FinCEN Files: 'Bringing the big banks to justice'

Mafia clans, despots, corrupt oligarchs, fraudsters –– the list of criminals who channel large sums of ill-gotten wealth into the financial system every day is long.

The United Nations estimates that around $5.5 billion (€4.25 billion) of black money are funneled into the legal system every day. The job is aided by large, multinational banks that execute the transfers, even though they are legally obliged to report any suspicious transaction to the authorities within 30 days. 

How smoothly such dubious transactions have been carried out in recent years has been revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The leaked documents also show that the banks were reluctant to report, and in some cases, they did not do so until six months or even later. 

Unsuspecting and overwhelmed authorities  

Germany’s biggest lender Deutsche Bank was especially neck deep in this murky business, facilitating more than half the $2 trillion of suspicious transactions made between 1999 and 2017, as revealed by the FinCEN files. 

The chairman of the Social Democrats (SDP), Norbert Walter-Borjans, is demanding stricter penalties for the perpetrators.  

“We need a corporate criminal law that not only calls individual employees to account, but perpetrator banks as a whole to account in the event of legal violations –– right up to and including withdrawal of licenses,” he said in a newspaper interview. 

But it is not only the banks that are responsible, financial authorities also cut a sorry figure in the scandal.  

The US dollar plays a major role in global payment transactions. If the US currency is involved, then suspected cases of money laundering must be reported to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, in the United States.  

It is a very important agency, Markus Meinzer of the Tax Justice Network told DW, because FinCEN controls not only the US market but the entire global payment traffic in US dollars. 

Too little international cooperation 

In 2019 alone, FinCEN received reports of two million suspicious transactions, which are being investigated by around 300 employees. That ratio alone suggests that a detailed check is not always possible. 

However, if other countries or foreign companies are affected, the suspicious cases should also be reported to the authorities there. 

In Germany, it is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). But according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper this hardly ever happens. In 2018, only eight so-called spontaneous information from the US were forwarded to the FIU, in 2019 that figure was 52.  

Far more reports came from German banks, financial service providers and dealers in real estate or luxury goods. In 2019 there were almost 115,000 reports, almost 50% higher than the previous year. 

Suspected cases processed too slowly or not at all 

Acting upon even these many cases proves to be an enormous challenge for the employees at a severely understaffed FIU. Dozens of the 475 approved positions at the agency remain unfilled.  

In mid-2019, more than 180 were filled by temporary staff and 51 were still open. Unsurprisingly, the FIU was criticized last May for leaving 36,000 suspicious cases unresolved. 

“The suspicion reports in Germany pile up straight and are not processed fast enough,” Meinzer told DW. “This is a huge problem, not only for the FIU, but also for the subordinate authorities” because they have to react within three days to even stop a suspicious transaction. 

Nobody wants to take the blame 

Public prosecutors, law enforcement agencies and the police are not adequately prepared and do not have the resources to effectively deal with this menace.  

“Here I miss the political will to pursue this issue really seriously and emphatically,” says Meinzer.  

Similar accusations come from Lisa Paus, a Green party member and a member of the German parliament’s finance committee. For years, she says, the German financial supervisory authority had refused to accept any responsibility in the investigation of financial crime.  

“The FIU has also become a veritable symbol of the chaos in the fight against money laundering in Germany,” the lawmaker told DW. 

Of course, the responsible ministry sees things quite differently. “German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz did the right thing when he took extensive measures to massively strengthen the fight against money laundering after he assumed office in 2018,” it said in response to the FinCEN research. “According to our findings, the cases involving Germany that have now become known have been processed and the necessary consequences have been drawn.” 

Scholz has not only strengthened the FIU in terms of personnel but has also given it many new legal access possibilities, the ministry said.  

But that is not enough for Meinzer from the Tax Justice Network. “It is not enough that customs employs a few hundred people centrally, as long as they cannot even access police databases to find out who is currently under investigation or who is suspected of being involved in money laundering or other financial crimes.” 

