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In this week’s What’s Appening, we are looking at Big Tech uniting against a common enemy – the password. Sure, we have seen plenty of passwordless solutions down the years, but the commitment from Apple, Google, and Microsoft to remove them from all platforms is something to be celebrated. Elsewhere, we have a look at the argument that broke out between two of Fintech’s biggest names, Plaid and Stripe. Spotify gets down with the kids on Roblox. Our Stat of the Week highlights the power of Wordle. And What’s dAppening sees Starbucks serve up some NFTs with its coffees.

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🎬 Takes

🖥️ 🔒 Apple, Google, and Microsoft – Come Together to Solve the Password Problem

People and passwords – we can’t seem to get it right. It’s estimated that 80% of data breaches are caused by weak passwords and poor password management. Unsurprising. We at 3Advance have been battling this user experience nightmare for as long as we’ve been making apps, offering Sign in with Facebook 👎, Google 😎, Apple 😎, phone number 👍, and biometrics ❤️ – and we couldn’t survive without password managers (1Password FTW!). But now, it seems Big Tech has stepped in to save us. On May 5th, AKA World Password Day, Apple, Google and Microsoft announced they were committing to building password-free sign-in options across mobile, desktop, and browser platforms. They will roll out this passwordless new dawn by using a standard called FIDO, which uses public-key cryptography to authenticate sign-ins. In short, your smartphone will house a passkey that is shared securely with a website when you unlock your device. FIDO has been around for almost a decade, so it’s not as if we are reporting on new technology. But the key here is the collaboration between the Big Tech gatekeepers to take down a common foe. And that means app developers like us stand up and take notice… But wait right there, Big Tech! You’ve waited till 2022 to work together to solve this problem? Perhaps the blockchain revolution is prompting these centralized tech giants to take action. Some believe that the future of sign-ins is your Crypto wallet, but that’s a topic for another day… For now, we’ll cross our fingers and hope that this initiative makes a difference – for us developers, and those who use our apps. #DeathToThePassword Read more here.

💳 🏦 Stripe – Open Banking Product Launch Ignites War of Words with Plaid 

“Financial Connections” might sound like a dating app for stockbrokers, but it is, in fact, a new open banking product from Stripe. Open banking allows businesses to seamlessly connect to their customers’ bank accounts for processes like verification. It’s an important middleman solution that has particular relevance in consumer-facing fintech products, such as Coinbase and Robinhood. But not everyone is enthusiastic about Stripe’s latest venture. Plaid, the market leader in fintech open banking, effectively accused Stripe of stealing its ideas. Worse still, Plaid CEO Zachary Perret took to Twitter and called out Jay Shah (Stripe’s Head of Product), claiming Stripe used a range of underhand tactics to get that information over the past few years. Stripe shot back, claiming its intentions were friendly and saw Plaid as a potential partner (they’ve partnered in the past). Later, Perret took a new approach, saying that Financial Connections didn’t offer full integration with bank APIs and that the fees charged by Stripe were much pricier than those set by Plaid. The row seems to have been calmed a bit now. Perret has deleted the original tweet accusing Stripe of being underhanded, and an internal memo by Stripe boss Patrick Collison has suggested Stripe could have handled things better. It’s not the first time Stripe has been part of a fintech beef this year. Back in January, the now-former Bolt CEO Ryan Breslow called Stripe and Y Combinator “mob bosses”, claiming they would pull every power move to outmuscle the competition. And if you factor in the spectacular demise of Fast CEO Dom Holland, it’s been quite the year for fintech drama🍿🍿. #StripePlaidFight Read more here.

🎧 💻 Spotify – First Streamer to Launch on Roblox with Spotify Island 

Spotify Island has now opened within the social and gaming platform Roblox. If you aren’t familiar with Roblox, it’s a “virtual universe” – a metaverse launched years before Facebook popularized the term – where users can play and create games and socialize with one another. It’s also hugely popular, with over 200 million active users worldwide and around 33 million daily players, most of whom are children. So, what are Spotify’s plans with this new piece of virtual real estate? Well, it frames it as a “paradise of sound”, a virtual place where fans and artists can connect with each other through shared experiences. In plain speak, that means you can play music-themed games, complete challenges and buy exclusive merchandise. There’s also the suggestion that we will soon see virtual concerts, perhaps similar to those performed by Ariana Grande and Travis Scott in Fortnite recently. Going further, Spotify hopes to showcase the island as a place to create music through a collaboration with Soundtrap. It’s clear Spotify views this as a means to connect with younger music fans, something underlined by the fact that it will be soon launching K-Park as a homage to K-pop culture. Going after the BTS dollar seems smart to us, but we should point out that Spotify is giving its portion of merchandise sales straight back to the artists. #WelcomeToSpotifyIsland Read more here.

🧐 Stat of the Week – Wordle brings NYT “tens of millions” of new users

Okay, okay, this is more of an estimate than a stat, but we haven’t talked about Wordle, and now is a good time to recognize perhaps the best million dollars ever spent on an app. Wordle, the viral word puzzle game, which was snapped up by The New York Times back in January, has helped deliver the publication’s best-ever gaming-related quarter. In its earnings release, The Times said that Wordle brought “tens of millions” of new users to the platform, leading to an additional 387,000 digital-only subscribers last quarter. Back when it bought the rights to Wordle, The NYT claimed it would be part of its drive to increase digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025 (it’s currently on 9.1 million). While it has other big draws, notably NYT Cooking and its purchase of sports news platform The Athletic, it has been keen to stress how important its Games portfolio has been to its subscriber growth plans. It seems to be working. #ThePowerOfWordle Read more here..

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

☕ 🖼️ Starbucks – Coffee Chain Announces NFTs In Push for the “Third Place”

Would you like some non-fungible cream with your coffee? Yup. It’s Starbucks NFTs. The coffee chain announced it plans to enter the web3 realm, with its new range of NFTs due to drop later this year. The announcement came with a large side order of hard-to-follow corporate speak, talking about how NFTs will “enable this aspiration and allows us to extend who Starbucks has always been at our core.”. But Starbucks has always recognized what impact technology can have on its bottom line. Its app, which has over 23 million US users, is, technically speaking, one of the most popular payment apps in the country, even landing the company a $1.4 billion ‘interest-free loan’ through unused customer deposits. As for the NFTs, Starbucks has been light on the details of what they will look like, but it has suggested they will offer exclusive, err, coffee-related experiences and special perks. Starbucks is actively seeking a new CEO who has an understanding of web3 technologies, and it has been keen to push the idea of a “digital third place”, an environment between home and work where people can connect over a cup of joe. This seems to be more than jumping on the NFT bandwagon, so we are keen to see how this all plays out. #NonFungibleLattes Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance…

At 3Advance last week we started experimenting with video. We’ve really enjoyed creating this newsletter… And so have you it seems, the feedback is so appreciated 🙏 but now we’re planning to step it up a notch. Behind closed doors (’till we’re ready to roll), we started producing What’s Appening video reviews – a light hearted five-minute chat with Kate and Paul about what we’re covering this week and why it’s important. So far, we’ve had a lot of fun trying it out, but we’d love to get your take before we start posting to Youtube, TikTok etc. So if you want to join the What’s Appening super-secret beta testers group, reply to this email! Or if you’ve got any suggestions on how we can improve the newsletter, definitely reply and let us know. 📢