Velocity of Money

[Backyard economics, for thought exercise only.] There was a meme going around a few weeks back that went roughly like this:

  • A guest pays a hotelier $1000 (as a room deposit)
  • The hotelier uses the money to pay his baker (outstanding invoice)
  • Ditto, the baker to the flour wholesaler
  • The wholesaler to his accountant
  • The accountant to her landlord
  • The landlord in turn pays the hotelier (owed for a staff dinner)
  • The hotelier returns the money to the guest (deposit refund)

  • No money was 'used up', it was just circulated
  • The circulation of money cleared the debts of five parties
  • Here, money acts as a tool, like a a screwdriver being passed around
  • Vs if the hotelier stashed the money or spent it on imported cigars

  • Money can have mass, velocity and distance
  • Mass is the amount of money
  • Velocity is how fast it changes hands
  • Distance is how many times it changes hands

  • Ideally, stimulus money should travel fast and far
  • One way to do this is via a digital currency (or similar)
  • Which can't be held on for too long or be used for frills
  • And thus must be circulated, like in the meme above

Banking in The Age of Corona

FinTECH Talents via
FTT is hosting a fintech conference on June 10th with topics including:

Future of Real Estate
Training proivder Back2School looks to have pivoted to become a virtual event organiser and being engaged by Ian Scott International to host two webinars on June 5th and 8th titled 'Future of Real Estate' featuring speakers from TRX, IOI and PKNS.

Other Events

Bugzilla Takes A Break?

Many countries are rolling back lockdowns starting next week, in time for the start of summer. This is the opportunity to economically salvage 2020 in the 3-6 months before the onset of autumn and winter when bugzilla may ride again. A time for intense concentration and total diligence. A time for preparation and to make hay while the sun shines. Some random notes:

Back To Work more info
  • You may need to stock up on PPE if you need it for work. A check with a DIY chain and grocery stores showed masks and gloves are out of stock, while pharmacies say they still have them.
  • Should you wear a mask in the car? If you live in a high rise, you should suit up before going to the lift lobby. Once suited up, you shouldn't fiddle with the PPE (like touch your face).
  • Face shields are useful if you have to work closely with the public as the shield prevents ballistic droplets from landing on your face.
  • Too much fussing over the bug? Do not take the bug lightly, with distancing, hygiene, e-contact tracing and testing, it should be manageable. [This section is not health advice.]

  • Rental is a big overhead for companies. If WFH worked well for them, they may downsize or give up their office. This may dampen demand for office space in the short to medium term.
  • This could be an opportunity for building or converting adobes to add a WFH study, or for flexispaces eg. turn the living room into an office space with a few nudges of furniture here and there.
  • Office services (address, secretarial, mailing, coworking) could uptrend if the above transpires. Ditto storage spaces & co-workshops.

  • Some eateries are doing very well because their peers have not resumed work. Sales should probably pick up even more next week.
  • While there were news of many boba tea stores dropping out, a survey by us showed youngsters are back at their usual joints.
  • From what we can see, eateries that do well have outdoor seating or vibe (ie naturally ventilated), and a rep for good food and friendly prices. These attributes entice customers to queue for takeout or brave the bug for a bite.

Virtual Design Festival

Design magazine, Dezeen, is hosting VDF (Virtual Design Festival) from April 15th to June 30th, 2020 featuring interviews, movies, launches, livestreams and collaborations (navigation is a maze, catch the videos here).

In the first video, Dutch designer Lonneke Gordijn of Studio Drift tells how creatives could face the new normal. The second video teases Sweden's Material Library, a showroom of architectural and design material samples.

Designer Startups
  • YouTube - Chad Hurley, BA in Fine Arts, IUP
  • Canva - Melanie Perkins, BA in Arts, UWA
  • Etsy - Robert Kalin, Gallatin BA, NYU
  • Airbnb - Joe Gebbia, Bachelor in Fine Arts, RSID
  • Pinterest - Evan Sharp, Architecture, Columbia

Fine Dining Meet

Fine Dining
Fine dining restaurants with their lofty overheads (posh locations, premium staff etc) must be facing a mighty challenge. To discuss their next steps, fine dining reps, including from Osteria Francescana ('world's best restaurant' twice), DirtCandy (veggie-driven food), two S.Pellegrino Young Chef winners, Gluttonomy (marketing) and Tock (delivery) will be speaking at a webinar happening tonight (1am GMT+8). | also

There are still lots of untapped potential in payments. Examples: 1) More efficient payment-delivery cycle 2) Use of ewallets as an alternative to programmable digital currency eg. the use of e-vouchers which have time limits (and thus cannot be hoarded). More on payments and fintech: 1 2 3 4.

