Late last week, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard laid out the case for an American CBDC. In her time speaking with the Aspen Institute, she called for “urgency” around the matter, including noting that China is far ahead in the race for a central bank digital currency. Additionally, she suggested that a CBDC would shorten international intermediation chains, keep citizens utilizing government-backed currency rather than moving toward stablecoins, and getting government payments to the unbanked population with greater ease.
“Leaders of the Fed have been moving cautiously towards acknowledging that an American CBDC will exist in the future, but Governor Brainard’s commentary is really the first that lays out the strategic benefits while dismissing a future without a CBDC as impractical. The faster central bank bureaucrats adopt her thinking, the better positioned the country will be strategical,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges.
“The dollar is very dominant in international payments, and if you have the other major jurisdictions in the world with a digital currency, a CBDC offering, and the U.S. doesn’t have one, I just, I can’t wrap my head around that… That just doesn’t sound like a sustainable future to me,” Brainard is quoted as saying.
“We’ve been talking recently about the pressure that China’s leadership on CBDC development puts on regional players like Vietnam, but every major power should see the warning signs here. The race to a functional, widely adopted CBDC is this generation’s Race to Space. The United States shouldn’t rest on its laurels to take a wait-and-see approach here. This is the time to be bold and show leadership. Governor Brainard is correct. A monetary policy without employing a CBDC simply is not sustainable,” said Gardner.
Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list that includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.
“When history looks back at the emergence of CBDCs, I think we’re going to, only then, truly understand what a strategic advantage early mover status is. The world is still grappling with attempting to wrap their arms around pandemic-related issues, but that isn’t stopping technology’s ever-progressing march forward. China is taking innovation seriously, and, if for no other reason than that alone, it would seem that other global leaders should be investing heavily. Countries will need to adapt, or they will get left behind,” said Gardner.
RobinHood, WeBull, Others Trading Apps Hit 14 Million Users Globally, Twice More than a Year Ago
Over the past years, trading apps have revolutionized the way people interact with the world’s financial markets and stock exchanges, making it simple and easy to trade online, whether at home or on the go. The number of people using these apps to make investments and monitor market trends has grown constantly each year, but in 2021 it surged to all-time highs.
According to data presented by BuyShares, RobinHood, WeBull, Fidelity Investments, E*Trade and eToro, as the world’s top five trading apps, doubled the number of users in the last year to nearly 14 million as of July.
RobinHood Hit 7.3M Monthly Active Users, Double the Second-Ranked WeBull
Stock trading has been moving to mobile for quite a while, and tech companies have been working on well-designed trading platforms to provide top-notch service to a new, tech-savvy set of users. That shift first started in the United States, where Robinhood has attracted tens of millions of users. On the other hand, the European market is still fragmented, with a handful of stock-trading apps slowly expanding to new markets.
According to AirNow data, RobinHood is by far the most popular trading app in the world. In July 2020, the app had around 4.3 million monthly active users. However, user numbers spiked in the first half of 2021, reaching a peak of over 9 million in May 2021. In July, around 7.3 million people worldwide used RobinHood to trade and make investments, 70% more than in the same month a year ago.
With 2.7 million monthly active users, or twice less than the leading RobinHood, WeBull ranked as the second most popular trading app globally. However, statistics show WeBull witnessed the biggest growth, with the number of users surging by 265% year-over-year.
Fidelity Investments ranked third with 1.8 million active users, 38% more than in July 2020. Morgan Stanley’s E*Trade and eToro followed, with 1.1 million and 1 million monthly active users, respectively.
RobinHood Reached 11.9M Downloads in 2021, Close to Other Top Four Apps Combined
Stock trading app developers are constantly innovating and adding new features to make portfolio management easier to do on the go. For example, many of the latest-gen trading platforms now feature AI-based tools to help users evaluate investment risks.
Besides having the largest user base, RobinHood also witnessed the biggest number of downloads this year. In the seven months of 2021, the trading app was downloaded 11.6 million times, close to the other top four apps combined, with almost one-third of all downloads happening in January.
WeBull was downloaded 5.6 million times in this period, 2.3 million more than the third-ranked eToro. Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade round the top five list, with 1.9 million and 1.2 million downloads, respectively.
Verve Partners OBMEET To Give Cardholders 50% Discount
In furtherance of its drive to strengthen the payment landscape across the globe, Africa’s leading payment technology and card business, Verve, has announced its partnership with OBMeet, a video conferencing and networking company, to give Verve cardholders a 50% discount on the platform.
