Architecture

Spy agency launches interactive online test to see if you’re cut out for the job

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Recruiting spies is seldom a public exercise, but Australia’s intelligence agency is doing something different.

The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), equivalent to the CIA and Britain’s MI6, has launched an online interactive test to discover people who are cut out for the job. 

Through a series of visual and aural exercises, the test seeks to identify suitable applicants that have the perception and empathy to work in the service. 

You’ll be required to pick out a missing number from a sequence, pick out faces in a crowd, and try and decipher information while three people are talking at the same time.  Read more…

More about Australia, Culture, Spy, Intelligence Agencies, and Culture

Entertainment

Jimmy Kimmel returns with his little son Billy, after his second heart surgery

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Jimmy Kimmel’s son Billy, who was born with congenital heart disease and who has been at the center of the talk show host’s arguments around U.S. healthcare, had his second open heart surgery last week. So, Kimmel brought him on Monday’s show.

Kimmel has taken time off during Billy’s surgery, instead inviting guest hosts Chris Pratt, Melissa McCarthy, Tracee Ellis Ross and Neil Patrick Harris to keep the seat warm.

Billy’s surgery was a roaring success, and Kimmel thanked the doctors and nurses at the Children’s Hospital LA for his son’s treatment. “Daddy cries on TV but Billy doesn’t,” said a tearful Kimmel during his opening monologue. Read more…

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Business

Hey, look: A fingerprint scanner under a smartphone screen

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Could the future of smartphone biometrics look a lot like a shinier version of the past? The answer is most definitely yes — that is, if Synaptics Incorporated has anything to say about it. 

The San Jose-based hardware manufacturer announced plans on Monday to mass produce an optical in-display fingerprint sensor, and, according to the company, it has a very big partner involved. 

The “Clear ID” scanner, which would reside under a phone’s screen, would theoretically allow for easy-to-use biometrics on bezel-less phones. While Synaptics is not the first company to develop such technology, that it claims to have a deal with an unnamed “top five [original equipment manufacturer]” suggests it’s ready for the big leagues.  Read more…

More about Apple, Touch, Biometrics, Fingerprints, and Face

Business

Apple now lets you pre-order apps

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Apple launched a new feature that lets you pre-order from the App Store.

Announced on Monday, the change allows developers to make new iOS 11 apps available for pre-order up to 90 days before release.

Compared to the App Store’s overhaul that Apple revealed in September, it’s not a huge change, and while most folks probably won’t be too excited to pre-order messaging, fitness or photo apps, this could be big news for game developers. 

Apple’s iOS 11 App Store update featured a new tab just for games (in fact, it’s now the only category with its own tab), so it’s safe to say they’re a priority for the platform. Games like Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, with its immense hype and staggered release date, would have been a perfect contender for pre-orders. Up ahead, the highly anticipated 2018 release of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite — a new augmented reality mobile game created by Warner Bros. and Niantic (the creators of the hit mobile game Pokémon Go) — could prove a prime candidate for the pre-order tool.  Read more…

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Business

THE DIGITAL DISRUPTION IN HOME LOANS REPORT: How fintechs are upending the mortgage space and creating opportunities for retail banks

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This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Mortgages are valuable for retail banks, but they’re also complex products. In the UK alone, mortgages account for almost 60% of retail banks’ profits. But mortgage lending can be a complicated process — it involves estate agents, appraisers, and conveyance agents.

This complexity has resulted in major consumer pain points, like a lack of understanding of mortgages, inconvenient access channels, and difficulty switching providers. In an increasingly digital landscape, tech-savvy consumers are starting to demand simpler ways to take out mortgages, and legacy providers are suffering. In the US, the top three incumbent lenders together captured about 45% of the overall mortgage market in 2011; they hold just 24% in 2017.

But a new class of mortgage-focused startups have developed a range of business models to help incumbents update this valuable product for the digital age. Their strategies vary between geographies: In countries like the US and UK, where homeownership is culturally important, they help incumbents keep consumers interested in taking out home loans.

Meanwhile, in countries like Germany and Switzerland, where people prefer renting, they help incumbents attract new mortgage customers. Some incumbents are already partnering with these players, while others have opted to launch in-house initiatives. Each strategy has its pros and cons, but incumbents must adopt an approach to avoid losing relevancy and market share.

There are still some fundamental problems in the insurance market that present obstacles to innovation — for both startups and incumbents. But there are ways to overcome them while making mortgages more attractive for consumers and improving returns for lenders.

In a new report, BI Intelligence looks at the fundamental problems dogging the current mortgage process and examines why these flaws are becoming impossible for incumbent mortgage providers to ignore. It also outlines the types of fintechs stepping in to drive innovation in the mortgage space, some current efforts by incumbent banks, and hurdles still standing in the way of large-scale change in the mortgage industry, as well as what can be done about them.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report: 

  • Mortgages are among retail banks’ most profitable products, but these lenders have been slow to adapt mortgages to a digital economy. This has created pain points in the customer journey, like inconvenient access channels, and difficulty switching providers.
  • Ignoring these pain points is no longer an option for incumbents. The rise of alternative, digital-only mortgage firms is putting them under increasing pressure to make mortgages more attractive.
  • Fintech startups have detected an opportunity in incumbents’ slowness to innovate, and have developed several strategies to help them, like broadening their distribution channels, improving customer relationships, providing attractive front-ends, and making their back-ends more efficient.
  • Some incumbents have instead chosen to innovate their mortgage processes in-house. There are pros and cons to both strategies, which incumbents should weigh in order to add the most value for customers and their own businesses. 

In full, the report:

  • Examines the flaws in the mortgage status quo that are upsetting consumers and dampening returns for lenders.
  • Discusses why incumbent lenders can’t afford to delay innovating any longer around this product.
  • Outlines different ways mortgage fintechs are breathing new life into this product, including by helping incumbents.
  • Looks at some mortgage efforts already underway by incumbent lenders, and some considerations that should guide their projects.
  • Gives an overview of hurdles still standing in the way of large-scale change in the mortgage space, and how they can be overcome.

To get the full report, subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND more than 250 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> Learn More Now

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Architecture

Would You Want to Live In Meghan Markle’s Former House?

Since Meghan Markle got engaged to Prince Harry, they will be living in Nottingham Cottage. But before moving in with the royal family, Meghan is selling her house in Toronto. With Pantone announcing the color for 2018, this house is already on trend. According to Vogue, the bungalow-style house “has a more muted color palette, […]

The post Would You Want to Live In Meghan Markle’s Former House? appeared first on Preen.

Business

American Express finally ditches the need for signatures with its credit card

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Like MasterCard and Discover before it, American Express is eliminating signatures for all credit card purchases.

The company announced Monday that merchants won’t need customers to sign for anything starting in April 2018. This affects all shoppers everywhere around the world where American Express is accepted. 

The payment process has outgrown signatures as a security measure — American Express credited contactless pay options, chip technology, and way more online shopping as big reasons to ditch the signatures. Plus, American Express and other card companies have many other methods to detect fraud. Read more…

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Lifestyle

New York City, December 10, 2017

★★★★ The snow, clean white in the sun, still crisply traced balcony rails and building tops. A lilac haze prettified New Jersey. Someone had built a decently orthodox three-ball snowman on the middle of one of the rooftop tables across the way. Downstairs the snow had held its place and its whiteness even down in […]