Casino chaos, Apple opens up to open banking and Huawei creating clouds for Sky – The September tech news digest
Autumn is officially upon us! The pumpkin spice teas and lattes are brewing, the first leaves are starting to fall and the sweet smell of rain is filling the air. As the transition from one season to the next becomes visible in the busy streets of London, we are back with our recap of the top stories that emerged this past month in the world of tech.
September was a rocky one – the top stories this month set the mood for a busy autumn and winter ahead. The Telecoms sector has seen some changes that are not so pleasant for mobile operators. Cybersecurity saw yet another major attack, impacting the hospitality sector. While in Fintech, open banking marks another success as Apple launched its integration with the iPhone wallet.
We have a few more for you unwrapped below – so buckle up, as we run through them one by one.
Cybersecurity: MGM Resorts: The cyberattack that shut systems down for 36h
In cybersecurity, the industry saw another large-scale cyberattack, affecting one of the world’s largest casino-hotel chains, MGM Resorts. The attack was orchestrated on the 10th of September, multiple systems of the US hotel and casino operator went down, crippling several of Las Vegas’s most prominent casinos including the Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and New York.
This incident caused inconveniences such as pen-and-paper transactions at front desks, inoperable slot machines on gaming floors, and potential guest room access issues. MGM Resorts promptly responded to the situation by initiating an investigation with external cybersecurity experts, notifying law enforcement, and shutting down certain systems.
It took about 10 days for the company to recover its systems and for things to go back to normal, however, with attacks of this scale, reputational damage is always a big risk. The scale of the attack demonstrates the risk in our increasingly digitalised world – suddenly it is not just about the website, but about guest rooms and slot machines too!
Despite these challenges, the hospitality industry has been embracing new technologies such as generative AI and contactless payments, while also relying more on third-party technology service providers. This remains crucial for an industry where guest satisfaction and reputation are paramount.
Fintech: Apple’s Wallet app integrates with UK open banking framework
Moving onto Fintech, the sector saw an exciting move for big tech giant Apple. The company introduced a soft launch of its Wallet app with integration into the UK’s open banking framework, offering users a more comprehensive financial experience.
The new Wallet app feature displays the user’s current account balance from their bank directly beneath the card image. It also provides a history of deposits and payments, including balances for credit and debit cards. This added functionality aims to enhance users’ financial awareness, particularly when making purchases with Apple Pay.
This integration will be initially rolled out as part of the upcoming iOS 17.1 developer beta. It will be accessible to a select group of Wallet app users in the UK who have an Apple Pay credit or debit card linked to a supporting bank.
Notable banks participating in the initial rollout include Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, Monzo, and Starling. This move underscores Apple’s commitment to further cementing its presence in the realm of digital finance.
Telecoms: Huawei’s removal sparks mobile outages for Sky customers
In telecommunications, recent changes resulted in consequences for Sky, the major UK mobile operator. The UK government’s mandate to eliminate Huawei equipment from the country’s telecoms networks has started to affect consumers. Sky Mobile customers experienced mobile outages, which are believed to be a direct result of this.
As reported in the likes of The Financial Times and The Register, ministers have told mobile groups that they need to remove Huawei equipment from their “core” 5G networks by the end of the year, mostly due to national security fears around the Chinese operator’s equipment. Meanwhile, operators must work to mitigate disruption during the transition – not an easy task.
Sky is complying with government requirements but faces challenges in minimising customer impact. This marks the beginning of a massive task to replace Huawei equipment across the UK’s mobile providers, which could take several years and cost an estimated £500 million. This process has also been linked to the slower rollout of 5G networks in the UK compared to other countries.
Big Tech: Apple and Microsoft challenge Brussels
On another note, the world of big tech also faces some challenges. It was reported in the Financial Times on September 4th, in a prelude to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), that Apple and Microsoft contested Brussels’ classification of some of their services as “gatekeepers.” This dispute revolved around Apple’s iMessage chat app and Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
The DMA imposed new obligations on tech giants, including data sharing, linking to competitors, and ensuring interoperability with rival applications. Under the DMA, companies with an annual turnover exceeding €7.5 billion, a market capitalisation above €75 billion, and over 45 million monthly users in the EU fall under the regulatory framework.
However, Brussels retained some discretion in designating entities as ‘gatekeepers’ beyond these metrics. The European Commission deliberated whether iMessage and Bing should be included in the final list of services subject to DMA obligations. The DMA’s full implementation is slated for the following spring, and the Commission anticipates legal challenges before the EU courts in Luxembourg regarding its decisions.
Artificial intelligence: Britain’s latest AI objectives
In parallel with the story above, recent news in artificial intelligence has put big tech players in the spotlight. Britain’s newest AI objectives were revealed earlier in the month. The country is taking significant steps to shape the future of artificial intelligence and its impact on consumers and businesses.
On the 18th of September, Britain’s anti-trust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) unveiled a set of seven principles aimed at regulating foundational models such as ChatGPT, emphasizing accountability and transparency. Officials said they want to prevent the risk of AI being dominated by a few players with the full benefits not being felt across the economy.
In particular, Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, acknowledged the transformative potential of AI in boosting productivity and simplifying everyday tasks. However, she emphasized the need for caution. There’s a real risk that a handful of tech giants could monopolize AI, hindering its widespread benefits across the economy.
To ensure these principles are effectively implemented, the CMA plans to seek input from leading AI developers like Google, Meta, OpenAI, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Anthropic, as well as governments, academics, and other regulators.
Overall, September came in with a bang, signalling the transition into the busy season. The tech world saw some major stories in telecommunications, fintech, cybersecurity, and more. As we sip our tea and swap our shorts for knits, there will be more headlines to come in the next month to keep us on our toes. And with that, we have recapped the top stories that emerged in September. Join us next month for our next wrap-up of the top news in tech!