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Account linking could make Instagram the heir to Facebook Login – TechCrunch

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Teens’ aversion to Facebook jeopardizes not only the company’s feed ad revenue, but its dominance as an identity provider. The Facebook Login platform keeps people tied to the social network in order to easily access other apps without a separate username and password. But for younger users who ditch or neglect Facebook in favor of Instagram, the tech giant stands to lose one of its most powerful wedges into our lives. Meanwhile, Instagram loyalists are forced to juggle multiple sets of login credentials to manage their personal, Finsta and business accounts.

But a new feature in development could make it easy to operate multiple Instagram handles while poising the app as a successor to Facebook Login. Instagram has prototyped the “Main Account” feature that would let users set one of their profiles as a primary account and then link their other accounts to it. Logging into the main account would instantly log them in to the rest, as well. From then on, users would only need to remember a single email/username and password combo. Simpler login could get people switching accounts, posting and engaging more with Instagram.

Account linking could also power up Instagram’s existing login platform. Currently, third-party apps use it to let you compose feed posts and Stories and then share them to Instagram, or to measure the activity and mentions of business accounts. But Instagram could potentially expand the login platform to let you bring more of your identity or profile info to other apps similar to Facebook Login. That might work better if you could log in through your main Instagram account and then choose which profile you wanted to use or share back to from another app.

TechCrunch was tipped off to code for “Account Linking” in the Instagram for Android alpha version’s APK files by social media researcher Ishan Agarwal. The code explains “Quickly and securely log in to all of your Instagram accounts with one ID and password . . . Make one of your accounts your main account and use it to log in to all of your other accounts at once . . . Your accounts will remain separate but logging in will be fast and simple . . . Anyone who has the password for your main account will have access to the accounts connected to it.”

Instagram declined to comment regarding the feature. That’s standard for the company when it has prototyped something it is trying out with employees but hasn’t done any external testing. But many features first spotted in the app’s code at this stage go on to be fully rolled out, like Instagram video calling, nametags and soundtracks.

Facebook colonized the web using its login platform, scattering buttons with its logo on sites as an alternative to having to create a new account for every service. This helped grow Facebook’s user base, lock in users so it’d be harder for them to deactivate, develop new sources of feed content and gather data on what people did around the web. Many users who’ve stopped heavily posting to or reading Facebook still maintain a connection with the social network because they rely on it to log in to Spotify, Netflix and other services.

In fact, Facebook’s login platform is one of its most valuable features, where it lacks strong competition. Google runs its own identity platform, but with people increasingly using two-factor authentication and other security to protect their Gmail accounts, it can sometimes be a bit clumsy. Snapchat is trying to build up its own Snap Kit login platform with partners like Poshmark, but few mainstream apps have implemented it for account creation.

Instagram has been tinkering with other features around the concept of identity. It launched Close Friends for sharing Stories just with your besties, rolled out its own two-factor authentication option and is adding a way to syndicate your feed posts to multiple accounts you control. Getting users to establish a main account could also smooth Facebook’s plan to offer encrypted cross-app messaging between itself, Instagram and WhatsApp. Your main account might be a stand-in for your real identity as Instagram doesn’t force a real-name policy on users like Facebook does.

If you start to think of Instagram as not just a parallel social network to Facebook but as either an escape pod or heir to the throne, it’s important to consider how Facebook’s core assets will weather the transition. Recent profile redesigns have already tried to make your Instagram profile the center of your online personality. Uniting the prismatic shards of your identity through account linking could let you carry that personality with you across the web.



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Revolut launches stock trading in the US – TechCrunch

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Fintech startup Revolut is rolling out stock trading in its app in the U.S. The company already lets you buy and sell shares if you’re a British user. And now, Revolut has received approval to become a licensed U.S. broker-dealer in the U.S.

Revolut users will be able to trade 1,100 securities, such as shares on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. The company will also offer access to 200 ETFs. When it comes to features, Revolut offers fractional shares and several order types, such as limit and stop-limit orders.

In the app, you’ll find market graphs, a selection of news headlines and information about the top ten holdings of each ETF. Users can set up price alerts as well. When you buy and sell an asset, you don’t pay any commission. Like on all trading platforms, there’s some spread between the buy and sell price though.

With this new feature, Revolut competes more directly with Robinhood and Cash App. Over the past few years, Revolut has positioned itself as a financial super app.

In the U.S., users can use it as an alternative to a traditional checking account. You can order a debit card, create a virtual card, send and receive money, and put some money aside in a savings vault.

More recently, Revolut has started to expand beyond payments. In the U.S., it has partnered with Paxos to launch the ability to trade cryptocurrencies in the app. And now, there’s stock trading.

