By Kaye Wiggins for Bloomberg / Fin24 

Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC, JPMorgan and three other banks are set to be fined by EU antitrust regulators in coming weeks for rigging the multi-trillion dollar foreign exchange market, two people familiar with the matter said.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS Group AG are among five banks being sued over allegations of foreign-exchange rigging in a class-action lawsuit seeking more than £1bn ($1.2bn or just over R17bn).

Barclays, Citigroup and Royal Bank of Scotland Group are also among the targets of the United Kingdom suit that will say pension funds, asset managers, hedge funds and corporations lost out because of market manipulation between 2007 and 2013 and should be compensated.

The lawsuit centers on collusion on foreign-exchange trading strategies, for which the European Commission fined Barclays, RBS, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, a total of €1.07bn in May. UBS escaped a fine because it was the first to tell regulators about the collusion.

JPMorgan and UBS declined to comment. The other banks didn’t immediately reply to calls or emails seeking comment.

Traders ran two cartels on online chatrooms, the European regulator said. Many of them knew each other, calling one chatroom “Essex Express n’ the Jimmy” because all of the traders but one met on a commuter train from Essex to London. Other names for rooms were the “Three Way Banana Split” and “Semi Grumpy Old Men.”

It’s the latest development in a case that’s already triggered regulatory probes around the world, and billions of dollars in fines as well as $2.3bn (R32.69) in settlements in the United States last year.

“The message is really clear – we want markets to work fairly,” said Michael O’Higgins, a pension fund chair who’s spearheading the UK suit. “People involved in markets will argue the case for free markets. They’ve got to make sure they’re fair as well as free.”

The case will be filed in the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London by Scott+Scott Europe, whose US arm Scott+Scott Attorneys at Law led the class action that ended with $2.3bn in settlements.

O’Higgins, who chairs the Local Pensions Partnership, a UK public sector pension fund, and the Channel Islands Competition & Regulatory Authorities, said that on a conservative estimate the banks may have to pay out £1bn (R17.5bn) if he wins.

The lawsuit could take three to five years, he said, and thousands of institutional investors could be in line for payouts if it succeeds.

It’s one of the first cases to be brought under 2015 UK legislation that paves the way for US-style collective actions. The Consumer Rights Act rules mean any UK based investors who lost out will automatically become part of the claim. Investors based outside of the UK – except those in the US, Canada and Australia – can opt in.

By Smithers Pira for The Gapp News

The latest research from Smithers Pira investigates what the future holds for digital and analogue print equipment market over the next five years. In 2018, the global market for new print equipment sales had a value of $19.77 billion. This market grew (at constant prices) from $19.91 billion in 2013 to $20.10 billion in 2017 before falling back to its 2018 level; equivalent to a -0.3 per cent year-on-year decline for the 2013-2018 period. The annual print equipment market is forecast to show minimal growth in value at 0.1 per cent, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for 2018 to 2023, to reach $19.92 billion in its final year.

At the same time, the market will see a transformation, with real demand growth confined to inkjet sales and certain formats of sheetfed offset litho. This is happening in response to profound and ongoing change in demand for print, and equipment manufacturers are compelled innovate to secure sales in an increasingly competitive market. These trends and their impact on future demand for over 25 types of commercial printer are tracked and quantified in the recent Smithers report.

Market evolution
The printing industry is undergoing a series of major changes. Sales of newspapers and magazines, a traditional and important segment for print equipment, have fallen dramatically in many parts of the world in face of 24-hour digital access to news and information via computers, tablets and smartphones.

Rising demand for packaged goods means that packaging and label printing are two of the few growth sectors in print demand. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are looking to capitalise this with new dedicated press formats – especially in inkjet – and extending capabilities on existing platforms to handle packaging substrates. Within packaging, and other end-use applications, print buyers are demanding shorter average print runs, and ever quicker delivery times.

OEMs of both analogue and digital print equipment are reacting to the changing market dynamics with improvements to their presses. For analogue processes, this has largely been to make them more agile and efficient to deal with a larger number of print jobs of shorter runs per day. For digital, developments have been focused on improving print quality to match analogue processes, and on increasing print line speeds.

