Tag Archives: Mobile Trends

An Alibaba-backed fintech company founded by a 34-year-old just had an amazing IPO

unnamed 40

  • Qudian, an online small credit provider, went public on the New York Stock Exchange. 
  • The company, which was founded by 34-year-old Min Luo, is going after a market it says China’s biggest banks can’t serve.

Qudian, an online small credit provider, popped more than 43% after going public on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday morning, opening at $24 per share.

The China-based company, which was founded by 34-year-old Min Luo, targets China’s younger and underserved markets with small loans via its mobile app. 

The stock jumped to a high of $34 per share Wednesday morning before falling back to $30 at the time of publication. 

Qudian, according to its prospectus, offered 37.5 million shares. Reuters reported the company raised $900 million from the IPO, making it one of the largest initial public offerings of a Chinese company in the US this year. 

The company counts Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce and technology company also listed on NYSE, as a backer. 

Carl Yeung, the company’s chief financial officer, told Business Insider the firm is going after a market the country’s traditional banks can’t serve. Yeung said reaching the hundred of millions of modest-income Chinese is too expensive for larger financial-services players. Qudian is using nascent technology to capture that market.

“We are looking to use behavioral data, more and more data, to discover business opportunities,” Yeung said.”We are tracking the cutting edge data with artificial intelligence to see who has a high willingness to repay.”

With such technology, the company is able to offer folks higher credit limits and earn a larger margin. 

Qudian, according to a press release, “facilitated $5.6 billion in transactions” to 7 million customers in the first half of the year. 

Chinese fintech is red-hot

Qudian’s strong IPO illustrates the red-hot market for fintech in China. Some of the world’s largest privately owned financial technology companies are based in China, including Lu.com, a Shanghai-based personal finance company, valued at $18.5 billion, according to CB Insights

A recent study by the consultancy EY found that one in three digital consumers use two or more fintech products. This level, according to EY, indicates that fintech has crossed the threshold of early mass adoption. The firm said adoption is being driven by emerging markets, such as China.

“FinTech adoption by digitally active consumers in Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa average 46%, considerably higher than the global average,” the report said. “From an individual market perspective, China and India have the highest adoption rates at 69% and 52% respectively.”

The firm said emerging markets are more open to fintech disruption because of the large populations of people who are underserved by existing financial infrastructures. Here’s EY:

“Our five emerging markets are characterized by having growing economies and a rapidly expanding middle class, but without traditional financial infrastructure to support demand. Relatively high proportions of the populations are underserved by existing financial services providers, while falling prices for smartphones and broadband services have increased the digitally active population that FinTechs target.”

Yeung said that this environment will open the door to many multi-billion dollar financial technology companies in China. He hopes Qudian will be among them. 

SEE ALSO: Wall Street banks have realized they can’t do it all themselves

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Legendary economist Gary Shilling explains how you can beat the market

Microsoft Office 2010
Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home1/mylifeco/public_html/pricecutterstore.com/admin/models/api/amazon.class.php on line 88

Fatal error: Call to a member function xpath() on a non-object in /home1/mylifeco/public_html/pricecutterstore.com/admin/models/api/affiliate_window.class.php on line 129

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Truffle now lets you share your food tips via iMessage

 While you’ve already got Yelp and other apps to help you figure out where to eat, Truffle is designed specifically for sharing recommendations with friends and other people you know. A new update should make that sharing even easier. The big addition is an iMessage app, which means (you guessed it) that Truffle is now integrated with iMessage. Read More
Microsoft Office 2010
Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home1/mylifeco/public_html/pricecutterstore.com/admin/models/api/amazon.class.php on line 88

Fatal error: Call to a member function xpath() on a non-object in /home1/mylifeco/public_html/pricecutterstore.com/admin/models/api/affiliate_window.class.php on line 129

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Blue Apron is laying off hundreds of employees

 As Blue Apron approaches its next earnings report in a couple of weeks, the company said Wednesday that it is laying off 6 percent of its staff as part of “a company-wide realignment of personnel to support its strategic priorities.” Blue Apron was one of the big — and most anticipated — consumer IPOs of the year, but it’s also now one of the companies that… Read More

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Snapchat is selling an $80 dancing hot dog costume on Amazon (SNAP)

Screen Shot 2017 10 18 at 5.35.56 PM

  • Snapchat has started selling an $80 dancing hot dog costume ahead of Halloween.
  • The costume is a nod to one of the app’s most popular AR filters.

