1. See how easily freaks can take over your life (by DuvalGuillaume)

  2. "People often refer to us as a toothbrush company, but we’re not. We’re actually not interested in toothbrushes at all. We’re interested in health data," said Alex Frommeyer, co-founder of Beam Technologies, based in Louisville, Ky. "In many ways, [data-tracking] is the entire point" of the Beam Brush.

    Beam is conducting a pilot with an insurance firm and negotiating a deal to distribute the Beam Brushes to policyholders, who would agree to exchange usage data for incentives such as lower rates.

  3. Policy holders who download the Aviva RateMyDrive app will have their first 200 miles driving monitored, with the phone recording data on acceleration, braking and cornering. This is turned into a score which is used to determine their insurance premium. Aviva said those deemed to be safe drivers could save up to 20% off their premium…
  4. Worldwide crowdfunding volumes reached $2.66 billion in 2012, up from $1.47 billion the previous year… North America accounts for the bulk of activity, with $1.6 billion raised there last year
  5. in Kenya the National Health Insurance Fund reduced its administrative costs from 60% to 32% by automating its claims processing, accessing real-time data and tracking payment processes
  6. proprietary currencies have many advantages for game makers, and many of those advantages would also accrue to Amazon if the company can get Coins to catch on…. “Just like frequent flyer point schemes, they capture their audience and prevent them from transferring value generated within a game or company to some other game or firm… (Second) it is a cheap way for rewarding certain behavioural or consumption patterns, or even penalising others. Thirdly, it bypasses the objections of regulatory authorities to instances when players receive money from the company — flows that may need to be, otherwise, taxed or regulated in accordance to gambling laws.”
  7. While the professionals used their decades of investment knowledge and traditional stock-picking methods, the cat selected stocks by throwing his favourite toy mouse on a grid of numbers allocated to different companies…

    By the end of September the professionals had generated £497 of profit compared with £292 managed by Orlando. But an unexpected turnaround in the final quarter has resulted in the cat’s portfolio increasing by an average of 4.2% to end the year at £5,542.60, compared with the professionals’ £5,176.60.

  8. ZestFinance analyzes 70,000 variables to create a finely tuned risk profile of every borrower that goes far beyond the bounds of traditional credit scoring. The more accurately a lender can assess a borrower’s risk of default, the more accurately a lender can price a loan. Just going by a person’s income minus expenses, the calculus most often used to determine credit-worthiness, is hardly enough to predict whether a person will pay back a loan, he says.

    “Our finding, much like in Google search quality, is that there’s actually hundreds of small signals, if you know where to find them,” Merrill says.

    For instance, he says, many subprime borrowers also use prepaid cellphones. If they let the account lapse, they lose their phone number. Would-be borrowers who don’t make keeping a consistent phone number a priority send a “huge negative signal.” It’s not about ability to pay, he says. It’s about willingness to pay.

  9. Under European laws, the deal means Bitcoin-Central becomes a Payment Services Provider (PSP) that has an International Bank ID number. This puts it on an equal footing with other payment networks such as PayPal and WorldPay. As a PSP it will be able to issue debit cards, carry out real-time transfers to other banks and accept transfers into its own coffers.

    The deal was a “significant” step towards legitimacy for Bitcoin

  10. the so-called unbanked population grew to 8.2 percent of U.S. households.

    That means that roughly 17 million adults are without a checking or savings account. Another 51 million adults have a bank account, but use pawnshops, payday lenders or rent-to-own services, the FDIC said. This underbanked population has grown from 18.2 percent to 20.1 percent of households nationwide

  11. Kristina Killgrove, an anthropologist at the University of West Florida, has already raised over $12,000 on RocketHub to examine the DNA of Roman skeletons. And on another crowdfunding site, Petridish, the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) offered to name any new species of ant discovered during a conservation project in Madagascar after those who donate more than $5,000 to the enterprise. Although the crowdfunding of science is not raising the sorts of sums sometimes attracted by those with ideas for things like video games, it has already spawned a couple of specialised platforms of its own. Petridish is one. Another is called Microryza
  12. private cloud models are playing an increasingly pivotal role in core banking activities… One example is Wells Fargo, the San Francisco-based bank, which touts the advantages of using cloudlike technologies to help steer the company through a three-year integration project following the $15bn acquisition of Wachovia…
    Wells Fargo began by “virtualising” its servers – running software that enables multiple applications to run on the same server and still be managed as though each has its own dedicated server.
    The advantages of this are much greater flexibility – you can add a virtual server for a new application almost instantly – and much more efficient use of the physical hardware. For example, 80 per cent usage of a server’s capacity instead of 15 per cent.
    Additionally, by moving to standardised software – programs used by everyone – it effectively made a private cloud inside its own firewalls. This enabled the bank to reduce its number of data centres dramatically, cut the number of applications it was running by 25 per cent to 3,000 and decreased the time needed for starting up a new application server from months to 10 days.
    By the end of last year, almost two-thirds of the bank’s servers were virtualised and 80 per cent standardised.
    As a result, Wells Fargo achieved $1bn in savings with a significant portion attributed to its infrastructure efficiency effort.
  13. Some US banks, including Atlanta-based SunTrust, are using the Varolii pay-as-you-go cloud-based voice dialler to call customers to remind them to make payments and prompt them to do so.
    SunTrust says it has reduced the number of inbound calls to its call-centre, saved between $8 and $25 per call, and cut first payment defaults by more than 60 per cent.
  15. Only three years old, Kickstarter is now on track to distribute more money this year than the National Endowment for the Arts