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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.

This week..  Are universal logins the next big money spinner for operators, Wal-Mart enters the mobile payments space, consumers are embracing digital health and wellness devices and Apple Watch 2 to be unveiled at March event.. plus many more stories from around the world.

Universal log-ins: the next big revenue spinner for mobile operators?


Speak to the heads of mobile operators and they’ll tell you life isn’t easy right now. As far as they’re concerned, over the top players are out to kill their traditional revenue streams, turning them into dumb data pipes. Those that survive will be the ones which find new ways of generating revenue. One possible way of doing so is through new universal log-in and mobile identity services.

According to Juniper Research, these services currently generate around US$20-million a year, but could grow to be worth as much as US$700-million annually by 2020.

That growth, it says, is largely down to the fact that as online engagement has soared, the limitations of a password-based approach are being increasingly exposed. With consumers using the same password for multiple sites, and the scale of data theft has risen dramatically.

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Wal-Mart enters mobile payments with launch of Walmart Pay


Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would launch ‘Walmart Pay,’ to become the first U.S. retailer to offer its own payment feature to expand consumer payment options and increase the speed of checkouts.

Walmart Pay will be introduced in select U.S. stores on Thursday and in additional stores after the holiday season, Wal-Mart executives said on a video call with reporters on Wednesday.

The free service, integrated into the retailer’s app, will be available nationwide by the first half of 2016, the executives said.

Walmart Pay will be available on devices using Apple’s iOS or Alphabet Inc’s Android operating system and allows payments with any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift cards, the company said.

It will also allow for the integration of other payment options such as mobile wallets in the future.

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33% of US households with broadband adopt mHealth devices

Fierce Mobile Healthcare

Consumers are embracing digital health and wellness devices, according to a newsurvey from Parks Associates. Adoption is steadily increasing within U.S. broadband households, the survey found, jumping from 26 percent in 2014 to 33 percent this year.

Fitness band maker Fitbit holds more than 50 percent market share and will likely continue to gain deeper customer roots due to the acquisition of FitSar earlier this year, the survey found.

The data shows that, when it comes to healthcare tools, consumers are becoming more savvy buyers, Harry Wang, director of mobile and health products research at Parks, told FierceMobileHealthcare in an exclusive interview.

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Apple Watch 2 and iPhone 6C may be unveiled at March event

The Verge

Apple plans its events like clockwork, so maybe this one’s not much of a surprise: the company is planning a March 2016 event, where it would likely show off the new version of the Apple Watch, 9to5Mac reports. Apple could also use this event to unveil therecently rumored 4-inch iPhone.

Nothing is known for sure about the Apple Watch 2, and even the speculation around the sequel device is thin. But it’s easy to imagine which direction Apple will take the new or improved features, like a thinner profile or better battery life and health tracking.

The picture of Apple’s 4-inch iPhone is a bit clearer, with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expecting NFC and an A9 processor — but no 3D Touch. What still seems pretty fuzzy is what this 4-inch phone will look like; 9to5Mac‘s source frames it as the “iPhone 6C,” while Kuo seemed to think that it will more closely resemble the glass and metal of the iPhones 5 and 6.

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Samsung Pay Integrates Public Transportation Cards

Mobile ID World

Samsung has integrated its mPayment platform into South Korea’s public transportation system, the company has announced.

Starting yesterday, commuters could import their T-Money and Cashbee transportation cards into the Samsung Pay Transportation Card Service, allowing them to use one mPayment service for all bus, taxi, and metro rides. In a press release, a Samsung spokesperson called the SPTCS “a much more convenient and diverse mobile payment experience,” adding that the company plans on further partnerships to “move even closer to a world where we can easily and safely make payments without having to carry around a wallet.”

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Mozilla’s newest app perfectly captures the ethical dilemma of ad-blocking

Washington Post

One of the world’s most popular Web browser developers wants to help you block the Web. Or the parts of it, anyway, that slow down your Internet, spy on your online activities and generally make Web-surfing a tedious experience.

Focus by Firefox is a new content-blocking app from Mozilla that lets iPhone and iPad users selectively block advertisements and third-party website plugins that send information about you back to the site or to other companies. Launching Tuesday in the iOS app store, the software represents the latest effort to beat back the unruly rise of intrusive ads and other unwanted Internet software that often bedevils Internet users. But depending on its popularity, the app could become a double-edged sword.

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2016 app trends in Asia, as predicted by App Annie

Tech In Asia

App Annie is one of the tech industry’s most important sources for tracking app trends and performance across the globe. For the first time, the firm is leveraging its extensive data to make predictions for the global app landscape in 2016.

Danielle Levitas, App Annie’s senior vice president for research, shared key insights from the company’s just-released report at Infinity Ventures Summitin Kyoto today and sat down with Tech in Asia to elaborate on her predictions for Asia.

Here are five things to keep an eye on in the coming months, from App Annie’sTop Predictions of 2016 report:

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Apple releases first Arabic version of Siri


Apple on Tuesday released a version of its virtual personal assistant Siri for Arabic speakers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, potentially making its iPhones more attractive in a largely affluent market of more than 30 million people.

The move, part of Apple’s latest software updates, means people in those countries will be able to use Siri in their native tongue on iPhones, iPads and the Apple Watch. It follows Google, whose Android phones’ voice search function already offer some support in Arabic.

“This is part of the consumerization and personalization of IT-based services that we’re seeing at all levels of the industry,” said Paul Black, director of telecoms and media at IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa.

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Increase in Beacon Use Will See 1.6bn Coupons Deployed by 2020

Mobile Marketing Magazine

The combination of emerging proximity technologies for in-store mobile marketing and the growing popularity of mobile coupons will see 1.6bn coupons deployed annually via Bluetooth low energy beacons by 2020, according to a new study by Juniper Research.

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WeChat Plans To Invest $3.4M In Early-Stage African Startups


China’s largest messaging app will invest 50 million rand (about $3.4 million USD) in African startups. WeChat said in a blog post that will work with Cape Town tech strategy firm Batstone to find promising early-stage companies.

Earlier this year, WeChat, which has over 600 million users and is owned by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, made its first investment in Africa, putting an undisclosed amount into M4JAM (Money For Jams).

Based in South Africa, M4JAM is similar to Taskrabbit in that it connects people with temporary “microjobs.” Unlike Taskrabbit, however, M4JAM reaches its users exclusively through WeChat. A few months later, WeChat also announced a partnership with PicUp, which is also based in South Africa and only accessible through WeChat.

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