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PayPal wants to be an all-in-one super app. It has its work cut out.

CEO Dan Schulman sees payments, shopping, investing and budgeting all being integrated together, but he's not the only one thinking that way.

PayPal wants to be an all-in-one super app. It has its work cut out.

PayPal hopes its app will run your financial life. Some day.

Image: PayPal

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman thinks there are too many financial apps. So he wants to build a "super app" for consumers to manage payments, shopping, savings, investing, budgeting, crypto and identity — all in one place.

It's an ambitious undertaking still years away from actual fruition. It also highlights the multi-dimensional battle that's only just emerging between banks, fintech players like Affirm, PayPal, Square and Stripe, as well as big tech companies like Google and Apple. All these players want to be the go-to provider for consumers' finances.

Schulman believes that consumers only want to use eight to 10 apps, and that the rest are going to be essentially superseded by super apps. In China, Alipay has become known for its wide range of services.

"What a super app wants to do is turn all of those separate apps into a connected ecosystem where you can streamline and control data and information between those apps, between the act of shopping, the act of paying for that," Schulman said. "And then you have this common platform and common data that allows machine learning and artificial intelligence to kick in and give personalized recommendations to those consumers."

Schulman's vision, which he is laying out Thursday at PayPal's investor day, includes three major areas: payments, shopping and financial services.

This mega app needs to include a range of digital payments offerings, both online and offline, Schulman said, which need to be easily connected across merchants. This includes "not just any financial institution, credit card, debit card, ACH, but we'll also include things like rewards points redemption, utilizing cryptocurrency as a funding instrument, utilizing central bank issued digital currencies, when that becomes a reality."

Since payments are PayPal's historical strength, this is one area it could have some advantages against competitors. But Apple Pay and Google Pay have their own locked-in user bases on mobile devices, and Square has its Cash App.

For financial services, PayPal intends to partner, but Schulman said it would still be a "seamless PayPal experience," though some products could be built internally. Expect this offering to include services such as high-yield savings accounts, direct deposit, check-cashing and investing. Here PayPal faces intense competition from banks that natively offer financial services plus their own budgeting tools, not to mention aggregators such as Mint and Personal Capital, and startups offering savings tools.

"Because if somebody is going to be putting their money onto our platform, we want them to be able to grow that money, to invest that money in not just things like crypto, but in individual stocks and other assets that we digitize and allow people to invest in," he said.

While Schulman didn't delineate how PayPal would partner on this, there are a number of banking-as-a-service providers and brokerage-as-a-service companies that offer these types of white-labeled services. In this new fintech world, all sorts of companies can turn on these kinds of financial services, so PayPal's competitors could also make similar moves, giving consumers choice of where to get them.

There will be other facets to the app over time, too. Bill payment, subscription management and tools to help consumers with budgeting are also part of the mix, Schulman said.

With shopping, Schulman wants to provide "contextual commerce" by targeting consumers based on things like their wish lists with personalized offers and deals. This could include price monitoring and rewards. The goal is "so that you don't, as a consumer, need to go from one website to another and figure out different payment instruments, but you can do everything from one."

In this market, PayPal is facing not just Amazon and Shopify, but also "buy now, pay later" companies like Affirm and Klarna, which have honed their offerings over years operating in the sector.

And that raises the big question hanging over these kinds of super apps: Which companies are really capable of delivering all these services in a single product, in a way that consumers trust with their financial data and to manage their financial lives? PayPal hopes it's one of them, but it will be years before we know if that's true.

Power

Google wants to help you get a life

Digital car windows, curved AR glasses, automatic presentations and other patents from Big Tech.

A new patent from Google offers a few suggestions.

Image: USPTO

Another week has come to pass, meaning it's time again for Big Tech patents! You've hopefully been busy reading all the new Manual Series stories that have come out this week and are now looking forward to hearing what comes after what comes next. Google wants to get rid of your double-chin selfie videos and find things for you as you sit bored at home; Apple wants to bring translucent displays to car windows; and Microsoft is exploring how much you can stress out a virtual assistant.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

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The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
People

Making the economy work for Black entrepreneurs

Funding for Black-owned startups needs to grow. That's just the start.

"There is no quick fix to close the racial wealth and opportunity gaps, but there are many ways companies can help," said Mastercard's Michael Froman.

Photo: DigitalVision/Getty Images

Michael Froman is the vice chairman and president of Strategic Growth for Mastercard.

When Tanya Van Court's daughter shared her 9th birthday wish list — a bike and an investment account — Tanya had a moment of inspiration. She wondered whether helping more kids get excited about saving for goals and learning simple financial principles could help them build a pathway to financial security. With a goal of reaching every kid in America, she founded Goalsetter, a savings and financial literacy app for kids. Last month, Tanya brought in backers including NBA stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, raising $3.9 million in seed funding.

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Michael Froman
Michael Froman serves as vice chairman and president, Strategic Growth for Mastercard. He and his team drive inclusive growth efforts and partner across public and private sectors to address major societal and economic issues. From 2013 to 2017, Mike served as the U.S. trade representative, President Barack Obama’s principal adviser and negotiator on international trade and investment issues. He is a distinguished fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company.
Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Power

Everything you need to know about the Coinbase direct listing

Coinbase's IPO valuation could be the largest by a U.S. tech company since Facebook went public.

Coinbase will go public on Feb. 25.

Image: Chesnot/Getty Images

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange, filed its S-1 on Feb. 25 to go public via direct listing on Nasdaq. In the lead-up to the IPO, Coinbase shares traded on the Nasdaq Private Markets at $373, yielding a company valuation of over $100 billion, per Axios. If share prices remain at or above these levels, Coinbase's IPO valuation could be the largest by a U.S. tech company since Facebook went public in 2012. The company hasn't yet set a date for its trading debut.

Depending on who you ask, the Coinbase IPO could be the latest symptom of a major financial bubble or a significant milestone in the restructuring of the global financial system. Coinbase's mission is to "create an open financial system to the world." It believes the prevailing system of global finance, with the U.S. dollar serving as the global reserve currency, is outdated and inefficient. This mission pits the interests of Coinbase squarely against many of the world's most powerful nations, making regulation a grave and — if cryptos continue gaining momentum — probable risk.

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Hirsh Chitkara
Hirsh Chitkara (@ChitkaraHirsh) is a researcher at Protocol, based out of New York City. Before joining Protocol, he worked for Business Insider Intelligence, where he wrote about Big Tech, telecoms, workplace privacy, smart cities, and geopolitics. He also worked on the Strategy & Analytics team at the Cleveland Indians.
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