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

U.S., China Advance Negotiations on Trade, Cybersecurity

U.S. and China just held a meeting to resolve several issues that have risen to the forefront in their yearlong trade dispute. The Trump administration is pushing China to lift restrictions that make it difficult for U.S. companies to operate there. U.S. businesses also chafe against China’s cybersecurity laws that require them to store data in China and rely on Chinese network equipment. Although these topics have not been on the negotiating table, China has recently made it clear it is willing to discuss them. Continue reading U.S., China Advance Negotiations on Trade, Cybersecurity

Silicon Valley Competes With Corporate America for Workers

Tech sector job openings are now one signifier of a well-run corporation. That’s true for the Drucker Institute, which relies on tech guru Peter Drucker’s management principles to rank the Management Top 250 companies. In addition to other factors, the Institute now also looks at each company’s listings for high-level tech jobs, via Burning Glass Technologies, a labor-analytics firm that provides data on jobs in such innovative areas as blockchain, robotics and artificial intelligence. Increasingly, companies across numerous industries are hiring employees with specific technology skills. Continue reading Silicon Valley Competes With Corporate America for Workers

NewTV Plans to Bring Hollywood’s A-Game to Mobile Video

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman formed NewTV to offer short original programming designed for smartphones. They believe they’re creating the next-generation HBO or Netflix, and many big players in Hollywood are betting they’re right. Katzenberg said that the holding company he co-founded, WndrCo, closed a $1 billion seed-funding round on July 31. Other backers include Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Lionsgate, MGM, ITV and Entertainment One. Continue reading NewTV Plans to Bring Hollywood’s A-Game to Mobile Video

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

FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

The FCC voted unanimously to push forward a new rule that would prevent federally subsidized telecommunications carriers from buying gear from “suppliers deemed to pose a risk to American national security.” A second vote will make the rule final. The rule is aimed at Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. The day previous to the vote, the government blocked ZTE from using U.S.-made components, saying it “failed to punish employees who violated American sanctions against North Korea and Iran.” Continue reading FCC Advances Proposed Rule to Block Chinese Telecom Gear

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

Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

Social media platforms that placed ads on pages espousing extremism and hate have vowed to take steps against this, but the brands involved, from AT&T to Kellogg, are also getting flak for appearing on the sites and inadvertently funding the purveyors of fake news and hate speech. That has happened because brands now depend on automated ad technology to reach targeted demographics, but they are now re-evaluating that strategy; Unilever is considering leaving YouTube and Facebook unless they gain control of the situation. Continue reading Brands Pressure Platforms to Resolve Hate, Fake News Issue

IBM Quantum Computers Engage Researchers, Corporations

Quantum computing is beginning to gain traction since, two years ago, IBM made its IBM Q 5-quantum bit (qubit) computer available to researchers. Now, 70,000 users around the world have registered to use the IBM Q, and Big Blue has quadrupled the qubit count. Also recently, IBM and Intel announced quantum computers with 50 and 49 qubits respectively, and Google is reportedly nearing launch of its own qubit computer. Experts are now waiting for the quantum computer to rise above the best supercomputer at accomplishing tasks. Continue reading IBM Quantum Computers Engage Researchers, Corporations

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Partner on Healthcare

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are partnering to find a way to reduce healthcare costs for their U.S. employees. The companies are motivated by rising healthcare costs in the U.S., and their joint new company will target technological solutions for a simpler and more economical healthcare solution. They did not reveal, however, how much money they have committed to the effort or whether it would expand to include employees outside the U.S., but did emphasize the effort would not be a profit-making venture. Continue reading Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Partner on Healthcare

Bitcoin and Virtual Currencies Skyrocket, Skeptics Concerned

The price of a single Bitcoin just reached $10,000 on some exchanges, two months after it topped $5,000 for the first time. That’s a stupendous and unprecedented uptick, given that the Dow Jones Industrial Average in its biggest year (1915) went up 82 percent, which equates to one-tenth of Bitcoin’s rise. The price has been pushed upwards by new buyers from around the globe — Japan and South Korea are hotspots — enticed with the idea of storing money outside of the control of governments and companies. Continue reading Bitcoin and Virtual Currencies Skyrocket, Skeptics Concerned

Are Cryptocurrencies Next Big Bust or Revolution in Finance?

Jackson Palmer and his once-wildly successful cryptocurrency Dogecoin are a cautionary tale for those bedazzled by Bitcoin. Palmer was an early enthusiast of cryptocurrency, but sought a way to mock the hype around investing huge sums of money in it. He created his own cryptocurrency, Dogecoin, based on an Internet meme of a Shiba Inu dog. Instead of getting the joke, investors brought Dogecoin’s market value to $400 million, before scammers and hackers brought it down, selling fake products and defrauding investors. Continue reading Are Cryptocurrencies Next Big Bust or Revolution in Finance?

Equifax Data Breach, Discovered in July, Impacts 143 Million

Equifax reported that hackers likely gained access to the personal information of about 143 million people in the U.S., making it the second biggest data breach after last year’s two Yahoo hacks, which impacted as many as 1.5 billion customers. The Equifax hack is almost twice as large as the J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. hack three years ago. The damage the hack to Equifax will do is as of yet unknown, but it could be serious, given the immense scope of the attack and the future potential for fraud.   Continue reading Equifax Data Breach, Discovered in July, Impacts 143 Million

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