The latest news and insight on how the technology sector is reacting to Covid-19.
Fintech app usage driven up by 72% in one week
Coronavirus-triggered social distancing, isolation and lockdowns have driven-up the use of financial apps in Europe by 72% in a week.
The sharp increase in the use of financial technology comes as the world adjusts to life fighting against the global health crisis and economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The data is from deVere Group, an independent financial advisory organisation. James Green, the group’s divisional manager of Europe said a new era has begun: “This new era has been evidenced this week with a staggering 72% jump in the use of our fintech [financial technology] apps from existing clients and a sharp increase in enquiries from potential ones.”
DCMS leads fight against coronavirus misinformation online
Specialist teams in the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) have been tasked with taking on false and misleading narratives regarding the prevailing novel coronavirus outbreak. The teams are working at pace to make sure that the public has the right information about the pandemic to guard themselves and save lives, the department said.
According to the DCMS, the Rapid Response Unit which is operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is handling a variety of harmful narratives online. The harmful narratives range from self-claimed ‘experts’ giving dangerous misinformation, to criminal fraudsters who have been running phishing scams.
The specialist teams have identified and resolved up to 70 incidents a week, which have often included false narratives containing various misleading claims.
The DCMS said the ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign will be relaunched next week to help people to question what they read online.
UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We need people to follow expert medical advice and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. It is vital that this message hits home and that misinformation and disinformation which undermines it is knocked down quickly.
“We’re working with social media companies, and I’ll be pressing them this week for further action to stem the spread of falsehoods and rumours which could cost lives.”
Lyft to offer US carers free rides during pandemic
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) in the US is partnering with Lyft to meet the critical transport needs of caregivers who are supporting homebound older adults during the Covid-19 outbreak. Lyft is piloting the project with NCOA member senior centres in three US states, and intends to expand the pilot in coming weeks to additional senior centres across the US.
The centres will receive a grant donation to support distribution of $15 and $25 Lyft ride credits to share with caregivers who need access to transportation to deliver essential food and supplies to their older loved ones staying home to reduce their risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Older adults and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for severe complications from Covid-19, which is why the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending they stay at home as much as possible during an outbreak in their community.
"Families across the country are looking for ways to support their older loved ones during this pandemic," said Anna Maria Chávez, NCOA Executive Vice President & Chief Growth Officer. "We are grateful to Lyft for stepping in to allow our senior centres to make free rides available to caregivers who need it the most during this crisis."
Blockchain-based coronavirus tracking
German technology company MYNXG has developed a blockchain technology to enable mobile phone tracking during the coronavirus pandemic while maintaining user privacy.
The issue of whether governments should be permitted to track individuals using smartphone data during the pandemic has been hotly debated. Although it could be useful in tracking population movement to monitor the efficacy of social distancing measures and chart the spread of the virus, it brings with it concerns about privacy.
MYNXG has developed an app to enable users to connect their smartphone to the MYNXG blockchain using an NFC (Near Field Communications) reader. This technology provides privacy when monitoring individual movements or alerting people if there is an infection in their contact chain, once a user has connected their smartphone to the MYNXG blockchain.
Secondly, the app has been designed to automatically alert users if someone in their recent contact chain has Covid-19. MYNXG also said the technology could also be used establish “pandemic safety zones” for medical professionals, which can only be accessed with necessary approvals.