Week Ending: 12th November - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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It’s that time of the week again, so before you switch off for the weekend, take 5 to catch up on the I.T. and tech headlines from the last seven days.

This week we cover everything from the launch of Twitter Blue, South Korea’s plans to enter the metaverse and Mastercard’s plans to dominate the cryptocurrency market.

Let’s get you caught up.

Twitter launches its Blue subscription service

Social media giant, Twitter, has this week launched its premium subscription service, Twitter Blue. Available initially in the US and New Zealand, the subscription service offers an expanded slate of features meant to appeal to Twitter’s most engaged users.

This new service will be available across iOS, Android and the web for $2.99 ($4.49 NZD) per month and will feature a set of tools to organise users’ bookmarks, read Twitter threads in a clutter-free format and quickly fix typos before tweets were posted.

In addition to these new features, Twitter Blue will also enable early access to new features via the recently launched Twitter Labs, and it will offer ad-free news articles from hundreds of publishers thanks to Twitter’s springtime acquisition of Scroll.

Tony Haile, Twitter’s Senior Director of Product commented

“At Twitter, we recognise that a great public conversation requires a thriving journalism ecosystem. So, with Blue, we’re not just trying to enable a better internet for subscribers but a better internet for journalism too.”

Likely an attempt to diversify its revenue streams, Twitter has committed to pay a portion of its user subscriptions to participating news sites on what users read. This enables subscribers to see the impact of their reading habits through a ‘transparency feature’ which will display how much money went to the news sites they visited.

Twitter has yet to announce when it will launch its Twitter Blue service in the UK but it’s likely that the launch will change the way users interact on the platform.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled.

Discover more here.

Seoul set to be first city government to join the metaverse

South Korean capital, Seoul, is to be the world’s first major metropolitan government to join the metaverse revealing that a variety of public services and cultural events will be available in the metaverse.

Seoul citizens will be able to use virtual reality goggles to visit a virtual city hall to do everything from a tour of a historic site to filing a civil complaint.

The investment would be a part of mayor Oh Se-hoon’s 10-year plan for the city, which would cost 3.9 billion won ($3.3 million). The plan hopes to improve social mobility among citizens whilst also raising the city’s global competitiveness.

It is also hoped that it will help to recover from the economic crisis caused by covid-19. Seoul’s metropolitan government aims to have a platform together by 2022, but by 2026, it is hoped that public functions will also include a virtual mayor’s office, as well as servicing the business sector. This December, a virtual new-year’s bell ring will officially kick off the platform.

It is unclear what platforms the metaverse will become available on, though city officials emphasise that they wish to broaden access to public city services regardless of geography or disability.

This big leap could lead to overcoming restrictions in the real world that are posed by temporal or spatial limitations and language barriers through the metaverse platform developed with advanced technologies.

Read more here.

Mastercard partners with three crypto companies to launch bitcoin payment cards

Payment card network, Mastercard, has partnered with cryptocurrency service providers Amber, Bitkub and CoinJar to launch its first crypto-funded Mastercard payment cards in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

This announcement comes at a time when some merchants are already accepting payments in digital currencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. According to a Mastercard survey, 45% say they are likely to consider using cryptocurrency in the next year.

Rama Sridhar, Executive Vice President at Mastercard commented

“Cryptocurrencies are many things to people – an investment, a disruptive technology, or a unique financial tool. As interest and attention surges from all quarters, their real-world applications are now emerging beyond the speculative. Rather than directly transferring cryptocurrencies to a merchant, cardholders will now be able to instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional fiat currency which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted.”

The decision to follow cryptocurrency seems to be a smart choice for Mastercard as its main rival, Visa, also seeks to grab a dominant share of the emerging cryptocurrency payment market.

Discover more here.

Those were just some of this week’s top stories but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels: