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Flipkart Acquires 100% Stake In Cleartrip To Diversify Its Offerings!

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In a bid to increase the diversification of its offerings, Flipkart is all set to acquire a 100% stake in Cleartrip!

On Thursday, the Walmart-owned e-commerce giant announced that it will acquire the operations of Cleartrip, one of India’s oldest online travel booking portal.

As part of the deal, Flipkart will retain all the employees of Cleartrip and let it continue operating as a separate brand, while the latter subsequently helps the e-com major develop technology solutions.

Note here that the terms of the acquisition are yet to be disclosed. However, the deal, which is currently being expected to be a mix of cash and equity, will likely value the online travel agent at $40 million. As per media reports from earlier this week, it is being considered as a distress sale amid the fast-changing market conditions due to Covid19 which has hit the Hospitality and Travel industry the hardest.

Cleartrip was founded back in 2006 by Hrush Bhatt, Matthew Spacie and Stuart Crighton. It has been competing with rivals such as Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, and other newer entrants such as EaseMyTrip, Yatra, Ixigo and more for the past decade.

The travel booking space competition heavily intensified when Naspers merged MakeMyTrip and its portfolio company Goibibo in 2016. In the following three years, Naspers sold its shares in the joint entity to China-based Ctrip, an existing investor in MakeMyTrip, and then exited the entire travel industry.

Cleartrip finding itself amid cut-throat competition, forayed into the space of local experiences in late 2015 and started offering a range of activity to its customers such as cycle rides, food trails, workshops and more.

However, soon, when the coronavirus outbreak arrived in India last year, it severely impacted the travel and hospitality sector, which further led to shrinking revenues for Cleartrip. The online travel agent laid off close to 400-500 employees amid the thick of the pandemic. In FY20, Cleartrip incurred Rs 14 crores in losses while its revenue stood at 318 crores.

Stuart Crighton, Co-Founder of Cleartrip, in a statement, mentioned that the company has been a pioneer when it comes to capitalising on technology to simplify the travel experience for its customers. And, it is the same product drive approach that helped Cleartrip become the preferred travel partner to numerous consumers in different regions and a wide range of markets.

All in all, Flipkart’s acquisition of Cleartirp comes at a time when the Walmart-owned e-com giant and rival Amazon are aggressively invading the hotel and travel bookings space as part of a bigger mission to diversify their offerings in new growth areas such as food delivery, e-pharmacy, selling financial products and more.

Flipkart had earlier struck a partnership with MakeMyTrip to boost distribution and later announced a similar arrangement with Ixigo back in 2019. On the other hand, Amazon partnered up with Cleartrip to power their flight booking feature during the same year.

It now remains to be seen how will this acquisition plays out to Flipkart’s advantage and what will be Amazon’s new move in the same direction. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

Starting 2022, Paytm Payments Bank Will Let You Make Cross-Border Transactions!

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Paytm’s digital banking offering aka Paytm Payments Bank or PPB is all set to make their customers’ lives a whole lot easier.

According to the latest media report, PPB is planing to facilitate cross-broader and domestic remittances soon. This newly proposed initiative comes after PayTM, and several other investors put forward a bid to acquire a new umbrella license, aka NUE license, from the RBI.

Satish Kumar Gupta, CEO and Managing Director of Paytm Payments Bank, in a statement about the same, said that the adoption pace of digital payments in the country will grow significantly if their bid is approved.

Furthermore, Gupta also mentioned that PPB has already become the biggest enabler of digital transactions in the country by reaching the milestone of processing 970 million transactions in March 2021. But that’s not all. 

Paytm Payments Bank has also become the largest ‘digital-only’ banking institution with close to 64 million bank accounts being held by consumers and deposits of over Rs 3,200 crores.

Note here that PPB’s overal digital transactions are diversified across several other PayTM facilitate platforms such as UPI, digital wallet, P2P transfer and FASTag.

Thus, as a result, the digital bank was not worried about the repercussions of National Payments Corporation aka NCPI’s decision to cap market share when it comes to UPI transactions, said Gupta.

He also added that PPB have been reporting a profit from the year 2018-19 and this will help the bank see conversion from being a payments bank to to a small finance bank aka SFB.

Despite promising that it will relax the rules to allow payments banks to convert into SFBs if they are profitable for three consistent years, the RBI is yet to release an official notice about the same. As of now, Paytm is seeking to convert their business into an SFB which will also enable them to extend loans to their customers.

Gupta mentioned that Paytm Payments Bank was still able to grow their transactions in both numbers and in value by almost 25% even though it was severely hit by the COVID-19 included lockdown in the first three months of FY21.

In addition to growing their domestic remittance business, Paytm has already received approval for enabling the facilitation of inward remittance from foreign countries from 2022. And currently, it is focusing on opening up another business avenue by trying to set up an NUE as an investor. 

Gupta said that cannot share the details of how Paytm will leverage the NUE if approved by India’s apex bank. But, hinted that it will be game-changing for India’s digital payments ecosystem.

Thus, all in all, it is well understood that the Vijay Shekhar Sharma led fintech giant is definitely has been whipping up something big under the wraps.

What is it? Only time will tell. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

IT Job Seekers Rejoice: Infosys To Hire 24,000 People From India!

