“There aren’t middlemen in between to take a part of the transaction. There’s less corruption and graft that can go on. And so for government benefits, that kind of thing, there’s much less leakage if it can go directly from the government right into a digital wallet of the consumer. And so you’re seeing leapfrogs over what were credit card infrastructure or checking.” – Dan Schulman, CEO of PayPal, shared in an interview with Jim Cramer
Pick #1. PayPal CEO Sees International Potential as Countries Like India Skip Over Legacy FinTech
“The entire financial system’s ecosystem is moving, more rapidly than ever before, away from cash and towards digital payments because of the explosion of mobile phones,” Dan Schulman told CNBC in an interview with Jim Cramer.
With 227 million subscribers, 65% of whom reside outside of North America, PayPal has seized on this “explosion” of digital payments around the world.
Rapid digitization has led to countries like India and China opting for efficiency and, in some cases, skipping over financial technologies like checking accounts and credit cards in favor of digital payments, Schulman said.
Pick #2. Standard Chartered Bank Launches Its First-Digital Bank in Africa
Standard Chartered Bank launched its first digital-only retail bank in Africa. Standard Chartered is using Côte d’Ivoire as a launch pad for its global digital services. The digital bank aims to “bridge the gap between traditional banking and the new, digitally savvy generation in Côte d’Ivoire, aiming to make banking services simple, more accessible and convenient.”
The bank’s services include money transfers and bill payments.
FT.com describes the move as part of a “fightback by banks in Africa, where telecoms and financial technology companies have grabbed market share from banks by offering services such as mobile money and mobile payments, often to previously unbanked customers.”
According to FT.com, Côte d’Ivoire has about 9.8 million mobile money accounts in the country registered with telecoms companies, including MTN of South Africa, Orange of France, and Moov, a subsidiary of Etisalat, the Emirates provider, and technology platforms, such as Celpaid and Quash Services.
Pick #3. American Express Patent Filing Touts Blockchain for Faster Payments
In a patent application released by the USPTO, American Express Travel Related Services Company describes using blockchain technology to facilitate payments between two parties by using transaction requests as a proxy.
A request for payment would be sent to the blockchain-based system, which would either be approved or rejected based on various factors, including a risk analysis. If the request for payment is approved, the system would automatically process the transaction, adjusting accounts held by both the payer and the receiver.
In order to access the system, parties conducting a transaction must create digital wallets on the blockchain. As a result, the payments are conducted directly through the blockchain, rather than through a third-party banking institution.
Pick #4. Pick #4. Sierra Leone Just Ran the First Blockchain-Based Election
The citizens of Sierra Leone went to the polls on March 7 but this time something was different: the country recorded votes at 70% of the polling to the blockchain using a technology that is the first of its kind in actual practice.
The tech, created by Leonardo Gammar of Agora, anonymously stored votes in an immutable ledger, thereby offering instant access to the election results.
“Anonymized votes/ballots are being recorded on Agora’s blockchain, which will be publicly available for any interested party to review, count and validate. This is the first time a government election is using blockchain technology.” – Leonardo Gammar, Agora
“We’re the only company in the world that has built a fully-functional blockchain voting platform. Other electronic voting machines are ‘block boxes’ that have been increasingly shown to be vulnerable to security attacks. For that reason, many US states and foreign nations have been moving back to paper. If you believe that most countries will use some form of digital voting 50 years from now, then blockchain is the only technology that has been created which can provide an end-to-end verifiable and fully-transparent voting solution for this future.” – Leonardo Gammar, Agora