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.
SUPPLY HICCUPS: Poor manufacturing yields at Apple’s overseas suppliers have caused at least one maker of its new MiniLED displays to pause production, sources said The next-generation display destined to be a highlight of Apple Inc’s upcoming top-tier iPad Pro is facing production issues that could lead to short initial supplies of the new device, people familiar with the matter said. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant plans to showcase a new MiniLED display technology in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro set to be announced as early as the second half of this month. However, the firm’s overseas suppliers are dealing with poor manufacturing yields, the people who asked not to be named discussing sensitive matters said. At least one of the MiniLED makers has had to pause production as
END OF AN ERA: The Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets have served the airline well, but new-generation aircraft are more fuel-efficient, CAL chairman Hsieh Shih-chien said China Airlines Ltd (CAL, 華航) yesterday bid farewell to its last four Boeing 747-400 planes, ending the era of the “Queen of the Skies” at the airline. CAL has since 1975 operated a total of 29 747 series aircraft manufactured by Boeing Co. In 1990, it started receiving delivery of 19 747-400 jumbo jets, with the last one, the B-18215, delivered in 2005, it said. The B-18215 was the last of the passenger model produced by Boeing, making the 16-year-old aircraft the world’s youngest 747-400, CAL chairman Hsieh Shih-chien (謝世謙) told an event to bid farewell to the planes at Taiwan Taoyuan
Several hundred people have already booked their tickets and begun training for a spectacular voyage: a few minutes, or perhaps days, in the weightlessness of space. The mainly wealthy first-time space travelers are preparing to take part in one of several private missions which are preparing to launch. The era of space tourism is on the horizon 60 years after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. Two companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin LLC, are building spacecraft capable of sending private clients on suborbital flights to the edge of space lasting several minutes. Glenn King is the director of
DIVERSE SUPPLY: TSMC chairman Mark Liu said the firm’s US$12 billion investment in Arizona would succeed with continued bipartisan support from the US Congress Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, on Monday took part in a virtual White House summit about a global semiconductor shortage and Washington’s plans to strengthen US supply chains. The Hsinchu-based company was among 19 firms, including fellow chipmakers Samsung Electronics Co, GlobalFoundries Inc and Intel Corp, that attended the summit hosted by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, US National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. US President Joe Biden told executives in the meeting that there is bipartisan support in the US Congress for efforts to strengthen the US