Snapchat parent Snap Inc. is officially in the costume business.

On Wednesday the company started selling an $80 dancing hot dog costume on Amazon.

The costume is based on Snapchat’s new celebrity character: the app’s dancing hot dog filter that quickly became an internet meme sensation over the summer. CEO Evan Spiegel called the filter the “world’s first augmented reality superstar” during Snap’s last earnings call and said that it had been viewed 1.5 billion times.

The physical costume is made of polyester and comes as an “easy 2 piece fit” with a “Hot Dog Tunic” and pants, according to the product description. Snap is only selling the costume in one size designed for people under 6’4″.

Despite it being the costume’s first day available for sale, several enthusiastic users reviews have already been posted on Amazon:

Screen Shot 2017 10 18 at 5.38.01 PM

This isn’t the first time Snap has made physical goods beyond its Spectacles camera glasses. The company has also sold themed beach towels, ice cube trays, backpacks, and playing cards.

SEE ALSO: BTIG Research apologizes for overestimating Snap

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: RICH GREENFIELD: There is just one way for Snapchat to survive Facebook

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

One chart shows how careless young Americans are with online passwords

Cybersecurity has become a buzzword as big companies like Yahoo and Equifax fall victim to massive data breaches. Despite all the high-profile incidents, many people have a “it won’t happen to me” attitude about regularly changing their passwords and taking the necessary steps to protect themselves. Changing up passwords is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself online, but a recent YouGov survey found that 28% of adults use the same passwords for most of their online accounts.

As we can see in this chart from Statista, young people 18-34-years-old are particularly careless with passwords. This is a surprising statistic considering that the younger generation has spent a huge part of their lives online and should be well aware of the rules of the road by now. 


SEE ALSO: Netflix’s foray into merchandising could be a multi-billion dollar business

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This ‘crazy, irrational decision’ Apple made 20 years ago turned out to be the key to its outrageous success over Samsung

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

This executive left a great job at PayPal to run a gift card startup she thinks could help end poverty

raise iOS in hand 05

  • PayPal executive Kathleen Pierce-Gilmore left the company in October to join Raise, a gift card marketplace startup, as chief operating officer and president. 
  • Pierce-Gilmore, who grew up poor, thinks Raise can disrupt the credit industry in ways that PayPal and traditional finance companies can’t.
  • The COO and president was one of three executives hired around the time that Raise got $60 million in funding — including an investment from PayPal.

Gift cards may not be the most obvious place to disrupt the banking industry, but Kathleen Pierce-Gilmore doesn’t see it that way.

After two years as the vice president and general manager of PayPal’s US credit division, and over a decade spent between American Express and Capital One, Pierce-Gilmore decided to leave corporate America to join Raise, a Chicago-based startup that runs an online gift card marketplace.

And it’s all because she thinks Raise can have a serious impact on how low-income families manage their finances.

Katheen_Pierce_Gilmore_Headshot“I grew up incredibly poor and below the poverty line. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but it created a very strong condition in me of financial discipline,” Pierce-Gilmore told Business Insider. “I started to have this growing need to help others have that same sense of financial security.”

Pierce-Gilmore, who has spent most of her career in credit divisions across the financial industry, thinks prepaid cards could be a key step in helping low-income consumers escape heavy credit debts – the type of which she saw often when working at as a vice president at Capital One. 

“Capital One serves some of the most vulnerable people in America. I learned during my time there that a lot of people that worked there didn’t have a deep appreciation of how their products impacted their customer’s  lives,” Pierce-Gilmore said. 

