Clusterstock

Syndicate content Business Insider
The latest news from Finance

How banking-as-a-service (BaaS) works and industry outlook

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 6:01pm
  • Business Insider Intelligence is launching its brand new Banking coverage in early September.
  • To obtain a free preview of our Banking Briefing, please click here.

Across industries, digital transformation is democratizing data to enable greater transparency. New technologies are opening up legacy systems to emerging startups and third parties and, in some cases, putting data directly in the hands of consumers.

In financial services, Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platforms have surfaced as a key component of open banking, in which banks provide more financial transparency options for account holders by opening their application programming interfaces (APIs) for third parties to develop new services.

Fintechs have been encroaching on incumbent institutions in the banking game — but by moving into the BaaS space, tech-savvy legacy banks can turn this looming threat into an opportunity.

What is banking-as-a-service?

BaaS is an end-to-end process that allows fintechs and other third parties to connect with banks' systems directly via APIs so they can build banking offerings on top of the providers' regulated infrastructure, as well as unlock the open banking opportunity reshaping the global financial services landscape.

Techy-savvy legacy banks can fend off the encroaching threat of fintechs by moving into the BaaS space to share their data and infrastructure. In a matter of years, access to this level of information will become table stakes for digitally native customers — so banks that begin now will be ahead of the curve, and likely rewarded with high demand.

How does banking-as-a-service work?

The BaaS process begins with a fintech or other third-party provider (TPP) paying a fee to access the BaaS platform. The financial institution opens its APIs to the TPP, thereby granting access to the systems and information necessary to build new banking products or offer white label banking services. 

In addition to getting ahead in open banking, legacy institutions that launch their own BaaS platforms are also opening up new revenue streams. The two main monetization strategies for BaaS include charging clients a monthly fee for access to the BaaS platform or charging a la carte for each service used.

Top banking-as-a-service companies

Here are the top BaaS platform providers broken out into purely BaaS-focused fintech players and retail banks that have launched their own BaaS platforms:

Pure BaaS providers:

  • solarisBank
  • Bankable
  • Treezor
  • 11:FS Foundry
  • Cambr
  • ClearBank

BaaS providers with B2C operations:

  • Starling Bank
  • Fidor Bank
  • BBVA
Banking-as-a-service industry outlook

A number of countries have already begun introducing open banking regulations, indicating that the financial services industry is moving toward an era where shared data and infrastructure will become consumers' new expectations.

Tech-savvy legacy banks that create their own BaaS platforms now will not only get ahead of the open banking opportunity before their competitors, but also unlock a new stream of revenue by monetizing their platforms. 

In the UK, the new revenue potential generated through open banking-enabled small- and medium-sized business and retail customer propositions was £500 million ($700 million) in 2018, per PwC — and Business Insider Intelligence expects that to grow at a 25% compound annual growth rate to reach £1.9 billion ($2 billion) by 2024.

Beyond adding a new revenue stream, developing a BaaS solution also allows legacy banks to establish relationships and forge partnerships with emerging fintechs — thereby keeping themselves ahead of the trends that will inevitably follow once BaaS and open banking become mainstream.

To stay on top of today's (and tomorrow's) digital trends, Business Insider Intelligence is launching Banking, our newest research coverage area tailored for decision-makers in the financial services industry. 

This new offering is designed to keep you up to date on the biggest industry shifts and shakeups, with coverage including BaaS and open banking, consumer and business banking, mobile and online banking, digital account opening, and neobanks.

Click here to obtain an exclusive FREE preview of Banking!

Join the conversation about this story »

McDonald's new CEO didn't own any shares of the company before last week. Now he owns half a million dollars' worth.

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 5:25pm

  • Last week Chris Kempczinski was the US president of McDonald's and didn't own any shares in the company.
  • One week later, Kempczinski became the fast-food franchise's CEO and owns half a million dollars worth of the company's stock. 
  • Kempczinski's new role requires him to hold $7.5 million in stock by October 2020.
  • View Business Insider's homepage for more stories

Last week Chris Kempczinski was the US president of McDonald's and didn't own any shares in the company. Fast forward one week, and now Kempczinski is the fast-food franchise's CEO and owns half a million dollars worth of the company's stock. 

According to an Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated November 6, Kempczinski bought 2,580 shares at $193.81 a pop, coming to just over half a million dollars worth. 

Markets Insider reported earlier this week that Kempczinski's new role requires him to hold $7.5 million worth of the company's stock by October 2020. This means over the next year, Kempczinski will need to buy at least $7 million more of stock. 

The new CEO's pay is also due to getting a bump — to $1.25 million dollars a year, with a 170% annual bonus. He won't need to pay for the $7.5 million worth of stock at once though, given his pay is far lower, instead, he can exercise the 36,800 options that he holds, which would almost foot the bill based upon the share price at the time of writing ($7.1 million).

Kempczinski rose rapidly within the company since his predecessor Steve Easterbrook was fired for having a consensual relationship with a subordinate. 

Easterbrook's firing sounded alarm bells for McDonald's investors — over the past four years he has doubled the company's share price. It's stock tanked on the news of his departure, wiping $4 billion off the market cap in a single day of trading. 

Watch McDonald's trade live here.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption

Nearly half of college grads with student loan debt don't think their college degree helped them earn more money

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 5:25pm

A college degree doesn't necessarily lead to higher earnings.

At least, that's the case for some graduates. A new survey from Insider and Morning Consult polled 2,096 Americans about their financial health, debt, and earnings for a new series, "The State of Our Money." Of these respondents, 17% have undergrad student-loan debt and 7.5% have graduate student-loan debt.

But only 36.7% of these indebted individuals think they make a higher salary as a result of their college degree, while nearly half (49%) don't (the remaining respondents selected don't know).

For those with undergrad student-loan debt, this might be influenced by how stressed they are about their debt.

More than half (54%) of respondents who have a lot of stress about their undergrad student-loan debt don't think they make more money because of their college degree. Just a third of people who have some or a lot of stress about their undergrad loans think they make more money because of their college degree.

The cost of college can be higher than the salary you'll make

College value is becoming increasingly relevant in time when college tuition has more than doubled since the 1980s, the student loan debt national total exceeds $1.5 trillion, and student debt is at a record high of nearly $30,000 per borrower in the graduating class of 2018. 

That's half the cost of attending a top college, where tuition hovers around $60,000 a year — but data indicates that not every expensive college produces high-earning graduates, Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz reported.

The Department of Education's College Scorecard program indicates that graduating students from the most expensive schools (four-year colleges and universities with at least 500 undergrads) typically earn the highest salaries 10 years after enrolling in college. But median salary and average cost of attendance don't always align.

"For example, the University of Chicago has the highest cost of attendance: $70,100. But its graduates go on to earn $68,100 a decade after setting foot on campus," Lebowitz wrote. "And students at Occidental College pay $67,046 a year, but only earn $50,600 a decade later, meaning the school is one of the most expensive — and graduates' salaries are some of the lowest."

That's still more than what the average millennial earns — $35,455, just slightly more than the average student-loan debt. It might explain why, in a recent survey by personal finance company SoFi, nearly half of millennials (42%) said the biggest mistake they made with their student loans was overestimating the salary of their first job out of college and assuming they'd be able to afford their monthly payments.

SEE ALSO: Nearly half of millennials said the biggest mistake they made with student loans is thinking their starting salaries would cover their monthly payments, a new study shows

DON'T MISS: 28% of millennials only paid off their student loans thanks to help from friends and family

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.

Sears is closing 96 more stores, leaving only 182 stores left in the US. Here's the full list of the ones closing.

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 4:44pm

  • Sears is closing 96 more Sears and Kmart stores in the US by February 2020, a press release from the retailers' parent company announced Thursday.
  • Included in the closures are 51 Sears and 45 Kmart stores.
  • Only 182 Sears and Kmart stores will be left following these closures.
  • Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy in October 2018 but was bought out in February 2019 by Eddie Lampert, the company's former CEO. Hundreds of Sears stores have closed in the last few years.

Sears and Kmart stores are facing more closures. 

The parent company of the two retailers, Transform Holdco, announced in a Thursday press release that 96 more Sears and Kmart stores will close in the US by February 2020, with liquidation sales at those stores expected to begin on December 2.

Included in the closures are 51 Sears and 45 Kmart stores.

Transform Holdco will operate just 182 stores after the closures.

Hundreds of Sears stores have been shuttered in the last few years. The company was bought out of bankruptcy in February.

Business Insider recently reported that Sears planned to close at least 122 Sears and Kmart stores by January. 

