Amazon’s Flailing China Unit Plots Major Merger to Challenge Alibaba

Talks are underway to merge Amazon’s Chinese venture with NetEase-owned Kaola, according to business publication Caijing. Kaola is a Chinese e-commerce firm which specializes in selling imports. The business publication added that an agreement had been inked late last year amidst difficult negotiations. NetEase is listed on the Nasdaq and boasts a market cap of slightly over $30 billion. Besides Kaola, the Chinese tech giant also develops internet content, including games for personal computers and mobile devices. Amazon China Chooses to Compete in a Niche Rather than Target Alibaba Directly Currently, Kaola is the biggest Chinese e-commerce firm that deals

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How Apple is Preparing for Life After the iPhone [No, not Buying Netflix With the $250 Billion Cash Pile]

With the iPhone contributing more than 60% of Apple’s sales, it will be hard to replace it with another blockbuster product to compensate for the dwindling sales of the iconic gadget. But the iPhone maker has every intention of filling that void. Towards this end, according to The Wall Street Journal, the tech giant is making leadership changes and reordering priorities. One of the most prominent leadership changes that Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced was the replacement of the retail chief Angela Ahrendts with human resources head, Deirdre O’Brien, as CCN reported. Earlier this month, the vice president of

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Bitcoin Mining Giant Bitmain Reveals $500 Million Loss; End of the IPO Dream?

The world’s largest maker of cryptocurrency mining equipment Bitmain made a $0.5 billion loss in 2018’s Q3, CoinDesk reports. Citing a source who viewed an update that was filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange the publication also reported that Bitmain generated revenues of more than $3 billion during the first three quarters of 2018 with only $200 million being generated in Q3. The loss is evidence that the crypto bear market has dampened demand for mining rigs, the firm’s major product. It comes at a particularly bad time as Bitmain has been planning an IPO on the Hong Kong

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US Sanctions Squeezes Russia’s 3rd Biggest Bank into Freezing Venezuela Oil Firm’s Accounts

Russia’s third-biggest bank by assets Gazprombank has elected to freeze the bank accounts belonging to Venezuelan state oil firm Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), Reuters reports. Citing sources, the report indicated that the state-owned lender did so to lower its risks of coming under U.S. sanctions. Alongside China, Iran, Turkey and other countries, Russia is one of the strongest supporters of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro. Last month when Venezuela’s National Assembly head, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim president the four voiced their support for Maduro. This was contrary to the position taken by the United States and other western powers.

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New Zealand to Slap ‘Digital Services Tax’ on Internet Giants Google, Facebook: Will this Antagonize the US?

Following the precedent set by some European countries such as Austria, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, New Zealand has indicated it will introduce a digital services tax. This is expected to affect internet giants such as Google and Facebook, according to the New Zealand Herald. Per New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, this is aimed at achieving ‘fairness and balance’ in the country’s tax system. Currently, according to Ardern large internet firms have been fulfilling their tax obligations as required by law: Highly digitalized companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently

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Why Won’t Crypto Exchange Cryptopia Come Clean on How Disastrous Last Month’s Hack Really Was?

New Zealand-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia disclosed that local police have allowed employees to return to the firm’s office following its suspension of operations mid last month after a multi-million dollar security breach. In the latest update, the cryptocurrency exchange has indicated that investigations are still ongoing, however. Hacked Crypto Exchange Reopens Update: The police have now given us access back to our building, while they continue their investigations. Our staff are working relentlessly to evaluate the funds that were stolen. — Cryptopia Exchange (@Cryptopia_NZ) February 14, 2019 Cryptopia’s announcement comes shortly after the police gave the crypto exchange the green

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Russia Isn’t Bothered to Recognize Bitcoin for Now, Says Justice Minister; What Drove his Decision?

