Bank of England Extends Funding for Lending Scheme

Bank of England Extends Funding for Lending Scheme
The Bank of England has announced plans to expand a lending scheme designed to help businesses and households. The Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), due to end in January 2014, will be extended for another year to 2015. Banks will be given greater incentives to lend to small and medium-sized businesses, and creditors other than banks will be able to participate.

Since its launch in August, the scheme has been criticised for failing to boost lending. The scheme is supposed to encourage banks to lend by offering them cheap loans on the condition they pass them on to customers.

Bank of England figures suggest banks took nearly £14bn from the FLS between August and December last year. However, among participating banks, lending was actually lower in that six month period, than it was in the six months before the scheme was introduced. According to the Treasury, new incentive measures are designed to encourage banks to lend more by allowing them to borrow an extra £5 from the FLS for every £1 they lend to a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). In an effort to get banks to lend sooner, they will be able to borrow £10 in 2014, when the scheme is extended, for every £1 they lend in 2013.

The extension to the scheme has been widely expected. The Chancellor, George Osborne, first suggested the move in his March Budget.

Matthew Fell, CBI Director for Competitive Markets, said there were already signs of life thanks to the original plan, but that it needed to be widely publicised. “Funding for Lending is only one piece of the finance jigsaw,” he said. “Boosting firms’ confidence by raising awareness of the various funding schemes available is critical.”

Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow Treasury minister, welcomed the plan, but said more drastic action was needed. “What we need is a proper British Investment Bank to get lending going to small and medium-sized businesses – wider action to kick-start our flatlining economy,” he said.

In its most recent policy meeting, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee said it saw “merit” in extending the scheme, as an alternative to an expansion of quantitative easing. The move comes as Mr Osborne faces increasing pressure to find ways to boost the UK’s economic growth. On Thursday, the Office for National Statistics will publish its first estimates for growth for the first three months of 2013. They are expected to show that the economy continues to remain flat, and international observers, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have questioned whether the chancellor should reconsider the pace of the government’s austerity measures.

Facebook Downloaded 500,000 Times in Two Weeks

Facebook Home Downloaded 500,000 Times in Two Weeks
Facebook’s Home app for Android phones has been downloaded more than 500,000 times from the Google Play store since its release on 4 April.

The free-to-download app effectively replaces the phone’s home screen with a Facebook feed and chat options.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said it could “change the relationship” people have with their mobile devices.

Some of the 11,000 reviews left for the app on Google Play mention issues with battery life and there are complaints that once Facebook Home is installed, widgets – which can be used on Android phones to customise other applications – no longer work. Just over half of those rating the app gave it just one star, while about 1,800 gave it a top score of five stars.

While many agree it is a “good start” for the social-network giant’s new approach to its mobile presence, lots of reviewers also admit it is only likely to appeal to Facebook’s most dedicated users. “If you’re someone who constantly wants to be in the loop with what’s going on, then this is for you,” wrote one user on the reviews page. She added that she was planning to uninstall it. Another wrote that the app was “smooth and pretty fast”, but agreed “good friends” were required to keep the constant access interesting.

Tech analysis firm Canalys said that overall the smartphone app market was showing “healthy growth”. It said revenue of $2.2bn (£1.4bn) was recorded in the first quarter of the year from the four main app stores – the Apple App Store, Google Play, the Windows Phone Store and Blackberry World.

“Apps have had a huge impact on the way consumers use mobile devices, what they value, and what they expect from smart phones and tablets,” said Adam Daum, the firm’s head of analytics. “This is a multi-billion-dollar growth market, with more and more consumers around the world now comfortable and confident in finding apps, downloading them and making in-app purchases, on a growing addressable base of smart phones and tablets.”

WordPress Websites Targeted by Hackers

WordPress Websites Targeted by Hackers
Wordpress has been attacked by a botnet of “tens of thousands” of individual computers since last week, according to server hosters Cloudflare and Hostgator. The botnet targets WordPress users with the username “admin”, trying thousands of possible passwords.

The attack began a week after WordPress beefed up its security with an optional two-step authentication log-in option. The site currently powers 64m websites read by 371m people each month.

According to survey website W3Techs, around 17% of the world’s websites are powered by WordPress.

Recommend You Change Username ‘admin’
“Here’s what I would recommend: If you still use ‘admin’ as a username on your blog, change it, use a strong password,” wrote WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg on his blog. He also advised adopting two-step authentication, which involves a personalised “secret number” allocated to users in addition to a username and password, and ensuring that the latest version of WordPress is installed.

“Most other advice isn’t great – supposedly this botnet has more than 90,000 IP addresses, so an IP-limiting or login-throttling plugin isn’t going to be great (they could try from a different IP [address] a second for 24 hours),” Mr Mullenweg added.

Matthew Prince, Chief Executive and co-founder of Cloudflare, said that the aim of the attack may have been to build a stronger botnet.

“One of the concerns of an attack like this is that the attacker is using a relatively weak botnet of home PCs in order to build a much larger botnet of beefy servers in preparation for a future attack,” he wrote in a blog post.

“These larger machines can cause much more damage in DDoS [Distributed Denial of Service] attacks because the servers have large network connections and are capable of generating significant amounts.

Google Gives Users ‘Digital Wills’ For Data

Google Gives Users ‘Digital Wills’ For Data
As consumers increasingly use cloud computing for data and memories, Google unveils “digital wills” for people’s online presence.

Search giant Google has decided to give its users a ‘digital will’ option for their online data. The new facility allows consumers to decide what happens with their online account data after they die. The cyber-stored information may also be wiped with approval if they become inactive online for any other reason.

According to Goldsmiths PhD student Stacey Pitsillides, who has focused her research on the issue of data and death, the Google strategy breaks new ground.

Ms Pitsillides, 26, told Sky News: “Google is one of the first major players to develop a clear opening strategy to deal with this issue and it is hoped that this will encourage others in the industry to follow suit.” Dubbed “data-after-death”, the official Google facility is formally known as inactive account manager and lets users tell the company what to do with email messages and other data if their account becomes inactive.

For example, Google email and YouTube posting can be deleted after three, six or 12 months of inactivity. Or they can choose specific people to receive the data access.

The issue of personal data possession has become an increasingly important issue as “cloud computing” and social media expands.

Although some online firms readily allow access to data by someone’s next of kin, others have been forced into court battles over access. “In our increasingly digital society where we collect all manner of digital data and memories around our online personas, it will become increasingly necessary to consider all aspects of life online,” Ms Pitsillides said.

“As death is a part of life, it is imperative that new protocols and strategies are put into place to begin to sensitively manage what happens to this aspect of ourselves after death.”

Hi-Tech Firms Join Forces Against Google

Hi-Tech Firms Join Forces Against Google
Leading firms are trying to get the EU to address the dominance of Google’s Android system and monopoly on adverts.

A group of companies led by Microsoft has asked European officials to investigate Google over alleged unfair practices in the mobile smartphone market.”FairSearch” which consists of 17 hi-tech firms including Microsoft, Nokia, Expedia, TripAdvisor and Oracle – has claimed that the internet giant acted unfairly with its Android operating system.

“We are asking the commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel for FairSearch, said in a statement. Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system.”

FairSearch said it had filed a complaint with the commission, charging that the internet giant wanted Android operators to use its leading applications such as Maps or YouTube. It said Google’s Android is the dominant smartphone operating system, accounting for 70% at the end of 2012, while it had 96% of mobile phone search advertising.

A spokesman for Google told Sky News: “We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission.”

Google has been under investigation by the commission for practices related to its dominance of online search and advertising markets since 2010.

Last week, six European countries including France and Britain, launched joint action against Google to try to get it to scale back new monitoring powers that watchdogs believe violate EU privacy protection rules. The European Commission is not obliged to take any action other than reply to the complaint.

