Microsoft Announces Launch of Azure Blockchain Services

In the past year, Microsoft has demonstrated a focus on blockchain technology. It previously launched a blockchain developer kit along with its Azure Blockchain Workbench. Just last week, ahead of its Build developer conference, Microsoft announced the launch of Azure Blockchain Services, a “fully managed service that allows for the formation, management, and governance of consortium blockchain networks” which are “meant to help businesses build applications on top of blockchain technology,” according to TechCrunch.

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PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

PayPal Holdings’ Q1 earnings report revealed that 40 million people used its digital money transfer service Venmo in the last year, making it one of the most popular financial apps in the United States. Venmo is also growing dramatically in overall volume with the total number of payments made on its platform skyrocketing 73 percent to $21.3 billion in Q1 2019. Most Venmo transactions are between two people, with the company swallowing the processing fee. But PayPal prizes the app since a younger, more active cohort favors it. Continue reading PayPal Monetizing Venmo, Which Now Has 40 Million Users

USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things (CCI) is hosting the second International Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Blockchain (FAB 2019). The event will take place on Friday, April 5, 7:00 am – 8:00 pm at USC. This one-day symposium builds on the previous success of FAB 2018, attended by close to a hundred participants and featuring presentations by distinguished speakers from academia and industry. To register, visit the symposium’s Eventbrite page. Continue reading USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

Apple, Goldman Sachs Issue Credit Card Linked to iPhones

In the next few weeks, Apple and Goldman Sachs Group will issue a joint credit card for testing to employees, for a launch later in 2019. The card will offer consumers features on Apple’s Wallet app that will allow them to track their balances and rewards as well as set spending goals, said sources. With the card, Apple makes a major move into iPhone users’ finances. For Goldman Sachs, the card is part of a strategy to appeal to ordinary consumers. Neither company, however, has much experience in this arena. Continue reading Apple, Goldman Sachs Issue Credit Card Linked to iPhones

Chinese, Iranian, Russian Hackers Honing Their Attack Skills

The National Security Agency and security firm FireEye recently detected extensive attacks by Iran on U.S. banks, businesses and government agencies, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to declare an emergency during the government shutdown. The attacks from Iran took place at the same time that China renewed its efforts to steal trade and military secrets, from Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile. Meanwhile, Microsoft detected a Russian government operation targeting think tanks critical of Russia. Continue reading Chinese, Iranian, Russian Hackers Honing Their Attack Skills

Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

Blockchain sessions and projects still abound at CES this year, but the bloom is definitely off the rose. At last year’s sessions it was standing room only, but this year it was no problem finding a seat. Given that cryptocurrencies are down 82 percent since last year at this time, I guess it’s no surprise. The good news, however, is that with a lot of the hype and “quick buck” mentality deflated, there’s a lot of good work and investing still being done. Unlike last year, which was one ICO announcement after another, this year was much more subdued and focused on products that address real business needs. Continue reading Blockchain at CES 2019 – What a Difference a Year Can Make

Amazon Is Reportedly Splitting HQ2 Between Two Locations

Amazon has finally made a decision regarding its second headquarters, according to individuals familiar with the process. Following a yearlong search that involved numerous cities in North America vying for Amazon’s business, the company is reportedly planning to split the headquarters between two East Coast locations — the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York and the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. While it already has more employees in the two regions than anywhere else outside of its Seattle home base and the Bay Area, Amazon is expected to have a total of 50,000 employees between the two locations once the headquarters are completed. Continue reading Amazon Is Reportedly Splitting HQ2 Between Two Locations

China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story today, Chinese spies infiltrated nearly 30 U.S. companies including Amazon and Apple by embedding tiny chips into servers in the technology supply chain. In 2015, malicious microchips were reportedly embedded in servers bound for U.S. companies, which resulted in compromised software used in numerous hardware devices. While the report cites former government officials and “senior insiders” at Apple, both Amazon and Apple — as well as motherboard manufacturer Supermicro and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — have firmly disputed the findings. Continue reading China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

India’s digital payment market is on fire, mainly due to new easy-to-use apps that also offer discounts and cash bonuses. The country’s banks, postal service and richest man (Mukesh Ambani) are investing in the arena, and even Warren Buffett, through Berkshire Hathaway, is reportedly taking a stake in the country’s leading digital payment company Paytm. Credit Suisse Group estimates that the Indian market will reach $1 trillion by 2023. China, meanwhile, already has a digital payments market valued at $5+ trillion. Continue reading Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

At a meeting in Argentina of G20 finance ministers and central bankers, the Europeans pushed to advance global rules to tax the digital economy, contrary to the point of view of the U.S. delegation. The group’s final communiqué reiterated the body’s commitment to “address the impacts of the shift to a digital economy on the international tax system by 2020,” but gave no further details. Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed rules to make digital companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google pay more taxes. Continue reading At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

Team Builds Practical Quantum Random Number Generator

Security solutions provider Quantum Base and England’s Lancaster University have developed a quantum random number generator that could become a major step in combatting cyberattacks. The generator can easily be embedded in electronic devices to provide quantum security for authentication. “We have created a small, low power device that produces pure random numbers,” explains Quantum Base CEO Phillip Speed. “It can be incorporated into any electronic product with little or no incremental cost once volume production is achieved.” Continue reading Team Builds Practical Quantum Random Number Generator

Apple and Goldman Sachs to Launch Apple Pay Credit Card

Apple and Goldman Sachs Group are readying the launch early next year of a joint credit card branded with Apple Pay. This will be Goldman Sachs’ first credit card, and it will also replace Apple’s current rewards-card with Barclays. Apple Pay, which generates revenue with every transaction, has been slow to take off, and Goldman’s move into consumer banking is intended to compensate for a significant dip in securities trading. In 2016, Goldman Sachs also debuted Marcus, retail banking for online savings and personal loans. Continue reading Apple and Goldman Sachs to Launch Apple Pay Credit Card

Amazon’s Plan to Lure Retailers to Amazon Pay via Discounts

Sources say Amazon is making a move that threatens PayPal and banks that issue credit cards: passing discounts it gets on credit-card fees to retailers that use its online payment service. In doing so, Amazon is sacrificing short-term profitability to boost the fortunes of its payments system. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Visa, Mastercard and payment processors First Data and Stripe Inc. partake in the $90 billion per year swipe fee industry, about 2 percent of a typical credit card purchase or 24 cents for debit. Continue reading Amazon’s Plan to Lure Retailers to Amazon Pay via Discounts

Machine Learning Used in Detection of Harmful Android Apps

The Google Play Protect detection service, which scans Android apps for malicious activity, is enabled on more than 2 billion devices and detected 60.3 percent of Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) in 2017 using machine learning, according to Google’s Android Security 2017 Year in Review report. Google removed over 700,000 apps for violating its policies last year. While Play Protect uses a variety of tactics, machine learning is highly effective for catching PHAs, detecting things like inappropriate content, impersonation, and malware.

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Amazon in Talks on Bank Product with JPMorgan, Capital One

According to sources, Amazon is currently in discussions with JPMorgan Chase and other banks about creating a product similar to a checking account aimed at a younger demographic. These early stage talks may not result in anything tangible, and are not intended to turn Amazon into a bank. What the product would do is further integrate Amazon into its customers’ lives, from Whole Foods, Kindle, Alexa and its website. The new product would also potentially cut fees Amazon currently pays to banks and provide more customer data. Continue reading Amazon in Talks on Bank Product with JPMorgan, Capital One

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