Marco Rubio and five other Republican senators called on the Trump administration to reject a proposed deal for Oracle Corp ORCL.N to become a “trusted technology provider” for popular social media platform TikTok’s U.S. operations, if ties to Chinese owner ByteDance remain.
Rubio, the first senator to call on the administration to investigate TikTok over censorship concerns, said in the letter to President Donald Trump that “serious questions” remained about Oracle’s role, the technology it would provide to ByteDance, and the future of the application’s algorithm.
“We remain opposed to any deal that would allow China-based or controlled entities to retain, control or modify the code or algorithms that operate any U.S.-based version of TikTok,” Rubio wrote in the letter, dated Wednesday.
“We are heartened that this deal still requires government approval, and if reports indicating this proposed deal will retain links to ByteDance or other Chinese-controlled entities, we strongly urge the administration to reject such a proposal on national security grounds,” he added.
Late on Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz raised concerns about a deal, saying in a separate letter the Oracle ByteDance deal “failed to meet the intent of the president’s executive orders” and “raises serious national security concerns.”
The Trump administration will make a decision soon on Oracle becoming a trusted technology provider, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Wednesday.
The Rubio letter, also signed by Senators Thom Tillis, Rick Scott, John Cornyn, Roger Wicker and Dan Sullivan, is part of a growing chorus of lawmakers raising questions about the deal.
On Monday, Republican Senator Josh Hawley sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who heads a national security panel reviewing the proposal, calling for the deal to be scuttled, if it does not allow for the “full emancipation of TikTok software from potential Chinese Communist Part control.”
It is unclear what Trump will do. White House adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday said the White House is reviewing Oracle’s bid and a senior administration official said a decision had not yet been made.
Trump had previously made clear he sought a full-scale sale of the app to an American technology company, amid concerns among national security officials that ByteDance could provide American user data to the Chinese government. But Trump may not want to alienate 100 million-odd American TikTok users weeks before a hotly contested presidential election.
Trump has also said he is a fan of Oracle’s co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison, one of few tech executives to openly support the Republican president.
Meanwhile, China has updated its export control rules to give it a say over the transfer of technology, such as TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, to a foreign buyer. Chinese officials have said ByteDance should not be coerced by the United States into a deal.
Oracle announced on Monday it was part of a proposal submitted by ByteDance to the U.S. Treasury Department to serve as “trusted technology provider,” to ByteDance, providing no further details on the terms of the deal.
YouTube Suspends Trump Channel
YouTube Suspends Trump Channel
Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday temporarily suspended President Donald Trump’s channel and removed a video for violating its policy against inciting violence, joining other social media platforms in banning his accounts after last week’s Capitol riot.
Trump’s access to the social media platforms he has used as a megaphone during his presidency has been largely cut off since a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington DC last week.
Operators say the embittered leader could use his accounts to foment more unrest in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“In light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube said in a statement.
The channel is now “temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a ‘minimum’ of 7 days,” the statement read.
The video-sharing platform also said it will be “indefinitely disabling comments” on Trump’s channel because of safety concerns.
Facebook last week suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following the violent invasion of the US Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the certification of Biden’s election victory.
In announcing the suspension last week, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Trump used the platform to incite violent and was concerned he would continue to do so.
Twitter went a step further by deleting Trump’s account, depriving him of his favorite platform. It was already marking his tweets disputing the election outcome with warnings.
The company also deleted more than 70,000 accounts linked to the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, without any evidence, that Trump is waging a secret war against a global cabal of satanist liberals.
Trump also was hit with suspensions by services like Snapchat and Twitch.
The president’s YouTube account has amassed 2.77 million subscribers.
The home page of the Trump channel featured a month-old video of Trump casting doubt on the voting process in November’s presidential election, and had logged some 5.8 million views.
On Tuesday, an activist group called on YouTube to join other platforms in dumping Trump’s accounts, threatening an advertising boycott campaign.
