Innovation Inc: Walmart’s AI vendors, Securus Tech’s digital overhaul

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We often highlight stories of digital overhauls that enable faster business growth, deeper operational cost cuts, and more seamless interactions with customers. 

But there’s another component to transformations, too: reputation. 

Walmart, for example, is investing heavily in technology, both as part of its epic battle with Amazon for retail dominance and from a desire to be viewed as a software behemoth. The company works with a slew of outside vendors, but is developing many of applications in-house, as well — like its recent express delivery option. The overhaul is so robust that some Wall Street analysts believe Walmart’s stock should be treated more like that of a tech company.

In the case of Aventiv Technologies — the parent-firm of prison communications company Securus Technologies that’s backed by billionaire Tom Gores — new CEO Dave Abel is relying on a digital overhaul to rebuild a tattered public image. 

Securus has faced heavy criticism over the past few years for the costs it charges prison inmates to use the services, which lawsuits allege is sometimes as high as $15.99 for a 15-minute call. But Abel is promising sweeping changes and Securus poured an additional $30 million into its tech budget — on top of the $50 million it already spends annually. 

“We believe that the incarcerated community is worthy of the investment of capital. We believe they’re worthy of technology,” Abel told me. “Part of our transformation has been convincing and demonstrating to the leadership of our company and within our company that digital transformation has the opportunity for us to refocus personnel in the organization to create greater value.” 

Abel says the company reduced the average call cost to 15 cents a minute, a 30% cut from earlier rates, and it provided 26 million free calls during the coronavirus pandemic. But

Big tech’s emerging market finance push brings rewards and risk

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LONDON: A push by big technology firms into financial services in developing countries will improve access to them, but might also make traditional lenders more vulnerable, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) said.

The expansion in emerging markets has generally been more rapid and broad-based than that in advanced economies, the FSB, which coordinates financial regulation for the Group of 20 Economies (G20), said in the report released on Monday.

Lower levels of access to traditional banking and financial services developing economies had created demand for services now offered by big tech firms, the report found, particularly among low-income populations and in rural areas.

An increasing availability of mobile phones and internet access supported this trend, the FSB said.

“However the expansion of BigTech activity also gives rise to risks and vulnerabilities,” it said, pointing to lower financial literacy and firms using other data gathered.

“Competition from BigTech firms may, in places, also reduce the profitability and resilience of incumbent financial institutions and lead to greater risk-taking,” the FSB added. ($1 = $1.0000)

Another report said:

European Union regulators are making a ‘hit list’ of up to 20 large internet companies, potentially including Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Alphabet’s Google, that will be facing new and tougher rules aimed at curbing their market power, the Financial Times reported https://on.ft.com/34NZ3lW.

The big technology platforms will have to comply with tougher regulation than smaller competitors, the newspaper reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the discussions.

New rules will force the companies to share data with rivals and be more transparent on how they gather information, the report said.

The list will be made based on parameters like market share and number of users, the newspaper said, adding that the exact number of companies and the precise criteria for the list was still being

Big tech’s emerging market finance push brings rewards and risk, FSB says

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LONDON, Oct 12 (Reuters) – A push by big technology firms into financial services in developing countries will improve access to them, but might also make traditional lenders more vulnerable, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) said.

The expansion in emerging markets has generally been more rapid and broad-based than that in advanced economies, the FSB, which coordinates financial regulation for the Group of 20 Economies (G20), said in the report released on Monday.

Lower levels of access to traditional banking and financial services developing economies had created demand for services now offered by big tech firms, the report found, particularly among low-income populations and in rural areas.

An increasing availability of mobile phones and internet access supported this trend, the FSB said.

“However the expansion of BigTech activity also gives rise to risks and vulnerabilities,” it said, pointing to lower financial literacy and firms using other data gathered.

“Competition from BigTech firms may, in places, also reduce the profitability and resilience of incumbent financial institutions and lead to greater risk-taking,” the FSB added. ($1 = $1.0000) (Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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House lawmakers just released a massive report decrying Big Tech’s power, and it’s adding fuel to Apple’s ongoing feud with developers

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REUTERS/Mason Trinca


© REUTERS/Mason Trinca
REUTERS/Mason Trinca

  • House Democrats released a 449-page report on Tuesday based on the results of an investigation into whether Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple are engaging in anticompetitive practices.
  • In regards to Apple, much of the report focuses on accusations from developers saying that the tech giant’s App Store policies and rules make it difficult to compete in the marketplace.
  • The report cites conversations with app developers and Apple’s former director of App Store review among other resources.
  • Apple has refuted the accusations and conclusions made in the report, saying it doesn’t hold a monopoly and its rules are designed to enforce safety and trust in the App Store.
  • Still, the report suggests that the long-running issues developers have taken with Apple’s policies are far from being resolved. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

House lawmakers have finally revealed the findings of their lengthy antitrust investigation into Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook in a 449-page report that accuses the tech giants of hampering competition in online marketplaces.

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For Apple, the report is another wrinkle in the long-running scuffle between the iPhone maker and app developers, some of which have accused Apple of abusing its position as the gatekeeper to the App Store and manager of the iOS platform.

App developers have been voicing their concerns more prominently in recent months — by forming coalitions and publicly speaking out against Apple on social media.

But the report from the House antitrust subcommittee provides a thorough look into the troubles app developers say they have encountered in recent years — challenging Apple’s argument that it creates a fair and level playing field for all app makers.

The scrutiny is also coming at a time when Apple’s services business — which includes revenue from App Store transactions

U.S. lawmakers detail Big Tech’s market abuses and press for strict reform

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(Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives panel looking into abuses of market power by four big technology companies found they used “killer acquisitions” to smite rivals, charged exorbitant fees and forced small businesses into “oppressive” contracts in the name of profit.

The antitrust subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee recommended that Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL.O Google, Apple Inc AAPL.O, Amazon.com AMZN.O and Facebook FB.O – with a combined market value of over $5 trillion – should not both control and compete in related businesses.

The panel’s report broadly recommended structural separations but stopped short of saying a specific company should be broken up.

The scathing 449-page report – the result of the first such congressional review of the tech industry – suggested expansive changes to antitrust law and described dozens of instances where the companies misused their power.

“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the report said.

In anticipation of the report, Amazon warned in a blog post Tuesday against “fringe notions of antitrust” and market interventions that “would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices and reducing consumer choice.”

Google said in a statement that it competes “fairly in a fast-moving and highly competitive industry. We disagree with today’s reports, which feature outdated and inaccurate allegations from commercial rivals about Search and other services.”

Facebook said, “We compete with a wide variety of services with millions, even billions, of people using them. Acquisitions are part of every industry, and just one way we innovate new technologies to deliver more value to people.”

Apple said, “Scrutiny