The following stores are set to close by February:

Sears:

  • 3930 Mccain Blvd N Little Rock, AR
  • 3400 Gateway Blvd Prescott, AZ
  • 3755 Santa Rosalia Dr Los Angeles, CA
  • 40710 Winchester Rd Temecula, CA
  • 3295 E Main St Ventura, CA
  • 12121 Victory Blvd N Hollywood, CA
  • 1209 Plz Dr West Covina, CA
  • 3636 N Blackstone Ave Fresno, CA
  • 8150 La Palma Ave Buena Park, CA
  • 5261 Arlington Ave Riverside, CA
  • 565 Broadway Chula Vista, CA
  • 100 Inland Ctr Sn Bernardino, CA
  • 1178 El Camino Real San Bruno, CA
  • 2180 Tully Rd San Jose, CA
  • 5080 Montclair Plz Ln Montclair, CA
  • 22550 Town Circle Moreno Valley, CA
  • 72-880 Hwy 111 Palm Desert, CA
  • 3350 Naglee Rd Tracy, CA
  • 3501 S Mooney Blvd Visalia, CA
  • 200 Town Ctr E Santa Maria, CA
  • 14420 Bear Valley Rd Victorville, CA
  • 1625 W 49th St Hialeah, FL
  • 20701 Sw 112th Ave Miami, FL
  • 4125 Cleveland Ave Ft Myers, FL
  • 6580 Douglas Blvd Douglasville, GA
  • 2200 W War Memorial Dr Ste998 Peoria, IL
  • 5000 Spring Hill Mall West Dundee, IL
  • 100 Commercial Rd Leominster, MA
  • 385 Southbridge St Auburn, MA
  • 3131 E Michigan Ave Lansing, MI
  • 101 N Rangeline Rd Joplin, MO
  • 3600 South Memorial Drive Greenville, NC
  • 1262 Vocke Rd Cumberland, MD
  • 310 Daniel Webster Hwy Ste 102 Nashua, NH
  • 270 Loudon Rd Concord, NH
  • 4601 E Main St Farmington, NM
  • 4000 Meadow Ln Las Vegas, NV
  • State Rd 3 Fajardo, Puerto Rico
  • Gpo Box 1050 Guayama, Puerto Rico
  • 2310 Sw Military Dr San Antonio, TX
  • 11500 Midlothian Tpke Richmond, VA
  • 8200 Sudley Rd Manassas, VA
  • 100 Spotsylvania Mall Fredericksburg, VA
  • 1850 Apple Blossom Dr Winchester, VA
  • 155 Dorset St S Burlington, VT
  • 14720 E Indiana Ave Spokane, WA
  • 651 Sleater Kinney Rd Se 1300 Lacey, WA
  • 1259 Whitehall Mall Whitehall, PA
  • 600 Montgomery Mall North Wales, PA
  • 3701 Mckinley Pkwy Buffalo, NY
  • Pob 7426 Sears Plaza Del Caribe 2050 Rd 2 Ponce By Pass Ste 135 Ponce, Puerto Rico

Kmart:

  • 4100 52nd St Kenosha, WI
  • 6531 Mccorkle Avenue Se Charleston, WV
  • P.O. Box 9060 - 510 Us Hwy 89 (83001) Jackson, WY
  • 1870 Mcculloch Blvd Lake Havasu City, AZ
  • 2155 Pillsbury Rd Chico, CA
  • 261 N Mc Dowell Blvd Petaluma, CA
  • 491 Tres Pinos Road Hollister, CA
  • 5100 Clayton Road Concord, CA
  • 7840 Limonite Ave Riverside, CA
  • 3980 El Camino Real Atascadero, CA
  • 895 Faulkner Road Santa Paula, CA
  • 1200 N Main Street Bishop, CA
  • 270 Mt Hermon Road Scotts Valley, CA
  • 19563 Coastal Hwy Unit A Rehoboth Beach, DE
  • 1201 S Dixie Hwy Lantana, FL
  • 3800 Oakwood Blvd Hollywood, FL
  • 7350 Manatee Ave West Bradenton, FL
  • 1405 S Grand Charles City, IA
  • 1501 Hwy 169 N Algona, IA
  • 484 Boston Rd Billerica, MA
  • 252 Main St Acton, MA
  • 1003 W Patrick St Frederick County Square Frederick, MD
  • 1713 Massey Blvd Hagerstown, MD
  • 6411 Riggs Road Hyattsville, MD
  • 5100 Dixie Hwy Waterford, MI
  • 2625 State St Bismarck, ND
  • 1267 Hooksett Rd Hooksett, NH
  • 161 S Broadway Salem, NH
  • 235 Prospect Avenue West Orange Plaza West Orange, NJ
  • 5151 Sunrise Highway Bohemia, NH
  • 171 Delaware Avenue Sidney, NY
  • 555 South Ave Tallmadge, OH
  • 1447 N Main St North Canton, OH
  • 502 Pike Street Marietta, OH
  • 2640 West 6th Street The Dalles, OR
  • 910 Wilkes Barre Twp Blvd Wilkes Barre, PA
  • 1915 E Third St Loyal Plaza Shopping Ctr. Williamsport, PA
  • 1745 Quentin Lebanon, PA
  • 1520 W Front St Berwick Shopping Plaza Berwick, PA
  • 1127 S State St Ephrata, PA
  • Road #149 And #584 Plaza Juana Diaz Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico
  • 1400 Ave Miramar Ste 18 Arecibo, Puerto Rico
  • Plaza Rio Hondo Ste 4080 Bayamon, Puerto Rico
  • Centro Gran Caribe Rd #2 Plaza Caribe Mall Vega Alta, Puerto Rico
  • Eastern Shopping Ctr S.R. 3 Fajardo, Puerto Rico

SEE ALSO: Sears is closing 26 more stores. Here's the full list.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 9 items to avoid buying at Costco

The White House is sharply divided over proposal to remove some China tariffs, report says

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 4:43pm

  • A proposal that the US roll back a portion of tariffs on Chinese products has reportedly led to a sharp divide among White House officials. 
  • The US did not issue any public response after China said the two sides had agreed to remove tariffs "simultaneously."
  • President Donald Trump announced last month he would delay planned tariff escalations as part of an agreement that included a range of unspecified commitments from China.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As the largest economies hammer out the first part of a trade agreement, a proposal that the US roll back a portion of tariffs on Chinese products has reportedly led to a sharp divide among White House officials. 

Citing multiple anonymous sources familiar with the talks, Reuters reported Thursday afternoon the plan had received fierce opposition from some Trump administration officials and outside advisers. The White House declined to comment to Business Insider.

Hours earlier, China had said that the two sides had agreed to remove tariffs "simultaneously" if a trade pact were reached. The US did not issue any public response. 

President Donald Trump announced last month he would delay planned tariff escalations as part of an agreement that included a range of unspecified commitments from China. But the mini agreement has not yet been put to paper. 

White House officials had until at least mid-October continued discussions on further economic penalties against China, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider. Those included a plan to limit investment flows into China, increase financial scrutiny of Chinese companies and a series of separate but related policy drafts.

Now Read: The US raked in a record $7.1 billion in tariffs in September, new data shows

SEE ALSO: First part of US-China trade deal could be delayed until December, report says

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption

My fiancé and I have saved over $100,000, traveled, bought a house, and built wealth — all thanks to a change we made 2 years ago

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 4:02pm

  • Bethany McCamish is a freelance writer and designer who lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her fiancé, an electrical engineer.
  • It took time for the couple to get on the same page financially. Once they discovered FIRE (financial Independence, retire early), they started to have open conversations about their spending habits and goals.
  • Together, they bring home an average of $11,500 a month and their budget gives every dollar a job. They put a minimum of $1,400 a month toward student loan debt and about $4,900 into savings and investments.
  • McCamish said they didn't feel "wealthy" until they gained control of their money and put it to work in investments.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

My partner and I are total opposites in many ways. For the first four years of our relationship, this included the way we looked at money. I was the spender and he was the saver. 

We were in college when we met. I was blissfully unaware of my finances, living paycheck to paycheck. To give you an idea of my ignorance, I didn't even know how much I had taken out in student loans. I always made payments on time, paid off my credit cards every month, and called that good. 

He was frugal. He never spent money on small items or lunches out. He saved all his money for the things that would make him happy. He bought a motorcycle and a car in cash during the first few years we were together. Still, the idea of investing and optimizing cash flow wasn't something he even considered. 

Our tipping point into financial awareness 

My partner finished school a year after I had been working as a teacher. During that time I was the main breadwinner and his grants from school helped cover the rest. We rented an affordable apartment and lived modestly. After he graduated, he found a career in the engineering field and quickly became a high-earner.

With this increase in earnings, we happily adjusted our spending to fit. Lifestyle creep was real. We rented a home and started spending money. We went on an international trip and spent over $10,000. My partner was appalled at the amount of money we spent on that trip, and I simply shrugged it off as a worthwhile expense. Travel was something I always planned to do for the rest of my life, but I never even considered that we could do it for way cheaper. 

My partner wasn't innocent in the spending money department during this time. He bought large purchases like an in-home gym and a new computer. Neither of us was saving anything or investing beyond the minimum company match for our retirement plans. We were both entirely ignoring my student loans, which totaled $78,000. It was our only form of debt because I was banking on Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a benefit that's available for federal loan borrowers who work in public service.

The fact is, we weren't talking about money. We talked about the big expenses, but that was it. Then, my partner listened to the ChooseFI podcast and was hook, line, and sinker pulled into the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement. 

