Goldman Sachs is making it easier to plug its services into other tech platforms like Amazon or Apple’s iPhone, and an industry consultant says it shows how the bank is leading a `fundamental change’ in retail banking.

  • Goldman Sachs is in talks with Amazon about providing small-business loans to merchants who sell products on Amazon’s retail platform, according to a person with knowledge of them. The talks were first reported by the Financial Times on Monday. 
  • The partnership would be the second inked by Goldman with a large technology firm that can provide the scale and distribution for Goldman’s products that it can’t get itself. 
  • The partnership, and another one with Apple, is an example of banking-as-a-service, though some insiders have taken to calling it Goldman Sachs-as-a-service. 
  • “If Goldman can pull off an embedded banking deal somewhere else besides Apple Pay … that’s a leading indicator of a fundamental change in retail banking,” according to independent consultant Richard Crone.

Goldman Sachs is close to inking a second high-profile deal to offer banking services in partnership with a large tech company, and it’s a sign of what may be a fundamental change in retail banking. 

Goldman is in talks with Amazon to offer small business loans to merchants who sell products on Amazon, according to a person with knowledge of the discussion. The Financial Times first reported the talks on Monday. Goldman’s small business loans may feature the bank’s name and begin as soon as March, the newspaper said. 

A spokesman for the bank declined to comment. 

If the deal is signed, it would become the second Big Tech partnership for Goldman Sachs after it launched a credit card last year with Apple last year. Goldman CEO David Solomon has called the Apple Card the most successful credit card launch of all time, without providing details to back up the claim. 

But it would also be a sign of something much more ambitious: Goldman Sachs moving quickly and aggressively to leverage those characteristics that make it uniquely a bank, with a license that allows it to offer banking products and a balance sheet where it can fund loans cheaply being just two prominent examples. 

The company has been sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into building out its technology capabilities, including APIs (application programming interfaces), to make it as easy and seamless to plug such services into the technology platforms of others, whether that’s Apple’s mobile devices, as with the Apple Card, or Amazon’s retail platform. 

At an investor day last week, execs referred to it as banking-as-a-service, but some insiders have taken to calling it Goldman Sachs-as-a-service. 

Stephanie Cohen, Goldman’s chief strategy officer, appeared on stage last week at the bank’s investor day alongside Marco Argenti, the co-chief information officer who recently joined the bank after several years as a senior exec at Amazon Web Services.

Cohen said the bank is looking for ways to use technology to embed the types of things that Goldman can do well, such as risk management, or loan underwriting.

Cohen cited the Apple Card, which is a Goldman-designed product delivered on Apple’s devices, as one such example. 

“That last capability is the consumer version of our platform strategy,” Cohen said. “It allows us to take products and services that we build for our own clients and then give it to other clients so that they can embed financial products into their ecosystem. This strategy will drive top-line growth, and it will create scale efficiencies.”

Goldman isn’t the only large bank that’s working with Big Tech companies. In November, Google announced a partnership with Citigroup to provide checking accounts to the tech firm’s customers. 

And yet, Goldman is probably doing it better than anyone because it has developed a suite of APIs that it can take off the shelf and plug into other platforms, according to Richard Crone, an independent consultant. 

“Goldman Sachs, when they write the history books, will be noted as the one who invented or perfected embedded banking, where you embed your financial services through the user interface, or at the edge, of someone else’s network,” Crone said. “If Goldman can get this right with Amazon, I would expect them to go to Facebook next or any other online platform of substance that provides them a large distribution channel.”

Goldman is leaning on many of the lessons it learned in its partnership with Apple, known as an incredibly demanding partner, Crone said. Most notably, the ability to offer instant issuance to a set of customers that have already been pre-validated, multi-factor authenticated, Know-Your-Customer credentialed by the large tech firms. 

“They already know the customer, but they have met the regulatory requirement in advance before they hand it over,” he said. 

The product will likely look similar to what small merchants are getting from Square Cash or PayPal Working Capital. 

Goldman has bigger ambitions. At last week’s investor day, the bank presented a slide that showed a product called Marcus Pay, which talked about point-of-sale solutions for merchants based on its digital consumer bank. 

This is just another example of how embedded banking is here to stay, which can be hard for a lot of bankers to understand because they want to service customers through their own app, Crone said.

