We discuss the Facebook pivot into the metaverse and its rebrand into Meta. Our analysis touches on the competitive pressures faced by the company from big tech players, other ecosystem builders, and limits to growth for a $1 trillion business that likely motivated this refocus. We further dive into network effects around platforms, and why super apps and financial features are attractive, and how owning the hardware is a required defensive strategy. Lastly, we discuss these development through the crypto and Web3 lens, deeply disappointed with Facebook trying to domain park a generational opportunity with a centralized solution.
Square upgrades Cash App into a payment processing powerhouse, completing the loop between the consumer and merchant side of the house. Goldman Sachs acquires GreenSky, adding a lending business at the point of intent. This analysis connects these symptoms into a framework explaining the increasing integration between commerce and finance, and the increasing role that demand generation plays. That in turn explains how the attention and creator economies interconnect with financial services.
This week, we look at:
IBM spinning out its managed services division with $18 billion of revenue in order to focus on hybrid cloud and digital transformation
Reliance Jio, the Indian mobile telecom provider with 400 million users, contemplating financial services with backing from Google and Facebook
The role that technology infrastructure plays in the delivery of financial services
The main driver of today's entry is the news -- which has largely percolated -- that ConsenSys acquired Quorum from J.P. Morgan, as well as received an investment from the bank in the company. There is a lot of jargon in the blockchain industry, and I want to try to pull this news apart to explain why it is interesting both to incumbent financial services players, as well as meaningful to the developing decentralized finance industry.
In this analysis, we focus on Goldman Sachs launching an institutional embedded finance offering within Amazon Web Services, and Thought Machine raising a unicorn round for its cloud core banking platform. We explore these developments by focusing on the emerging role of cloud providers as distributors of third party software, think through some of the implications on standalone fintechs and open banking, and check in on AI company Kensho. Last, we highlight the difference between Web3 and Web3 approaches to “cloud”, and suggest a path as to how those can be rationalized in the future.
PayPal just launched what it calls a super app. It has a cash account with a 0.40% interest rate, direct deposit, money movement, bill pay, and remittance features. It also integrates shopping functionality with rewards and cash back. In this analysis, we compare this offering with Google Pay and Square Cash App, as well as trace the DNA of PayPal to understand whether such an offering will succeed where others failed.
Google has done it. In a massive update to Google Pay, the company highlighted exactly the direction of travel for high tech, fintech, and the global banks. It has articulated a vision for competing with Apple Pay and Ant Financial. Let's walk through the features.
At $13 billion of revenue and 800 million users in 2016, Office 365 roughly generated $20 per user. That's like Monzo, but with the user foot print of Ant Financial.
You might think the comparison is daft. But let's dig a bit deeper. Excel, and spreadsheets more generally, are the default behavior for managing personal finances. Even for financial advisors, who are supposed to be the precise niche leveraging financial planning software, Excel is the default "do nothing" option. If you are not paying for digital wealth software as an advisor, you are doing it in Excel.
The tech companies will become the storefront to absolutely everything.
There is no Internet, there is only Google.
There is no commerce, there is only Amazon.
There is no finance, there is only WeChat / Tencent?
I don't know about you, but I cannot pay for anything in cash in London anymore. COVID has made the city go cashless. For China, QR codes have long replaced the need for paper money. And if there is no cash, what is the point of ATMs, and ATM fees, and bank branches, and bank branch staff? Financial firms no longer need to be the place where you shop for financial product.