Russia’s Minister of Justice, Alexander Konovalov, has indicated that it is unnecessary to give cryptocurrencies a legal definition at this point in time, according to the country’s state-owned news agency TASS. In a meeting with Russian legislators, Konavalov argued that it would be unwise to define cryptocurrencies in their current state. Additionally, Konavalov said it was also premature to formalize legislation touching on cryptocurrencies in Russia. As was reported by CCN mid last month, there are legislative efforts relating to cryptocurrencies and ICOs being undertaken by the Russian parliament. Why Russia Wants to Go-Slow on Crypto Regulation The Justice Minister’s

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Donald Trump, California Governor Feud over $3.5 Billion Bullet Train Project – Is the President Right?

California’s bullet train project is the latest thorn that’s nagging U.S. President Donald Trump. In a tweet, Trump claimed that California had canceled the bullet train project after wasting ‘billions of dollars’. He then demanded that the Golden State refund the $3.5 billion that the federal government had allocated to the project. The federal funds for the 220 mph train project were awarded nine years ago. California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars. They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that

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Indonesia Slaps Strict Regulations for Cryptocurrency Futures Trading – Is the Sector Dead On Arrival?

With the Indonesian government requiring cryptocurrency traders to keep a deposit of 80 billion rupiah (approximately $5.7 million) among other requirements in order to participate in futures trading, sector players have complained that this will strangle the nascent industry. The new regulations were released last week by the Indonesian markets regulator, the Commodity Future Trading Regulatory Agency (BAPPEBTI). Just How Punishing are Indonesia’s New Regulations for Crypto Futures? Among the various requirements, the minimum paid-up capital levels have emerged as a major sticking point, per The Jakarta Post. Besides a minimum deposit of $5.7 million, there’s also a minimum paid-up

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Morgan Stanley to Spend $900 Million in Biggest Acquisition Since 2008 Crisis; Will the Trump Admin Approve?

Morgan Stanley is shelling out $0.9 billion to acquire stock-plan firm Solium Capital. The acquisition of the firm that mainly specializes in offering Software-as-a-Service for managing employee share plans, ‘financial reporting and compliance’ is expected to bolster Morgan Stanley’s wealth management business. This is the biggest acquisition that the bank has made in the last decade. Morgan Stanley to Acquire @Solium, Creating a Leading Provider of Stock Plan Administration and Workplace Wealth Solutions. Read more here: https://t.co/JNOFiO2N33 #equitycomp @morganstanley — Solium (@Solium) February 11, 2019 Solium boasts of 3,000 stock plan clients, nearly 10 times more compared to Morgan Stanley.

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California Might Force Silicon Valley to Pay ‘Data Dividends’ – How Will Google & Facebook Respond?

A little over four weeks since being sworn into office, California Governor Gavin Newsom has already started making enemies in the tech sector – specifically with Silicon Valley powerhouses like Google and Facebook. Gavin Newsom is Already Making Enemies in Silicon Valley In his inaugural State of the State Address given on Tuesday, Governor Newsom revealed that a proposal was being developed with a view toward ensuring that internet users profit from the data obtained from them by online platforms, according to The Sacramento Bee: “California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from

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Israeli NGO Threatens to Sue Coinbase for Enabling Hamas’ Bitcoin Donations

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has been threatened with a lawsuit by an Israeli civil rights NGO Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) if it continues to allow Hamas to fundraise via its platform, The Jerusalem Post reports. Shurat HaDin now wants Coinbase to stop offering services to the Palestinian fundamentalist organization Hamas. The United States, where Coinbase is headquartered, views Hamas as a ‘Foreign Terrorist Organization’. The warning came in a letter sent to the cryptocurrency exchange by the NGO: It has recently come to our attention that the notorious Palestinian terrorist group Hamas currently maintains an account with Coinbase, Inc. (“Coinbase”),

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Egyptian Billionaire Naguib Sawiris Defends Trump’s Trade War, Blasts China for ‘Raping Us’