Analogue
Faced with reductions in average print runs of up to 50 per cent in some cases, analogue printers are demanding intensive technological developments. High levels of automation at all stages of the print process have allowed print service providers (PSPs) to make major reductions in makeready times and give them greater control and monitoring of the print run to improve quality standards. Cumulatively these improvements have enhanced the flexibility of the print equipment to make PSPs to run a larger number of shorter print runs during a working shift cost-effectively.

The widespread use of computer-to-plate (CTP) processes has been a key factor in reducing prepress times. The process has been used for offset litho for more than 15 years, and it is rapidly gaining ground in flexo prepress. CTP also provides improved reproduction quality so that PSPs can offer better service to customers. The incorporation of digital workflow systems and the use of on-line spectrophotometers and pattern recognitions systems to constantly monitor quality during the print run have improved the efficiency of print lines and reduced running costs, as well as reducing reject rates and generation of waste.

Offset litho
The analogue process that has seen the biggest number of improvements in recent years is sheetfed offset litho. Innovations by the leading Western and Japanese manufacturers have transformed the technology, to a great extent.

Besides the improvements detailed above, print line run speeds have been increased and processes been optimised for short print runs. Computer-integrated manufacture systems are being used to preset the presses with files from prepress, and with simultaneous plate changing and washing cycles make-ready times can be reduced to under 10 minutes – less than three minutes for the same substrate and format. Sheedfed offset litho printers are increasingly carrying out simultaneous printing of groups of jobs by setting them up side-by-side across a large-format press.

Offset litho is also seeing a boost from orders received via the online web-to-print sector. The segment is also benefitting from a new demand for higher productivity very-large format (VLF) litho presses. As new installations of B1-B3 presses decline, Smithers’s analysis tracks how annual sales of VLF machines will more than double across 2017-2023.

Flexo
In flexography, an important additional development has been in the use of sleeves to simplify the process of mounting the printing plates onto the flexo press, reducing make-ready times. This has eliminated the need for printers to prepare and store the multiple, non-interchangeable cylinders required for several jobs, reducing the costs for cylinders and for their storage.

The segment is also innovating through cooperation with inkjet press and printhead developers. This is seeing a new generation of hybrid presses that combine flexo’s efficiency for big solid area colours with the variable data potential of inkjet, integrated with existing flexo finishing lines.

Gravure
Manufacturers of gravure presses have introduced automated trolley changeover processes for cylinders and inking systems on the latest generation of equipment, making them more flexible and enabling quicker turnaround times between jobs.

Digital
Technology developments of the two digital print techniques, electrophotography (toner) and inkjet, have been taking place for many years. Naturally suited to short-run commissions, these are enabling these processes to be used for a wider range of commercial and industrial printing applications. The main focus in digital printing in 2019 is on:

• Improving print quality to more closely match the best of the analogue processes
• Increasing print speeds to extend use to longer print runs.

Electrophotography
Electrophotography will continue to see improvements in colour printing quality to match, or exceed, that achievable by offset printing. The potential for increasing the speed of toner machines is limited however by the multi-stage print technique. This will see sales of new electrophotography equipment fall across the Smithers forecast period as genuine growth concentrates on inkjet. In response many toner OEMs are looking to diversify into this alternative digital process.

Inkjet
Across the print industry R&D spending is highest in inkjet. This investment is being witnesses in improvements in quality and reliability of the equipment, reducing printers’ total costs. New inkjet presses can print at faster speeds to give better productivity, and new workflow solutions and more automation of material handling is improving productivity of lower speed presses.

New sales of inkjet press are being driven by the introduction of high-performance inkjet machines, in packaging with machines directly targeted at corrugated, folding cartons, flexible and rigid plastics, and even metal print. As well as labels, there is a developing application in cost-effective production of short to medium runs of mono and full-colour books, often via e-commerce ordering.

