Apple Introduces Apple Pay Later

Apple today introduced Apple Pay Later in the U.S. Designed with users’ financial health in mind, Apple Pay Later allows users to split purchases into four payments, spread over six weeks with no interest and no fees. Users can easily track, manage, and repay their Apple Pay Later loans in one convenient location in Apple Wallet.

Users can apply for Apple Pay Later loans $50 to $1,000, which can be used for online and in-app purchases made on iPhone and iPad with merchants that accept Apple Pay. Starting today, Apple will begin inviting select users to access a prerelease version of Apple Pay Later, with plans to offer it to all eligible users in the coming months.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how people manage their finances. Many people are looking for flexible payment options, which is why we’re excited to provide our users with Apple Pay Later,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. “Apple Pay Later was designed with our users’ financial health in mind, so it has no fees and no interest, and can be used and managed within Wallet, making it easier for consumers to make informed and responsible borrowing decisions.”

Apply for, Track, and Manage Loans Seamlessly in Wallet

To get started with Apple Pay Later, users can apply for a loan within Wallet with no impact to their credit. They will then be prompted to enter the amount they would like to borrow and agree to the Apple Pay Later terms. A soft credit pull will be done during the application process to help ensure the user is in a good financial position before taking on the loan.

After a user is approved, they will see the Pay Later option when they select Apple Pay at checkout online and in apps on iPhone and iPad, and can use Apple Pay Later to make a purchase. Once Apple Pay Later is set up, users can also apply for a loan directly in the checkout flow when making a purchase.

Apple Pay Later is built right into Wallet, so users can seamlessly view, track, and manage all of their loans in one place. With Apple Pay Later in Wallet, users can easily see the total amount due for all of their existing loans, as well as the total amount due in the next 30 days. They can also choose to see all upcoming payments on a calendar view in Wallet to help them track and plan their payments. Before a payment is due, users will also receive notifications via Wallet as their loan repayment method; to help prevent users from taking on more debt to pay back loans, credit cards will not be accepted…

Mastercard and Goldman Sachs

Apple Pay Later is enabled through the Mastercard Installments program, so merchants that accept Apple Pay do not need to do anything to implement Apple Pay Later for their customers. When a merchant accepts Apple Pay, Apple Pay later will be an option for their customers during checkout online and in apps on iPhone and iPad. Goldman Sachs is the issuer of the Mastercard payment credential used to complete Apple Pay Later purchases.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple Inc. has introduced its buy now, pay later service in the U.S., marketing the tech company’s latest foray into financial services.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the service can be used to make online and in-app purchases with purchases with merchants that access Apple Pay, the company’s payment system. Users will be required to link a debit card as their loan repayment method and credit cards won’t be accepted for payments, the company said.

The move is another push by Apple to use finance to deepen its relationship with customers.

Purchases using Apple Pay Later are authenticated using Face ID, Touch ID or a passcode, the company said, adding that users’ transactions and loan history won’t be shared or sold to third parties for marketing or advertising.

In my opinion, this new Apple Pay Later offering could potentially help people make ends meet, especially if their job doesn’t pay on a weekly schedule. It also appears that Apple Pay Later is going to try to ensure that someone using the service doesn’t spend more than is good for their budget.

Japan’s Competition Regulator Approves Microsoft’s Acquisition

The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard after its review concluded that the deal was “unlikely to result in substantially restraining competition”, IGN reported.

The JFTC posted: “The JFTC Reviewed the Proposed Acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc. by Microsoft Corporation” From the post:

“Receiving notifications regarding the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc, (“Activision Blizzard” headquartered in the U.S.) by Microsoft Corporation (JCN8700159989374) (“Microsoft” headquartered in the U.S.; and Activision Blizzard and Microsoft are hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Parties”), the Japan Fair Trade Commission (hereinafter referred to as the “JFTC”) reviewed the transaction and reached the conclusion that the transaction is unlikely to result in substantially restraining competition in any particular fields of trade. Accordingly, the JTFC has notified the Parties that the JFTC will not issue a cease and desist order, resulting in the completion of its review.

I Overview of the Transaction

The Parties plan the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft through the acquisition of shares and the merger.

II Reviewing Process

Receipt of notifications regarding the acquisition of shares and the merger on March 10, 2023 (the start of the phase 1 review)

Clearance notification on March 28, 2023.

