Monthly Archives: September 2017

Why are Amazon, PayPal meeting with bank regulators?

Asked whether Amazon, which is run by CEO Jeff Bezos, should be allowed to own a bank, a former top regulator replied, “It’s a tough decision that we are going to have to make one of these days.”


WASHINGTON — Technology giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are showing an increasing interest in engaging with federal banking regulators, a move that underscores Silicon Valley’s growing involvement in the financial services arena.

In recent years, such firms have formed a lobbying group, Financial Innovation Now, that is staking out their view on various hot-button topics. But some firms are also meeting individually with government agencies.

For example, Amazon lobbyists met with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency starting in the second quarter of 2016, and again this year to discuss “issues related to mobile payments and payment processing, financial innovation, and technology,” according to publicly available lobbying disclosures.

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Equifax apologizes as U.S. watchdog calls for more oversight


FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo

Big data analytics in healthcare comes with many challenges, including security, visualization, and a number of data integrity concerns.

By John McCrank

(Reuters) – Equifax Inc promised to make it easier for consumers to control access to their credit records in the wake of the company’s massive breach after the top U.S. consumer financial watchdog called on the industry to introduce such a system.

Equifax’s interim chief executive officer, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., vowed to introduce a free service by Jan. 31 that will let consumers control access to their own credit records.

Barros, who was named interim CEO on Tuesday as Richard Smith stepped down from the post amid mounting criticism over the handling of the cyber attack, also apologized for providing inadequate support to consumers seeking information after the breach was disclosed on Sept. 7. He promised to add call-center representatives and bolster a breach-response website.

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How Tracking Technology Helped Baseball’s Best Fielding Outfielder

After improving his first step, the Twins’ Byron Buxton has saved 24 outs over the average outfielder this season, according to Statcast

Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton catches a fly ball during a recent game. Photo: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

By Jared Diamond

Byron Buxton, the human vacuum cleaner who patrols center field for the Minnesota Twins, reached a frightening conclusion last winter: Even with his sprinter’s speed, superhuman instincts and unparalleled fearlessness around the wall, his defense could still be better.

He arrived at that belief thanks in part to Statcast, Major League Baseball’s sophisticated player-tracking technology that counts Buxton as perhaps its prototype player. With data provided by Statcast and the Twins’ coaching staff, Buxton learned that his first step—how quickly he reacts after the ball connects with the bat—wasn’t as quick as he would have liked.

So over the offseason, he spent a couple weeks at his old high school in Baxley, Ga., focusing intensely on trying to improve an area that not long ago couldn’t have been quantified.

“I picked up on the numbers and I was like, ‘Well, I can be better than this, I can do this better,’” Buxton said in an interview this week at Yankee Stadium. “So I started picking out the small things that I felt like I could get a little better at.”

Launched across all 30 ballparks in 2015, Statcast uses high-resolution cameras and radar equipment to record the location and movements of the ball and every player on the field.

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‘We’ve Been Breached’: Inside the Equifax Hack

The crisis has sent shock waves through the industry, spooked consumers and sparked investigations

Equifax’s headquarters in Atlanta. Chief Executive Richard Smith has called the cyberattack the ‘most humbling moment in our 118-year history.’ PHOTO: RHONA WISE/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

AnnaMaria Andriotis

On March 8, researchers at Cisco Systems Inc. reported an online security flaw that allowed hackers to break into servers around the internet. Cisco urged users to upgrade their systems immediately with a newly issued fix.

Equifax Inc. was among the companies using the flawed software. On Friday, it said its technology experts at the time worked to identify and patch vulnerable systems.

In late July, though, Atlanta-based Equifax discovered suspicious traffic on its system—and found the same security flaw still existed in some areas. The company’s security staff again addressed the problem, according to Equifax, but by then it was too late.

From about mid-May to July 30, hackers ransacked vast troves of information at the credit-reporting company. The breach potentially exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, including names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. The revelations have shaken the company, as well as confidence in a linchpin of the financial system, and triggered a federal criminal investigation.

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Top 3 Health Data Breaches Impact Nearly 1.5M Individuals

The largest reported health data breaches thus far in 2017 have potentially affected nearly 1.5 million people, with hacking being the leading cause.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth Snell

September 15, 2017 – Hacking and IT security issues, including phishing scams and ransomware attacks, are still the leading causes for the largest health data breaches in 2017, according to data from OCR.

The three largest incidents thus far – two of which are classified as either hacking or an IT incident – have also potentially impacted 1,497,800 individuals.

No healthcare provider can ensure that a data breach will never take place, but these incidents further show why organizations need to take the time to regularly review their physical, technical, and administrative safeguards. Comprehensive employee training is also critical, especially with ransomware attacks on the rise.

Entities of all sizes need to feel confident that staff members can potentially recognize an attack, and report it to the proper authorities instead of clicking on or opening a malicious link or email.

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How to Fix the Emergency Room

ERs are notorious for long waits, endless forms and inconsistent care. Now researchers and hospitals are rethinking the ways they work—with impressive results.


By Ellie Kincaid
Sept. 12, 2017 10:13 p.m. ET

Hospitals are making a push to fix one of the most irritating issues in health care: the emergency room.
Armed with new research and strategies borrowed from the business world, some facilities are trying to ease the frustrating experience of waiting, filling out forms, explaining a problem—and then waiting some more.

Explore ER times in a searchable database of 4,800 hospitals around the country

In many cases, making things smoother for patients means completely rethinking how emergency rooms work. Some hospitals are scrapping the traditional triage process and putting patients straight into exam rooms, while others are creating treatment areas for patients with only minor complaints. Other facilities are installing software to monitor ER wait times and predict bottlenecks before they happen.

These pioneering hospitals model different ways for hospitals throughout the country to rethink the way they handle emergency care.

“There’s a lot hospitals can do that they haven’t done yet,” says Jesse Pines, professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, whose research published in the journal Health Affairs in 2015 shows that on average hospitals have adopted less than half of the proven interventions they were surveyed about.

Adding urgency to the search for solutions: Not only are wait times dauntingly long, but they’re not improving at the national level. The median length of stay for patients treated in the ER and then discharged was 138 minutes, according to data for October 2015 to September 2016 submitted to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Researchers analyzing wait times in 2006 found virtually the same median.

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Jack Dorsey’s Square Makes a Move Into Banking

The planned unit would offer loans and deposit accounts to small businesses and be capitalized with $56 million in cash

Jack Dorsey, chief executive officer and co-founder of Square Inc., during an interview on Aug. 2. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News


Peter Rudegeair

Square Inc. SQ 0.96% is looking to get into the banking business.

The San Francisco-based finance firm led by Jack Dorsey plans to submit an application on Thursday to form a wholly owned bank based in Utah, the company said. The unit, to be called Square Financial Services Inc. would offer loans and deposit accounts to small businesses and be capitalized with $56 million in cash.

Square would be the third financial-technology company that is opting to pursue a banking license in recent months. In doing so, it follows in the footsteps of online lender Social Finance Inc. and mobile-banking startup Varo Money Inc. Square’s application comes at a time when federal regulators are giving their blessing to the most new banks since the financial crisis.

Square had been offering small-business loans and cash advances through its lending arm, Square Capital, since 2014 through a deal it had with Celtic Bank, another Utah-based lender. To date, the company says it has extended more than $1.8 billion in credit to more than 141,000 firms.

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