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Mashreq Bank Partners With Alipay

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Mashreq Bank has today announced its partnership with Alipay, the world’s largest online and mobile payment platform operated by Ant Financial Services Group. This, first-of-its-kind association with Alipay, enables Chinese customers carry out payments at merchant outlets using their Alipay digital wallets. This reaffirms Mashreq’s position as a leader in digital payments and innovation in the UAE.

Alipay currently has over 600 million active users in China and almost all Chinese tourists travelling overseas are Alipay users. According to Dubai Tourism, UAE represents one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations for the Chinese, with 41 per cent increase in the number of Chinese visitors last year. Recent developments like visa on arrival will add further impetus to the growing number of Chinese tourists in the country.

Commenting on the launch, Pankaj Kundra, Head of Payments at Mashreq Bank said, “We are pleased to bring Alipay to the UAE. The UAE remains a popular tourist destination, having hosted an estimated 700,000 Chinese tourists in 2017 and growing at an exponential rate. The launch of Alipay allows retail merchants in the UAE target Chinese customers and offer them a seamless payment experience of using their Alipay digital wallets, something they are comfortable and familiar with.”

“At Mashreq Bank, we are constantly focused on expanding the scope of digital payment options for our merchant partners as well as customers. As one of the first banks to offer this service in the UAE, Mashreq ensures that retailers will benefit by attracting more Chinese customers with this unique payment solution,” added Kundra.

Li Wang, Head of Alipay EMEA said, “As the largest digital payment platform in China, Alipay not only supports cashless payment, but also an ideal marketing platform for overseas merchants to reach their potential customers in China, before and during their journey. Chinese visitors can receive location-based merchant information, collect exclusive coupons, and enjoy value-added services such as instant tax refund at airports. Alipay is excited to work with Mashreq and its merchants together to bring better experience to Chinese visitors.”

Launched in 2004, Alipay is expanding to in-store, offline payments both inside and outside of China. Over 40 million brick-and-mortar merchants now accept Alipay across China. Alipay’s in-store payment service for Chinese mainland visitors covers 40 countries and regions across the world. Customers can visit the following retailers in the UAE to use Alipay: Galeries Lafayette, Le BHV Marais, Calvin Klein, At the Top Burj Khalifa, Rivoli, Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, New Balance, Beverly Hills Polo Club, Tim Hortons, and more.

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WhatsApp Now Transcribes Voice Messages on Android

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Calling all Android users who dread lengthy voice messages: rejoice! WhatsApp is rolling out voice message transcription to its beta app.

This feature, already available for iOS users since May 2024, is now part of the WhatsApp Beta version 2.24.15.5 for Android. It automatically converts voice messages into text, making it easier and faster to understand conversations.

Currently, transcriptions are supported in five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, and Hindi, with more languages promised in the future. Users opting in will need to download an additional data package to ensure all transcripts are generated directly on their devices, maintaining message privacy.

This update brings Android users closer to iOS users in terms of features and highlights WhatsApp’s commitment to improving the overall user experience.

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WhatsApp Trials AI Image Generator

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Calling all creative minds! WhatsApp is testing a new feature that uses AI to generate personalized avatars. Imagine yourself as a superhero, chilling on a beach, or even exploring space – the possibilities are endless! WABetaInfo discovered this feature in the latest Android beta update.

Here’s the tech behind the magic: a combo of user images, text descriptions, and Meta’s powerful AI, Llama. “Take photos of yourself once, then imagine yourself in any setting from the forest to outer space,” reads the screenshot on WhatsApp. The way it works is in the Meta AI Chat: users can type “Imagine in…” or “@Meta AI imagine me…” as a text prompt. A user’s likeness will then be used to generate the personalized image.

While there’s no official release date yet, this exciting feature is entirely optional. It joins the recently launched in-app custom sticker maker, showcasing WhatsApp’s commitment to fostering creativity within the app. This, alongside their ongoing development of AI chat functionalities, highlights Meta’s focus on making WhatsApp a platform that embraces both technological innovation and user expression.

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YouTube’s New Eraser Tool Now Removes Songs Without Ruining Your Videos

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Good news for creators! YouTube has rolled out a major update to its eraser tool, allowing them to effortlessly remove copyrighted music from their videos without sacrificing other audio elements like dialogue or sound effects.

In a recent video, YouTube acknowledged that the previous version of the tool needed improvement in terms of accuracy. This new iteration addresses that concern by utilizing an AI-powered algorithm that precisely detects and removes unwanted songs while leaving the rest of the audio intact.

However, YouTube’s support page advises creators that the algorithm might not always achieve perfect separation. As an alternative, creators can opt to “Mute all sound in the claimed segments,” effectively silencing any portions potentially containing copyrighted material.

Once the edit is finalized, YouTube automatically removes the content ID claim, a system designed to identify the use of copyrighted material within videos on the platform. This allows creators to proceed with their uploads without copyright concerns.

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