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Health care alliance: Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway are collaborating on health care programs, with a focus on cost reduction and "employee satisfaction." The three companies will form an independent company that will be "free from profit-making incentives and constraints," according to a release. The first initiative will be building technology to streamline health care access and financing by drawing on the resources of all three companies. "The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with the answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable," said Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, in a release.

Bloomberg News

A new voice for retailers: Voice computing company VoiceLabs has launched Alpine, which builds voice shopping apps for retailers and then uses artificial intelligence to improve performance over time and eventually turn voice service sessions into referrals, sales and e-commerce payments. TechCrunch reports this isn't VoiceLabs' first foray into retail voice technology. Amazon scuttled an earlier attempt, which allowed advertisers to to aggregate voice app developers to create a base of smart speaker customers. Amazon was sensitive to how these ads would change the user experience, according to TechCrunch, which reports Alpine gives retailers a way to avoid handing over full recommendations, service and conversations to Amazon or Google.

Fingerprint workaround: Some Lenovo computers have a vulnerability due to encryption shortfalls, the company reports in a security update on its site. Lenovo reports three dozen ThinkPad, ThinkCentre or ThinkStation devices have a security gap that allows outsiders to bypass fingerprint scanners and use a hardcoded password to gain access. The vulnerability exposes the users' login credentials and fingerprint data. Lenovo has identified the weakness and released a patch for the bug.

One in ten: More than 33 million Americans, or about ten percent, were victims of card fraud in 2017, according to LendingTree unit CompareCards. More than 66% of victims reported that someone tried to make a purchase with their digital account information, even though the actual plastic card was not stolen. Also, 47% of victims said their bank contacted them first about the fraud, with 37% saying they learned of the fraud first by reviewing account statements. And debit and credit cards were targeted equally, suggesting one type of card isn't inherently safer than the other.

Who can't use passwords? Payment companies are anxious to get rid of passwords in favor of more dynamic authentication that's not usable if stolen. But it turns out there's another reason, given the upcoming generation of shoppers has a hard time managing passwords. According to Nintex, 25% of millennials can't reset passwords, as opposed to 18% of baby boomers, which creates extra service work for retailers and employers as well as security risks for payment and financial accounts. And it's not just passwords. About 1 in 5 millennials can't print documents, compared to 10% of baby boomers.

UnionPay gets more mobile: UnionPay is collaborating with smartphone maker Huawei to promote international use of Huawei Pay. The partnership will allow smartphone users to add UnionPay cards to a smartphone that can support Huawei Pay for contactless and in-app payments, with tokenization providing security. Huawei Pay is a Chinese mobile payment service that has 66 banks and 20 mobile devices in its network.

From the Web

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies – what digital money really means for our future
The Guardian | Mon Jan 29, 2018 - What is a cryptocurrency? Is it like bitcoin? In a word, yes. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, and is still the biggest, but in the eight years since it was created pretenders to the throne have come along. All of them have the same basic underpinnings: they use a “blockchain”, a shared public record of transactions, to create and track a new type of digital token – one that can only be made and shared according to the agreed-upon rules of the network, whatever they may be. But the flourishing ecosystem has provided a huge amount of variation on top of that. Some cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin or Dogecoin, fulfil the same purpose as bitcoin – building a new digital currency – with tweaks to some of the details (making transactions faster, for instance, or ensuring a basic level of inflation). Others, such as Ethereum or Bat, take the same principle but apply it to a specific purpose: cloud computing or digital advertising in the case of those two.

Armed gang steals bitcoin fortune in heist
The Times | Mon Jan 29, 2018 - A cryptocurrency broker who has carried out more than 100,000 online trades was robbed at gunpoint in his home and forced to transfer bitcoin funds. Danny Aston, 30, and his girlfriend, Amy Jay, 31, are believed to be victims of the UK’s first bitcoin heist after they were attacked at their home in a quiet Oxfordshire village, from where they ran a digital currency company.

Indonesia's fintech lending boom exploits shortfall in bank loans
Reuters | Tue Jan 30, 2018 - Fintech firms, offering loans of as little as a few hundred dollars, are seeing a spike in lending in Indonesia where tens of millions of people have little or no access to bank credit - helping alleviate a financing shortfall estimated at more than $73 billion. The emergence of these peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms has so far been welcomed by Indonesia’s financial regulators which see them as offering a much needed service to cash-strapped businesses and consumers at a time when Southeast Asia’s biggest economy has been hobbled by sluggish bank lending.

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Wirecard, Fortress GB take a data-centric view to payments at sports venues
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