💰 Wiser! #82: Apple Pay Later | Crypto Clear Out | Lina Khan Takes On BigTech

w/Issue #82–17th June 2022

Wiser! #82: Apple’s move into Buy Now Pay Later is all about improving the customer experience with frictionless payments. Plus the Crypto price collapse continues. It’s good thing, right? And Lina Khan takes on BigTech. Plus much much more…

Welcome, Wiser! friends. GREAT NEWS!

The number of subscribers has passed 12,500! Which means that you’re in the company of a lot of like-minded subscribers who want to know what’s happening and what’s coming next in the digital economy.

This issue of Wiser was emailed to the subscribers on the mailing list on Friday. TO ENSURE THAT YOU NEVER MISS A THING — JOIN THE EMAIL MAILING LIST HERE.

In this issue, I cover:

  • Apple Pay Later, the BNPL solution that makes it super easy for people to buy things they can’t afford.
  • The so-called crypto crash continues…but is it not really a good thing? (spoiler alert: it is)
  • BigTech’s forthcoming summer of increased scrutiny from the youngest head of the FTC
  • Web3 explained (I am creating a series of one-stop-sources of insight and information called Narratives. The first one is packed with insight and information about Web3).

👉 Before we get into this week’s great content, I’d like to draw your attention to The Sample. I get The Sample EVERY DAY in my Inbox. It’s a newsletter discovery tool that works out what you like and then finds new and interesting newsletters just for you. It’s my number 1 newsletter discovery tool.

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Apple to exploit its monopoly position to take the US BNPL market

Back Story: Apple caught everyone by surprise at the annual developer conference a fortnight ago when they announced Apple Pay Later. Whilst everyone, including yours truly, was watching out for Glasses, they sprung Buy Now Pay Later upon us!

Here’s the thing: Apple Pay is 7 years old. It is available in over 85% of retailers in the US. Around half of the billion iPhone users worldwide, use Apple Pay.

And most significantly, when Apple want to roll out new service (like BNPL), it’s just a software update to iOS.

The point is: This is so easy for Apple, for consumers, and for retailers. It’s not even clear if retailers will ever know that their customer is using Apple Pay Later. Let’s remember that Apple has a monopoly position when it comes to sitting between the retailer and customer. This gives Apple a huge competitive advantage over the BNPL specialist players like Klarna and Affirm and PayPal.

Plus, Apple already knows so much about their users when it comes to making credit risk decisions or collecting payments.

In true Apple promotion style, there are as many questions as there are answers. IMHO, the talk of Apple “disrupting” the $100 billion BNPL market is premature. Besides, they don’t need to disrupt anything, do they?

This is another step toward making the iPhone THE indispensable lifestyle device. You won’t go home without it ( unless you’re my mate Charles and you’ve lived without a smartphone for the last 3 years — you know who you are!)

For the long-form article and more about Apple Pay Later on Wiser!, go here.

Big Tech Little Tech — Episode #3

TikTok addiction, Sheryl Sandberg, and Robots

BTLT: Shaun Weston and I discuss the addictive nature of TikTok, China’s influence, and the behavioural science around attention. Plus, Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook legacy, home help robots, and how hard it is to read for pleasure after reading all day for work purposes.

Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or Anchor.

PS: Shaun and I have just recorded episode 4. It’s our first one with a guest and it was a pleasure, as always to chat with Charles Radclyffe about metaverse, what it is, what it means and what’s the point.

More about Charles here…

Cryptos crash is a blessing in disguise

Back Story: Bitcoin is down 30% this week, hovering at $21k. Whilst ETH is down 37%, at around $1.1k. The crypto party is over, surely!? But hold your horses cowboy, it’s not just crypto that’s suffering.

Amazon shares have tumbled more than 40% since the pandemic. PayPal has plummeted 77% from its 2021 highs. And Shopify, which sells software to help small businesses sell online but makes most of its revenue from processing their payments, is down 82% from a November peak.

Plus Apple (-27%), Alphabet (26%), Microsoft (25%), Facebook (57%) etc etc…tech stocks are down across the board.

It’s called “ a correction” and is a healthy and essential part of the ecosystem in any asset class. Why? Because it thins out the dross, the over-hyped, the disreputable.

If cryptocurrency is to be the enduring technology that I think it will be then its future does not lie in speculation but as an algorithmic mechanism to store wealth and reduce the costs of doing business.

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And I’m not alone.

Last year, global bank Citi Group published their position on Bitcoin. They wrote:

Bitcoin may be optimally positioned to become the preferred currency for global trade. It is immune from both fiscal and monetary policy, avoids the need for cross-border foreign exchange (FX) transactions, enables near instantaneous payments, and eliminates concerns about defaults or cancellations as the coins must be in the payer’s wallet before the transaction is initiated.