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IT job seekers can rejoice as there’s a massive opportunity headed their way. The news related to Jobs at Infosys – one of the top IT services companies in India – can never be as exciting as this.

According to the latest media report, the Bengaluru-based IT major Infosys has announced it will hire a whopping 26,000 people in India and overseas for the financial year 2022.

UB Pravin Rao, COO, Infosys, in a statement about the same, mentioned that 92.3% or 24,000 out of 26,000 candidates will be selected from within the country, and the rest will be hired from overseas.

In FY21, ending March 2021, Infosys hired a whopping 21,000 individuals from campuses, wherein 19,000 were from India and the rest overseas. At the end of the year, the Indian IT giant’s total employee account stood at 2,59,619 with a net addition of 17,248 individuals last fiscal.

After making it through the business slowdown that the pandemic-induced 2020 brought, the company rolled out a much-needed wage hike in January 2021. And quite recently, they also announced a second compensation review for their existing employees in July 2021.

But despite these efforts, Infosys is observing a 15 per cent attrition rate, a 5 point increase than 10 per cent as recorded in the previous quarter. Rao said that the company’s current utilisation rate is 86.3 per cent, which is high. Thus the IT giant wants to bring it down immediately.

Infosys’s utilisation rate for the quarter ended March stood at 87.7 per cent, and it continues to remain on the higher side Salil Parekh, CEO, Infosys, said that the primary goal of the company to hire in large numbers both campuses and laterally is to ensure they are able to practice seamless execution.

A recent report released by HAN Digital was able to predict the increase in attrition rate in 2021 rightly. The talent consulting company sourced data from over 100 companies between January-March and reported that a whopping 1 million employees will be resigning within the current year itself!

Nonetheless, Infosys is committed to containing the growing attrition rate by offering several perks such as wage hikes and promotion, hoping it would sway their employees to retain their jobs.

Note here that Infosys is not the only company offering salary hikes. Another recently released report highlighted how 59 per cent of Indian companies are planning to do the same.

And now, when it comes to its peer Tata Consultancy Services aka TCS, the company announced the addition of 40,000 employees in FY21. Furthermore, similar to Infosys, TCS has also declared wage hikes for its employees effective from April 1, 2021.

Thus, all in all, it is well understood that as the after-effects of the pandemic’s first wave are being wiped off slowly, the IT sector is speedily recovering. And that translates into the availability of more employment opportunities for job seekers in the information technology space.

We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

Apple Has Finally Found The Right Partners To Launch Apple Cars By 2025

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Rumours of a possible Apple Car in the making has been doing rounds for quite some time. But so far, industry experts have been outright rejecting such claims as the iPhone maker has little to no expertise in the automobile space.

That being said, after the surfacing of a recent media report out of Korea, things might change. According to Korea Times, the Cupertino-based tech giant has finally found a partner to help them manufacture its eclectic Apple Cars!

People in the know have revealed that both LG and Magna are expecting to collaborate with each other on an initiative dubbed “LG Magna e-Powertrain”, a joint venture that will supposedly initially produce the first round of Apple Cars.

The report further added that the LG-Magna joint venture won’t be handling a very high production volume because Apple intends to gauge the market demand and consumer sentiments with its first-generation electric cars. Apple is allegedly targeting 2025 to launch its electric car, which is being expected to be equipped with autonomous features as well.

The Korean Times noted that L.G., post its recent exit from the smartphone market, is looking forward to growing its vehicle component business. In the last month, it was reported that the Seoul-based company is increasing its production capacity for its exiting automotive components’ business which goes forward to suggest the conditions are absolutely ripe for the alleged deal to happen.

In recent years, Apple has hired for several automobile-related roles and has reportedly been in talks with numerous talks about manufacturing an Apple-branded car. Earlier in 2021. the iPhone maker’s discussions with Kia, Hyundai’s sister company, failed to fructify. And though the reasons pertaining to why it failed, some had suggested that the Korean automakers didn’t want to tarnish their mainstream image by becoming a contract manufacturer similar to how Foxconn makes iPhones.

Now, suppose one is to believe that is the true reason. In that case, L.G. and Magna are a perfect fit for Apple because, unlike Hyundai and Kia, they aren’t associated with the automobile industry in a mainstream manner. Thus it would allow the U.S. tech giant to retain the sole branding of the car.

Nonetheless, all said and done, there still remain chances Apple’s possible partnership with L.G. and Magna might not come to fruition at all. And, while it is true that Apple has so far kept all information about its upcoming projects under wraps, the Cupertino-based tech giant does seem to be intent on designing its own electric car rather than simply providing software to existing bigwig automakers.

In a recent interview, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, dropped a few hints. He said Apple has always loved integrating hardware, software and services and harbours the desire to own the primary technology. Maybe that is a sly reference to the Apple Car? Only the future can tell. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

Salary Hike In India 2021: 59% Companies Considering Hike Despite All Odds [STUDY]

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After a pandemic-ridden 2020, which wrecked the Indian employment scenario, the economy is finally headed toward recovery.

According to a recent report by Genius Consultants, a staffing company, 59% of companies in India are planning to provide much-needed salary increments to their employees in 2021.