A major trend is for digital print lines to integrate with postpress finishing systems, to take full advantage of the automated operation of the print process. This is more prevalent with inkjet lines as integrated finishing limits flexibility of a toner line. As the number of digital print lines grows at the expense of analogue printing, the use of in-line finishing for those end-use applications with good workflow streams will reduce the number of near/off-line postpress operations in print shops.

City Power hit by virus

Johannesburg residents using pre-paid electricity have been left in the dark after a computer virus hit City Power, rendering users unable to purchase electricity.

The utility’s spokesperson, Isaac Mangena, was cited on News24 as saying “the virus had attacked its database and other software, impacting on most of its applications and networks”.

This resulted in City Power customers being unable to upload pre-paid electricity to their meter boxes.

The City Power website is also affected by the virus.

Mangena also stated that City Power hoped to have resolved the problem by midday on Thursday.

Is Telkom dying?

According to a recent MyBroadband article, Telkom is rapidly losing ADSL and fixed-line subscribers across South Africa.

The company once had aspirations to be the leading fixed-broadband provider in the country, but current figures show this is not the case:

  • Telkom’s fixed-line subscribers stand at 2 267 000, the lowest since 1994
  • Telkom’s ADSL, VDSL, and fibre subscribers declined from 981 176 to 847 650 in the last year
  • There has been a 13.6% decline in fixed-broadband subscribers
  • Independent fibre network operators (FNOs) are rolling out fibre networks faster than Telkom can
  • Companies like Vumatel offer a wide range of pricing – from free for a 4Mbps line to R1,299 for a 1Gbps connection 
  • Vumatel’s partnership model rapidly gained momentum in South Africa, putting Telkom on the back foot
  • The rush to get fibre rolled out across SA lead to a land-grab and pricing cuts, leaving Telkom on the sidelines
  • Telkom is too big and too slow to respond quickly
  • Today Telkom’s fibre-to-the-home market share is below 40%
  • Telkom has significantly cut its fibre-to-the-home investment over the last year, decreasing the capital expenditure in its fibre network from R2.112 billion in its 2017/2018 financial year, to R1.216 billion in its 2018/2019 financial year

By Warwick Ashford for Computer Weekly

The cost of a data breach has risen 12% over the past five years to £3.2m on average globally, with a 10.56% increase in the UK in the past year alone to £2.99m on average, a study reveals.

In the UK, the average size of a data breach has increased 3.6% and the per capita cost per lost or stolen record is £119, which represents an increase of 9.69% from 2018 and has nearly doubled in the past ten years, according to the annual Cost of a data breach report conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Security.

The rising costs are representative of the multiyear financial impact of breaches, increased regulation and the complex process of resolving criminal attacks, the report said.

The report based on in-depth interviews with more than 500 companies around the world who suffered a breach over the past year, including 45 in the UK, and takes into account hundreds of cost factors including legal, regulatory and technical activities to loss of brand equity, customers, and employee productivity.

The study found that data breaches in the US are the most expensive, costing $8.19m (£6.6m), or more than double the average for worldwide companies in the study, and that the cost for data breaches in the US has increased by 130% over the past 14 years from $3.54m (£2.8m) in the 2006 study.

The financial consequences of a data breach, the report said, can be particularly acute for small and midsize businesses. Globally, companies with fewer than 500 employees suffered losses of more than £2m on average, which is a potentially crippling amount for small businesses, which typically earn £40.1m or less in annual revenue.

The report also examined the longtail financial impact of a data breach, finding that the effects of a data breach are felt for years. While an average of 67% of data breach costs were realised within the first year after a breach, 22% accrued in the second year and another 11% accumulated more than two years after a breach.

A co-ordinated global cyber attack could have an economic impact of up to $193bn, an insurance industry-backed report claims.

Most businesses are not applying common encryption tools effectively to contain the fallout and costs of data breaches, research shows.

Despite the danger posed by cyber attacks to mid-sized companies, boards are not prepared to manage the risk and firms are over-confident in their cyber capabilities, report finds.

The longtail costs were higher in the second and third years for organisations in highly regulated environments, such as healthcare, financial services, energy and pharmaceuticals.

“Cyber crime represents big money for cyber criminals, and unfortunately that equates to significant losses for businesses,” said Wendi Whitmore, global lead for IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services.