Call for a European supervisory authority 

Pushing the banks to report suspicious transactions faster, bolstering the authorities to do their job and improving international cooperation: These seem to be the key points for preventing money laundering in the future.  

The Green party’s Member of European Parliament Sven Giegold also feels not enough has been done to check money laundering.  

He described it as a “large-scale government failure” and wrote on Twitter: “This must be a wake-up call for a strengthening of joint money laundering supervision with a European FIU.” 

Meinzer also calls for a supervisory authority at European level with police investigative powers. He also demands higher penalties for money laundering and for bankers involved.  

“We also need more transparency about all fines that are imposed,” Meinzer says. Banks that have been involved in money laundering operations must be named and the fines imposed must also be made public, he demands. 

Such information could have a significant impact on the share prices of banks and thus motivate them to take more decisive action against money laundering.  

“At present, the suspicious activity reports would be more of an alibi,” Meinzer thinks, and adds: “Like a letter of absolution that banks use to wash their hands of the matter in case a scandal should come up in the end or the public prosecutor’s office should ring the bell.” 



Trump approves TikTok deal. But big questions remain

The US Department of Commerce pushed back a threatened ban on US downloads of the app by one week, to the end of the day on September 27. But as the companies race to finalize the proposal, crucial questions over data security, national interest and the deal’s structure remain unanswered.

What is clear is that the fight over TikTok is bigger than who owns an app popular with Generation Z. It’s also about the future of US-China relations, and the rough new terrain businesses are forced to navigate as tensions between the world’s two biggest economies ramp up.

Trump has for weeks threatened to ban TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, on national security grounds unless an American company takes control of its US operations. TikTok has roughly 100 million users in the United States, and Trump claims the app gives Beijing access to the personal data of Americans.

TikTok has denied those allegations. The company has said its data centers are located entirely outside of China and that none of that data is subject to Chinese law.

Over the weekend, Trump gave his blessing to a deal that would give Oracle and Walmart a combined 20% stake in a new company called TikTok Global, which would be headquartered in the United States and operate the app. Four of the company’s five board members would be Americans, Oracle and Walmart said in a joint statement.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said he approved the deal “in concept.”

“I have given the deal my blessing,” Trump said. “If they get it done, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay, too.”

US will ban WeChat and TikTok downloads on Sunday

But the deal stops well short of the full sale of TikTok that Trump originally wanted, and its structure contradicts his claim on Saturday that the app will be “totally controlled” by Walmart and Oracle. ByteDance would own 80% of TikTok Global, the Chinese company said in a statement on Monday.

Oracle said it would host data pertaining to American users on its cloud platform. ByteDance said in a statement that Oracle would be able to review the app’s source code, but the deal does not involve the transfer of its algorithms and technologies.

Marco Rubio, a Republican senator, said there could still be a risk of US user data being sent to China.

“If China continues to control the code, as I understand they would in this deal, they could put in that code an instruction to secretly send data back to China, to the mainland. No matter where the actual data is housed there can be something embedded in that code that sends it the other way,” he said during an interview on Fox News.

Education fund?

Another source of confusion: Trump said the deal would also include a $5 billion fund for US education, though he did not say which companies would be making the payment.

ByteDance said Sunday that it was unaware that an education fund would be tied to the TikTok deal.

“Some news media reported that TikTok will set up a $5 billion education fund in the United States,” ByteDance said in a statement. “We would like to clarify that it was also our first time hearing about the news.”

Walmart and Oracle did not mention anything about an education fund in a statement released over the weekend, but they did say that TikTok Global “will pay more than 5 billion in new tax dollars to the US Treasury.”

In its statement on Monday, ByteDance described the “so-called tax payment” as “an estimation of the corporate income tax and other operating taxes that TikTok will need to pay for its business development in the next few years.”

A woman walks past the headquarters of ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of video app TikTok.

What’s Trump’s role?

Trump positioned himself as the kingmaker of any TikTok deal, making clear that he must agree to the terms before anything is made official.

