Microsoft says it will continue discussions to buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S.

On Sunday, August 2, Microsoft acknowledged publicly and officially that Microsoft is in discussions regarding purchasing the U.S. operations of the TikTok video platform. Microsoft officials said via a blog post that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald Trump had met and Microsoft was “prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States.”

Microsoft “is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury,” the blog post said.

Microsoft is discussing both owning and operating TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, officials said. Microsoft may invite other investors to take a minority share in the purchase.

Microsoft plans to continue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance “ina matter of weeks” and will complete the discussions no later than September 15, 2020, officials said. During that

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UK fintech investment down by more than 30%

Investment in UK financial technology (fintech) firms plummeted 30% in the second quarter of this year, with early startups hit hardest by the decline.

According to figures from fintech trade body Innovate Finance, a total of $760m (£590m) was invested in UK fintech in the second quarter of this year, compared to more than $1.2bn (£940m) in the same period last year.

The quarter has fallen with the global economic slowdown brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic slowdown it caused.

In the first quarter, where the Covid-19 slowdown affected the economy for a few weeks, total investment was $1.08bn, compared to $1.75bn in the first quarter of 2019.

Overall venture capital investment totalled $1.84bn in the first half of 2020, with 167 deals, compared to $3bn in 263 startups in the same period in 2019.

More established fintechs fared better, with digital payments and banking startup

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GandCrab ransomware distributor arrested in Belarus

In a press release last week, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Belarus announced the arrest of a 31-year-old man on charges of distributing the GandCrab ransomware.

The man, whose name was not released, was arrested in Gomel, a small city in southeastern Belarus, at the intersection with the Russian and Ukraine border.

Authorities said the man had no previous convictions prior to his arrest but had signed up on a hacking forum to become an affiliate for the GandCrab ransomware operation.

He allegedly rented access to a web panel where he tweaked settings to obtain a custom version of the GandCrab ransomware, which he would later send out as boobytrapped files to other internet users using email spam.

Victims who opened the files would get infected and have their files encrypted, needing to pay a ransom fee to obtain a decryption app and recover their files.

Suspect made more

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UK contact-tracing app to be launched ‘shortly’ as Northern Ireland deploys service

After appearing to have almost fallen off the radar, the UK’s coronavirus contact-tracing app is back and will be officially launched soon, according to Dido Harding, executive chair of NHS Test and Trace.

In the foreword to a UK government policy paper, Breaking chains of Covid-19 transmission to help people return to more normal lives: developing the NHS Test and Trace service, which sets out the steps the UK government is taking to combat the pandemic, Harding said that launching an app would be part of an “ambitious and challenging” plan that includes doubling testing capacity, making testing easily accessible to everyone, expanding local public health teams and launching backward contact tracing.

Harding said her team would deliver an app that reduces the risk of people contracting the virus and transmitting it to others. She said that when launched, the app would: enable citizens to identify symptoms and “seamlessly”

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Would a Microsoft TikTok acquisition be anything less than completely crazy?

Bloomberg is reporting that President Donald Trump is planning to order Beijing-based ByteDance to divest ownership of its TikTok social-video app in the US. Trump and other politicians have claimed TikTok may be a conduit for the Chinese government to spy on or meddle with US citizens.

One of the companies said to be kicking the TikTok tires, according to various reports, is Microsoft.

First things first: Microsoft does due diligence on lots and lots of tech properties when they’re for sale or soon to be for sale. That doesn’t mean the Redmondians end up buying many/most of them. See Salesforce, Slack, Yahoo, and more for examples of companies Microsoft allegedly considered but took a pass on.

But before you (like me) immediately dismiss these TikTok rumors as sheer lunacy, it’s worth thinking this through. Even though Microsoft is all about business software and services, there are a couple of

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UK government aims fintech industry at Africa

The UK government is piloting a programme that will link tech communities in the UK and Africa to accelerate the adoption of financial services and create a platform for future trading.

If successful, the Department for International Trade (DIT) programme, known as Tech for Growth, will be expanded to countries in South East Asia and Latin America.

In the first 12 months, a UK-Africa Tech for Growth community will be set up to help increase access to financial services to the unbanked in Africa, with partnerships between British and African tech and finance firms promoted.

It will also try to increase financial technology (fintech) trading between the UK and Africa and work with African governments and regulators to grow their technology sectors.

Gerry Grimstone, UK minister for investment, said the UK offers expertise in tech and financial services, making it an ideal base for firms offering financial services technology.

“This

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