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The Future of the Mobile App and You

One of the fastest growing industries of recent times is undoubtedly the app industry. Whether it’s helping us communicate with greater ease, play online games with added convenience, or even shop for the latest products with increased choice, there have been few more impressive start-ups in recent years than in the app domain.

Certain Development Trends

However, despite some impressive independent releases, it’s become clear that there are certain developing trends that have sidelined the ability of new developers to increase their position in the rankings of various app stores.

In particular, it’s the growing role of television advertising that’s becoming critical to the success of a mobile app. A recent VAB study found that there is a 77% correlation between commercials and traffic for mobile apps, and as mainstream exposure is incredibly important for any fledgling developer, it’s become clear how important a large marketing budget has become for any new release.

What’s New In Gaming

The gaming world is one of the most lucrative mobile app areas, and already there’s been a string of high-profile releases like Mobile Strike that have used glossy television advertising campaigns and celebrities to ensure that their strategic action game is kept high in the app store rankings.Such moves go in the face of independent success stories like Angry Birds that momentarily gave many fledgling companies hope that they could achieve overnight success thanks to the instant global accessibility of their gaming app products.

Mobile Platforms

Another increasingly important factor is how apps integrate into different mobile platforms. For example, there is still an ongoing spat between Snapchat and Microsoft that has meant that this popular messaging app is unavailable for Windows Phone users.

Whereas other developers such as mrsmithcasino.co.uk have ensured that their mobile-friendly games of roulette, poker and slots are able to be played across a range of platforms and it’s this cross-platform appeal that’s becoming integral to any mobile app project.

But in the face of these impressive developments, there have been many who have stated that we could soon be entering the post-app era.Alongside reports that mobile app usage is down on a global level, there’s the fact that people commonly abandon their recently downloaded app after just one use that not only raises concerns that app development could be an unsustainable business model, but also that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for smaller developers to get a toehold in this increasingly competitive domain.

Businessman pressing colorful mobile app icons with bokeh background

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Tesla to Enable Full Self-Driving Features in August – Elon Musk

Transportation Around the world

It appears that transportation would soon look different after Tesla revealed its intention to enable full self-driving features in August. The move is part of the company’s long-term plans to make autonomous vehicles an essential part of the transport network. This, it believes will increase safety and reduce automotive fatalities, as the human element is eliminated.

Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk disclosed that the company would enable full self-driving features on all-electric cars to help the system understand lane merging and travel even further. Mr. Musk said that the latest update would be rolled out as part of the long-awaited Tesla Version Nine.

Enlarging the Coast

Until now, Tesla’s software releases were entirely focused on maximizing efficiency by conveying people or items to their destinations in the safest way possible. The new software is quite a change from that order, as it prioritizes full-driving features.

Musk confirmed this saying, “To date, autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”

Tesla maintains that the full self-driving functionality will help ensure “substantially greater” safety than a human driver. That is because unlike human drivers, computers won’t get distracted, fatigued, or drunk. An article on the website of The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School revealed that human error is a significant contributor to around 94 percent of motor vehicle crashes.

In line with this, Tesla hopes that the yet-to-be-released software will help to overcome these challenges. Should the update roll out as planned, it will significantly boost the company’s efforts to make self-driving vehicles a reality.

Operation and Performance

Tesla’s self-driving system can conduct both short and long distance trips without the input of the individual in the driver’s seat. All the person in the driver’s seat has to do is give the vehicle an address and off they go. If the driver doesn’t instruct the car on where to go, the car will look at their calendar and convey them there. In instances where there is nothing on the schedule, the car will assume home as the default destination and take them there.

The impact of Tesla’s innovation will extend beyond self-driving features and safety, as tweets from Mr. Musk indicate that the Tesla Roadster – the organization’s most expensive electric vehicle yet – would be fitted with an improved top speed that should see it eclipse gas cars regarding performance. The company’s CEO hinted that the Roadster could go from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds, which should see it become the quickest production car in the world.

 

Elon Musk, it seems, never misses an opportunity to do something beautiful.

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Financial Technology in Colleges Today, What Students Think

 

Advances in Automation and Technology

Advances in computing, automation, and communication have shifted focus from traditional methods to the use of technology in payments, clearing, trading, and regulatory compliance. This has led to Financial technology (often referred to as Fintech) programs taking center stage in colleges as schools attempt to play an integral part in the fintech revolution by training students for jobs in today’s fast-growing financial technology industry.

