A weekly summary of what I’ve found interesting at the intersection of economics, finance and technology.
The Libra coalition loses more members—After PayPal last week, now Visa, Mastercard, eBay and Stripe also decided to leave. This is allegedly in response to pressure from lawmakers specifically on these companies, but I didn’t see much business rationale either for them to be involved. Either way, it’s hard to argue Libra is independent from Facebook, and I’d rate its chances of survival as slim, as a result. Incidentally, Libra’s “Head of Product” also left the group in August.
The SEC really doesn’t like messenger app ICO’s—After Kik, the SEC has now shut down Telegram’s ICO as well. We can probably close the books on ICO’s as a mechanism to raise funds at this point…
Tech companies may need to start hiring diplomats—After first rejecting the app, then approving it after an outrcy, Apple ultimately removed the HKmap.live app from the App Store. A seemingly simple rule such as “your app must not help people break the law” is of course open for interpretation, especially in the context of the Hong Kong protests, and corporations are understandably struggling to balance their interests across different countries. As mentioned previously, corporations will increasingly have to take sides on delicate subjects as these, with predictably negative consequences in some areas…
Legislators take note of deepfake videos—Seen as the most promising tool in the “fake news” peddler’s toolkit, deepfake videos allow creators’ to put words in anyone’s mouth, although for now the vast majority of applications remain limited to fake porn videos with celebrities. California has now passed laws against both political and porn deepfakes, to stop misleading and abusive videos. More laws like this will probably follow.
How to put Google apps on your Huawei phone—Short answer, don’t. Longer answer, it would require giving total control of your phone to a company based in China that no one has ever heard of. Regardless of where the company is based, this is always a Very Bad Idea.
Great piece by economist of the moment Mariana Mazzucato: “By exploiting technologies that were originally developed by the public sector, digital platform companies have acquired a market position that allows them to extract massive rents from consumers and workers alike. Reforming the digital economy so that it serves collective ends is thus the defining economic challenge of our time.” Read
Technologist and writer Maciej Cegłowski wrote a concise, technology-focused summary of the Hong Kong protests. Read
Corporations are implementing ever more invasive tracking and monitoring tools for their employees. The FT’s correspondent concludes it’s best to rely on your private phone or email for personal issues, to which: duh! Read ($)
Wired has a rundown of common cybersecurity threats, good refresher. Read
Bank liquidity has been in the news lately. This Twitter thread provides a great summary of the results of the ECB’s latest liquidity ratio stress test. Read
That’s it for this week’s edition. As always, thanks for reading and please forward this to anyone who you think might be interested, it would be much appreciated.