An H&R Block tax prep office
1. H&R Block agrees to acquire Wave Financial
Last month, H&R Block announced it will acquire Wave Financial Inc., a fast-growing financial solutions platform that aims to change the way small-business owners manage their finances. Toronto-based Wave is making a splash in the small-business market by offering free accounting, invoicing, and receipt-tracking software. It generates revenue through its payment processing, payroll and bookkeeping services on a comprehensive platform used monthly by over 400,000 small businesses around the world. The acquisition expands H&R Block’s product and client portfolio and enhances its position in the small business market. (Source: H&R Block)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: H&R Block is, I believe, on the cusp of a trend that we’ll see among many large financial services companies: Offer accounting software to your customers. It makes sense for them and helps compete against companies like Intuit. Look for other large financial services firms – and banks – to snap up bookkeeping and accounting software applications and provide them to their customers as an added benefit of doing business together.
Touch ID on an Apple iPhone multi factor authentication
2. Hackers can now bypass two-factor authentication
Security experts have demonstrated an automated phishing attack that even low-skilled hackers can use to bypass the two-factor authentication — called 2Fa — that many of us use to protect our data. The attack can trick unsuspecting users into sharing their private credentials. It uses two tools — Muraena and NecroBrowser — which work together to intercept traffic between the user and the target website, acting as a proxy between the victim and a legitimate site. (Source: Fortune)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: This is important stuff, particularly as many of us have adopted 2Fa to help secure out data and networks. Already we have hackers figuring out ways around this security and it’s only a matter of time before 2Fa may be widely comprised. The solution? Experts say a physical device called a U2F key along with extra vigilance are two ways to help prevent the attacks. Talk to your IT people about this now.
Facebook campus
3. Facebook announces its own version of bitcoin
Late last month, Facebook unveiled its new Libra cryptocurrency, which will let users make purchases or send money to people with virtually no fees — either online or at local exchange points like grocery stores. Libra customers could spend the currency using interoperable third-party wallet apps or Facebook’s Calibra wallet, which will be built into WhatsApp, Messenger, and its own app. Facebook will test the blockchain system soon and then plans a public launch in the first half of 2020. (Source: Tech Crunch)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: This is just bitcoin for Facebook but it sends an important message: Cryptocurrency is for real and has a long-term future. If your clients are selling on Facebook and sense their customers prefer this type of payment then they’ll need to get on board. More important is that if this catches on — and I believe it will — then you’ll be seeing lots of other cryptocurrencies popping up that are backed by big companies.
Microsoft offices
4. Microsoft warns about spam campaign abusing Office vulnerability
Late last month, Microsoft’s security researchers issued a warning about an ongoing spam wave that is spreading emails carrying malicious RTF documents. Once users open the documents, their computers are infected with malware. Microsoft said the emails are sent in various European languages and that the spam wave appears to target users in Europe. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Microsoft says danger remains in the form of future campaigns that may exploit the same tactic to spread a new version of the trojan that connects to a working server, giving hackers direct access to infected computers. Luckily, Office users can be safe from this spam campaign because the initial infection vector relies on an old Office vulnerability that Microsoft patched in November 2017. But check with your partner to ensure that you’ve got the right updates applied. (My company, The Marks Group PC, is a Microsoft partner.)
5. Staples introduces an in-store co-working space
Last month Staples announced the launch of Staples Studio — a new concept in co-working spaces for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and commuters — which just opened in three Massachusetts Staples stores. Designed to foster an environment where businesses can focus on creating, collaborating, and connecting in shared workspaces and private or shared offices, the new Studios also offer perks like unlimited coffee, tea, and meeting room use. (Source: Business Wire)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: It seems like everyone’s jumping on the co-working bandwagon and why not? With the proliferation of freelancers, contractors, work-from-home employees and remote workers there are plenty of places where individuals (and businesses) can set themselves up and rely on all the cloud based technologies that makes this possible. Maybe this is a solution for your firm, too. Staples has an enormous small-business customer base, and seems as a natural company to make this model work. Plus, if these co-working spaces succeed, it may help their brick-and-mortar stores stick around.
