icon arrow left

Issue #7

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ becomes new norm, programmers build AI to replace them, Italian town offers $1 homes, and more.

News from March 7 - March 14, 2024

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Becomes Norm 

Consumers are increasingly using “buy now, pay later” services for everyday essentials like groceries and household items. This is a shift from the services traditionally being used for more luxury items, like new phones or travel tickets.

People aged 35 and under are leading this trend, making up 53% of customers who take advantage of the purchasing services.

In 2021 and 2022 apparel and accessories were the most popular product category among users of the BNPL provider Afterpay, but last year these categories fell to fourth place behind “arts, travel and entertainment,” “home and garden” and “hardware.”

The shift is partly due to the convenience and integration of the services into online shopping, especially post-pandemic, as well as the avoidance of high credit card interest rates.


China Tells Bankers To Be Patriotic 

China's government is guiding its financial sector towards patriotic reform by encouraging a "financial culture with Chinese characteristics." Highlighted in a series by the People's Daily, an official newspaper of the Communist Party, the directive urges bankers to prioritize profits through ethical means and to be satisfied with reasonable returns. This approach, reinforced by strict discipline and regulation, aims to support long-term investments that contribute to high-quality development, moving away from speculative practices.

The campaign also underscores the importance of serving "high-quality development" goals and transforming China into a hi-tech, low-carbon superpower, where wealth is more evenly distributed.


Programmers Build AI To Replace Them

A team of programmers has developed an AI that can do their job for them, completing software projects on its own. Analysts say budding technology like this poses a legitimate threat to the “learn to code” philosophy that has been advised to Gen Z.

The startup, Cognition AI, has attracted $21 million to build Devin, an AI model that surpasses current AI coding assistants by being able to understand natural language commands, form ideas, and self-correct through the development process.

Scott Wu, CEO of Cognition AI: “Teaching AI to be a programmer is actually a very deep algorithmic problem that requires the system to make complex decisions and look a few steps into the future to decide what route it should pick.”

The AI’s inner workings remain a mystery, with Wu declining to say much other than that his team found unique ways to combine large language models such as OpenAI’s GPT-4 with reinforcement learning techniques.


Bulletin Board

  • Companies Now Track Employee Stress. Recently, privacy pods resembling phone booths have become common in offices, offering a quiet space for calls. Framery Oy, a leading producer from Finland, is now experimenting with sensors in these pods to monitor employee stress levels by tracking heart and breathing rates. Samu Hällfors, CEO: “The idea of having an early-warning signal on the sentiment of an organization—it’s quite interesting. Organizations do employee engagement surveys just twice a year. What if we could give you a heads-up early on?” Clients like Nvidia and Microsoft are already on board. (Source)
  • Rich Countries Hooked On Cheap Labor. Wealthy nations are increasingly relying on immigrant labor, sparking debates around native worker displacement and stagnant productivity. In the U.S., migrants make up a large portion of farm and construction workers, while in the UK and Germany, they fill critical roles in healthcare and industry. However, productivity lags in these countries, unlike in Japan and Korea where stricter immigration policies coincide with productivity gains. Martin Ruhs, a professor of migration studies in Italy: “Once industry is organized in a certain way and the structure encourages employers to recruit migrants, it can be very hard to turn back.” (Source)
  • Iceland Taps Into Volcano For Energy. Iceland is set to drill into a volcano's magma chamber in the Krafla area by 2026, tapping into what could be an unlimited source of geothermal energy. This initiative aims to leverage the intense heat from magma to power homes across Iceland more efficiently than conventional geothermal systems. The project will also provide unique opportunities for scientific research, enhancing our understanding of volcanic activity and improving eruption predictions. A representative working on the project: "A single magma geothermal plant could generate at least ten times more power than a conventional geothermal plant." (Source
  • Italian Town Offers $1 Homes. In 2017, Mussomeli, an Italian town, launched a program offering homes for $1. Within five years, nearly 95% of available homes were sold, revitalizing the area. Despite the properties' poor condition at the point of sale, the scheme drew many tourists interested in renovating these properties, boosting tourism tenfold. The town has since secured significant funding for infrastructure improvements. Toti Nigrelli, deputy mayor: “Now we can see a lot of people from all parts of the world. Everyone is happy here. Happy because we have nice people that came here, who are integrated in the society.” (Source)
  • Restaurants Now Detect Dirty Hands. Over 10,000 restaurants around the world now use a handwashing “lie detector.” PathSpot, a tech startup, has engineered the Handscanner to ensure employees wash their hands effectively. The device comes as food service workers reportedly only wash their hands properly one-third of the time. Christine Schindler, CEO of PathSpot: “If you don’t come back and wash your hands after you fail a scan, that’s when we notify management. We’ve actually seen that when someone fails a handwash, they start washing their hands three to five times more frequently.” (Source)

Disclaimer: This blog offers insights into international business and global events for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investment or business advice. WeavePay is not liable for any decisions made based on the content provided.

We're on a mission to empower ambitious international businesses. If your team has the vision and qualifies, join us at WeavePay for bespoke payment solutions that elevate your global impact. Subscribe and reach out to see if we're a match.