Financial Products

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Financial Products - Part 1

Apple's financial products include Apple Pay and Apple Credit Card, while Uber offers more financial products and services, including Uber Visa Credit Card and Uber Cash. Microsoft, on the other hand, does not offer any financial products; it does, however, cater to the financial services industry in several ways. It has also invested in fintech startups.

APPLE

Apple Pay

  • Apple launched Apple Pay in September 2014 in the US. It describes this product as a new "category of service that will transform mobile payments with an easy, secure and private way to pay."
  • It works in most iPhones, particularly the iPhone 6 to the latest iPhones. iPhone users use it to pay for goods and services in retail stores through its NFC chip - built into iPhones.
  • Currently, Apple Pay works for iPhone users in at least 40 countries. It supports credit and debit cards from payment networks like Visa, American Express, and MasterCard.

Apple Credit Card

  • In August 2019, Apple launched its credit card, called Apple Card. The Apple Card operates through the Wallet app in iPhones.
  • It allows customers to pay for goods and services with no fees, less interest, and a new level of privacy.
  • The card also offers an enticing rewards program called Daily Cash. Through Daily Cash, customers get back 3% on purchases made at Apple stores, the official website, the mobile app store, iTunes store, and Apple services in general.
  • Each time customers use Apple Card with Apple Pay, they got 2% Daily Cash. For all purchases made with Apple Card, customers get 1% Daily Cash.

MICROSOFT

  • While Microsoft does not offer any fintech products or financial products, it caters to the financial services industry in several ways. The company has fintech initiatives.
  • Through its investment arm, M12, Microsoft has invested in several fintech and financial companies. Over 3% of the company's investments - via M12 - are fintech companies. Some include Suade, Invest & Co, idos, BitPay, and Sumscope.
  • In 2014, the company collaborated with FS-ISAC as an effort to combat cybercrime in the financial industry.
  • In December 2018, Microsoft partnered with ZestFinance, a fintech startup, to enable better transparency to AI-powered models. The partnership was done to "integrate ZestFinance’s artificial intelligence tools with Microsoft products like its Azure cloud computing service."
  • Microsoft offers AI and data services to the financial industry. Companies in the financial industry mainly use its Azure and Dynamics 365 products.

Uber

Partnership with GoBank

  • Uber first ventured into the financial industry in 2016. At the time, it struck a partnership with GoBank so it could offer debit cards and business checking accounts, thus allowing drivers to be paid right away, rather than weekly.
  • The service, which was launched with an account fee of $8.95 monthly, works like a standard business checking account. Not only does it collect instant payments, users (Uber drivers) can pay bills, transfer money, and deposit funds from other accounts.
  • The account allows users to order checks and add "cash to their account for free by stopping into any Walmart that has a GoBank location or by paying a small fee at any participating 7-11, Rite Aid, CVS or Walgreens."
  • It was rolled out in March 2016 as Uber Debit Card. Uber announced in October 2019 that the monthly fee for this service would no longer apply for drivers in the US and a few other countries.

Uber Visa Credit Card

  • In November 2017, Uber launched a credit card called the Uber Visa Credit Card.
  • The co-branded credit card was issued by Barclays and has no annual fees or international transaction fees.
  • By using the card, consumers can earn up to 5% rewards on select purchases.
  • For any Uber service, users could earn 5% back. For hotels, dining, and airfare, they could earn 3%. For all other purchases, they could earn 1% back.
  • For users with this card, Uber promises exclusive invitations to local events, and mobile phone insurance.

Uber Cash

  • In September 2018, Uber launched Uber Cash to offer a closed-loop payment system that allows customers to add funds to the stored value account easily. It works via gift or payment cards. Consumers load value "into their Uber accounts and get rewards [or points] for doing so."
  • Uber Cash would then be used to pay for anything on the Uber ecosystem, including food delivery via its Uber Eats network, bike sharing through its JUMP Bikes platform, and standard rides on Uber in general.
  • It was set up as the home for Uber's Visa Local Offers credits, its gift cards, card rewards, and loyalty redemption. As described by PYMNTS, it is the "Starbucks experience gone Uber."

The Launch of Uber Wallet & Uber Money

  • In October 2019, Uber created a new business division for its financial services products called Uber Money.
  • It announced that this unit would be for its current and future suite of financial products - including its branded payment cards and Uber Cash.
  • On the same day, Uber announced the launch of its digital wallet called Uber Wallet.
  • Uber Wallets is expected to launch on the Uber driver app before the end of November 2019, after which, it would be integrated into the Uber Eats app in 2020.
  • Uber Wallet allows people to view their earnings and spending history, save & manage money, and view every Uber financial product.

Research Strategy

In order to identify the most recent financial products and services from Apple, Microsoft, and Uber, we relied on their website. We leveraged the "news and press releases" section to find announcements of new financial-related products or services within the past five years. For Uber and Apple, this was a successful strategy. Microsoft made no mention of any new financial/fintech product it has launched. It only mentioned its partnership with fintech companies.

As an attempt to find Microsoft's recent financial products and services, we thoroughly reviewed the company's annual reports within the past five years. There, it offered some insights on its fintech initiatives, but no product announcement was made. As a last resort, we turned to credible publications, including Tech Crunch and Business Insider. These platforms only mentioned that Microsoft serves companies in the financial industry. Since they made no mention of financial products/services by the company, we concluded that it does not have any.
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Financial Products - Part 2

Alibaba and WeChat are Chinese companies that have little to no operations in the US. Facebook, on the other hand, has released just one financial product in the US, Facebook Pay. The company has another product lined up in 2020.