If that seems unusual, it’s because it is. While governments often vet pending deals to protect consumers from monopoly power, and often do weigh national security when a merger is announced, Trump’s deep involvement is a stark departure from how deals are typically finalized — as is his move to compel a sale in the first place.

“In the end, Trump is the X-factor,” said Dipayan Ghosh, the co-director of the Digital Platforms and Democracy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School. “Whatever he wishes will happen, no matter the merits of the related set of policies underlying the proposal.”

Some experts think the Oracle deal could be helped along because of Trump’s ties to cofounder Larry Ellison, a supporter of the president. CEO Safra Katz has also donated to Trump’s reelection bid.

After the flurry of weekend activity, time is now running out again to sort through the agreement and secure approval from all parties. And it’s still not clear that the arrangement has backing from Beijing.

Why does this matter?

The battle for control of TikTok in the United States goes beyond social media, security concerns and who winds up in charge.

The outcome will also have major geopolitical consequences, as the United States and China move further apart under Trump.

For a while, the focus was on trade and protecting intellectual property, with both sides slapping tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in goods while government officials tried to negotiate new terms of engagement. But over the past two years, sensitive technology has become a big area of contention, too.
The US government has been conducting a long campaign against China’s Huawei, which makes smartphones and is a leading manufacturer of equipment for 5G wireless networks. Citing similar spying concerns, the Trump administration has pushed allies to opt for other 5G equipment vendors, while cutting off Huawei’s access to US technology, including crucial computer chips.

As pressure expands to other parts of the tech industry, companies are considering the emergence of a new world order that could reshape how global firms do business.

Tencent's WeChat has also been targeted by the Trump administration.

Deutsche Bank has estimated that supply and demand disruptions, along with the construction of a “tech wall” that forces companies to create two sets of standards for the United States and China, could cost companies $3.5 trillion over the next five years.

The broader economic relationship is also at stake at a delicate moment following the historic shock from the pandemic. In a report published in mid-September, the consultancy Rhodium Group found that US-China investment dropped to its lowest level in nine years during the first half of 2020 as tensions rose.

I use TikTok. What does it mean for me?

As the situation continues to evolve, TikTok’s tens of millions of US users worry they could lose access to one of their favorite products.

Under the terms of the threatened ban, people who already had TikTok on their phones could still post short videos of dances, fun recipes and comedy routines per usual, but no new downloads would be allowed. US users also wouldn’t be able to receive security patches or other updates, which could cause outages or glitches in the future.

Though a ban has been averted for now, fears about restrictions have sent TikTok downloads soaring. They rose 12% to 247,000 in the United States on Friday, compared to Thursday, according to preliminary estimates from Sensor Tower, a research firm.

— Brian Fung, Sherisse Pham, Jill Disis, Selina Wang and Shanshan Wang contributed reporting.

UK weather forecast: BIG FREEZE returns as temperatures PLUMMET – latest charts

Using the latest global forecast models, experts have predicted icy conditions to blast the Scottish mountains by the end of September. Brian Gaze, forecaster for The Weather Outlook, tweeted: “Close to an ice day in the Scottish Highlands on Sunday 27 if GFS 00z is right.”

It comes as the latest charts show cold air forming over Scotland and north western areas.

This includes Liverpool and even parts of Wales, which has resulted in forecasters warning of icy conditions.

This front will also reach Northern Ireland by Monday September 28.

Wind chill maps from WXCHARTS also show temperatures dropping to 0C Inverness and Aberdeen in Scotland on October 1.

Earlier this week, Weather Outlook also predicted “blizzard conditions” on the hills of Scotland.

Mr Gaze said: “Blizzard conditions for the Scottish mountains in 10 days time if today’s GFS 12z is on the money.”

The forecaster also shared charts of Arctic cold air sweeping over the north of the UK.

There was also a chance of precipitation as early as next week.

READ MORE: UK weather forecast: Heatwave continues as Britain braces for storm

“However, variations are to be expected as a result of the shifting weather systems, giving potential for both warm and cold spells.”

The Met Office added temperatures will turn “cold” in northern regions.

It said: “Any isolated mist and fog patches each morning quickly clearing. Less breezy but still a chance of showers in the south.