But “no financial institution can reach the scale that’s required to compete electronically” with the large platforms if they only do it through their own app, he said.  

“If Goldman can pull off an embedded banking deal somewhere else besides Apple Pay, or if Citigroup can pull off Google Cache, that’s a leading indicator of a fundamental change in retail banking.”

See also: Goldman Sachs just unveiled hundreds of slides laying out the future of the company. Here are the 10 crucial slides that show how it plans to transform into a bank for everyone.

See also: Inside Goldman Sachs’ first investor day, where avocado toast and crab apples were served with tech talk, 3-year plans, and a surprising trading mea culpa

NOW WATCH: WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here’s how the company makes money.

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Meet the Nigerian developer that runs free online digital skills training on Facebook and Slack

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Martha (not real name) had no choice but to stay with her sick mum in hospital, but this didn’t mean much until it was clear her stay would run into a year. For Martha, it meant placing her life on hold as she wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

However, this changed when she came across Tech Skills Hack (TSH), an open Facebook group where people get free training on diverse digital skills ranging from graphic design to data analysis to content creation.

Martha joined the group, attended training religiously, and soon discovered she could become a certified digital skills expert running her personal creative agency.

Iniobong Udoh, the brain behind TSH, would be overwhelmed by a sense of fulfillment hearing this testimonial because it is clearly fulfilling the startup’s mission.

“Tech Skills Hack is a platform dedicated to equipping Nigerians with the in-demand and futuristic digital skills to curb unemployment and help businesses scale free of charge,” she says.

Demystifying digital literacy

There is a belief that people in the tech space are a bunch of code-writing geeks. However, Udoh thinks it’s only a myth.

“The tech ecosystem is a large community that includes all digital skills, ranging from graphic design, data analysis, content creation, that has nothing to do with writing code.”

Her mission was clear; to bridge the gap that exists between employers of labour and applicants without basic skills. And she does this by compiling curated digital skills resources and sharing on the various training platforms used.

To her, “Digital skills literacy means possessing skills you need to live, learn, and work in a society where communication and access to information is [sic] increasing through digital technologies like the online platforms, social media, and mobile devices.”

If anything, Udoh’s experience as a Google Certified Android developer and a certified UX expert came in handy as she brought the startup to life in February 2019 — a year after she got the idea but was held back by funds to either rent a hub or acquire equipment for physical training.

“I had to use the available platform and it was Facebook for me. Aside from programming, we train undergraduates on basic or foundational skills like Excel, PowerPoint, Canva, Google Sheets, and social media usage.”

TSH’s offering is twofold: solving the challenge of affordable training and acquiring the basic equipment to practise – a laptop. The aim is to assist young people to acquire relevant digital skill sets via their smartphones at no fee at all. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an encouraging first outing for her.

“I felt bad when we sent out the ad inviting people to learn and the response wasn’t impressive as thought [sic], but 50 people responding to our ad was fair.”

To build trust, Udoh made the platform open for interested individuals to join instead of adding people randomly. With time, the platform would have a good number of open-minded, willing, consistent, and determined members.

Apart from Udoh who is the founder, TSH’s team includes Nzaki Ekere who doubles as the CTO and in-house developer who takes web development classes and Anthony Eyo as the digital marketer. Extra help for on-site training also comes from volunteers, some of who have gone through training on the platform.

A social enterprise

“Tech Skills Hack is a non-profit venture. We’ve been running this for 9 months and it’s been self-funded. It is not too capital intensive because I use a free platform (Facebook) and get free volunteers. I get to search top-notch courses from organisations like Google, Udemy, and Coursera for free, so we don’t pay for these courses, except with our time, because I need to go through every course before sharing them on our platform,” Udoh explains.

With no change of business model in view, Udoh affirms that TSH will retain its non-profit social enterprise status for the next two years, but it will need as much help as it can get.

“Our aim is to equip every Nigerian with a digital skill at no cost or low cost, and we would appreciate support from people to achieve that.”

In over 9 months of operation, the startup boasts of more than 1000 users on both Facebook and Slack. It has also assisted 30 budding Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) to design logos and business cards for free. Lately, it conducted two free offline trainings in two Nigeria cities, Lagos and Uyo, in partnership with a Ghanaian tech hub, iSpace; and Directorate of Microfinance and Enterprise Development, Akwa Ibom State, respectively.

