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Crypto’s Grand Stage To Sizzle (Or Fizzle)?

Bitcoin, move over. There’s a new digital coin of the realm. Or maybe not.

Maybe it all takes off.  Or maybe not.

Against a backdrop where bitcoin has been around for a decade, where any number of cryptos have come and gone, where ICOs burst bright upon the scene and then faded … Libra debuts … well, will debut.  Not until after, we assume, a long tail of congressional hearings delving into oversight, data privacy and scrutiny by central banks.

Through it all, crypto as currency — that is, for legitimate transactions — has yet to gain traction. There is no shortage of detail about the mechanics of the Libra project (Karen Webster’s analysis can be found here), but the question remains: sizzle or fizzle?

Too soon to tell, of course, and a short-term sizzle was lit under bitcoin’s price (to more than $9,100). But those heady gains themselves speak to the volatility that has, in part, kept cryptos from being used in everyday life.  After all, no one likes to wake up and find their purchasing power has decreased 10 percent in a day. Speculation still runs rampant — and Libra, of course, at least has a blunting effect here (ostensibly, at least) by being tied to a basket of currencies.

Time will tell on the volatility, however, as the crypto will not be actively managed by the consortium made up of Facebook, Mastercard, Visa and others (known collectively as the Association).  As detailed here, too, there’s a trust factor — intangible, but urgent and critical for any new payments scheme to take off, especially among the unbanked, where cash has been king for so long.  The road from white paper to execution is long, and the challenges are many.

Sizzle

Logistics Spending: Continued growth in eCommerce and strength in the U.S. economy helped lift spending on logistics to new highs.  As measured by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, spending on logistics topped $1.64 trillion, or eight percent of GDP, growing 11.4 percent year on year.

Smart Homes:  Smart money takes a sizable bet on smart homes, as Bain Capital Ventures and a host of other investors put $32 million into SmartRent, which helps apartment owners cut costs through automating deliveries and walk-through and maintenance calls with digital locks, among other offerings.

AI as crime fighter: $25 billion is a lot of money — especially when it’s kept out of fraudsters’ grasping hands.  Visa has estimated that its AI-based Visa Advanced Authorization has helped issuers prevent an estimated $25 billion in annual fraud.

Fizzle

Immunity: When stripped of immunity, perhaps, will liability loom?  News came this week that Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri has introduced a bill that would remove the immunity that giants like Facebook have when users post offensive content.

Cyberfraud – on a grand scale:  The Bank of England has warned that a state actor could corrupt British banks’ records over just a few months — and banks might not be able to protect themselves, unable to tell which records had been corrupted.

Canopy: Where’s the floor under this Canopy? Shares were down right percent Friday in intra-day trading after Canopy Growth showed some bumps in its latest earnings report.  The firm, the largest cannabis company by market cap, missed estimates as gross margins declined — and as noted by at least some analysts on Wall Street, core cannabis revenues slipped by 7.4 percent from the previous quarter.

 

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Latest Insights: 

Facebook is a giant in the ad game, with 2.3 billion active monthly users and $16.6 billion in quarterly advertising revenue. However, its omnipresence makes it a honeypot for fraudsters. In this month’s Digital Fraud Report, PYMNTS talks with Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, on how the site deploys automated systems and thorough advertiser vetting to close the lid on fraudster attempts.

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