6. Dynamic email in Gmail launched for all domains
The beta release of dynamic email in Gmail that Google announced in March officially launched for all domains on July 2. The feature enables users to inject messages with interactive content like questionnaires, appointment-booking flows, and browsable product catalogs by using Google’s open source AMP for email framework. Dynamic email was originally available to most Gmail users on the web, except for certain G Suite customers. It is now turned on by default and thus usable by everyone. Support for Gmail’s mobile apps will follow soon. (Source: Venture Beat)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: For those of you using Gmail in your business, this is a significant enhancement if you’re willing to take the time out and learn the new features.
7. Dropbox’s big redesign makes it a lot more useful at work.
At an event in San Francisco, Dropbox announced that it will be overhauled and thus much more integrated into various aspects of its users’ work lives. Its new interface will centralize users’ contacts, calendar, communication, tools and more in a single space. For example, Dropbox will allow users to have Google Docs live side-by-side Microsoft documents, with all of them easily accessible and integrated. Plus, PowerPoint documents can be edited right inside a Google editor with changes then saved on Dropbox. (Source: engadget)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: As I wrote here, I’m a huge fan of Dropbox and use it in my business. My concern is that with all these great new integrations with collaboration apps like Microsoft Office and G Suite that already have file storage management services as part of their offerings, is Dropbox risking that some of their users will just move to those collaboration apps for the sake of ease? Will I? Will you?
Walmart storefront
8. Walmart adds AI-powered cameras to more than 1,000 stores to reduce checkout theft
In an effort to reduce checkout theft, Walmart is investing in an AI-powered surveillance system called Missed Scan Detection, which will soon be installed in more than 1,000 of its U.S. stores. The company began investing in the program a few years ago as a way to combat loss due to theft, scanning errors, waste, and fraud. Walmart says its overall goal is to help customers have a better shopping experience and to make stores safer, and that it’s already seen a reduction in overall shrinkage. The system’s cameras use an algorithm to capture any items that aren't scanned properly during checkout. (Source: Fox Business)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: You know what happens when big companies start buying into a technology? More people start making that technology, the price goes down and the technology then becomes available to people with smaller budgets … like small businesses. Or small retailers, in this case. Your clients should keep an eye on this.
9. American Airlines offers satellite WiFi to its entire mainline fleet
Business travelers will no longer have to struggle for a good WiFi connection if they book on American. In June the airline announced it has finished deploying satellite WiFi to its entire mainline fleet of 700-plus aircraft that fly domestically. Depending on the destination, travelers will have either Gogo 2Ku or ViaSat Ka connections, which provide faster, more consistent WiFi than the current ground solutions. American also plans to install power outlets in every seat for its mainline and two-class regional fleets, and it will offer tablet holders on most of its narrowbody airplanes. (Source: engadget)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: As an American flyer I’ve struggled for many years with Gogo’s inconsistent service and it’s all but driven me off the Internet when flying. Now, I may have reason to jump back on. Maybe you do too.
10. A startup bets high-tech dog lockers will get shoppers to leave pups outside the grocery store
In Seattle a startup called DogSpot debuted seven of its high-tech dog lockers as part of a national rollout. It chose Seattle due to its recent ranking as the top city in the U.S. for dogs. These lockable kennels have air holes and air conditioning, so customers’ dogs stay safe and comfortable while their owners are inside the grocery stores. The dog houses can be rented in advance by using an app. (Source: Geek Wire)

Why this is important for your clients: If you have a client that runs a restaurant, shop or other business that doesn’t allow customers to bring their dogs inside, these guys may have come up with something that can help them draw in new business from people that would’ve otherwise walked right by.

Note: Some of these stories also appeared on