ABI Research: for visionaries
Digital cash gets a look from the Fed

The Verge | Jan. 21, 2022, 8:41 p.m.

It goes over the pros of a federally-backed digital currency. | Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images A digital dollar backed by the US government might lead to faster money transfers, and be more accessible than the current banking system, according to a new paper from the Federal Reserve (via CNBC). The paper is meant to act as “the first step in a discussion,” and doesn’t advocate for actually creating a “central bank digital currency” (or CBDC). Still, the creation of a digital dollar would be a massive shift in how big a role the government would play in our finances. Potential downsides could include making commercial banks less attractive to consumers, and affect the Fed’s ability to influence the financial system. The Fed is now inviting comments, including on anything the paper may have missed.There are many other countries and tech firms working in the space the US is considering enteringThe paper, a step toward the existence of a digital dollar, comes at a time when around 90 other countries are considering their own digital currencies, according to Reuters. The European Central Bank is investigating the creation of a digital Euro, and China has been testing a digital yuan, which it’s been working on since 2014. Meanwhile in the cryptocurrency world, stablecoins, some of which tie their value to the US dollar, have been rising in prominence.The government is also looking to keep supporting “the dominant international role of the U.S. dollar,” as the paper puts it. Doing its research in public could help the government make it easier for other companies to design systems compatible with the US’s, as Bloomberg points out. A digital currency from the central bank could combine some of the benefits of federally-backed cash and privately-controlled digital money, such as:Fast and easy transfers between people and businesses (even across borders)More accessibility for people without bank accounts, who may have difficulties opening accounts at private financial institutionsMore safety and consumer confidence — banks can fail or run into liquidity issues, which is less likely with the US governmentA federal digital currency could massively change the role of the government in our financial lives, depending on its designThere’s also the potential downsides: the government would have to navigate the market’s reaction to the US taking over a role traditionally served by commercial banks. It would also require citizens to trust the government directly with all their financial info, though the paper does vaguely say this concern could be mitigated by allowing “intermediaries” to address privacy concerns “by leveraging existing tools.” A digital currency doesn’t have to be blockchain-based. The Fed, in its paper, makes clear that no specific design or technology has been proposed yet, saying it “will continue to explore a wide range of design options.”If the central bank were to create a digital currency, it would have to be “privacy-protected, intermediated, widely transferable, and identity-verified,” according to the paper. The reserve is currently experimenting with and exploring centralized, blockchain, and distributed methods of making a currency.If you’re interested in the future of money, the paper is well worth a read. And if you’ve got expertise or strong opinions about it, you’ll have plenty of room to express them while going through the 22-point questionnaire.

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Netflix Stock Slump Drags Down TV Stocks

The Information | Jan. 21, 2022, 8 p.m.

Greetings!Another day, another market sell-off. And things are getting a little indiscriminate. Take today’s 5% to 7% drop in the stocks of Disney, Discovery and ViacomCBS, apparently triggered by a 22% plunge in the price of Netflix. It’s a little like a teacher punishing an entire class for the misdeeds of one student. Penalizing TV stocks for Netflix’s sharply slowing growth doesn’t make much sense. It’s arguably the competition posed by these very companies—with their newish streaming services—that is one of the factors weighing on Netflix’s growth.Adding insult to injury, none of the three has enjoyed the incredible run-up in value that Netflix has seen in recent years—they’re each valued well below the video-streaming pioneer on a multiple of revenue and profits. That makes sense, given that Netflix has been growing 20% to 40% a year for most of the past decade, while the TV companies were plodding along at mostly single-digit percentages. But it is Netflix's valuation that should contract as its growth rate slows, not those of the other companies.

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How to cheat at Wordle if you're a bad person and want to ruin everything - CNET

CNET | Jan. 21, 2022, 7:53 p.m.

Commentary: The answers are hidden in the game's code, but honestly, why would you go looking?

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Biden Looks to Intel’s U.S. Investment to Buoy His China Agenda

New York Times | Jan. 21, 2022, 7:25 p.m.

The president said passage of a China competition bill was needed “for the sake of our economic competitiveness and our national security.”

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China’s SenseTime ponders future after US blacklisting

FT | Jan. 21, 2022, 7:01 p.m.