He came home and exclaimed, "We need to cancel Netflix, cut the cable, and never go out again." I wasn't buying it. First, I didn't like being told what to do with my money. I also didn't like the idea of cutting everything. 

What he was really saying was that we needed to look at where our money was going every month. From there we could decide what to cut and how to build wealth. We could remove stress from our lives, but not before adding a little first.

The many versions of our budget

Looking at how we spent money for the first time wasn't fun. Our heated conversations were a result of someone not feeling heard or feeling shamed for money choices. We looked at our finances together and had the attitude of "Why did you buy that?" instead of considering what each partner values spending money on. 

We had to switch this mindset of blame. That doesn't mean we don't call out each other's issues, but we do so in a way that is asking a question instead of making an assumption. It helped once we set our money goals, because it turned the question into, "How does that impact getting to our goals?"

Our first budget was on paper and consisted of scribbles about what we each spent. Needless to say, we gave it up pretty fast. The second go-around we used Mint for our budget, which worked out pretty well. What was missing was a one-sheet spread that detailed both of our finances combined. 

After my partner's income doubled due to a role change at work and my income shifted from consistent as a teacher to fluctuating as a freelancer, we knew it was time to combine on one spreadsheet. This helped us give every dollar coming in a job.

Now, my partner makes $8,500 a month and I average $3,000. Here's where it goes in a typical month:

Our biggest budget lines: housing, student loans, and investing 

The mortgage, student loan payments, and our investments make up the big-ticket items in our budget. In our area, right by Portland, Oregon, the mortgage payment is equivalent to renting a two-bedroom apartment. So we feel very lucky to own a home that we've built equity in rather than paying rent.

Since I quit teaching to freelance, I became ineligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Now, we made our new goal paying off my student loans. A minimum of $1,400 goes toward the balance every month as well as any extra income I make.

I'm in my 20s and my partner is in his 30s, so time is on our side. This makes investing a priority for us at the same time as student debt pay-off. We want to make sure he at least gets his 401(k) match. I have an automatic withdrawal from my "paycheck" straight to a traditional IRA as well.

For us, financial independence means having the freedom to choose what you want to do and when. That's why we invest so much and are working to get rid of student debt — for the freedom to make our own choices. 

After a big raise, we kept our lifestyle the same

Since the income increase for my partner was recent, we left our budget the same. That's where the budget item for "goals/savings" comes in. That $3,000 is the income increase and "leftover" amount each month after we've paid for everything else.

For the first few months after he received the pay bump, we put this money away for our wedding fund. Once we save up enough for that, we started putting it away for a large student loan payment. 

If we were to use our emergency fund, we would re-allocate the money we're putting toward student loans to re-build that fund. If we needed to travel for work, family, or fun, we would take a portion of this "leftover" money and save it for that expense. Since the holidays are coming up and we plan to make donations in the names of our loved ones again, this money will go towards giving.

Having the extra money is a life-changer for us. It's allowing us to prepare for our future in a way that we couldn't have dreamed of. 

Our crazy $800 food bill  

For two people, $800 a month isn't low. Our health is important to us, and we eat a vegan plant-based diet. We also love to cook and this means we make all kinds of vegan-friendly recipes. Trying new recipes means buying new and different ingredients. This brings the cost of our grocery bill up, but we think it's worth it. 

Two other categories are included in the grocery bill: alcohol and household items. We buy beer, wine, and most recently saké, to enjoy at home. It's much cheaper than going out. This combined with one big Costco run to stock up on household items keeps our grocery budget at $800 at its max and $600 on months when we're cutting out new recipes or drinks. 

Things we don't spend a lot of money on: shopping, entertainment, and decor 

The one line in the budget called "personal purchases" pretty much includes all of our shopping we do for ourselves, including things like cosmetics, shampoo, haircuts, clothing, Amazon purchases, books, etc. It's all wrapped up in this category and that's because we cut those expenses down a while ago. 

Getting a pedicure or a massage for us is a treat and would come from that section of the budget if we decided it was worth spending on. 

We don't have cable and rarely go to the movies. The last time we went, we used the free movie tickets that were gifted to us over a year ago. We find free ways to entertain ourselves like hiking, borrowing my aunt's kayaks, or going for a bike ride. If we are going to spend money out, it's usually on food with friends. 

We gave our money a purpose, and everything goes toward fulfilling that 

We've decided our money's mission is to enable us to travel, eat well, and bring others with us when we do. This will be made possible by paying off my student loans, investing in retirement, and saving for upcoming expenses ahead of time.

To support this mission, we did all the usual financial advice, including shopping with a list, having a waiting period before buying something, saving money first, meal planning, and having a budget. 

These things help, but it's not what really keeps our financial journey progressing. Meal planning isn't going to immediately make you financially savvy, just like depriving yourself of things you love doesn't mean you're a boss with money. 

The most important thing we did was look at our money mindsets. We addressed our privilege and our wealth. We looked at why we spent money, we started communicating about everything, and we came up with our goals. By looking at the emotional side of money we could continue the conversation, which in turn lets us continue moving toward our goals.

Getting on the same financial page led to some serious accomplishments

Since discovering the concept of financial independence in 2017, we conquered some major financial milestones. We were able to: 

  • Save $110,000 towards our retirement and make the savings automatic 
  • Buy our first home, renovate it, and now have $40,000 of equity 
  • Learn how to travel hack so we could still travel while working on financial goals 
  • Build-up our emergency fund 
  • Increase both of our incomes 
  • I was able to quit teaching and become a freelancer

We could do these things by deciding what we wanted our money to do for us. We could also do these things because we are privileged. Even though I have serious student-loan debt, we don't have barriers to financial success that others may face. This was especially true when our income increased.

In my mind, we have always been "rich." But we weren't wealthy until we started to control our money and let it work for us.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How to find water when you're stuck in the desert

FREE SLIDE DECK: The Future of Fintech

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 4:01pm

Digital disruption is affecting every aspect of the fintech industry. Over the past five years, fintech has established itself as a fundamental part of the global financial services ecosystem.

Fintech startups have raised, and continue to raise, billions of dollars annually. At the same time, incumbent financial institutions are getting in on the act, and using fintech to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving financial services landscape. So what's next?

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has the answer in our brand new exclusive slide deck The Future of Fintech. In this deck, we explore what's next for fintech, how it will reach new heights, and the developments that will help it get there.

Join the conversation about this story »

Trump could slap steep tariffs on imported cars next week

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:57pm

  • President Donald Trump must decide by November 13 whether to follow through with threats to levy tariffs on automobiles. 
  • The Center for Automotive Research estimated the proposed 25% tariff would add up to $6,875 to imported vehicle prices.
  • Business groups and lawmakers have expressed widespread opposition to the move. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Weeks after General Motors ended one of its longest strikes in years, the American car industry could be headed for more turbulence. 

After an initial six-month delay, President Donald Trump must decide by November 13 whether to follow through with threats to levy tariffs on automobile imports. The U.S. Commerce Department drew backlash from business groups and lawmakers in February after it concluded that car imports pose a threat to national security. 

While Trump has continued to threaten the move against Asian and European trading partners, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said over the weekend that the tariffs might not be necessary. 

"We have had very good conversations with our European friends, with our Japanese friends, with our Korean friends, and those are the major auto-producing sectors," Ross said in an interview with Bloomberg

The Center for Automotive Research estimated in a report last year that the proposed 25% tariffs would add up to $6,875 to imported vehicle prices. Average car prices overall would increase $4,400, the group said. Economic research groups have reached similar estimates.

"The uncertainty created by the current and potential tariffs on autos and auto parts may also reduce investment," the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said in June. "Ultimately, the tariffs could increase the price of motor vehicles sold in the United States, prompting some consumers to delay purchases or purchase used cars instead of new vehicles, and generating inflationary pressures."

The Commerce Department did not immediately make its findings regarding car imports and national security available to lawmakers, who have expressed widespread opposition the prospect of auto tariffs. Nearly 160 bipartisan members of Congress warned against car tariffs in a May letter to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow

"We are convinced that the products hard-working Americans in the auto sector design, build, sell, and service are not a threat to our national security," the letter said. "We strongly urge you to advise the President against imposing trade restrictions that could harm the auto sector and the American economy."

Now read: These 12 highly shorted stocks have suffered brutal losses this year — but one Wall Street firm says a major threat just passed, and it might be time to buy

SEE ALSO: First part of US-China trade deal could be delayed until December, report says

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption

The Centurion 'black' card has a $2,500 annual fee and is invite-only, but you can get most of its benefits with the Amex Platinum

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:35pm

  • The Amex Centurion "black" card makes other premium credit cards look downright affordable. With an initiation fee of $7,500 and an annual fee of $2,500, it's for big spenders. Oh, and the annual fee is jumping to $5,000 starting in April 2020.
  • It's also invite-only; you can't apply without permission from Amex.
  • The card offers some incredible benefits, like complimentary elite status across four hotel chains and with Delta, airport arrival services, and access to a concierge.
  • While some of these perks are exclusive to the Amex black card, you can enjoy many of them with the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Business Platinum® Card from American Express.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Also known as the Centurion card, the American Express "black" card is so prestigious that you have to be invited to use it. Yes, you read that right — you can't just apply for it and expect to get approved. You have to receive a private invitation from American Express.