In what is bound to be pleasing to the ears of U.S. President Donald Trump, Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has sided with the hardline stance that the leader of the world’s largest economy has taken amid the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Speaking with CNBC, Sawiris agreed with Trump’s well-known sentiment that China has been taking advantage of the United States and other countries. “President Trump is right about that: This has been a long time where we closed eyes on China raping us.” Sawiris has expressed his fondness for Trump in previous interviews. Sawiris Sides with Trump on Trade War,

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Chairman Misconduct Scandal Costs Nissan $84 Million amid Slashed Profit Forecast

Japanese auto giant Nissan has revised its sales and profit forecast for the full year which ends next month downwards. The carmaker now estimates that its operating profit will come in at 450 billion yen ($4.1 billion). Previously Nissan had been expecting an operating profit of 540 billion yen. Despite the lowered full-year outlook, Nissan’s operating profit for the quarter that ended in December rose to 103.3 billion yen. In a similar period a year prior, the Japanese auto giant generated an operating profit of 82.4 billion yen. Nissan Expects to Sell Fewer Cars Globally Nissan’s operating margin is also

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A Bitcoin Bashing Nobel Economist Expects a Global Recession; Will Crypto Prove Him Wrong?

Noted bitcoin basher and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has warned that the global economy could be headed for a recession this year, according to CNBC. Per Krugman, the recession could occur towards the end of this year or in 2020: I think that there is a quite good chance that we will have a recession late this year (or) next year. According to the economist who won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on among other subjects trade theory, the next economic downturn could be prompted by a variety of causes. Many Factors in Play

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Swiss Franc Plummets – Here’s What Caused the Haven Currency’s Mini ‘Flash Crash’

On Monday during the Tokyo session, the Swiss franc (CHF) was aggressively sold. The USD/CHF pair, for instance, touched the 1.0106 level. This was a high that the pair last reached in November last year. On the other hand, the Euro/Swiss Franc (EUR/CHF) pair touched the 1.1422 mark. Against the Japanese yen, the franc fell to 108.80 while against the sterling pound it touched the 1.3056 level. Swiss Franc Rises Sharply Then Fills Gap, Breaking its Average Trading Range But within a matter of minutes, the sharp moves were reversed. For the USDCHF it resulted in a trading range of over

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Jeff Bezos vs National Enquirer: A ‘Government Entity’ May Have Leaked Raunchy Messages

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ security consultant for two decades, Gavin de Becker, has formed the opinion that the publication of personal details pertaining to Bezos’ extra-marital affair by The National Enquirer may have been politically motivated. Speaking to MSNBC, Washington Post features writer Manuel Roig-Franzia revealed that de Becker and his team had concluded that Bezos’s phone was not hacked. Rather, Bezos’ personal and confidential information may have been obtained by a government body: Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked. He thinks it’s possible that a government entity might have

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Sony Shares Jump after Japanese Giant Announces Unprecedented ¥100 Billion Stock Buyback

Japanese conglomerate Sony will kick off a $910 million stock buyback program beginning next week, Reuters reports. The move will result in Sony buying a maximum of 30 million of its own shares. Consequently, the amount of the company’s outstanding shares will be reduced by 2.4%. According to a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, Masahiro Wakasugi, Sony’s move was likely driven by the company stock’s recent price decline: It seems they were perturbed by the steep stock decline. They’re watching the stock price, cash flow is strong and they have the financial resources to carry this out. So it’s a strong message

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Facebook’s Crypto Shopping Spree Isn’t Over Yet. Here’s Who Else They Might Acquire.

Facebook’s crypto ambitions are reportedly not limited to its acquisition of blockchain startup Chainspace, according to The Information. Facebook Has Met with at Least Three More Crypto Startups Citing unnamed sources, the publication said Facebook has been eyeing several blockchain startups with a view of making acquisitions. Some of these firms include Algorand, Basis and Keybase. Around two months the social media giant reportedly held discussions with stablecoin startup Basis. This was after Basis had signaled that it was shutting down in mid-December over regulation concerns. However, nothing materialized from the discussion. Facebook’s Plans to Develop a USD-Pegged Cryptocurrency Interestingly,

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Newsflash: Indian Hospital Claims QuadrigaCX CEO Died Under its Care – Will it End Suspicion?

