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Adobe has finally announced that it will end its support for Flash in 2020.

An Adobe spokesperson said, “We will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.”

Although a handful of websites still use Flash, this move should not affect users too much. Most of the major websites have already moved away from Flash. In addition, Apple’s iOS devices has never supported Flash, and it has disabled Flash by default on macOS Sierra and Safari 10. 

Not to be left out, Google has said that its Chrome browser will slowly phase out Flash over the next few years, while Microsoft has said that it plans to disable Flash by default on its Edge and Internet Explorer browsers, beginning from mid 2019 to late 2019.

Flash has come under heavy scrutiny and criticism, especially over the past couple of years, for being laden with bugs and security risks. As a result, vendors like Apple, Google, and Microsoft, had to work diligently to keep up with security fixes.

 

In the past few years, numerous computer security experts have called for Flash to be culled from existence. Now it’s finally happening. Thank goodness.

Russian president Vladmir Putin has just signed a law that bans VPNs, proxies, or any other internet tools that may provide access to websites banned in Russia, or allow people to browse the web anonymously. The law will come into effect starting November 1, according to a Reuters report.

 

The law has already been approved by the Russian Duma, or the lower house of parliament. Leonid Levin, head of the information policy committee of the Duma, said the law is only intended to block access to ‘unlawful’ content.

Or so the law says, but with a presidential election coming in March 2018, it’s entirely likely that the law is there to prevent dissent or from giving Russian citizens access to articles that are critical of the current president.

Chat apps are also required to identify users with their phone numbers starting January 1, 2018. This means that attaching your phone number to your Facebook account is no longer just an option; it will be required by law.

It looks like Russia has beaten China to the punch when it comes to restricting communications and controlling the flow of information. China’s government is already requiring telcos to block personal VPNs, but the blocking process has a February 1, 2018 deadline, instead of a complete enforcement starting date.

 

While we’re on the subject of China, Gizmodo cites a TechCrunch report that Apple has complied with the country’s wishes to have an impervious Great Firewall, and has removed all major VPN apps from the China App Store. Just goes to show that when Western companies are made to choose between championing freedom of speech and making money off the Chinese market, it’s not really surprising that money does indeed do the talking.

Grab, ride-sharing service, just received a cool US$2 billion (RM8.57 billion) in investment monies from Japanese telecoms firm SoftBank, and Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing. This amount does not include other Grab investors for its current financing round, which is estimated to be worth an extra US$500 million ~(RM2.14 billion).

According to TechCrunch, the new round of investment would bump up Grab’s valuation to US$6 billion (~RM25.7 billion) or higher – more than double of its last valuation at US$3 billion (~RM12.85 billion).

According to Bloomberg’s analysis panel with their in-house tech reporter Lulu Chen, this investment round would be the largest single financing round for consumer tech ventures based in Southeast Asia. Grab’s previous round from September 2016 raised US$750 million (~RM3.2 billion).

Grab will be using the funds to expand to different regions, and to tackle legislation costs, and address the inner workings of its online payment methods.

Currently, Grab is available in seven countries across SEA, with 1.1 million drivers using the platform. Besides the private-car and taxi hiring options we see in the local iteration, Grab also offers motorbike taxis and shuttle bus services, depending on the region you’re in.

 

In context, Didi Chuxing acquired Uber China in August 2016. Didi Chuxing is the result of two rival car-hailing apps coming together (they were back by giant Chinese tech firms, Tencent and Alibaba). As of April 2017, Didi Chuxing is worth roughly US$50 billion (~RM 214 billion).

Softbank is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and it is currently ranked #38 on Forbes Global 2000. The ranking is an indicator of the top 2000 public companies in the world.

The UK-based mobile-only Starling Bank has announced the integration of Apple Pay for its customers.

 

The bank thus becomes the first bank in the UK to offer ‘in-app provisioning’, meaning that new customers will be able to load their card into their digital wallet with a single tap.

 

When using a credit or debit card with Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are stored on a unique Device Account Number, encrypted and stored in the Secure Element on the devices. Each transaction is authorized with a one-time security code.

 

Online shopping in apps and on websites accepting the payment solution no longer requires the need to manually fill out account forms or repeatedly type in shipping and billing information. When paying for goods and services on the go in apps or Safari, the solution works with iPhone 6 and later, iPhone SE, iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 and later. One can also use the payment solution in Safari on any Mac introduced in or after 2012 running macOS Sierra and confirm the payment with iPhone 6 or later or Apple Watch, or with Touch ID on the new MacBook Pro

 

SatoshiPay has teamed up with the IOTA Foundation, a non-profit that oversees network development, to explore replacing Bitcoin with IOTA as its settlement network.