So, how do you get an invite for a black card? While the requirements aren't officially published, rumor has it that you have to be a high earner who has spent and paid off between $350,000 and $500,000 across all of your American Express accounts in a calendar year.

And once you're approved for the card, there's a $7,500 initiation fee, and a $2,500 annual fee. It makes premium credit cards like the Amex Platinum ($550 annual fee) and the Amex Business Platinum ($595) look downright affordable. Plus, as The Points Guy reports, the annual fee is increasing to $5,000 starting in April 2020!

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back. 

Benefits of the Amex black card

Aside from the status symbol that comes with simply carrying an Amex black card in your wallet, you can enjoy these perks by having one.

Hotel elite status

With a black card, you can lock in hotel elite status at four major hotel chains: Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and Relais & Châteaux. Hotel elite status gets you sweet benefits like room upgrades, late checkouts, resort and spa credits, and free breakfast.

The Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum offer status with Hilton and Marriott, but not with IHG and Relais & Châteaux.

Read more: Credit cards that get you hotel elite status just by having them in your wallet

Delta elite status

According to The Points Guy, the black card also offers cardholders Platinum Medallion elite status with Delta. You can't get this benefit with any other credit card, and it offers you perks like complimentary upgrades and bonus miles. 

Airport lounge access

There's nothing better than knowing you have access to a comfortable airport lounge while you're traveling, especially if you have a long layover. The Amex black card gets you free access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world, including Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs when you're flying Delta, and Priority Pass airport lounges. You can sit back and relax on the comfortable chairs while indulging in some good food and drinks.

The airport lounge access you get as a Centurion cardholder is virtually identical to the lounge access you get with the Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum.

Equinox membership

The Centurion card added several new perks in late 2019, along with the announcement that Amex would be raising the annual fee. One of the most valuable new benefits is Equinox Destination Access Membership, which lets Centurion cardholders use any of the 100-plus Equinox gym locations in the US, UK, and Canada. This membership costs $300 per month plus a $500 initiation fee, so it's quite valuable if you're a fan of the high-end fitness club chain.

Unsurprisingly, there's no comparable benefit on the Platinum and Business Platinum cards. 

Up to $1,000 per year in Saks Fifth Avenue credits

The Amex Platinum offers up to $100 in credits for Saks Fifth Avenue per year, so it's only fitting that the Centurion has an even better version of this perk. 

Starting in 2020, Centurion cardholders will get up to $1,000 in credits for Saks purchases — divided into four credits of up to $250 per quarter of the year. To get the credit, cardholders just have to make an eligible Saks purchase with their Centurion card, and they'll be reimbursed up to the quarterly and annual limit in the form of a statement credit.

As a bonus, Saks stores will open their doors to Centurion cardholders outside of normal business hours — a pretty extravagant perk for those who want to make a power move or impress their non-Centurion-holding friends.

CLEAR membership 

CLEAR is an expedited security membership (an alternative to TSA PreCheck), and you can use it at more than 30 airports and more than 20 sports and concert venues in the US.

The recently revamped American Express® Green Card offers a statement credit for up to $100 toward CLEAR membership, which costs $179, but with the Amex Centurion card you can get a statement credit for the full cost of membership when you use your card to buy it. Plus, you can get statement credits to cover adding up to three family members.

24/7 concierge service

An Amex black card gets you your own personal concierge whenever you'd like one. You can count on the round-the-clock concierge service to help you make travel plans or reservations at exclusive restaurants. This service can also get you tickets to just about any event and/or purchase gifts on your behalf.

Once again, the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum also offer concierge services. However, Centurion cardmembers are definitely the top priority for Amex concierge, and they get the best access to restaurant reservations and more.

International arrival service 

If you travel abroad often, you'll love the black card's international arrival service. As long as you fly business or first class via American Express Travel, you'll be assigned to your own personal guide who will make the immigration and customs process a breeze. This isn't a benefit you can replicate with any other Amex card.

Another exclusive airport perk: Centurion cardholders get complimentary membership to The Private Suite at LAX, a private VIP terminal. But there's a big catch: You have to pay each time you use it — and it costs up to $3,000.

No spending limit

There are no preset spending limits with the black card, so you can easily buy big-ticket items that you may not necessarily be able to pay for with other credit cards. Keep in mind, however, that since the black card is technically a"charge card," you must pay off your balances in full every month. (The Amex Platinum and Business Platinum are also charge cards.)

Other lifestyle perks

Beyond offering elite status with more travel partners, international arrival service, and the top tier of Amex concierge service, the black card stands out from the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum with its selection of wine-related benefits, such as consultations with a wine specialist and wine-buying offers.

Black cardholders also get several shopping perks, including special offers and VIP benefits with Net-a-Porter.

The Amex Platinum is more attainable, and offers many of the same perks

If you don't get an invite for the American Express black card, don't fret. As you can see, many of the benefits it offers are available on the Amex Platinum, which has a $550 fee. You'll get no preset spending limits, hotel elite status, complimentary access to airport lounges, and concierge services.

Read more: Amex Platinum card review

If you're a business user, the Amex Business Platinum is worth a look. It offers most of these benefits as well, and has a $595 annual fee. 

Read more: Amex Business Platinum card review

Click here to learn more about the Amex Platinum.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's how to escape a flooding vehicle

Meet the 2 Americans who were chosen from a pool of 140,000 people to spend 10 days on a mini-sabbatical in Antarctica with Airbnb this winter

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:26pm

  • Airbnb received 140,000 applications this fall for its all-expenses-paid expedition to Antarctica in December.
  • Five individuals were selected for the trip. Among those are two Americans: Tynthia King from Arizona and Spencer Ingley from Hawaii.
  • Together with citizen scientists from Dubai, Norway, and India, King and Ingley will study the impact of microplastics alongside scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams.
  • The "Antarctic Sabbatical" follows Airbnb's inaugural sabbatical trip to Italy earlier this year.
  • King and Ingley told Business Insider that they hope to use the trip to inspire a larger conversation about the effects of waste on the environment.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Earlier this fall, Airbnb announced that it would be accepting applications for a month-long, all-expenses-paid research expedition to the most remote destination on Earth: Antarctica. In total, 140,000 people hailing from 200 countries and territories applied — and five were selected to go.

The five expedition members, announced on October 30, include Tynthia King, a 35-year-old loan officer from Phoenix, Arizona, and Spencer Ingley, a 33-year-old assistant professor of biology at BYU-Hawaii. 

King and Ingley will be joined by citizen scientists from Dubai, Norway, and India to study the presence of microplastics in Antarctica alongside scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams.

The expedition members will first attend immersion training for two weeks in Punta Arenas, Chile. They will then fly to Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica to collect snow samples and measure the presence of foreign microplastics over the course of 10 days. During the final week of their sabbatical, they will return to Chile to review their findings and partner with the Ocean Conservancy to communicate their findings.

The trip comes on the heels of Airbnb's inaugural sabbatical program this spring, which sent five individuals to help revitalize the historic town center of Grottole in southern Italy. The overarching goal of the sabbatical trips, according to Airbnb, is to provide "eye-opening opportunities for people around the world to travel with purpose and do good."

Business Insider spoke with King and Ingley about what inspired them to apply to the sabbatical program.

Tynthia King is a loan officer whose efforts at reducing waste, from Ghana to her office in Phoenix, brought her to the sabbatical program 

King's interest in the environment started on the humanitarian side, she told Business Insider.

King grew up in a poor neighborhood in Chicago and spent much of her childhood homeless. "I'm actually the only one of my siblings that hasn't been in federal prison," she told Business Insider. "I know a lot about what it is to grow up without things, and that kind of drove me to be passionate about youth — having been a homeless youth." 

A few years ago, an opportunity opened up for King to volunteer at an orphanage in Ghana. The purpose of the trip was to help build a composting bathroom.

Initially, King didn't know much about how composting bathrooms worked. "I am absolutely not an engineer," she said with a laugh.

Once she learned more about the process, she began to reflect on humans' environmental footprint.

After volunteering at the orphanage, King decided to explore more of Ghana and was aghast at what she saw in the fishing villages along the coast. "When you go to the beautiful Atlantic-side beaches, they're just littered with all types of old fishing equipment. They have bottles, they have plastic, and it's just filthy," she told Business Insider.

There was no clean-up effort around the beaches, so she started to clean them up herself.

King now works as a loan officer in Phoenix, Arizona, and has become "hyper-aware" of the impact of her everyday actions on the environment since her Ghana trip. Recently, a small Amazon order came to her office enclosed in a massive box wrapped in what King likened to "20,000 pieces of bubble wrap plastic." This level of excess prompted King to approach her COO and begin a recycling program. 

King heard of the Airbnb Antarctic Sabbatical amid discussions of reducing office waste and was surprised to learn that microplastics would reach such a remote region.

