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.
Every week, one member of our content team will offer a rundown of links and posts that filled our content channels over the previous seven days. Our rundown will offer a brief summary of the information, a link to the original post and an insight into why it ‘caught our eye’. All of this aims to offer you a chance to ‘Bookmark’ the timely resources and real time conversations that are shaping FinTech week after week.
This week’s FTT Bookmark is brought to you by Product and Content Manager at VC Innovations, Laura Camplisson
Bitcoin price soars, past the moon and on to Mars!
The now infamous GameStop saga, a battle fought over social media platforms, trading apps and hedge funds, continued to capture the FinTech community this past week. Commentators have begun to question who the real winners were and have reflected on the lessons to be learned for today’s investment market.
Just in time that is, for this week’s viral investment trend, Bitcoin. Catapulted into the limelight once again, by none other than Tesla CEO, Elon Musk.
Musk’s influence on the cryptocurrency began with the addition of #bitcoin to his Twitter bio. This alone was enough to send its value up almost 19%, to over $37k.
In retrospect it was inevitable
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 29, 2021
A series of crypto focused tweets followed, along with comments made in several interviews. On social media app Clubhouse, Musk said that while late to the party, he was a “supporter of bitcoin”, also joking that, “the most ironic outcome would be that Dogecoin becomes the currency of Earth.”
Perhaps quite unironically, both bitcoin and joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin (backed by memes and, you guessed it, Reddit) continued to soar in value following Musk’s endorsement.
The final push came via an SEC filing on Monday, as Tesla announced the purchase of $1.5billion in bitcoin, along with the news they would soon accept the cryptocurrency as payment. Bitcoin skyrocketed to a record value of $44.5k.
Considering that in our first issue of FTT Bookmark just two weeks ago, my colleague Liz Lumley noted one bitcoin was valued at $23k, this is pretty ground-breaking and really highlights the power 46million Twitter followers affords.
Musk has run into trouble with the SEC before after being accused of misleading investors through a tweet that sent Tesla stock surging. While many are already questioning the stability and longevity of bitcoin’s current price hike, there currently seems to be no signs of SEC intervention.
As always when things go viral, the excitement will die down soon enough and only time will tell of the long-term impacts. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy following along on Twitter. As Musk tweeted yesterday, “Back to work I go.”
Buy Now, but what if I can’t Pay Later?
The Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) market saw rapid growth in 2020, with five million people in the UK making a total of £2.7bn BNPL transactions, since the pandemic. Until now BNPL providers have not fallen under the same level of regulation as other credit providers, who require FCA approval to lend. This is all set to change.
This week the FCA published a review recommending BNPL providers undertake affordability checks, just as customers would expect from other forms of lending. Other recommendations include the provision of debt advice and funding to help with debt relief for those who are struggling.
The concern is that BNPL is encouraging consumers to take on more debt than they can afford, finding themselves with mounting late payments, or even damaged credit scores as a result.
Various articles this week have featured results from a recent comparethemarket survey – 44% of people in the UK who used BNPL over Christmas are concerned about repayment, 41% of those surveyed were totally unaware BNPL could affect their credit score, among other shocking statistics.
What struck me most about the FCA’s report was learning that 75% of BNPL users are aged 36 or under, and 75% are female. As a consumer who fits solidly into this demographic, it is not at all surprising to me that 90% of BNPL transactions involve purchases of fashion or footwear.
Under the pressure of targeted social media ads and influencer marketing, I can see how BNPL might seem like an all too easy option for buying into the ‘I want it now’ culture promoted by fast fashion. The problem comes when consumers don’t consider, or perhaps fully understand, the possible consequences of the debt they incur.
If used responsibly, BNPL schemes have the potential to offer alternative and affordable ways to spread out payments, but there needs to be a balance to ensure services retain this value while not adversely affecting the financially vulnerable. In other words, I think I agree with Alex Marsh, UK Head of BNPL provider Klarna that, “the time for regulation is now”.
Rabobank is taking on CO2 while supporting smallholder farmers
I was intrigued to read about a tech-driven solution to carbon reduction, unveiled by Rabobank this week. The concept is simple, farmers in developing countries planting trees on their land, can sell their contribution to carbon reduction to large corporates, looking to offset their carbon emissions.
The current consensus among many global initiatives is that carbon offsets should not be considered effective in countering emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, emissions must fall by 45% relative to 2010, in order to meet net-zero goals. Rapid progress is crucial and drastic change is necessary, meaning reduction rather than offsetting of carbon should be prioritised.
That being said, there were some unique elements of the Rabobank program worth noticing. Firstly, the platform will integrate AI and remote sensing, to monitor biomass for exactly how much carbon has been absorbed. This lends greater legitimacy to the offsetting process.
Also, the model aims to actively future-proof agriculture methods, by improving soil nutrients and water level for better defence against climate events.
Of course, the program does not demonstrate the full extent of the action the Climate Crisis demands. What it is, is a practical and innovative solution to come from the financial services sector, showing the impact businesses around the world, across all sectors can have.
The platform is expected to launch in 2022, with 15 million farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa enrolled by 2025. I’ll be very interested to follow along in future with the project’s ambitious goals.
And finally, this week’s wildcard story focuses on something close to my heart… ice cream!
You may have noticed a growing appetite (pun intended) for ‘future foods.’ Amazing concepts like lab-grown meat, super crops and 3D printed cheese have started gaining real traction in recent years.
Well, this week my eye was drawn to a feature on Swedish food tech startup Lub Foods, who have recently received a $30 million investment. The company produces Nick’s ice cream, containing EPG, a unique fat which is not absorbed by the human body.
The concept for Lub Foods was born when founder Niclas Luthman was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and couldn’t find a suitable replacement for chocolate. It sounds like Nick’s ice cream could prove a very impactful innovation in meeting a range of health and dietary requirements.
Now if someone could just invent an ice cream that doesn’t give you brain freeze!