“Temperatures around average for many though probably warm in the south.

“A spell of wet and windy conditions likely to arrive in the northwest early in the week.

“Through the rest of the week a transition to more unsettled conditions looks likely to spread southeast across the country.

“Some longer spells of rain or showers for a time are likely, the rain could be heavy in places, wettest and windiest in the north and west.

“Temperatures around average, possibly turning rather cold in the north.”

The long-range forecast on Netweather at the start of October addedd: “The weather is expected to remain changeable, especially in the north, through the remainder of September, with a generally westerly type.

“Into early October there is an increasing chance of high pressure pushing in from the south and bringing mostly settled and warm weather, probably with a fair amount of sunshine for most, and a likelihood of more changeable weather holding on in the north and west of Scotland in particular.

“Temperatures will tend to be close to or just below the long-term seasonal norm early to midweek, with some cool nights midweek as the high pressure moves in and some fog patches in places, but will tend to rise above normal late in the week as there is a significant chance of southerly and south-westerly winds setting in.

“Rainfall totals are again mostly expected to be below normal, except in western Scotland, where near or slightly above average rainfall is most likely.”



Apple iPad 2020 review: A small change that makes a big difference

Apple is the undisputed champion when it comes to tablets. The iPad has just turned 10 with the US technology firm recently confirming it has sold a staggering 500 million of them since the first device was revealed back in 2010.

The iPad range continues to reign supreme and is easily the best tablet you can buy and now there’s a refreshed entry-level model which gets a significant boost to its performance.

Express.co.uk has been trying out this new iPad 2020 and here are our thoughts on this latest device to arrive in Apple Stores.

If you’re thinking the new iPad looks pretty similar to last year’s model then you’re certainly not wrong. The 2020 design is identical to its predecessor which means you get that classic iPad styling with a chunky forehead and thick chin housing the ever-reliable Touch ID fingerprint scanner which continues to unlock the screen in a flash.

We have to be honest and say this design is looking pretty dated and it’s certainly not that exciting when you pull it from the box.

There’s nothing physically wrong with the styling of this device and Apple has sold enough of these gadgets to prove that consumers clearly aren’t worried about its looks but it would have been nice to see some subtle changes included in this latest refresh.

READ MORE: Apple Watch SE and Apple Series 6 released – here’s our first look review

That extra grunt helps it keep pace with the latest apps and games which continue to get ever more hungry for memory. Browsing the web, checking emails and streaming movies also feels silky smooth and we can’t honestly imagine anything it won’t cope with.

Along with that extra power, there’s also some pretty decent battery life. We put the iPad through an epic movie binge with it lasting around 7-hours when streaming a movie with the screen at full brightness. However, download your boxset binge and dim the screen slightly and you should get closer to 10-hours which means it will easily last the longest of long-haul flights.

When things do run dry It’s worth noting that, unlike the new Apple Watch which ships without a power adapter, the new iPad gets a 20W charger in the box. This is one of the new power bricks that features USB-C to Lightning and also includes the pop-up pins making it easier to pop in your bag.

As before, this base-level machine is compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard case (£159) and older Apple Pencil (£89) which allows you to scribble on the screen without using your finger.

It won’t, however, connect with the brilliant Magic Keyboard or new Apple Pencil which offers that improved wireless charging and more precise feel. One final thing to note is that Apple hasn’t upped the internal storage which means the £329 model only comes with a measly 32GB of memory. That won’t be much use for those wanting to store endless movies and music on their device and to add more it will cost you. The 128GB iPad costs £429 but is definitely worth considering if you’re a power user.

APPLE iPAD 2020 VERDICT

PROS •  Much faster A12 Bionic processor • Lower price • iPad still reigns supreme if you want a tablet • Good battery life • Pin-sharp Retina display
CONS • Design looks very dated • Only starts with 32GB of storage • If you can afford it wait for the new iPad Air

If you’re after a new iPad for the family or are buying a tablet for the first time the 2020 tablet from Apple is a solid purchase. It’s now faster, has a decent Retina screen, long battery life and all for £329 – that’s £20 cheaper than last year’s model.

