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Strong Revenue Boosts Zoom’s Sentiments in Q2

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Zoom’s sentiments have rebounded in Q2, driven by its skyrocketing revenue growth after facing declines due to privacy concerns.

The company’s coherent strategies on end-to-end (E2E) encryption are paying off as the flagship conferencing app developer generated more revenue in Q2 2020 (fiscal Q2 2021 for Zoom: ended July 2020) than in the entirety of 2019, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Rinaldo Pereira, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Zoom gained virtual ubiquity due to the pandemic and has given us a peek into the future of video conferencing due to the work-from-home boom. This rise in potential users has supercharged competition, yet it seems that counterparts lack the traction to compete with Zoom. The app continues to be the most sought-after among corporates, educational institutions and general users. Yet, Google Meet remains a major threat to Zoom, as it is easier to set up and administer from an IT perspective.”

Despite privacy concerns, Zoom continued to be the benefactor of high-value deals with several companies. The number of customers (with more than ten employees) more than quadrupled (458%) during Q2 2020, while deferred revenue grew by around 310% year-on-year. Shares also reached all-time highs on the back of its meteoric performance.

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Pereira continues: “The rise in virtual fandom for sports events has created newer revenue generation avenues for video conferencing apps. Zoom has sought out to collaborate with the United States Tennis Association for a VIP Virtual experience partnership. Several Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs are also using Zoom to host virtual fan watch parties.”

Microsoft Teams swooped up the NBA, yet Zoom has the capability to undeniably prosper in the age of virtual fandom. FY2021 revenue outlook updates also buoyed Zoom’s sentiments. At the same time, the company signed its largest Zoom Phone deal in Q2.

Pereira concludes: “It’s hard to see Zoom lose out to competition anytime soon, as several counterparts also lack E2E encryption. Zoom is struggling to maintain a balance between its UI features and E2E security. However, it will be interesting to see Zoom’s future strategies on the E2E forefront as it continues to gain corporate confidence amidst prolonged work-from-home policies.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Senator Rubio Urges Trump to Scrap TikTok-Oracle Deal if ByteDance Ties Remain

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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.

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Pandemic Has Spurred Need for Digital ID Systems to Reduce Physical Contact

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Digital ID systems, a prerequisite for developing functional e-governance platforms, have been on the agendas of many emerging economies for quite some time.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has reemphasized the importance of eIDs in providing social, medical and financial support to households and businesses.

Electronic identification allows citizens and businesses to prove their identity and access the governmental services online. It enables fully digital processes and eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming manual operations. Such functionality has been crucial during the pandemic, especially for developing countries.

For example, in April Chile pre-enrolled millions of new recipients in social welfare programs, while Thailand, where over 28 million people applied for a new benefit for informal workers affected by the pandemic, filtered out those who had already received assistance from other projects. All of this, including the improved accessibility to medical services, has helped to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on both the economy and the people.

“The pandemic has put electronic identification at the top of the priority lists of many developing countries,” said Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies, a global IT consortium specializing in e-solutions developing and consulting. “It has become a necessary component of digital transformation initiatives for governments around the world, ensuring transparency, security and efficiency of e-public services they are eager to deliver to citizens. The importance of eIDs will only grow in the coming years.

“However, while economies are steadily moving towards digitization, more than a billion people, half of them in Africa, still lack basic unique IDs—a precondition for citizens to exercise the range of human rights set out in international laws and conventions. In the absence of identification systems, people have difficulties opening bank accounts, voting, obtaining formal employment and accessing education or healthcare, while states themselves struggle with government administration, tax collection, response to emergencies, disasters and epidemics, border management and security,” said Mindaugas Glodas.

One of the developing nations that has recognized the importance of unique and digital ID systems is Samoa, previously one of the least digitized countries in the world. Working together with NRD Companies, the Polynesian country has been determined to bring its people an accessible and highly secure identity management system. When the pandemic first hit, the Samoan government decided to continue with the consultancy project remotely even in unfavorable circumstances—a move that speaks to the urgent need for innovation. The new project is expected to help support the economic recovery and serve as a foundation for a digital government platform.

According to Vaidotas Ramonas, a digital identity, electronic signature and trust services expert, identification is the basis for building inclusive societies, where every individual has access to services provided by the state with no one left behind. Once countries have implemented unique ID frameworks, the next logical step is to introduce digital ID systems. There are multiple paths governments can take to initiate and encourage the use of eID platforms.

“The government can start providing eID services by, for example, digitizing some of the most widely-used, costly or inconvenient-to-use public services—ice-breakers, as I call them,” said Vaidotas Ramonas. “Digitization would make the services cheaper, easier and faster to use, which could possibly attract more people to try them out. Also, the government can simply announce, independently, that some service will be available only through e-government for which the citizens will need to set up eIDs. It is possible that at first there will be some discontentment, but experience shows that people eventually see that eID saves time, money and energy, and later refuse to give it up.”

As emerging nations tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuild their economies, they have a unique opportunity to use the crisis as a springboard and introduce innovative digital solutions. With all of the advantages it brings to the table, building unique ID infrastructure is a good place to start a journey toward national eID platforms.

NRD Companies, with the support from its global partners—such as the World Bank, AfDB, European Commission and others—often organizes govtech-related events seeking to educate policy makers and encourage sustainable change. The next event, an international webinar on national digital identity, is scheduled for September 17th. However, for those unable to attend, the company is more than happy to share a link to watch the event at a later time, thus encouraging any interested peers to reach out.

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FTC Refunds Over $11.45 Billion to Financial Fraud Victims

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Financial Fraud Victims Receive $11.45 Billion

 Scams in cyberspace have been a prevalent issue for quite some time, but the US government is taking measures to help cybercrime victims.

According to data presented by the Atlas VPN research team, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) refunded $11.45 billion to US financial fraud victims. As many as 7.04 million individuals received a refund from the FTC since its inception.

The FTC’s main mission is to protect US consumers by halting unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace. This independent agency of the United States government conducts investigations, sues companies and people that violate the law.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN shares her thoughts on the FTC’s performance:

In short, it appears that the Federal Trade Commission is sticking to its word and helping scam victims. On the other hand, fraudulent schemes are still a painful and growing issue for US consumers.

Once an FTC lawsuit or settlement is final and the defendants have paid the money, the Bureau’s Office of Claims and Refunds creates a plan for returning that money to the victims.

By far, the most significant case involving fraudulent practices was carried out by AMG Services. After the settlement, the Federal Trade Commission issued $956.26 million refund checks to over 1.18 million recipients.

The second biggest fraud case in which the FTC sent out refund checks is the settlement with Herbalife. The case resulted in $199.51 million refund checks to 260 thousand victims and Herbalife’s restructuring.

The lawsuit alleged that Herbalife deceived consumers into believing they could earn significant profits from selling the company’s products. However, after investigating the business model, it became apparent that “it’s virtually impossible to make money selling Herbalife products.” The FTC said in a press release.

FY 2019 – a record year

In total, from the fiscal year 2016 to the fiscal year 2019, the Federal Trade Commission, or companies and individuals that were a part of fraudulent schemes, refunded more than $10.5 billion to scam victims.

In some cases, the FTC sends out the refunds by themselves. The FTC directly sent out $977.5 million in refunds since the fiscal year 2016. Over 9.1 million people cashed out these checks. The administrative costs of distributing the money reach $22.1 million.

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