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TransferWise announced a $25M funding round last week, with investors including Richard Branson, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, IA Ventures, and Index Ventures. The London-based startup aims to disrupt the remittance market by offering lower fees. They do this by operating a peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer model, where money destined for transfer does not actually leave each country unnecessarily (i.e. rearranging cash from other transactions in the same country). Software automation and the absence of physical branches also allow them to pass on cost-savings to the consumer. Consumers are also offered a mobile app (iOS and Android). Co-founder, Taavet Hinrikus, was the first employee at Skype.
Since its inception, the best known vulnerability of the bitcoin protocol has been the “51% attack”. This attack occurs when one party controls more than half of all processing power on the protocol, effectively giving them control over the entire blockchain. At this point, the majority holder could rewrite previous blocks, allowing them to double-spend bitcoins. Even though this scenario was considered unlikely (due to the downside risk it posed to bitcoin pricing), it’s exactly what happened.
The term "connected home" or "smart home" has been around for decades. In the 90's and 00's, a lot of consumer electronics companies and component makers published drawings with home servers, gateways, and all types of home devices talking to each other and sharing files. I remember, in my past life, I used to draw similar things on powerpoint and announced a lot of partnerships and initiatives . However, none of those concepts became a mainstream hit.
With the changing legislative and regulatory landscape in the US over the past many years, there has been a lot of talk around the emergence of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs - defined below) and the greater role they will play in the future. Hopes are high that these organizations can help to right some of the compounded wrongs in the industry. First things first, I think it is useful for us all to gain some greater clarity behind what an ACO is – a term that is still relatively new to most of us, having first been coined in 2006.
Often times, when a new technology enters the world, it can take a little while for markets to figure out what to do with it (or in the case of the Segway, an infinite amount of time). Other times, smart people know exactly what to do with it, as is the case for Usage-Based Insurance (UBI). Instead of using the theoretical “average” driver to set rates, UBI is when insurance providers measure the telematic signals of a car to determine the specific actions of a driver, and tailor a policy rate based upon that performance.
I came across an interesting data set by TSYS, a payment processing company, relating to the consumer use of coupons, daily deals, and card-based rewards programs. For the purpose of this post, I want to focus on the coupon data. Turns out that coupons are still widely used with 83% of respondents using some form of coupon — this includes print and display. Also somewhat surprising is that the heaviest group of users is the 150k+ income bracket. In fact, 47% of high-income earners use coupons more than 50 times per year. So coupons still seem quite popular and the top three sources for coupons are, in order, newspaper, online, and store circular. What I found particularly interesting is that only 1 in 5 respondents source coupons on their mobile device, despite the pervasiveness of smartphones. According to Nielsen’s Feb 2014 Digital Consumer Report, over 66% of US consumers own a smartphone (source). Also, with the success of online coupon companies such as RetailMeNot (NASDAQ: SALE) and Coupons.com (NYSE: COUP), the logical next step would be the mobile device. See here for the full study.
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