News roundup: EU plans for digital wallet, semiconductor makers experience record growth, and LG closes down mobile payments business

A roundup of this week’s technology news, including EU plans for a digital wallet, record growth in the chipmaking industry, LG’s plans to close down its mobile payments business, and more.


EU plans for a digital wallet

The European Union is preparing to launch a digital wallet that will enable its 450 million citizens to access a variety of online services securely and quickly.

According to a report by Bloomberg, citizens of the EU’s 27 member states will be able to use the planned digital wallets for showing their age, taking out loans, renting cars abroad, submitting tax returns, creating new bank accounts, enrolling in university courses, and more.

The digital wallets will likely work as mobile applications, meaning people will be able to access them via their smartphones. They could be rolled out by October of next year, but their use won’t be compulsory.

As pointed out by Bloomberg, many EU member states provide existing digital identity solutions. The proposed EU digital wallets should work seamlessly with existing systems and make it easier for EU citizens to use different online services across the entire bloc.

Draft proposals obtained by Bloomberg state: “Under the new rules, European Digital Identity Wallets will be available to everyone.”

Semiconductor manufacturers experience record growth

Semiconductor manufacturers are experiencing record-breaking growth, despite a well-reported shortage of electronic chips globally.

According to new research from market intelligence provider TrendForce, the top 10 biggest chipmakers saw their combined revenue grow to $22.75 billion during the first quarter of 2021.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company remained the world’s top chipmaker in this period, with its revenues reaching a staggering $12.9 billion.

While Samsung kicked off 2021 as the second-biggest chip manufacturer, the revenue of its foundry business fell by 2% to $4.11 billion in Q1 2021. This was caused by the closure of Samsung’s Texas-based semiconductor factory following a devastating winter storm in February.

United Microelectronics Corporation was the third biggest semiconductor foundry in Q1 2021, achieving a 5% revenue growth of $1.68 billion. Meanwhile, GlobalFoundaries saw its revenues plummet by 16% to $1.3 billion. In fifth place, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation’s Q1 revenue increased by 12% to $1.1 billion.

LG closes down mobile payments arm

LG has confirmed plans to discontinue its US-based mobile payments service after announcing the closure of its smartphone business in April, as reported by Slashgear.

First launched in 2017, LG Pay offers mobile payment and digital wallet services to users located in the United States and South Korea.

But the firm has now unveiled plans to gradually wind down different LG Pay US services and features over the coming months, before completely discontinuing the service in the US on November 1st.

Over the past few years, LG’s mobile payments service has faced increased competition from the likes of Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay. This is likely a key factor in LG’s decision to close the service.

“We regret to inform you that the LG Pay Wallet service will be phasing out and discontinued over the remainder of 2021,” explained LG in an announcement.

“As we wind down over the coming months, you may notice that we will: stop accepting new enrollments to LG Pay; stop allowing the addition of new cards to existing accounts (Credit/Debit/Prepaid Card, Gift Card, Loyalty Card); and no longer allow the purchase of new gift cards. However, you will be able to use your existing provisioned cards until the LG Pay service is completely decommissioned.”

Apple security boss cleared of bribery charges

A Californian judge has dropped a high-profile bribery case against Apple’s security boss saying parts of the case were “pure speculation”, according to a report by Reuters.

Thomas Moyer, chief security officer at Apple, stood accused of attempting to give iPads to the Sheriff’s Office if it agreed to provide concealed weapons permits to be used by Apple’s executive protection officers. Two law enforcement officials were also indicted in the case.

In California, people can only own concealed weapons after obtaining a permit from county sheriffs. Anyone found to be carrying a concealed weapon in the absence of one of these permits would be in violation of Californian laws and face prosecution.

This week, Superior Court of Santa Clara County judge Eric S. Geffon threw the case out of court and ruled in favour of Moyer. He concluded: “This argument is pure speculation, and is not supported by the evidence presented to the grand jury,"

Moyer released a statement saying: "I thank the Court for giving this case such careful consideration, and for allowing me to move forward with my life. I also want to thank Apple, my friends and family for their unwavering support.”

The US unveils and suspends tariffs to negotiate global digital taxes

The White House this week unveiled 25% tariffs on imports valued at more than $2 billion in a bid to penalise several countries that have enforced digital taxes aimed at US tech giants, as reported by the Guardian.

But after confirming retaliatory tariffs against the UK, Spain, Italy, Austria, India and Turkey on Wednesday, the US government quickly suspended them for a period of 180 days in order to continue negotiations with these countries regarding their international digital taxes.

Katherine Tai, US trade representative, claims that the move to suspend the duties will “provide time for those negotiations to continue to make progress while maintaining the option of imposing tariffs under Section 301 if warranted in the future”.

