Briefings

Facebook met with Winklevoss twins to discuss Facebook’s new cryptocurrrency

Facebook has met with cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Gemini—the latter of which was founded by the Winklevoss twins—to discuss its plans to create a cryptocurrency. A secretive unit of the social media company has been working over the past year to build a cryptocurrency that would allow users to exchange money within Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as buy things on the internet and in the real world. The twins sued Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 for allegedly stealing their idea for a social network; they ultimately settled for US$65 million. (Financial Times)

House ethics committee members studying San Francisco facial recognition ban

Bob Zimmer, Charlie Angus and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said the San Francisco example could inform legislation limiting the use of AI for facial recognition by police and local government agencies. The three MPs—who are chair and vice-chairs, respectively, of the House ethics committee—said the technology’s use should be prohibited if it is found to have negative outcomes, specifically on privacy and freedoms. (MobileSyrup)

Shopify buys e-commerce platform Handshake

Product wholesalers use New York-based Handshake to take orders from retailers. Customers include stroller brand Bugaboo, brewery Ace Hill and clothing manufacturer Dickies’ European division. Shopify did not disclose the acquisition price, but it is reportedly less than $100 million. Handshake CEO Glen Coates is now an executive at Shopify Plus, the company’s product group for larger merchants. (TechCrunch)

Canada’s largest banks are growing, just not in Canada

TD reported that its earnings from Canadian retail rose just 0.9 per cent, while the bank’s U.S. retail division increased by 29 per cent. CIBC’s U.S. commercial banking and wealth management division saw 18 per cent growth, while its personal and small business banking division fell 2.4 per cent to $570 million. Scotiabank and BMO report their results next week. (Bloomberg)

U.S. singer will.i.am joins Montreal’s Stradigi AI as adviser, investor

The announcement came on Thursday at the C2 Montréal conference. The artist—legal name William Adams—did not disclose the financial terms of the arrangement. You may know him from a little group called the Black Eyed Peas, but Adams is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution Advisory Committee and the Global Artificial Intelligence Committee. He will be advising Stradigi on ethics and bias. (Montreal Gazette)

Facebook ends incentive payments for selling political ads

The social media giant is ending its program wherein employees were paid commissions based on whether they hit or exceeded sales targets for ads that promoted a political candidate or message globally. Employees previously eligible for the commissions will get salary increases instead. Meanwhile, the company banned 2.2 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of 2019; about twice as many as the previous quarter. (Wall Street Journal, Business Insider)

Clean energy industry accounts for three per cent of Canada’s GDP, says report

The report comes from Clean Energy Canada, a non-profit think tank based out of B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, and Navius Research, a Vancouver-based firm that focuses on the quantitative analysis of energy markets. It found that the clean energy industry contributes more to Canada’s economy than agriculture and forestry or the hotel and restaurant industries, and employed almost 300,000 people across Canada in 2017. (CBC)