HSBC shuts more UK branches as banking goes online
HSBC on Wednesday announced plans to permanently shut more than a quarter of its remaining bank branches in the UK as customers increasingly switch to making transactions online.
The global bank will from April close 114 branches, it said in a statement, having shut around 150 since last year.
Around 100 staff are expected to lose their jobs following the latest closures, mirroring action being taken by other high-street banks in the UK.
“People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning,” said the bank’s managing director of UK distribution, Jackie Uhi.
“Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.”
Consumer watchdog Which? said banks and building societies have closed or have scheduled to close more than 5,200 branches since the start of 2015 — at the rate of about 54 every month.
By the end of next year, the NatWest Group, which runs NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank, will have shut more than 1,200.
More than 920 Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland branches — all part of the Lloyds Banking Group — will have gone in the next 12 months.
Barclays has closed or will have closed more than 960 branches by the end of this year, Which? said on Tuesday.
The closures have alarmed consumer groups who said the moves will hit those who predominantly still use cash, particularly the elderly.
The trend towards cashless payments and online banking has accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic.
Meta’s Zuckerberg shakes off Apple Vision Pro: report
Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday told employees that while Apple’s mixed reality gear may be nice, it is not his vision of the future, according to US media reports.
Zuckerberg’s comments came during the first all-hands gathering at its Silicon Valley campus since the pandemic, and just days after Apple unveiled Vision Pro mixed reality headsets.
“I mean, that could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want,” Zuckerberg reportedly said while assessing what he has seen of Apple Vison Pro.
“There’s a real philosophical difference in terms of how we’re approaching this.”
Meta makes Quest virtual reality headsets and has invested heavily in Zuckerberg’s belief that internet life will one day play out in virtual worlds referred to as the metaverse.
“Our vision for the metaverse and presence is fundamentally social,” Zuckerberg said, according to a transcript of remarks posted by tech news website The Verge.
“By contrast, every demo that (Apple) showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself.”
Meta was so confident it could create the metaverse — an idea of a 3D immersive internet — that it changed its name from Facebook in 2021 and began funneling billions into the project.
But the idea has been hampered by botched launches, dodgy graphics, no clear path to profitability and a general feeling that few people know what it is.
Meta’s Reality Labs, the division helming its metaverse effort, has lost $4 billion so far and Zuckerberg has been increasingly talking up artificial intelligence rather than the metaverse.
Zuckerberg was quoted by CNBC as saying at the all-hands gathering that Meta planned to build generative artificial intelligence into “every single one” of its products.
Apple this week unveiled a sleek Vision Pro “spatial reality display” packed with technology and priced at $3,499.
Vision Pro is to be available early next year.
It allows users to communicate, work, watch movies, listen to music — and even choose whether to be immersed or to keep an eye on the outside world.
Meanwhile, a new-generation Quest 3 with improved performance and slimmed design will be available later this year at a starting price of $500.
Zuckerberg described the coming model as Meta’s “most powerful headset yet” and promised it would provide the best wireless way to experience mixed and virtual reality.
The starting price of Quest 2 headsets currently available was cut to $300.
Meta’s Quest headset has failed to break out from specialist users and gamers.
“We innovate to make sure that our products are as accessible and affordable to everyone as possible,” Zuckerberg was reported to tell employees.
“And we have sold tens of millions of Quests.”
GM reaches deal for access to Tesla’s North American chargers
Tesla will open its North American electric vehicle charging network to cars from rival General Motors beginning in 2024, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and GM Chief Mary Barra announced Thursday.
Under the agreement — which is similar to a collaboration unveiled last month between Ford and Tesla — GM vehicle owners will have access to Tesla’s 12,000 “superchargers,” said a GM news release.
The Tesla network will initially require an adaptor for GM cars in 2024. But beginning in 2025, GM vehicles will be built with direct access to the Tesla system without an adaptor, GM said.
Barra, who appeared with Musk for a six-minute conversation on Twitter Spaces, alluded to consumer concerns about being stranded without access to chargers.
“This gives us a huge opportunity to do something that’s better for customers and to drive the standard,” Barra said.
Musk said he was “incredibly excited” to partner with GM. “It’s just really making a fantastic electric vehicle experience whether somebody is driving a car from GM or from Tesla.”
Musk in February pledged to make Tesla’s US charging network available to other electric vehicle brands following White House negotiations.
Tesla agreed to make at least 7,500 chargers nationwide open to non-Tesla EVs by the end of 2024.
First self-driving urban ferry sets sail in Stockholm
A self-driving electric ferry set sail in Stockholm on Thursday, making the Swedish capital the world’s first city to put the technology to use, the company behind it said.
A captain oversees the autonomous craft but doesn’t need to touch the controls, and from Monday, the MF Estelle will begin plying short routes between islands in Stockholm.
Torghatten CEO Stein Andre Herigstad-Olsen said that eventually, the idea is to make the vessel “fully autonomous”, with no need for an onboard supervisor.
The system already “sees like a captain”, he said.
The boat is fitted with radar, cameras, lidar laser and ultrasonic systems, compiling the data to steer its course, the Norwegian company’s operative chief Erik Nilsson said.
“If a boat changes direction or if there’s a canoe we see it right away in less than a second. We update the course accordingly,” he added.
The first ten-metre boat cost around $1.6 million and will be able to carry up to 30 passengers. A single ticket will cost around $3.
It’s hoped the ferry will encourage Swedes to walk or cycle to work rather than taking the car.
The firm wants to increase the number of shuttles in Stockholm and abroad.
The ferry initiative was a private and public cooperation and partly EU-funded.
News desk5 months ago
OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, casts spell on Microsoft
Technology4 months ago
Using innovation and technology for climate change-related challenges￼
Technology5 months ago
As AI rises, lawmakers try to catch up
Business5 months ago
Americans spend $179 on fuel each month—here’s how to spend less
News desk5 months ago
Amsterdam unveils its largest bike garage. It’s underwater