“With organisations facing the loss or theft of over 11.7 billion records in the past three years alone, companies need to be aware of the full financial impact that a data breach can have on their bottom line –and focus on how they can reduce these costs,” she said.

The report found that malicious breaches are the most common and most expensive, with 51% of data breaches in the study in the UK and globally resulting from malicious cyber attacks (up from 42% globally in the past six years) and costing companies £805,000 ($1m) more on average than those originating from accidental causes.

However, the report said inadvertent breaches from human error and system glitches were still the cause for nearly half (49%) of the data breaches in the report, costing companies £2.8m ($3.5m) and £2.6m ($3.24m) respectively.

These breaches from human and machine error represent an opportunity for improvement, the report said, which can be addressed through security awareness training for staff, technology investments, and testing services to identify accidental breaches early on.

One particular area of concern is the misconfiguration of cloud servers, which contributed to the exposure of 990 million records in 2018, representing 43% of all lost records for the year, according to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index.

“Mega breaches” the report said, typically lead to “mega losses”. While less common, breaches of more than one million records cost companies a projected £33.8m ($42m) in losses, and those of 50 million records are projected to cost companies £312m ($388m).

For the 9th year in a row, the study found that healthcare organisations had the highest cost of a breach of nearly £5.2m ($6.5m) on average, which is more than 60% greater than other industries in the study.

The report notes that the past 14 have shown that the speed and efficiency with which a company responds to a breach has a significant impact on the overall cost.

This year’s report found that the average lifecycle of a breach was 279 days, with companies taking 206 days to first identify a breach after it occurs, and an additional 73 days to contain the breach.

Incident response
The study shows that companies with an incident response team that also extensively tested their incident response plan experienced £990,000 ($1.23m) less in data breach costs on average than those that had neither measure in place. While companies that were able to detect and contain a breach in less than 200 days spent £965,000 ($1.2m) less on the total cost of a breach.

This appears to be an area that needs some attention in the UK, where the mean time to identify the data breach increased from 163 to 171 days from 2018 and the mean time to contain the data breach increased from 64 to 72 days.

Globally, the study found that companies that had fully deployed security automation technologies experienced around half the cost of a breach (£2.1m on average) compared with those that did not have these technologies deployed (£4.15m on average).

Extensive use of encryption was also a top cost saving factor, reducing the total cost of a breach by £289,000, the study shows.

Breaches originating from a third party – such as a partner or supplier – cost companies £297,000 more than average, the report said, emphasising the need for companies to closely vet the security of the companies they do business with, align security standards, and actively monitor third-party access.

Company culture trumps technology

There is no arguing the fact that technology has made our lives easier. It has also resulted in organisations being able to deliver more innovative solutions in the workplace to provide for a more compelling environment.

Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, cautions that this should not happen to the detriment of the company culture.

“Technology in the workplace can create many temptations among employees. Social media is a perfect example where employees spend most of their time on their favourite networking platforms instead of working. Even more concerning is how prevalent viewing pornographic material has become in the workplace,” he says.

Myburgh believes there is a growing trend among companies to focus on technology innovation and neglect the human element.

“This is happening more today than ever before and can be partly ascribed to an increasingly intensive and regulated labour environment. Employers want to move away from staff and acquire tech-driven solutions to replace people, all in a move to alleviate having to deal with issues created by unions, employee complaints, and poor performance.”
Local examples are plentiful, but it is especially in the banking sector where this becomes apparent as leading banks look to close branches in favour of investments in digital banking solutions. It all comes down to the bottom-line – technology is cheaper to maintain than the people driving it.

Return to culture
So, how can companies still reinforce their culture without relying on technology, tools and mobile apps?
“It must always be remembered that the company culture is the personality of a company and is determined by the people who work there,” says Myburgh.

“Without it, a business cannot be expected to have employee engagement and growth potential. Moreover, management needs to be aware of how technological innovation has impacted on changes taking place in the company culture. Much of this revolves around the way people do things. For example, the office hours of a traditional business used to be from 08:00 to 17:00 but embracing a mobile workforce has resulted in more people working off site, thereby fundamentally changing the culture of the organisation.”

