Facebook could let businesses contact you on WhatsApp. Facebook said on Monday it could let businesses interact with users of WhatsApp, the popular messaging service it purchased last year, as they believe enabling B2C messaging has good business potential for the company. Part of this reasoning appears to be that despite its 800 million users, profit remains elusive for WhatsApp. The service has global reach, and Facebook already has some businesses, including Everlane and Zulily, engaging with customers via Messenger — a feature announced at this year's F8 conference in March. What's unclear, though, is how well B2C messaging will do on WhatsApp, which has mostly steered clear of revenue-generating gimmicks like advertising and games. Mark Zuckerberg has said he's in no rush to transform services like WhatsApp into businesses until they hit 1 billion users. WhatsApp could hit that milestone by end of 2015, meaning Facebook could pursue the service becoming a viable business sooner than later.
Cadillac Tax is Expected to Drive Up Healthcare Costs. According to a new independent survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), employers expect Affordable Care Act costs to increase even more next year and beyond. The study points to the so-called "Cadillac tax" as the “driving force” behind the increase. The term “Cadillac tax” is used to describe high-cost health insurance plans with top-of-the-line benefits. Under Obamacare, employers will be required to pay an excise tax on a plan costing more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family. The tax is equal to 40 percent of the cost of premiums above these thresholds. The Cadillac plan thresholds will be indexed for inflation after 2018. The IFEBP survey shows that 33 percent of respondents expect the biggest bump under the healthcare law, known as Obamacare, to occur in 2016 when the employer mandate to provide health insurance officially kicks in. In comparison, 27 percent are predicting that the largest increase will occur in 2018, the year the Cadillac tax goes into effect. With the change for Cadillac plans looming in a few years, the vast majority of the employers surveyed believe that the worst is yet to come. But the healthcare law is already having an impact. The IFEBP says 82 percent of employers expect their costs to go up this year, ranging from about 1 percent to 6 percent higher. According to the survey, a significant number are relying on high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to help control the costs. One wild card in the scenario is the outcome of a case currently being reviewed by the US Supreme Court. In King v. Burwell, the key issue presented is whether the health insurance marketplace can grant premium tax credits under Obamacare. Without the credits, millions of taxpayers can’t afford health insurance, posing a major threat to the law’s survival. A ruling is expected in June. http://www.accountingweb.com/article/‘cadillac-tax’-expected-drive-healthcare-costs-survey-finds/224767
Google Releases Google Photos. Google has finally released Google Photos. Google Photos is available in both free and premium versions for Android, iOS, and via the Web, and you won’t have to hide your images inside that long-dormant G+ account. Though Google Photos is a brand-new product, it stills shares its DNA with Google+’s photo services. Google Photos is great news, but has a few trade offs. For example, you need to be OK with storing all your photos in the cloud to get the most of it. But the new photo service’s organizational powers, search capabilities, and sync/backup features add up to an essential download. The app makes it easier to find that photographic needle in the haystack, it creates value from random pictures, and its storage options match up well to the competition. With Photos, Google may have just eliminated the main reason to shell out an extra hundred dollars or so for the maximum-capacity model of your next phone. But you’ll need to trust the cloud, because all that online storage is the key to unlocking the app’s best features. http://www.wired.com/2015/05/google-photos-new-essential-picture-app/