Antarctica has also been on King's travel list since childhood. "When I was a kid, I knew that I wanted to visit every continent," she said. "I never wanted to spend the money halfway across the world to take some pictures in a bikini on a beach somewhere. I wanted to make my time wherever I was going important or worth it or to take something away from that experience."

Spencer Ingley is an assistant professor of biology who sees parallels between Hawaii and Antarctica

Growing up near a lake in Gainseville, Florida, Ingley developed a love of nature at an early age. Today, he shares his passion for the outdoors with Brigham Young University-Hawaii students as an assistant professor of biology.

BYU-Hawaii has a student body of 2,500 representing 70 countries. Many of these students come from Asia and the Pacific, which presents a unique teaching opportunity, according to Ingley. "These are the countries that are having some of the biggest impacts on environmental issues like ocean plastic pollution, and also they're the countries that are being most impacted by these issues," he said.

"Our students can go back to their home countries across the Pacific and throughout Asia and be leaders in their community," he added.

Ingley told Business Insider that one of his favorite classes to teach is an introductory biology course that focuses, in part, on conservation issues in Hawaii and across the Pacific. 

Ingley's students are often surprised to learn that the trash washing up on beaches of Oahu is by and large not from the island. "Virtually none of the pollution that we find on our shores is local," said Ingley. "Almost all of it is coming from Asia and from the west coast of North America."

In this sense, Ingley noted, Antarctica is not all that different from Hawaii. "It's incredibly remote, but it's threatened. It's being bombarded with these outside forces, such as plastics coming in," he said.

One thing that is quite different, however, is the weather. While Ingley has spent time in cold locations before, Antarctica is in a league of its own. "I'm not sure there's anything that you could do to prepare for Antarctica other than being in it," he said.

Ingley learned about the Airbnb sabbatical program through one of his students and hopes that his experience will encourage future students, and others around the world, to be stewards of their environment.

Ingley also calls himself "an explorer at heart."

Though preparing to be off the grid for a month will be a challenge, fieldwork is par for the course in his profession, Ingley said, and he plans to be in touch with his students as much as possible during the trip. "I'm thrilled about the adventure and work that awaits," he told Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: Airbnb hosts reportedly used closed Facebook groups to gossip about guests and share lewd, personal information

NOW READ: Corporate travel is a $300 billion market, and travel search engine KAYAK is trying to break into it with a new platform for business travelers

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Traditional Japanese swords can take over 18 months to create — here's what makes them so special

Bill Gates isn't interested in space exploration and doesn't like Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax: Here are 5 highlights from the billionaire's DealBook interview

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:07pm

Bill Gates isn't interested in space or juggling iPhone apps to communicate.

These are just two of the thoughts the billionaire shared in a wide-ranging discussion with New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook Conference on November 7. The day-long conference brought together Airbnb CEO Brain Chesky, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Hillary Clinton, Kim Kardashian West, Kris Jenner, Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, and others to discuss the intersection of business and policy at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Here are five highlights from the Gates interview.

1. Bill Gates thinks billionaires should pay higher taxes

However, Gates said he isn't a supporter of the wealth taxes proposed by Democratic presidential candidates.

"I happen to believe something in the middle [of the two parties]," Gates said. "I think you can make the estate tax higher; you could even take people who have sat on huge gains for say ten years, and say okay, you should create a taxation event there. I think just by treating capital income the same as labor income, that goes a very long distance, so I'm all for super progressive tax systems."

Warren's wealth tax would cost Gates an additional $6 billion in taxes annually, Sorkin said during the interview. Gates said he's already "paid more than anyone in taxes," totaling more than $10 billion in his lifetime.

Other ultra-wealthy Americans including George Soros and Abigail Disney have lobbied for a moderate wealth tax and cited Warren's proposal as an example, Business Insider previously reported. 

Hillary Clinton, who was interviewed by Sorkin later in the day, also expressed support for a high estate tax, saying that a wealth tax would be "too disruptive," and that she "couldn't see" how it would work. While the idea of using a wealth tax to solve America's inequality problem has gained traction in recent years, proposals have been hampered by questions over the effectiveness and the constitutionality of such a tax, Business Insider previously reported.

2. Gates is more interested in solving malnutrition than exploring space

When asked by Sorkin if he was interested in space exploration, Gates replied, "No." When Sorkin alluded to Jeff Bezos' plan for space colonization, Gates interrupted to say, "He can have it."

Gates said he has talked about space exploration with Bezos, and that he "read a lot of science fiction but I guess not as much as [Bezos and Elon Musk] did." Business Insider previously reported that Bezos' space exploration plan was heavily influenced by a 1976 book he read in high school that proposed connecting the Earth and the moon via a series of enormous, cylindrical tubes.

Sorkin asked Gates why he isn't interested in space, to which Gates responded: "Because malnutrition is so much more impactful. You know HIV is more impactful, malaria is more impactful.

3. Gates thought Warren Buffett played a "parasitic" game before they became friends

"I didn't even want to meet Warren," Gates told Sorkin, "because I thought, 'Hey, this guy buys and sells [companies],' and so he found imperfections in terms of markets — that's not value-added to society, that's a zero-sum game that is almost parasitic. That was my view before I met him."

The pair has since gone on to share a 28-year friendship, Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz previously reported. Gates was even introduced at the conference as "Warren Buffett's best friend."

4. Gates believed "billions of dollars" would come from his meetings with Jeffrey Epstein

"I made a mistake in judgment in thinking those discussions would go to global health," Gates said. "That money never appeared."

A New York Times investigation published in October found that Gates met with Epstein multiple times after Epstein's conviction in 2011, including at least three meetings at Epstein's Manhattan townhouse. Following the publication of that story, a spokesperson for Gates said Gates regretted the association, but Gates himself hadn't publicly addressed it until Wednesday afternoon, Business Insider's Aaron Holmes reported.

"I gave him the benefit of my association," Gates said.

5. Gates said he's too "large-screen oriented" for his kids

"I have kids that think I don't see the world in a modern enough way, including even some technology things they use," Gates said while explaining that he is a normal parent who washes dishes and takes his kids to school. Gates has three children: Jennifer (23), Rory (20), and Phoebe (17).

"I'm not as phone-centric as they are," Gates said. "I mean, I have to tell myself, 'Oh I've got to check Instagram because my youngest daughter likes to communicate there,' I have to check WhatsApp because another child likes to communicate through that. It's like, oh my God, I have to do all this? But you know, if I forget to do it, then it's like,  'Wow, you're not paying attention to my life.'"

When it comes to communication, Gates said he prefers emails.

SEE ALSO: Bill Gates blames anti-trust lawsuit for Microsoft's big miss on mobile: 'Instead of using Android today, you would be using Windows Mobile'

DON'T MISS: Bill Gates is celebrating his 64th birthday today in a 20-year-old hat. Here's how he spends his $108 billion fortune, from a luxury-car collection to incredible real estate.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Traditional Japanese swords can take over 18 months to create — here's what makes them so special

Juul has pulled its most popular flavor in a last-ditch effort to stop teens from vaping

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 2:56pm

  • Juul is halting sales of its mint vaping cartridges, the e-cigarette company's most popular flavor.
  • The news comes on the heels of new research suggesting that mint and mango are the top flavors among high school students who Juul.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's been a rough month for Juul.

On the heels of new research released this week suggesting that mint and mango are the most popular flavors among high school students who use Juuls, the e-cigarette giant has announced it will stop selling its mint-flavored refillable cartridges.

The mint-flavored options were Juul's best seller, accounting for roughly two-thirds of total Juul pod sales in February 2019, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former Juul executive last week. The lawsuit said sales of the mint pods had doubled from the previous September.

In a press release emailed to Business Insider, Juul said it would immediately stop accepting orders for the mint-flavored pods from retail partners and stop selling them online as well.

According to the release, Juul's decision was based partially on new research released this week which found that mint and mango were the most popular flavors among high school students who use Juul's devices.

"These results are unacceptable," Juul Labs CEO KC Crosthwaite said in the release, adding, "that is why we must reset the vapor category in the US and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, Attorneys General, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use."

This isn't the first time Juul has shelved its flavored products.

Last year, Juul halted in-store sales of its mango, fruit, cucumber and cream varieties. This November, the company extended that ban to online sales. This time around, Juul chose to stop selling the mint flavors online and in stores at the same time, the first time the company has done so.

The move comes at a critical time for the most popular e-cigarette company in America.

Beginning this fall, Juul lost a series of top executives including CEO Kevin Burns, chief marketing officer Craig Brommers, and chief financial officer Tim Danaher. Around the same time, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Juul was planning to cut 500 jobs before year's end. 

At the end of October, Marlboro maker Altria slashed the value of its Juul investment by roughly a third, downgrading Juul's valuation from a staggering $38 billion to $24 billion.