“The opportunity I saw at Raise was a bit more pure. There’s no credit aspect, it’s prepaid. There isn’t the kind of bad out come possible, where someone can get in over their head,” she said. I believe technology is the better way to deliver financial services to more people and more fairly.”

“We’re not hurting anyone, only helping” 

Raise was founded in 2013 by CEO George Bousis, who launched the company as a place where individuals could sell gift cards they no longer wanted in exchange for cash.

It’s since expanded to include discounted gift cards directly from retailers like Macy’s and Fandango, which sell the gift cards for less than their cash value. Dunkin’ Donuts, for example sells $50 gift cards for $40.50 — a 19% discount. Others, like Amazon, only discount their cards by 1.1%.

Raise makes a transaction fee on each purchase, and the retailers benefit because they don’t have to pay credit card fees on purchases made with their gift cards. Raise is also working on various data and marketing products aimed at these retail partners. 

Customers also benefit from the often deep discounts, and convenient budget management that comes with pre-paid cards.

“We’re in a unique position,” Pierce-Gilmore said. “We’re not hurting anyone, only helping.” 

Pierce-Gilmore joined the growing team of 200 in October, around the same time as two other poached tech executives — chief people officer Tenia Davis, a Harpo alum who joined Raise from her role at iManage, and chief marketing officer Gaurav Misra, who joined from Vroom. 

shopping, women, drugstore, mallAll three execs were hired around September, when Raise announced $60 million in series C funding led by Accel Partners, which included an investment from, coincidentally, PayPal.

Now, with her staff in place and ample funding in tow, Pierce-Gilmore is on a mission to make Raise the go-to place for shoppers looking to manage their budgets with prepaid cards, as well as retailers looking for an escape from the high transaction fees that come with processing credit card payments. 

“There is so much room for disruption. I love PayPal, and I think they’re doing great work globally. However I think that they’re not disrupting the ecosystem as much as they might have had the opportunity to,” said Pierce-Gilmore. 

Pierce-Gilmore believes that Raise can someday have the large-scale presence of companies like Amazon, in which checking the Raise app for discounted gift cards becomes a natural part of any and every shopping process.

“I’m already finding my own addiction driving my own behavior,” she said. “Every time I am trying to buy something, I look in the category that I am going to shop in.”

SEE ALSO: Bill.com is the latest fintech heavyweight, with a $742.8 million valuation and big-name backers

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Trump once won a lawsuit against the NFL — but the result was an embarrassment

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

eBay is having a pretty bad day

 eBay is not having a great afternoon after posting a pretty ho-hum third quarter that fit roughly in line with analyst estimates, but perhaps not seeing the kinds of leaps that Wall Street is looking for heading into the fourth quarter. The company said it added an additional 2 million  active buyers and now says it has 168 million global active buyers. But even with buyer numbers as large… Read More

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

A Las Vegas hotel mogul plans to send an inflatable space hotel into orbit around the moon by 2022


  • Bigelow Aerospace says its inflatable space hotel could be ready for lunar orbit by 2022.
  • One of the company’s pods is already attached to the International Space Station.
  • Bigelow is touting the future pod as a hub for “lunar business development,” but the company would probably need NASA to get it funded. 

Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas-based space pod company, wants to send an inflatable space hotel to orbit the moon, with accommodations for astronauts and citizen space travelers alike. 

The company partnered with NASA in 2016 to attach an inflatable, soft-shell demo pod onto the International Space Station. Now, Bigelow has announced that a bigger inflatable pod, which it’s calling the B330 “lunar depot”, could be orbiting the moon in five years.

That moon station is much more ambitious than Bigelow’s ISS add-on. It’s designed to stand alone and is about a third of the size of the ISS. The company suggests the pod could hold roughly six people, and is billing it as a hub for “significant lunar business development.” 

Providing accommodations for future space travelers is a logical next step for the company’s founder, Robert Bigelow, who owns the Budget Suites of America hotel chain and has been working on creating expandable space modules since 1999.

