Vacation planning and trips dominated everyone’s planner, especially now that summer is fast approaching. Even the online world leads travel companies in featuring scenic destinations and top spots from different countries. The excitement also comes during the preparation of the much-awaited vacation, which includes booking for hotels or renting a stranger’s house to accommodate travelers’ housing needs during the whole trip.
However, for some of the most popular destinations, people may find that traditional hotels are inadequate or already fully booked. This idea may force people to rent a vacation home as alternatives to hotels and other lodging houses. According to the Vacation Rental Managers Association, at least 24 percent of leisure travelers choose to stay at home rentals. And, the easiest way to book reservations is through online which has offered multiple choices for vacation planners, from the most expensive houses to the most affordable ones in the country.
With the boon of reservations apps online, the risk of getting fake vacation rent houses increases significantly. Complaints and grievances from travelers were reported since 2014. The table has turned for almost every traveler, as they resorted to expensive hotels and lodging houses to make sure that they have a place to stay during the whole vacation. Although these reservations cost a lot of fortune, customers will be staying on a safer and more secure environment.
This scenario is where travel-booking companies enter into the picture. People, nowadays, have avoided vacation houses due to recent reports on the increasing number of online scammers who pretended to be agents of a known leisure housing company. Since vacationists are looking for a legit place to stay, hotels and lodging houses are facing a tight competition. With the aid of technological advancement and the internet, these hotel-booking companies are now making its way on the hospitality business.
One competitive company, known as Airbnb, is one of the top businesses today which became successful in the home renting industry. Aside from owning vacation hotels, its name resonates after it launches travel services defeating large travel sites such as Expedia Group and Priceline. And, this Thursday, Airbnb announced that the company had bought HotelTonight, an app for finding hotel rooms at a discounted price, as it paddles deeper into the hotel-booking business with a goal to attract a wide variety of travelers.
Aside from the fact that Airbnb wants to become a one-stop travel service that puts up with large tourism sites, the acquirement is also part of the company’s strategy to win over travelers who have moved away from the risks and hustles of renting a stranger’s home. The company changes the services offered by the HotelTonight app, adding guided tours and activities, reservations for restaurants, and luxury hotels, and even pursuing the transportation facilities shortly.
Before the invention of the internet and online booking apps, the process to rent a vacation house is too slow and time-consuming. This action involves a lot of phone calls, mailing of printed packages, and diving into the hustle of solving booking issues. But, with the advent of technology and through the help of the internet, bookings and online hotel reservations become a lot easier.
However, travel-booking frauds and scammers increase in the online world today. Individual companies like Airbnb knew what to do, as these rental scams pestered vacationists. Further, the management warned consumers that these scammers create websites that interpret the site but have no connection to the actual real estate.
They would offer fabulous pictures of these fictitious properties, and once the renter is hooked, the phony agent will then collect a security deposit. After such transactions, victims are left unaware that they are cheated on, until the first day of their supposedly grandeur vacation.
With this, Airbnb acts as an ultimate rescuer of travelers who would want a legit hotel or home reservations. In 2018, it barely made an impact as mainstream sightseers choose travel site giants such as Expedia Group and Priceline over them when these people needed a one-stop travel service. However, Airbnb proves this year that it can outgrow and outperform competitors by focusing on its online-reservation business. Also, its move to protect travelers from fake agents poses a promising career to its line of business.
Now with HotelTonight’s app, people will have the real opportunity to make last-minute bookings and will be lured away from online frauds. Other than that, it will offer discounted rooms to travelers and target business districts as well as urban areas. The app started as a service for same-day room reservations but will now expand to months of bookings.
The internet is being surrounded by fictitious people who will do every means to make money out of innocent individuals. The scariest thing is that they don’t choose who will be their victims or when they will stop. With the increase of online scammers, AirBnB’s recent decision to acquire the booking app is timely and equally reasonable which may lessen the cases of travel-booking frauds.
What’s The Next Move For Huawei?
Huawei assures users that they will still be receiving security updates and after-sales services amidst the Google/Android ban. Sources also revealed that company is poised to launch its own OS, Hongmeng, anytime soon. Click To Tweet
Following the decision of Google and Android to ban Huawei from contracting their services in conjunction of the government-led war against the Chinese tech giant and the executive order released by President Donald Trump, Huawei crumbles to assure users that current owners of both Huawei and Honor phones will still be receiving security updates and after-sales services.
In a short, unsubstantiated statement, Huawei highlight’s the company’s contribution to the growth of Android globally as Android phones from the company has seen unprecedented growth while other smartphone vendors are shrinking or stagnant. While the company promises the continuance of the services provided by Android to their smartphone users, and the promise extends to those units that were already shipped and in stock in stores globally, no additional guarantees were made beyond that.