III Conclusion

The JFTC concluded that the transaction is unlikely to result in substantially restraining competition in any particular fields of trade.

IGN also reported that the JFTC’s decision not to challenge the merger will come as welcome news to Microsoft as it campaigns to convince regulators in holdout countries, including the United States Federal Trade Commission, that the deal will not harm competition, or increase costs for consumers.

GameSpot reported: The Japan Fair Trade Commission has reportedly closed its review of Microsoft’s attempted purchase of Activision Blizzard, stating the deal won’t suppress competition. In other words, another roadblock has been removed for Xbox to take the reins of Call of Duty, Diablo, and World of Warcraft.

GameSpot also reported that this follows the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority determining that the deal won’t stifle competition in the console space last week. The CMA does have concerns about the area of cloud gaming with the acquisition.

According to GameSpot, The Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. is still scrutinizing Microsoft’s deal with Activision Blizzard, which is valued at almost $70 billion, GameSpot reported. The FTC wants more information on Xbox’s future Zenimax exclusivity, for instance, arguing that the company has gone back on its word to keep games multiplatform.

Reuters reported that the Japan watchdog informed Microsoft and Activision Blizzard it won’t call for a cease and desist of the merger.

Personally, I would like to see Microsoft acquire Activision Blizzard. It feels like this acquisition is taking way longer than it should. Sony is clearly against the acquisition, but it does not make sense to me why that is so – especially now that the JFTC has approved of the acquisition.

Elon Musk Says Twitter’s For You Page Is for Verified Accounts

Twitter users will need a “verified account” to get recommended on the platform’s For You page starting on April 15th, according to a Monday evening tweet from CEO Elon Musk. Given that Twitter has promised to start dismantling the “legacy” verified system at the beginning of April, that appears to mean that you’ll have to be a company, government entity, or Twitter Blue subscriber if you want to pop into the feeds of people who don’t follow you, The Verge reported.

Here is what Elon Musk tweeted:

“Starting April 15th, only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations.

This is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. It is otherwise a hopeless losing battle.

Voting in polls will require verification for the same reason.”

The Verge reported: It’s worth taking this announcement with a big grain of salt, as Musk’s tweets haven’t always turned into enforced policy or features. Perhaps the biggest example is his promise from February that the company was going to start sharing ad revenue with Blue subscribers, something that’s still MIA almost two months later. That same month, he also promised to open-source the company’s algorithm by March 5th, which hasn’t happened yet – though now he says it will happen on March 31st, without acknowledging the previous missed deadline.

TechCrunch reported Twitter has been trying to promote the “For You” timeline for a while now, despite negative opinions from many users. The move to make it a verified-only algorithmic feed won’t be a popular decision either.

Notably, analysts suggest that Twitter has only 385,000 paying users at the moment. Plus the company is removing legacy verification checkmarks of previously notable accounts on April 1. So the algorithmic feed will be filled by paid accounts in addition to brands and officials’ accounts making it for a very skewed timeline, according to TechCrunch.

TechCrunch also reported that this development comes days after GitHub took down Twitter’s leaked source code. What’s more, Musk promised to open source the social network’s recommendation algorithm on March 31. TechCrunch noted: We’ll have to wait and see if the code has references to limiting it to only verified users.

BuzzFeed News reported that Elon Musk announced that starting April 15, only Twitter Blue subscribers will appear in the For You feed. According to Musk’s tweet on Monday, the measure is to stop AI bots. Additionally, only verified users can vote in polls.

According to BuzzFeed News, this comes a few days after Twitter announced that legacy verified accounts will lose their blue checkmark starting April 1st unless they sign up for paid Twitter Blue. At the same time, Twitter is working on a way for paid subscribers to hide their blue checks, presumably because it might seem embarrassing to have one if all it means is that you’ve paid for it.

BuzzFeed News also wrote: Regular, unpaid accounts will presumably only be visible in the Following feed, the chronological feed of only the people you follow – basically, what Twitter used to be.

Overall, I feel as though Twitter has become very chaotic after Elon Musk took over. He appears to desperately want to monetize the platform, which has been free to use for most of Twitter’s existence. These haphazard decisions could influence people to stop using Twitter and switch to a Mastodon account.

