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Less than two weeks ago, mobile app analytics firm App Annie estimated that Pokémon GO generated US$950 million from players around the world last year. Well, it doesn’t take long for the mobile game app to cross the US$1 billion mark, according to app analytics firm SensorTower.

SensorTower estimates that Pokémon GO has surpassed US$1 billion in worldwide gross revenue on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Considering that the game was launched barely seven months ago, it’s really impressive! In comparison, Clash Royale managed to generate about US$550 million revenue in the first seven months.

Although daily revenue has been decreasing since late July, SensorTower expects consumer spending to pick up in the coming weeks and months as Ninantic announces new events and major updates for Pokémon GO.

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PayPal processed a total of USD 31 billion in mobile payment volume in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the company’s latest financial report.

This figure represents an increase of 53% over the same period in 2015. Mobile payments represented 31% of the company’s USD 99 billion in payment volume in Q4.

Venmo, the company’s social payments platform, processed USD 5.6 billion in total payment volume, up 126 % from the same period in 2015.

PayPal said that in the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, it processed more than USD 2 billion in mobile payments, accounting for one-third of total payment volume for the period.

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Global spend via mobile wallets is expected to rise by nearly 32% to USD 1.35 trillion, a new study from Juniper Research has found.

The study, Mobile Wallets: Service Provider Analysis, Market Opportunities & Forecasts, has found that spend is currently concentrated in the Far East & China, due primarily to the success of Alipay and WeChat. However, it claimed that moves by key players such as PayPal and Apple to offer wallets which can be used both instore and online means that wallets will increasingly become the default payment mechanism in other markets.

PayPal’s decision to introduce an HCE (Host Card Emulation) NFC solution to enable POS payments as a key disruptive moment has proven to be a successful hit in the wallet wars, the study notes. According to the research, this – allied to the burgeoning success of its social payments subsidiary Venmo – places PayPal in pole position to capitalise on the increased demand for mobile wallets.

Additionally, the research argued that the implementation of the PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2) legislation should spur further competition within the European wallet space, with existing players poised to introduce additional services to complement their payment offerings.

However, it warned that outside emerging markets, remaining mobile network operator wallet ventures were unlikely to gain traction. According to research author Dr Windsor Holden, “Network operators remain wedded to offline payments based on an NFC SIM card, at a time when more agile competitors are deploying integrated HCE wallets that also enable online usage.

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Amazon and PayPal have discussed the possibility that the online retail company to support PayPal payments at checkout.

Amazon offers credit and debit cards, gift cards, and Amazon.com store cards as payment methods. Customers can also link their checking accounts to the site to make quick purchases.

PayPal grew to 197 million active users at the end of 2016. According to the company’s data, each of those accounts averaged 31 transactions in the preceding 12 months.

Amazon Payments can be used by merchants to facilitate payments, and by customers to make those payments. In many cases, the merchants that use Amazon Payments to facilitate purchases also offer customers PayPal.

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Facebook has obtained an e-payments license from the Central Bank of Ireland, signalling that the ability to pay people through the Messenger app (already available in the US) could soon be coming to Europe.

 

The Central Bank of Ireland’s approval of the payments license was authorised to Facebook Payments International Limited (FBPIL) in October 2016 for “e-money issuance” and “payment services.” TechCrunch reports, cited by businessinsider.com. As a member of the European Union, passporting rights mean that the Irish license would apply throughout the other 27 EU member states.

 

Currently, the payment service only works in the US. It allows customers to send money to friends via the Messenger app, a feature which it has recently been promoting. It has been reported that the social network will soon be adding payments to businesses, as well as friends, via the app.

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Google has announced a big update to Google Play Music. The update brings machine learning to the table in an effort to figure out what music you like based on what you are doing. The machine learning algorithm takes into account your location, activity, weather and playlists to personalize the music for where you are and what you are doing. The new updates roll out this week on Android, iOS, and the web.

 

The rollout will be global with 62 countries eventually getting the new music features. The update also brings improved music recommendations with contextual tools available that power other Google products. These features are opt-in and those that sign up will get personalized music for where you are and why you are listening. That means if you are relaxing at home, you will get an optimized playlist and if you are at work you will get a playlist customized for that location.