Security roundup

  • Two major technology industry organisations have filed a lawsuit against the US state of Florida over a new law that ensures social media firms can’t ban political candidates from their platforms during elections, as reported by IT Pro. Trade bodies NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCITA) argue that the law, which goes live on July 1st, violates the first amendment of the US Constitution and a part of the Communications Decency Act. They argue: "Rather than preventing what it calls ‘censorship,’ the Act does the exact opposite: it empowers government officials in Florida to police the protected editorial judgment of online businesses that the State disfavors and whose perceived political viewpoints it wishes to punish.”
  • The world’s biggest meat processing firm, JBS, recently became the victim of a cyberattack that affected its operations across the US, Canada and Australia. JBS described the attack as organised in nature, explaining that it impacted a number of servers used to support its North American and Australian IT systems. Luckily, the cyberattack didn’t affect the running of its backup servers, and JBS enlisted the support of an incident response firm to get its affected systems back up and running promptly. JBS said in a media release: “The company is not aware of any evidence at this time that any customer, supplier or employee data has been compromised or misused as a result of the situation. Resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers.”
  • UK businesses aren’t taking enough steps to deal with the dramatic increase of cyber threats seen throughout the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from technology services provider Probrand. Despite 62% of British firms allowing employees to access corporate data on personal devices, 39% aren’t using multi-factor authentication to verify user identity. Furthermore, only 40% of firms are encrypting data in transit, while just 34% are enforcing access controls on this data. But 68% of respondents said they’re encrypting data locally on devices. What’s also concerning is that 49% of companies are unable to confirm whether data is safe and secure.
  • It’s been discovered that 72% of the 4,400 security vulnerabilities disclosed from January to March 2021 lacked patches, according to new research from NCC Group’s Research and Intelligence Fusion Team (RIFT). Worryingly, 13% of these vulnerabilities were classified critical, and cybercriminals could publicly access a proof-of-concept exploit for 29% of them. What’s more, 50% of security flaws with accessible exploit code didn’t have an available remediation patch. Ollie Whitehouse, global CTO at NCC Group, said: “Leadership and engineering teams must prioritise security as part of the development process and have an effective and rapid vulnerability root cause analysis, remediation and disclosure processes in place in order to quickly and comprehensively resolve, release and communicate any issues to customers.”

M&A roundup

Enterprise data cloud giant Cloudera has announced it’s to be acquired by private equity companies Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and KKR for a cash sum of $5.3 billion. Set to conclude in the latter part of 2021, the deal will see Cloudera become a private company. While this deal is being finalised, Cloudera plans to acquire technology companies Datacoral and Cazena.

US e-commerce firm Etsy is to acquire British clothes shopping service Depop in a $1.63 billion deal. The deal is expected to close by Q3 of 2021, with the vast majority of it set to be made in cash. Once the deal is finalised, Depop will keep operating as a separate marketplace. Its leadership team and London-based headquarters will remain the same, too. Depop said the support of Etsy will allow it to “grow and develop its global community, enhance its product and marketplace, and accelerate its mission to build the world’s most diverse and progressive home of fashion.”

Digital transformation firm Atos has finalised its acquisition of AI-powered video analytics software provider Ipsotek. While not revealing the financial details of the deal, Atos said the acquisition of Ipsotek will enable it to add “ key software capabilities and IP to its solutions portfolio” in a bid to “provide a unique offering to clients across a variety of sectors”.

Global digital identity verification provider Mitek has acquired ID R&D, a provider of AI-powered voice and face biometrics and live detection solutions, in a bid to clamp down on identity fraud. Mitek said ID R&D shareholders will get around $49 million of Mitek stock and cash as consideration through the deal. Mitek plans to integrate ID R&D’s technology into its own solution, but ID R&D will remain as a separate brand and continue to provide its core biometric technologies to customers.

Digital experience platform Sitecore has acquired Moosend, a Greek marketing automation and campaign management software provider, as part of its $1.2 billion growth plan. Sitecore said the acquisition will aid its efforts to “power the personalisation and e-commerce requirements of modern enterprises”. Over the next year, Sitecore plans to increase its presence in Greece with new hires and investments. Meanwhile, Moosend CEO Yannis Psarras and other members of the Moosend leadership team will work for Sitecore going forward.

Logicalis, an international provider of IT solutions and managed services, has acquired network transformation and modernisation firm Siticom. The firm hopes that the acquisition will bolster its “capability to deliver software-defined services to customers as they look to connect people and devices”.

World’s tech hotspots revealed

San Francisco, New York, London, Boston, Stockholm, Singapore, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Sydney and Seattle have been named the world’s top ten tech hotspots in a new study conducted by UK electronics retailer Carphone Warehouse. It investigated areas such as access to tech, the strength of industry, tech freedom, and education and careers to rank the world’s tech hotspots of 2021.

Carphone Warehouse said in a media release: “Over the past year, it’s become clear how powerful electronic technology can be – from helping us stay connected across distances, to disseminating crucial news and data in real-time. With the entire world relying on tech devices, particularly recently, the tech race has never been this competitive.  Electronics retailer Carphone Warehouse created the World’s Tech Hotspots index to find out which cities around the world are on the winning stretch”.