United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, plans to partner with Bigelow to launch the habitat into space, then get it circling around the moon. 

bigelow aerospace

Expandable, soft-shell space habitats are easier to fit into rockets for launch than other heavier structures. Bigelow said in a statement that its pods also “provide for greater volume, safety, opportunity and economy than the aluminum alternatives.” 

The company’s ‘Bigelow Expandable Activity Module,’ or BEAM, was attached to the International Space Station in April 2016 and then blown up to full size that May. Astronauts don’t live inside it, but they use the space for experiments, collecting air and surface samples to test for microbes, as well as monitoring how effective the BEAM is at blocking radiation. NASA has said it might extend BEAM’s stay at the ISS beyond its initial two year test run, and use the inflatable space as long-term storage. The space agency has said that so far, the soft materials Bigelow used to create BEAM are proving they can perform just as well as more rigid structures in space. 

In a couple of Tweets on Tuesday, Bigelow seemed to suggest that he’d need NASA funding to fully execute his space hotel plans. The Washington Post puts the project’s price tag at $2.3 billion.

“Re. Lunar Depot: Capital has been flowing from both companies and will continue,” Bigelow wrote, then added, “NASA & this country will need to have investment also to pay for the benefits.”

Lunar exploration has gained renewed attention in recent weeks — earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence promised to “refocus America’s space program toward human exploration and discovery” in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Pence wrote that establishing a “renewed American presence on the moon” is a vital strategic goal for the U.S. 

NASA is currently working on a ‘Deep Space Gateway’ project with the Russian Space Agency, which could involve a site near the moon that would serve as a pit-stop for astronauts on long-term missions to Mars. NASA has said that site would have a “small habitat to extend crew time.”

The US has pledged to send humans to Mars by 2033. In an announcement about the B330 last year, Bigelow and United Launch Alliance said that this habitat could house researchers on their way to the Red Planet.

Here’s what the company says the craft would look like on its way to the moon: 

SEE ALSO: Astronauts may wear eight-legged ‘spider’ spacesuits to crawl across the moons of Mars

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: NASA and Lockheed Martin reveal their plans to build the first-ever Mars space station

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

We asked cryptocurrency experts to respond to Jamie Dimon's bitcoin bashings — here's what they said

Jamie Dimon

  • Jamie Dimon has been a vocal critic of bitcoin since its earliest days, but his most recent comments have ignited a conversation about digital currencies on Wall Street.
  • Two of the bankers’ main arguments against the cryptocurrency are that it is in a bubble, and it will ultimately be “crushed” by governments. 
  • We spoke with experts in the cryptocurrency space to examine those two critiques.
  • They said bitcoin’s underpinning blockchain technology can’t be easily jeopardized by governments and future use-cases justify its current value.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon sparked a conversation about bitcoin among top Wall Streeters. 

Since he called the digital currency “a fraud” in September, a slew of top Wall Streeters from BlackRock’s Larry Fink to Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman, have weighed in on bitcoin, which is up more than 400% year-to-date.

Dimon said during JPMorgan’s earnings call Thursday he would stop talking about bitcoin. His vow of silence, however, ended prematurely. The very next day Dimon bashed bitcoin at a conference in Washington, D.C. He concluded his remarks by saying he was done talking about bitcoin.

Whether Dimon can keep his word remains to be seen, but what is certain is that his critiques of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies will continue to drive conversation in both crypto- and Wall Street-circles.

‘Worse than tulip bulbs’

BubbleWall Street is full of folks who think the over $160 billion cryptocurrency market is in a bubble. Dimon said it is “worse than the tulip bulbs,” alluding to the speculative bubble of newly arrived tulips in 17th century Europe.

In fact, the notion that some folks are just betting on the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is not even contested among bitcoin’s most fundamental followers.

Crypto-evangelists, however, would argue that such investors are in the minority, whereas the majority of cryptocurrency investors are betting on the underpinning technology of their coins and tokens, rather than just looking for a quick profit. 