SEE ALSO: The precarious path of e-cig startup Juul: From Silicon Valley darling to $24 billion behemoth under criminal investigation

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 3 dietitians debunk 18 weight loss myths, from cutting carbs to fad diets

The chief global strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management lays out 3 reasons why the Fed's recent rate cuts could hold the economy back for 10 years — even as investors celebrate

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 2:23pm

  • Investors were thrilled this summer when the Federal Reserve started cutting interest rates again. But David Kelly of JPMorgan Asset Management says they've failed to see the damage they're causing.
  • Kelly said low rates and easing have slowly started to depress economic growth, which harms corporate profits and affects stock prices.
  • Today, 30% of all debt in the world has a negative yield, and all indications suggest rates will stay low for many years. Kelly said that meant the problem would hamper growth and returns for at least a decade.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Central banks around the world have committed to lower interest rates over the past few months, and investors appreciate it because it has helped major stock indexes hit all-time highs.

But David Kelly — the chief global strategist at JPMorgan's $1.9 trillion asset-management business — said those investors should hold off on sending a thank-you card. He argues that low interest rates and monetary stimulus have held back the global economy for years, and he believes they're setting it up for 10 to 15 years of sluggish growth ahead.

Slower growth means weaker corporate earnings because those profits are the main source of fuel for the stock market. That suggests smaller returns are coming. And because lower rates helped pull the world economy out of the global financial crisis, he argues that their damaging effects have gone unnoticed by central bankers.

"Any medicine, taken to extreme, turns into a poison," Kelly said at a media event detailing his firm's long-term capital-market views. "There is this assumption out there that monetary stimulus is becoming less effective over time. But it actually quite possible that it is not just less effective; it is actually counterproductive."

That's one reason Kelly and his firm think the US economy will grow just 1.9% a year, on average, over that 10- to 15-year period — a period during which he sees US large-cap stocks delivering annual returns of 5.6%. That's well below their historic average of 7.6%.

Other factors in that forecast include the aging global population and trade tensions.

3 reasons the Fed has created a difficult situation

Kelly gives three major reasons that those bank efforts have gradually turned into a problem — one isn't about to fade away and will likely get worse in response to a major slowdown or recession.

The first is that low rates don't really help the US economy as a whole. They help the housing and manufacturing sectors, which are fairly small compared with the rest of the country's service-based economy, at the expense of millions of people who are trying to save money.

"It's not possible to stimulate that much economic growth by taking the cost of capital lower," he said. "Households have far more interest-bearing assets than interest-bearing liabilities ... so when rates fall, you don't have any benefit."

Big banks are even more critical to the European economy, he said, and since interest rates there are negative, the struggles of those banks are even more devastating.

Next, he added that the promise of low rates has been eroding demand and spending for years, slowing growth.

"The expectation of low rates forever more is telling people there's no need to borrow money now," he said. "The whole way you stimulate an economy is to tell people, 'Don't wait and see; do it now.'"

Kelly also said rate cuts and easy money were damaging confidence by sending the discouraging message that the economy is still fragile.

Those negatives have been piling up in recent years, and Kelly said the Fed, Bank of Japan, and European Central Bank haven't realized it. That means that during the next downturn or recession, they'll cut rates and use other monetary tools again, and when that doesn't work, it could set off a spiral of bigger and more harmful policy mistakes.

"One of the problems we think is going to occur over the next 10 to 15 years is that when we have another problem, central bankers will probably provide more monetary easing, which actually won't cure the patient at all, and therefore leads to even more [easing]," he said.

SEE ALSO: One of America's top-ranked millennial wealth managers shares the strategy he uses to shrink his clients' tax bills while keeping their portfolios on target

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption

THE PAYMENTS FORECAST BOOK 2019: 22 forecasts of the global payments industry’s most impactful trends — and what's driving them

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 11:02pm

As cash usage declines slowly worldwide, the digital payments ecosystem is swelling around the globe: Noncash transactions are poised to exceed 1 trillion for the first time in 2023, driven by increased card penetration, wider access to mobile phones, and more access to payments infrastructure.

In emerging markets, these changes will be driven by Asia, which remains at the helm of digital transformation in payments as customers in major markets like China, India, and Southeast Asia flock to wallets like Alipay and Paytm and super-apps like WeChat and Grab in lieu of cash and cards for their payments, both online and in-store.

Change looks different in mature markets like the US, where the overall expansion of the digital payments market will remain more tempered, but mobile's impact will surge as customers move from PCs to mobile and other emerging connected devices for their online shopping, and replace small-dollar cash P2P transactions with mobile apps like Venmo and Zelle. For providers looking to make inroads in the space, understanding the dynamics of these changes will be key to growth.

In the 2019 edition of the Payments Forecast Book, Business Insider Intelligence will forecast growth in the major sectors of the payments ecosystem worldwide, with a particular look at the US market.

The forecast book, presented as a slide deck, highlights change by region in areas like noncash transactions, e-commerce, card adoption, and terminal penetration, and examines key areas of change, including contactless transactions, fraud, and mobile payments. Within each category, it provides insight into what the market will look like in 2024 and identifies key factors that will accelerate and inhibit growth.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Affirm, Alibaba, Amazon, Clover, Discover, Google, Grab, iZettle, NACHA, Klarna, Mastercard, PayPal, Square, Starbucks, The Clearing House, Venmo, Visa, Verifone, Zelle,

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Globally, noncash transactions will exceed 1 trillion in 2024, driven by growth in APAC, which will comprise 40% of transactions by 2024.
  • Card adoption will grow rapidly in markets like Latin America and the Middle East to 2024, but stagnate in sub-Saharan Africa, where customers largely transact through nonbank methods.
  • US retail spending will grow modestly, but e-commerce will nearly double its share of total retail sales by 2024 as customers do more everyday shopping online.
  • Card payments will tick up as US customers continue to abandon cash, but mobile will remain the brightest growth driver, coming to comprise 44% of the $1.9 trillion in e-commerce and 68% of the $760 billion in P2P payments in 2024.

In full, the report:

  • Identifies big-picture trends moving the needle in the payments ecosystem both globally and in the US.
  • Forecasts growth in key sectors, including noncash transactions, card and terminal penetration, fraud, e-commerce, and mobile payments, through 2024.
  • Discusses what the global payments market will look like in 2024, and how that differs from the present.
  • Highlights key growth engines and inhibitors that will drive change between now and 2024.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >>Purchase & Download Now
  2. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you've given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of digital payments.

Join the conversation about this story »

Why private label banking apps and products are on the rise

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 10:01pm

Private labeling has long been a pervasive strategy in retail, where products are made by third party manufacturers and sold under a retailer's name. The cost to manufacture is often much lower than reselling another brand name, resulting in higher margins and increased revenue for sellers.

Retailers who implement this strategy also maintain wholesale control of the brand, including packaging and pricing, which generates product exclusivity as well as promotes customer recognition of and loyalty to the brand.

Possibly the biggest benefit of private labels, however, is that they eliminate the pains of having to design and build a new product — especially when entering a new market. By outsourcing the entire process and leaving those details to the experts, sellers can instead focus on what they excel at: branding and marketing the finished product.

Because the benefits of this strategy are so multifaceted, it's no wonder private labeling is moving beyond consumer goods and gaining traction in service-based industries. Businesses looking to develop new offerings and product functionalities can now easily outsource entire technology stacks and tedious regulatory administration.

As tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google deepen their financial services plays, banking and personal finance tools have become a prime opportunity for fintechs and smaller firms to leverage private labeling to compete, and for established players to unlock new revenue streams.

Here's a look inside how private labeling is transforming the banking industry— and which products are on the rise.

What is white label banking?

White label banking is another term for private label banking or banking-as-a-service (BaaS), in which banks open up their application program interfaces (APIs) to let third parties build their own financial products with existing infrastructure. White label banking accelerates the builder's go-to-market strategy by removing regulatory, legal, and technical obstacles.

White label banking services

White label banking services enable fintechs and third parties to showcase a sleek, company-branded frontend, while leveraging an established bank's license, regulatory compliance, and technology on the backend to offer core banking features that rival major institutions'. 

Common white label banking services include:

  • Savings and checking accounts
  • Current accounts
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Simplified bill payments
  • Online payment transfer systems
  • Personal loans
  • Mortgages
  • Insurance
  • Bank statements with transaction details
  • Balance notifications
White label banking apps

Some examples of mobile banking apps built with white label features include:

  • ADIB
  • Albaraka Mobil
  • Azlo
  • Börse Stuttgart App
  • Chime
  • Compte CO2
  • Digit
  • Dozens
  • Knotist business banking
  • MoneyLion
  • Nationwide Mobile
  • Qapital
  • Qonto
  • Score Kompass 
  • Simple
  • Spendesk
  • Stash
  • Tomorrow
  • Trade Republic
  • Van Lanschot
  • Vitesse Mobile
  • Xero Accounting & Invoices
Future of white label banking services

Across industries, digital technologies are democratizing information to spur more competition and innovation. Because of this, the trend towards "open access" will only become more pervasive. In the banking industry, particularly, the open banking movement has been unfurling from its epicenter in the UK and stretching across the globe for the past few years.

White label banking and BaaS technology are no longer brand new technologies in the industry, but firms that get involved now will still be ahead of the curve by the time regulation becomes mainstream. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority has already enrolled the nine biggest banks and building societies in its Open Banking Directory, and others are coming soon. After that, it won't be long before other countries follow suit with their own regulations.

