A Swedish fintech backed by billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi said it has found a solution to one of the biggest nightmares of an increasingly cashless world: What happens if the Internet goes dark and no one can use their phones or cards?
Crunchfish AB, in which al-Amoudi holds 17 percent through investment unit Midroc, is developing software for mobile phones that lets consumers pay merchants in real time, offline and in any currency, including central bank digital currency and bitcoin.
In doing so, the start-up might have figured out how to help societies function without cash, even “if the lights go out,” which Sweden’s central bank Governor Stefan Ingves once said would require a return to bank notes and coins.
Crunchfish is running a pilot project with Swish, Sweden’s biggest payment services provider. If successful, it could be used for cross-border transactions and help lay the foundation for an e-krona, for which the Riksbank is running its own pilot project.
It works like a checkbook: Consumers place money into a special account that can be tapped to make payments if networks are down. Once back online, payments are registered and users can top up their accounts.
The company has the potential to become another Klarna Bank AB, Europe’s most valuable start-up, Goran Linder, CEO of Midroc in Sweden, said in an interview.
Crunchfish has a market value of US$112 million.
“Ultimately, I anticipate this to be integrated with all payment schemes, including mobile money,” Linder said. “People who have never been able to open up a bank account, they do have a phone.”
The Bank for International Settlements has dubbed Sweden the world’s most cashless society.
The virtual disappearance of cash in Sweden has spurred a fever of innovation within digital payments, including by the Riksbank itself.
Along with China, Sweden leads major economies in developing a central bank digital currency.
Crunchfish is swimming in a crowded pond. Sweden has as many as 200 fintech companies focused on payments, said Louise Grabo, secretary-general of the Swedish Financial Technology Association.
“Their product is getting more attention nowadays, as we become a cashless society,” she said.
That reliance on digital payments has become a source of concern in some corners.
Swish, which is owned by Scandinavia’s biggest banks, “is a big ecosystem,” said Anders Edlund, head of business development at the firm’s parent company, Getswish.
If the Internet is down, “you can’t do a Swish payment,” he said.
When the Crunchfish app is up and running “we can do payments even if something in the ecosystem isn’t working,” he added.
With Crunchfish’s technology, users effectively have money upfront that they can spend, “almost like you have physical money in your wallet,” said Joachim Samuelsson, Crunchfish’s CEO and biggest shareholder.
Visa Inc outlined a similar model in a research paper in December last year.
“The heart of our system is that we maintain that spending limit, that offline balance,” Samuelsson said.
That ensures merchants and banks would not be left holding the bag if consumers spend more than they have: They simply cannot.
The joint project could be up and running throughout Sweden within two years, Edlund said.
That is provided Swish decides “to go the whole way and we have the banks on board,” he added.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s biggest contract chipmaker, has decided to slow down its 3-nanometer chip production as Intel Corp, one of its major customers, plans to push back the launch of its new Meteor Lake tGPU chipsets to the end of next year, market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday. That means Intel has canceled almost all of the 3-nanometer capacity booked for next year, with only a small amount of wafer input remaining for engineering verification, the Taipei-based researcher said in a report. Based on Intel’s original schedule, TSMC was to start producing the new chipsets in
DATA SHOW DOWNTURN: Manufacturing in Taiwan contracted as production and demand slumped, while growth in chip exports last month eased in South Korea World chip sales growth has decelerated for six straight months in another sign that the global economy is straining under the weight of rising interest rates and mounting geopolitical risks. Semiconductor sales rose 13.3 percent in June from a year earlier, down from 18 percent in May, data from the global peak industry body showed. The slowdown is the longest since the US-China trade dispute in 2018. The three-month moving average in chip sales has correlated with the global economy’s performance in the past few decades. The latest weakness comes as concern about a worldwide recession has prompted chipmakers such as Samsung
‘NO NEED TO WORRY’: The central bank governor said foreign selling on the TAIEX is normal for this time of year and that the nation has ample forex reserves Taiwan would emerge unscathed from China’s retaliatory actions to protest US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, top monetary and financial officials said yesterday. Central bank Governor Yang Chin-long (楊金龍) shrugged off unease over potential instability in the foreign exchange and stock markets after foreign portfolio funds trimmed their holdings of local shares for two straight days amid Beijing’s threats of retaliation. “There is no need to worry,” Yang said on the sidelines of an event to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of Central American Bank for Economic Integration’s (CABEI) Taipei office and the 30th anniversary of
Italy is close to clinching a deal initially worth US$5 billion with Intel Corp to build an advanced semiconductor packaging and assembly plant in the country, two sources briefed on discussions said yesterday. Intel’s investment in Italy is part of a wider plan announced by the US chipmaker earlier this year to invest US$88 billion in building capacity across Europe, which is striving to cut its reliance on Asian chip imports and ease a supply crunch that has curbed output in the region’s strategic auto sector. Asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, the sources said the