These courses are designed to enable students to advance their knowledge in critical aspects of technology such as machine learning, data analytics, and blockchain technology, among others. FinTech programs aim to improve college financial literacy by making it possible for students to gain an understanding of various technologies and obtain practical experience working with them.

What is Financial Technology?

Financial Technology essentially refers to any technological invention in financial services. Individuals who are involved in Financial Technology typically develop new technologies to disrupt traditional financial markets.

These include several innovations that facilitate online transactions, such as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum, mobile banking applications like Venmo, and online payment solutions such as PayPal and Skrill.

Fintech also comprises tech-based financial services such as crowdfunding systems, automated financial planning, peer-to-peer lending marketplaces, as well as robo wealth managers such as Betterment.

Students Clamor

The use of digital technology is fast becoming the norm, leading to a revolution that is rapidly transforming the financial industry. This has led to calls by students for financial technology courses to be introduced in colleges. This, they believe, will enable them to understand the complexity of the payment infrastructure and be acquainted with critical payment instruments and how they function, among others.

A good example of students’ interest in innovation can be seen in the case of New York University (NYU) where the fintech undergraduate course attracted enrollment from twice as many students as expected.

Students demand, coupled with the far-reaching disruption in the financial industry has the schools themselves making conscientious efforts to teach students how to master financial technology.

Institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, Columbia University’s business school, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, etc. have all adopted fintech programs in their curriculum.

Fintech in Colleges: Effectiveness and Challenges

So far, fintech courses have proven to be highly effective as colleges scramble to bring together leading academics to educate students on the impact of technology on business, finance, and society. Various innovative research has been conducted and new courses introduced, all in a bid to develop the next generation of fintech experts and re-educate students in new financial technologies.

In spite of the opportunities, however, schools and students face challenges in their attempt to venture into this new area of research. Students who are interested in specializing in fintech may be limited by the lack of textbooks and other teaching materials on the subject. Similarly, most professors have limited knowledge of fintech.

Nonetheless, scholars hope to construct school curriculum and develop real-life cases that will enable students to become knowledgeable enough to make inventions of their own. For now, it looks like fintech finally has its place in academia, which makes for exciting times ahead.

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Hot Small Business Tech Trends That Will Improve Efficiency

Technology for Small Business

Technology is a valued resource for small businesses. Adopting the right technology helps give brands more flexibility and opportunities for innovation in product design and improves their business and operating income.

For most small businesses, technological advances are lowering transaction, transport, and communication costs, enabling firms to invest where they can be most productive and find the best combination of skills, investment opportunities, and business environment.

Here are some of the major technology trends that will streamline small business efficiency and productivity:

Internet

The advent of the internet offers small businesses more control over marketing, brand development, customer engagement and improves sales opportunities. Thanks to the internet, firms can now offer clients a more comprehensive value proposition that is tailored to their needs. What’s more, the incredible growth of the internet has helped position it as a powerful driver of economic growth, giving businesses the chance to streamline and consolidate their business operations with custom online solutions.

For instance, businesses now have the opportunity to improve business efficiency through a centralized database, which makes data easily accessible for all needs. Small business owners can also build an online presence by developing websites and utilizing various social media platforms to create awareness for their product and boost sales by reaching more people faster. Further, the internet offers businesses the chance to outsource labor they are too busy for or those they are not very conversant with.

E-Commerce

E-commerce is one of the major trends that are shaping the small business landscape. The growing number of internet users worldwide has necessitated businesses to be selling more online than through traditional brick-and-mortar stores. This is because owning an e-commerce store makes it easier than ever before for small businesses to reach tech-savvy clients who now prefer to shop and buy items through digital channels across industries.

Also, it is easier and cheaper to set up an e-commerce store than to maintain a physical storefront. E-commerce platforms such as Shopify, 3dcart, and Magento enable brands to develop an e-commerce store without breaking a sweat.

If you are on a budget, you can utilize a point of sale system such as Vend to create a cloud-based, mobile-friendly online store within a short time. Doing so will enable you to reach many consumers who due to convenience, addiction, and impulsivity, prefer to make secure purchases online. More so, e-commerce gives small businesses an opportunity to adopt technology that supports real-time commerce.

Digital Banking

Many tech-savvy clients nowadays value banking convenience. For this reason, they prefer to bank online than visit a physical bank location. This is gradually shifting transactions away from traditional banks to digital ones. And with millennials expected to rule the market, the switch might happen faster than predicted.