Amidst all the suspicion that has followed the sudden closure of QuadrigaCX crypto exchange and cold wallets containing $150 million being inaccessible following the death of the company’s chief executive, Gerald Cotten, a hospital in India has confirmed that the CEO died while in its care. According to Fortis Escorts Hospital, Cotten succumbed to a heart attack on December 9 last year. The Fortis Escorts Hospital is located in Jaipur, the capital of the northern Indian state of Rajasthan. Per the Times of India, Cotten was declared dead in the evening at 7.26 PM. Cotten had also been suffering from

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Apple’s Retail Chief Calls it Quits – Will Her Shocking Departure Throw Tim Cook’s Successsion Race Wide Open?

Apple’s senior vice president of retail, Angela Ahrendts, will be leaving the company in the next two months. Ahrendts has been serving as the iPhone maker’s retail chief since 2014. She was the highest-ranked female executive at Apple and a top candidate to succeed Tim Cook as CEO. Before joining Apple, Ahrendts was the CEO of British luxury fashion house Burberry Group PLC. Ahrendts will be succeeded by Deirdre O’Brien, who has been an Apple insider for about three decades. Apple to Combine Human Resources and Retail Head Roles Currently, O’Brien is the human resources vice president. Her new title

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Elon Musk Says Tesla Model 3 is Now $1,100 Cheaper; Just Don’t Expect to Pay Below $35,000 Yet

Tesla’s ending of the customer referral program last month was not in vain as buyers of the Model 3 will now be able to save more than a thousand dollars on their purchase. According to CNBC, the price of the Model 3 has been reduced by $1,100. It will now cost $43,000 to drive off in, or take delivery of, the entry-level electric car. After credits and fuel savings it will be around $35,000, per Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Model 3 starting cost now ~$35k (after ~$8k of credits & fuel savings) https://t.co/46TXqRrsdr — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 6, 2019

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$225 Billion Abu Dhabi State Fund Dumps 35 Million AMD Shares for Cash – Has the Chipmaker Hit a Market Top?

Sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co has announced the sale of nearly 35 million shares in semiconductor firm Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). According to Reuters, the state fund of Abu Dhabi disposed of 34.9 million common equity shares in AMD. Mubadala also intends to convert 75 million warrants in the chipmaker into common equity shares. After the conversion Mubadala will have an ownership stake of around 6.9%. The chipmaker will benefit from the conversion to the tune of $448.5 million. Per a spokesperson, Mubadala’s decision to sell part of its stake in AMD was driven by its investment strategy. This

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Japan Megabanks Kill Joint Blockchain Money Transfer Project, Turn to Their Own Cryptocurrencies

Three of Japan’s biggest banks have canceled a joint project of a blockchain-based peer-to-peer money transfer service. The three so-called Japanese ‘megabanks’, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group, said the joint venture was a duplication of their individual efforts. They thus saw no need to continue, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. Per the Japanese publication, the joint initiative would have allowed their customers to send and receive funds using email addresses or mobile phone numbers via virtual accounts linked to their bank accounts. Japanese Megabanks Partner With Fujitsu As previously reported by CCN

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Sony Shares Sink 8% Amid Declining Gaming Sales – Is a PlayStation 5 Coming in 2020?

