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From Farming to Forex: How Technology Has Changed the Face of Investing

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By Nikola Grozdanovic, Senior Writer at FXTM

Not too long ago, when an individual wanted to save or invest money, they were limited to a handful of options. In the early days of our ancestors, farming and land underpinned wealth and a bank account was considered a luxury.

Even after industrialization took hold, we were still fairly limited; with most individuals opting to invest in a bank account, property or even in a box under the bed.

Information around investing was scant and financial education required a huge commitment of time and resources. If we wanted financial advice we had to rely on advisors (if we could afford them), community members, or go it alone.

Nikola Grozdanovic, Senior Writer for FXTM, a global award-winning forex broker, explores how our options have become significantly broader in terms of the types of products we can invest in and the way we do it.

We can now participate in anything from Forex trading to buying Crypto Currencies with our mobile devices or a laptop.

Technology has allowed people to get completely involved with the process of investing, from choosing a portfolio of shares to becoming a forex trader.

However, we are still a long way from a world where everyone can participate in the formal financial arena.

According to Worldbank.org, two billion people worldwide do not have a bank account or access to a financial institution via a mobile phone, or any other device.

However, between 2011 and 2014, 700 million adults became account holders, and the unbanked population fell by 20%, down from 2.5 billion.

The growth of mobile technology, and the fact that mobile phones are becoming cheaper, has helped literally billions to have access to products and services that they were previously excluded from.

Technology has influenced almost every aspect of our lives, but perhaps the most useful of the developments are in the financial space.  We not only have access to many more investment options, we even have robots that can make decisions for us, fondly known as Robo- Advisors. They are not actually robots but clever computer programmes that ask you about your life, income and investment attitudes – and based on your answers, they will generate a report that suggests suitable investment options for you. Lukman Otunuga, a Market Analyst at FXTM says “When trading the foreign exchange market, investors can use Expert Advisor which are programs that allow automation of the analysis and trading. Forex brokers have recognised that novice traders have the desire to trade, but lack experience.”

 An Expert Advisor (EA) is essentially an automated trading algorithm that allows traders to code the parameters of their trading strategies.

These highly complex but simple-to-use tools assist traders to refine their trading strategies and gain a greater potential advantage over the markets. Traders that have opted to use EAs have honed their skills over time and eventually become strategy managers, allowing suitable traders alike to copy their trades for a fee.

Copy trading as it is called, is a form of social investing.  It allows traders to build a network of followers in which they would share market projections to create trading strategies. Followers can duplicate trades made, while onlookers could receive first-hand insights into how trading strategies are formed.

This creates a hybrid scenario for an investor – using both technology and another human to help them invest. There has been a long-standing debate about whether humans or machines are better suited for making investment decisions or delivering a service.

However, the key argument here is not who delivers a better service but rather, how the service deals with human behaviour. Human behaviour is random, but by employing big data analytics and algorithms we can spot trends and discard the noise that can undermine decisions.

The real power of technology will come when it is seen not only as a mechanism for enabling access to services, but when it facilitates a positive user experience and drives meaningful engagement with the vendor. In other words, the technology enables a more social and human experience.

Nigeria has a rich history of social investing. Collective investment schemes known as eSUSU are known to almost all individuals who want to save for a goal. Over 70% of people in emerging markets do not have a formal bank account, so they have devised their own ways to save money.

The most popular are the Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs). They function by taking monthly deposits from each member of a group and then payout the entire amount to one member of the group.  The recipient of the collective sum is based on a predetermined rotation, ensuring each participant will eventually receive a payout.

It is estimated that over 40 million people in Nigeria participate in some form of social investing. Of course, when there are humans involved with money there is always a margin for error; blind trust that the people handling your money will play by the rules is a default – a condition of participation.

Banks have seen the enormous potential of getting these informal savings plans onto a technology platform and have invested significant capital to achieve this.

While technology has changed the face of investing and allowed more people to engage in the formal financial sector, we are still a long way from full inclusion.