Alibaba

Alipay

  • Ant Financial was established in 2014 as the financial services arm of Alibaba. Ant Financial focuses on financial services big data, facial recognition, risk management, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence.
  • Alibaba introduced Alipay - a mobile payment app - over a decade ago in China. Through its investment arm, Ant Financial, Alibaba introduced an international version of this app in October 2019.
  • The service allows international visitors to make online payments and QR code payments at retail stores, restaurants, and online stores.
  • Previously, only people with a Chinese bank account could use Alipay's services. Now, it can be used by people from the US and over 100 countries visiting China.

Other Financial Products By Alibaba

  • Alibaba's financial products are mainly for its Chinese customers. Other than Alipay, the company does not offer financial products in the US or to Americans.
  • Some of its financial products offered to Chinese users include Ant Fortune - a wealth management app that users can use to round up transactions and save pennies from these transactions over time. It was launched in August 2015.
  • Rolled out in 2015, Zhima Credit is a private credit scoring platform for people in China. In June 2015, the company launched MYBank, a "private online bank with a mission to serve small and micro enterprises."
  • In November 2019, Ant Financial launched a Distributed Core Banking Platform (DCBP). Built on the Business Platform as a Service product, the solution allows financial institutions to several Ant Financial's expertise in asset management, full-link pressure texts, and product management, among others.
  • The above products were launched through Alibaba's financial services arm, Ant Financial. These products are also for Chinese residents alone.

Wechat

Wechat Pay

  • WeChat Pay was launched in 2013 as a mobile wallet found in the WeChat app. It allows users to make payments via "Quick Pay, QR Code, In-App Web-Based, or Native In-App Payments."
  • In October 2018, WeChat expanded WeChat Pay to the US. Chinese tourists visiting the US would be able to easily shop at participating retailers in the country.

Other Financial Products

  • WeChat is based in China. As a result, its products are offered to Chinese citizens alone.
  • In September 2019, the company announced that it was incubating a new product known as Fen Fu. This product allows WeChat users to make payments in installments.
  • Fen Fu targets underserved Chinese market segments, including people who cannot get a credit card from a bank.

Facebook

Libra

  • In June 2019, Facebook announced a new cryptocurrency project, called Libra. It is a global blockchain-powered currency.
  • Libra will allow people to buy products and send money to others with practically no fees. Users can "pseudonymously buy or cash out Libra online or at local exchange points like grocery stores, and spend it using interoperable third-party wallet apps."
  • It is expected to be launched in 2020.

Calibra

  • Facebook announced in June 2019 that it formed a subsidiary with a mission to offer financial services that will allow people access the Libra network.
  • According to the company, a digital wallet for Libra will be the first product Calibra will roll out.
  • Calibra, which will launch in 2020, will allow users to send Libra to anyone with a smartphone, at no additional cost.

Facebook Pay

  • In 2015, Facebook unveiled a payment service that allowed Facebook users to split bills or settle debts with friends on the platform. The feature was integrated into the Facebook Messenger app. It allowed users to connect their Visa or MasterCard and then send money to friends at the tap of a button. The feature required no fees.
  • By September 2019, Facebook expanded the payment feature and named it Facebook Pay. The rebranded service allows users to send and receive money on Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.
  • Similar to Venmo and Apple Pay, Facebook Pay also allows users to transfer money from their credit cards on bank accounts. It has no fees and is accepted on the Facebook Marketplace.

Research Strategy

To identify the most recent financial products and services from Alibaba, Wechat, and Facebook, we relied on their official websites. We leveraged the "news and press releases" section to find announcements of new financial-related products or services within the past five years. Through this, we found that Alibaba and Wechat are based in China and do not primarily operate in the US.
As an attempt to find any recent US-based financial products and services offered by Alibaba and WeChat, we thoroughly reviewed each company's annual reports within the past five years. There, they offered some insights on their fin tech initiatives in the US, but no product announcement was made. As a last resort, we turned to credible publications, including Tech Crunch and Business Insider. These platforms only mentioned partnerships Alibaba and WeChat have with US-based companies. As a result, we have provided a list of financial products both companies have launched in China.
Part
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Part
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Financial Products - Part 3

Banks are gearing up against the invasion of big tech companies in finance by launching their own digital banks, acquiring fintech startups, partnering with big tech companies, and diversifying into ecosystems beyond their core business.

Launching their own digital banks

Acquisitions

Partnerships

Diversification

  • Recognizing the fact that their core businesses of payments and lending are under pressure from digital competitors, some banks are leveraging new technologies and getting into new markets. They are playing a broader role in their customers' lives by getting into ecosystems beyond their core business, including banking adjacencies such as tax management, legal certification, budgeting and loyalty discounts; and non banking adjacencies such as health services, voice and data services, and business-process outsourcing.
  • CenterState Bank, for example, offers a health savings account to help its customers pay for medical expenses. They also offer account, lending and treasury management solutions for healthcare professionals and their businesses.
  • U.S. Bank offers voice banking services for online and mobile banking, and supports voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple iOS devices. Customers can use voice banking to ask for their account balance, billing due dates or recent transaction history; and to pay their credit card accounts.

Sources
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