Starting on Monday, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA customers will not be able to purchase Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies on their credit card. However, they will still be able to purchase the currency on their debit card.
Lloyds are concerned that their customers would not be able to afford the bill and therefore the banks would have to pay for unpaid debts. The price of bitcoins is falling, so if it continues, banks are worried customers will not be able to pay for it. Which is why the sudden stopping of credit card payments.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to come about, it is a form of digital money that used encryption to secure transactions and control the creation of new units.
The reason bitcoin first came about was because people wanted a currency which was not controlled by government or businesses, and a currency which you could trade freely between countries without any costs or any identities being shown.
They are not like the change in your purse or wallet, you cannot see them or physically touch them. They are a line of code in which you purchase and exchange, in some cases you can buy goods and services with this type of currency.
Why is Bitcoin a concern?
Bitcoin can be a dangerous game to play, it is a currency based online and so cyber criminals can work better through this form of payment process. With the currency also being untraceable, it means that it is a great form of transaction for people like drug dealers and people who are money laundering.
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Official figures show that the UK employment fell by 3,000 in the last 3 months, from November. Figures show that the unemployment is now at a figure of 1.44 million people, which is a 42-year low, leaving unemployment at just 4.3%.
In addition to this, the number of those in work increased sharply, meaning less in unemployment. With a record number of people in work. The number of people in work rose by 102,000 within the last 3 months. This now takes employment to a record level of 32.2 million. Wages have also seen an increase in which they have rose at their fastest rate in almost a year.
This therefore leaves the UK’s unemployment rate at a four-decade low of 4.3%.
However, even though wages are increasing, real wages are still lower than the rate of inflation. The rate of wages is now at 2.4%, whereas the rate of inflation is at 3%, meaning real wages are behind the rate of inflation. And so the real value of earnings continues to decline.
What has happened to the pound?
The pound briefly rose against the dollar when the data was announced. It was 0.7% higher at $1.4101, it also touched $1.4119, which is the highest since the night of the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
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As reported last year, inflation rate rose to 3.1% in November 2017. Which was a 6 year high for the UK’s economy. This meant that Mark Carney – the governor of the Bank of England will be writing a public letter to the Chancellor of the exchequer (Phillip Hammond) to state why it exceeded 1% more than the 2% national target. He will be doing this in his next budget, which will be February 2018.
However, in December 2017, the inflation rate dipped back to 3%. The Office of National Statistics stated that this happened due to the fall in prices on toys and games. It was also the contribution that the air fares rose last month. However it did not have a great impact on the economy and inflation rate.
The Bank of England have stated that it believes the inflation rates will carry on decreasing and will eventually hit the 2% target by the end of this year.
Last January, the rate of inflation was at the target of 2%, yet continuously increased to 3.1% throughout the year. The reason for this dramatic increase over the past year was partly due to the Brexit result. As the value of the pound dropped because of the result, it pushed the cost of imported goods, and therefore increasing the inflation rate.
What has happened to the wage growth?
The drop in inflation won’t have much effect on the ease of spending for households. This is due to the wages still rising by less than the rate of inflation. It has also been stated that most firms are reluctant to increase their wages as most firms want to keep their total costs down to a minimum as we are in such an uncertain time.
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Cold calling is a big issue and is continuously growing in 2018. Which is why many want it to come to an end, helping those who are in a vulnerable situation. Last year, scammers and claims firms sent an average of 6 million calls and texts out per day. Which equates to an average of 4,200 calls or texts every minute of 2017.
The targeted audience which these firms and scammers go after is those who are aged over 65, states Aviva.
MPs are set to debate this topic on whether it is acceptable to cold call these vulnerable. The bill proposes the creation of a single financial guidance body that would consider the impact of cold calling on consumers.
Aviva have asked MPs to ban this cold calling on issues such as pensions, PPI and insurance claim where there was no established relationship between the insurer and the consumer. They have stated that a survey which they recently conducted shows an 85% support on the ban, proving to the MPs that this ban would be beneficial to consumers.
Last year, a bill was announced by MPs, stating that mortgage cold calling was banned. This included emails and texts. If companies contact consumers who they have had no prior connection with then they could face fines up to £500,000.
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On the 13th January, the way the banking industry is running will change, giving more control to the customers. This new rule known as open banking may be detrimental for the major banks. As all of the nine major banks will have to comply soon.