Blockchain

The blockchain technology is capable of causing significant shifts in the way small businesses are conducted. Its application in payments and money transfers, digital identity, distributed cloud storage, smart contracts, etc., is expected to cause shifts that will change the small business arena.

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Best of the Best: Google’s Newest Projects

Google and Technology

Google’s impact on the technology industry knows no bounds. The multinational technology company is setting new trends that will impact and shape the future of the internet, computing, and automation. While its position at the top of the technology world cannot be disputed, the California-based tech giant continues to work to ensure that it remains streets ahead of the market by taking a more prominent role by embarking on new projects that are too important to ignore.

Here are some of the Google projects you should know about:
  1. Self-Driving Cars

Google is out to ensure that people get to their destinations safely. Alphabet Inc.’s (Google’s parent company) autonomous car project, Waymo, isn’t exactly new but continues to lead the way regarding self-driving car technology. The project is in line with company’s drive to make traffic safe and to enhance traffic and fuel efficiency. Since the cars are automated, it is expected that there will be fewer accidents, as the human element is eliminated. The vehicles will also help improve fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

  1. AI for Everyone

Google continues to push the boundaries and set new standards in the artificial intelligence world. To provide consumers with innovative solutions that help them keep ahead of their time, the tech giant is making the voice-activated Google Assistant more conversational and visible. The feature, called Continued Conversation, has been improved to sound more natural and enable users to have a conversation with it. Google declared that the updated Assistant knows when a user is talking to it and can respond accordingly.

Further, Google has updated its artificial intelligence to make the Assistant sound less like a robot. Six new voices have been added to the system, including John Legend’s, to make it sound more natural. A “Pretty Please” functionality has also been equipped to teach kids how to treat others with decorum and respect. Meanwhile, Duplex, a robocall feature for the Google Assistant is still under development. The system is designed to enable the Assistant to call and talk to humans to request for basic things such as restaurant reservations, hair appointment, etc.

  1. Google Smart Jeans (Project Jacquard)

Wearable technology keeps expanding thanks in part to Google’s continual ability to reinvent itself and push beyond the boundaries of what’s possible in the technology world. The project, which was announced some years ago, offers tech fabric in the form of a smart jacket thanks to a collaboration with Levi Straus.

Project Jacquard is built to hand cyclists more control over their mobile experience. Users can connect to several services including maps and music directly from the Commuter Jacket sleeve. This means that they can get directions, reject phone calls, change music, or view nearby places without pulling their phone from their pocket. The feature can also read messages aloud to allow you to focus on what you are doing.

 

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5 Best New Technologies – Wall Street

Technologies Transforming Our Way of Life

The emergence of new technologies and the invention of new products have transformed human relationship with the world. And with major tech players battling to be the better game changer, we’ve had to deal with the influx of new technologies on a regular basis.

However, we recognize that not all technologies are the same. For that reason, we have identified some of the standout innovations you should know.

  1. Computational photography: Image is everything to individuals and businesses, and high-quality pictures play an important role in reinforcing that perception. With that in mind, computational photography has been designed to tremendously improve image processing by algorithmically combining a host of data from images or image sensors. The technology can assemble image data across time and space to generate either real high dynamic range (HDR) pictures or images that capture both light and dark areas. The computational procedure allows for crisper and richer images in a single short, saving you time and effort regardless of whether you are using a digital camera or smartphone.
  2. Cloud-Based AI Services: Artificial intelligence is breaking ground in various sectors, including health, manufacturing, and education. This has prompted big tech players like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM to all work tirelessly toward making advanced machine learning more readily accessible to businesses. Consequently, the cloud-based AI services aim to make artificial intelligence tools more accessible by basing them in the cloud.
  3. Wearable technology: Wearable technology is a new and innovative clothing sector that is gaining traction due to the vast possibilities that it offers. Also known as wearable gadgets, wearable technology refers to a group of technological devices that can be worn by an individual consumer. These gadgets typically include powerful technologies that collect and deliver health- and fitness-related data, among others. The innovation presents an opportunity for organizations regarding new markets and data collection. It has been predicted that the wearable technology industry will reach $100 billion by 2023, per Humanvox.
  4. Artificial Embryos: Embryonic science continues to hit new highs thanks to Dutch scientists who created synthetic embryos using mouse cells that weren’t traditional sex cells. Scientists at Rockefeller University and the University of Michigan are also said to be exploring ways to make an artificial embryo from human stem cells.
  5. Immersive Technology: Immersive technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are making their way into the mainstream. These technologies aren’t exactly new. Before now, they were more commonly found in gaming. Today, however, they are branching out into other areas. AR, for one, has shown a potential to improve efficiency in hospitals. The Patient’s Virtual Guide app incorporates augmented reality to show kids which direction to walk in the hospital environment.
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Age of Cryptocurrencies – What are the Measures to Keep them Secure

