PayPal is moving closer to “mainstream banking”, Facebook suspends another data analytics firm for using tactics like Cambridge Analytica, and China is testing a social credit ranking system straight out of a Black Mirror episode.
First up from Facebook is news that popular online payments company Paypal is quietly rolling out traditional bank features to some of its customers. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company is offering mainstream banking options like debit cards, withdrawing cash at ATMs, and direct deposits. Paypal does not have a US banking license, however, so it’s been partnering with smaller financial institutions to offer these services as a way to skirt the rules. The company’s chief operating officer Bill Ready says that this is for people who don’t have a bank account but still want to participate in the modern digital economy.
Next up from Reddit is more Facebook news. We’ve been covering this almost every day for the last few weeks and new information is still popping up about this scandal. Now, Facebook has suspended another data analytics firm from its platform called CubeYou after CNBC found that it was collecting user information through quizzes just like Cambridge Analytica. CubeYou swears it was only collecting data for academic research, but that’s what they’ve all said. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has officially joined the Delete Facebook movement, yet another blow to Facebook’s credibility. Time will tell if the social media giant will recover.
And last but not least from Reddit again is a terrifying dystopian ranking system currently underway in China. If anyone has seen British anthology series Black Mirror, you may recognize this concept. The Chinese government is testing out a vast ranking system that monitors the behaviour of its population and ranks people based on their “social credit”. Like traditional private credit scores, a person’s social score can move up and down depending on their behaviour. Things like smoking or bad driving will cause you to lose points, and the government has already started punishing people with bad scores. Nine million people with low scores have been blocked from buying tickets for domestic flights and three million have been barred from purchasing business-class train tickets. A bad score can also affect your internet speed, it can ban you or your children from the best schools or applying for the best jobs, and even ban you from nice hotels. Good scores, on the other hand, can speed up travel applications to places like Europe, book hotels for free, and get you more matches on dating websites. While you can be publicly shamed for having a bad score, a good score will get you discounts on bills, better interest rates at the bank, and even free gym memberships. This has been in pilot since 2014 and the country’s government is hoping it will be fully rolled out in 2020.
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