Shares of Sony fell by 8% after the Japanese entertainment and technology giant recorded a decline in sales and profits. Specifically, Sony’s gaming division, which has become increasingly critical to the conglomerate saw operating income from games fell by 14% to $666 million during the October-December holiday quarter, according to Bloomberg. Sony sold 8.1 million units of the PlayStation 4 during the quarter in question. The PS4 is currently in its sixth year. For the full year, Sony also reduced its forecast from 8.7 trillion yen to 8.5 trillion yen. Sony’s Shares fall in Tokyo Consequently, Sony’s shares fell 8.1%

Sony Shares Sink 8% Amid Declining Gaming Sales – Is a PlayStation 5 Coming in 2020? by CCN

Tesla Starts Selling the Cheaper Model 3 in China [But Import Duty and Other Costs Still Makes it Expensive]

Tesla has begun taking orders for a cheaper version of the Model 3 in China. The electric car maker will now start selling the Model 3 Long-Range rear-wheel drive version marked at $64,400, Reuters reports. This is significantly cheaper than the Model 3 Performance which was already available in China starting at $83,000. In the United States, the same car starts at about $63,000. Import Duty Comprises a Big Chunk of the Cost of a Tesla in China Part of the reason for the difference in price is the import duty imposed by China on cars manufactured abroad. After the U.S.-China

Tesla Starts Selling the Cheaper Model 3 in China [But Import Duty and Other Costs Still Makes it Expensive] by CCN

Crypto Firms Flock to Estonia: Is the Country’s E-Residency Program a Giant Loophole for Money-Laundering?

Estonia’s e-Residency program allows location-independent non-citizens and firms to access services such as banking digitally. Cryptocurrency firms have particularly embraced the program warmly with around 600 of them estimated to be registered there currently. Consequently, the Estonian central bank deputy governor, Madis Muller, says the program poses a money-laundering risk In quotes reported by Reuters, the central bank chief stated: There is a money laundering risk with cryptocurrency operators. We have made it too easy for these crypto operators now. They get a reputational benefit from their link to Estonia. We get the reputational risk. Empowering Estonian Police to Investigate

Crypto Firms Flock to Estonia: Is the Country’s E-Residency Program a Giant Loophole for Money-Laundering? by CCN

Ban Hammer Remains: South Korea’s Financial Services Commission Refuses to Lift ICO Ban

The ban on initial coin offerings in South Korea will stay, the country’s financial regulator has said in a statement. The decision by the South Korean Financial Services Commission (FSC) follows a survey which the regulator commissioned. Among the findings of the survey include the fact that some ICO projects misrepresented themselves. For instance, some had claimed to be fundraising abroad but they went on to involve South Koreans. Dirty Tricks Employed to Evade ICO Ban According to the FSC, the projects did this by registering in Singapore in order to circumvent South Korea’s ICO ban. Some of the evidence

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Elon Musk’s Bombshell Earnings Call Reveals Tesla’s CFO is Leaving [Again] as Stock Falls After-Hours

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced that the electric car maker’s long-serving chief financial officer (CFO), Deepak Ahuja, is leaving the company after over a decade of service, CNBC reports. Musk made the announcement towards the end of an earnings conference call. Tesla’s shares fell sharply by nearly 5% in after-hours trading. This is not Ahuja’s first time to resign from the electric car maker. He first departed in 2015 only to rejoin two years later. This was to replace Jason Wheeler, who had abruptly resigned as the CFO. How do you not include the departure of your CFO in

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Iran Launches Gold-backed Cryptocurrency as Anticipation for Crypto-Rial Grows to Evade US Sanctions

A gold-backed cryptocurrency has been launched in the Islamic Republic of Iran,. The cryptocurrency known as Peyman (the Persian word for covenant) is the fruit of cooperation between four banks and Ghoghnoos Company. The four partner banks are Parsian Bank, Bank Pasargad, Bank Melli Iran and Bank Mellat. Iran Fara Bourse, an over-the-counter exchange, is also expected to host the new currency, Iranian English daily Financial Tribune reports. Tokenization of Assets Belonging to Banks According to a Ghoghnoos director, Valiollah Fatemi, Peyman will be used to tokenize banks’ assets and excess properties: The token can function like a wallet and channel

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