Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

When Walmart started a bank in the early 2000s, states passed laws to ban branches and Congress drafted a law to ban retailers from opening banks. Almost ten years later, Walmart threw in the towel, with its president for financial services Jane Thompson vowing the company would never try it again. That hasn’t stopped Google from announcing it will begin to offer checking accounts next year. Uber wants to open Uber Money, a bank for its drivers (and perhaps riders) and Facebook debuted Facebook Pay. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Pursue Financial Services Despite Setbacks

JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

JPMorgan Chase has developed an e-wallet for Airbnb, Amazon, Lyft and the like, to allow them to offer customers virtual bank accounts, car loans and home rental discounts. In doing so, these online marketplaces and gig economy companies will end up spending less on payment processing fees to third parties — including JPMorgan. That might sound counterintuitive, but the catch is that the companies can only avail themselves of the offerings if they let JPMorgan handle all the payment processing and cash exchanges. Continue reading JPMorgan Intros E-Wallet for Gig Economy, Online Markets

Facebook’s Libra Hit by PayPal Pullout, Apple Chief’s Roast

PayPal just pulled out of Facebook’s cryptocurrency initiative Libra, introduced in June. At the time of release, Facebook partnered with 27 companies, including Mastercard, Uber and Visa, as well as PayPal. Libra is designed to be used internationally within Facebook’s own properties, such as Messenger and WhatsApp. Apple chief executive Tim Cook described Libra as a “blatant power grab,” saying that currencies should be the domain of countries and added that Apple had no plans to launch its own digital currency. Continue reading Facebook’s Libra Hit by PayPal Pullout, Apple Chief’s Roast

Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

Former Amazon employee Paige Thompson, charged with hacking Capital One Financial records, illegally accessed terabytes of data from 30+ other companies and institutions, according to authorities. Thompson, arrested July 29, was accused of stealing 106 million Capital One records, considered to be one of the largest thefts of cloud-based data. Court documents reveal that Thompson stole 140,000 Social Security numbers, 80,000 bank account numbers, millions of credit card applications and one million Canadian social insurance numbers. Continue reading Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

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.

Continue reading Microsoft Announces Launch of Azure Blockchain Services

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

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