The new Lafferty Banking 500 has some head-turning results on the big US banks: Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Bank of America each scored 2 stars on our 5-star band, with Citi scoring three stars. Those are the scores of troubled banks, not champions. Ahead of the US midterm elections, the incumbent Republicans are banging the gong that the economy has never been doing so well. We've reported on the increase revenue this quarter by the big US banks, but Bloomberg has helpfully stripped out the one-offs and tax cuts, to show that this year's big leap in improved results may be less impressive than at first sight. "[The] fact that so little of the big banks' earnings increase in the third quarter, just 17 percent, seems to be coming from, say, higher sales or lower costs raises the question of why the nation's largest lenders and financial firms aren't doing better in the best economy in a decade," writes Stephen Gandel for Bloomberg. "But banks are still a central part of the U.S. economic infrastructure, no matter what the Bitcoin believers would like. So if the banks aren't doing as well as they appear, it's likely the economy isn't either."
Norway's mobile wallet VIPPS is now producing its own technology solutions that it will offer to other wallet systems via a partnership with Gemalto, which has refashioned itself as a digital security company. VIPPS, which is operated by a consortium of Norwegian banks, has merged with Norway's national payment scheme BankAxept and the bank-backed digital identification system BankID. (We've covered several of these stories separately in RBF2030). "We have seen the success of mobile wallets in China. In Europe, it is picking up nicely. But interoperability between mobile wallets (in different countries) will be the key," Bjørn Skjelbred tells Lafferty News. That interoperability will depend on digital identity solutions, with VIPPS looking to anticipate all the different ways in which users might wish to pay by phone, including NFC proximity payments, QR codes and for e-commerce. VIPPS decided that to be competitive, it needed to develop its own technologies, given Norway's position as a relatively advanced cashless society with wide adoption of mobile payments. "People here don't carry cash. Already we use a card to pay for a newspaper or a coffee and in Norway, nine out of ten in-store payments are done by card or digital payments. And the digital ID is a very important part of the digital value chain. So we decided that we needed to invest in developing those digital technologies."
For several years, every second presenter at a finance conference showed a chart saying that Uber owned no cars (and Facebook created no content, Airbnb... reader, you know the story). It's safe to say that almost no one is doing that presentation anymore. But Uber, once again plotting an IPO, is reportedly working on a project dubbed Uber Work, which will supply "on-demand" workers. In a rare case of Hollywood being ahead of Silicon Valley, US director Boots Riley anticipated this phenomenon with the 2018 release Sorry To Bother You. It's useful to remind ourselves of our own folly from time to time.
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