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Harman Kardon’s Cortana-Powered Smart Speaker Underwhelms

Early reviews of the Harman Kardon Invoke with Cortana — the smart speaker that features Microsoft’s personal assistant — have been lukewarm at best. The speaker will be available in the U.S. starting Sunday. Like Amazon’s Echo line and Google’s Home speakers, Invoke lets users play music, manage calendars, set reminders, check traffic, get news reports, and control other smart home devices.

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Mastercard launches its own blockchain payments network

Mastercard is launching its own blockchain network to enable partner banks and merchants to make cross-border payments faster and more securely.

The Mastercard blockchain service can be used to clear credit card transactions, eliminate administration tasks using smart contract rules and thus, speed transaction settlement.

“By combining Mastercard blockchain technology with our settlement network and associated network rules, we have created a solution that is safe, secure, auditable and easy to scale,” Ken Moore, executive vice president for Mastercard Labs said in a statement.

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