The Briefing on Technology

The latest news, trends and data on technology

In Data:

Technology News in Numbers


The amount in cryptocurrency that has been exposed to theft in exchanges with extremely poor cybersecurity, making it possible for anyone with only modest technical skills to steal or change balances, according to a report by CyberNews. The report identified two exchanges, Lykke and Hubdex, that had left API keys and private cryptocurrency wallet keys unsecured online, although both have since secured their respective markeplaces.


The length of a new subsea cable that will be built to enhance connectivity in Africa and the Middle East, under the 2Africa project. The result of a partnership between China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC, the cable will serve 16 countries in Africa and seven in the Middle East and Europe once it goes live in 2023 or 2024, and will deliver more than the total capacity of all subsea cables currently serving Africa.

Nine in Ten

The percentage of people in the UK that want the option of working from home at least once a week after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. This is according to a survey by OnePoll, commissioned by cybersecurity PR agency Eskenzi PR, examining the general sentiment towards remote working. The survey found that a third of workers would like to continue working from home every day or four days a week. 35% said that an ideal scenario would be to work from home for half the week.

6 Months

The amount of time digital bank Bo was live for before it was shut down by parent company the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Launched in November 2019, Bo had some similar features to well-known challenger banks such as Monzo or Starling. The decision has been made to merge Bo with Mettle, Natwest’s digital business bank.


The percentage that job vacancies in London fell by in the week ending 10 May, according to real-time statistics from Broadbean Technology. On 10 May UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the start of lockdown ‘exit strategy’, with those in England now permitted to exercise multiple times a day and some allowed to return to work. Despite this, job vacancy levels have fallen in the UK by 9%, with the UK capital hit the hardest, suggesting that recruiters are exercising caution.


The total investment raised by British startups in the first month after the country went into lockdown, with the tech sector seeing the most activity, according to research by Plexal and Beauhurst. The research found that the total value of investments has increased by 34% compared to the same period in 2019, but deal numbers were down by 39%.

Top Stories

The Key Moments in Technology in Recent Months

 Celebrity law firm hit by “surgical” cyberattack

A high-profile cyberattack has hit celebrity law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, which represents A-listers including Robert De Niro and Lady Gaga, with hackers threatening to expose a 746GB data cache, including personal data and contracts.  The attack saw the firm’s systems breached by hackers, enabling them to steal its vast repository of files, and infect them with REvil/Sodinokibi ransomware.


Bitcoin halved for third time in history

In May the amount bitcoin miners receive for the work they do was cut by half,  in a key event known as the bitcoin halving that occurs once every four years. Previously, mining a single block resulted in 12.5 bitcoin, but after the halving, it was cut to 6.25. The event is designed to counteract the fact that bitcoin is finite: there can only ever be 21 million bitcoin mined, and is expected to cause a rise in the price of the cryptocurrency.


YouTube CEO: We’ll ban any content against WHO guidelines

YouTube will ban any content containing medical advice that contradicts World Health Organisation (WHO) coronavirus recommendations, according to CEO Susan Wojcicki. Speaking on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Wojcicki said that the Google-owned video streaming platform would be “removing information that is problematic”.


 Coronavirus layoffs expected by almost half of companies

Layoffs in response to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus are either expected or have begun happening at 44% of companies, according to a survey conducted by Verdict. The survey, which ran from 25 March to 15 April on our website, found that 24% of respondents expected their company to conduct layoffs as a result of the coronavirus, while 20% said this had already begun to happen.


Startup Funding:
Key Industry Announcements

 Fly Now Pay Later nets £35m to disrupt post-coronavirus travel industry

Fintech startup Fly Now Pay Later has announced that it has raised £35m in Series A equity and debt funding, as investors look for disruptive solutions to the ailing travel industry. Fly Now Pay Later enables travel customers to stagger the cost of their trips over up to 12 months, with funding offered at upwards of 0% APR. The funding will allow Fly Now Pay Later to expand its offering, which is currently available in the UK, into mainland Europe.


Bitcoin rewards startup Lolli nets $3m in star-studded funding round

Lolli, a startup that rewards people with bitcoin when they shop online, has raised $3m in a second seed funding round. The total number of investors reached double figures, and included beauty entrepreneur Michelle Phan, actor and serial investor Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, the manager of Madonna and U2. At the heart of Lolli’s offering is a focus on making the acquisition of bitcoin easy and simple through its rewards-based approach.


Alpian nets $12.4m in Series A funding for “ground-breaking” digital bank

Swiss digital financial services startup Alpian has raised CHF 12.2m ($12.4m) in Series A funding to launch a digital bank targeting the country’s high net-worth population; those with investible assets of between CHF 100,000 and CHF 1m ($101,000 and $1m). The market is believed to be worth CHF 660bn in Switzerland ($672bn). The company plans to launch a “fully licensed digital affluent bank” in 2021, which will include investment products tailored to this market. 


 Omilia raises $20m to bring conversational AI to customer care

Artificial intelligence (AI) company Omilia has announced that it has raised $20m for its automated voice-based customer care virtual assistant, as investors see the potential of conversational AI as an alternative to call centres amid the coronavirus. The funding has been supplied by Grafton Capital, and will enable Omilia to be further developed and rolled out to new customers and markets. The technology can provide support to customers via both voice and text.


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