A Fracturing Internet
We dare say that spring is around the corner (while still battling snowfall❄️ here in Toronto). We’re hopeful in the same sense that the situation in Ukraine is stabilizing, though aware we have a long road to the peace we pray for. This week we have further updates on a fracturing internet; Tencent’s Ant moment; package return via DoorDash; Grab adds Live Streaming to its Super App; and a plug for our partner.
We just had our first Expert Circle cohort meeting last Friday! It was full to the brim with insights, laughter, and new friendships. Our cohort one members were present alongside ABD and we tackled the Metaverse’s status as a buzzword; the inflection points surrounding Blockchain; the ramifications of WFH surveillance; and, what is table stakes for managers and talents. We’re excited to share with you key findings and more. Nominations are ongoing for the next circle!
Analytics, Digital, Design In Action
A Fracturing Internet
Paytm Payments Bank, which processes transactions for India’s digital payments giant Paytm, was barred from taking on new customers because it violated rules by allowing data to flow to servers abroad and didn’t properly verify its customers.
Annual inspections by the Reserve Bank of India found that the company’s servers were sharing information with China-based entities that indirectly own a stake in Paytm Payments Bank. Paytm, meanwhile, says all claims are false.
The above echoes the trend underpinning our recent news of India’s crackdown on China-linked apps, China’s crackdown on DiDi for poor data governance, and Russia’s ban on Instagram and other apps. All of these equate to governments and sovereign organizations instituting tighter controls on their jurisdiction’s internet and data activity, a far cry from the internet’s original promise.
While government control over their internet has always been around, with the Great Firewall the prime example, there’s an acceleration of broader internet and data ecosystem controls.
Tencent’s Ant Moment
Financial regulators recently found that WeChat Pay had broken China's anti-money-laundering rules and had lapses in compliance with KYC and KYB regulations. The mobile payments network was also found to have permitted the transfer and laundering of funds with illicit transactions such as gambling. The fines could reach at least several hundred million Yuan, equating to roughly 10% of Tencent’s market capitalization.
The crackdown’s in-line with the PBOC’s fresh mandate against laundering. While part of the PBOC’s process, industry experts fear this might be Tencent’s Ant moment, wherein Ant Financial and Alibaba faced a range of fines and crackdowns. Broadly speaking, President Xi Jinping's administration has been wary of what it deems a "disorderly expansion of capital”. Under recently established regulations, Tencent is required to restructure its fintech business under a financial holdings company much like Jack Ma's Ant Group.
WeChat has drawn scrutiny from regulators for building an enclosed Internet ecosystem that spans everything from e-commerce to short videos and online payments. Last year, the country's technology overseer warned Internet firms to stop blocking rival services, prompting WeChat to start allowing external links to apps run by the likes of Alibaba and ByteDance.
Your Package is Ready for Return
DoorDash confirmed it’s testing a new feature called “Return a Package” that allows customers to use the service to return packages to the nearest post office, UPS or FedEx location. The feature is part of a small beta test and is not yet widely available, DoorDash said, and declined to share where it’s available.
DoorDash says it wants to help customers avoid taking a package to a post office in order to fulfill a return. The company notes that although returns are common, they can be time-consuming, which is why it wanted to create a way to simplify the return process by leveraging its current local logistics infrastructure.
There’s also a big revenue opportunity for DoorDash, as returns have soared. UPS said last year that it expected to receive more than 60 million returns during the holidays, a 10% increase from the year before. If the service is successful, it could be an additional service for retailers on the DoorDash app.
DoorDash isn’t the only delivery company that has worked to offer such a service. Back in 2015, Uber offered a “limited-time” option for customers to send return packages to post offices. The feature was called “Returns” and was powered by UberRush, which shut down in 2018.
Grab Extends its Reach
Regional super app Grab is piloting a live shopping feature with Singapore-based BeLive Technology, a livestreaming solutions provider.
Called Grab Live Beta, the pilot will enable merchants on Grab’s platform to engage with their customers in real time. Currently available in Thailand and Vietnam, the service includes a chat function and a virtual gifting feature that lets consumers support content creators and influencers.
Grab Live Beta comes as complementing customer experiences with live video grows in popularity globally. A recent Shopify report found that 46% of would-be buyers want to watch product videos before purchasing and that 81% of companies are planning to increase or maintain investment in livestream commerce to drive sales over the next 12 months.
It’s nice to see our earlier work validated as several US-based companies are also leaning-in on the live streaming opportunity. Further, while we think all the power are within the streaming platforms, embedded services like Believe, which empower non social platforms’ creators, the dynamics could be changed
A Word for Our Partner
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