Adam Minter (for Info only, not official)

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Adam Minter

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    ...Last week, Grab, one of the region’s top ride-hailing companies, announced that users of its app can start sending credits—used to pay for rides—to each other. By the end of the year, they’ll be able to use those credits at more than 1,000 restaurants and retailers. If all goes well, Grab will one day be known as an e-payment platform that just happens to offer a taxi service. That’s a radical evolution, but hardly illogical. As many as 2 billion people lack access to traditional financial services worldwide. Most are concentrated in developing countries with cash-based economies, where banks have long resisted offering services such as loans, checking accounts and credit cards. As incomes in these countries rise, technology is helping entrepreneurs leapfrog old ways of doing business. In particular, mobile phones have enabled a parallel financial system to evolve, with some intriguing results. The trend began in Kenya. ...

    Live Mint on Sept. 5, 2017, 9:58 a.m.

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    ...As the evening wound down, the ambassador asked Xi if he’d seen any good movies lately. Xi said he had a DVD of Flags of Our Fathers that he meant to watch. He added that he liked Hollywood’s World War II films because they’re “grand and truthful” in their moral outlook. By contrast, he thought Chinese films were too concerned with “talking about bad things in imperial palaces.” If that’s a guide to what Xi wants to watch, then he’s probably a fan of Wolf Warrior 2, the patriotic shoot-’em-up that has just become the top-grossing film in Chinese history, and the first non-Hollywood title to crack the top 100 of all time. China’s filmmakers have long hoped to tell patriotic stories with Hollywood flair, and Wolf Warrior 2 shows they can do it. That’s good news for Chinese audiences—and a stark warning to Hollywood. ...

    Live Mint on Aug. 23, 2017, 10:12 a.m.

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    ...On one level, this was simply smart business: Chinese made around $5.5 trillion in e-payment transactions last year. But it also offered a glimpse of the future. Around the developing world, QR codes are beating out Apple Pay and other brand-name payment services for consumers and businesses keen to go cashless. China offers a useful model for that transformation—and a standard that others may soon be emulating. The QR code may seem like an unlikely candidate to foster a financial revolution. It was developed in the 1990s by Japan’s Denso Corp. after customers grew dissatisfied with the limited amount of information that could be stored using traditional barcodes. In solving that problem, Denso came up with new codes that could be read 10 times more quickly than their predecessors—QR stands for “quick response.” The technology first caught on in Japan’s automotive industry, which used it to track inventory. ...

    Live Mint on July 19, 2017, 2:37 p.m.

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    ...That might sound dull. But for Apple, which is banking on the developing world for growth, it’s actually a far-sighted move. The company is acknowledging that smartphones have transitioned from elite niche products into mature technologies, owned by everyone and upgraded infrequently. And that means that boring reliability—not innovation—will define the iPhone’s future. By now, most consumers know what they want from a smartphone (social media, text messaging, and so on). And better screens and cameras will only persuade so many to splurge on new models. That’s especially true in emerging markets. In Kenya, users cite social media as the primary reason for upgrading from a feature phone, and used smartphones—which go for as little as $40—work just fine for accessing Facebook. ...

    Live Mint on April 21, 2017, 9:44 a.m.

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    ...That morning, the Chinese government had announced that at the direction of President Xi Jinping, 800 miles surrounding Xiongxan would be developed into a city meant to serve as a model for China’s development over the “next millennium.” Expectations are high: The government has placed the Xiongan New Area on equal footing with China’s two great successes in government-directed urban development, Shenzhen and Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, calling it an area of “national significance.” Xi is following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaopeng, who presided over the rise of Shenzhen and laid the groundwork for Pudong. Whether the ambitious plan succeeds, though, depends on whether Xi learns not just from Deng’s successes, but from the many failures that followed. Conditions in China have changed drastically from Deng’s time. ...

    Live Mint on April 6, 2017, 2:02 p.m.

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    ...But it’s far more important for Tesla’s future prospects than for its current needs: Without it, the company could end up a global afterthought in the race to build the next wave of technologically sophisticated cars. That might seem surprising for a company that’s nearly synonymous with the future. But China, the world’s largest car market, isn’t about to cede its auto industry to foreign entrepreneurs. By partnering with Tencent—which will get a 5% ownership stake in the deal—Tesla seems to finally be accepting that fact. Since it embarked on economic reforms in the 1980s, China has welcomed foreign automakers on the condition that they establish joint ventures with local companies, in which profits and technology are shared. In one sense, that approach has worked: Most cars bought in China today are made in China. ...

    Live Mint on April 3, 2017, 8:30 a.m.

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    ...In one form or another, surveillance and monitoring have evolved into a well-honed form of social control. And as a result, neither companies nor consumers have traditionally had very high expectations for individual privacy. That might have been fine before more than 700 million Chinese went online, and before the government began counting on sectors such as e-commerce to ease the economy’s dependency on investment and exports. If China’s biggest online players want to chart a bigger role for themselves at home and abroad, they are going to need to start taking privacy much more seriously. The problem came into sharp focus this month, with new data showing that Chinese police had arrested 4,261 suspects in 1,886 cases related to the theft of personal information last year. That’s a steep increase from prior years. Between 2010 and 2014, there were roughly 260 prosecutions under China’s law prohibiting the sale of personal information. ...

    Live Mint on March 20, 2017, 11:54 p.m.

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    ...The response may not be legal under international law, but it’s certainly understandable. North Korea is not only accused of sponsoring an assassination in Malaysia’s busiest airport, using a banned nerve agent. It’s since taunted and bullied Malaysian officials attempting to investigate the crime. But Malaysia’s aggressive response isn’t just about the assassination. Arguably, its roots trace back to the flurry of criticism roused by the government’s response to the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, three years ago. Embarrassed at home and abroad, the Malaysian government found itself in a political crisis largely of its own making. In recovering, it appears to have learned some important lessons it’s now applying to North Korea. It’s important to remember that the current standoff is out of keeping with Malaysia’s diplomatically accommodating past. ...

    Live Mint on March 8, 2017, 2:26 p.m.