By Reuters | Updated: 20 November 2021
Visa expects to resolve its credit card fee dispute with Amazon in Britain and hopes to continue its co-branded credit card partnership with the e-commerce giant in the United States, its Chief Financial Officer told Reuters.
Amazon said on Wednesday that it would stop taking payments from Visa credit cards in Britain from mid-January next year.
“We’ve resolved these things in the past and I believe we’ll resolve them in the future,” Vasant Prabhu said in an interview on Friday, adding: “It is our expectation that there will be a resolution so that UK consumers are not impacted.”
Shares in Visa pared losses after Reuters reported Prabhu’s comments, moving from 1.4 percent lower on the day to 0.5 percent lower. The shares then gave back those gains and were last trading down 1.4 percent.
Amazon said in its Wednesday statement that credit card charges should be “going down over time with technological advancements, but instead they continue to stay high or even rise.”
Analysts have suggested its stance may be a negotiating tactic. In the past, other big retailers have settled fee disputes with Visa after announcing they were going to quit taking its credit cards in narrow segments of their businesses.
Walmart’s unit in Canada, for example, said in 2016 it would stop accepting Visa credit cards after being unable to reach an agreement on fees. Seven months later the companies said they had settled the matter.
Prabhu said reports on Wednesday suggesting the dispute was the result of an EU-enforced cap on fees no longer applying in the UK after Brexit were “entirely inaccurate.”
That rule applied to cross-border transactions between the EU and UK, whereas the dispute relates to domestic transactions, he said.
In recent months, Amazon has also introduced surcharges on customers using Visa credit cards in Singapore and Australia, citing high fees, as the relationship between the two companies appeared to deteriorate.
Some analysts had expressed concern Amazon’s move in the UK could be a precursor to the retailer dropping Visa’s credit card in other territories, something Prabhu said he hoped would not materialize.
“Restricting consumer choice doesn’t help merchants either,” said Prabhu. “If a merchant tells me I can’t use my preferred card that is not helpful to me as a consumer.”
Amazon also said it is considering dropping Visa as partner on its US co-branded credit card and is in discussions about this with both with Mastercard and Visa.
Visa said it remains in discussions about continuing its partnership with Amazon and is hopeful that it will continue.
“We hope to get to the point where our relationship with Amazon goes back to being what it was,” Prabhu said.
Instagram Tightens Protection for Teen Users as US Senate Hearing Looms
By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 7 December 2021
Instagram on Tuesday tightened protections for teens on the eve of a Senate hearing about whether it is “toxic” for young users.
“Every day I see the positive impact that Instagram has for young people everywhere,” chief executive Adam Mosseri said in a post.
“I want to make sure that it stays that way, which means above all keeping them safe on Instagram.”
Instagram’s parent company Meta, which also oversees Facebook, is battling a serious reputational crisis after a whistleblower leaked reams of internal documents showing executives knew of their sites’ risks for teens’ well-being, prompting a renewed US push for regulation.
Mosseri is to testify Wednesday at a Senate committee hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Instagram and Reforms for Young Users.”
“After bombshell reports about Instagram’s toxic impacts, we want to hear straight from the company’s leadership why it uses powerful algorithms that push poisonous content to children driving them down rabbit holes to dark places, and what it will do to make its platform safer,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat.
Instagram will be stricter about what it recommends to teen users, and will stop people from mentioning teens who don’t follow them on the platform, according to Mosseri.
Instagram will also start “nudging” teens toward new topics if there is one they have been dwelling on for a while, and suggest they take a break if they have been spending a lot of time on the platform, Mosseri said.
“If someone has been scrolling for a certain amount of time, we’ll ask them to take a break from Instagram,” Mosseri said.
The break suggestion feature launched in Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States, and will expand to other countries by early next year, according to Instagram.
The platform also introduced an educational hub for parents, to “help them get more involved with their teen’s experiences” and tools for them to set limits on how much time their children spend in the app, Mosseri said.
“Meta is attempting to shift attention from their mistakes by rolling out parental guides, use timers, and content control features that consumers should have had all along,” Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn said in a statement.
“My colleagues and I see right through what they are doing.”
Meta has vehemently pushed back at accusations that its platforms are “toxic” for teens or that it puts profit over user safety.
Facing pressure, the company had previously announced that it would suspend but not abandon the development of a version of Instagram meant for users younger than 13.
Apple’s ‘Hands-Off’ Approach With Roblox Draws Focus in US Antitrust Probe: Report
By Reuters | Updated: 7 December 2021
US prosecutors are looking for instances in which Apple is unevenly enforcing rules for app developers such as gaming firm Roblox and some others, the Information reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is probing key revelations from the antitrust trial between Apple and Epic Games in May, according to the report, in which the Fortnite maker had argued that Apple had given a free pass to Roblox, whose app lets people pick from a selection of games to play.
Following this, Roblox had removed reference to the word “game” and changed it to “experiences”, the Information reported.
The DOJ recently asked Roblox why it made the language change and also wants to know whether Apple’s 2019 launch of its Arcade game app store made it more difficult for game developers to compete with the iPhone maker, according to the report.
Apple, DOJ did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. Epic Games declined to comment.