Xu Li has pulled off an IPO despite accusations facial recognition company enables human rights abuses

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Meta and Snap sued over allegedly contributing to 11-year-old's suicide - CNET

CNET | Jan. 21, 2022, 7 p.m.

A lawsuit alleges that the social media platforms "have invested billions of dollars to intentionally design their products to be addictive and encourage use that they know to be problematic."

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Apple reportedly removes education discount verification - CNET

CNET | Jan. 21, 2022, 6:49 p.m.

Just days after implementing tighter controls on its discounted education pricing, Apple has removed the third-party controls, according to a report.

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Amazon facing formal complaint from labor board over worker firing

The Verge | Jan. 21, 2022, 6:46 p.m.

The NLRB will issue a formal complaint against Amazon unless it settles a case with a fired worker | Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge The National Labor Relations Board is preparing to issue a complaint against Amazon alleging the company illegally fired a worker at one of its New York warehouses, unless the company settles the case first. At issue is whether Daequan Smith, an organizer with the newly-formed Amazon Labor Union (ALU), was fired for trying to organize.As first reported by Bloomberg, NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado confirmed Friday that the agency’s regional director Kathy Drew King determined allegations by the ALU that Smith was fired illegally had merit and would issue a complaint if the case doesn’t settle. “The complaint would allege a discharge because of union and other protected concerted activities, among other allegations,” Blado said.Amazon didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment from The Verge. The ALU Is awaiting a hearing on its petition to hold a union election at four of Amazon’s warehouses in Staten Island. Smith was a worker at one of the Staten Island warehouses, and the ALU tweeted Friday that since his firing, Smith has been left homeless. The NLRB has the authority to reinstate workers fired for organizing, but it’s not yet clear whether it would do so in this case. The NLRB ordered Amazon to redo a union election at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, after finding the company interfered in the first election in April 2021. That redo, which will be carried out by mail and supervised by the NLRB, begins February 4th.

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Google asks a judge to dismiss Texas antitrust lawsuit about its ad business

TechCrunch | Jan. 21, 2022, 6:45 p.m.

Google filed a motion Friday asking a federal court to dismiss most of the counts in an antitrust lawsuit led by the state of Texas. In the filing, the company argued that the Texas lawsuit isn’t “credible” and that the state failed to establish that the company’s ad business has run afoul of antitrust laws. […]

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2022 crypto predictions from Prime Trust CFO Rodrigo Vicuna

TechCrunch | Jan. 21, 2022, 6:31 p.m.

Even though DeFi, cryptocurrencies, blockchains, NFTs and a slew of other products came online in 2021, only about 1% of the world’s population has a unique crypto wallet.

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Mitsubishi partners with Cartken for delivery robots

The Robot Report | Jan. 21, 2022, 6:20 p.m.

The partnership is new ground for Mitsubishi, who has never partnered with an autonomous delivery company like Carken before.The post Mitsubishi partners with Cartken for delivery robots appeared first on The Robot Report.

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Daily Crunch: IBM sells off Watson Health unit to private equity firm Francisco Partners

TechCrunch | Jan. 21, 2022, 6:17 p.m.

I normally try to bring some pep to my little intros in this missive. But today I am going to avoid astruturning my own mood to simply say, hey, what's up with the stock market?

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American Airlines suing The Points Guy over app that syncs frequent flyer data

The Verge | Jan. 21, 2022, 5:58 p.m.

