Welcome to 2019! Kicking off the year, here are the top mobile stories of the week.

This week.. what to expect from CES 2019, China clamps down on retailers refusing cash, mobile tech can empower the world’s unbanked, Apple ordered to pull iPhones from stores in Germany and much more.

What to expect from CES 2019 

Tech Crunch

The timing is… less than ideal. Just as the industry is recovering from a holiday-induced hangover, we’re thrust into the country’s largest consumer electronics show. The timing, of course, is not coincidental. The show is intended to offer a preview for the tech year to come.

Many companies thrive on CES’s pace. It’s a five-day deluge of tech news, and, for many, it’s the largest platform they’ll get all year. The show is fairly unique in its ability to juggle announcements from all sizes of companies, from Samsung to startup, all vying for a little mindshare.

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China clamps down on retailers refusing cash

Mobile World Live

China’s central bank executed a nationwide campaign against retailers refusing to take physical cash during 2018, The Financial Times (FT) reported, with perpetrators subject to an education programme on correct procedure.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) identified a number of cases of merchants refusing to accept physical renminbi currency in favour of mobile payment systems, which are becoming increasingly popular in the country.

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With mobile technology, we can empower the world’s unbanked

City AM

Financial inclusion must become the watch-word for 2019.

An estimated 1.7bn adults worldwide do not have access to formal financial services – that’s 31 per cent of the adult population who do not have a bank account.

Incapable of borrowing, saving, or investing money and protecting themselves, exclusion from the global money system denies these individuals some of the core conditions for economic empowerment.

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Apple ordered to pull iPhones from stores in Germany

BBC

Apple has been ordered to remove some iPhone models from its stores in Germany over a patent dispute with chip giant Qualcomm.

A court ruling in Munich on 20 December found Apple had infringed patents on power-saving technology.

On Thursday Qualcomm paid a €1.3bn (£1.2bn) bond, allowing the ban on iPhone 7 and 8 models to go ahead.

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Don’t Use Facebook? Facebook Tracks You Anyway

Tom’s Guide

App developers are sending data to Facebook in droves, according to a British privacy advocacy group.

The group, Privacy International, released a report Sunday (Dec. 30) entitled “How Apps on Android Share Data with Facebook (even if you don’t have a Facebook account)”, detailing the process by which Android apps send user data to Facebook — for Facebook users and non-users alike.

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The mobile world might finally get exciting again in 2019

CNet

When one of the biggest “innovations” in smartphones in 2018 was the addition of a notch on the display, you know the industry has hit a rut.

With fewer big technical leaps between generations, there’s plenty of evidence that consumers are starting to hit the snooze button on upgrading their phones. A year ago, smartphone sales fell for the first time, and they’ve continued to be on the decline despite one of the best lineups ever. Consumers aren’t embracing Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones, which come with only modest updates, and Apple has ceased reporting its iPhone unit sales numbers.

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Amazon in prime position to lead the mobile network market – but not challenging UK supermarkets

Telemedia Online

Research by behavioural science experts Decision Technology (Dectech) finds that Amazon could lead the £15bn UK mobile network market if it entered with Amazon Prime as a free perk.

Amongst seven other network providers offering contracts with perks, including O2, Vodafone and EE, Amazon could capture a quarter of the market, a level of dominance equivalent to its current leadership among home electronics retailers.

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Here’s How Messaging Is Positioned to Dominate in 2019

Adweek

Messaging is the most frequent digital activity that a person does, period. In 2018 alone, the four largest mobile messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber) held 4.1 billion combined users, surpassing 3.4 billion users on the four largest social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn).

We also have seen growth in categorical messaging platforms in the dating, gaming and productivity categories. Platforms like Twitch, Microsoft Teams, Bumble and others have evolved how consumers approach everything from leisure to work.

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Pokémon GO creator Niantic closes $190M funding round

Tech Crunch

Mobile AR gaming startup Niantic  has closed a $190 million round of funding according to newly filed SEC docs.

The filing comes after a WSJ report last month suggested the company was in the process of closing a $200 million raise from investors, including IVP, aXiomatic Gaming and Samsung, at a $3.9 billion valuation. The round closed shortly after that report on December 20 according to the new documents.

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Apple has a growth problem

Quartz

For the first time in over 15 years, Apple, the consumer electronics behemoth that has seemed untouchable since the turn of the millennium, announced Jan. 2 that it would likely miss the revenue target it set for the holiday quarter.

Apple has, with only a few minor blips along the way, managed to grow its revenue almost every quarter for over a decade. It’s raked in hundreds of billions of dollars along the way, mainly on the strength of the iPhone. The smartphone that went on to define the mobile era has sold over 1 billion units.

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