At a point when incorporating offline training is needed because online classes do not fully capture the startup addressable market, the founder admits that TSH is greatly in need of funds.

“We would appreciate financial and hub support. We need founders to allow us to use their hubs and gadgets for our trainings. We’ll also love free publicity so that more people can hear about what we are doing and get to join.”

Undeterred by challenges

Apart from funding, Udoh names trust issues as another challenge some people have because the belief is that with free trainings, the quality of content is usually bad.

She said they may not be able to change this perception, but the reviews, testimonials, and feedback received from students, who have gone ahead to get their certifications and even begin their own creative agencies, are enough motivation for the TSH team.

“I’ve lost count of the reviews and tags we get once a student learns a skill. Not only the testimonials but students using the skills they’ve learnt to better their lives and also pass down this knowledge to others is also what we use to measure our success and this we’ve been able to achieve in a short span of our existence.”

With another physical training program in the offing, the team is presently working on integrating an eLearning site with better and friendly learning features to further expand coverage.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to the Techpoint Africa Newsletter.

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Week in Review: Apple’s rebirth as a content company has a forgettable debut – TechCrunch

teddy bear

Hey everyone. Thank you for welcoming me into you inboxes yet again.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. After dodging your inboxes for a couple weeks as I ventured off to China for a TechCrunch event in Shenzhen, I am rested up and ready to go.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox here, and follow my tweets here.

The big story

When Apple announced details on their three new subscription products (Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and Apple News+ — all of which are now live) back in March, the headlines that followed all described accurately how Apple’s business was increasingly shifting away from hardware towards services and how the future of the company may lie in these subscription businesses.

I largely accepted those headlines as fact, but one thing I have been thinking an awful lot about this week is how much I have loved Disney+ since signing up for an account and just how little I have thought about Apple TV+ despite signing up for both at their launches.

It’s admittedly not the fairest of comparisons, Disney has decades of classic content behind them while Apple is pushing out weekly updates to a few mostly meh TV shows. But no one was begging Apple to get into television. The company’s desires to diversify and own subscriptions that consumers have on their Apple devices certainly make sense for them, but their strategy of making that play without the help of any beloved series before them seems to have been a big miscalculation.

At TechCrunch, we write an awful lot about acquisitions worth hundreds of million, if not billions, of dollars. Some of the acquisitions that have intrigued me the most have been in the content space. Streaming networks are plunking down historic sums on series like Seinfeld, Friends and The Big Bang Theory. The buyers have differed throughout these deals, but they have never been Apple.

That’s because Apple isn’t bidding on history, they’re trying to nab directors and actors creating the series that will be the next hits. And while that sounds very Apple, it also sounds like a product that’s an awfully big gamble to the average consumer looking to try out a new streaming service. Why pick the service that’s starting from a standstill? Apple has ordered plenty of series and I have few doubts that at least one of the shows they plan to introduce is going to be a hit, but there isn’t much in the way of an early favorite yet and for subscribers that haven’t found “the one” yet, there’s very little reason to stick around.

Other networks with a half-dozen major series can afford a few flops because there’s a library of classics that’s filling up the dead space. Apple’s strategy is bold but is going to lead to awfully high churn among consumers that won’t be as forgiving of bad bets. This is an issue that’s sure to become less pronounced over time, but I would bet there will be quite a few consumers unsubscribing in the mean time leaving those on freebie subscriptions responsible for gauging which new shows are top notch.

Apple has also made the weird move of not housing their content inside an app so much as the Apple TV’s alternative UI inside the TV app. One one hand, this makes the lack of content less visible, but it also pushes all of the original series to the back of your mind. If you’re a Netflix user who has been subconsciously trained never to use the TV app on your Apple TV because none of their content is housed there, you’re really left forgetting about TV+ shows entirely when using the traditional app layout.

We haven’t received any super early numbers on Apple News+, Apple Arcade or Apple TV+, but none of the three appears to have made the sizable cultural splashes in their debuts that were hoped for at launch. Apple’s biggest bet of the three was undoubtedly TV+ and while their first series haven’t seemed to drop any jaws, what’s more concerning is whether the fundamentals of the service have been arranged so that unsatisfied subscribers feel any need to stick around.

