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GrabPay expands its cashless payments

You can now pay for bills, groceries with GrabPay

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The enhanced community quarantine for high-risk areas in the Philippines has been extended until May 15. With strict stay-at-home directives, delivery services saw a notable increase as Filipinos buy essential goods online. Grab expands its GrabPay service to include payments for these goods in order to simplify the delivery process.

Cashless payments for grocery items, bills payment, and more

Responding to the needs of the times, Grab launches GrabMart — an on-demand grocery shopping service. GrabPay is available for items purchased from retailers like Robinsons Supermarket, Great Deals Ecommerce Corporation, FamilyMart, Starbucks,  ASSI Fresh Plaza, Fetch! Naturals, Freshmart, and more. It will also expand to include medicines in the future.

There’s a special promo for those who use GrabMart too. To get a PhP 100 discount, users can use the promo code MART100 for purchases with a minimum spend of PhP 1,000. Meanwhile, MART150 applies a PhP 150 discount for purchases with a minimum spend of PhP 2,000.

Grab users have more reasons to use GrabPay too as it expands to include bills payment for the following:

  • Meralco
  • Manila Water
  • Maynilad
  • Sky Cable
  • Destiny Cable
  • Cignal TV
  • Cable Link
  • PLDT
  • Smart
  • Sun Cellular
  • Smart Bro
  • Globe
  • SSS
  • DFA
  • NBI
  • PhilHealth
  • Unicef
  • VECO
  • Metro Water
  • Auto Sweep
  • Pag-Ibig fund
  • MMDA

Meanwhile, those use GrabFood and GrabExpress delivery service are encouraged to use GrabPay. This will eliminate the need for paying cash and promotes non-direct contact with riders. It also ensures a seamless delivery process and proper social distancing.

Send money to others and pay in physical counters

GrabPay users can also send money to other GrabPay users within the app. Simply go to the Payments tab and tap on the “Send” button. They can then input the desired amount as well as the recipient’s contact number. The amount sent is automatically added to the recipient’s GrabPay balance.

For items available only at a physical store, GrabPay now supports scan-to-pay service to facilitate contactless payments. From the Payments tab, tap the “Pay” button to scan the QR code in a check-out counter. Supported establishments and stores include SM and Watsons. There’s a GrabPay Green Lane for faster checkout in some SM stores as well.

To reload a GrabPay balance, users can top-up from convenience stores or Grab riders or cash-in with their debit or credit cards.

Grab assures its GrabPay users that the payment service is secure and private. The service automatically encrypts and protects personal information and transactions. Users can see all their transactions in a real-time manner and report any problems to Grab.

With the additions to GrabPay’s capabilities, paying digitally is now quick and easy. These new additions are also helpful during these times when social distancing is encouraged to stop the spread of COVID-19.


As general rules, the CDC or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed these to help with preventing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home when sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and water
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces

Apps

Amazon bans TikTok for employees, reverses decision in a few hours

Everyone’s worried about using TikTok now

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Amazon sent an internal memo to its employees, asking them to remove the TikTok from any mobile device that can access their company email. The memo was picked up by the mainstream media almost immediately and it served as an indication of how American companies are losing trust in the Chinese-backed app.

However, the company soon backtracked and an Amazon spokesperson said the request had been sent out in error and that there was no change to the company’s policies at the moment.

Company spokeswoman Jaci Anderson declined to answer questions about what caused the confounding turnaround or error. The original memo cited “security risks” as the reason for avoiding TikTok.

In response, TikTok failed to understand Amazon’s concerns. It did not receive any communication from Amazon before the email went out.

However, the social media app has received a lot of backlash from authorities due to its poor data privacy history. TikTok is banned in India and recently, the US suggested it’s considering a similar ban on the app.

Furthermore, US lawmakers have been concerned about the app for months now. The US army and navy instructed soldiers to delete the app from military devices in December. The biggest concern regarding TikTok is that its parent company, based in China, is required to share information collected on users with the Chinese government.

“We still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community,” TikTok said.

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4K streaming could be cheaper soon

Thanks to the H.266 format

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Watching 4K videos on YouTube or Netflix is taxing on mobile data, consuming about a gigabyte or more. But a new compression method could change 4K streaming soon.

Developed by Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, the H.266 / Versatile Video Coding format aims to bring a more efficient way of compressing and streaming videos digitally. This new standard is meant to replace two existing standards — the H.264/AVC and H.265 HEVC.

Compared to the two, H.266 can transmit 4K videos at a much lower file size. The institute says H.266 can transmit a 10-minute UHD video at only 5GB of data.

This is almost 50 percent more efficient than the most advanced video format in the market, H.265 HEVC. Right now, HEVC requires 10GB of data to transmit the same 10-minute UHD video. As such, consumers can expect cheaper 4K streams with the H.266 format.

For example, a 25-minute 4K video that clocks in at 4GB can be streamed at a much lower 2GB with the new format. This will drastically reduce data and bandwidth consumption for consumers and companies.

The new video format also tries to solve the patent royalty system that has long plagued H.264 and H.265. Right now, companies have to deal with the messy system of paying licenses and royalties just to include these formats to their apps and websites. H.266 does away with these licenses, promising a better deal than the old formats.

Support and availability

As of right now, support for H.266 is being worked on both the software and hardware level. According to the institute that developed the format, Media Coding Industry Format is working on chip designs that support the new format on a hardware level.

Meanwhile, the institute is working on an encoder and decoder software which will be released this autumn.

It is worth noting, however, that H.266/VVC is not the only format that promises to improve 4K streaming on devices. Most tech companies today are adopting AV1 alongside VP9. These two formats are developed by separate organizations.

Right now, these formats — along with the H.266 — promise a better way of streaming 4K that will ultimately benefit everyone.

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Google removes 25 apps for secretly stealing your data

The apps were downloaded more than 2 million times

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Google has removed 25 apps from its Play Store for slyly collecting your data in the background. The apps were collectively downloaded more than 2.3 million times before the company clamped down.

According to French cybersecurity firm Evina, the malicious apps were developed by the same threat group. They seemed to offer different functionalities but were fundamentally designed to phish data.

The apps disguised themselves as step counters, image editors, video editors, wallpaper apps, flashlight applications, file managers, and mobile games. While offering some functionality on the front, the end-goal was always to collect user data.

Basically, what these sinister apps do is steal Facebook user’s credentials if they regularly open the account on their phone. The phishing app would overlay a web browser window on top of the official Facebook app and load a fake Facebook login page. You’d assume you’re logging in to your account, but in reality, you just handed over your username and password.

Image by Evina

Evina discovered the flaw in these apps and contacted Google for further action at the end of May. Once the company’s findings were verified, the apps were kicked from the Play Store. Google not only removed the apps from the Play Store but also disabled them on users’ smartphones and informs them via the Play Protect feature.

In recent times, users are increasingly aware of phishing and data collection since social platforms like TikTok have also been caught red-handed. Apple has emphasized its focus on privacy and announced a host of new features to protect the user via iOS 14. Even Xiaomi has added a range of new methods to protect the user in MIUI 12.

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