Biden Restricts Use of Commercial Hacking Tools By U.S. Agencies

President Biden restricted the use of commercial hacking tools throughout the federal government as officials believed high-powered spyware had compromised devices belonging to at least 50 U.S. personnel working overseas, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Mr. Biden signed an executive order that imposes rules limiting the acquisition and deployment of hacking tools from vendors who’s products have been linked to human-rights abuses or are deemed to pose counterintelligence or national security risks to the U.S. It also limits the purchasing of tools if they are sold to foreign governments considered to have poor records on human rights, The Wall Street Journal also reported.

The “Executive Order on Prohibition on Use by the United States Government of Commercial Spyware that Poses Risks to National Security” was signed by President Biden on March 27, 2023. Here are some key points from the Executive Order:

…Technology is central to the future of our national security, economy, and democracy. The United States has fundamental national security and foreign policy interests in (1) ensuring that technology is developed, deployed, and governed in accordance with universal human rights; the rule of law; and appropriate legal authorization, safeguards, and oversight, such that it supports, and does not undermine, democracy, civil rights and civil liberties, and public safety; and (2) mitigating, to the greatest extent possible, the risk emerging technologies may pose to the United States Government institutions, personnel, information, and information systems.

To advance these interests, the United States supports the development of an international technology ecosystem that protects the integrity of international standards development; enables and promotes the free flow of data and ideas with trust; protects our security, privacy, and human rights, and enhances our economic competitiveness.

The growing exploitation of Americans’ sensitive data and improper use of surveillance technology, including commercial spyware, threatens the development of this ecosystem. Foreign governments and persons have deployed commercial spyware against United States Government institutions, personnel, information, and information systems, presenting significant counterintelligence and security risks to the United States Government.

…Therefore, I hereby establish as the policy of the United States Government that it shall not make operational use of commercial spyware that poses significant counterintelligence or security risks to the United States Government or significant risks of improper use by a foreign government or foreign person…

The New York Times reported that the tools in question, known as commercial spyware, give governments the power to hack the mobile phones of private citizens, extracting data and tracking their movements. The global market for their use is booming, and some U.S. government agencies have studied or deployed the technology.

According to The New York Times, the executive order prohibits federal government departments and agencies from using commercial spyware that might be abused by foreign governments, could target Americans overseas, or could pose security risks if installed on U.S. government networks. The order covers only spyware developed and sold by commercial entities, not tools built by American intelligence agencies.

I think it is very clear that people don’t want to be spied upon through their phones. It makes sense for President Biden to prohibit the use of government spyware that poses risks.

Twitter Source Code Leak Investigation #1659

Twitter’s source code was leaked on GitHub, potentially exposing the platform’s vulnerabilities and trade secrets. The code was removed after Twitter filed a DMCA request. The company suspects a former employee may be responsible for the leak and has submitted a court filing in California to identify the perpetrator and any other GitHub users who may have downloaded the data. This incident comes amid turbulent times for Twitter since its acquisition by Elon Musk last year, with cost-cutting measures impacting the platform’s reliability. The leak precedes Twitter’s plan to open source its tweet recommendation code on March 31st. This is not surprising, considering how some employees felt about the takeover. Honestly, I am surprised that more source code has not found its way onto the web.

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CMA Narrows Scope Of Concerns In Microsoft – Activision Review

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued updated provision. From the review:

“In February, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published provisional findings setting out that the deal raises competition concerns in relation to both console gaming and cloud gaming services in the UK. The publication of the provisional findings initiated a period of consultation in which the CMA invited responses to those findings from interested parties and continued to gather further information.

“The CMA has received a significant amount of new evidence in response to its original provisional findings. Having considered this new evidence carefully, together with the wide range of information gathered before those provisional findings were issued, the CMA inquiry group has updated its provisional findings and reached the provisional conclusion that, overall, the transaction will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in relation to console gaming in the UK.

“The most significant new evidence provided to the CMA relates to Microsoft’s financial incentives to make Activision’s games, including Call of Duty (CoD), exclusive to its own consoles. While the CMA’s original analysis indicated that this strategy would be profitable under most scenarios, new data (which provides better insight into the actual purchasing behavior of CoD gamers) indicates that the strategy would be significantly loss-making under any plausible scenario. On this basis, the updated analysis now shows that it would not be commercially beneficial to Microsoft to make CoD exclusive to Xbox following the deal, but that Microsoft will instead have the incentive to continue to make the game available on PlayStation.