The report titled “10th Hiring, Attrition and Compensation Trend 2021-22” reveals that 59% of companies believe the increment on cards will range somewhere around 5-10%, whereas 20% believe it will be less than 5%. And 21% of firms seem to hold the opinion there will be no pay hikes at all this year.

This online study conducted by Genius Consultant saw participation from a whopping 1,200 companies during February-March across sectors such as banking and finance, construction, engineering, education, HR solution, IT, ITES, BPO, logistics, FMGC, oil and gas, pharma, power and energy, real estate, retail, telecom, media, and manufacturing.

The nationwide conducted study further revealed that close to 43% of survey participants have reported about the availability of new job openings, 41% indicated towards replacement hiring, while 11% said that there is no scope of fresh hiring in 2021.

According to Genius Consultant’s findings, it is the southern Indian job market that will lead to new employment opportunities by making up for 37% of hiring, whereas the west zone will follow with 33%. What more?

The study also found out that Indian companies are currently thinking about strengthening their workforce. 21% of companies have said they are planning to increase their team strength by more than 15%, whereas 26% said they would add 10-15% new employees to their companies. 23% of survey respondents said that there would be no hiring at all.

Now when it comes to downsizing or layoffs, a mere 4% said that layoffs are on the cards this year as well. The study also pointed out that those employed in junior levels are going to be more susceptible to it than those in middle and senior management.

And lastly, the report highlighted how, with the new ‘work from home’ model in place, if there have been any changes in employee productivity. Close to 33% of survey respondents said they observed no change whilst adopting WFH, whereas 37% said they found fluctuations in productivity.

All in all, it is well understood that 2021 will pan out to be a far better year than 2020. The study said that Indian companies would hire more mid-level employees followed by freshers or those who have a lesser experience.

There is no doubt that India Inc is recovering extremely quickly R P Yadav, Chairman and Managing Director, Genius Consultants, said that Indian companies are showing a lot of interest towards ramping up hiring in 2021 backed by GOI’s favorable policies which encourages the private sector to get back on the growth trajectory

We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

Bitcoin Hits Record $1.2 Trillion Market Cap: Much Faster Than All Top Tech Giants

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Fueled by consumers’ rising interest in cryptocurrencies and institutional buyers, bitcoin has touched an all-time high value of a whopping $64,000 on Wednesday, ahead of Coinbase’s IPO debut.

Data from Coinmarketcap.com shows that an unprecedented rally of Bitcoin value has propelled its market cap over a whopping $1.2 trillion.

What makes the achievement more significant is the duration it has taken to touch $1 trillion market cap. Bitcoin’s outstanding performance made the cryptocurrency taking far lesser time than other mainstream financial assets to hit the $1 trillion milestone.

According to a study conducted by CryptoParrot, Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, was able to reach this record peak in the span of mere 12 years only, while other large-cap U.S tech companies took way longer.

Source: visualcapitalist.com

Microsoft was 3.6x slower than BTC, as it took close to 44 years to get to $1 trillion. The Cupertino-based tech giant Apple took 42 years to achieve the same milestone while the U.S e-commerce behemoth Amazon Inc took 24 years and Alphabet-owned Google took 21 years.

CryptoParrot’s report further highlights that even though the technology stocks have surged to a big extent from last year, none of them was able to match or outperform bitcoin’s growth trajectory. Thus, it is very much possible that in the near future, BTC’s market cap will surpass that of other mainstream assets as well, given it has already sped past that of Tesla.

Another research report by Glassnode, a blockchain data provider, said that bitcoin has held the $1 trillion market cap for more than a week. Therefore, it displays a strong vote of confidence for bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency asset class as a whole.

It is important to note that bitcoin, at the beginning of 2021, had a more modest market cap of only $500 billion, but from thereon, it went to gain another $500 billion.

So, which were the key events that contributed to BTC’s viral growth?

  • Both Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey made sizable investments in bitcoin via Tesla and Square. Tesla’s 1.5 billion bitcoin investment is pegged to have reaped the company bigger profits than what it earned from its entire business in 2020.
  • Canadian government regulators approved multiple bitcoin-focused exchange-traded funds, aka ETF. Several ETFs were launched on the Toronto Stock Exchange, aka TSX. For many years, the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBT) was the only investment vehicle accessible to investors.
  • Last but not least, major payment processors such as MasterCard and Visa, along with Bank of New York Mellon, made announcements about making it easier for their customers to use cryptocurrencies for making purchases.

The skyrocketing value of Bitcoin has boosted the confidence of investors as well as traders despite possible backslash it may face in some of the largest markets. India, one of the largest markets, is reportedly levying a heavy tax on Bitcoin exchanges and trading as well. Few either countries are also closely monitoring the market conditions before making their final move.

It now remains to be seen how further and at what speed bitcoin’s market cap grows from here onward. We will keep you updated. Until then, stay tuned.

Facebook’s New App Wants You To Fall In Love Within Four Minutes!

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Facebook’s new objective is to make you fall in love! Yes, that’s right!

The social media behemoth is reportedly testing a video-based speed-dating app called Sparked. It has been developed by the New Product Experimentation, aka NPE Team, which also released Hotline a few days back.

Sparked app’s homepage describes the offering as ‘video dating with kind people only’. And along with that, it also promises no swiping, no DMs (direct messages), no public profiles and that the app is entirely free to use.

Facebook’s Sparked will cycle its users through speed video dates that last only four minutes, and if both the daters have a great time, they can schedule a 10-minute long date. From there on, if both the participants feel they should keep in touch, they can exchange contact information and communicate further via Instagram, iMessage, WhatsApp, etc.

When signing up, to keep its overall motto intact, the app asks users to type out what makes them a ‘kind dater’. After that, Sparked says a human will evaluate the responses before they can go on virtual speed dates on the app.

But that’s not all.

Users need to choose whether they wish to date men, women, or non-binary people. And subsequently, the app asks if they are open to the idea of dating trans people as well. Currently, the application is only accessible via the web as of now. However, a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the existence of a mobile app and referred to it as an ‘early experiment.

If Sparked is able to draw enough interest in the beta phase and goes mainstream, it will be the second dating product of Facebook. In 2019, Facebook Dating launched in the U.S. and then rolled out in several other countries, including, most recently, in the United Kingdom.

Facebook Dating operates quite similarly to how most other run-of-the-mill dating apps work. People can view a user’s public profile as a potential match and then send a ‘like’ and hope to receive one back. After that, both participants can start a conversation.

The new dating app from Facebook, is quite different as it wants people to build relationship based on understanding and likeness slowly but steadily.

All in all, given how Facebook’s NPE Team keeps launching many apps while instantaneously killing off the ones that do not work, it is not exactly clear how committed the social media behemoth is to grow Sparked. Nonetheless, video dating became a popular idea only after the pandemic, and thus it is pretty likely Facebook users might respond to it positively.

Other dating apps that currently provide online speed dating include the League, which launched the feature back in 2019 and then Hinge and Tinder soon followed suit.

Would you give this new app from Facebook a try, if you get your hands on it? Let us know in the comments down below. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

The Absence Of Web ADA Compliance Could Be Costing Your Small Business

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If your small business is competitive, you are probably using some form of technology. However, many small business owners are overlooking the technology used for website ADA compliance. And this could be costing your business revenue.

Having an ADA compliant website can also keep your business safe from lawsuits. Not to mention it is simply the right thing to do as a business owner with digital properties.

Aiming For 100% ADA Compliance

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted into law. Essentially, it serves as a civil rights law that protects the disabled from discrimination. Whether it be in the workplace, or as a consumer.

As tech innovation grew into mainstream America, the ADA law needed to be tweaked to cover web ADA compliance. The updated regulations were enacted in 2018. This is critical for business owners of any size business, and industry, to research. 

ADA website compliance soon ushered in a web accessibility solution like accessiBe, a cutting edge tech solution helping business owners become 100 percent ADA compliant.

Changing Businesses Approach Web Accessibility

Utilizing a web accessibility solution allows small business owners to streamline web accessibility. Instead of attempting to do it on your own, and spend important resources (time and money), you can meet ADA compliance regulations easier with technology.

From mitigating negative public view when non-compliance is found on your website to attracting a market segment with spending power, web accessibility tech via companies like accessiBe can prove beneficial to your small business’ bottom line.

Web accessibility technology company hallmarks for success include compliance in WCAG 2.1, ADA Title III, Section 508, and EAA/EN 301549. These are all essential areas to cover when it comes to tweaking your small business website for 100 percent ADA compliance.

For instance, web accessibility technology can help business owners implement contrasts of color, helping differentiate key website sections for visually impaired. Accessibility tech for your site navigation can also be easily integrated, allowing for all disabled categories (auditory, motor, cognitive, and visual) access.

There are also important backend tweaks that need to be made in order for your small business website to meet ADA compliance regulations. For example, clearly defined schema and alt tags.

Lawsuits Becoming The Norm

One of the main reasons to ensure your website is accessible according to ADA compliance regulations is to reduce potential lawsuit risks. The lawsuits filed against businesses continue to rise when it comes to web accessibility.

“The surge in digital accessibility lawsuits over the past few years is something those in the industry — and certainly those who were sued or issued a demand letter — are well aware of, but in 2019 accessibility lawsuits caught the public eye more than probably ever before,” the Bureau of Internet Accessibility explained.

In 2019, website and app accessibility hit retail business owners hard. Around 60 percent of all ADA compliance lawsuits were filed against retail businesses.

Food service, entertainment, travel and hospitality, as well as self service are all among the top industries at risk for accessibility websites. And just because your small business got away with one ADA compliance lawsuit doesn’t mean more won’t be filed against your business. 

In fact, 21 percent of businesses across multiple industries were sued multiple times in 2019 over non-compliance.

This alone is a clear call for action when it comes to making your small business website and/or application ADA compliant. There is also another very profitable reason to have web accessibility at the forefront. 

Spending Power Of Disabled

One major web accessibility benefit is the ability to tap into a new market segment. A market segment with nearly $500 billion in total disposable income. 

And people with disabilities have $21 billion in total discretionary income by market segment. If that is not enticing, you may want to shut your small business’ doors. The disabled market segment has 22 million Americans in their working prime.

What does this all mean for your small business? Web accessibility allows you to connect and sell to a market segment with extraordinary spending power. Want to access this profitable market segment? It is time to invest in web accessibility for your small business.

Tips For Small Business Website ADA Compliance You Can Employ Today

Having a 100 percent ADA compliant website and/or app can be challenging. Especially for small business owners. There are plenty of tweaks to make to your digital assets to meet web accessibility regulations.