 

Both parties have agreed to work on a proof-of-concept project, to be supported by the IOTA Ecosystem Fund, which would combine SatoshiPay’s content payment interface with IOTA’s technology. SatoshiPay is a company that processes nanopayment transactions usually in the form of Bitcoins and has been relying on the Bitcoin network to settle payments since its product launch in 2015.

 

The move aims to phase out its use of the Bitcoin blockchain, as the underlying technology that enables its transactions, and to switch to another blockchain because of issues with the escalating costs of micropayments.

 

The IOTA network, the 8th largest cryptocurrency by the total value of its supply, according to CoinDesk, claims zero-fee transactions and does not limit the number of transactions per second of its processing. By contrast, according to CoinDesk’s forthcoming State of Blockchain report, the average transaction fee for Bitcoin blockchain was around USD 2.41 per transaction during April 2017-June 2017, up from below USD 0.02 in 2015.

 

The results of the joint proof-of-concept are expected to be presented in August 2017, according to the IOTA foundation.

 

Samsung has announced a partnership with PayPal to allow Samsung Pay users to make in-app, online and in-store payments with the US payment platform.

 

The service will be available in the US first and will be expanded to other countries in the near future. 

 

Moreover, Samsung Pay will be accepted as a payment method in apps and online through Braintree, a US-based online payment provider, acquired by PayPal in 2013.

 

After its launch in August 2015, the payments platform is now available in 18 markets: the US, China, Spain, Singapore, Australia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sweden, the UAE, Switzerland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the UK and Korea.

 


 

Apple has announced that it will enable PayPal payments in its digital stores, including iTunes, iBooks, Apple Music and the App Store.

 

The deal struck on 11 July 2017 will enable Apple customers in US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Australia and parts of Europe to choose PayPal as a payment option. The US-based payments service provider has also stated that it will integrate with Siri and bring the One Touch feature to Apple ID accounts, allowing for faster purchases.

 

Customers with an Apple ID will be able to select “PayPal” as a preferred payment method, which will make it the default payment method and all future purchases will be charged to the PayPal account. This includes one-time purchases as well as monthly fees such as Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud storage.

 

PayPal will also be added as a payment option directly on iOS, the company says. This will be available in all 12 markets, including the U.S.

 

PayPal has announced the introduction of PayPal Global Sellers, a cross-border trade service for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in the US.

In collaboration with Webinterpret, the service addresses the commonly cited international growth barriers with a suite of tools, including: website translation, taxes/duties presentment, international shipping and return facilitation, or localized payments.

The service can be accessed by more than 562,000 US SMBs that started to sell online with PayPal in 2016. Moreover, merchants can also be covered by PayPal Seller Protection, which is aimed at protecting merchant’s eligible online sales, helping minimize claims and chargebacks, and preventing fraud.

The service is also available in the UK and Germany, and will be expanded to additional markets later in 2017.

 

China’s government has told telcos to block individuals’ access to virtual private networks (VPNs) by February 1. According to sources to Bloomberg, state-run telcos like China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have been ordered to bar people from using VPNs – tools perceived as a loophole around the Great Firewall.

 

China’s access to the internet is an extremely restricted one, heavily censored with the intent of suppressing dissent. Plugging holes in the Great Firewall is in line with President Xi Jinping’s ‘cyber sovereignty’ campaign.

 

Businesses and corporations are reportedly exempt from this if they keep their VPN use internal, but they will have to lease lines with access to the internet as is known by the rest of the world, with their usage of such services registered for the record.

 

So while corporations can still access the free internet, it’s no dice for individuals, especially those who do not work for any corporation with corporate VPNs.

 

Tencent has applied for a license in Malaysia to offer local payment services via its WeChat Pay, reports Reuters.

 

If approved, users in Malaysia will be able to link their local bank accounts to WeChat Pay and pay for goods and services in ringgit.

 

WeChat Pay and Alibaba Group’s affiliate Alipay are turning China cashless by enabling payments or money transfers via code scan.

 

The pair are also expanding internationally in tandem with outbound tourism, getting more businesses to accept their services which allow users to make payments using bank accounts in China without complications posed by currency exchange.

 

Licenses for such cross-border payments differ from those required for local payment services. Hong Kong is currently the only location outside mainland China where WeChat Pay and Alipay offer payment services executed entirely in the local currency.

 

Alipay introduced a separate app for the Hong Kong market in May, its first non-yuan payment app.