Weekly Analysis And Opinion Highlights – 10 October 2022

And we’re kicking off the week with new analysis and opinions on investing, metaverse, regulations, and more. Dive into the latest fintech insights and have a great start of the week!

Can Starbucks Bring Web3 Into the Mainstream?(CoinDesk)
For companies looking to dip a toe into Web3 – or take a cannonball plunge – it can be difficult to know where to start. Underlying technologies such as protocols, wallets and exchanges are still nascent compared with existing financial systems. New types of tokens are introduced on a seemingly daily basis. Web3 adoption has spiked over the past few years, but is still far behind the ubiquity of Web2. The industry has a long way to go to match the functionality of current systems, particularly for consumer purchases in developed economies with stable currencies. How long will it be until using crypto for a standard consumer purchase, such as buying a cup of coffee, is a joy rather than a gimmick?
Enter Starbucks. The launch of its new non-fungible token (NFT)-based reward program, Starbucks Odyssey, may bring us one step closer to making this a reality, or at least provide some suggestions of which direction to head in. Read more

UK’s tax U-turn ‘not enough to calm markets’, analysts warn (Fintech Magazine)
The UK government’s plan to drop a controversial tax cut for the highest earners will not be enough to calm turbulent financial markets or restore investor confidence in the UK, the CEO of deVere Group has warned. Nigel Green – boss of the Dubai-based financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisation – claims the government’s U-turn “stinks of desperation”. He welcomes the decision from the newly appointed Chancellor to bring forward his scheduled medium-term fiscal plan, accompanied by a forecast from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), from 23 November to later this month. “Bringing forward the plan to this month… underscores just how badly the so-called ‘mini budget’ was received by financial markets. Having the announcement sooner rather than later is the right thing to do, as the longer the markets wait for proof that the government’s fiscal agenda is sound, the higher the risk of turbulence.” Read more

Regulators appear to be growing increasingly wary of banks and fintech startups getting to crazy (Tech Crunch)
At the end of last week, venture-backed robo-adviser Wealthfront snuck in an announcement that the deal in which it was to be acquired by Swiss banking giant UBS for $1.4 billion was scrapped. Instead, as TC+ editor Alex Wilhelm reported, UBS “invested $69.7 million in the company at a valuation that Wealthfront described as $1.4 billion.” The deal falling through — albeit as part of a “mutual agreement,” according to the two companies — came as a surprise to many and raised a number of questions. Still, Wealthfront CEO David Fortunato tried to put an optimistic spin on the development in a September 2 blog post, writing: “I am incredibly excited about Wealthfront’s path forward as an independent company and am proud to share that thanks to the hard work of our team and the trust you put in us, we will be cash flow positive and EBITDA profitable in the next few months.” In its own (briefer) announcement, UBS said it remained “committed to its growth plans in the US and strengthening its digital offering.” When the acquisition agreement was first announced in January, both companies touted all the ways that combining forces would help their respective businesses grow. Read more

Fintech and Financial Inclusion and the Case of Bangladesh: Peer-Learning Series
Opening Remarks by Deputy Managing Director Antoinette M. Sayeh (IMF)
”I should begin my remarks by recognizing the huge strides Asia-Pacific economies have made in digitalization which is pervasive and growing in the region. Indeed, it stands out by its sheer scale, with internet usage far exceeding numbers in other regions and underpinning widespread e-commerce and fintech. The region is also at the forefront of digital innovation, making financial services and payment systems more inclusive, more efficient, faster, and thus cheaper for users. And yet, gaps in financial inclusion remain large—both within and across countries in Asia and the Pacific. IMF research shows that close to half of the adult population in low- and middle-income economies in the region still do not have a bank account. Less than 10 percent of them are able to borrow from formal financial institutions. Small and medium enterprises, as well as farmers, face limited access to credit. They often rely on informal markets for finance, where costs are high—leaving poor households vulnerable to shocks and poverty traps.” Read more

Elon Musk, Twitter and the Social-Media Double Bind (CoinDesk)Read more
Let’s leave aside for a moment whether owning the libs is a good thing or not. The real issue is that one man could conceivably control such an important site of public discourse. Elon Musk may soon have the individual power to decide who can and can’t use Twitter, which would give him substantial influence over public perception, not just in the U.S., but around the world. That’s potentially disastrous both for the public and for Twitter as a company (the latter being one reason it might not happen).
The ultimate takeaway is that a service like Twitter shouldn’t have a single point of failure, including a takeover by a slightly unhinged billionaire. Many experts at least in theory support a shift from centrally controlled “platforms” like Twitter and toward open “protocols” that allow for mobility and interaction across platforms, the same way email and RSS feeds do for other digital communication today. But first, you might be thinking: Didn’t Elon Musk already buy Twitter?

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