“There is certainly some speculation,” Ryan Taylor, a former McKinsey analyst and CEO of Dash, a top cryptocurrency. “But it’s being driven by the belief that future use-cases will come to fruition.”

Crypto-skeptics often rebuke the argument for future use-cases, which range from toll systems to peer-to-peer energy exchange networks, by saying they are too far off to warrant current valuations.

“The real world benefits are said to take years to materialize, even among evangelists,” wrote UBS, the Switzerland-based bank in a recent note. The bank says at the end of the day people are just looking to sell at a higher price. 

Bitcoin enthusiasts respond by pointing to the utility of cryptocurrency’s network, which sees more than 200,000 transactions per day, as evidence of its inherent value. Here’s Stan Miroshnik, CEO and managing director, Element Group:

“The bitcoin economy is supported by all the goods and services you can buy with bitcoin, as well as the infrastructure investments made by thousands of people to support the distributed bitcoin network. All of this has fundamental value. I can pay in bitcoin faster, cheaper and more secure than with PayPal, this is a fundamental value.” 

PayPal did not respond for comment at the time of publication.

According to PayPal’s website, a bank transfer made through their platform takes approximately one business day. A bitcoin transaction typically takes under 30 minutes, although that number frequently fluctuates. 

‘Governments are going to crush it one day’

Dimon doubled down on his position that governments would be a main impediment to the future growth of bitcoin and the overall cryptocurrency market on Friday, saying sovereigns will ultimately crush it once it becomes too big of a threat to their authority. Here’s Dimon (emphasis added):

The other thing I’ve always [said] about bitcoin, governments — and this is not a technological statement — governments are going to crush it one day. Governments like to know where the money is, who has it and what you’re doing with it, in case you haven’t noticed. Right?

China’s recent interventions into both currency- and crypto-markets best illustrates Dimon’s point. The country’s regulators in September deemed initial coin offerings, a red-hot cryptocurrency-based fundraising method, illegal. And currently there is a wide-spread crackdown on bitcoin trading underway in the country. China notably has also implemented restrictions on cross-border payments between its yuan and foreign currencies to keep renminbi from exiting the country.

China is an extreme case, but numerous countries, from the US to South Korea, have ramped up efforts to impose restrictions on the wild west of cryptocurrencies. This isn’t worrying most cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

Capture.PNGSamson Mow, the CSO of Blockstream, a bitcoin software company based in San Francisco, told Business Insider that governments may dislike crypto, but the degree to which they can impact the digital currency is limited. 

“Cryptocurrencies by design cannot be “closed down” because first, they are decentralized, and second, they’re just information,” Mow said. “To even try to close them down, you’d have to shut down the internet, and even then it would only be a minor hindrance.”

The bitcoin markets seem to agree with Mow. Since China banned ICOs, for instance, bitcoin has rallied more than $1,000.

Josh Olszwicz, a bitcoin trader, told Business Insider the markets have ignored the news out of China because it is not something that impacts its underlying blockchain technology

“If it doesn’t affect the protocol, then it’s not a real problem,” he told Business Insider.”The bitcoin cash shakeup was much more worrisome from my perspective, but even then the core bitcoin protocol remained unaffected.”

If a country were to completely ban bitcoin, the network would still be there for people to use. And it wouldn’t be too difficult for people to get away with using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, because the network is anonymous and transactions and trades are hard to trace.  

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: TOP STRATEGIST: Bitcoin will soar to $25,000 in 5 years

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

A New York 'self help' club for women allegedly requires naked photos for admission, brands members with a hot iron, and urges them to follow a near-starvation diet

Sarah Edmondson

  • A bombshell report from the New York Times accuses Albany, New York-based group NXIVM of manipulative and abusive tactics.
  • According to The Times, it practices cult-like behavior including branding some of its members and a hierarchical structure of “masters,” “slaves,” and “Vanguard.”
  • Motivational “self-improvement” programs and products are a $9.9 billion market, and self-help has a history of veering into the cult realm.

The self-help industry is booming.

