Press-Republican

FYI...

April 19, 2014

Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

According to the Financial Times, Facebook is close to receiving authorization from Ireland's central bank to become an "electronic money institution." The status would allow it to process transfers and payments throughout Europe, where the market for non-bank financial services appears to be heating up with big new entrants such as Vodafone. The customers Facebook is targeting, though, might be as much in developing nations as in Europe.

The developed world, and Europe in particular, is far from the best place to break into banking. Most people are already perfectly capable of sending money to each other in various ways. According to the World Bank, the share of adults with bank accounts ranges from 98 percent in Germany to 45 percent in Romania, and financial inclusion rates in Europe will inevitably converge. Google has had an e-money license in Britain for almost three years, but its Google Wallet service appears to be bringing in little revenue. Full functionality, including personal transfers, is available only in the U.S., where 88 percent of people have bank accounts.

Facebook, however, may be taking aim at a different demographic: Migrants who work in the developed world and send money home to the developing world. This is an area ripe for disruption. The companies, some bank-affiliated and some independent, that now dominate the market tend to charge a lot for their services and mostly aren't much fun to use. Last year, they channeled a total of $404 billion in remittances, a number that the World Bank predicts will expand to $436 billion. The most expensive "corridor" runs from South Africa to Zambia: It costs $21 to send $200, according to the World Bank. The biggest recipient country is India, whose residents received $71 billion last year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • 20110929_bowling.jpg Why fewer people go bowling

    Like other industries facing tough economic times, America's bowling centers are trying to reinvent themselves.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 28, 2014

  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 27, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 26, 2014

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 25, 2014

  • An alternative diagnosis to ADHD: Schoolchildren need more time to move

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that in recent years, there has been a jump in the percentage of young people diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD: 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 to 11 percent in 2011.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 23, 2014

  • Why it's basically impossible to delete those naked selfies you text

    If you're selling an old Android smartphone on an online auction site, you could be giving away rather more than you intend to, according to a recent investigation by anti-malware company Avast.

    July 21, 2014

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 18, 2014