in December 2021 saw large changes in financial contracts in a single day, converting over £ 13 trillion of LIBOR reference contracts to SONIA. As a result, there are virtually no sterling LIBOR linked cleared derivatives. The implementation of ISDA's IBOR fallbacks further reduced the legacy stock of LIBOR-linked derivative. In the cash markets, SONIA floating rate note issuance has exceeded £ 120bn since 2018, and new SONIA loans have exceeded £ 100bn in a wide range of sector and facility types. The Bank of England currently estimates that less than 2% of sterling LIBOR's legacy stock remains across all types of assets. Additionally, the Bank of England and the FCA expect companies to have plans to address this residual risk.

The Bank of England, the FCA and the Working Group are encouraging companies to continue to actively pursue the transition away from legacy sterling LIBOR contracts that currently use temporary synthetic LIBOR. Migrating these contracts to a permanently robust alternative remains the best way to maintain control and financial certainty over existing arrangements. The FCA makes it clear that synthetic LIBOR is a temporary bridge to RFR, and its availability is not guaranteed after the end of 2022. Availability should be checked annually by the FCA.

During 2022, the FCA will seek feedback on the decommissioning of 1-month and 6-month sterling Synthetic LIBOR at the end of 2022 and the decommissioning of the 3-month sterling Synthetic LIBOR. The transition from USD LIBOR remains important globally, including in the UK, where many companies are active in the USD interest rate market. To support the transition from USD LIBOR, the FCA ban on certain new contracts came into effect in early 2022, in line with US regulatory guidance. UK regulated entities should not use USD LIBOR in new contracts, with limited exceptions. The Bank of England, the FCA and the Working Group are driving the transition to strong alternative rates such as SOFR. Regulators will continue to monitor the progress of UK regulated companies in the transition.

During the January 2022 meeting, the Working Group concluded that it had achieved its goal of accelerating the broader transition to SONIA in the sterling derivative, loan and bond markets. More work has been done to support the continued aggressive conversion of sterling bonds and loans linked to legacy LIBOR, which relies primarily on temporary synthetic LIBOR. In addition, the impact of the transition to non-sterling LIBOR in the UK market needs to be considered. The Working Group will proceed in a modified form with new objectives and with the continued support of the Bank of England and the FCA. There are actions still remaining to eradicate dependencies on LIBOR, but the lessons learned will aid in progression.

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