“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry,” said a statement from Huawei.
“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally […] We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” they added.
The revocation of Huawei’s license follows after the heightened crackdown by the U.S. government on Chinese companies. Previously, the Trump administration has been lobbying to its allies to ban Huawei’s 5G technology citing that the Chinese government can use the company for espionage and economic sabotage.
The latest blow against Huawei is the decision of Google to revoke the Android license of Huawei, forcing the company to use only the open source version of the operating system. A Google spokesperson confirmed that “Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”
Because of the ban, Huawei is now restricted from using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), cutting the company off from critical Google apps and services that consumers outside of China expect on Android devices.
While existing phones from Huawei would probably be not affected by the decision, the future of updates and for those phones as well as any new phones Huawei would produce remains in question. But it seems like Huawei has prepared for the day that this would happen and already has a plan B in mind.
Earlier today, the China-based company released its very own operating system, Hongmeng. A source has confirmed that Huawei is set to officially launch Hongmeng, as the company has been working on it since 2012. The company has been testing the new OS on selected devices under closer door and closed environment. The source also said that the testing was accelerated for the new operating system to be ready for situations just like this.
Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether Hongmeng will be the official name of the OS from Huawei. Experts note that even if Huawei can successfully launch its operating system, the company will still be faced with the challenge of establishing an app ecosystem. It would take Huawei a lot of time to build apps that are compatible with the new operating system.
Huawei accounted for 19% of the worldwide smartphone market and became the second largest smartphone manufacturer, overtaking Apple, in Q1 2019.
The blunder faced by Huawei following the Google ban has caused severe market instability not only for Huawei but for the volatile US tech markets as stocks drop following the shocking decision. Huawei is dragging the entire tech industry with it as market uncertainty brought upon by the apparent tech trade wars. As Huawei’s future remains at the limbo, it brings with it the rest of the tech world.
“If this remains enforced, it’s going to create some opportunity, but companies are working with their compliance departments to get out of the way of this Huawei situation,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. That’s difficult because “Huawei has its tentacles in so many parts of the technology sector. That’s why this is not a one-day event.”
Nissan-Renault’s Ghosn: From Hero To Zero
In a time when Nissan was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy, Carlos Ghosn stepped in not only to save the company but help it to rise back as one of the world’s top car manufacturers. Today, Nissan is facing a similar financial crisis, but this time around, the Japanese carmaker had Ghosn removed from the company.
Through Ghosn’s efforts of restructuring and eventually, reintroducing innovations to Nissan, the company rose significantly within the last two decades under Ghosn’s lead. He also made the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi agreement possible that made them one of the leading car companies in the world.
The company had a good track record. But, CNN reported last Tuesday, May 14, that Nissan posted a significant drop in profits where operating profits plunged to 45% at 318 billion yen ($2.9 billion) in the fiscal year that ended in March and revenue fell 3% to about 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion), while vehicle sales were down 4.4% to 5.5 million.
This is “rock bottom,” Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said during the earnings presentation.
Moreover, analysts also expect Nissan to plunge at decade-low numbers in the coming year. Nissan forecasts operating profit for the fiscal year to March 2020 would fall to 230 billion ($2.1 billion). Also, Nissan shares closed down at 3% in Tokyo.
On Friday, May 17, the Japanese carmaker proposed plans to make changes within its executive board as a reaction to Ghosn’s fallout from the company.
The firm told shareholders that they would start implementing a new board structure composed of 11 members, which 6 of whom would be external.
“With the lessons from the recent executive misconduct still fresh, Nissan resolves to rigorously pursue the separation of supervisory and executive functions,” said the firm.
Thierry Bollore, Renault’s chief executive and chairman Jean-Dominique Senard will both be included in the proposed board.
Nissan conceded to allowing Senard into the board though Bollore’s urges. The Japanese firm isn’t too happy about Senard siding with Ghosn during his arrest.
On the other hand, Nissan’s current CEO Hiroto Saikawa has also been reported to be pressured from vacating his position in the company for doubts that he is capable of turning things around for the company and his close relations with Ghosn.
Saikawa responded that he wishes to stay on the company until he sees it return to profitability and will consider the idea of stepping down “at the appropriate time.”
Additionally, Saikawa told reporters that Renault chairman Senard “has one idea in mind, which is integration or merger.” He also added that “what we’ve told Mr. Senard is this is not the right timing to discuss this matter.”
Regarding the topic of a possible merger between Renault and Nissan, the Japanese company seems to be against the idea since Nissan brings in a lot more profitable compared to the two. But, ironically, Renault holds more stake in the company.