But just because it is challenging doesn’t mean you can’t start on becoming compliant today. To help we have a few web accessibility tips worth considering for your small business website and/or application:

  • Learn more about ADA web regulations and guidelines. Having a better understanding of the ADA web accessibility regulations and guidelines can make tweaking your site to be accessible easier. Check out ADA.gov to begin researching more about web accessibility for your business.
  • Next, to a site audit for web accessibility needs. This is the next step toward site accessibility. You want to audit your site for all disability categories (visual, motor, auditory, cognitive). Then utilize the ADA guidelines and regulations to begin mapping out a new website design plan, from frontend to backend.
  • Think about your website content carefully. It is important that content on your site be very easy to digest for everyone, including those with disabilities. Creating content for humans, regardless of disability, can help with ensuring your site is meeting compliance guidelines.
  • Fonts, headers, CTAs, and alt tags are all essential web accessibility elements. There are important guidelines when it comes to ADA compliant fonts, headers, CTAs, and alt tags. For instance, fonts need to be clear and large enough for visual impairments. And your site’s alt tags need to be detailñed for those with auditory disabilities. Think compliance when it comes to style and elements of your site.

Is Your Small Business Website Accessible?

Not having a website that is accessible in accordance with ADA compliance regulations and guidelines could be costing your small business. No web accessibility could open up your business to lawsuits. But more importantly, you could be missing out on a very profitable market segment. It is time to make web accessibility a priority for your business.

Ditch Google’s New Controversial Tracking Algorithm With This New Chrome Extension

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Google rival and one of the biggest advocate of internet privacy, DuckDuckGo has come up with a tool to help you circumvent the Alphabet-owned search engine’s new tracking algorithm for serving targeted ads.

What is it? Let’s find out.

DuckDuckGo has introduced a new Chrome browser extension that blocks Federated Learning of Cohorts, aka FLoC, Google’s supposed pro-privacy replacement for third-party cookies that track individuals across the internet.

Google’s proposed FloC is an alternative and ideal ad-buying method that offers greater anonymity to its users. It conceals their browsing activity within a group or cohort of other anonymised users having similar browsing habits.

But that being said, while the proposition sounds good in theory, there exists a few problems with FloC. The idea of ‘hiding’ a user within a group is no doubt better for user privacy at large, but websites will still be able to target users with ads that on the ‘FloC ID’ assigned to them.

What is FloC ID? It is a summary of interests and demographic information related to a user’s browsing habits. With this newly minted ad-buying method, websites can still track individuals because when a user visits a particular website, their IP address will get recorded.

And this is where DuckDuckGo’s new Chrome extension comes in handy. Currently. FloC is only limited to Google Chrome and has not been rolled out en masse. The Alphabet-owned search giant has plans to begin trialling the FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers starting Q2.

DuckDuckGO’s new extension blocks the FloC algorithm, similar to how DuckDuckGo Search is configured to opt out of the same.

Google has been working on a replacement for third-party cookies for quite some time. In one of its blogs posted in January, the company mentioned how FloCs are one of the few methods the search giant is looking at implementing as part of its ‘Privacy Sandbox‘ for the web.

Google claims that the FloC algorithms are at least 95% as effective as cookie-based advertising when it comes to letting advertisers and marketers target users, but at the same time, they are pro-privacy as well. Therefore, it is a win-win deal for users, publishers and advertisers alike.

However, not everyone is entirely sold on the idea. Many have pointed out that the introduction of FloC does not phase out the threat of online fingerprinting fully as cohort IDs will be easily accessible by any third-party trackers used by the websites visited by users.

In response to that, Google has ensured that they are working hard to make sure sensitive categories such as religion, identity, race, sexual interests and so on cannot be used to target ads to users.

Nonetheless, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, aka EFF, a digital rights group, is still not convinced and argues that Google’s precautionary measure does not go far enough.

In a blog post, the organisation said that the search giant’s proposal rests on the assumption that individuals in ‘sensitive categories’ will visit ‘sensitive’ websites. And that those who aren’t in those groups will stay away from such sites.

“But behaviour correlates with demographics in unintuitive ways. It’s highly likely that certain demographics are going to visit a different subset of the web than other demographics are, and that such behaviour will not be captured by Google’s ‘sensitive sites’ framing,” the EFF further added.

Thus, it is well understood that there is no escaping Google’s web when it comes to receiving highly targeted ads even though a particular method is being peddled as a pro-privacy alternative.

As of now, the main ways of blocking FloC and other similar Google algorithms include avoiding the use of Google Chrome entirely, remaining logged out from one’s account on the browser while using it, or switching off ad personalisation within Google Ad settings.

Are you thinking of using the new DuckDuckGO plugin for yourself? Let us know in the comments down below. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

Beware, New WhatsApp Security Flaw Can Let Hackers Suspend Your Account Permanently!

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If you are someone who connects with their friends, family and colleagues via WhatsApp, then beware!

A glaring new vulnerability has been found in the Facebook-owned messaging platform’s security that a threat actor can easily leverage to suspend your WhatsApp account with no possible recourse entirely. But that’s not all.

To make things worse, there is no possible solution available for this issue as of now. So, how does this newly discovered security flaw can get exploited? Let’s find out.

