Apple Pay Used on 16% of Active iPhones Worldwide, Widespread Adoption Still Expected in 3-5 Years

This morning, Loup Ventures shared new information on Apple Pay adoption, estimating that there were 127 million global Apple Pay users by the end of 2017, a jump from 62 million the previous year. Given that there are about 795 million active iPhones around the world, this means that about 16 percent of iPhone owners have activated Apple Pay.

Of that 16 percent base, five percent are located in the United States and 11 percent are international users. Loup Ventures broke these numbers down further, pointing out that around 38 million people use Apple Pay in the U.S., and 89 million use Apple’s mobile wallet globally.

The Apple Pay review also has a few other tidbits of research, including that the number of banks globally supporting Apple Pay have increased in the past year by 41 percent, to total 2,707 banks. Loup Ventures checked the top 100 retailers in the U.S. for Apple Pay compatibility as well, and found consistent growth of adoption across many online resources. In the last year, Apple Pay adoption in these retailers’ apps grew 9 percent, mobile sites grew 85 percent, and desktop sites grew 56 percent.

We completed our annual Apple Pay review and found year over year growth has been impressive with active users more than doubling (source: Apple), transactions more than tripling (source: Apple) and online merchant adoption increasing by ~50% (source: Loup Ventures). That said, we believe only 16% of global iPhone users have turned on Apple Pay. We remain optimistic that Apple Pay will gain widespread adoption over the next 3-5 years given integration OS and iOS makes it the easiest to use digital wallet.

Apple first debuted Apple Pay in the fall of 2014, and although many retailers joined in support of the platform it has faced push back from companies like Target and Walmart as each try to develop their own digital wallet service. Last spring, Apple said it wasn’t worried about the slow adoption of Apple Pay because it saw the mobile wallet as on track to soon become its customers’ “primary payment system.”

In an interview around the same time, Eddy Cue said, “Does it matter if we get there in two years, three years [or] five years? Ultimately, no.” Although Apple executives have remained in vocal support of Apple Pay, at the time of the launch consumer reticence to support Apple Pay was said to have permeated within the company, to the point where some executives “were reluctant to promote it.” Recent ads for iPhone have been heavily focused on the iPhone X’s new features, and the latest Apple Pay-focused commercials date back to 2015.

Despite the slow adoption, Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster said he and the researchers “remain optimistic” that over the next three to five years, Apple Pay will see ongoing, gradual growth and eventually “gain widespread adoption.” Although the report doesn’t discuss rival mobile wallets specifically, it states that Apple Pay is “the easiest to use digital wallet” because of its deep integration into iOS.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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Coinbase is hiring a CFO — and still fending off interest from investors

Does the CFO hire say anything about an IPO at Coinbase?

Coinbase is moving to hire a chief financial officer in what would be a big move for the cryptocurrency platform’s growth plans.

It is also raising questions about the company’s potential plans to eventually go public. Adding an experienced, high-powered CFO is often read as a move that a business is eyeing an IPO. But that’s perhaps a less-revealing tea leaf at a financial services company like Coinbase, which could use help fine-tuning its massive, complicated business model.

Coinbase has been in late-stage talks with a number of candidates, according to people close to the company, and hiring a permanent CFO is one of its top priorities this year. Veteran CFO Tim Laehy joined the company last October to serve in the role in an interim capacity, according to his LinkedIn profile, but Laehy is not expected to stay in that role.

Other expected hires include vice presidents to handle communications and corporate development. Together, those additions would help the company manage its massive growth, which has been fueled by the surge of interest in cryptocurrencies late last year.

Coinbase declined to comment. CEO Brian Armstrong wrote a detailed post last year about how to hire senior executives, saying that it typically takes him six to 12 months to close on the right person.

The company is also continuing to fend off late-stage investors who have expressed interest in purchasing existing shares from the company, despite a recent warning from Coinbase to knock it off in a statement issued to Recode last month. Shareholders have been approached over the last few months by people interested in investing in the company at a valuation as low as $ 2 billion and as a high as $ 8 billion — a range that shows how volatile, opaque and illiquid the market is for hungry Coinbase investors.

So the company is weighing whether to launch a new financing round that would be mostly intended to allow for some existing investors to cash out as part of a “secondary” transaction, according to people with knowledge of the company’s thinking. The round, if launched, could also have a small “primary” component, in which Coinbase raises more capital, though the company is not wanting for money.

Coinbase doesn’t officially allow secondary trading, so a sanctioned round like this would require the company’s approval. Investors in recent weeks have been negotiating whether to sell shares or buy shares — hopefully with some guidance from the company about what would be a fair share price.

A large secondary transaction would likely weaken the pressure from any existing investors for the company to soon go public so that they can finally profit off their bet. And it would satisfy the swarming investors who want a piece of it.

Coinbase has also been adding independent directors to its board, another move typically done to prepare for an IPO. Facebook’s David Marcus joined the Coinbase board in December.

The company was last valued at $ 1.6 billion in August — a round that occurred largely before cryptocurrency’s bull run late last year. That round was led by IVP, a late-stage firm that specializes in leading one of a portfolio company’s last private financing rounds before the company sells its shares to the public.

Recode – All

Some of the Ozone Layer Is Still Thinning, Thanks to a Surprise Chemical

If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, you probably heard a lot of talk about cholorofluorocarbons, AKA CFCs — chemicals used in aerosol sprays and refrigerants. That’s when we first figured out that CFCs could harm the ozone layer of our atmosphere. Suddenly, overly-hairsprayed styles from the 1980s seemed much less cool.

Then in 1987, nearly 200 nations signed the Montreal Protocol, which banned CFCs. The aim was to limit the widening of a hole in the ozone layer located above Antarctica, and that global effort was implemented during the following decade.