Of course, Revolut users in the U.K. still have access to more features. But it’s interesting to see that Revolut is still releasing new features in the U.S. in order to build a financial super app that works across multiple markets.

Many consumer fintech companies that started in Europe have ditched plans to enter the U.S. For instance, N26 recently announced that it’ll stop its operations in the U.S. Revolut currently has 18 million customers.

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Apple returns to No. 1 as global smartphone shipments grapple with supply chain concerns – TechCrunch

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Supply chain issues continue to have a major impact on smartphone manufacturers per newly released figures from analyst firm Canalys — global shipments grew only 1% year over year in the final quarter of 2021. The numbers come on the tail of Q3 reports, which saw an overall drop of 6%, citing similar issues over component supply.

The firm also factors in a resurgence of COVID-19, courtesy of the omicron variant, which has sent a number of locals into shutdown reminiscent of the pandemic’s early days roughly two years ago. Canalys notes that this impact is greatest among the smaller manufacturers in the market, who have had the greatest issues finding new suppliers.

“Component manufacturers are eking out additional production, but it will take years for major foundries to significantly increase chip capacity,” the firm’s Mobility VP Nicole Peng said in a statement tied to the new figures. “Smartphone brands are already innovating to make the most of their circumstances, tweaking device specs in response to available materials, approaching emerging chipmakers to secure new sources for ICs, focusing product lines on the best-selling models and staggering new product releases.”

Image Credits: Canalys

Larger companies remain less impacted overall by shortages and bottlenecks. The quarter also saw Apple return to the overall top spot in the global market, after three quarters away. The company’s rise is attributed to the success of the iPhone 13 and an extremely solid performance in Mainland China — the world’s largest smartphone market.

Apple’s overall marketshare ticked up from 12% to 23% of the market since last quarter. The previous drop owed in part, to the company’s trouble meeting demand in a number of regions in recent quarters.

“Apple’s supply chain is starting to recover, but it was still forced to cut production in Q4 amid shortages of key components and could not make enough iPhones to meet demand,” says analyst Sanyam Chaurasia. “In prioritized markets, it maintained adequate delivery times, but in some markets its customers had to wait to get their hands on the latest iPhones.”

Samsung, meanwhile, dropped to second, from 23% to 20% of the total market. Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo rounded out the top five for Q4.

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Block’s Cash App adopts Lightning Network for free bitcoin payments – TechCrunch

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Late last year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down from his position in order to give his full attention to his other company Square, now called Block, which had become increasingly invested in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency — just like Dorsey himself. Now we’re starting to see the results of Block’s embrace of crypto, as this morning Cash App announced it’s integrated with the Lightning Network, allowing its U.S. users to send bitcoin for free to anyone worldwide.

The feature had been slowly rolling out to Cash App customers before today, but Cash App had not yet made a formal announcement. The company says the rollout is expected to complete over the “coming weeks,” reaching all U.S. Cash App customers.

Once live, Cash App users will be able to send bitcoin internationally to any external compatible wallet, including those for family or friends or a self-managed wallet, like Chivo Wallet, BlueWallet, or Muun Wallet, for example. Users will also be able to send bitcoin to any merchant that accepts Lightning Network payments, with zero fees. While this isn’t yet a mainstream activity, a few merchants have begun to accept Lightning payments, allowing customers to do things like order a pizza over the Lightning Network or buy gift cards.

The Lightning Network’s integration into Cash App could also help to empower the growing creator economy, as fans could send bitcoin to show their support for an individual creator or cause if they accepted Lightning payments. 

Cash App explains the advantages of this system, noting that typical Bitcoin network transactions can take some time to process and see higher fees, compared with Lightning Network — whose name is meant to convey its speedier capabilities. Its transactions also take place independently of the blockchain (off-chain), which helps to reduce the fees, time, and energy usage that would otherwise be involved. But the Lightning Network will still benefit from the blockchain’s technology and decentralization, as the transactions taking place on the network are later consolidated and recorded to the main Bitcoin blockchain.

Dorsey himself had demonstrated interest in the Lightning Network, tweeting back in 2019 that it was a “cool example” of the experimentation taking place among #BitcoinTwitter users. More recently, Block’s bitcoin-focused company, Spiral, presented its Lightning Development Kit (LDK) which offers a way to easily integrate bitcoin payments into any application. The new Lightning integration on Cash App is also powered by Spiral’s LDK — and Cash App is also the first and largest payments app to integrate with LDK at this time, the company notes.

The rollout of LDK is also an example of Block’s strategic vision in action, where one arm may build the tools that are adopted by other Block-owned businesses.

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