The attacker first installs the WhatsApp app on a new device and enters the victim’s phone number to activate the chat and other related services. Next, they face WhatsApp’s 2-FA authentication system, which sends login prompts to the victim’s actual phone instead.

Finally, after multiple failed repeated attempts, when the login gets locked for 12 hours straight, this is where the tricky part begins.

With the victim’s official WhatsApp account locked, the malicious threat actor goes on to send a support message to the app from their email address claiming that he/she is the victim who has lost the device and thus the account associated with the number needs to be deactivated. After receiving the email, WhatsApp proceeds to verify the claim with a reply email and suspends the victim’s account without asking for any further inputs.

This dubious process can be repeated several times by an attacker to create a semi-permanent lock on the victim’s account. But thankfully, it is not something that is currently prevailing.

Luis Márquez Carpintero and Ernesto Canales Pereña reported the attack as a ‘proof-of-concept’ to display WhatsApp’s vulnerability. The result, as discussed above, is quite disturbing and devastating. However, the only silver lining here is that a threat actor cannot use this method to gain access to a victim’s account. No confidential text messages or contact information gets exposed in the process. The attacker can only block access to WhatsApp for the account’s legitimate owner.

When asked to comment on this vulnerability’s existence, WhatsApp reverted quite evasively and didn’t indicate they are working to reserve this security flaw.

A company representative said that the hypothetical scenario can be easily avoided if one provides an email address with their 2FA authentication credentials.

Furthermore, he added that violating the said vulnerability is a violation of WhatsApp’ terms of service. But will an actual threat actor take that into account? Probably no, as one can anonymously with the help of a throwaway email.

All in all, it seems that it is upon the users to look out for themselves after the company shared its less-than-satisfactory response. Maybe, Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company, will look into it once Zuckerberg gets hit by the same attack, similar to how his contact details surfaced in the recent Facebook data breach. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

Microsoft Acquires Nuance: Paying Top Dollar To Dominate Health-Tech Sector

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Microsoft Acquires Nuance

Microsoft is all set to shell out a pretty penny to acquire the company responsible for developing Siri’s A.I.

The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant has agreed to acquire Nuance Communications Inc., a speech-recognition firm, for a whopping $19.7 billion.

This move pushes Microsoft further into the health-tech space and will widen the range of software tools it offers to its present customers.

Under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, this is Microsoft’s second-biggest acquisition. Prior to this, the big tech giant shelled out $26 billion to acquire the professional social networking platform LinkedIn back in 2016.

Based in Burlington, Mass, Nuance Communications Inc. is a pioneer in the field of speech recognition and artificial intelligence aka A.I. technology. Their software formed the basis on which the first version of Siri’s voice assistant before an in-house version replaced it.

Note here that this is not the first time Nuance has been part of acquisition talks. In 2014, the company was exploring a possible sale to Samsung Electronics Co and private equity firms. However, those discussions failed to fructify, unlike the one they held with Microsoft recently.

Note here that Microsoft has long been investing in speech systems, however, with very little success. In 2020, the company announced that it wants to shift its voice assistant offering from the consumer space and stop trying to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Assistant’s likes. And, now it seems like Microsoft is finally heading in the right direction.

Noting Nuance’s expertise in the domain of clinical documentation, Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer at Microsft, said that the deal reflects the surging demand for A.I.-driven tech applications in the healthcare space.

Nuance has spent several years building its language process engine to understand medical terminology better. Thus, Microsoft will be able to leverage it and spin out products in the health tech space very quickly. What more?

Many of Nuance’s customers in finance, healthcare, and other industries already use Microsoft products, which is definitely a plus. Back in 2019, both companies showed a lot of interest in partnering up over the use of A.I. assistants for doctor visitations. At that time, Nuance and Microsoft said that the product would be built on top of the latter’s Azure cloud service.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and the demand for remote healthcare grew instantaneously, both the companies deepened their ties via Nuance tech’s integration into Microsoft’s workplace collaboration software suite Teams.

All in all, it is well understood that Microsoft, with its upcoming voice assistant products, wants to make a mark in health tech. This is, however, somewhat of a blue ocean sector when compared to the consumer segment for Microsoft.

What is the Value of Auditing a Marketing Campaign?

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digital marketing 2019

As a general rule, reviewing business best practices is not considered an exciting task. Rather, most business leaders would prefer to focus on implementing new marketing and advertising strategies than reviewing their previous efforts. However, as any successful professional will tell you, the best way to build for the future is to study the past.

As such, today we’re going to explain the process of auditing your own marketing efforts. We’ll discuss why audits are important, how the best companies conduct internal marketing reviews, and what value they represent for growing companies. Check it out here:

What is a Marketing Audit?

Ultimately, your own marketing audit can be as thorough or as cursory as you’d like it to be. In broad terms, a marketing audit is a review performed by business leaders to determine the effectiveness of a company’s marketing strategies. This can involve, but is not limited to:

  • Calculating return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Comparing rankings for keywords on search engines over time. 
  • Reviewing ad content. 
  • Editing branded information on social media. 
  • Tracking click-through-rates on marketing emails
  • Analysing valuable metrics like conversions, unique visitors, and sales figures. 

