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Amazon Prime Day Pushed to September as Company Returns to Normalcy: Report

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Amazon is scheduling its annual Prime Day shopping event for September and allowing unlimited shipments of non-essential goods to warehouses, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The latter move will allow the company to lay the groundwork for shipments of a wider variety of products, indicating it is now in a position to process orders more quickly in its warehouses and create room for more inventory, the report said.

Amazon declined to comment to a Reuters request for comment on the report.

It was reported in April that the e-commerce giant is postponing the major summer shopping event until at least August.

Prime Day, a marketing event Amazon started in 2015 to drum up sales during the summer shopping lull, has previously occurred in July, though the company never publishes the date far in advance.

The decision to delay it means Amazon will have about 5 million extra devices it would have expected to sell sooner, items like its suite of voice-controlled Echo speakers that have been popular orders during the event. It also affects third-party merchants who have come to depend on Amazon’s platform for revenue.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Facebook renames digital wallet for Libra crypto as Novi

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Facebook has said that it has changed the name and brand of its digital wallet designed for Libra cryptocurrency project — from Calibra to Novi. The Libra project, a new payment system which is built on blockchain technology, has faced regulatory challenges in the past for perceived threat to monetary sovereignty and other issues, leading to the withdrawal of several heavyweights.

“Our hope is to introduce an early version of Novi when the Libra network is available,” Facebook said in a statement. “We’ll roll it out in an initial set of countries, with features that will make cross-border money transfers instant, secure, and with no hidden fees,” it added.

The name Novi was inspired by the Latin words “novus” for “new” and “via” for “way.”

Facebook said that with Novi, sending money will be as easy as sending a message. People will be able to use Novi as a stand-alone app, as well as in Messenger and WhatsApp, the social networking giant said.

“All Novi customers will be verified using government-issued ID, and fraud protections will be built in throughout the app,” Facebook said.

Facebook and 20 partner organisations formally joined the digital currency project during a meeting in Geneva in October last year. Companies like PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Mercado Pago, eBay, Stripe and Booking Holdings and Vodafone later have withdrawn from the project.

In a move to win regulators hearts, Facebook-backed The Libra Association last month announced that its cryptocurrency will offer stable coins backed by just one nations currency, meaning some coins offered would serve as the equivalent value of a dollar or a Euro.

In a white paper, The Libra Association took a scaled-down approach to woo its critics, saying that Libra will focus on building a payment network in which coins are tied to a variety of local currencies.

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JioMart Online Grocery Service Now Available in 200 Towns Across India

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Reliance Industries has launched an online grocery service, JioMart, the head of its grocery retail business said, in a move aimed at rivalling Amazon.com’s local unit and Walmart’s Flipkart in the huge Indian market.

JioMart will deliver groceries in more than 200 towns across the country, Damodar Mall, chief executive of grocery retail at the Indian conglomerate, said on Twitter late on Saturday.


Mumbai-headquartered Reliance has not announced JioMart’s launch at a time it is selling $7 billion (roughly Rs. 53,000 crores) in new shares.

Reliance launched a small pilot of JioMart deliveries in select areas of the Indian financial capital Mumbai late last month, days after announcing that Facebook would spend $5.7 billion for 9.99  percent stake in the company’s digital unit, Jio Platforms.

That partnership will help Reliance roll out service for India’s grocers and small businesses by capitalising on India’s 400 million-strong user base for Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service.

JioMart, the e-commerce venture of Reliance’s retail arm, offers free express grocery delivery from neighbourhood mom-and-pop stores. It will pose a formidable challenge to local rivals, which are also betting big on groceries for their growth.

The launch comes as India is witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases. A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the product catalogue on JioMart’s website will be expanded after lockdown restrictions aimed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus are eased.

“Never waste a crisis, they say!” Mall said in his tweet. “A wise colleague mentioned today, ‘Alibaba also flourished starting from the SARS crisis.'”


The oil-to-telecoms giant, controlled by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the launch.

Reliance is on a fundraising spree with Jio Platforms, which houses telecoms ventures Jio Infocomm, winning a massive $10 billion from investors including Facebook, KKR, and General Atlantic in a month.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Apple, Google Release Early Version of Their Contact Tracing Tech, Say 23 Countries Show Interest

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Authorities in 23 countries across five continents have sought access to contact tracing technology from Apple and Alphabet’s Google, the companies announced on Wednesday as they released the initial version of their system.

But authorities would have to stop requiring phone numbers from users under the companies’ rules, one of several restrictions that have left governments fighting the novel coronavirus frustrated that the world’s top two smartphone software makers undercut the technology’s usefulness by prioritizing user privacy.

Apple and Google said) several US states and 22 countries have sought access to their technology, but it is unclear how many will end up publishing mobile apps that use it.

Using apps to accelerate contact tracing, in which authorities identify and test people who were recently near a virus carrier, has emerged as a tool to stem new outbreaks. It could help authorities test more potentially infected individuals than they would normally be able to based on patients recalling recent interactions from memory.

But some governments contend their app-based efforts would be more effective if they could track users’ locations to identify hot spots for virus transmission and notify them about possible exposure through calls or texts, rather than a generic push notification.

Apple and Google have barred authorities using their technology from collecting GPS location data or requiring users to enter personal data.

“We have a collision of tech, privacy and health professionals and the Venn diagram doesn’t really have a spot where they all overlap,” said Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at cybersecurity company Sophos.

Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries that have sought to develop their own technology are experiencing glitches, draining device batteries and seeing limited adoption.

Apple and Google have said their system will more reliably use Bluetooth connections between devices to log users who are in physical proximity for at least five minutes.

Developers of contact tracing apps for Austria, Germany, and Switzerland told Reuters this week they were moving forward with the Apple-Google technology and were fine not knowing users’ phone numbers.

Other governments are hedging their bets. Norway plans to compare the effectiveness of its Smittestopp app with an Apple-Google-based app, Gun Peggy Knudsen, acting deputy director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said in an interview.

Smittestopp, which has a development budget of about $5 million (roughly Rs. 37.8 crores), accesses GPS location and requires phone numbers. But it has seen limited use because of a low number of new infections.

“If the tracing is so much better with the Apple-Google tool, then perhaps we should switch and we would consider what we need to do to do the switch,” Knudsen said.

North Dakota, which offered the first US contact tracing app, told Reuters on Wednesday it will leave its initial Care19 app as a location-tracking “diary” tool to help patients jog their memories. But it also will release a new Care19 Exposure app based on the Apple-Google technology.

The Australian government said it was in talks with Apple and Google about enhancing its COVIDSafe app, which currently requires phone numbers, postcodes, and age ranges.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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