Barely a week goes by now without key industry announcements and developments being widely discussed across the media and picked over by industry experts. The latest case in point? N26.

N26 is now live in the UK with beta product

Following Revolut’s recent move to enter the Japanese market, a development we covered in our previous news roundup, last week its German competitor N26 made a beta version of its app available in the UK and further reveals expansion plans in the US by early 2019. The startup is already active in 17 countries across Europe and has 1.5 million customers. N26 has also plans to launch in the US early in 2019 and wants to “build the world’s first global bank with maybe 100 million customers”, as Business Insider reports.

In the past few years, the UK market has witnessed similar players, including Monzo, Starling, Revolut, Tandem and N26 providing UK banking customers with a variety of similar offerings. While these companies are driving market competition and forcing traditional banks to up their game, the question is still out whether such players can compensate for the need for human interaction in banking and/ or a branch network.

Which, in turn, begs another question: would you keep your saving with challenger banks over traditional ones, by the way?

Back to the cash vs. cashless debate

Did you know that 130 million Europeans still have no possibility to pay online? As a recent Paysafecash report called ‘Lost in Transaction 2018‘ indicates, they either do not have a bank account or do not have the ability to make electronic payments and thus, do not participate in eCommerce.

Furthermore, 87% of the people Paysafecash surveyed for this report had used cash to buy a product or service in the previous month, a clear illustration that it remains deeply entrenched in Europeans’ culture and habits.

Last but not least, this is a strong reminder that Europe still needs to keep financial inclusion high on its agenda.

China’s Black Mirror episode

Remember a particular episode of the Black Mirror TV series, which is set in an imaginary world where people can rate each other from 1 to 5 stars for every social interaction they have, and which can impact their socioeconomic status?

Yet another story passes from sci-fi scenarios to the real world, as China’s 1.4 billion people are getting “social credit” scores that rate their trustworthiness levels and determine their place in society. As China moves forward with its ambitions to become the world leader in AI, by 2020 the country is set to introduce a mandatory system for all citizens that will monitor the citizens’ behaviour and award or punish them accordingly.

The Social Credit System will be supported by the latest high-tech surveillance systems. This includes cameras, which will make use of geo-tracking, facial recognition and body scanning technologies to permanently monitor citizens in real time, and smartphone apps, which will collect personal data and track online behaviour on a daily basis, as The Independent reports.

Additionally, more traditional sources such as “government files, educational scores, medical records, security assessments and personal financial records will provide data that will contribute to citizens’ national scores”, according to the same source. A few glimpses below:

Credit: morning dose.

Amazon and the land of retail

Amazon has opened a new concept store in New York. Dubbed “Amazon 4-star”, the physical store stocks only items that customers have rated four stars or above, on average, on Amazon.com. The store features the same format as the brand’s AmazonBooks store, but has more categories on display, such as books, toys and games, home and kitchen. Amazon 4-star also displays the same cashless checkout process.

The new initiative highlights Amazon’s increased efforts into brick-and-mortar stores, which still account for most of the retail spending. As eMarketer reveals in a March 2018 study, nearly 96% of US internet users claim they mainly buy various products, including food, beverages, household cleaning supplies, paper and plastic products, and personal care at physical locations.

Spotlight on cross-border eCommerce

A recent study by PayPal and Ipsos unveils some useful insights for merchants wishing to expand reach beyond national borders:

  • the most popular cross-border destinations for global shoppers are: China (26%), the US (21%), the UK (14%), Germany (10%) and Japan (5%)
  • clothing & apparel represent the most popular category for cross-border purchases (68%), followed by consumer electronics (53%) and toys (53%)
  • at a global level, most cross-border purchases are still made via desktop, laptop or notebook; however, most buyers from the Middle East, Africa, LATAM and APAC are most likely to use mobile devices
  • the reasons for buying from other countries are various, ranging from better prices (72%) to more affordable shipping options (24%)

The report investigates the online shopping habits of nearly 34,000 consumers in 31 countries. You can find more information on the research findings here.

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