Really interest article. I remember seeing that Rocket Mortgage ad during the Super Bowl last year and thinking that an app for mortgages was a really dangerous idea and reminded me of the housing market financial crisis. As you mentioned, Rocket Mortgage is so easy to use that it only takes several minutes from application-to-approval. Despite the advances in technology that allow the company to access the borrower’s data and verify credit reports & income in a matter of seconds, I still believe that such an important decision of lending to someone for their home should not be done through an app. This recreates a system without even checks. We need to add more human subjective assessment when giving someone a mortgage rather than making it an automated system on an easy to use app.
Great post! It reminded me of an article that I read earlier this year that really captured my attention. http://fortune.com/2016/03/13/cars-parked-95-percent-of-time/ On average, cars are parked 95% of their lifespan. The article’s author mentions how there will be a shift away from car ownership and a shift towards car-sharing opportunities. I really like that BMW is considering this car-sharing program. It seems that there is a lot of green space opportunity here for car companies. It also hedges their bets against a possible decline in car ownership. Something that I would be interested in would be how BMW and other car-sharing companies would track responsibility for certain incidents such as fender-benders.
Having worked at a major credit card company, I really liked your article about M-Pesa. The stat that only 54% of adults in developing countries have access to a bank account reminds me of a stat we often would quote in the credit card industry: 85% of worldwide transactions are still done in cash. However, the advancement of technology that has come with smart phones gives people in developing countries a lot of opportunities without much needed infrastructure. I think it’s incredible that M-Pesa has already captured 25% of Kenya’s GDP within less than 10 years. Something, I would really like to learn more about is how M-Pesa is fighting against security fraud. A found a very interesting article about how a proliferation of email scams occurred after the launch of M-Pesa. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Passcode/2015/0107/As-mobile-banking-soars-in-Africa-swindlers-target-anyone-with-a-cellphone
Great article Fangfang! The subject particularly hit home for me because I’m think of working at Alipay this summer. I completely agree with you that Tencent represents Alipay’s biggest challenger in the Asia mobile payment industry. One partnership that I have been tracking closely is the partnership between WeChant and McDonald’s. McDonald’s represents a really large opportunity for WeChat, as customers can locate stores as well as order delivery. McDonald’s has 6.3 million fans (equivalent to followers) on its WeChat account.  Partnering with well-known company such as McDonald’s gives WeChat the brand exposure for a company not founded as a payments solution. I also believe, as you pointed out, that the massive amounts of payment data that WeChat collects from its retail partners is very valuable and should to monetized.
Having lived downtown during Hurricane Sandy, I lived through the problem you wrote about. And, as you mentioned in your post, not much was done post-Sandy to prevent such flooding in the future. Right after Sandy, there was a lot of talk about putting a more robust seawall in place at Battery Park, but nothing has been built. Putting barriers in place to seal low-lying subway stations seems like a short-term cop-out. To make matters worse, I don’t believe much has been done to protect us from another catastrophic blackout similar to the Sandy blackout. The Con Ed power plant that blew up during Sandy is still right next to the East River. Sandy is not the last super-storm that New York City will have to endure, and sadly, I do not think that New York is any more prepared than it was 4 years ago.
As someone who also wrote about Starbucks, I really like how you incorporated the “Where the World’s Coffee Comes From” graphic as I found it hard to suggest where else Starbucks should source their coffee beans. I too suggested that Starbucks move away from coffee bean farmers located in South America by the equator. Hedging against South American supply shocks such as disease outbreak by adding Ethiopia and Kenya suppliers would be a really wise move on Starbucks’ part. However, after reading VCG’s response, I really like the idea of Starbucks developing Robusta bean sources. Robusta beans are more heat and pest resistant. They also come from different parts of the world and are not centrally located in South America. It would also be an interesting for Starbucks to research the affects either generically altering or micro-treating coffee beans to make them more resistant to heat and pests.