This open banking means that customers have their own power to choose to easily and securely move/transfer their own information/details. This can be transferred to other banks and financially regulated companies.
What is the aim?
The aim of allowing other banks and financially regulated companies to see our data is to try and allow them to give us the best deal. As it is found that only 3% of the personal customers move their accounts each year, found by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). This is allowing banks to charge higher rates as it is rare customers will shop about for the best deal and therefore stay with the same account.
Allowing this power to customers should see banks competing against each other to try and give customers the best deals. This open banking regulation will allow you to share data electronically, and eventually you should see a dashboard in your online banking app. This will show you how much money is in your account with different banks. Eventually showing how much you owe on credit cards and store cards.
How will it affect banks?
This is likely to transform the way customers use and look at the banking industry. The banks will become more competitive to give the customer the best possible deal. David Duffy, the chief executive of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking group, stated that this could make some banks disappear over time.
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Last month, the Bank of England raised the interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5%, which was the first increase in 10 years. Yet, in the Monetary policy committee (MPC), they stated that there would be a “modest” increase in interest rates over the next few years.
At this month’s meeting (December) the members of the MPC decided to keep interest rates at 0.5%. This is due to the level of unemployment being down, rising inflation and stronger global growth.
In November, inflation rates rose to 3.1%, which is the highest in nearly 6 years. Yet the average weekly wage is growing at a rate of just 2.2%.
The national target inflation rate for the UK is set to 2%, however, the UK is now 1.1% above this national target. This means that Mark Carney; the governor of the Bank of England will have to write a public letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
This is due to a rule stating that if the inflation rate rises or drops 1% above or below the national target of 2%, then a letter has to be written. Within the letter, it will state how Mark will aim to get it down to 2%. This letter will be publically announced in February 2018, along with the quarterly inflation report from the Bank of England.
The last time Mark Carney wrote a public letter was December 2016, as in October that year, the inflation rate dropped to 0.9% (1.1% under the national target).
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The Financial Inclusion Commission (FIC) has highlighted huge gaps in the contents insurance across the UK. In fact, the report conducted by them, revealed that 16 million people don’t have contents insurance. And with Christmas fast approaching this is a concern, and a gap in the market for criminals.
These 16million people equates to 35% of the population in the UK without contents insurance. The people who are more likely not to have contents insurance are those with low income, the younger generation, the older generation and those in vulnerable circumstances.
With such a high number of people without this insurance, it is thought that only a few would be able to pay for the cover of the contents if an incident occurred. Many believe that it is something they would like to get, yet the price of this insurance is too expensive and have to spend their money on other aspects.
This report shows that the people who need the insurance are actually the ones who cannot afford it. Highlighting some of the key issues found within this report.
How can I bring down my contents insurance?
There are a number of ways in which to help bring down the cost of your insurance premiums. Here are a number of ways which will help.
#1 Install a burglar alarm
Insurers value burglar alarms and with a working alarm, it will cut down the costs of your premium. It is an upfront cost, yet the benefit will outweigh the initial cost spent on buying and installing it.
#2 Install a smoke alarm
Making sure you have a working smoke alarm will reduce the cost of your premium. This is showing the insurance company that you are taking steps to reduce the risk of needing the insurance cover, enabling you pay a lower cost for the premium.
#3 Pay upfront
By paying upfront rather than monthly, will decrease your insurance significantly. If you pay monthly, you will incur an interest rate to the monthly payment. Making the overall cost much more expensive.
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Brexit is still a big and topical debate which has many different issues surrounding it. One which is becoming a big issue which can’t seem to get resolved is the border issue between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It has become one of the toughest and most controversial questions in the negotiation process of Brexit.
Why is it so difficult to resolve?
The Republic of Ireland will not accept an open border with Northern Ireland if that means that they will have to have a border policy between themselves and the rest of the EU.
Yet also, Northern Ireland and the UK are not accepting a border between themselves. As they are a single country, and this is not what the leaving of the EU was about.
However, it is difficult to put a ‘hard’ border in place between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As they are committed to peace between the two countries.
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have a peaceful process in place. As 30% of Northern Ireland exports go to the Republic of Ireland, showing the peaceful process between the two countries.
There are 4 possible solutions to this problem, however some will never happen, leaving not many options left. These possible solutions are;
- The Republic of Ireland leaves the EU and re-joins the UK, yet this is not going to happen.
- Northern Ireland leaves the UK and re-joins the Republic of Ireland. Again this will not happen.
