Google has today announced that Google Hangouts now has its very own website, meaning you no longer need to go through Google+ or Gmail to start chatting. The new website lets you sign in directly to Hangouts – found at hangouts.google.com/ – and lets you see your contacts and your older conversations. It also has three large buttons for video calls, phone calls or sending messages, and of course if you do use Google’s other services, you can access them through the Hangouts website too. “From our new site you’ll be able to take advantage of the best of Hangouts in the browser, along with an inspiring image to get you through the day,” said Jordanna Chord, manager of the Hangouts growth team, on a Google+ post. Google has been slowly revamping all its Hangouts services, with updates to its Hangouts app last week hitting Android , while iOS saw an update a month ago. The new website for Hangouts also takes on Facebook’s Messenger service, which is also now a standalone app that doesn’t require a Facebook account and is accessible through an app and the web. Via VentureBeat
Binance, the one-year-old startup that appeared from nowhere to become the world’s top crypto exchange, is making major moves as it enters the next phase of its business. That includes a plan to offer fiat-to-crypto trading in international markets and the release of a decentralized exchange to complement its current trading site. The company routinely trades more than $1 billion in crypto volumes daily — even in this current bear market — but to date it has only allowed crypto-to-crypto trading. That’s primarily down to the need for regulation in order to offer fiat currency conversation, but that’s set to change. Speaking at a Coindesk event in Singapore last week, CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao revealed plans to launch a slew of local exchanges offering fiat conversation in markets across the world and he provided further details in an interview with TechCrunch. “Right now, we are centralized crypto-to-crypto,” Zhao told us. “We don’t offer fiat gateways and so we rely on others to do that. But through discussions with different regulators across the world, we now have those channels. We want to make it easier for fiat currency to get into the crypto world.” There’s certainly a need for institutional money. Crypto prices are down as much as 55 percent on January’ highs, according to analysis from Bloomberg , so it figures that major players like Binance need the backing of big names and large amounts to reverse the trend. While many in the space say they are happy to see a low price since it drives out less sincere operators, dwindling interest in crypto isn’t ideal for those who get paid by facilitating trades.