I am intrigued by this idea of firms ‘deactivating service’ when payments are not made as a means of driving on time payment behavior and ensuring collateral. Another example that comes to mind is M-KOPA Solar, a company that provides solar kits to low income communities in Kenya. “The kits come with a control box containing the battery and a SIM card that can communicate with M-Kopa headquarters in Nairobi. When a customer has made a payment via mobile phone, the SIM card sends a signal to activate the battery, which is powered by the panels”. What they are essentially doing is providing a microfinance product to consumers, by providing giving them a line of credit and the threat of disruption to a basic need.
Thanks for writing this Lane! Reading this article, I wasn’t quite sure how much value Coin was actually adding by just creating a consolidation layer to the payment system. Agree users would like to have thinner wallets, but given the incremental change (switching from many cards to one card) I’m not quite sure if they would be willing to pay $100 for it. To me, it seems that their business model and customer acquisition model was not well thought through. It’s interesting to compare ‘consolidation wallets’ like Coin to the popularity and rise of mobile wallets such as Venmo. These mobile wallets are typically free for the user and create significant value with their easy of use and interaction. Venmo did an incredible job of creating a network of users on its platform and making its name synonymous with P2P payments. Given this large consumer base, it could now move into B2C payments and help monetize the platform
Very interesting article JZ! In addition to great recommendations above, I wonder whether CN could focus more on the model newspapers such as NYT and WSJ have, which is to push for greater adoption of their app and mobile content. It seems from this source (https://www.statista.com/statistics/191796/us-magazine-audiences-2010-vogue/) that 11% of readers still access Vouge via mobile web and don’t actually download the application. They could drive the increased adoption by simplifying their offerings on the app store – if you type in vogue in the app store now, you get 6 official vogue apps that offer different types of content (Magazine, collections, runway and many country specific apps). The could consider become the one stop indispensable fashion app, that allows users to access news, editorials, runway updates for both local and international markets. This could drive significantly higher in-app advertising revenue.
I am very curious about what Pearson’s foray into intelligent learning/tutoring systems (ITS). A large number of studies have shown that these systems are associated with higher outcome scores regardless of the level of schooling (elementary to postsecondary).  (*See details on learning gains by types of treatment groups). Given these results, it seems that ITS systems are best suited to replace large teacher-led instruction and I wonder whether, in the long run, they are going head to head with their buyers of content – schools and colleges. And what the implication of this would mean for their traditional content-driven business.
(*) “The effect size obtained from an evaluative study of an intelligent tutoring system depends on what instructional treatment the intelligent tutoring system is compared to. Studies that compared a group of learners who used an intelligent tutoring system with a group of learners who received no instruction had a large mean effect size of g = 1.23. For the 107 results in which the comparison group did receive instruction, the mean effect size was g = .41.
Dividing the comparison treatments into categories, intelligent tutoring systems showed statistically significant benefits compared to large-group, teacher-led instruction (g = .44); individual, non-intelligent tutoring system computer-based instruction (g = .57), and individual study with a textbook or workbook (g = .36). When intelligent tutoring systems were compared with small-group instruction (g = .05) and one-to-one human tutoring (g = -.11) there were no statistically significant differences.”
Very interesting read. I think a big reason why Equity has been able to transition towards mobile banking, is because of the high penetration and the comfort of using of mobile money in Kenya. More than 75% of Kenya’s adult population is banked via traditional bank or mobile money accounts such as M-PESA. This is significantly above the global average of 62%.The World Bank credits this high financial inclusion to the success of mobile money . I wonder whether Equity bank would have been successful if there wasn’t already so much comfort with using mobile money in Kenya. It makes me wonder, whether the launch of Equitel was to ensure their relevance and not lose all their grass route transactions to the likes of M-PESA which could potentially leverage is reach to expand into microlending and small scale loans.
Very interesting read Charlie! It’s heartening to read that large conglomerates take sustainability seriously enough to drive transformational changes in their business. To the point BunnySlope raised above, I would be curious to understand how the Ecoimagination team fits into the corporate structure at GE. Are they considered advisors to the core business or is it a mandate for sustainability that rests within every division? I wonder whether it is a second class citizen to GE’s dirty tech business? If that is the case, it might actually be more worthwhile for them, to set up the Ecoimagination team purely as advisors to their clients and other external businesses. Thanks again for writing this!
Such a great read! It’s interesting to see the changing role of distributors in managing consumer demand and supply gaps. It’s interesting to see that these initiatives (building scale of local producers) are driven more by changing perceptions about locally sourced food, rather than actual changes in food availability due to climate change. I wonder whether in the long run (when the impacts of climate change are more drastic) Sysco’s high reliance on smaller producers will negatively affect them. The assumption being that larger scale producers will be better equipped to deal with the adverse impacts of climate change due to their scale. It would be interesting to see if Sysco is also in parallel investing in partnerships with larger scale farmers who have adopted more sustainable practices. Again, thank you for writing this!
Taki, to your question on can the solid waste be used to create a byproduct, there is a company called Sanergy based out of Kenya that has built it’s business model around this idea. http://saner.gy/our-work/the-sanergy-model . To help commercialize and make their portable toilets affordable, they collect the waste using franchise partners and then convert it in a centralized facility into organic fertilizer, insect-based animal feed, and renewable energy. A really clever way to tackle the issues of impact, scale, and cost.
Such an interesting article! I really like your idea that Lafarge should drive greater policy and regulatory changes in the industry. But I wonder whether their voice should be limited just to the cement industry, or expand further into the real estate? I believe they would have more room to fundamental impact in terms of sustainability as well as create monetary value for their business if they did this. For example, they could lobby regulators to pass regulations that required all new buildings to use the insulated cement – for which Lafarge could charge a premium.
Such an interesting article! Like Mary, I hadn’t previously considered the environmental impact of the spirits industry. I was surprised to see that they decided to invest in making their casks sustainable, vs. investing to ensure that they have a long-term, consistent and affordable supply of raw materials (corn, rye, barley). I wonder how much of this is driven by their COGS breakdown? I would be interested to see if they are pursuing any initiatives with their raw material suppliers to help them combat the effects of climate change, thus making their entire supply chain truly sustainable.