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Home » Daily Briefing » Daily briefing - 20 May 2019

Daily briefing - 20 May 2019

bri_map
The World Bank's BRI map

Launching a new currency in the US generally attracts the attention of the security services, which is why the US Senate's Banking Committee wrote to Mark Zuckerberg after the Facebook founder announced the tech company's move into payments earlier this month. Now the new operation is pitching up in Switzerland, but rather than Crypto Valley aka Zug, Facebook is opening its new front in Geneva, where the UN has been exploring blockchains and digital identity as part of its focus on patents and intellectual property. "Facebook, whose social network has more than 2 billion users, did not immediately comment on Libra Networks, which will focus on 'investing, payments, financing, identity management, analytics, big data, blockchain and other technologies'," according to Reuters. The Facebook operation last year acquired the patent for the trademark Libra, which is reportedly the company's cover for developing a stablecoin in order to move value between fiat and cryptocurrencies.

When American mercantilism meets Chinese expansionism, the rest of the world suffers. With Google forced into acting as a proxy for the US government and Huawei (along with Alibaba and Tencent) promising that it's got nothing to do with the Chinese government, the tensions of our era are being laid bare — along with the fact that the world relies largely on a software duopoly controlled by Apple's iOS and App Store and Google's Android and Google Play Store. This weekend, Reuters reports that the US is escalating the trade war against China by limiting the availability of Android, which Huawei uses as the operating system on its phones. "The suspension could hobble Huawei's smartphone business outside China as the tech giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google's Android operating system," reports Reuters. "Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android will also lose access to popular services, including the Google Play Store and Gmail and YouTube apps." Huawei said it has a plan B in place, through its own operating system.

The commercial sweet spot for some African countries lies where feature phones meet mobile money and ecommerce. That's not just the ecommerce giants that we're talking about, but rather the last mile that can connect local people to local traders. Senegalese startup Comparez started life as a comparison website helping users find low prices, but now it's expanding into ecommerce and offering users the ability to pay with mobile money. "Founded by former Jumia employees, Comparez is already active in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. According to founder Abdou Dieng, the goal is to allow even unbanked users to access e-commerce platforms," writes Disrupt Africa. Mr Dieng told Disrupt Africa that Comparez will 'give the opportunity for the unbanked to buy an Amazon product using mobile money from our platform, and have it delivered in six days'. He said the platform's usage of USSD opened it up still further."

Amazon invests $575 million in Deliveroo

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