China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

The current U.S.-China tensions over technology may result in both countries being impeded from achieving their targets: China’s aim to build a modern technocratic state and the U.S.’s efforts to continue to build lucrative businesses with China’s huge market. U.S. Internet companies are already barred by China’s Great Firewall, and now the U.S. is targeting Huawei Technologies, ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proposed a “Clean Network” free of Chinese apps and other technology. Continue reading China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Google has tried to compete with Amazon in online shopping four times since 2013. But, with shoppers stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company now sees another opportunity. To lure sellers, Google said it would waive sales commissions, which range from 5 percent to 15 percent, and let retailers use third-party payment and order management services like Shopify. In the European Union, meanwhile, Google is facing the demand that it “make major concessions” related to its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, including how it uses customer data for search and advertising. Continue reading Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Facebook debuted a major redesign of its Instagram Shop platform, which had already been accessible from a button in the Explore tab but now offers more functionality. The new version of Instagram Shop will first be available in the U.S., with a global rollout “in the coming weeks” said the company. In Shop, consumers will find special collections, a “Suggested for You” section and curated offerings from Instagram’s @Shop account. A double arrow symbol means the user can buy the product without leaving the app. The move is seen as Facebook’s stronger push into e-commerce. Continue reading Facebook Targets E-Commerce with Updated Instagram Shop

Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Anthill’s latest version of interactive storytelling app Whatifi is now available in the Apple App Store. Founded by Jaanus Juss and Hardi Meybaum, who have been exploring interactive storytelling in their native Estonia via live theater, the startup enables users to “choose their own adventure” in two stories: “As Dead as it Gets” and “Anatomy of a Decision.” The first is a “drunken night with a few bros” that turns into a supernatural fantasy. A character on the verge of death, the viewer must follow the advice of ghosts to return to the land of the living. Whatifi is now based out of Los Angeles and Estonia. Continue reading Anthill’s Whatifi Offers Interactive Storytelling via Mobile App

Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

Facebook unveiled Facebook Pay, a system to enable payments across its own platform as well as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. The user will be able to send money to people, shop and donate to fundraisers. According to the company, Facebook Pay, which is completely separate from the company’s newly released Calibra wallet and Libra cryptocurrency network, is built on “existing financial infrastructure and partnerships.” Facebook Pay for Facebook and Messenger will debut in the U.S. this week. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Payments System For Its Platform, Apps

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

Libra Is Challenged by European Commission, U.S. Senators

Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra has faced another setback, this time in the European Union, which plans to introduce legislation to prevent it from competing with Europe’s single currency. European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis, in charge of regulation, said Libra is a systemic risk to the Euro, “both from the perspective of financial stability and the protection of financial investors.” In the U.S., two Democratic senators urged Mastercard, Visa and Stripe to reconsider their support of Libra. Continue reading Libra Is Challenged by European Commission, U.S. Senators

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

BitTorrent Rolls Out Beta Test of Live Mobile Streaming App

BitTorrent introduced a public beta test of its Live Android app (also known as BLive), described as a live streaming app that offers social networking and instant messaging as well as virtual gifting via BTT and TRX, two cryptocurrencies operated by BitTorrent and sister company TRON. BitTorrent will take a cut of 70 percent from these gifts. The company explained that it is initially releasing BitTorrent Live with server-based architecture, but plans to replace it in the future with P2P-based live streaming. Continue reading BitTorrent Rolls Out Beta Test of Live Mobile Streaming App

GlobalCoin: Facebook Expected to Debut Bitcoin Rival Soon

Facebook reportedly plans to release its GlobalCoin cryptocurrency later this month, and will hand over control of it to an independent foundation. GlobalCoin, which is intended to rival Bitcoin, is the fruit of Facebook’s development, linked to a project dubbed Libra in concert with financial and technology partners. GlobalCoin is likely to target developing countries with unstable currencies and will be pegged to the U.S. dollar. Facebook will purportedly integrate GlobalCoin on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. Continue reading GlobalCoin: Facebook Expected to Debut Bitcoin Rival Soon

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

Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Partnering with 23 brands, Facebook’s Instagram debuted an easy-to-use in-app checkout tool for U.S. users. Adidas, Burberry, Dior, Nike, H&M, Zara, Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty are among the first retailers to sign on, with more to be added to the beta test throughout the year. Users in the U.S. will see the feature roll out over the next few weeks. Instagram head of product Vishal Shah noted that, “given that 80 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, the desire really is there to shop.” Continue reading Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Password-Free Logins Getting Closer to Becoming a Reality

WebAuthn, with the approval of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the FIDO Alliance, just became an official web standard for password-free logins. After W3C and the FIDO Alliance first introduced it in November 2015, WebAuthn gained the support of many W3C contributors including Airbnb, Alibaba, Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, PayPal, SoftBank, Tencent and Yubico. With WebAuthn, which is supported by Android and Windows 10, users can log-in via biometrics, mobile devices or FIDO security keys. Continue reading Password-Free Logins Getting Closer to Becoming a Reality

Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Facebook, Telegram and Signal plan to utilize their messaging services as platforms to launch new cryptocurrencies over the next year. Their virtual currencies will allow users to send money to contacts around the world via the messaging services. According to inside sources, Facebook has been secretly working on a coin for WhatsApp that users could “instantly” send to friends or family. Facebook’s WhatsApp project is developed to the point that the company is already in discussions with cryptocurrency exchanges. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies to Launch Soon From Messaging Services

Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

With an initial focus on the Indian market, Facebook is developing a cryptocurrency aimed for use on its WhatsApp messaging app. More specifically, sources said the company is developing a so-called stablecoin, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar to reduce volatility. The company is, however, still working on its strategy, meaning that debut of the coin is still some time off. In 2014, Facebook hired former PayPal president David Marcus to run Messenger, fueling belief the company was going to engage in financial services. Continue reading Facebook Strategizing Cryptocurrency for WhatsApp in India

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