Your weekly resource for noteworthy news, fascinating features, and fintech titbits that caught our eye. Whether you live by your Twitter lists, save your Google Alerts, or simply scroll through LinkedIn for insights and commentary – there is a wealth of content that weaves a global story around fintech.
Our job at Fintech Talents is to work within that global story – finding the news items, conventional wisdoms and hard data that aids us in bringing the industry the best content, community and experiences in the business.
This week’s FTT Bookmark of timely resources and real time conversations is brought to you by Laura Camplisson, Product and Content Manager at VC Innovations.
Mastercard focused on consumers’ carbon footprints
The first story that caught my eye this week, was the news Mastercard is launching a carbon calculator, soon to be available for a global network of financial institutions to integrate into their mobile banking apps.
Developed with climate-action FinTech Doconomy, the calculator will show consumers the carbon footprint generated by their purchases across spending categories. The idea is for users to make more mindful shopping decisions and even choose to contribute directly to reforestation efforts, through Mastercard donate or their bank’s loyalty schemes.
I would be interested to see how this will work in practice. For privacy reasons, Mastercard can’t assess the exact details of each purchase, instead using an average carbon footprint for specific industries. So I wonder how this will take into account consumers who are making an active effort to buy from more sustainable retailers? This lack of accountability for specific businesses, also puts the responsibility heavily on consumers to make better choices and offset their emissions, rather than on the businesses themselves.
The carbon calculator is the latest of several Mastercard sustainability initiatives, reflecting a wider response from the financial sector to the growing public awareness of the climate emergency. Without a doubt there is a positive marketing element to schemes like this, particularly aimed to attract Millennials and the growing Gen Z target market.
All that being said, I think its positive to see an organisation like Mastercard, with a powerful network of partners and customers, taking action to drive climate awareness. Collaboration and industry wide initiatives will be crucial in making any meaningful progress towards sustainability.
Clubhouse enables users to pay content creators
You probably won’t have avoided the recent buzz in the FinTech world around invite-only, audio-based social media app Clubhouse. This week came the announcement that Stripe will now facilitate payments between Clubhouse users, allowing content creators to receive tips from their audience.
Our first monetization feature for creators ‘Payments’ is here! Yesterday, we turned the dial-up & enabled +60K creators to receive payments. Working hard to roll it out to more people soon 💪
Stay tuned for more new types of monetization in the future🎯#CHTownhal
— Clubhouse (@joinClubhouse) April 11, 2021
I think it’s notable that Clubhouse have opted to focus on direct creator income, rather than monetisation through advertising, which social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube rely heavily on. I wonder whether the decision not to go down this road, will help to reward and develop high quality content from Clubhouse contributors?
Other sites like Twitch or OnlyFans, also focus on creator income, but with a percentage cut for the platform. For the time being, Clubhouse themselves won’t profit from enabling payments. The sender will pay a processing fee to Stripe, but 100% of their donation will go to the creator.
This definitely makes a strong statement, but given that Clubhouse won’t be able to rely on Venture Capital income forever, I wonder how and when this model will have to change?
Revolut gives a whole new meaning to WFH
Many of us are now considering the prospect of returning to our pre-pandemic place of work, while others are adjusting to a hybrid model, splitting the working week between the office and home.
Some high-profile companies have made recent headlines with the news they will be closing down offices altogether. Revolut were one such company, to announce in February that the majority of their 2000 employees would adopt a permanent remote working model.
This week I was interested to read this policy will be extended to allow employees to work not just from home, but from anywhere in the world. For up to 2-months each year, Revolut employees wishing to work abroad, will be able to do so.
I’m sure this will be welcomed by all those with family abroad, who they have likely been unable to visit over the past year. If employees can do their jobs effectively from home, then I can’t think of a logical reason why they can’t do so from their second homes. Aside from navigating communication across time zones, which many of us already do everyday with external partners or customers!
It’s the next step in a sweeping shift in attitude towards work. Employers everywhere seem to be embracing flexibility, balance and understanding of their employees personal circumstances. The established mindset that productivity is directly connected to management oversight, has been disproven for so many companies during the pandemic.
Do you think it will be long before we see other organisations follow Revolut in adopting this work-from-anywhere approach?
Microsoft takes a major step in ID verification
Microsoft announced a move forward with its plans for identity verification this week. Azure AD, now in public preview, will allow organisations to issue verifiable credentials as proof of identity claims, which the credential holder will then own and control.
The aim, according to Microsoft, is to enable users to verify an identity once and present it to anyone. End-users can then complete employee onboarding, loan applications, or access secure apps and services without having to repeatedly share the same sensitive information.
Online commentators in the identity community raised concerns of whether user privacy will be fully protected, whether the DID standard this is based on will be ratified and of course, the fear of further increasing the power held by Big Tech.
But for me, the most interesting aspect of this development is the impressive line-up of established identity providers working with Microsoft. Jumio, Onfido, Acuant, IDEMIA, AU10TIX, Lexis Nexis and Socure are all involved, not to mention the Decentralised Identity Foundation, Open ID Foundation and W3C.
Many valuable solutions have emerged across the digital identity landscape from these and other providers. But without an ecosystem to link distinct, ID management systems together, consumers have to keep track of multiple credentials for multiple different service providers. Collaboration such as the Azure AD partnership, will be crucial to building an effective framework for the future of digital identity.
And finally this week’s wildcard story… Facebook vs the French town of Bitche
Something that made me laugh this week, was the story of a Facebook algorithm removing the official page ‘Ville de Bitche’ for violating its site terms. Clearly the French town’s name was confused with a similarly spelt insult in the English language.
As Bitche’s Mayor Benoit Kieffer put it, the town was a victim of “insufficient interpretation.” The page has since been reinstated and Kieffer has cordially extended an invite to both the French president of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg himself, to visit the fortress town of Bitche.
I think this interestingly highlights the limits of machine intelligence in censoring harmful online content. Certain nuances of language can perhaps only be properly interpreted by human eyes. Unfortunately for Bitche, getting in contact with a real person at Facebook to get the page reinstated, took over a month!
Regardless, the story and the inevitable storm of Bitche puns on Twitter didn’t fail to entertain me. My favourite being:
Facebook has 99 problems, and the French town of Bitche is one.https://t.co/qN5RRgf8cH
— Jules Darmanin (@JulesDrmnn) April 13, 2021