Motivational “self-improvement” programs and products including books, speeches and seminars, and self-help organizations are a $9.9 billion market, according to the newest report from independent research firm Marketdata Enterprises.

One “self-help” organization, NXIVM, illustrates the slippery slope that comes with placing your hopes for success and fulfillment into the hands of a charismatic leader.

Keith Raniere, who the New York Times describes as “a New Age teacher with long hair and a guru-like manner of speaking,” founded NXIVM in 1998. The “self-help” group, based in Albany, New York, with chapters across the country, Canada and Mexico, offers “programs that provide the philosophical and practical foundation necessary to acquire and build the skills for success,” according to NXIVM’s website.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the organization practices cult-like behavior including branding some of its members and a hierarchical structure of “masters,” “slaves,” and “Vanguard.”

Canadian actress Sarah Edmondson told the New York Times that she and other female members in their 30s and 40s were recruited by “rock star” member Lauren Salzman to join a “secret sisterhood” within the organization “created to empower women.”

Here are eight of the wildest details about the secret society from the New York Times report:

  • “The sisterhood would comprise circles, each led by a ‘master’ who would recruit six ‘slaves,’ according to two women. In time, they would recruit slaves of their own.”
  • “In the spring, the sorority grew as women joined different circles. Slaves added compromising collateral every month to Dropbox accounts, and a Google Document was used to list a timetable for recruiting new slaves, several women said.”
  • “To gain admission, they were required to give their recruiter — or ‘master,’ as she was called — naked photographs or other compromising material and were warned that such ‘collateral’ might be publicly released if the group’s existence were disclosed.”
  • “Their ‘master,’ a top Nxivm official named Lauren Salzman, instructed them to say: ‘Master, please brand me, it would be an honor.’

    “A female doctor proceeded to use a cauterizing device to sear a two-inch-square symbol below each woman’s hip, a procedure that took 20 to 30 minutes. For hours, muffled screams and the smell of burning tissue filled the room.”

  • “A copy of a text message Raniere sent to a female follower indicates that he knew women were being branded and that the symbol’s design incorporated his initials.

    “‘Not initially intended as my initials but they rearranged it slightly for tribute,’ Raniere wrote, (‘if it were abraham lincolns or bill gates initials no one would care.)'”

  • “Former members have depicted [Raniere] as a man who manipulated his adherents, had sex with them, and urged women to follow near-starvation diets to achieve the type of physique he found appealing.”
  • “Edmondson and others said that during training, the women were required to send their master texts that read ‘Morning M’ and ‘Night M.’ During drills, a master texted her slaves ‘?’ and they had 60 seconds to reply ‘Ready M.’

    “Trainees who failed had to pay penalties, including fasting, or could face physical punishments, two women said.”

  • “[Nxivm-affiliated physician] Dr. [Brandon] Porter, as part of an ‘experiment,’ showed women graphically violent film clips while a brain-wave machine and video camera recorded their reactions, according to two women who took part.

    “The women said they were not warned that some of the clips were violent, including footage of four women being murdered and dismembered.”

The accounts undoubtedly tick many of those boxes used to determine if an organization is a cult.

Former Harvard Medical School professor and psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton outlined in his paper “Cult Formation” three primary characteristics most commonly shared by destructive cults:

  1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power.
  2. A process of coercive persuasion or thought reform — otherwise known as brainwashing.
  3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Self-help has a history of veering into the cult realm.

In 2009, self-help speaker James Arthur Ray, who charged his followers $10,000 to attend a meditation retreat in the desert, asked attendees to shave their heads and huddle within his “sweat lodge” for 36 hours without food or water. Three people died of heatstroke, while 18 others were hospitalized.

Edmondson and other members eventually left the group, despite fears their “collateral” would be used against them. “There is no playbook for leaving a cult,” Edmondson told the New York Times.

Read the full New York Times report »

SEE ALSO: Gretchen Carlson says the way we handle sexual harassment ‘gags’ the women who confront it

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A happiness expert explains why having work friends is vital to your success

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,