American Airlines is suing The Points Guy | Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images American Airlines has filed a lawsuit against travel tips site The Points Guy, claiming the site has violated the terms of use of its frequent flyer program by offering an app that lets users track airline miles from multiple airlines in one place. It’s seeking an order blocking The Points Guy from accessing or using American Airlines customer data and from allowing its users to access their own accounts through the TPG app or site. American is also seeking to block The Points Guy from displaying the American Airlines logo and other trademarks.The TPG app, released in September 2021, purports to “help users learn about points, miles, and loyalty programs, while maximizing their earning potential, and discovering how to efficiently burn those earned points and miles to see the world.” The app allows users to link together different frequent flyer accounts. In the case of American Airlines, the TPG app prompts you in-app to enter your AAdvantage number, your password, and your last name. The lawsuit filed by American Airlines alleges that the TPG app encourages members of its AAdvantage program to breach its terms of use en masse by handing over their user logins to an unauthorized third party. The airline says the logins allow The Points Guy to “invade American’s servers, access users’ accounts, and collect and expropriate the proprietary data” in violation of American’s terms and conditions. The complaint accuses The Points Guy of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an anti-hacking statute, by doing so. In addition, the suit trots out a litany of other offenses, such as breach of contract, trespass, trademark infringement, and copyright infringement (for displaying the American Airlines logo). The airline says the logins allow The Points Guy to “invade American’s servers”American Airlines representative Amanda Koos said in a statement emailed to The Verge that The Points Guy parent company Red Ventures “is accessing AA.com and AAdvantage customer account data in a way that does not comply with our standards for use of confidential information.” She added that American Airlines takes “customer data and proprietary information incredibly seriously, and want to make sure it is protected and secure.” The Points Guy preemptively sued American Airlines in Delaware after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the airline, according to a press release, claiming the airline was “attempting to block the media platform from providing the cost and time-saving benefits of The Points Guy App to consumers.”“Consumers are always in control of their own data on The Points Guy App — they decide which loyalty programs and credit cards are accessible for the purpose of making their points-and-miles journey easier,” The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly said in a statement emailed to The Verge. The site is “choosing to fight back against American Airlines on behalf of travelers to protect their rights to access their points and miles so they can travel smarter,” he added. The Verge asked The Points Guy in an email whether the TPG app stores AAdvantage passwords and have not yet received a response.American Airlines is asking the courts to enjoin The Points Guy from allowing users to log in to AAdvantage through the TPG app or website and also from storing AAdvantage passwords and other member information. It is also seeking to legally block The Points Guy from displaying American’s “copyrighted material” — that is to say, the American Airlines logo. The lawsuit requests statutory damages for the trademark and copyright violations and additional unspecified damages to include any “‘ill-gotten revenues and benefits” that The Points Guy may have gained from American’s customers and their data.

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HBO Max: It's your last chance to stream Matrix Resurrections - CNET

CNET | Jan. 21, 2022, 5:35 p.m.

Matrix is the latest (and last) same-day streaming movie on HBO Max, and Friday is your last opportunity to watch it at home for months.

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AI Weekly: Watson Health and semi-autonomous driving failures show the dangers of overpromising AI

VentureBeat | Jan. 21, 2022, 5:30 p.m.

AI technologies can fall short of their promise, as news from this week about Watson Health and semi-autonomous driving systems showed.

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Advertisers Love TikTok. Now They’re Looking to Double Their Spending on It.

The Information | Jan. 21, 2022, 5:21 p.m.

A top ad agency holding company is planning to triple its spending on TikTok this year to 5% of its roughly $2 billion social media ad budget. And that share will double to 10% next year, a senior executive at the agency predicted. At another ad agency, Mekanism, spending on TikTok has gone from zero a few years ago to roughly as high as 10% to 25% of social ad spending for some clients now.Both of these agencies are signaling a major shift that’s underway in advertising. Brands are starting to embrace advertising on TikTok, ByteDance’s wildly popular video-sharing app. While still in its early days of growth, that trend poses a threat to Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram as well as Snapchat—particularly as Apple’s privacy changes limit the effectiveness of their ad targeting and measurement.“It’s probably our fastest-growing” platform, said Horizon Media Chief Investment Officer David Campanelli. He projects Horizon will double its ad spending on TikTok this year to 5% as clients become more comfortable with the idea and seek to reach its young users.

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3 ‘dark’ trends likely to power smart technology and communities by 2030

VentureBeat | Jan. 21, 2022, 5:20 p.m.

Whether over-hyped or under-marketed, here are three "dark horse" technology trends that are likely to power the smart technology of 2030.

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Layla Hybrid mattress review: A supportive hybrid bed with a flippable design - CNET

CNET | Jan. 21, 2022, 5:17 p.m.

Boasting two firmness levels, the Layla Hybrid mattress is just as versatile as it is comfortable. But is it worth the money? Here's our honest verdict.

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Experts Roundup: lead magnets, e-commerce trends, software developer Q&A

TechCrunch | Jan. 21, 2022, 5:15 p.m.

This week: how to set up lead magnets that attract prospective customers who are ready to purchase.

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