Technology does provide benefits and opportunities, but it should always be driven by putting the people first. Staff events and team-building activities are excellent ways to promote interaction and reinforce the company culture.

Maintaining focus
Technology and applications are just tools – a means to an end. Organisations can do more to ensure their focus remains people-centric.

“This is where company culture comes in. It revolves around making the environment a pleasant place in which to work. The technological tools merely facilitate companies being geared towards their people. Some individuals want to interact with their colleagues face-to-face, while others prefer to use an app. It all depends on the person’s perception of what it means to be people-focused. Technology can therefore be used to give voice to the individual needs of employees instead of simply being a one-size-fits-all approach,” Myburgh concludes.

Mediatech Africa 2019 a success

Mediatech Africa 2019 – the biennial media and entertainment technology trade show – ran from 17 to 19 July this year.

Described as a high-energy, engaging show, there was something for everyone at the 10th edition of the expo.

Six show show verticals included:

  • Broadcast – TV & Radio;
  • Film & Video Production;
  • Digital Media;
  • Pro Audio – Lighting – Staging;
  • Audio Visual Integration; and
  • Studio – Recording – DJ.

In addition to the groundbreaking products and gear on the tradeshow floor, Mediatech offered visitors a range of presentations, product demonstrations and special events.

The outdoor sound demo area featured technology by Nexo, Audiocentre, DB Technologies, Next Proaudio, N9 Audio, and IMIX Sound among others.

The show had over 7 500 visitors and  featured 800 brands, as well as pulsing music, live demos, show specials, flashing lights, and presentation zones.

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Amazon said this year’s Prime Day was “once again the largest shopping event” in its history.The company said sales from its two-day shopping event surpassed its sales for last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Amazon didn’t reveal specific figures, like revenue. It also doesn’t typically disclose numbers for specific shopping days, with the only glimpse of sales being in its quarterly earnings.

A record number of Prime members in the United States shopped during the extravaganza, according to Amazon. In total, Prime members globally bought more than 175 million items.

Prime Day was also successful for Amazon’s line of deeply discounted gadgets. It was the “biggest event ever” for the electronics, which encompass the Fire TV Stick, Echo smart speakers and Fire tablets, among others.

“Members purchased millions of Alexa-enabled devices, received tens of millions of dollars in savings by shopping from Whole Foods Market and bought more than $2 billion of products from independent small and medium-sized businesses,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a release. “Huge thank you to Amazonians everywhere who made this day possible for customers.”

In the United States, Instant Pots and DNA kits were the top-selling items. Prime members in the United States also bought more than 100,000 laptops, 200,000 TVs and more than 1 million toys.

Prime Day also had a halo effect on Amazon’s competitors. Large retailers, or companies that generate more than $1 billion in revenue, had sales jump 68% over the two-day period, according to Adobe Analytics. Smaller retailers’ sales also spiked 28% for the same period, a reversal compared to last year when sales declined.

“This suggests that people are comparison shopping more than ever and will open their wallets to those who offer the best deals, regardless of the size of the retailer,” said Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product and platform at Adobe in a release.

19-station expansion planned for Gautrain

The Gautrain Management Agency has provided an an update on Gautrain 2, the next phase of the Gautrain project.

Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe says the planned network for Gautrain 2 is from Mamelodi in the east of Pretoria to Jabulani in the west of Soweto, from Lanseria to Little Falls and Cosmo into Randburg and Marlboro, and from OR Tambo International Airport to Boksburg.

Interesting facts about the new development include:

  • 150km of additional railway line
  • 19 new stations
  • The first phase planned will be from Lanseria to Little Falls into Randburg and Marlboro
  • The project will create 210 000 jobs
  • Private sector funding will be increased to 33%
  • The need for Gautrain 2 was prompted by the estimated growth in Gauteng’s population, which is expected to increase by 48% to 19.1 million people by 2037 (from 12.9 million in 2014)
  • In the past 10 years the use of private transport has gone up to 56%, causing congestion on highways

 

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