Fast forward nearly 30 years. The Antarctic ozone hole has become manageable. The Montreal Protocol has been a success, helping reduce some 135 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 1989 to 2013. CFCs, it turned out, were actually greenhouse gases too.

But recent evidence from a study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics suggests that ozone levels in our planet’s lower stratosphere have been decreasing, especially in the mid-latitude areas where most people on Earth live. Researchers suspect that so-called “very short-lived substances” (VSLSes) that contain chlorine and bromine are the culprits behind the ozone decrease.

ETH Zurich atmospheric physicist William Bell, who led the study, told Futurism that the Montreal Protocol isn’t to be blamed here. The 1987 deal didn’t include VSLSes among its list of banned chemicals, mostly because these chemicals are supposed to have very short lifespans. Scientists didn’t expect they could subsist long enough to reach the stratosphere.

Apparently, they can. Worst of all, climate change could also be a factor: Bell and his colleagues think that climate change has been sweeping ozone out of the tropics. In mid-latitude areas, the ozone layer is already thinner, and people are more exposed to ultraviolet rays.

Lots of questions remain unanswered. What’s keeping the ozone levels thin in these tropical areas, and not in higher altitude zones? If VSLSes are to blame, how are they ending up in the stratosphere? And finally, what’s the best way to address these issues? The world may need a new iteration of the Montreal Protocol, one that bans other ozone-depleting chemicals like VSLSes.

The post Some of the Ozone Layer Is Still Thinning, Thanks to a Surprise Chemical appeared first on Futurism.


The WyzeCam gets a smarter sequel that still costs only $20

That the $ 20 WyzeCam worked as well as it did is still kind of a surprise. It's no wonder then that the Amazon alums who created it have been working on a sequel: the WyzeCam v2. It'll still cost $ 20 when it starts shipping at the end of February, bu…
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Experts Confirm U.S. Diplomats Suffered Concussions From a Still Unknown Source

In the fall of 2016, United States diplomats posted in Cuba started to experience hearing loss, vertigo, and brain swelling. According to the Associated Press, which first reported the incident in August 2017, some diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to return stateside early. Most affected diplomats reported hearing strange noises by their homes and hotel rooms; a few days later, the headaches and the hearing loss started. CNN said that several Canadian diplomats also suffered similar symptoms.

The incident baffled the U.S. State Department. After an extensive investigation, officials blamed a covert sonic device that had been deployed nearby the diplomats’ residences. While the Federal Bureau of Investigation ruled out that possibility nearly five months after the accusations, the damage to the U.S. and Cuba’s relationship was done.

The incident caused the then-recently restored diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba to sour. Cuban officials denied any knowledge of such a weapon, and issued a statement that said, “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.” Regardless, the U.S. expelled two Cuban diplomats from their Washington D.C. embassy in retaliation for the supposed attacks.

Now, almost two years after the original incident, a new report by a group of University of Pennsylvania researchers, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), sheds more light on the mystery.

The JAMA study confirms that the diplomats didn’t just experience concussive symptoms — headaches, memory problems, brain swelling — but they had suffered concussions without ever being hit on the head. The JAMA report, which studied 21 of the 24 affected U.S. diplomats, confirmed that they had suffered “injury to widespread brain networks without an associated history of head trauma.”

Concussion Without The Concussion

“Uniformly, everyone who saw these patients was absolutely convinced,” Douglas Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and lead study author, told the New York Times. “said. “This is concussion without blunt head trauma.”

Smith was clear that the study’s results were still preliminary, but his team thought it was important “from a public health standpoint” to get their results out.

While the JAMA report doesn’t clearly dismiss the possibility that a sonic weapon was used, Smith and his colleagues explained that “sound in the audible range (20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz) is not known to cause persistent injury to the central nervous system, and therefore the described sounds may have been associated with another form of exposure.” Other experts have suggested that no sonic weapon is known to cause the health issues the diplomats suffered.

While documenting and substantiating the extent of the U.S. diplomats’ injuries, the JAMA report adds yet another layer of intrigue to the Cuban debacle. We still don’t know what — or who — is the culprit behind these unexplainable concussions.

In an accompanying commentary to the report, Christopher Muth of Rush University Medical Center and Steven Lewis from the Lehigh Valley Health Network, agree that the event is indicative of “a common medical, environmental, or psychological event as the potential cause.” However, the JAMA report did rule out mass psychogenic illness (MPI) — when a group suffers from symptoms that don’t seem to have an organic cause — as the cause of the disturbance. A panel of Cuban scientists had previously suggested stressful conditions had triggered MPI among the diplomats.

Muth and Lewis also said that it’s difficult to say whether some sort of auditory disturbance was the cause of the still unexplained concussions. They stated that although loud sounds can certainly cause injury, the jury is still out on whether high-intensity audible sound, or inaudible low frequency sound (between 1-20 Hertz), can cause long-lasting central nervous system symptoms.

So, what does the JAMA report give us? The findings confirm that the affected U.S. diplomats did in fact suffer concussions without being bonked on the head. But other than that, we don’t know much more than we did six months ago when the incident first came to light.

The extent of the diplomats’ brain trauma is now documented, but researchers still don’t know what actually caused the concussions. It could very well have been some unprecedented, new phenomena, as the JAMA report says, or it a sonic weapon that we can’t conceive of.

At this point, Muth and Lewis said it’s too early to say anything conclusive about what caused the incident. “Before reaching any definitive conclusions, additional evidence must be obtained and rigorously and objectively evaluated,” they wrote.

The post Experts Confirm U.S. Diplomats Suffered Concussions From a Still Unknown Source appeared first on Futurism.