Send me feedback
on Twitter @lucasmtny or email
lucas@techcrunch.com

On to the rest of the week’s news.

Image via AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images

Trends of the week

Here are a few big news items from big companies, with green links to all the sweet, sweet added context:

GAFA Gaffes

How did the top tech companies screw up this week? This clearly needs its own section, in order of badness:

Disrupt Berlin

It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of the year again, but we just announced the agenda for Disrupt Berlin and we’ve got some all-stars making their way to the stage. I’ll be there this year, get some tickets and come say hey!

Sign up for more newsletters in your inbox (including this one) here.

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Cello? Yes, I am in a once-in-a-lifetime concert with my phone on | Stuff.co.nz

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OPINION: I thoroughly enjoyed the Yo-Yo Ma concert at the Christchurch Town Hall on Tuesday night.

What the excellent review on Stuff on Wednesday missed, though, is the fact that phones rang throughout the concert.

I’m not talking one phone, I’m talking enough that I lost count.

It was embarrassing.

There was even a woman whose phone rang multiple times and instead of switching it to silent, she just turned it off each time and stuffed it back in her handbag.

Ma, the consummate professional, didn’t miss a beat. I suppose it’s part of performing these days. But how distracting it must be to be up on stage playing six Bach cello suites from memory and someone’s phone is playing a polyphonic version of the catchy 90s hit Horny.

Jason Bell
Yo-Yo Ma was the consummate professional in Tuesday night’s concert at the Christchurch Town Hall, despite the incessant ringing of phones, Johnny Moore writes.

Six suites, phrased just so, and all from memory. I repeat this fact because I have such a poor memory that I’ve already forgotten I wrote this in the previous paragraph.

And it wasn’t just the phone calls that distracted people. Some people seemed unable to tear themselves away from their phones for five minutes in order to enjoy the performance.

You could see them in the crowd, faces ghoulishly illuminated as they subbed out from the experience they were part of and subbed in to scrolling and swiping.

A woman in front of me spent the entire show on her phone. I could see what she was looking at because she wasn’t just distracting herself.

Do you know what she needed to see?

Facebook for about a second and a half, instagram for 20 seconds, Stuff, Snapchat… it seemed that opening the app was giving her a dopamine hit but once she was there she needed another and all that could achieve that was opening another stupid app.

I see it at Yo-Yo Ma, I see it in the streets and I see it most disturbingly when people are driving.

We are completely and utterly hooked on these devices and it’s becoming normal.

A trailer of The Music of Strangers, a documentary released in 2015 about Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble.

Please don’t see this as some self-righteous position. I am just another fallible human and I too find myself reaching for my phone like an automaton. I’m just trying my best to acknowledge this urge.

Because just like y’all, I am essentially a baboon and while we like to think we’re agents of free will, really people much cleverer than the majority of us have worked out how to trigger our monkey brains.

We’ve outsourced our brains to the cloud and I worry we’re paying top dollar to become drones.

Phones are electronic leashes and we are signing up for the role of digital slaves.

Whatever happened to being mind-numbingly bored? Now there’s an old person question.

Maybe I need to go back to church if I want to experience that feeling again? Or is everyone in church messing about on their phones too?

And is being mind-numbingly bored a better state than being controlled by digital overlords on the internet selling us crap we didn’t even know we wanted?

I dunno. But the least we can do when we spend big bucks on a ticket to see a genius perform a once-in-a-lifetime show is turn our phones on silent, sub out of the ‘net for a few hours and try to enjoy the show.

I think the little girl in the front row had the right idea, an idea I used to try when as a child I had to endure church: have a snooze.

At least it’s more polite than ruining the show for others who came to see a master in full control of his craft.

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Facebook Owner & Dad-of-Two, Mark Zuckerberg Shares Why He Regulates Screen Exposure For His Daughters – Motherhood In-Style Magazine

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Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has shared his etiquette for screen time exposure for his daughters with wife Priscilla Chan — August, 2, and Maxima, 3. According to the billionaire dad, he generally dislikes that his children be sitting in front of a computer or television for a long period of time and so, he’s come up with a regulation that allows them to minimally use Facebook’s video chat product, Portal.

