by: Ken HarrisAs the Internet expands, the familiar .com, .net and .org domain names are making room for thousands of .anythings. Financial institutions used to operating in a yourbrand.com world must decide how to react to new Internet real estate that will soon include .bank and .creditunion. New .bank domains are available for purchase June 24, which means the race is on to secure your brand.The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the agency that regulates and governs domain name policy and allocates top-level domains, or TLDs – has opened up this new Internet real estate. ICANN has determined an expansion in the number of TLDs – the unique identifiers immediately to the right of the last dot in an Internet URL address – is essential for the continued health of the Internet.New .bank domains are available for purchase June 24, which means the race is on to secure your brand.Does securing additional second-level domains make sense for your organization? New generic domains include .pizza, .paris, .insurance, .payment and hundreds more. Several brand owners are also launching TLDs, including .allstate, .americanexpress and .jpmorganchase. Although yourbrand.pizza is not a likely candidate, yourbrand.nyc may make sense for a New York-based financial institution, for example. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
AG Barr, the Scottish soft-drinks manufacturer, has completed a £35m (€40.1m) bulk annuity deal with Canada Life for its pension scheme, covering more than 50% of the scheme’s pensioner liabilities, and focuses on those who have recently retired.The deficit for the AG Barr (2008) Pension and Life Assurance Scheme doubled from £13.7m at the end of July 2015 to £25m a year later, with the scheme’s defined benefit section closed to future accruals from 1 May 2016.The buy-in was primarily funded with Gilts, with the trustees taking advantage of good pricing to optimise their low-risk assets.Lead adviser to the trustees was Hymans Robertson, with Shepherd and Wedderburn providing legal advice. James Mullins, partner and head of risk-transfer solutions at Hymans Robertson, said: “This deal is illustrative of the excellent value the market for pensioner buy-ins represents at the moment.“This is being driven by new entrants to the market such as Canada Life. It’s therefore highly likely we’ll see an increasing number of schemes go down this route, taking them a step closer to fully securing benefits.”In other news, the Merseyside Pension Fund (MPF), the pension scheme for public sector employees in Merseyside, northwest England, has reported an investment return of 1.2% on its £6.8bn portfolio for the year to 31 March, compared with its bespoke benchmark return of -0.4%.This takes average annualised returns to 6.5% for the three years, and 7.1% for the five years, to the same date.The previous year had seen a return of 12.6%, compared with 10.9% for the benchmark.During 2015-16, equities in all geographical regions except North America made negative returns, but other asset classes were all in positive territory, with property by far the best performer, returning around 10% (specific figures are not published).There was little change in asset allocation year on year.The strategic allocations are 30% in overseas equities, 23% in UK equities, 20% in alternatives, 19% in fixed interest and 8% in property.However, councillor Paul Doughty, chair of the fund’s pensions committee, said that, as anticipated in the previous year, volatility in financial markets was picking up, and the fund had been positioned cautiously.With the next triennial valuation to be made as at 31 March, the MPF’s estimated funding level is around 76%, the same as for the previous valuation.
Shazam Ismile, a 23-year-old labourer of Lot 17 Portuguese Quarters, Port Mourant, Corentyne Berbice, died almost instantly when the car in which he was travelling slammed into a utility pole along the Number 19 Village Highway on the East Coast of Berbice on Sunday at about 21:15hrs.Dead: Shazam IsmileOne of three persons travelling in the vehicle at the time, Ismile was sitting beside its driver and owner, 22-year-old Shazam Seepersaud, also called Randy, of Seawell Village, East Coast Berbice, when the accident occurred. Seepersaud is in stable condition at the New Amsterdam Hospital under police guard. The other occupant of the vehicle, 23-year-old Anthony Ramlocahn of East Canje Berbice, reportedly sustained broken limbs among other injuries, and was transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital for further medical attention.Both Seepersaud and the now dead Ismile worked with poultry farmers as labourers, and would have known each other for approximately three years. Apart from being a labourer, Ishmile also reared his own stock.The damaged carThe three men were allegedly on what family members described as “a drinking spree”, and according to Ismile’s mother, Brahas Baijnauth, it appeared as if all of the men were drunk. She said that Seepersaud and her son would often go out together, and prior to the accident, her son had called to say that he would be home late, as he was with friends.Reports are that Ishmile, Seepersaud and Ramlocahn had gone for an “after-payday drink” which went on longer than expected and took them to several different places, until the deadly accident occurred at about 21:15 hours.Police are investigation the accident. (Andrew Carmichael)
Google, on the other hand, is one of the most powerful cloud players in the market, they already have one of the most advanced AI systems in development, and their digital assistant is already far more advanced than Apple’s Siri. This potentially could become the game-changer that effectively makes the iPhone obsolete.Now “effectively makes” and actually does are two very different terms and outcomes. Apple is far more integrated than Google is, and it has been staffing up both mobile and AI capability, suggesting that Google’s advantage my not last that long.Or, put more crisply, we are at the front end of this race and the outcome is anything but certain.Carrier optionNow one other thing has occurred to me and that is that a carrier could specify a hybrid solution that more closely ties their users to their service, making it almost impossible for a customer to switch carriers. Once you have this blended AI uniquely trained to your needs, if that AI existed on the carrier’s servers instead of on Google’s or Apple’s servers, a switch of carriers would mean you’d have to start training over again and I doubt many will, particularly after years of work, want to abandon the digital assistant that is uniquely theirs.So, this could play out a number of interesting ways.Regardless of who goes first and where this resides (be aware this same model could be used for autonomous cars, smart cities and buildings, and millions of increasingly intelligent devices that will surround us) this idea of a hybrid AI will be a game-changer. This likely will redefine not only the smartphone market but the blended market of ever more intelligent devices. Qualcomm had a coming-out party for their new AI technology that includes a series of new smart Snapdragon parts with built-in AI capability for smartphones and connected devices. They also surprised with the announcement of their Cloud AI 100 simulator. Both of these things are interesting by themselves but, together, they have the potential to create something far more powerful, a hybrid AI that has blended resources that operate on both the device and the cloud platform simultaneously.This could be a game-changer because it is only Qualcomm that is anywhere near a critical mass of AIs on smart devices, and while their server efforts are relatively new, the synergy between both products could be a massive advantage in the coming AI wars.Let’s talk about the birth of the hybrid AI.The problemOften, we have vendors that create technology where no clear problem is evident. That isn’t the case this time because mobile devices will always be constrained by their form factors and power limitations, while latency and connectivity will constrain server resources. This means a future AI solution depending on either mobile or cloud-based resources exclusively will be inherently flawed. Either the solution, if mobile based, will never be smart enough, or the solution, if server based, will be unreliable, bandwidth intensive, and relatively slow. (I do expect this last to eventually be overcome but it may take a decade or two and the performance/bandwidth requirements will continue to increase).The potential hybrid solutionBut if you can tie the two systems together into a synergistic whole, there is the potential for a hybrid system that lowers the load, and thus the network traffic, going to the cloud while being able to share the decision load and only pushing things up that need extra data or intelligence. The end result should be a system that ties the client and server together into a whole that can both outperform a local solution and work more reliably than a cloud-only solution. In effect, with this potential hybrid, you have the potential for something that is far better optimized for the world of today than anything anyone else is contemplating.The opportunity = Google advantageNow this creates an interesting potential opportunity for both Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) to create that blended server/client solution that makes this all work. However, Apple is at war with Qualcomm, so they likely won’t get this technology and they suck at servers and cloud services, greatly reducing their potential even if they created their own solution.