High connectivity is one of the hallmarks of the modern society. At any moment in time, individuals are plugged into society through the range of devices, which as well are constituting a complex ecosystem of smart connected things.
According to HBR, “Consumers are becoming more and more connected whether it is at home, at work, behind the wheel, when they engage in sports and leisure activities, and so on. This is happening quite fast, due to the adoption of smart devices, and companies have to be able to react accordingly in order to maximize value both for their clients and for themselves.”
Italy is known to be one of the leading nations when it comes to connected devices, and a homeland of telematics, which is defined by Matteo Carbone as an “integrated use of informatics and telecommunication, it is about capturing, storing and analyzing data via telecommunication devices. <…> Telematics could be one of the most relevant digital innovation in the insurance industry directly impacting the technical results. Due to the pervasive diffusion of the Internet of Everything this approach could be extended from motor insurance to other insurance businesses.”
In its latest development, Italy’s largest telecommunications provider Telecom Italia, is powering the country with a new wireless network for the IoT.
Pick #1. Italy Launches a New Wireless Network for the Internet of Things
Telecom Italia, Italy’s largest telecommunications provider, is putting the finishing touches on a new wireless network for the Internet of Things that should be available nationwide by the end of January.
Connected devices often don’t need as much bandwidth as smartphones, but connecting them through existing LTE networks is expensive. In order for the IoT to catch on, telecommunications companies believe those devices need their own dedicated wireless networks. Two new types of networks – called Long Term Evolution for Machines (LTE-M) and Narrowband–Internet of Things (NB-IoT) – are now being deployed for that purpose. Both are designed for low-power devices that send only a few bits of data at a time.
Unlike Wi-Fi, these networks operate in a licensed cellular spectrum where there is minimal radio interference. They also provide coverage over tens of kilometers, much farther than local wireless access points or short-range technologies such as Bluetooth and Zigbee.
Pick #2. UBS eyes wider rollout of online wealth management service
UBS, the world’s biggest private bank, is considering rolling out its online investment platform in more countries after a successful trial in Britain. SmartWealth, which launched in Britain this year, provides automated financial advice for customers looking to invest upward of £15,000.
“We built a fully automated digital wealth management adviser. Scaling this up will be essential,” the Swiss bank’s Chief Operating Officer for wealth management, Dirk Klee, told Reuters.
UBS hopes SmartWealth will help expand its customer base from millionaires and billionaires to the mass affluent, those with assets of 100,000-2 million pounds to invest. SmartWealth could be expanded on the back of the bank’s newly unified IT platform, which excludes only the bank’s US private banking business which is run out of a separate American division.
Last year, UBS said it would spend around 1 billion Swiss francs ($1 billion) to standardize its IT platform across the wealth management business, helping to lower costs and facilitate the launch of digital features like SmartWealth. The project to unify the IT structure began in 2013, with UBS aiming to have it finished by end-2018.
Pick #3. Didi sets sights on lucrative web finance sector
Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing company, acquired a much-coveted license to enter the internet finance sector. Didi has agreed to acquire third-party payment-services provider 19Pay for 300 million yuan ($45.4 million), according to a filing by Shenzhen-listed GoHigh Data Networks Technology Co, the owner of 19Pay.
The deal will give Didi a license to conduct online-payment business, enabling it to enter an industry dominated by its investors Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Didi made the investment through its wholly owned subsidiary Shanghai Shiyuan Technology.
Didi told China Daily that the license will be used to serve its transportation services and improve the user experience.
Pick #4. Kenya’s FinTech companies are innovating to bring small businesses into their fold
Mobile operators and electronic payment firms are focusing on the hundreds of thousands of small businesses in Kenya by introducing new products specifically aimed at paying for low-value card transactions with ease, speed, and convenience.
PesaPal, a Nairobi-based aggregator for online and mobile payments, recently introduced a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) service known as Sabi (Pidgin English for ‘understand’) that would process payments in both local and US dollar currencies. Using their Android phones or tablets, the Visa or Mastercard payments are processed over Bluetooth by connecting to a portable terminal. The technology allows the over 300 businesses in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania that have signed up so far to view their transaction history and to issue receipts.
After launching POS systems to rival similar products like PayPal and Square to target large chains, PesaPal CEO Agosta Liko tells Quartz the mobile portal will tap into the potential of smaller businesses like barbershops, artisan furniture stores, gyms, and craft stores by allowing consumers to make payments from as little as one Kenyan shilling ($0.009).
It’s a “big market. It’s a ridiculously big space,” Liko said. “So we are looking to that as a market that we would be able to serve reliably.”