Obviously, the Japanese brand has been struggling to manage internal structures with Ghosn leaving its ranks for multiple cases alleging financial misconduct.
Allegedly, Ghosn is accused of abusing and taking advantage of his power and position in the company to meet personal gains. Specifically, Ghosn allegedly used a Nissan subsidiary to send millions of dollars of payments to a business partner of the company abroad, which then sent money to a third company that he controlled. The actions were taken for the purpose of obtaining a “personal profit,” The New York Times reports.
Prosecutors accused Ghosn of using the method on three occasions from December 2015 to July 2018, resulting in a total of $5 million in losses to Nissan.
As of date, Ghosn has been arrested on four separate occasions including the first arrest in November on charges of underreporting his compensation. The second when he was rearrested on related charges and then a third time on suspicion that he had shifted his personal financial losses onto Nissan’s books.
However, Ghosn and his team of lawyers have consistently denied all allegations about him. In a video Ghosn posted before his fourth arrest, he told that the allegations made against him “is about a plot, this is about conspiracy, this is about backstabbing.”
Meanwhile, the French carmaker, Renault also made new allegations against Ghosn, claiming that there were “questionable and concealed practices” regarding the expenses made under Ghosn. Moreover, Renault also announced Ghosn’s resignation from its board.
Facebook Opens A Swiss Company To Develop Own Virtual Currency, Report Suggests
There is no denying that cryptocurrency is slowly becoming the most used currency in the world. The future is bright for virtual money as people started to become a lot more dependent on the internet on almost all aspects of their daily lives. And when a technology thrives, Facebook does not falter to offer the same thing. Reports suggest that Facebook has set up a company overseas to develop its virtual currency that users can send to their friends and contacts.
The social networking giant reportedly opened up a company in Switzerland to focus on payment and blockchain technology, similar to the technology that powers bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.
According to a Swiss publication, Handelszeitung, the Facebook cryptocurrency would be tied to the US dollar and therefore will remain stable unlike bitcoin, which started crashing since 2017.
The report also revealed that Facebook has already set up a company called Libra Networks in Geneva several weeks ago. They noted that Libra is the tech giant’s internal project name for Facebook money.
Owned by Facebook Global Holding II in Ireland, the Swiss company will focus on developing the software and hardware for crypto-related functions like payments, blockchain, analytics, big data, and identity management.
Facebook is hesitant to comment regarding their plans for the digital currency and did not confirm nor denied the reports of its existence. Nonetheless, the news is consistent with an earlier report that Facebook created a team of 50 individuals to develop their cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to be used across the network and on its WhatsApp messaging services.
That design would be geared toward avoiding a speculative frenzy like the one that caused the value of the primary cryptocurrency, bitcoin, to soar and then crash. While Facebook also did not confirm anything related to the leaked project at the time, the California-based company confirmed that they are interested in blockchain technology.
“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of blockchain technology,” the company said in a statement. “This new small team is exploring many different applications.”
Blockchain technology serves as the virtual ledger for every transaction using a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, and it builds up a set of data blocks recording transactions and who made them.
Meanwhile, existing crypto companies still face a huge problem in the banking system, and Facebook may face a similar obstacle in case the reports on its own crypto money turns out to be true. Earlier reports suggest that crypto companies around the world are having trouble in opening bank accounts for their operations.
The report followed the complaint filed by Sam Bankman-Fried, Chief Executive Officer of the quantitative crypto company, Alameda Research that “the standard answer of ‘just go to your local Chase branch’ doesn’t work in crypto.” Bankman-Fried also added that it is not illegal for banks to serve crypto businesses, but “it’s a massive compliance headache that they don’t want to put the resources in to solve.’’
The report pointed out that while larger banks avoid getting into a transaction with crypto and blockchain corporations, smaller banks are getting hold of the unserved market.
Silver Bank in San Diego said in its November 2018 filing for an initial offering that cryptocurrencies companies have a total of $40 billion to deposit and larger banks are letting go of it.
Blockchain investment, trading, and advisory firm NKB group have also struggled with establishing banking relationships with a lot of major banks. According to NKB Group’s head of Brokerage Ben Sebley, “denying basic banking is madness, impedes sector growth and forces companies to get creative to solve the problem […] The banks are being overly prudent.”
The facilitation of cryptocurrency in banking has been an ongoing debate after major banking giants like JPM, and other American banks have banned the purchase of cryptocurrency using their debit and credit cards. However, supporters have argued that this ban is a step back for the banking industry.
“If they are policing digital currency transactions by de-risking the activity on the basis of protecting customers from market changes, they are going to be on the hook for market changes where their financial products are used where they did not intervene and de-risk to protect consumers,” said attorney Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute.
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