A weekly summary of what I've found interesting at the intersection of economics, finance and technology.
How To Ensure Efficient yet Private Contact Tracing — One of the interesting component stories of the COVID-19 pandemic is an intensifying debate around the role technology can play in loosening the movement restrictions many countries are now labouring under. Generally speaking, most plans to relax restrictions rely on some form of contact tracing, usually aided by an app to make the task easier.
By and large privacy features prominently in the considerations for designing the apps, but various parties come to different conclusions.
Early numbers on the adoption of contact tracing apps that are already available (such as Singapore’s TraceTogether app) are not encouraging. This may be due at least in part to the constraints on the users, such as the need to keep the app open the whole time on an iPhone.
Because of this, I expect many third parties will have no choice but to go along with the system Apple and Google are proposing (which would allow the contact tracing to go on in the background), however much they dislike the restrictions it is placing on them.
Zoom Business Partner Dropbox Hired Hackers To Probe Zoom’s Security — According to the article, “the former Dropbox engineers said they were stunned by the volume and severity of the security flaws that hackers discovered in Zoom’s code — and troubled by Zoom’s slowness in fixing them.” Read (NYT $)
Facebook’s Libra Looks a Lot Less Disruptive Now than Last Year — Faced with intense regulatory scrutiny, the cryptocurrency project has announced significant changes compared to its initial vision, essentially abandoning the idea of a cross-border currency operating without central control. This will make the project more palatable to central banks, but also makes it more run-of-the-mill compared to many competitors… Read (FT $)
Interesting article on bottom-up technology solutions to deal with COVID-19 disruptions, usually hacked together by individuals, and that are then coopted by the government. Read (Bloomberg $)
The pandemic is turbocharging some evolutions that were already germinating (like working remotely, video-conferencing, supply-chain realignment etc.), but not all of the gains will remain when the crisis subsides. Read (Benedict Evans)
President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen explains how her country prevented a major outbreak of COVID-19. Read (Time)
Medium has surfaced some unexpectedly interesting articles during the pandemic, but by curating and promoting some verified content they also lend credence to far more dangerous rants. Read (The Verge)
Face with a constant bombardment of stressful news, it can be soothing to reconnect to the rhythm of nature, and unexpectedly, the Apple Watch may help, through this fascinating deep-dive into the “Solar Dial” watch face. Read (Hodinkee)
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.