Zuckerberg says it is healthier because it is a video portal that allows the kids keep in touch with their grannies and aunts, and that they have to engage with the humans while using the screen, it is much healthier and comes with the benefits of feeling real connection.

“I don’t generally want my kids to be sitting in front of a TV or a computer for a long period of time,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Fox News’

The Daily Briefing, posted Friday.

“I let my kids use that to communicate with my parents, so they can stay in touch with their grandparents easily, [and] their aunts who live across the country,”

Zuckerberg said.

According to Zuckerberg, that kind of screen time — using video to interact with other human beings — is actually good for you, with benefits such as feeling more connected and healthier.

“I think all the research would generally support that,”

Zuckerberg Told “The Daily Briefing.”

However, says Zuckerberg, passively consuming content, or “going from video to video” isn’t associated with the same positive effects.

While that may be the standard thinking (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids ages 2 to 5 only use screens for one hour a day, and kids 18 to 24 months only use digital media to video chat) a new study from the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University found that moderate screen use is actually beneficial for kids’ development.

After analyzing data from 35,000 American children ages 6 months to 17 years (and their caregivers), researchers found that the sweet spot seems to be about one to two hours of screen time a day. “Screen time” includes using digital devices such as iPads and watching television.

The kids who were exposed to the optimal amount of screen time had better levels of social and emotional well-being than kids who weren’t allowed to use digital devices. (In this study, researchers controlled the data for variables that influence digital engagement, such as age and sex, race and ethnicity, stress, social support and health.)

So banning kids from using technology altogether, or implementing age restrictions, isn’t the best solution for parents who are concerned about their children’s screen use,

“particularly as screen usage in some cases has a net positive impact,”

Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute and study author said in a press release.

There is an upper limit for screen time, though: This study also found that kids could watch four hours of TV or use an electronic device for five hours before it started to affect their behavior. Compared to the average amount of time that kids use devices (about two hours of tablets and smartphones, and one hour and 45 minutes of TV), these numbers are very high.

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This startup just raised $8 million to help busy doctors assess the cognitive health of 50 million seniors

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All over the globe, the population of people who are aged 65 and older is growing faster than every other age group. According to United Nations data, by 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65, up from one in 11 right now. Meanwhile, in Europe and North America, by 2050, one in four people could be 65 or older.

Unsurprisingly, startups increasingly recognize opportunities to cater to this aging population. Some are developing products to sell to individuals and their family members directly; others are coming up with ways to empower those who work directly with older Americans.

BrainCheck, a 20-person, Houston-based startup whose cognitive healthcare product aims to help physicians assess and track the mental health of their patients, is among the latter. Investors like what it has put together, too. Today, the startup is announcing $8 million in Series A funding co-led by S3 Ventures and Tensility Venture Partners.

We talked earlier today with BrainCheck co-founder and CEO Yael Katz to better understand what her company has created and why it might be of interest to doctors who don’t know about it. Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

TC: You’re a neuroscientist. You started BrianCheck with David Eagleman, another neuroscientist and the CEO of NeoSensory, a company that develops devices for sensory substitution. Why? What’s the opportunity here?

YK: We looked across the landscape, and we realized that most cognitive assessment is [handled by] a subspecialty of clinical psychology called neuropsychology, where patients are given a series a tests and each is designed to probe a different type of brain function — memory, visual attention, reasoning, executive function. They measure speed and accuracy, and based on that, determine whether there’s a deficit in that domain. But the tests were classically done on paper and it was a lengthy process. We digitized them and gamified them and made them accessible to everyone who is upstream of neuropsychology, including neurologists and primary care doctors.

We created a tech solution that provides clinical decision support to physicians so they can manage patients’ cognitive health. There are 250,000 primary care physicians in the U.S. and 12,000 neurologists and [they’re confronting] what’s been called a silver tsunami. With so many becoming elderly, it’s not possible for them to address the need of the aging population without tech to help them.

TC: How does your product work, and how is it administered?

YK: An assessment is all done on an iPad and takes about 10 minutes. They’re typically administered in a doctor’s office by medical technicians, though they can be administered remotely through telemedicine, too.

TC: These are online quizzes?