The discount which is currently running till December 31, 2021 avails Verve cardholders added value for the services they enjoy on the OBMeet platform.
With this collaboration, Verve cardholders accessing the OBMeet no longer have to worry about the incidental challenges associated with such video conferencing and multi-streaming platforms, such as complex payment structure, capital flight, inconsistent exchange rates etc.
Speaking on the discount, Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Interswitch Group, said the partnership with OBMeet to reward Verve cardholders with a 50% discount on the selected packages is a demonstration of Verve’s commitment to reward its cardholders’ loyalty.
Eromosele said the firm is stirred to partner with OBMeet because they share a similar vision of delivering an invaluable experience to their esteemed customers.
She explained that the partnership will guarantee Verve cardholders faster and safer payment experiences on the OBMeet platform.
She said: “Consistent with our mantra of being ‘the rewarding way to make payments’, Verve cardholders are not only rewarded with seamless, faster, and convenient payment solutions, but they also enjoy more rewards in discounts as much as 50% on the OBMeet platform, from now till December 31, 2021.”
Vincent Ogbunude, Divisional Head of Verve, commented on the firm’s commitment to delivering top-notch digital payment solutions to Nigerians.
“It is no gainsaying that Verve has consistently delivered innovative payment solutions to Nigerians and the Africa continent.
“We are continuously seeking opportunities to ease payment pain points for Verve cardholders as well as Africans and this partnership with OBMeet is a testament to that commitment.
“We are confident that our cardholders will enjoy seamless payment on the OBMeet platform and the 50% discount offer is added value to the invaluable payment experience the Verve card provides,” he said.
Speaking on the partnership, Emmanuel Gabriel, founder of OBMeet stated that the collaboration is instrumental for companies, institutions, content creators, Small and Medium Enterprise, entrepreneurs to overcome the many challenges of capital flight, complex payment systems inherent in accessing video conferencing and multistreaming platforms.
He said: “Our focus is to give everyone around the world the opportunity to connect, build ideas and express themselves in a new way.
We are focused on creating economic value via the OBMeet communication platforms which bridge communication gaps and language barriers around the world.”
Flutterwave, MTN Partner on Mobile Money
Flutterwave, Africa’s payment technology company, has announced a mobile money partnership with MTN Group, that will allow businesses that are integrating Flutterwave in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, to receive payments via MTN Mobile Money, called MoMo.
MTN MoMo is a fintech platform providing consumers and businesses with an electronic wallet, enabling electronic transfers and payments as well as access to digital and financial services.
At the end of June 2021, MTN MoMo had 48.9 million active users and 581,514 merchants. MoMo enables businesses to accept and make payments within the mobile money ecosystem. The new partnership will enable Flutterwave to offer MTN Mobile Money as a payment method to its business customers.
In recent years, Africa has witnessed an explosion in mobile penetration as smartphone adoption has risen rapidly. According to the GSMA, this year, Africa would hit the half a billion mark of unique mobile subscribers and the continent would reach 50 per cent subscriber penetration by 2025. The sub-Saharan Africa alone is responsible for more than 45 per cent of the world’s mobile money accounts with the number of account holders exceeding half a billion by 2020, as shared on Statista.
Through the partnership, MTN and Flutterwave will positively contribute to this trend by increasing mobile money usage and penetration in Africa to improve local economies and livelihoods as well as create opportunities for individuals and businesses across the continent.
Commenting on the partnership, Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, Olugbenga Agboola, said: “Africa has one of the highest growth rates for mobile money adoption and e-commerce in the world. It makes sense that we help provide a seamless payment method to support and ensure African businesses reap the full benefits of the e-commerce boom in the region. Our goal has always been to grow a new wave of prosperity in Africa by creating more avenues for businesses in Africa to accept payments. With this partnership, we can achieve this while creating endless possibilities for our customers.”
Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer at MTN, Serigne Dioum, said: “As we progress on our journey to becoming the largest fintech platform in Africa, we will empower millions of businesses to embrace e-commerce in our markets to accept digital payments from MoMo consumers. We believe this is an enabler to accelerating digitized payments in Africa. Building strong ecosystems through partnerships is central to our platform strategy and we will continue to invest in expanding the reach of our platform to consumers and businesses in Africa.”
The new partnership will further expand on Flutterwave’s previous collaboration with MTN, beyond Uganda and Rwanda, with the potential of deepening adoption of digital payments and e-commerce in Africa, a sector expected to reach $29 billion by 2022, according to Statista.
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