If anything can go wrong, it will most likely go wrong! Murphy’s Law sounds like an overly pessimistic philosophy, coated with a good layer of doom and gloom. Yet, for folks who lost all their Bitcoin in the infamous Mt. Gox hack, there’s not much that can be done when your cryptocurrencies become vulnerable to malicious intent.

If hackers steal your cryptocurrencies – you’ll probably never find them – even if you find them; the police, the government, courts can’t force them give it back to you – unless they choose to give it back. If they trick you into sending your cryptocurrencies to them, you can’t reverse or cancel the transaction. We are still living in the Wild West of cryptocurrencies and the onus falls on you to proactively take precautionary measures to protect your cryptocurrency funds. This piece provides a general overview of some security measures you can take to keep crypto coins safe.

Image Source: Business Insider

· Online wallets

For newbies stepping into the world of cryptocurrencies, online wallets are usually the first type of wallet that they encounter and use. If you buy your cryptocurrencies through an exchange, the wallet address they generate for you into which your tokens are deposited, is an online wallet. Some third-party non-exchanges also offer online wallet services. An online wallet allows you to access your coins from any internet enabled device because the data to your account is essentially stored on the cloud.

The danger with online wallets is that you are trusting someone else with the public and private keys to your tokens. If they are unscrupulous, they could corner your coins and use it for their own purposes. The fact that online wallets are internet-facing also makes them vulnerable to hacks – in the Mt. Gox hack, more than 500,000 BTC were stolen, more than $70M worth of Bitcoin was lost in the Bitfinex hack of 2016.

· Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets are fundamentally more secure than online wallets, but they require a bit more involvement on your part than getting an auto-generated wallet address from an exchange. Mobile wallets are simple apps that run on your phone. Your cryptocurrencies are technically stored in the app as opposed to the centralized cloud storage that you get with an online wallet; hence, they are more protected from hacks. However, if you lose your phone or if the phone becomes inoperable, you can kiss your cryptocurrencies goodbye. If you download mobile wallets from untested sources, you could end up with a fake wallet with a backdoor breach.

· Desktop Wallets

Desktop wallets are a more robust version of mobile wallets – they have more space because computers tend to have more storage than mobile devices. Desktop wallets run on client applications on your computer; hence, you can only access your tokens from the computer. If the computer is not infected with malware or connected to the internet, it is practically impossible to steal your cryptocurrencies from a desktop wallet.

· Hardware Wallets

Hardware wallets are probably the best tool in the market for storing and keeping your cryptocurrencies safe from hackers. Hardware wallets lets you store the private keys to your cryptocurrencies on a hardware device different from your computer. You’ll need to connect the wallet to a computer to access your cryptocurrencies and send coins to counterparties; however, the wallet doesn’t need to be connected to a computer before you receive cryptocurrencies.

Trezor wallet for example, uses a combination of pin codes and a 24-word seed security mechanism. The most important thing about using a Trezor wallet is to write down the seed and keep it somewhere safe offline—don’t be tempted to store it in your mailbox or a notepad on your computer. The seed words come in handy for rebuilding your wallet even if your Trezor is lost, stolen, or damaged.

Source: Coindesk

 

· Paper Wallets

Paper wallets are designed to be a hacker- proof and secure method of cold storage. Paper wallets, when properly set up will give a lot of grief to anybody that wants to take on the practically impossible task of stealing your cryptocurrencies – the challenge however is that you will go through similar grief to access your cryptocurrencies. To set up a paper wallet, you’ll need to print your private keys or create QR codes of your keys and keep them in a safe, probably in a bank or similar location.

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Why Social Trading is the Future

Social Trading Online Community

Social trading is being hailed as one of the best things to have happened to the online trading community in recent times, for good reasons. Its emergence has been made possible thanks to the internet revolution, which has enabled traders everywhere to access information and tools that were not attainable previously.

In times past, investing in commodities, forex, and indices required professional know-how and skills. Now, instead of depending on your own wisdom, you can rely on the knowledge, experience, and trading habits of other advanced traders to gain from the market. That’s the concept of social trading. But just what is social trading?