Other Events
After the Raya (Eid) break, BNM, EPF, MPC, MATRADE, WorldBank, Deloitte, MIT-Sloan get together to ponder post-bug economics here and here.

FinTech SmartCity Updates

While physical businesses are held back by the bug, online ones roll on:
  • PayPal - Enters mobile payments (like Alipay)
  • Facebook - Introduces Facebook Pay (like PayPal)
  • Shopify - Announces Balance (like a bank account)
  • Microsoft - 230,000 registrations for Build (last year: 6,000)

Local authorities have been busy too:
  • London - Embraces outdoor dining (fresh air, natural distancing)
  • Newcastle - From neo-classical to neo-modern | also
  • EU - Plans €100B green stimulus (mobility, manufacturing, infra)
  • US - Relief payments sent as Metabank debit cards (ewallets)

Shine A Light

With Europe still under siege by the bug, finalists of Eurovision 2020 (one each from 40 participating countries) got together virtually to perform Love Shine A Light in a rousing call to hope and solidarity.

FB & IG: Shops

FB launched Shops today to enable small businesses to sell online.

  • Create one shop and sell across FB, IG, WS
  • Free, easy to setup and to upload products
  • Shop is native to FB and fast (vs external properties)
  • Supports live shopping, product launches, tutorials
  • Auto tagging and categorising (from product photos)
  • Auto profiling (eg if male, show male clothing)
  • Augmented reality (eg try on sunglasses)
  • Payment by credit card stored with FB
  • Revenue model (for FB): ads for merchants

Open Ecosystem Partners

  • Roll out starts with the US
  • Ecosystem: discovery, consideration, checkout, logistics & support
  • FB likely looking for more partners to join as Shops roll out further
  • Challenges: scams, illicit products, disputes
  • Above could be handled by partners (FB layers on top, like events)
  • For buyers without credit cards, a digital currency would be useful
  • Focus likely on hyperlocal rather than global commerce initially
  • No URL to setup page available yet

The Wealth of Nations

What happens if nations stop trading with each other? It depends on the knowledge, resources and people of any particular nation. A nation can maintain as is, move forward or 'forward to the past':

Most nations can revert to this. Back to farming (but probably not hunting coz not many flurry friends left). It will require seeds, tilling etc though.

Next up is the mining of ores and smelting of the same to metals to make tools. Many nations can probably do this rudimentarily if they have the ores but it won't be straightforward because working with iron requires very high temperatures.

It is possible to bypass or minimise metal usage. Some nations have or used to have sophisticated weaving, carpentry, woodworking, and timber-based construction skills. Other nations used to have advanced stone working skills too but these are mainly lost.

This requires the harnessing of metals, fuel and fire to make engines. And to use these engines for mass production. The car is a prime example of a product of the industrial age. Making a car is not as easy as people generally perceive (particularly the engine and transmission), it requires lots of maths, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, manufacturing and logistics skills.

Initially transistors, silicon chips are the basis of the gadgetry and wizardry of the modern world: phones, computers, routers, internet etc. Transistors are probably still doable by some nations but modern silicon chips can be made by only a few advanced nations.

Wealth of Nations
Where nations will end up in if they don't trade with each other depend on the depth and breath of knowledge kept by their universities, institutes, businesses, guilds, individual experts, hobbyists and traditions. These will determine if a nation can 'rebuild from scratch' or forge an independent path.

Advances in Virtual Conferences

As more virtual conferences are held, organisers are thinking up ways to make their events more useful and attractive. Initially, virtual conferences had a WFH vibe but as can be seen from Consensus 2020 held last week (May 11-15), organisers are making an effort to raise the bar:
  • Better lighting, camera angles (eg. not pointing at the ceiling)
  • Better video quality and backgrounds
  • Audio is generally still a problem
  • Moderators who are TV hosts like in polish
  • Or even better, as they are industry insiders
  • Speakers who do not look like they just got out of bed
  • Heavyweight keynote speakers
  • Post event videos that are curated and edited for brevity
  • Short 15-sec sponsor ad (BTC promo) before each video
  • Strong branding of main sponsor in collaterals (revenue)
  • Bad: the organiser uses its own video service, which jitters
The conference likely took some effort by a team of producers & assistants: to contact and schedule the speakers, some who are heavyweights, discuss topics, getting the speakers to test video and audio, and to dress up a bit, getting hold of them at the appointed time, and to monitor the video and audio feeds (eg to highlight the correct speaker and slides).

Insurance Insider
InsiderTech London is a virtual reinsurance (an arcane topic) conference happening May 21st. The conference features networking via a dedicated app (desktop and mobile, as Whatsapp is generic in function and not always user friendly) and a virtual goodie bag consisting of e-goodies.

