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Global Affairs

Breakfast Briefing: Elon’s Flamethrowers & Ethereum in Africa

 4 min read / 

Musk’s Flamethrowers Hit eBay

The $500 flamethrowers were shipped on Saturday and are already reselling on eBay for thousands.

Editor’s Remarks: Musk recently announced via Twitter that he is calling the flamethrowers, which spout a two-foot flame, “Not a Flamethrower” in order to comply with Californian legislation. The flamethrowers, in fact, operate more like propane blowtorches and emit gas rather than spewing flammable liquid. They were released in February to help fund his tunnelling company, The Boring Company, and sold out in just four days. On Saturday, Musk hosted a pick-up party in LA where the first 1000 flamethrowers were handed to buyers; just hours later, they were being flogged on eBay for up to $20,000.

Read more on Elon Musk:

HSBC to Spend $17bn by 2020

HSBC intends to upgrade its technology and expand into strategic Asian markets. 

Editor’s Remarks: CEO John Flint announced that the $17bn investment package will go hand in hand with a new plan to generate an 11% return on tangible equity by 2020. The bank has been restructuring for the past several years but is now shifting gears and entering a growth phase that will focus on capturing Asian markets. Under its previous CEO, Stuart Gulliver, HSBC wound up 100 businesses and retreated altogether from 21 countries. Looking ahead, HSBC is hoping to capitalise on the growth of Chinese asset management and insurance services, according to bank insiders.

Read more on Banking:

Wala’s African Micropayments

The South African startup is using the Ethereum network to help Africans make micropayments.

Editor’s Remarks: Wala CEO Tricia Martinez is bullish on Ethereum’s potential to transform African financial services. Her company raised $1.2m in ICO funding back in April and is now enabling around 6,300 daily transactions – the majority of which are micropayments – across Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Previously, Wala had used existing payment infrastructure to power its digital banking app, which led to high fees for sending even the tiniest of sums. Ethereum’s blockchain network provided a solution because it cuts out the need for a middleman – a bank – and charges tiny fees.

Read more on Africa:

UK Voters Back the Tories

According to the latest polls, the British working class overwhelmingly backs the Conservatives.

Editor’s Remarks: Labour’s traditional white working class support base is reportedly backing Theresa May’s Conservative government, putting the Tories at 44% with Labour at just 37%; back in January, Labour had an 11% lead. Despite being from the more traditional, hard-left faction of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn is backed most heavily by Momentum, a student-run organisation that is largely comprised of pro-EU metropolitan liberals – a far cry from the inhabitants of former mining towns who overwhelmingly backed Brexit.

Read more on Politics:

Xiaomi Sales jump 88% in Q1

Despite reports of slowing smartphone growth, Xiaomi had no trouble bucking the trend.

Editor’s Remarks: The Chinese tech company will be especially pleased with the result as it is currently preparing for its hotly-anticipated IPO later this year. Xiaomi did not release figures for how many units it sold, but third-party research firms reckon that shipments more than doubled in Q1 compared to the same period last year. Despite the boost in sales, the company still made a net loss in the first quarter and has a long way before it can rival Apple and Samsung. Xiaomi is also looking to diversify through software, which currently generates roughly 30% of its revenue.

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Photo: The Boring Company (

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