Accessibility and knowledge still remain a major obstacle for the bulk of emerging market individuals. Institutions fully recognise that optimising the technology experience is key to seamless service delivery and the much-desired total customer experience. This explains the huge investment in IT infrastructure by financial institutions in recent times.

Otunuga says “all financial service industries have raised their games in the technology space. FXTM has spent a lot of resources on their mobile trading apps and we invest heavily in keeping up to date with innovations in the industry. Reliable, fast and engaging technology is what keeps our clients coming back and we are acutely aware of the role it plays in our success as a broker.”

We will continue to see rapid growth in financial technology, but it would and should not come at the expense of the individual. In fact, the smart money will be on solutions that seamlessly embrace and involve the user for the benefit of both parties. It is an exciting time for both the consumer and the service provider, and it would seem that the only barriers we now face, exist within the limits of our creativity.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

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There were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) detections over a 7-month period in Nigeria, according to Kaspersky security solutions.

Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

Elsewhere in South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections, showing the growing desperation of the attacks.

The company reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programs (pornware, adware etc.) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.

These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the “grey zone” programmes that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.

Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are programmes that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves.

However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way. For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetising software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.

calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, Kaspersky researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware.

They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in 7-months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.

“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the programme is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals. The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programmes on their device and that in some cases, such programmes are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads,” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.

By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware.

Evaluating results over the same 7-month period in Nigeria, there were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much.

Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense. In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections.

Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances, Kaspersky said.


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Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

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Web giants including Facebook have struck a deal with advertisers on how to identify harmful content such as hate speech, after an impasse over the issue which led to boycotts of the platform.

Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

The agreement — which also included Twitter and YouTube — laid out for the first time a common set of definitions for hateful statements online.

In July, hundreds of advertisers including big-name consumer brands suspended advertising with Facebook as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, saying the social-media titan should do more to stamp out hatred and misinformation on its platform.

And earlier this month a group of celebrities — including Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry — stopped using Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, to push a similar message.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) said in a statement Wednesday: “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in collaboration with marketers and agencies through the Global Alliance for Responsible Media have agreed to adopt a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content and to collaborate with a view to monitoring industry efforts to improve in this critical area.”

The alliance was founded by the WFA and includes other major trade bodies.

According to the WFA, key areas of agreement included applying the alliance’s common definitions of harmful content; developing reporting standards for such content; establishing independent oversight; and rolling out tools for keeping advertisements away from harmful content.

The WFA said that properly defining online hate speech would remove the current problem of different platforms using their own definitions, which it said made it difficult for companies to decide where to put their ads.

“As funders of the online ecosystem, advertisers have a critical role to play in driving positive change and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the platforms on an action plan and timeline in order to make the necessary improvements,” said Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA.

Luis Di Como, executive vice-president of global media at Unilever, a major advertiser, sounded a note of cautious optimism.

He said: “The issues within the online ecosystem are complicated, and whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.”

Speaking in July, Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he remained adamant that the company did not want hate speech on the social network.

On Wednesday, the company’s vice-president for global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, said the agreement gave all parties “a unified language to move forward on the fight against hate online.”

 


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Nigeria, Others Facing ‘Millions of Cyber Attacks’ in 2020

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Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, continues to fall victim to millions of malware attacks and Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), according to the latest research from Kaspersky.

The IT security firm says its security solutions have reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of PUA (including pornware, adware) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.

PUAs are programs that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves, Kaspersky explains. However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way.

For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetizing software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.

By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware, according to Kaspersky.

“Evaluating results over the same seven-month period in Nigeria, there were 3,8 million malware attacks and 16,8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much. Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense.

In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections. Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances,” the company adds.

These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the ‘grey zone’ programs that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.

While calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, the researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware. They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in seven months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.

“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the program is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals.

“The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programs on their device and that in some cases, such programs are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads. This is why many security solutions, including ours, flags such programs to make sure users are aware of its presence, influence on their device and activity,” says Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.


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