The CMA’s addendum to its provisional findings today relates only to competition in the supply of consoles and not to competition in the supply of cloud gaming services, where the CMA is continuing to carefully consider the responses in relation to the original provisional findings. The CMA’s merger investigation continues, and it remains due to issue its final report by 26 April 2023…

GameSpot reported that a key regulator has said it provisionally no longer believes Microsoft’s proposed deal to buy Activision Blizzard would result in a lessening of competition in the console space, paving the way for the purchase to go through.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said on Friday that it has narrowed the scope of its concerns about the deal. Importantly, though, the deal is not complete, and the CMA still has concerns about Microsoft’s bid to buy Activision Blizzard in the are of cloud gaming.

A spokesperson for Activision shared a statement with GameSpot about the CMA decision:

“The CMA’s updated provisional findings show an improved understanding of the console gaming market and demonstrate a commitment to supporting players and competition. Sony’s campaign to protect its dominance by blocking our merger can’t overcome the facts, and Microsoft has already presented effective and enforceable remedies to address each the CMA’s remaining concerns. We know this deal will benefit competition, innovation, and consumers in the UK.”

TechCrunch reported that a Microsoft spokesperson sent this statement:

“We appreciate the CMA’s rigorous and thorough evaluation of the evidence and welcomes updated provisional findings. This deal will provide more players with more choice in how they play Call of Duty and their favorite games. We look forward to working with the CMA to resolve any outstanding concerns.”

TechCrunch also reported that Microsoft sent an updated statement – attributed to Brad Smith, it’s vice char and president:

“We appreciate the CMA’s additional detailed and objective analysis. Its update underscores a growing consensus by those with access to the most current data that this deal will create more competition in the console market, not less.”

Personally, I feel like this situation is dragging on and on, and would like to see it resolved. There are plenty of gamers who want to see Microsoft acquire Activision Blizzard.

Embracing AI: Amazement Meets Anxiety

Over the past several weeks, I have been exploring quite heavily and using ChatGPT to develop marketing ideas, write customer surveys and even help brainstorm new product ideas. The results have been astounding and enlightening.

One task I completed saved me at least 8 hours of work, by creating a 48 questions survey based on some external data in just under 30 minutes. So it has made me wonder how the economics of this will play out.

I feel we stand at the dawn of a new era in technology. The rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are at an incredible pace, and I can only imagine what the landscape will look like in 2-3 years. The transformative potential of AI tools like ChatGPT is undeniable.

These tools have shown remarkable capabilities in tasks ranging from content creation to generating marketing ideas or even just creating a marketing survey, making my life easier in countless ways.

AI will cause a change in the labor market. AI cannot be ignored, and those who do will be left behind.

I will explore the reasons for excitement and apprehension while offering insights on balancing AI innovation and preserving human livelihoods.

My amazement surrounding AI arises from its potential to revolutionize virtually every aspect of our lives if you apply thought to it. ChatGPT, a prime example, has demonstrated unprecedented prowess in natural language processing (NLP), understanding complex language structures, and generating coherent, contextually relevant responses. It does not criticize my vocabulary either.

As a result, it can assist with tasks like customer support, content generation, and even complex problem-solving in a way that was once considered the exclusive domain of humans.

The fear, however, stems from the potential consequences of AI replacing human labor. Many jobs, especially those involving repetitive tasks or data analysis, could be rendered obsolete by AI systems that can perform these tasks with unparalleled efficiency and accuracy.

This shift will lead to widespread change in employment as people struggle to adapt to an economy where their skills are no longer in demand.

It’s essential to recognize that AI is not a zero-sum game. History has shown that introducing new technologies often creates new opportunities and jobs, even as it displaces some existing roles. Just as the disruptive business caused significant changes, this will force companies to shift and adopt.

Society needs to develop a proactive approach. With protective legislation as well as investing in education and retraining programs that prepare workers for the new opportunities AI will create businesses, and educational institutions must work together to ensure a smooth transition for workers whose jobs are at risk, providing them with the skills and resources needed to thrive in an AI-driven world.

There are many aspects of human intelligence that AI cannot replicate today, such as empathy, creativity, and interpersonal skills, but that could change going forward as the digital world does not have a lot of heart built in.

One thing is for sure, I feel as if I have gained a personal assistant in that I can tell it what I want, and thus far, it has produced the desired result in making a mundane task that would have been a significant time sink and allowed me to recover that time and move on to other projects.

Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash