Financial Technology

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Tag: security

FinTech 101: What is a Green Bank?

What Is a Green Bank?
You may have heard the term “Green Bank” and wondered what it meant. This short article will explain the term and concept behind it.

Green Banks in a Nutshell
A green bank is a bank that exists for the sole purpose of battling earth climate change by funding projects that may be able to decrease the global carbon emissions and increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels and energy. They tend to support infrastructure spending in wind, solar, and other renewable energy space.

Green Banks: Functional Model
Green banks are not climate charities. Their funding is expected to be paid back with a profit for the bank. Currently, they are supported by some states in the U.S. and also by private funding. Green Banks utilize philanthropic and public funds. They generally fund energy projects that beyond the research stage and “good to go”. The Coalition for Green Capital (CGC) is a nonprofit agency that is deeply involved in advocating for green banks’ continued development.

Where Did the Idea for Green Banks Originate?
The idea for green banks started in 2008 when two entrepreneurial-minded, Ken Berlin and Reed Hundt, came up with the concept as part of the Obama transition team’s plans for promoting cleaner energy changes in US society. A proposal to enact federally supported green banks was attached to the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The concept never made it as legislation at the federal level. Green bank supporters were not daunted. Consequently, green bank advocates persuaded some states to take up the cause.

Green Banks: Some Statics
Currently, there are at least ten states that have at least one green bank. In addition, they are in the early stages of catching on globally as well. They also exist in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Malaysia. Within the U.S., green banks have already been involved in the funneling of some $3 billion in funds for clean-energy projects.

Green Banks: Their Future Development
With the advent of the Biden presidency, green banks may again find a firmer footing at the federal level. Indeed, in December 2020, Mr. Biden proposed the idea of a national green bank. They appear sure to gain more traction internationally as the desire to dampen climate change takes hold.

Are Macs More Secure Than Pcs Jacob Parker Bowles

Are Macs More Secure Than PCs?

Apple users sometimes brag about their immunity from viruses. After all, for years, rumors have persisted that Mac computers have better security than Windows PCs. For the most part, those claims are false.

During the first quarter of 2018, a rash of headlines describing Mac OS malware has attracted attention, making some people question Apple’s security. Man-in-the-middle attacks, remote access infections, malware droppers, infected applications, and cryptojacking only begin to tell the story.

So, in response, consumers should now realize that Apple’s operating system has just as many vulnerabilities as Windows. However, everyone should exercise care before drawing incorrect conclusions. After all, both Windows and Mac OS have achieved a high level of security.

Although viruses have become less of a problem for both computing platforms, malware issues continue to persist. Perhaps the parity between PCs and Macs was perfectly illustrated when both platforms required patches to deal with the Meltdown and Spectre flaws.

Despite knowing about the vulnerabilities of their OS, Apple continues to lag behind Microsoft when it comes to dealing with bugs and exploits. Still, Mac users can take some definite steps to mitigate their risks:

  • Use the official Apple App Store. Users that download from alternate sources risk acquiring apps that have been infected with viruses and malware.
  • Avoid questionable software. In other words, when Mac users see an app that meets their needs, they should first check to see if a reputable company offers a similar product.
  • Install updates. Apple periodically releases new MacOS versions that fix bugs and patch vulnerabilities. Simply by installing these updates, users can improve their security.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi. Hackers can use the Wi-Fi at libraries and coffee shops to capture data and infect computers. People who must use public Wi-Fi should first connect to a paid VPN service.
  • Backup your computer. Users should always have multiple computer backups on different types of media. Also, everyone should store at least one copy at an alternate physical location.
  • Use a security app. Mac users should subscribe to a security application to identify and mitigate threats such as viruses and malware before they become a problem.

In summary, Mac users should realize that they face risks similar to those that Windows users face. In response, they should take the above simple steps to protect themselves and their data.

The Push for More Online-Only Banking

The Push for More Online-Only Banking

While it is a fact that some people will always prefer a brick and mortar service to manage their banking needs, it is also true that more and more people are choosing online banking as a more viable alternative. For many, the benefits of online banking result in customers being split between banking with institutions that offer online banking along with brick and mortar services but also turning to banks that operate entirely without a physical location. If you are unsure about whether the benefits of online-only banks can outweigh those of traditional banks, let me give you some facts, and you can decide.


The most straightforward reason for the popularity of online banking is ease of use. Online banking affords the user the ability to bank wherever there is an internet connection. A customer’s phone, laptop, or tablet can instantly become the portal that connects them to their bank. With online banking, there is no need for a commute, and there are no lines to brave in wait of a teller. Also, internet banks are not restricted to banking hours. With the use of personal devices, the internet banking customer can virtually enter their bank 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Better Account Rates

Internet banks have much lower operating costs than conventional banks. Many times these savings are passed on to customers in the form of more favorable account rates. For the most part, banking customers receive higher rates of return on savings and checking accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. This interest can cause accounts to grow exponentially, which means better long-term gains for customers.