However, before you rush to the shops there is one very important thing to be aware of. Apple has also announced an all-new iPad Air which will go on sale in the coming weeks and this is one mighty upgrade.

The latest Air gets a totally new design with a 10.9-inch screen which pushes closer to the edge of the case. There’s also an improved camera and a new A14 Bionic processor which could make this the most powerful tablet Apple has ever made.

The improved Apple Pencil also works with this new Air and it’s compatible with the clever Magic Keyboard which turns this iPad into a mini laptop complete with backlit keys and a trackpad.

So here’s the dilemma. The new iPad Air will start from £579 which is clearly far more expensive than the entry-level tablet. It’s also not out yet with Apple expected to begin shipping it next month.

If you can afford the extra cash and don’t mind waiting we really don’t think you should consider the basic iPad as the Air is set to offer a supremely improved experience.

That said, if you’re desperate for a new tablet today and simply don’t want to spend over £550 then the entry-level iPad really won’t let you down.



Coronavirus warning unleashed: £10,000 FINE if you don’t isolate in Big Brother Britain

Less than 48 hours after revealing that the UK is on the cusp of a second wave of coronavirus, Boris Johnson has unveiled his carrot and stick approach to enforcing self isolation. The significant move – which also involves new snooping powers for the police – comes as the government desperately tries to avoid a second national lockdown which could cause immense damage to the economy.

It follows a warning from Professor Neil Ferguson, whose advice prompted the first national lockdown, that the UK is facing a “perfect storm” over coronavirus.

He said: “”If we leave it another two to four weeks, we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid-March.

He added: “That’s clearly going to cause deaths because people will be hospitalised.”

He continued: “We have in some sense a perfect storm right now of people, as they have been told to, getting back to normal, schools reopening, a surge in cases, so therefore the testing system is under strain.”

But the announcement is also being made against a backdrop of furious criticism from Conservative backbenchers of the government’s heavy handed approach and leading party donors withholding campaign funds from the party.

Boris Johnson is announcing a £10,000 fine for those who don't isolate

Boris Johnson is announcing a £10,000 fine for those who don’t isolate (Image: GETTY•PA)

People queue up outside a walk through coronavirus testing centre on Marlborough Road in Southampton

People queue up outside a walk through coronavirus testing centre on Marlborough Road in Southampton (Image: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

One senior Tory backbencher accused ministers and scientists of “going power mad” over coronavirus.

From September 28 the government will make it a legal duty for people to self isolate when they have been informed they have been exposed to coronavirus via the test and trace system.

Sources have said that the number of people following the instructions currently is “well below the 100 per cent level required”.

So new laws will be brought with fines for those who fail to isolate for 14 days by continuing to go to work, the shops or even the pub.

Fines will start at £1,000 and escalate to £10,000 for multiple offenders. 

It comes amid claims that a spike in Bolton was caused by an individual who was supposed to self isolate going on a pub crawl.

However, for the self employed or employed who will miss out on income from the isolation period the government is going to give them £500 in cash to stay at home.

Mr Johnson said: “The best way we can fight this virus is by everyone following the rules and self-isolating if they’re at risk of passing on coronavirus. And so nobody underestimates just how important this is, new regulations will mean you are legally obliged to do so if you have the virus or have been asked to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

“People who choose to ignore the rules will face significant fines. We need to do all we can to control the spread of this virus, to prevent the most vulnerable people from becoming infected, and to protect the NHS and save lives.

Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto)

“And while most people are doing their absolute level best to comply with the rules, I don’t want to see a situation where people don’t feel they are financially able to self-isolate.

“That’s why we’re also introducing a new £500 Test and Trace Support payment for those on low incomes who are required by NHS Test and Trace to remain at home to help stop the spread of the virus.”

Other steps will include NHS Test and Trace call handlers making regular contact with those self-isolating, with the ability to escalate any suspicion of non-compliance to Local Authorities and local police.