If Citi is on the money, then a correction is necessary, leaving behind an underlying infrastructure that is stronger and more robust. That’s the theory anyway!

The challenge in a downturn is always staying focused on the long term and not react to any short-term pain that the markets are inflicting. And right now, nobody will be feeling it more than Michael Saylor, the CEO of MicroStrategy, who has spent $4 billion putting Bitcoin on their balance sheet.

The FTC’s Lina Khan taking on BigTech

Back Story: Until her appointment a year ago as the head of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan was best known for her law school paper “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,”. In it Khan detailed how US antitrust laws and the courts’ interpretation of them over the last several decades didn’t adequately address the business models of the digital platforms that dominate the economy and our lives today.

At age 32, Khan was the youngest ever appointee as head of the agency charged with regulating all industries, not just BigTech…but it’s her view on BigTech that interests me.

In this interview with Recode, Khan outlines her plan to regulate the technology industry and the giants that dominate it.

Narrative: a New Wiser! Feature

A common theme in reader feedback has been about creating collections of insight and information about specific topics. The 150+ posts on this site are all tagged and readers can navigate them through the Topics button on the page header.

But, the ask from readers was more than just organising the content I produce. To answer your call, it needs to be a deeper collection of expertise.

So, I’m creating a new section called Narratives.

This will contain posts that collect lots of content, writing, videos and tweets on a specific subject…and put them all onto a single page.

The first one is on Web3. It’s a work in progress.. and you can see it here.

Some Tech and Business News

🌏 Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is shutting down after 27 years. Source: Yahoo

🐦 Elon Musk drew heat from Twitter employees at his first-ever Twitter meeting. Musk told a company town hall meeting that he wants to make the platform a haven for free speech, open-source the algorithm that determines what posts users see and use China’s WeChat as a model for how Twitter could move to the centre of users’ lives. He also has ambitions to get to a billion users! Read the Full Transcript Here (Vox)

👮🏻 Facebook and Twitter agree to new European rules on online posts which aim to prevent advertisements from appearing next to “intentionally false or misleading” posts. Source: WSJ

💰 Latin American crypto exchange Bitso handled $1B in crypto remittances between Mexico and the US year to date for 2022. Source: Coindesk

🚁 Amazon plans to begin delivering packages by drone in California later this year. That’s 9 years since Jeff Bezos first talked about it on 60 Minutes. This follows plans for rival Walmart to deliver packets by drones in 6 stats by the end of the year. This is subject to final approvals from the FAA.

🪢 Reuters reports that “dozens” of companies and small business groups have sent a letter to US Senators in support of a bill to rein in BigTech giants like Amazon, Apple and Google. Source: Reuters

👓 MetaFacebook are to scale back the launch of all of its new AR glasses products. This comes amidst plans for MetaFacebook to cut their heavy losses in the Reality Labs division (where the R&D into AI, AR and VR takes place). Source: The Information

⚖️ Meanwhile, MetaFacebook faces eight lawsuits across US states that allege its algorithms are addictive and harmful to youth. Users claim defective design and a failure to warn of health issues whilst Facebook says it has improved supervision tools for parents. Source: Bloomberg

🤖 Google engineer Blake Lemoine was placed on leave after claiming that its LaMDA machine learning model was sentient (which means it expressed feelings). The company, and the vast majority of AI experts, disagreed with Lemoine’s assessment.

🔦 Does Google have a left-wing bias? The Daily Mail (a right-wing tabloid newspaper in the UK) believes it does, arguing that Google skews search rankings against it. Like all the best conspiracy theories, there’s a lack of evidence, but since when has facts got in the way of a good conspiracy. Source: Press Gazette.

🕺🏻 TikTok has finally moved its US user data to an Oracle data centre. Source: Slashdot

🎶 Spotify held an investor day. Here is what Founder and CEO Daniel Ek had to say.

🚰 Tech industry groups are watering down industry regulation one state at a time. Source: Wiser!

Some Numbers

🚗 70% of crashes are Tesla. NHTSA released data on car crashes in cars with driver-assist technology for the first time. From July 20, 2021, to May 21, 2022, Tesla reported 273 crashes involving Autopilot, making up c70% of the total crashes reported.

🇨🇳 Chinese orders for semiconductor-making equipment jumped 58% last year, as the country sprints toward semiconductor sovereignty.

Some Reading

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Thank you for reading Wiser! Till next week, Rick



Rick Huckstep - Making Sense Of Tech

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