YK: Not quizzes and not subjective questions like, ‘How do you think you’re doing?’ but rather objective tasks, like connect the dots, and which way is the center arrow pointing — all while measuring speed and accuracy.

TC: How much does it cost these doctors’ offices, and how are you getting word out?

YZ: We sell a monthly subscription to doctors and it’s a tiered pricing model as measured by volume. We meet doctors at conferences and we publish blog posts and white papers and through that process, we meet them and sell products to them, beginning with a free trial for 30 days, during which time we also give them a web demo.

[What we’re selling] is reimbursable by insurance because it helps them report on and optimize metrics like patient satisfaction. Medicare created a new code to compensate doctors for cognitive care planning, though it was rarely used because the requirements and knowledge involved was so complicated. When we came along, we said, let us help you do what you’re trying to do, and it’s been very rewarding.

TC: Say one of these assessments enables a non specialist to determine that someone is losing memory or can’t think as sharply. What then?

YZ: There’s a phrase: “Diagnose and adios.” Unfortunately, a lot of doctors used to see their jobs as being done once an assessment was made. It wasn’t appreciated that impairment and dementia are things you can address. But about one-third of dementia is preventable, and once you have the disease, it can be slowed.  It’s hard because it requires a lot of one-on-one work, so we created a tech solution that uses the output of tests to provide clinical support to physicians so they can manage patients’ cognitive health. We provide personalized recommendations in a way that’s scalable.

TC: Meaning you suggest an action plan for the doctors to pass along to their patients based on these assessments?

YZ: There are nine modifiable risk factors found to account for a third of [dementia cases], including certain medications that can exacerbate cognitive impairment, including poorly controlled cardiovascular health, hearing impairment and depression. People can have issues for many reasons — multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s — but health conditions like major depression and physical conditions like cancer and treatments like chemotherapy can cause brain fog. We suggest a care plan that goes to the doctor who then uses that information and modifies it. A lot of it has to do with medication management.

A lot of the time, a doctor — and family members — don’t know how impaired a patient is. You can have a whole conversation with someone during a doctor’s visit who is regaling you with great conversation, then you realize they have massive cognitive deficits. These assessments kind of put everyone on the same page.

TC: You’ve raised capital. How will you use it to move your product forward?

YK: We’ll be combining our assessments with digital biomarkers like changing voice patterns and a test of eye movements. We’ve developed an eye-tracking technology and voice algorithms, but those are still in clinical development; we’re trying to get FDA approval for them now.

TC: Interesting that changing voice patterns can help you diagnose cognitive decline.

YK: We aren’t diagnosing disease. Think of us as a thermometer that [can highlight] how much impairment is there and in what areas and how it’s progressed over time.

TC: What can you tell readers who might worry about their privacy as it relates to your product?

YK: Our software is HIPAA compliant. We make sure our engineers are trained and up to date. The FDA requires that we put a lot of standards in place and we ensure that our database is built in accordance with best practices. I think we’re doing as good a job as anyone can.

Privacy is a concern in general. Unfortunately, companies big and small have to be ever vigilant about a data breach.

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Should Netflix and Hulu give you emergency alerts?

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New York (CNN Business)The federal emergency alert program was designed decades ago to interrupt your TV show or radio station and warn about impending danger from severe weather events to acts of war.

“More and more people are opting out of the traditional television services,” said Gregory Touhill, a cybersecurity expert who served at the Department of Homeland security and was the first-ever Federal Chief Information Security Officer. “There’s a huge population out there that needs to help us rethink how we do this.”

