Resolution season is here, and as such, millions of Americans are forswearing sugar and heading to the gym determined to turn over a new leaf and become a better version of themselves for 2020. Which ones will actually make up the 20 percent who manage to keep up those good habits past Feb. 1 remains to be seen.
But individuals aren’t the only ones looking to become the best version of themselves as the new year is getting off the ground. The payments and commerce ecosystem in the ending days of 2019 and the first few days of 2020 offers plenty of examples of corporate attempts at self-improvement, reinvention and opportunities for resolutions this year.
Chase’s Security Reset
According to reports last week, JPMorgan Chase will soon stop allowing FinTech apps to access customers’ passwords. According to Bill Wallace, Chase’s head of digital, Chase will instead disburse data tokens to third-party apps with limited data, as a mechanism of getting user passwords “out of the system.”
Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has previously expressed concerns about the risk created by data sharing. In 2016 in his annual shareholder letter, Dimon noted that third-party apps often use consumer data in ways consumers fail to fully understand. Those uses, he noted, are often to the company’s benefit but not the consumer’s.
“Often this is being done on a daily basis for years after the customer signed up for the services, which they may no longer be using,” Dimon said.
To create data control in the system, the limited data available via the token makes customers more aware of what they are specifically handing over and why, as well as abrogating the need to hand off consumer passwords.
There is no official date by which password-based access is set to end, according to Wallace. But the change is not expected to prevent any apps Chase customers are currently using from working.
Samsung Virtual Human
And if you find yourself wondering, “Didn’t they already do that, and wasn’t it called Bixby?” — Samsung has been quite emphatic that this is something quite different than the virtual voice-activated assistant it introduced a few years ago.
Although data is limited on Neon — the artificial human — the firm offered a few rather provocative tweets about the upcoming launch, including, “Have you met an ‘artificial?’”
Samsung’s social media posts indicate that Neon is an “artificial intelligence being” and “best friend.”
Neon is being developed under Samsung Technology & Advanced Research Labs (STAR Labs).
How exactly Neon differs from Bixby is under wraps until CES, although Samsung is certainly working overtime to build hype about it before the big launch later this week. One tweet from film director Shekhar Kapur particularly played up how lifelike Neon will be, saying, Neon is “Artificial Intelligence that will make you wonder which one of you is real.”
We look forward to reporting on our forthcoming existential crisis in the wake of Neon’s release.
Apple (As Yet Unproven) Rough Waters Ahead
In a week of incongruous reports, Apple’s future in 2020 looks a bit uncertain. Early last week, analysts were predicting that the company — which saw record-breaking growth on the stock market in 2019 — is heading for a stock price correction on a large scale.
According to tech investor Paul Meeks, Apple is vastly overpriced at $290 per share.
“I value the company at about $170 a share, believe it or not,” Meeks, portfolio manager at Independent Solutions Wealth Management, told CNBC on Monday (Dec. 30). “We’re talking about a company that, based on my model, is about $100 per share overvalued.”
Meeks noted that while Apple’s shift to services is generating buzz, the reality is that the iPhone business continues to decline. And when earnings reports start coming out next week, he said he believes the market is going to correct its valuation given how reliant Apple remains on iPhone revenue.
“The last time that we saw nice growth in global smartphones was back in 2015,” he said. “It’s not healthy. It’s not a growth market.”
Meeks is notably pessimistic, however. Citi Analyst Jim Suva said Apple Watch sales will come as a “surprise” to investors during the first fiscal quarter of 2020, which will help Apple’s stocks continue to surge. Suva set his growth target for Apple to $300 a share for the first quarter.
Apple, however, hit that $300 price point later in the same week when the stock surged to an all-time high last Thursday (Jan. 2).
So, is that course correction really coming? The earnings reports aren’t out yet, but watchers will be looking closely to see if Apple has actually found a way to round out the decline of the iPhone with the rise of services and wearables for the 2020s.
What’s next? Many more unknowns than knowns as the new year and new decade are starting out their first full week. Whatever happens, we’ll keep you posted here every Monday.