- A hard boarder is to be put into place between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, this has been rejected from both sides.
Therefore, this leaves one option;
- Squaring the circle. Over the next coming months and years of negotiations. A compromise position including technology, special exemptions and ‘regulatory alignment’ is hammered out. Meaning this will keep the border invisible. Yet still securing the sanctity of the single market and the unity of the UK.
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Cyber-attacks are becoming a big threat to all sized companies. Generally, people think it is only the large firms which get affected, yet many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are affected by hackers. This type of attack is becoming more and more common. In fact, it is estimated that fraud and cyber offences make up 47.3% of all crime according to the crime survey of England and Wales conducted by the Office of National Statistics.
What is cyber liability insurance?
For any business, however large or small, cyber liability is an issue. If your company uses any form of IT system, them it would be in theat. IT has become a vital tool in every aspect of business. Which now extends to holding and protecting customers’ data and information. This could be very dangerous for the business in regards to potentially leaking out customers’ personal data without consent. Therefore, Cyber Liability insurance will protect your company from any threat presented by attackers.
How many SMEs have been affected?
According to data produced by Zurich, 875,000 SMEs across the UK have been affected by a cyber-attack within the last year. Of these companies which were hit, just over one fifth reported that it cost them more than £10,000 and one tenth stated that it cost them over £50,000.
It can be a damaging effect for SMEs if they receive a cyber liability breach. With SMEs usually being a good target due to them having little or no insurance/cover. As it is a huge and damaging effect to the company, around 60% of small companies go out of business within 6 months of a cyber-attack. Showing the huge impact of any attack.
Only 9% of UK SMEs have insurance put in place to protect from a cyber threat. This is ridiculously low, as many SMEs would not be able to pick themselves up and continue to carry on their business if they were hit by a cyber security breach. Usually companies only take out insurance once they are hit with a cyber-attack, which is too late. Yet the positives of taking out insurance is much greater than waiting to get caught.
How can we help you?
Todd & Cue offer affordable yet quality insurance for SMEs and corporate firms. For more information on cyber liability insurance or get in contact with us, we are more than happy to help.
Yesterday Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer delivered his Autumn budget 2017. In case you missed it, we have summarised the key points of what he announced yesterday afternoon here.
Employment levels and tax
- Unemployment level is at its lowest since 1975, with full time employment also near a record high. Nearly 32million people are in work in 2017, with a solid growth this year.
- The higher rate tax threshold is to increase from £45,001 to £46,350.
- The national living wage is to increase from £7.50 an hour to £7.83 in April 2018. A rise of 4.4%.
- By 2022, another 600,000 people are forecasted to be in work.
Alcohol, tobacco and fuel
- Tobacco is continuing to rise above the Retail Price Index (RPI) by 2%. This is equivalent to 28p on a pack of 20.
- The duty on beer, wine, spirits and most ciders will be frozen. This will equate to roughly 1p off a pint of beer and 6p off a bottle of wine.
- The legislation for April 2018, which stated that the duty on petrol and diesel cars is to rise has now been scrapped.
Stamp duty and housing
- The stamp duty for first time buyers is to be abolished immediately for properties up to £300,000.
- Government are targeting 300,000 new houses a year by the middle of the next decade, with £44bn support from the Government.
- £28m for Chelsea and Kensington council to provide counselling services and mental health support for the victims of Grenfell tower and for regeneration of surrounding areas.
- The growth of the economy for 2017 is cut from 2% to 1.5%.
- Forecasts for the next few years are as followed;
- 2018 – 1.4%
- 2019 – 1.3%
- 2020 – 1.5%
- 2021 – 1.6%
- £3bn to be set aside over the next two years for any eventuality which may happen due to the UK leaving the European Union.
- Annual government borrowing has been £49.9bn this year, which is £8.4bnnllower than it was forecasted in March.
Business, digital & education (England only)
- The VAT threshold for small businesses to remain at £85,000 for two years.
- With the growth of electric cars, there is going to be £540m to support the growth of them and including more charging points.
- £30m to develop digital skills learning courses.
- For underperforming schools, there will be £40m set aside for teacher training. Equating to around £1,000 per teacher.
- Schools and colleges are expected to receive £600 per student who decide to choose A-level core maths and additional maths, which is expected to cost around £177m.
- £2.8bn extra NHS funding in England.
- £30m to improve connectivity on TransPennine rail routes.
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