Better Loan Rates

The savings enjoyed by internet banking customers does not end at savings account rates. Loan interest rates are also affected. Those who utilize online banks tend to get better interest rates for mortgages, mortgage refinances, auto loans, and loans for personal use. This can dramatically reduce the amount of interest these customers must pay back over the lifetime of the loan.

Relief From Fees

Disgruntled bank customers have lamented for many years about the cost of fees associated with brick and mortar banks. These fees are numerous and, despite numerous customer complaints, have only seemed to increase. Traditional banks regularly increase ATM fees, overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, and other fees, which make it more and more expensive for a customer to spend their own money. Internet banks have much fewer charges associated with their usage, and some do not charge their customers at all. In fact, some online-only banks will pay you back for any ATM surcharges you accrue by using their competition’s ATMs.

Customers looking to switch to an online bank should be careful to appraise the security of these banks identically as they would with a traditional bank. This means any bank considered must be insured at the very least. Insurance is essential for a bank to have, because it allows for customers to receive all of their money in the event of a drastic situation, such as a bank robbery or bankruptcy.

While it is clear that brick and mortar banks are in no danger of becoming extinct within the next decade, it is clear is that online banking will only become more popular as time progresses. Banks with no physical address will become more prevalent because of the perks they offer, while physical banks will struggle to keep up.

Jacob Parker Bowles: When Technology Turns Tumultuous

When Technology Turns Tumultuous: 2017 Tech Predictions

Following the Tesco Bank hack in November 2016, many are led to wonder what this breach of security means for the future. On Monday, November 7, Tesco, a major UK bank, reported that over 9,000 customer accounts had been compromised and a total of £2.5 million had been taken from those accounts. This was the largest-ever cyber attack on a UK bank to result in a mass loss of money. Yet, following the attack, Tesco released the statement, “Tesco Bank has not been subject to a security compromise and it is not necessary for customers to change their login or password details.” They were careful to avoid using the word “hacked.”

But isn’t that exactly what it was? Well, according to an opinion piece from Payments Industry Intelligence, not exactly. Tesco itself could not even explain how this “systematic and sophisticated attack” even happened, only that (unlike the Yahoo! data breach), no personal data was compromised. Mark Weston, head of information technology at international law firm Hill Dickinson explained that, whether the attack was internal or external, no bank is immune to fraud. This could have happened to any bank.

The author of the opinion piece theorizes that there are one of two things that could have led to the security breach, the first being that criminals made fraudulent debit card transactions by securing a large batch of real Tesco Bank debit card numbers from a third party (like one of Tesco’s core outsourcing partners), which would have contained both the CVV and CVV2 numbers and account numbers. The second theory is that the criminals made transactions using US magnetic stripe contactless debit cards (which the US is gradually phasing out in favor of chip cards) and Tesco Bank’s authorization systems did not recognize this transaction type; therefore, they did not validate the CVV values and the criminals could have inputted random values.

As technology becomes more and more advanced to the extent that nearly everything, even banking, is done by machine, there exists a much greater risk of fraud. According to BBC News, “The more connected the world becomes- think connected cars, smart homes, sensor-laden cities- the more opportunities for hackers to break into the system and wreak havoc.”

Therefore, BBC predicts, according to cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, that in 2017, the internet of things (IoT) and industrial internet of things (IIoT) will play a larger role in targeted attacks, and another major bank will fail as the result of a cyber-attack. The firm also predicts that hackers will continue renting out their ransomware infrastructures that allow them to break into computer systems, encrypt data, and demand a ransom to decrypt it.

Worse yet, hackers are no longer interested in merely stealing data and acquiring money from it; they are figuring out how to alter it, which could have potentially disastrous consequences. Major companies and entire stock markets could collapse. Essentially the entire modern world is run by a delicate web of data; data alteration has the power to bring down power grids and water supply systems. Life as we know it could be at risk. Additionally, hackers will continue to target human vulnerabilities by tricking people into transferring money into criminals’ accounts. In the US in 2016, the average payout was a whopping $140,000.

Some of the other tech trends projected for this year may sound exciting in theory, but advances in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and automation could spell out doom as well. If we keep entrusting robots with human jobs, such as call center and customer service jobs, then there will no longer be a need for those workers and the labor market and economy will suffer unless some kind of system is put in place to accommodate for the loss of jobs.

So, the lesson here is simple. Changes in technology can be exciting and life-changing, but according to BBC, “2017 could also be the year that the world is forced to deal- finally- with the tangible impacts of technology upon human society.” Technology has the power to save lives, to revolutionize the way humans work and function- but it should be taken with a grain of salt, because technology also has the power to lead to the destruction of the lives we have become accustomed to.

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