Per Accenture estimates, €61 billion ($70 billion) or 7% of total banking revenue in Europe will be associated with open banking-enabled activities by 2020. Incumbent banks around the world that invest in open banking platforms now – before it's mandated – will be rewarded with new revenue streams, an early boost in demand, partnerships with tech-savvy fintechs, and an overall competitive advantage against newcomers in the space.

To stay ahead of trends like white label banking, Business Insider Intelligence is launching a Banking coverage area in September. Tailored for top decision-makers in the financial services industry, this vertical covers digital transformation across the industry, including open banking and BaaS, consumer and business banking, mobile and online banking, digital account opening, and neobanks. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here's how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >>  Purchase & Download Now
  2. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  3. Current subscribers can read the report here.

Join the conversation about this story »

International money transfers hit $613 billion this year — here's what young, tech savvy users value most about them

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 9:02pm

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

Remittances, or cross-border peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers, hit a record high of $613 billion globally in 2017, following a two-year decline.  And the remittance industry will continue to grow, driven largely by digital services.

Several factors will fuel digital growth globally, such as increased smartphone penetration, greater demand for digital transactions, and an overall need for faster cross-border transfers. And with the shift to digital comes an audience of younger, digital-savvy customers using remittances — a segment that companies are looking to target.

As a result, the global remittance industry is becoming increasingly competitive for firms to navigate, with incumbents like Western Union and MoneyGram competing for the same pool of customers as digital upstarts like WorldRemit and Remitly. And in order to win, companies across the board will need to prioritize the four areas consumers value most in remittances: cost, convenience, speed, and safety.  

In The Digital Remittances Report, Business Insider Intelligence will identify what young, digitally savvy users value in remittances. We will also detail the concrete steps that legacy and digital providers can take to effectively capture this opportunity and monetize digital offerings — the primary growth driver — to emerge at or maintain their presence at the forefront of the space. 

The companies mentioned in the report are: MoneyGram, Remitly, Ria, Western Union, WorldRemit, TransferWise, and Xoom, among others.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • The global remittance industry recovered from a two-year decline in 2017 to reach a record $613 billion in transfer volume. That growth will continue and will be fueled by digital remittances, which Business Insider Intelligence expects to grow at a 23% CAGR from $225 billion in 2018 to $387 billion in 2023.
  • There’s a new segment of customers that both legacy and digital firms are competing to grab share of. Young, digital-savvy consumers are the customer segment that all firms are vying to reach, which is creating a highly competitive dynamic. The needs of those consumers will precipitate transformational change in the industry.
  • We’ve identified several tangible steps firms can take to improve in four key areas — cost, convenience, speed, and security — to not only attract but also maintain this customer segment to align with their preferences and ultimately win in the space.

 In full, the report:

  • Outlines the global remittance landscape and sizes the opportunity that the industry presents. 
  • Identifies the new audience for remittances and future drivers of the remittance space going forward. 
  • Discusses four key areas that providers can focus on — cost, convenience, speed, and security — to improve offerings and ultimately capture that shifting audience. 
To get this report, subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 275 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

Or, purchase & download The Digital Remittances Report directly from our research store

SEE ALSO: These were the biggest developments in the global fintech ecosystem over the last 12 months

Join the conversation about this story »

How open banking and bank APIs are boosting fintech growth

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 7:03pm

Fintechs are making waves in the finance services and banking industries, and open banking will be a key factor propelling them to the forefront. Instead of competing directly against fintech and third-party institutions, incumbents can leverage open banking to partner with them instead, and thereby remain competitive in the rapidly evolving industry.

Open banking has the ability to transform how incumbents interact with not only fintechs and each other, but with consumers as well. We outline exactly what open banking is, and describe what financial institutions stand to gain by adopting it. 

What is Open Banking?

Open banking is set to shake up the financial experiences for customers across the globe – in a good way. With this system, banks open up their application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing third parties to access financial information needed to develop new apps and services and providing account holders greater financial transparency options.

While open banking allows third parties to develop better personal finance management (PFM) applications, it places pressure on incumbents to improve their own offerings. Open banking services cultivate competition in the banking industry – forcing incumbents to either enhance their financial services or partner with fintechs.

What is a Banking API?

APIs are a set of codes and protocols that decide how different software components should interact – they essentially allow different applications to communicate with one another.

According to The Monetization of Open Banking Report from Business Insider Intelligence, APIs have been used to connect developers to payment networks as well as display billing details on a bank's website. Through open banking, APIs are now being used to issue commands to third party providers.

APIs are also necessary for the functionality of Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) – a key component of open banking. BaaS is an end-to-end process that connects fintechs and other third parties to banks' systems directly through the use of APIs. It helps to build up banks' offerings on top of financial providers' regulated infrastructure. 

Open Banking Examples

BBVA: In 2018, BBVA launched its BaaS platform, Open Platform, in the US. Open Platform utilizes APIs that allow third parties to offer customers financial products without needing to provide a full suite of banking services.

HSBC: HSBC launched its Connected Money app in May 2018 in response to the UK's open banking regulations that attempt to place more control of financial data into the hands of consumers. Connected Money allows customers to view various bank accounts as well as loans, mortgages, and credit cards, in one place.

Barclays: Flaunting its success in the open banking market, Barclays claims to be the first UK bank to enable account aggregation inside its mobile banking app. Its open banking feature allows customers to view their account with other banks within Barclays' mobile app.

Benefits of Open Banking

Open banking has the potential to increase revenue streams while expanding customer reach for financial institutions – an opportunity incumbents shouldn't ignore. It can also create revenue-sharing ecosystems, where incumbents give customers access to third-party-developed services while profiting from a subscription or referral basis. 

Business Insider Intelligence projects the revenue potential in the UK generated through Open Banking-enabled small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and retail customer propositions to reach $2 billion by 2024 – a 25% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Additionally, open banking allows banks to commercialize their infrastructure by moving into the BaaS space and providing core services to fintechs and other third parties.

Open Banking in the UK vs. US

The open banking movement began in the UK and has consequently spread across Europe. In 2018, the UK Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) Open Banking rules went into effect, requiring the nine largest retail and SMB account providers to give qualified third-party providers access to customer-permitted data.

UK regulations have made waves across Europe, with a multitude of countries following suit and forming their own open banking frameworks. Since US incumbents operate under different  regulations however, open banking adoption has been slower – but growing customer demand and pressure from competitors is forcing the US to start playing catch-up.

Open Banking Trends

With the fast-growing demand for financial services, incumbents are in constant competition with fintechs – but open banking offers them the opportunity to combat these pressures by instead partnering with them. Open banking is transforming relationships between incumbent institutions and their customers by shifting the narrative that customers themselves should have ownership of transactional data instead of their respective financial institutions.

Want to Learn More?

Open banking has already transformed the banking landscape in the UK and is now rippling across Europe to the US. The Monetization of Open Banking Report from Business Insider Intelligence outlines ways in which incumbents can capitalize on open banking services, highlighting actionable steps they can take to ensure their strategies garner success.

Interested in getting the full report? Here's how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  3. Join thousands of top companies worldwide who trust Business Insider Intelligence for their competitive research needs. >> Inquire About Our Enterprise Memberships
  4. Current subscribers can read the report here.

Join the conversation about this story »

Airbnb's 'party house' problem could spoil its public listing. Here's why its new rules to stop the rowdy blowouts might not even work.

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 6:49pm

Add one more "risk factor" to the upcoming prospectus Airbnb will release when it makes its stock market debut next year: Party houses.

The home-sharing service has built a booming business by making it easy for anyone to rent their homes to vacationers or business travelers looking for an alternative to a hotel. But the instant and easy access to homes has also caught the notice of teens and others looking for a place to throw wild parties. 

Last month, one of these party house rentals turned tragic when a shooting at an Orinda, Calif home left five people dead. As many as 100 people were at the house for a Halloween party, despite an explicit ban by the homeowner on renting the home for parties, according to the Associated Press.

The incident set off a furor and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has vowed to crack down on the problem, unveiling new verification and support policies Wednesday that he said would stop "bad actors" from abusing the trust the business has established with users.

But the policy changes are largely reactionary, coming after numerous problems at Airbnb party houses over the years. And many people that Business Insider spoke to were skeptical that the new rules would do much to actually stop Airbnb party houses.

"I think it's great that Airbnb is taking some action to rein in the most extreme cases of so-called party houses. But it should not have taken a multiple homicide incident for that to happen," University of Texas assistant professor Jake Wegmann told Business Insider. Wegmann's research focuses on the impact of short-term rentals on local real estate, and he published one of the landmark studies in 2016 that found the existence of Airbnb in San Francisco increased market rents. 

As Airbnb, which has been valued as high as $31 billion by private investors, moves closer to a public listing, its party problem has become a high-priority.

Verification, refunds, and high-risk reservations

The new rules laid out by Chesky involve four key changes:

  • Verification of all 7 million Airbnb listings to ensure the site listing is an accurate representation of the rental.
  • Rebooking or refunding guests who book locations that are not up to the new verification standards.
  • A 24/7 hotline and prominent customer support phone number for guests and neighbors near Airbnb listings.
  • Screening of reservations that are deemed "high-risk" to deter unauthorized parties.

