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Breakfast Briefing: Coinbase, WhatsApp in India & Google’s Ban

Stephen Hawking Dies

The famous British scientist died in his home in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Editor’s Remarks: Hawking died at the age of 76, over 40 years older than doctors said he would live when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease aged just 22. He is best known for his work on relativity and black holes, as well as his best-selling ‘A Brief History of Time’. A book of condolence will be opened at Gonville and Caius College, where Hawking was a Professorial Fellow. Countless intellectuals, politicians and business leaders offered their condolences in the hours following Hawking’s death, including Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak, and NASA.

Read more on World Affairs:

Coinbase Partners with Barclays

The cryptocurrency exchange has formed a relationship with Barclays in a first for UK banks.

Editor’s Remarks: Coinbase’s latest partnership will make life a lot easier for its UK users, who currently face hefty fees and inconveniently long transaction times when sending money to their accounts. Until now, UK Coinbase users can only withdraw or deposit cash by going through an Estonian bank, as British lenders have shunned the emerging digital currency space. The move coincides with regulators around the world demanding tougher rules in place to protect investors from the currently unregulated cryptocurrency market.

Read more on Cryptocurrencies:

WhatsApp to Disrupt Indian Market

WhatsApp is testing a payment service on its Indian platform, currently used by 200m people.

Editor’s Remarks: The Facebook-owned messaging company has taken the first steps in tapping into the Indian payments market, which Credit Suisse recently estimated could become worth $1trn in just five years time. There are already a slew of companies vying for dominance in this space, including Google, local e-commerce giant Flipkart, and Alibaba-backed Paytm. Indian mobile payments have taken off since India’s demonetisation in 2016, which removed 86% of all paper currency from the economy. WhatsApp Pay has so far garnered stellar reviews and is being compared to China’s hugely popular WeChat payment app.

Read more on Messaging:

Google Bans Crypto Ads

Google is blocking cryptocurrency adverts in a move that mirrors Facebook’s own actions.

Editor’s Remarks: The tech giant announced on Wednesday that it would ban adverts that promoted cryptocurrencies and ICOs in an effort to clamp down on speculative investments. Other products that the company is banning include binary options, which are essentially a zero-sum game. Google’s update came with its annual “bad ads” review, which revealed that last year the company pulled over 3.2bn adverts from the internet, up from 1.6bn in 2016. Despite the massive numbers of banned ads, Google raked in $95.4bn in ad sales last year – 20% higher than in 2016.

Read more on Google:

Walmart Steps Up Deliveries

The retailer is expecting to reach over 40% of US households in its latest expansion.

Editor’s Remarks: As its battle with Amazon intensifies, the US retail behemoth is rolling out its home-delivery service to 100 metropolitan areas over the course of the year. Deliveries will be handled by Uber and other similar services, and will carry a $9.95 fee as well as a $30 minimum purchase. The service is currently available in six cities and is designed to get more shoppers purchasing goods online, where they generally spend significantly more. However, the programme is a tough ask for the company’s inventory management team and investors are concerned over the impact that e-commerce will have on Walmart’s bottom line.

Read more on Amazon:

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