Convention Meet
The in-person convention industry is in a bind, people are staying home due to the bug. Google and FB have announced their staff won't be returning to the office till 2021. This suggests corporates will not be attending events till then. What is the industry to do? Find out in a webinar on Wed, May 20th. Other events: MY: Halal Quest; SG: Future Cities; HK: Post-Bug Entrepreneur.

Designer Shields

Face Shield
A face shield protects the face of the wearer when dealing with the public at close quarters. Dezeen reports face shields have gotten the attention of designers and researchers. In the composite image above (L-R):
  • HappyShield - Folded from a single piece of clear plastic
  • Soffio - Inflatable face shield that allows eating and drinking
  • Joe Doucet - Wraparound face shield with built-in sunglasses

  • For HappyShield, the folding adds a forehead offset which prevents the shield from pressing against the face mask (makes breathing harder). The mask, as shown, is rather short; it should extend beyond the chin.
  • The Soffio design looks crazy but that's the nature of design experimentation. The innovation is in the use of air pressure rather than stiff plastic to provide structural rigidity.
  • The Joe Doucet design, which is actually an extended eye wear, will likely be too stuffy if worn with a face mask.
  • Post-bug, face shields could continue as a fashion accessory, like caps and hats.

Carrying On

CES Asia
CES Asia @ CN scheduled for June 10-12 has been shelved. However, the Swiss Pavilion has decided to carry on by hosting an online pitch of 20 startups. Sample startups:
  • CodeLane - Avatars that read and display emo cues
  • GazeSense - Robots that look where you are looking at
  • Important - Pedestrian safety app that talks to smart car systems
  • Mithras - Convert body heat to electricity (for wearables etc)
  • Sevensense - Robot navigation that learns and adapts on-the-go
  • Rigi - Terahertz (like x-rays but without the harm) cameras
  • Trustless - Credit-card computer that does e-banking, e-wallet
  • Typewise - Radical, new, hive-like, soft keyboard
  • Voliro - Robotic drone that has arms, can fly vertical, upside down

Eurovision @ NL scheduled for May 16th was also scrubbed. But a plucky Dutch broadcaster decided to proceed with an AI version of the contest. Sample songs (as a fun comparison, the last two are past Eurovision winning songs composed by humans): [ML=Machine Learning]

Mastercard B2B

Mastercard Track
Mastercard announced earlier this week its expansion from consumer credit and debit cards (C2B) into business-to-business payments (B2B). Specific technical details are not available yet, here is what we gathered of the new service, Mastercard Track™ Business Payment Service (MTBP, our acronym) from the press release and an article.
  • Suppliers sign up on MTBP.
  • They are then listed in a directory of MTBP suppliers.
  • Buyers on engaging a MTBP supplier can use MTBP for payments.
  • MTBP uses electronic payments (bank transfers, credit card etc).
  • MTBP aids payment reconciliation (vs standard bank transfers).
  • Payment can be real-time (prompt payment  vs 30-120 day terms).

Ecosystem Partners
  • Adflex - B2B payments that uses credit cards
  • Avid - Automate accounts payable, payments & reconciliation
  • Boost - Accept card payments from local and foreign buyers
  • CSI - Virtual credit card with reconciliation and APIs.
  • Fiserv - Accept multiple payment channels including cheques
  • GlobalPayments - Payments software
  • HighRadius - Accounts receivable and treasury management
  • Tesorio - Accounts receivable, collection and cash forecasting
  • Veem - Send and receive payments, financing with AR
  • Velo - Payment platform for the gig economy
  • VersaPay - Deliver invoices and statements via multi-channels
  • YayPay - Reduce DSO (number of days it takes to get paid)

  • How would reconciliation work? It is hinted that this might at least consist of a business identification system (no more paying to wrong or scam suppliers) and invoice numbers hard-coded into payments.
  • Potentially it could later incorporate more of the B2B procurement and payment stack: quotation, purchase order, delivery order, invoice, payment, receipt, in collaboration with ecosystem partners.
  • Visa has proposed Visa B2B Connect but this is focused on cross-border payments only.
  • MTBP is currently being rolled out in the US, with other regions and cross-border payments in 2021.
  • It is interesting to note MTBP starts from the supplier, the payee, rather than the buyer, the payer. Why this is so is left as an exercise for readers.