In addition, Airbnb said it has hired two former law enforcement officials as advisors to help the company combat the range of abuses and problems that can occur with short-term home rentals. 

According to American Family Voices president Mike Lux, the home rental startup rewards absentee property owners that have limited interest in screening guests. American Family Voices sponsored the anti-Airbnb advocacy group Airbnb Watch, which chronicles Airbnb's negative impacts on local neighborhoods and real estate. 

"I don't exactly understand honestly what they are doing with that rule," Lux said. "They are making a lot of noise about it, but I don't know how they are going to enforce it."

A homeowner renting a basement out on the weekends is incentivized to screen potential guests, Lux explained, but a real estate "speculator" with multiple units is incentivized to get as many guests in each unit as possible to maximize profits. This is what leads to so-called party houses, and until hosts feel the pressure from Airbnb, they will continue to operate in their own interests, Lux said.

"I do know that ultimately the problem isn't solved unless you stop multi-unit operators," Lux said. "That's what will stop this wild party house problem. They need to monitor hosts and guests better, and they should take more responsibility when something goes wrong."

In the case of the Orinda house, it's unclear whether the new policies would have stopped the unauthorized party. According to the Associated Press, the unit had been rented by a woman who claimed her family members were concerned about health effects of the nearby wildfires in Sonoma County. The owner, Michael Wang, had received multiple citations from city officials for exceeding the home's capacity in the past according to The San Francisco Chronicle, but it's not clear whether Wang owned multiple rentals in California's Bay Area. 

According to Lux's group, there have been more than 30 news reports about violent incidents at Airbnb parties in recent months, including shootings at similar "party houses" in St. Paul, Minn., and Los Angeles, Calif. and other cities. 

Just weeks before the Orinda incident, a woman was shot in the arm in Arizona at an Airbnb house party, according to the Phoenix Fox television station. In May, an 18-year old was shot at a party in a Seattle home that had been rented on Airbnb, according to local media.

The Orinda Police Department couldn't comment on the specifics of the case as the search for the shooter is still ongoing. Airbnb has a contentious relationship with its hometown, inspiring legislation from San Francisco Supervisors Aaron Peskin and David Campos to fine the company $1,000 each day for unregistered listings. The company settled with the city in 2017 after a lengthy public fight to repeal the regulation.

"Three years ago, we said the law being passed, which was written by Airbnb, won't work because there was no skin in the game in terms of enforcement," Campos told the New York Times in 2017. of this city's relationship to Airbnb.

Going public in the face of local scrutiny

Airbnb has clashed with local governments before, and has continuously fought local legislation that sought to limit the company's influence or applied short-term rental restrictions and taxes at city or county levels. On Tuesday, the company suffered a stinging defeat in New Jersey as voters overwhelmingly approved stricter regulations for short-term rentals, legislation that Airbnb publicly opposed, according to the New York Times.

The company's relationship with local governments will be critical as Airbnb tries to sell itself to public investors. Airbnb has said it plans to list its shares on the stock market by 2020, either through a traditional IPO or direct listing.

At a time when other richly valued startups like Uber and Lyft have struggled in the public markets, Airbnb will face significant scrutiny around its business prospects and the various risks it faces.

"Surely this casts light on the need by potential investors to fully understand what, if any, liability issues this or any other 'bad behavior' on the part of renters raises for the company," IPO consultant and financial advisor Lise Buyer told Business Insider.

For Lux, the Airbnb critic, it comes down to the company taking responsibility. 

"If you put up a mega-platform like this that allows people to do business in this way, you absolutely have to take responsibility as a company," Lux told Business Insider. "You can't let pure libertarianism run amok. That can't be the way society operates."

SEE ALSO: A Silicon Valley VC is handing out 'Free Hong Kong' shirts at Golden State Warriors games and calling out other tech leaders for taking Chinese money while staying silent

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Apple just revealed its AirPods Pro for $249, which feature noise cancellation. Here's everything that was wrong with the $159 pair of the wireless headphones.

Alphabet's board has launched a probe into the company's handling of sexual misconduct charges, including those made against its top attorney (GOOG)

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 6:29pm

  • Google parent Alphabet's board is looking into the company's handling of sexual misconduct allegations, according to CNBC.
  • It's formed a special committee to look into the matter and has hired an outside law firm to help out with the investigation, according to the report.
  • Among other things, the investigation will look into charges made against David Drummond, Alphabet's chief legal officer, who had an affair and a child with a subordinate and is accused of having other affairs with women in his department.
  • The investigation follows a shareholder lawsuit that accuses the company of covering up sexual misconduct and a worldwide walkout by company employees over its handling of sexual harassment claims.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The board of directors at Alphabet, Google's parent company, has launched an investigation into the company's handling of sexual misconduct allegations, including those made against its chief legal officer David Drummond, CNBC reported on Wednesday.

The board has created a special committee to oversee the inquiry, according to the report. Its also hired an outside law firm to help with the investigation, CNBC reported, citing "materials" it had viewed.

In a statement, a Google representative confirmed the board inquiry, saying it had previously been disclosed in court filings.

"In early 2019, Alphabet's Board of Directors formed a special litigation committee to consider claims made by shareholders in various lawsuits relating to past workplace conduct," the representative said.

The representative declined to say whether the inquiry would scrutinize Drummond's conduct.

But according to CNBC, the investigation will indeed look at the actions of Drummond, who heads up Alphabet's legal department. In August, Jennifer Blakely, who formerly worked for Drummond as a part of Google's legal team, said she'd had an affair and a child with him while she reported to him. After the birth of her son, she said she was forced to leave her position in the legal department and was transferred to the sales department to a position for which she felt ill-suited.

Blakely accused Drummond of abandoning her and having multiple other affairs, including with women who had worked with him at Google. 

In a subsequent statement, Drummond acknowledged the relationship and said that he was "far from perfect," but denied he had ever "started a relationship" with anyone else at Google or Alphabet.

Alphabet has been dogged by criticism about its handling of sexual misconduct allegations for much of the last year. An article in The New York Times last fall detailed how the company had allegedly ignored sexual harassment allegations made against key executives and, in some cases, paid generous severance packages to those executives. The report led to a massive walkout by Google employees around the world to protest the company's handling of such matters. It also led to a shareholder suit that accused the board of covering up sexual misconduct. 

Earlier this week, Drummond saw a $27 million windfall from exercising some of his Alphabet options.

Got a tip about Alphabet or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: Andy Rubin, the creator of Android who left Google after a sexual misconduct allegation, is tweeting again to tease a weird, new phone-like gadget

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.

Federal prosecutors charged two former Twitter employees with spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia (TWTR)

Wed, 11/06/2019 - 5:41pm

  • Federal prosecutors have charged two former Twitter employees with spying on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government, The Washington Post first reported.
  • The criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday alleges that the former employees snooped on the accounts of people who were critical of Saudi Arabia.
  • The defendants allegedly spied on more than 6,000 Twitter accounts beginning in 2015 at Saudi Arabia's behest.
  • A Twitter spokesperson said the company is thankful for the Justice Department's investigation but declined to answer questions about what role the employees held in the company.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Two former employees of Twitter have been charged with spying on more than 6,000 users' accounts at the request of the Saudi Arabian government, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.

The Justice Department complaint, first reported by The Washington Post, alleges that Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi Arabian citizen, and Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, both used their positions at Twitter to spy on users who were critical of Saudi Arabia. Abouammo was arrested Tuesday, according to the Post.

A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider that the company was grateful for the Justice Department's investigation, but declined to answer questions about what positions the two former employees held at the company, or whether Twitter was aware of any spying before prosecutors intervened.

"We would like to thank the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice for their support with this investigation. We recognize the lengths bad actors will go to try and undermine our service. Our company limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson went on to say that Twitter "understand[s] the incredible risks faced by many who use Twitter to share their perspectives with the world and to hold those in power accountable. We have tools in place to protect their privacy and their ability to do their vital work. We're committed to protecting those who use our service to advocate for equality, individual freedoms, and human rights."

According to the Post, one of the accounts that the employees snooped on belonged to Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent activist who was critical of Saudi Arabia and became close with Jama Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist killed by Saudi government officials last year.

"The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter's internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users," U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson told the Post. "We will not allow U.S. companies or U.S. technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of U.S. law."

Abouammo worked as a media partnerships manager for Twitter, according to the criminal complaint. A LinkedIn profile that appears to belong to Abouammo says he was at the company from 2013-2015, and that he "spearheaded Twitter partnerships with media organizations (TV, sports, government, entertainment, music, and news)" in the Middle East and Africa.

SEE ALSO: Twitter has published its rules for world leaders, including what types of tweets won't be allowed

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why it's so hard for planes to land on water



About Value News Network

Value is the only commonality in an increasingly complex, challenging and interdependent world.
Laurance Allen: Editor + Publisher

Connect with Us