Possible vs. practical

    Adding federal alerts to those platforms might not entirely be a technical issue, at least on the government’s end. The service has already been updated to include smartphones.
    tech
    And FEMA, the agency that manages the system’s technology, told CNN Business that there are “no known technical hurdles involved in transmitting alerts” to devices that are connected to the internet. In fact, the agency has a way to do that, according to a FEMA spokesperson.
    But a new tool would need to be developed to distribute alert information to streaming platforms. FEMA said the “unknown quantity” is figuring out who would develop and install the applications.
    That’s not a simple task, said Touhill, who’s now president of the cybersecurity firm Cyxtera Federal Group. He told CNN Business that the required tool would need to be “exquisitely complex.” It would need to be thoroughly tested and safeguarded to ensure that only authorized parties have access.
    “Is it possible? Yes. Is it practical? Maybe not,” Touhill told CNN Business.
    Another concern is whether devices connected to the internet are reliable indicators of a person’s location. Emergency alerts need to be able to target a specific area so that they only reach people who are at risk.
    People on the internet can be traced through their IP addresses — unique strings of numbers assigned to each device that are also associated with a specific set of geographic coordinates. That’s how companies like Netflix determine which language and content to show its customers.
    But those locations can be unreliable or easily manipulated, Touhill said.
    It’s also not clear that enough information is there in some cases. A source familiar with Netflix’s thinking told CNN Business that the company’s ability to pinpoint a customer’s exact location may vary depending on that person’s internet service provider. That means Netflix might not reliably know a person’s location with enough specificity to provide effective emergency alerts.
    Congress has considered some of these issues. Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat, proposed a bill last year that called for authorities to look into the feasibility of adding streaming services to the federal emergency alert system.
    The READI Act received bipartisan support and passed the Senate, but it died in the House. Schatz’s office told CNN Business this week that he plans to refile the bill for the current Congress.

    How to improve

    Adding streaming platforms to the alert system “is not a bad idea,” said National Weather Service senior meteorologist Kevin Laws.
    Laws is based in Birmingham and was part of a team that issued warnings to residents when tornadoes struck Alabama last Sunday. His team watches storms on a radar, and their predictions are automatically routed to FEMA’s alert system.
    But upgrades to the system are expensive and slow. Instead, Laws said he thinks alerts would be better helped through improvements to the type of information that authorities can share when a storm is in the area.
    Why you don't see emergency alerts when you're watching Netflix or playing Fortnite - CNN
    His ideal scenario? A day when storms are tracked automatically and alerts are consistently updated to show residents percentage of the likelihood that they will be affected.
    Such a feature would have helped last Sunday, he said, when some storms were particularly strong and unpredictable. Some parts of Alabama received emergency warnings more than half an hour before they were hit. But when a deadly tornado unexpectedly veered toward Lee County, where the death toll reached 23 people, locals were only notified about nine minutes beforehand.
      “I’ve spent many tearful days out there doing this job. And it kills me a little more every time,” Laws said, adding that disasters like the one that hit the state will happen again.
      “We have to keep improving the system,” he said.

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      How my son went from gamer to compulsive gambler

      The NHS has opened its first clinic for young people addicted to gaming and gambling, a year after a Gambling Commission report found that 55,000 11-to-16-year-olds in the UK were problem gamblers. For some the path to gambling begins with playing online games, as the BBC’s Becky Milligan heard from the father of one young man now getting help for his addiction.

      “Not in a million years, not in a million years did I think that gaming could lead to compulsive gambling.”

      Steve is sitting on a bench in a churchyard. He’s agreed to talk to me about his son’s gambling addiction. He’s nervous, he hasn’t done an interview before and I can feel his anxiety.

      His son, now in his early 20s, is in recovery and doing well, “but we take one day at a time” he says.

      “We’ve had a terrible three years. We wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we have gone through. When we first discovered our son had the compulsive gambling disorder we didn’t know what to do.”

      I tell Steve that I’ve spoken to other parents whose children have developed gambling disorders, and they also paid off the debts at first, not realising the extent of their children’s addiction.

      “We thought this was just a little glitch, this is what kids do,” one father told me. And that’s what Steve thought at first.

      He and his wife had known for some time that their son enjoyed having the odd bet. But lots of their friends enjoyed a flutter and it didn’t seem to be out of the ordinary.

      A year later, though, Steve was shocked to find out his son was gambling with other people’s money and losing large amounts.

      “It was online roulette. That was his downfall,” he tells me.

      Now Steve realised it was a very serious problem. He and his wife didn’t know what to do. They began to isolate themselves, avoid going out or seeing friends. They were worried what people would say.

      “We were pretty helpless. We didn’t know which way to turn. We spent months finding the answers and doing our own research,” Steve says.

      Last year, he and his wife went to a GamAnon meeting for families. Earlier this year his son also began to get help.

      Steve has had a few months to do a great deal of research and he now believes his son’s addiction was sparked when he was 12 or 13 and was obsessed with playing online games, particularly football games.