What is Social Trading?

Put simply, social trading (also known as copy trading) is a service that enables investors to copy the trading operations of professional traders. The service makes it possible for beginners to link their trading accounts to those of expert traders and replicate their trades automatically. No knowledge of the financial market is required to execute social trading.

With social trading, newbies follow the trading practices of successful traders in real time and copy their trades. Individuals build a network of traders by following advanced traders in the same way it is done on social media platforms like Twitter. Investors can trade socially on trading platforms that have copy trading functionality.

Some of these platforms include eToro, Zulu Trade, xSocial, and the MetaTrader 4 from MetaQuotes. Outside of these, many other brokerage firms allow novices to connect their accounts to those of advanced traders. Consequently, when the professional trader that is being copied exits the trade or triggers other trading feature such as the stop-loss order or take profit, the linked account replicates this practice automatically.

Social trading networks like eToro spot a “Leader Board” which lists the names of traders from top to bottom (with the most successful being at the top) based on their trading performance. This board helps make it easier for novices to identify the best performing traders to follow.

Why is Social Trading the Future?

We live in an incredibly busy world with an often frantic pace of life and busy minds. The fact that we spend most of our time rushing, trying to catch up with all of the tasks and responsibilities of the modern life means we have less time to invest in improving our trading skills.

This means that finding someone who is really great at trading is our best chance at gaining from the markets. Social trading enables traders to entrust their funds to capable hands where they know the money will be much safer.

It takes skills to beat the market regularly. Professional traders have the time to hone their skills and know where to access the right information. And while being busy may not always intrude into the rest of people’s lives, it affords them less time to acquire the necessary skill.

Social trading offers traders the opportunity to invest their funds smartly while still going about their busy lives. Those whose lives will continue to get more hectic than ever will always take the chance. The emergence of new trading tools will make social trading a lot more convenient.

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World Finance: How Institutions Can Prepare for the Future of Banking

The Future of Banking

Finance is being taken over by tech. Advances in technology are quickly transforming the industry, and may ultimately change the face of world finance as we know it. Banks and insurers used to have less motivation to push boundaries, as the highly profitable, relatively static business models they adopted worked so well.

Today, however, leaders of the industry who had achieved excellent results and brought advanced experience into the financial and business world are being confronted by a new wind of technologies that may disrupt their markets. Peer-to-peer lenders, crowdfunding, bitcoin, mobile payments, robo advisers, etc., are bringing about rapid liberalizing of finance and trade.

The current situation and forces have led to questions being asked about the future of finance. Unless the big names of financial services rethink their business models in some very fundamental ways, they may find themselves losing market share to today’s ever-aggressive innovators. These innovators have come up with ways to offer better products than traditional financial organizations as you would see below.

Modern Technology Use Cases in Financial Services

Technology is driving innovation in the world of finance in several ways. These include:

  • Remittance: This is one of the problem areas for conventional financial institutions. Cross-border payments have traditionally been a slow and expensive process, with some transfers taking up to three days to arrive. The blockchain enables innovators to challenge this process by significantly speeding up confirmation times and simplifying the payment process, all while reducing costs. Blockchain also enhances transparency in the financial industry. This helps to minimize risk and human errors.
  • Chatbots and Customer Service: Another issue that customers often face with traditional financial institutions is that they offer poor customer experience. Chatbots help to correct this, thereby improving client satisfaction and lowering cost.
  • Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Fraud Detection: Machine learning and artificial intelligence make fraud detection easier, as they help enhance efficiency through the mining of unstructured transaction and account information to give a 360-degree client view and facilitate faster transaction authentication.

How Traditional Financial Institutions Can Prepare for the Future

If the aforementioned disruptive technologies are an indication of things to come, then financial institutions must make efforts to move with the times by generating more innovative ideas to take their business forward. This can be done by:

  • Embracing technology: To ensure continued success, banks will have to adopt technology to keep up with the rapid shift in digital economics. Unless banks train staff on the use of and invest in tech, they may find themselves lagging behind their non-bank competitors in the foreseeable future.
  • Adopting blockchain: Financial institutions should look to take advantage of blockchain if they aim to provide customers with quicker and inexpensive ways to transact.
  • Staying social: Banks can improve customer satisfaction by not only providing engaging content but also by providing customers with several platforms with which to contact them and respond promptly to inquiries.

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