It’s important to keep in mind your company’s specific goals before you begin an audit. For example, it’s not wise (or fair) to judge the success of a brand awareness campaign by sales numbers alone.  

How Often Should You Audit Marketing Efforts?

It is possible, though not common, for a company to audit their marketing performance too frequently. Indeed, digital marketing campaigns can sometimes take months –– or even years –– to produce meaningful and measurable results. As such, reviewing your marketing data every few weeks can, in some instances, be counter-productive. On the other hand, your business probably shouldn’t go more than a year without taking a close look at your marketing practices. 

What is the Value of a Marketing Audit? 

A marketing audit should serve two basic, but essential functions. First, in the course of an audit, a business should be able to identify any mistakes within its marketing materials. This can include minor errors like misspellings or poorly designed graphics. In addition, though, an audit could allow you to catch truly problematic issues such as incorrect contact information on a social media account or a very expensive and outdated ad campaign. You can consider this the reactive element of marketing review. 

Secondly, a marketing audit should allow business leaders to more effectively plan for the future. For example, an audit may uncover a particularly effective marketing message that you can highlight moving forward. Or, it may show significant changes in the behaviour of your customers. Information like this should ideally play a big role in your decision-making process moving forward. 

In terms of dollars and cents, it can sometimes be difficult to quantify exactly how valuable a marketing audit is. The exact figure will likely vary depending on a wide range of factors. 

Auditing Best Practices

As one can imagine, no two companies should audit their marketing efforts in exactly the same way. A clinic like Northwest Surgery Center that specializes in foot surgery will have very different marketing objectives than a multifaceted, mega-corporations like Apple. 

Still, at the end of the day, there are certain steps all professionals can use to conduct an audit successfully. First, make sure to audit every aspect of your marketing department. Don’t exclude certain efforts unless you have good reason to do so. Second, seek out independent assistance either from within your organization or from external sources. And lastly, develop a proactive game plan based on the results of your audit. Remember, information is only valuable if you put it to good use!

After Facebook And LinkedIn, Clubhouse Suffers A Data Breach!

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After Facebook and LinkedIn‘s massive data leaks, now another data breach is making the rounds on the news!

According to the latest media report, the personal data of a whopping 1.3 million Clubhouse users leaked in an online hacking forum. The audio-only social media platform’s scraped data include the names, social media profile names, and several other details of app users. It is being believed that the exposed data can be used to execute phishing or identity theft scams by malicious threat actors.

Clubhouse didn’t revert to the initial requests for comment after reports of the data breach released on Saturday. However, on the next day, the budding social media company took to Twitter and announced that they did not suffer a breach or a hack because the data being referred to is public and accessible to anyone via their application programming interface or API.

The exclusive audio-only iOS app was launched in March 2020 while the pandemic was in full swing and since then has grown to become the hottest new platform in the social media space with millions of users.

The success of Clubhouse didn’t fail to attract the eyeballs of industry bigwigs Facebook and Twitter who, since the app’s virality, went on to launch similar products of their own – Facebook Hotline and Twitter Spaces, respectively.

This particular development comes after two other high profile data breaches which surfaced within this very month. On Tuesday, close to 500 million LinkedIn users’ personal data, i.e. two-third of the professional networking platform’s user base, was scraped and listed for sale in a hacking forum.

On Thursday, a LinkedIn spokesperson confirmed that the company indeed suffered a breach wherein public information was scraped from their platform. The hacker who has listed LinkedIn’s hacked dataset for sale is asking for a 4-digit sum payment in the form of bitcoin (BTC).

Paul Prudhomme, an analyst at IntSights, which is a security intelligence firm, said that the exposed data is quite significant because it will allow bad actors to attack companies via the information collected about their employees.

Prior to the recent LinkedIn and Clubhouse breach, in the previous week, the full names, location, email addresses, and other several sensitive data points of 553 million Facebook users were posted in a low-level hacking forum.

All in all, as mentioned earlier, it is well understood that privacy breaches have become a frequent affair within the first two weeks of April 2021. This is definitely not an ideal scenario for internet users and companies alike.

And although there is little one can do after their private or sensitive data gets breached online, it is essential to take note of these events as a warning bell.

If you want to find out whether your data was compromised in any particular data leak, head over to the website ‘Have I Been Pwned’ and enter your email address or phone number (in the international format). After that, the portal will accurately list all data breaches in which you were a victim.

We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

Choosing The Best Quality CBD Products Is Tricky!

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high quality products

Finding CBD products for sale is no longer as difficult as it once was. In recent years there has been a growing interest in CBD and how it can be used to manage health conditions and improve overall health. This has meant that CBD products are no longer considered niche product.

CBD products can be found in almost every pharmacy, health food store, supermarket, as well as from a wide range of online retailers. Having so much choice is always a positive. A growing number of CBD-focused brands means that customers can find higher quality products. Additionally, CBD products come in many different forms, including tinctures, capsules, edibles, and topicals. 

Of course, with so many different brands and types of CBD products available, it is not always easy to spot the very best quality products. To help you get started on your CBD journey, here are five top tips that will help you find high-quality CBD products on the market.

#1 Not All CBD Is the Same

Not all of the CBD that you find within CBD products is the same. Formulas can vary both in terms of quality and effects. There are three different terms used to describe CBD on labeling products: isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum.