Lagu Raya

End of Ramadan is next weekend. Our first Lagu Raya ('festive music') pick is Shahida Supian's romantic rendition of Aisyah Isteri Rasulullah ('Aisyah, wife of Prophet Muhammad'). The second video, by Yusuf Subhan, is of the same song but with the lyrics updated to be inspirational. Wishing Muslim readers Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

SOSV FoodTech

A glance at the portfolio of SOSV, a global accelerator, hints at a predominance of foodtech and agritech companies. Not a bad strategy, these may one day be like PPE - when you need it, you really need it. Sample:
  • Geltor - Gelatin, without the animal
  • NotCo - Foods from a database of thousands of plants
  • TrueMade - Veggies in a bottle
  • Grobo - Award winning home gardening in-a-box
  • PrimeRoots - Fungi protein (note: truffle is a fungus)
  • Eatiamo - Italian home cooking
  • ClaraFoods - Replacement for industrial use of eggs

XR = AR + VR

Locked down? VR/AR Global Summit does not miss a beat and powers right on to host a virtual 2020 edition, happening Jun 1-3. With the aim of connecting virtual reality and augmented reality solution providers with enterprise and media entertainment companies. Running on a next generation online platform, the event will feature virtual talks, booths, networking, speed dating and social events. Sample topics:

  • Virtual Conferences: End of Distance, Future of Work - Forbes
  • The Virtualisation of Transportation - Gabe Paez, The Wild
  • Worst Time (for The World) is The Best Time for XR - Outpost
  • How AR Has Attracted New Audiences - Ray Soto, USA Today
  • The Future of Real Estate - Navjeet Chhina, Genius Ventures
  • Award Winning XR Comedy - Eve Weston, BizNest
  • Tourism in Pandemic Times - Jeff Rayner, MXTreality
  • The Rise of The Digital Human - Janosch Amstutz, HoloME
  • The New Norm of Travel, Tourism and Culture - Periscape image
  • Technology as a Character - Tupac Martir, Satore Studio

Light Vehicles

In a post bug world, European countries are doubling down on green. For example, UK sees a rise in walking and cycling as part of social distancing and announced yesterday an allocation of £2 billion to expand the infra for them. This could be a boost for light (electric) vehicles and its effervescent ecosystem. A sample: ICE=internal combustion engine, translatable to EV

Ethereal Virtual Summit

Ethereal Virtual Summit started yesterday (runs over 2 days) but good thing about a virtual event is if you missed a day or the event, you can still watch the recordings (jump to 1:03:30 to skip the intros) if they are made available. We generally don't cover cryptos anymore, this summit is presented as an example of a fledgling virtual conference. Notable features are a clear agenda and the use of plenaries (YouTube) and round tables (Zoom). Sample topics:
  • Money Market on Steroids - Stani Kulechov, AAVE
  • Consortia As A Service - Janine Moir. Deloitte
  • Prize-Linked Savings - Leighton Cusack, PoolTogether
  • Ticketing with NFTs - Nate Geier, Mintbase
  • Spendless Giving - Victor Rortvedt, rTrees
  • Art as Currency - Jason Baile, Artnome
  • Ethereum Enterprise - Yorke Rhodes, Microsoft
  • From Pay Day to Money Streaming - Sablier
  • Societal Impact of Technology - Ron Bodkin, Google

Pick of Events (W2-May-2020)
SG: Droid 11, Future Cities, TikTok v Zoom; HK: Beethoven 250th; MY: Neobanks

A Song For You

Teenybopper (almost) Alyssa Dezek has just reached the top ten MY YouTube rankings coming in at 9th [as at May 7th, 2020], with only commercial and cartoon channels (and Alieff Irfan) ahead of her. Her present standout video Lagu Untuk Kamu ('a song for you', shown above) has gathered 32M views. A shout-out to Alyssa and her production team.

Shields Up

At The Flanks
  • Imagine being under attack by a bug army. The medical corps is sent to meet the assault. The bug then sent regiments to attack the flanks. As a result, the industrial corps is being called up to shore up up the sides. If the flanks are overrun, so will the front.
  • This is perhaps why the lockdown was suddenly lifted: the sentries got wind of an imminent attack at the flanks (businesses can't hold out much longer, critical need to restock the supply chain etc).
  • Maximise well being at work by masking up and shielding up.

  • Austria saw a 90% drop in bug cases after requiring the wearing of masks. In contrast, local health authorities here have only issued an advisory to wear masks, possibly because the supply chain can't meet a mandatory order to universally don masks.
  • Nevertheless, field observations (by us) show many in the city are already wearing masks. The 5% or less that don't look like they haven't 'got the memo', rather than being wilfully defiant.
  • The authorities may yet make it mandatory, until then businesses could consider mask up as a door policy (precedent: concerts and clubs won't allow in the casually dressed). To avoid stopping irate customers at the door, put up big, highly visible signs stating very clearly 'no mask, no entry', or 'no service'.
  • Wearing masks could be a 'new normal' like putting on clothes to go out. You are expected to be clothed, and if you are not, you could end up in a social sin bin or the slammer.
  • A signage company is now selling shields (post image). An example of pivoting and meeting new market demand.

Apps (android rating, downloads, permissions)

  • The apps from AU, HK and SG are for reference only.