Android operating systems have the largest share of the smartphone market, followed by those made by Apple. Blackberry, Microsoft and others are far behind.

The European move comes as Taiwain’s HTC saw its shares rise 1.5% even though the smartphone maker posted a record-low quarterly profit. HTC’s first-quarter net profit slumped 98% from a year earlier after sales suffered from the delayed launch of the company’s new flagship smartphone. The phonemaker saw its net profit fall to 85m New Taiwan dollars (£1.85m) for the quarter ending March 31, down from NT$4.47bn (£97m) a year earlier. During 2010 HTC was the biggest seller of smartphones in the US operating on the Android system.

Growing Your Businesses with the Internet

Growing Your Businesses with the Internet
The Internet is a powerful business marketing and development tool that can help any business more productive and, hopefully, profitable. Business Link have previously stated that when the Internet is used properly and effectively, it can help you streamline business activities, communicate more efficiently with customers and even generate new customers or clients—all while helping to reduce business expenses.

Internet Marketing involves advertising and selling goods and services online. The popularity of internet marketing is growing drastically as there are millions of people buying things on the internet.

Using the Internet can help your business reduce or eliminate the need for traditional postal mailing (should you so desire)and all of the costs associated with these traditional communication methods. The Internet makes it easy to stay in contact with your customers via email, email marketing and other online networking tools such as social networking sites like Facebook. Using the many available Internet communication tools effectively, you can keep up a continuous dialogue with customers and prospects.

Setting up your business to fully utilise the Internet can be a lucrative way to attract customers, expand your market and increase sales. Even local car hire companies and dry cleaning operations can create inexpensive online advertisements to target local and National audiences. These advertisements, which can be highlighted on the respective website, can announce company services and any sales or discounts.

One such company Direct Submit continue to work with is Metro Vehicle Rental. A North East based company, Metro Hire have grown over the past few years from a single business unit with just a few cars and vans to the now much larger company with a fleet of new cars, minibuses and vans. A leading car hire company in Newcastle and the North East, Metro Hire are a perfect example of how the Internet can be used to effectively promote and grow your business.

There are numerous kinds of marketing online. These include article marketing, blog promotions, e-mail sales letters, banner ads, pay-per-click ads, and pop-up advertising and SEO & Internet marketing. It is important to note that some of these SEO techniques / approaches work better than others depending on what is being sold, the target audience, and the method and goal of the business marketing itself.

A websites is your online shop where you can display your products and services. Your website will likely also provide details of your company and include testimonials from your customers, which can be a great way to generate more business and give potential clients confidence in your products and services. Plus, Internet marketing can continue around the clock 24 hours a day 7 days a week, throughout the year. Helping keep the online business marketing at all times.

The role of the modern Internet in the growth of any business can be considerable and of some consequence. Millions of start-up business, small, medium and large businesses are taking advantage of an online presence via a website to help promote their business and many are reaping the benefits it offers.

Start Up Loans for Entrepreneurs

Start Up Loans for Entrepreneurs in the North East and Cumbria
Doors continue to open for young entrepreneurs who are benefiting from a £1m cash lift to help them launch their business ideas. The Start-Up Loans scheme run by Virgin Money and Project North East was officially set in motion last November, with a seven-figure pot of cash to help bright young minds get their business proposals off the ground.

Since the launch, around £300,000 has already been given to applicants, all aged between 18 and 24, and interest in the scheme gains momentum every day.

Now, with £700,000 of funding still to be awarded in the North East and Cumbria during 2013, the search is gathering pace to find more young entrepreneurs to put their business plan forward. Loans can be from as little as £250 and up to £25,000, with an average of around £5,000.

Through the department for Business, Innovation and Science (BIS), the Government has provided funding of £1m, to be offered in the form of small business start-up loans in the region. Once loan applications are accepted, entrepreneurs can benefit from Virgin Money’s mentoring support and Project North East’s wealth of experience in working with young business people.