The tech news website had reported in late October that the DOJ was accelerating its two-year-old antitrust probe on Apple in the last several months, increasing the likelihood of a lawsuit.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
Twitter Admits Policy ‘Errors’ After Far-Right Abuse Its New Rules of Posting Pictures
By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 4 December 2021
Twitter’s new picture permission policy was aimed at combating online abuse, but US activists and researchers said Friday that far-right backers have employed it to protect themselves from scrutiny and to harass opponents.
Even the social network admitted the rollout of the rules, which say anyone can ask Twitter to take down images of themselves posted without their consent, was marred by malicious reports and its teams’ own errors.
It was just the kind of trouble anti-racism advocates worried was coming after the policy was announced this week.
“Anyone with a Twitter account should be reporting doxxing posts from the following accounts,” the message said, with a list of dozens of Twitter handles.
Gwen Snyder, an organizer and researcher in Philadelphia, said her account was blocked this week after a report to Twitter about a series of 2019 photos she said showed a local political candidate at a march organized by extreme-right group Proud Boys.
Rather than go through an appeal with Twitter she opted to delete the images and alert others to what was happening.
“Twitter moving to eliminate (my) work from their platform is incredibly dangerous and is going to enable and embolden fascists,” she told AFP.
But the rules don’t apply to “public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweets are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”
By Friday, Twitter noted the roll out had been rough: “We became aware of a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports, and unfortunately, our enforcement teams made several errors.”
“We’ve corrected those errors and are undergoing an internal review to make certain that this policy is used as intended,” the firm added.
Microsoft Office’s New UI Now Rolling Out for Everyone
By ANI | Updated: 3 December 2021
American tech conglomerate Microsoft has started to roll out a new Office UI for its users this week. The visual update was originally announced earlier this year and went into testing over the summer.
Now it’s starting to roll out to all Office 365 and Office 2021 users, according to The Verge. This new Office UI is designed to match the visual changes in Windows 11, and it includes a more rounded look to the Office ribbon bar, with some subtle tweaks to the buttons throughout Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.
It’s a relatively simple refresh, and Office will now match the dark or light theme that you set inside Windows. The new-look can be toggled on or off using the Coming Soon megaphone icon in the top right-hand corner of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote.
It should be available for all Windows 11 users right now, and Microsoft says 50 percent of current channel subscribers will have the visual update enabled automatically.
Most of the design changes are subtle, but Microsoft has teased more dramatic changes to its Office UI, which included moving toward more of a command bar instead of the traditional ribbon interface.
As per The Verge, it’s still expected to see these changes appear in the Web and mobile versions of Office first, and Microsoft did say last year that its bigger Office UI changes could take a year or two to roll out.
WhatsApp Said to Win Approval to Double Payments Offering to 40 Million Users in India
By Reuters | Updated: 27 November 2021.
WhatsApp has won regulatory approval to double the number of users on its payments service in India to 40 million, a source with direct knowledge told Reuters on Friday. The company had requested that there should be no cap on users of its payment service in India.
Instead, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) this week told the company it could double the user base to which it can offer its payment service – currently restricted to 20 million – the source said.
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which recently changed its name to Meta.
The source said the new cap would still hinder the company’s growth prospects given that WhatsApp’s messenger service has more than 500 million users in India, the company’s biggest market.
It was not clear when the new cap would come into effect.
WhatsApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while the NPCI declined to comment.
WhatsApp competes with Alphabet’s Google Pay, SoftBank- and Ant Group-backed Paytm, and Walmart’s PhonePe in India’s crowded digital market.
The NPCI gave WhatsApp approval to start its payments service last year after the company spent years trying to comply with Indian regulations, including data storage norms that require all payments-related data to be stored locally.
WhatsApp has almost reached its user base of 20 million for payment services, said the source, who declined to be identified as the details are private.
Online transactions, lending and e-wallet services have been growing rapidly in India, led by a government push to make the country’s cash-loving merchants and consumers adopt digital payments.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
China Demands Tencent Submit New Apps, Updates to Inspection Before Being Uploaded: Report
By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2021
China has required Tencent Holdings submit any new apps or updates for inspections before they can be uploaded after a number of its apps were found to have committed violations, Chinese financial media outlet Yicai reported on Wednesday.
Yicai, citing unnamed sources, said the Chinese social media and gaming giant had been required to do so by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) after some of its apps were found to have infringed users’ rights and interests.
Chinese authorities are requesting that Tencent's new apps and updates of existing apps are checked before release as some were found to be infringing users' rights, the ministry of industry said today. The tech giant said earlier that its apps are working and can be downloaded. pic.twitter.com/x9WP393tne— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) November 24, 2021
It also said that MIIT had recently issued a notice to say that between November 24 to December 31, all mobile apps and their updates will need to undergo a roughly seven-day-long review before they can be uploaded to app stores.
Tencent said its apps remained functional and available for download in response to Yicai’s and other local media reports.
“We are continuously working to enhance user protection features within our apps, and also have regular cooperation with relevant government agencies to ensure regulatory compliance. Our apps remain functional and available for download,” the company said.
Chinese regulators have in over the past year mounted a wide-ranging crackdown on its tech giants, seeking to dismantle some of the industry’s long-held practices after accusing them of monopolistic behaviour and infringing user rights.
This has included a step up in checks on mobile apps by regulators. On November 3, MIIT ordered 38 apps from companies, including those of Tencent, to rectify the excessive collection of personal information.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
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