A weekly summary of what I’ve found interesting at the intersection of economics, finance and technology.
If you read the fine print every week you may have already noticed it, but the newsletter’s name this week changed from the rather mundane and generic “Fred’s Views” to “Surveilled”, a name that I hope captures the spirit of this newsletter far better. The new name obviously refers to surveillance capitalism, but, seeing as how this is essentially a weekly overview of interesting links, it is also play of words on “surveyed.” And with this rather too-clever-by-half explanation, let’s get right to this week’s rather short issue.
Google moves into the banks’ territory - it will start offering checking accounts soon. Financial data is arguably one of the last big blind spots the company has on us, so it’s looking to address that, and as a result the key concern for a user is obviously data privacy. I reckon chances for a massive take up are slim. Read
Facebook launches a payments service - not to be outdone, Facebook announced Facebook Pay last week, which will enable payments on all of its major platforms. Perhaps a bit on edge after the backlash against Libra, the company took pains to emphasise this service “is built on existing financial infrastructure and partnerships.” Probably the safest way to go. Read
Apple announces changes to its development process - after the rather buggy release of iOS 13, Apple announced changes to its development process to enable more thorough testing. This is not so interesting in and of itself, but for anyone who has ever worked on a software project, catching a glimpse behind the scenes of a process that puts a new OS on more than a billion devices is fascinating. Read
Speaking of fintech, this piece argues that the crop of new personal finance apps and challenger banks are exploiting the financial precariousness that most of us find ourselves in. The apps may offer clever tricks and superficial relief, but the only way to address the root cause is to reform the financial system itself. 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.