Facebook announces new cryptocurrency

This week, Facebook revealed their plan to create Calibra, an alternative financial services system that will rely on Libra, its own cryptocurrency powered by blockchain technology. Facebook is planning to launch Calibra’s first product by the first half of 2020 – a digital wallet app that will also be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, allowing users to buy things and send money.

But how will this work? In a nutshell, people will be able to cash in local currency at local exchange points, get Libra, spend it like its normal money (but without high transaction fees or their identity), and then cash out whenever they want.

To protect users’ privacy, Calibra will handle all crypto dealings and store payments data. As a result, users’ data from Libra payments will never mix with their Facebook data and will not be used for ad targeting.

According to Facebook, Libra is meant to address the challenges of global financial services and promote financial inclusion. For example, today about 1.7 billion adults remain without access to a bank account and $50 billion are lost annually  due to exploitative remittance service charges. With Libra, people will be able to send and receive money at low to no cost, small businesses will be able to accept digital payments without credit card fees, and overall financial services will be more accessible.

However, despite these potential benefits, Facebook’s venture into the financial services industry has raised some concerns. People are questioning Facebook’s motives as well as the usefulness, stability and transparency of cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, given Facebook’s troubled history with privacy breaches, its commitment to protecting user-data and privacy is under scrutiny.

Why it’s hot: 

This is the first time a “mainstream” company attempts to get involved in the world of cryptocurrencies and, if all goes to plan, this new digital currency could fundamentally change global financial systems forever.

Sources: FacebookTechCrunch

Uber now lets you pay for rides and food via Venmo

Uber has teamed up with PayPal-owned Venmo to let people pay for rides and food via UberEATS with the funds in their Venmo account. According to the companies, more than six million payments mentioned Uber in the last year. The integration will also enable people to easily split the cost of food orders and rides with friends within the Uber app.

“Adding Venmo as a way to pay within Uber and Uber Eats furthers our mission to provide a seamless way to pay for the services that matter most to our customers,” PayPal COO Bill Ready said in a statement.

For Uber, this partnership is a way to further differentiate itself from its U.S. rival Lyft. Though, this is not an exclusive partnership, so Venmo could also team up with Lyft for payments. For Venmo, this is a way for the service to become more ubiquitous as it faces competition from Zelle, a bank-backed mobile payments service that’s on track to outpace Venmo in number of users sometime this year.

Within the Uber app, once you select Venmo as a payment option, you get directed to the Venmo app.

The integration will officially go live in “the coming weeks.”

Source: TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

Integration all over the place!

$weet $weet Money

A combination of India’s lack of digital payment adoption and shop owners never having enough change to give back to customers after a purchase has resulted in a very unique cultural practice: giving candy as change to consumers, instead of coins. Though it may sound sweet (eh? eh?), this leaves customers feeling scammed and shop owners feeling annoyed.

Taking note of this mutual pain point Paytm, a digital payment app, created its own brand of candy. These could still be given as change to consumers, but with a twist – the candy wrappers could be redeemed as real money with the download of their app by inputting the promo codes on the inside of the candy wrappers.

Though Paytm didn’t monetize (the candies were given to shop owners for free) they massively reduced their acquisition costs from $ 0.92 to $.18) with over 1M people downloading their app.

Why It’s Hot:

  • The campaign stemmed from a real culture insight/pain point and the brand sat in the middle of the solution
  • Really smart way of turning an everyday object into a medium (the wrappers)
  • Leveraged an old behavior (cash economy) to transition people to a new one (digital payment)

Williams Sonoma Will Soon Accept Payment Through Venmo

Home goods company Williams Sonoma will start accepting Venmo, the app that users link to their bank account or credit card in order to send money to their friends and family, as a form of payment for items on bridal registries.

Williams Sonoma hopes the new program will help the company appeal to a younger customer base that is accustomed to using the digital wallet service to pay back friends for expenses or easily split costs.

The retailer plans to begin accepting Venmo at all of its locations in early 2018.

Source: PSFK

Why it’s Hot: There’s been a lot of talk about brick and mortar’s survival in the digital age, but perhaps the key to adapting is to digitize payments and meet customers where they are.