These terms refer to the types of cannabinoids that can be found within specific products. Isolate provides pure CBD, while full-spectrum contains all of the cannabinoids from within the plant. Broads-spectrum sits between the two other options offering all of the cannabinoids found in hemp, except THC.  

Before purchasing CBD products, it is worth researching the main differences between full-spectrum and isolates CBD. Both options have pros and cons, causing an ongoing debate about which one is better. However, preference often depends on your individual needs and wants.

Another thing to consider in regards to CBD is where the hemp is sourced from. Not all plants are grown in the same way, and not all companies extract CBD using the same methods. When purchasing CBD products in Europe, look out for the term ‘EU certified hemp’ as this indicates that it has met a good standard of quality.

#2 Choosing the Right Type of Products

There are many different options available when shopping for CBD, ranging from CBD oil drops to CBD infused gummies. Finding which products work best for you can take a little trial and error. CBD supplements work best when used regularly, so it is essential to find products that fit into your daily schedule.

Not all CBD products produce the same effects at the same rate or in the same way. Choosing products to match their intended purpose is also important. For example, CBD topicals are great for treating muscle and joint pain as they can be applied directly to the problematic area and can work quickly. In comparison, CBD edibles or capsules may be more useful at reducing anxiety.

#3 Check Lab Reports and Reviews

Most CBD brands provide full lab reports for all of their products. If a brand hides these reports or does not offer access to them, it could be a sign of poor quality.

Lab reports should offer a complete cannabinoid and compound breakdown for a particular product. Lab testing also checks for consistent potency, and so are something that reputable brands tend to carry out on every single batch. Reading reviews can also help indicate the quality and the expected experience of a product.

#4 Different CBD Concentrations

The strength of a CBD product is another essential factor determining its overall effectiveness. Choosing a product that contains too little CBD could result in minimal effects. Equally, too much CBD at one time can be overwhelming for the body.

It’s often recommended to choose brands that offer a range of CBD concentrations for their products. This provides you with more flexibility and it also shows that the brand understands the importance of tailoring individual products to each customer. 

#5 Natural Vs. Artificial Ingredients

The ingredient list of a CBD product can reveal a lot about its quality.

Higher quality products tend to be made with natural, organic ingredients whenever possible. In contrast, products with long ingredient lists, artificial flavouring, and colourings should be viewed cautiously. Customers should at the least research the ingredients they aren’t familiar with. 

As Bitcoin Becomes Out of Reach, Ethereum Attracting More Eyeballs Now!

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From bigwigs such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk discussing crypto on Twitter to non-fungible token aka NFTs coming into existence, the popularity of digital currencies skyrocketed during the last 12 months. Bitcoin made the most of it and its price peaked to a new height – over $60,000 apiece.

With such a massive jump in its price, Bitcoin has become out of reach for most traders and crypto investors. Now, to better understand which cryptocurrencies, other than Bitcoin, are garnering the most amount of consumer attention, a firm called Total Processing analysed the views on crypto-centric videos data on Youtube and discovered some unique insights.

According to Total Processing’s data, the smart contract cryptocurrency Ethereum captured the most number of Youtube views in the last 12 months. Ethereum aka ETH related videos, attracted 231 million views on Youtube, after which bitcoin aka BTC came in at the second spot with 199.9 million views.

Both ETH and BTC combined attracted the lion’s share of eyeballs on the popular video-sharing platform as they get 4x times more views than Chainlink aka LINK, which reached 45.7 million views since April 2020 and grabbed the 3rd spot. After LINK, the fourth position is being held by Cardano aka ADA, which acquired 43 million views.

Total Processing believes that while the mainstream media is definitely a reckoning force and plays a big role in cryptocurrencies, Youtube’s role is just as significant. This is quite true as another recent survey report revealed how the Google-owned video sharing platform has become U.S’s most popular social media platform in 2021.

Behind the crypto coin Cardano (ADA), XRP related videos garnered close to 38.5 million views on Youtube through the year, which is followed by Litecoin aka LTC at 27.5 million views, Uniswap aka UNI at 27.3 million views, Binance coin aka BNB at 25.4 million views, Tether aka USDT at 22.8 million views and Polkadot aka DOT which managed to capture 18.8 million views during the last 12 months.

In order to conduct the study, Total Processing looked at the top 10 crypto assets and Processing and scraped the views of a whopping 10,000 videos on Youtube. The firm noted that the channels which actively discuss cryptocurrencies saw a considerable amount of success in 12 months and also impacted the price of the coins.

For instance, the channel JRNY Crypto published a video wherein he explained which altcoins he would buy and that in turn led the price of stormx to increase by a whopping 189.68% in seven days.

All in all, it is well understood that the conversation surrounding cryptocurrencies has expanded far beyond only Bitcoin. All thanks to crypto enthusiasts who are spreading the word about it on platforms such as Youtube, where everyone, including both amateur and serious investors, can freely consume their content. As Bitcoin trading price is constantly going up and showing no sign of another crash, especially after the recent investment of $1.5 billion by Tesla, people are visualising a promising future of the cryptocurrency market and actively turning towards other cryptocurrencies, such as Etherium, which are still in reach.

Do you also consume crypto-related content on social media channels? Let us known in the comments down below. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.