Police will be empowered to use their snooping resources to check compliance in highest incidence areas and in high-risk groups, based on local intelligence.

Encouraging people to identify those who are breaking the rules and report them to the authorities.

But the measures may not reassure Conservative MPs and donors who think that there “needs to be a reset” on coronavirus policy with lockdowns “causing more harm than good”.

Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies has broken ranks to go public with his criticism of the policy.

He said: “We have had a local lockdown in Bradford for more than a month and the rate is still going up. It’s clearly not working but is damaging the economy.

Sign for coronavirus testing centre

People experiencing coronavirus symptoms have been urged to get tested (Image: Mike Egerton/PA Wire)

He pointed to figures released by the government which showed that flu and pneumonia are claiming almost as many lives as coronavirus with 44,439 deaths to 51,018 between April and August.

“It’s an absolute scandal,” he said. “All these people are dying of flu despite there being a flu vaccine and the lockdown. Coronavirus is not much worse according to these figures which suggests it has been a massive overreaction.

“[Health secretary] Matt Hancock and the scientists have just gone power mad.”

The government is facing a potential rebellion if it tries to bring in another national lockdown with both new Tory MPs and veterans arguing that it will cause more harm than good.

But with crucial local government elections including mayors of London and Birmingham next year major donors are also now withholding funds.

The Sunday Express learnt that one millionaire donor publicly berated Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove when he saw him having breakfast in his club this week for costing him “millions” with the rule of six limiting how many people can meet together.

Another told the Sunday Express: “We were willing to put our money behind Boris last year but there has just been a lack of leadership in this whole affair and beyond.

“Nobody knows what this government stands for and there is clearly nobody with business experience making decisions about how to handle coronavirus.

“So all of us have decided not to give donations. We will wait and see if things improve.”



macOS Big Sur isn't here yet, but Apple has released a useful update for your MacBook

Apple has had a busy week pushing out a swathe of software updates to iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch owners, but Mac users were probably disappointed by the fact that macOS 11.0 Big Sur didn’t release at the same time. This blockbuster Mac upgrade was announced back in June alongside iOS 14, iPad OS 14 and watch OS 7 at Apple’s annual developer conference.

While every other operating system upgrade from Apple are now available to users across the world, Big Sur remains unreleased. This isn’t anything unusual. Last year, macOS Catalina arrived a number of weeks after iOS 13 was pushed out to iPhones.

In fact, Catalina was officially released on October 7, 2019 and it seems Big Sur could be heading for a similar launch date. Apple never reveals details on its operating system releases until a few days before they become available, but it’s highly likely we’ll hear more news on mac OS Big Sur in the coming weeks.

Apple has already promised to launch new Macs powered by its own custom-designed processors, dubbed Apple Silicon, before the end of the year. So, it’s pretty safe to assume that the Cupertino-based company will hold another media event in the coming weeks to unveil the latest Mac hardware – a good opportunity to talk about macOS Big Sur in more detail.

Although you may not have all the shiny new features on your Mac just yet, Apple has announced the release of a new upgrade to Safari which is available to download today.

READ MORE: macOS Big Sur: How to sign up for Apple macOS Big Sur beta

The US firm says that Safari 14.0 introduces new features, even faster performance and improved security. Once installed you’ll find a new tab bar design which shows more tabs onscreen and also displays favicons by default.

A customisable start page allows you to set a background image and add new sections plus a Privacy Report now shows cross-site trackers that are being blocked by Intelligent Tracking Prevention.

To get the latest version of Safari, simply click on the System Preferences in the Apple Menu and click on Software Update.

You’ll then see a button which says Update Now. Click this and the installation will begin although it’s worth noting that Safari will need to reboot before the features will become available.

Of course, this is small update compared to what is coming in Big Sur with this release bringing big changes the design of this OS along with bonus features such as improved messaging and customisable menu bar which features an all-new Control Centre

Speaking about the changes, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said: “macOS Big Sur is a major update that advances the legendary combination of the power of UNIX with the ease of use of the Mac, and delivers our biggest update to design in more than a decade.

“With its modern and clean look, huge improvements to key apps including Safari, Messages, and Maps, and new privacy features, we think everyone is going to love the breakthrough experience that macOS Big Sur offers.”

Express.co.uk will bring you a full release date just as soon as we hear more.



BT broadband boost: Some lucky customers set for big improvement and it's free, for now

BT customers could soon see a much-improved internet connection. The telecoms company has confirmed that it will be running a test towards the end of this month which is aimed at making its service much more reliable.

As spotted by the team at ISPreview, some BT customers have started to receive a message asking if they would like to take part in a trial, which will bring some new internet-boosting hardware into their homes.

In the message, BT states: “As part of the trial, we may provide you with a new Hub and/or an additional piece of equipment to use with the Hub. As well as the extra equipment, we’ll also cover the cost of your entire bill for the duration of the trial, subject to you filling in a few surveys when asked.”

So ,what is this new piece of tech from BT?

Although nothing has been confirmed it is thought BT could be planning to launch a redesigned Mini Hub, which helps to keep customers online even when their main broadband connection is lost.

READ MORE: Your BT broadband bills could plummet, but it’s bad news for Vodafone, Three and O2 users

This is currently offered as part of BT’s premium HALO package and uses the 4G mobile network to keep homes online 24 hours a day. The updated Mini Hub could bring faster speeds and into homes and also allow more devices to connect to it at the same time.

ISPreview is also speculating that this updated device might even be able to connect to the web using 5G which could actually make it faster than fixed-line broadband.

The current UK average speed is around 50Mbps, but 5G is able to whizz the web around homes at over 300Mbps.

EE is leading the way with this technology and with BT now owning the UK network it could be the perfect time to launch a Mini Hub with this technology. It’s worth noting that BT has not given any hint that 5G is coming to its in-home hubs.

Confirming the upcoming trial, a BT spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “As the UK’s largest broadband provider, we are constantly looking at new ways to provide the best experience to our customers, and occasionally we invite a small number of them to test potential new services.

“We are unable to share further details on this specific trial at this time, however we can reassure all our customers that we will continue to review new, innovative ways to deliver them the best connectivity, and that they will be amongst the first to know of any new exciting products we intend to launch”.



Stripe is paying employees $20,000 if they leave big cities — but they'll also get a pay cut


“We want our employees to be able to make whatever life choices they feel are best for them without barriers,” a spokesperson for the financial services and software company told CNN Business.

Leaving big cities has become increasingly popular since the pandemic hit. Signed contracts for sales of condos and co-ops in Manhattan, for example, plunged nearly 60% in July, while contracts for single-family homes in areas outside of New York City have skyrocketed, according to a recent report from real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel, a real estate appraisal and consulting firm.
Some commuting Americans are already saving money during the pandemic. Americans traveled nearly 37 billion fewer miles on the road in June, compared to the same month last year, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

Fewer miles translates into money saved. Employees who once commuted by car but now work from home are saving a total of $758 million per day, according to research from freelancing platform Upwork. Over the months since the pandemic hit the US, that figure amounts to more than $90 billion.

Market value of big fintech companies rises to $1 trillion, more than the largest banks

Michael Miebach, left, and CEO Ajay Banga of Mastercard with Jim Cramer on CNBC’s Mad Money.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

A large portion of gains in market value have come in 2020, as investors continue to reward software-based tech companies amid the pandemic. The ETFMG Prime Mobile Payments ETF, which tracks mobile payments stocks, is up nearly 10% in 2020, while the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund is down nearly 20% so far this year. 

Payment companies have increased their push into traditional banking over recent years, which investors have rewarded with further share gains. On Tuesday, Square announced that it will allow Cash-App users to access some of their earned wages ahead of schedule, incentivizing users to sign up for direct deposit through the application. PayPal-owned Venmo also allows its users to access earned wages. 

Meanwhile, shares of traditional Wall Street banks have come under pressure amid low interest rates and fears of rising loan defaults as the economy continues to suffer during the coronavirus pandemic.