Analysts Predict 1,137% Earnings Per Share Growth for Shopify’s Full Year 2020
While the pandemic has devastated countless businesses, it has provided a major boon for eCommerce platform Shopify.
Shopify’s stock rallied by 169.9% in 2020 compared to the industry’s 26.6% growth. As of mid-December 2020, according to the research data analyzed and published by Finnish site Sijoitusrahastot, it had a 90 RS rating, which means that it had outperformed 90% of stocks during the year.
Based on the Zacks Consensus Estimate, its Q4 earnings per share (EPS) are set to jump by 188.37% to $1.24 while its sales will grow by 78% to $899.2 million. For the full year 2020, analysts project a massive 1,137% jump for the Shopify EPS.
Shopify Merchants Sell Over $5.1 Billion on Black Friday, Cyber Monday
Since Shopify went public in 2015, its stock has risen over 40-fold to more than $1,200 at the end of December 2020. Between 2016 and 2019, it skyrocketed by over 1,400%.
The eCommerce platform’s earnings for Q1 to Q3 2020 grew at an average of 552%. That was well above the 101% three-year average. In Q3 2020, its revenue nearly doubled from $390.6 million to $767.4 million.
Earnings in Q3 2020 rose from a net loss of 29 cents to $1.13 per share. Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) soared by 109% reaching $30.9 billion, compared to 46% in Q1 2020 and 119% in Q2 2020. For the first nine months of 2020, there was a revenue increase of 82%.
For the first time, Shopify’s GMV surpassed that of eBay in Q2 2020, doing it again in Q3 2020. It claims to have a 6% share of the US market, higher than eBay’s but lower than Amazon’s 37%.
During the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend, merchants on the Shopify platform sold goods worth $5.1 billion. Compared to 2019, this marked a 76% uptick and set a new record. Comparatively, independent businesses on Amazon sold goods worth $4.8 billion. The number of buyers on Shopify increased by 50% year-over-year (YoY) to 44 million during that weekend.
Global Digital Payments Market to Grow by 23.7% in 2020 to $4.9 Trillion
While it was already under way prior to the pandemic, the global shift to digital payments has been positively affected by the crisis.
According to the research data analyzed and published by Finnish website Sijoitusrahastot, the global digital payments market grew by 21% YoY in transaction value during H1 2020. Statista projects that the market’s total transaction value will grow by 23.7% year-over-year (YoY) in 2020 to reach $4.93 trillion. The number of users is also set to increase by 10.1% YoY to reach 3.47 billion.
Asia’s Digital Payments Market to Reach $2.88 Trillion in 2020
In the period between 2020 and 2024, the global digital payments will grow at a 13.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $8.17 trillion by 2024. The market’s top segment is digital commerce, estimated to grow at 4.8% YoY reach $2.93 trillion in 2020. By 2024, it is set to grow to $4.11 trillion, growing at a CAGR of 8.9%.
China will take the lead in digital payments, growing to $2.31 trillion, as well as in digital commerce, reaching $1.17 trillion in 2020. For Asia as a whole, digital payments will reach $2.88 trillion in 2020 as per a Statista report.
According to McKinsey, Asia generated $900 billion in 2019 as payment revenue, almost half the global total. Between 2018 and 2019, digital payments in Asia Pacific grew by 24.7%. Comparatively, the growth rate was 14.1% in the global market, 12.2% in Europe and 5.6% in North America.
China has a dominant role in the market, thanks to mobile payments. Based on a Finextra report, 70% of China’s consumers use mobile wallets regularly. It estimates that in 2020, 80% of global mobile wallet revenue will come from China.
Capgemini projects that in 2020, mobile payments in APAC will grow at 13.9% YoY to reach $277.5 billion. In contrast, the figure will be $229.1 billion in Europe, growing at 6.2% YoY and $184.8 billion in North America, growing at 3.0%.
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