 

The update also makes it easier to get motivational music for your workout at the gym. Play Music has a new home screen that puts your favorite music at the top of the screen. Google says the more the new machine learning algorithms get to know you, the better the music selections will be. The updated app also keeps a playlist for offline listening ready to go. The tunes you listened to recently are packed into an offline playlist ready to go when you lose signal.

 

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Google says that it wants the perfect music to find you with this update. The exact time frame for the rollout of the new features is unknown. The rollout is starting this week, but Google isn’t clear on if the rollout is going on with all 62 countries at the same time.

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Following America’s shocking election results, thousands of Americans flooded to Canada’s immigration website, causing it to crash.

Canadian authorities confirmed that over 200,000 Americans had visited the website during election night. About 100,000 of the visitors were curious about migrating over to Canada; this dwarfs the 17,000 people that visited the website one week prior.

The conclusion of the election saw Donald Trump being elected as America’s new president, leading the country into uncharted political territory. During the run-up to the election, Trump had promised a number of controversial topics which include, deporting illegal immigrants, building a country wide wall against Mexico, sweeping away womens’ rights and imposing a mandatory registration of Muslim Americans.

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Reports indicate that Amazon is eyeing the Southeast Asia market and will launch its services in this region early next year beginning with Singapore.

Singapore will be an ideal entry-point as it is a lot smaller than other countries in this region, which makes it easier for Amazon to acclimatize from an operational standpoint. Furthermore, its has a much higher level of consumer spend than its neighbors; plus, its consumer culture is more similar to that of developed markets. Reports also say that Amazon is quietly acquiring assets like refrigerated trucks and are ramping up new hires in Singapore.

Amazon is likely to offer its Prime and AmazonFresh delivery services here in Singapore, and that the current plan is to launch in the first quarter of 2017. However, it is believed that Amazon’s grand target is Indonesia, which is the fourth most populous country in the world, and also the largest economy in this region.

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Google wants to be in your home, “to be there when you always need it to be” as Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO puts it. At least thats the plan for Google’s new Wi-Fi connected speaker/virtual assistant/smarthome controller, Google Home.

Google Home is a small Wi-Fi connected speaker with a built-in voice-activated assistant that will let you control connected home devices. At launch it will be compatible with any device from Nest, SmartThings, Philips or IFTTT.

You’ll also be able to use it control other Google devices such as a Chromecast. For example, with a Chromecast connected to your TV, you can say, “OK, Google. watch Stranger Things on my TV” and it will launch Netflix and start streaming the show. You can ask it to play YouTube videos too.

Since it has a built-in speaker, Google is also promoting the Home’s music playing abilities. It will stream music from YouTube Music, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tunein and iHeart Radio. The device is powered by Google’s OK Google algorithms, so its smart enough to find music even if you don’t know the actual name of the song. On stage, Google demonstrated this by asking Home to play “that Shakira song from Zootopia.”

If you connect Google Home to your Google Account, it will also access your calender and schedule and inform you about any important events before you leave in the morning, as well as the weather conditions, and traffic status.

 

 

It’s not often that you see a ready-made desktop system come with speakers built into the design, let alone one with 360-degree sound. Samsung has one such thing, and it’s called the ArtPC Pulse.

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Very aptly named too, in our opinion. It’s a cylindrical desktop system with a 10.7 inches (approx. 272mm) tall full metal body with circular lighting. Sitting near the top of it all is the 360-degree omni-directional Harman Kardon speakers. It would fit nicely alongside any of your other modern art-inspired décor, especially if you have a matching monitor or TV.

But what about innards? There are two versions, an Intel Core i5 one and the other with an Intel Core i7. The former comes with an AMD Radeon RX460 2GB (which puts it just below the minimum VR requirements), a 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, a single USB Type-C, and a HDMI port each. The i7 version keeps most of the specs, but comes with 16GB of RAM instead and an additional 1TB HDD.

Both models are now available for pre-order on Amazon, for US$1,200 (approx. RM4,981)and US$1,600 (approx. RM6,642) for the i5 and i7 versions, respectively. If you’re looking to get one, this is your only way for now as there’s no word on if Samsung will be bringing this into Malaysia officially.