#TechTop3 – Our top tech stories of the week

By May 6, 2016UK

By the London Technology Team

The end of Britcoin?

Once the fallout from the local and Mayoral elections has concluded, the focus will once again return to Brexit. With the tech sector firmly in the ‘In’ camp, perhaps, as CoinTelegraph speculates, Britain’s possible exit from the EU, would be most keenly felt by the financial technology (FinTech) sector.

A recent Government-commissioned report by Ernst & Young found that the UK was the global FinTech capital of the world with London coming in for strong praise given its existing position as a global financial centre. Reuters interviewed ten London-based FinTech companies and seven said they might consider moving their headquarters in the event of a Brexit. All ten labelled Brexit a serious concern for their businesses.

Perhaps the views of the sector are best captured by the UK’s Special Envoy for FinTech, Eileen Burbidge, and Partner at venture capital firm Passion Capital, who expressed concern at the lack of any contingency planning and explained that there would likely be a “reset of people, offices, HQs and activities if Britain were to leave Europe”.

Virtual Insanity

Virtual Reality has been all the rage in the tedious ‘tech trends to watch out for’ lists, but there was a cautious and extensive write up from Madhumita Murgia in the Daily Telegraph on how far it has to go to become mainstream.

VR does have some great potential and applications, but Murgia highlighted that it is currently too expensive and requires a lot of space and time to set up, stating that these are serious potential barriers for consumers. She also emphasised the nausea and headaches others have experienced with VR, which is exactly the same problem that plagued 3D from becoming established in living rooms.

With investment and hype skyrocketing for VR, politics is yet to catch up. You can probably expect the same tech policy issues to be applied to this new platform (such as online safety and copyright), but also new opportunities to face challenges like solving loneliness and obesity. There also also public sector uses, for example using VR to perform medical procedures or delivering military training.

Tech Trumps

In the week that saw Donald Trump effectively confirmed as the Republican Party candidate for the US Presidential Election, a collaboration of thirteen U.S. tech groups (including Facebook, Apple, Uber and Amazon) wrote to Trump and Hillary Clinton to outline their key concerns.

Their letter made a number of policy recommendations, with many of the themes striking similarities to their priorities in the UK and Europe – their call for “narrowly targeted government access to user data” and encryption to be recognised as critical to security are, unsurprisingly, in line with recent comments from industry on the Investigatory Powers Bill in the UK.

The letter also called for the Presidential hopefuls to back the Trans-Pacific Partnership, prevent online censorship, support the sharing economy and introduce a simplified tax code.

It is fair to say that, other than Trump’s promise to ‘close up’ parts of the Internet to combat radical extremism, tech has not featured prominently in the Presidential campaign. It will be interesting to see whether Trump and Clinton have any relevant policy announcements up their sleeves. You can read the Reuters story here.