      He would play for hours and hours in his bedroom, Steve tells me, and all his mates were into to it as well. Steve didn’t really understand what the games were about, let alone the new technology the games used. And anyway, at least his son was occupied, he says.

      “We all want an easy life, a quiet life. Parents can be lazy. If he was playing upstairs I would think, ‘It’s not doing any harm is it?'”

      Steve now thinks that the football games promoted habits, including spending hours online, that “developed into gambling”.

      Crucially, Steve’s son was encouraged to pay for extra products, such as “ultimate team packs”.

      The identities of the players in these packs would only be revealed once he had paid, which Steve says introduced his son to the “thrill of gambling”, the game of chance and risk – including the chance of acquiring a star player who would make him unbeatable.

      Steve thinks the difference between online gaming and gambling is very subtle, and that those children who excessively game online, like his son, are at risk of becoming compulsive gamblers later in life. It doesn’t matter, he says, whether the game involves winning or losing real money.

      Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a psychiatrist at the new NHS treatment centre, says no link between gaming-related activities “that may be toxic for young people” and gambling has yet been established. It’s currently a “big controversial conversation”, she says.

      “I believe so little is known in this country about both these behavioural addictions in children, that we need to hear it on the ground, we need to understand what these people are doing then work with policy makers, politicians and public health professionals to change the environment they live in,” she told the BBC.


      It has been a very hard few years for Steve and his family. He recently decided to leave his teaching job and set up a charity, GamFam, to help other parents who might be in a similar position.

      However complicated it is, Steve says that parents need to know what their children are doing online, they need to become the experts in order to protect them.

      “Do research, put the barriers in place, take control of the device, set up family time. Screen [the child’s activity] so that you are in control of what’s going on. And most importantly do not have any of your credit cards, debit cards linked to the account,” he says.

      “There are horror stories where children are spending excessive amounts of money on in-game purchases. Many of these games promote themselves as free games but the loot boxes in the games [are not].”

      Like the “ultimate team packs” that Steve’s son used to buy, loot boxes may contain virtual items such as weapons or shields that help a player win the game – and gamers don’t know what’s in them until they have bought them.

      MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee recently recommended that the sale of loot boxes should be regulated as gambling, and that selling them to children should be banned entirely.

      In a statement to the BBC, the association for UK interactive entertainment, Ukie, echoed Steve’s call for parents to monitor their children’s behaviour online.

      “Alongside robust age-ratings for games, all major consoles and mobile devices offer smart and simple parental controls. Above all, we recommend that parents and carers engage directly with players, talk to them about the games they are playing and even join in,” the statement said.

      Wes Himes, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, said it was very difficult for children to get through the verification process to gamble online. He added that the industry was not allowed to advertise near schools, or to target under-25s with its advertising.

      Steve Ginnis of Ipsos Mori, however, told the BBC that focus groups conducted by his company showed that children and young people found aspects of existing gambling advertisements appealing – “in terms of promotional offers and use of celebrities and presenting it as fun or skilful”.


      ‘Part of the game’

      Stewart Kenny, the Paddy Power founder who resigned in 2016 over what he saw as the failure to tackle problem gambling, says advertising is “normalising” gambling for children, and that it has become “nearly part of the game” when watching football.

      “That is dangerous, because it is promoted by well-known people, it’s a constant barrage of advertising they see it before, during and after the match… It’s become normal for children to think gambling and soccer are the same thing.”


      Steve says his family is now doing better. His son’s last bet was in February. They are not ashamed any more about what happened, but in order to protect his son, Steve doesn’t want to give his full name.

      He hopes his new charity will be able to visit schools and talk to parents.

      Steve says the problem of children’s gambling addiction has to be addressed. If nothing is done, he believes we will have an “epidemic on our hands of catastrophic proportions”.

      At present, he says, the only help these youngsters have got is their parents.

      “For me, if I don’t do this now, then I will never do it, I feel it is a calling, I need to do, I need to be putting the message out there and support the parents. I wouldn’t wish what we have been through on my worst enemy.”

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      Previously, a store needed to be part of the network of service providers officially authorized by Apple to purchase authentic materials from the company or to repair iPhones without voiding the devices warranties.

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