A record $117 billion in fintech deals have been done this year as cashless payments soar in popularity

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Frances Sy pays for her coffee with cryptocurrency at the opening of Ducatus cafe, the first cashless cafe that accepts cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, in Singapore December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

  • Fintech deal activity hit an all-time high this year, according to a new Dealogic report.
  • The explosive mergers and acquisition volume comes as more people go cashless and companies compete for consumer data.
  • The total deal value has been driven by a few monster deals, like Fiserv buying First Data and Global Payments buying Total System Services.
  • Visit Markets Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s not just you. The fintech space really is red-hot this year.

Global fintech-targeted mergers and acquisition volume has increased "rapidly" over the last five years, and the value of deals in the space has hit a record high in 2019, according to Dealogic associate Chisa Tanaka. 

Eighty-seven deals have totaled a record year-to-date value of $116.6 billion, a four-fold increase from the $31.8 billion through the same time last year. There were 89 deals done at this point in 2018.

"Clearly, technological innovation is causing intensifying consolidation in the electronic payment services market, while the acquisition of data on customer’s purchasing and behavior trends further drives fintech acquisitions," Tanaka wrote.

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This explosive activity has been driven by three large US-based fintech transactions this year — Fidelity National Information Services’ $43.3 billion acquisition of Worldpay in March, Fiserv’s buying First Data in January for $39.4 billion, and Global Payments’ $26.2 billion purchase of Total System Services in May.

Global financial technology deals have exploded this year.

Experts say that while methods of electronic payments are growing in popularity, the world is a long way away from becoming fully cash-free. And to be fair, cash usage varies by countries and regions. The BIS found ATM withdrawals were flat in advanced economies while rising in emerging markets.

Consumers around the world are relying "more and more" on e-payments, the Bank of International Settlements said in a report published last March. 

"The use of e-payments is booming and technology companies as well as financial institutions are investing heavily to be the payment providers of tomorrow," the BIS economists wrote.

Read more: The companies disrupting the payments industry in major markets through digital

Although electronic payments have grown in popularity, the BIS concluded there is "scant evidence of a shift away from cash."

"As the appetite for cash remains unabated, few societies are close to ‘cashless’ or even ‘less-cash,’" they wrote.

Notably, the US is the most popular country in the world for fintech deals, followed by the France and the UK, Tanaka found. 

"The second half of 2019 will likely bring further market consolidation to boost costumer data retention and provide clarity on the financial ability of the different players," she wrote.

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The future of inter-app sound on iOS: a chat with Audiobus’ creator

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Many iOS music makers want to route audio between apps – just as you would in a studio. But news came this week that Apple would drop support for its own IAA (Inter App Audio), used by apps like KORG Gadget, Animoog, and Reason Compact. What will that mean? I spoke with Audiobus’ creator to find out.

Michael Tyson created popular music apps Audiobus and Loopy. And he’s made frameworks for other developers, too, not only supporting countless developers working with Audiobus, but also creating the framework The Amazing Audio Engine, now part of Audiokit. So he’s familiar with both what users and developers want here.

Audiobus is key. At first, iOS music apps were each an island. Audiobus changed all that, by suggesting users might want to combine apps the way they do on an stompbox pedalboard or wiring gear together in a studio. Take an interesting synth, add a delay that sounds nice with it, patch that into a recording app – you get the idea. That expectation was also familiar from plug-in formats on desktop and inter-app tools like the open source JACK and Soundflower. And Tyson’s team developed this before Apple followed with their own IAA or the plug-in format AUv3.

So now, having pushed their own format, Apple is abandoning it. iOS and the new iPadOS will deprecate IAA, according to the iOS 13 beta release notes.

This won’t mean you lose access to your IAA apps right away. “Deprecated” in Apple speak generally means that something remains available in this OS release but will disappear in some major release that follows. Apple often deprecates tech quickly – as in one major release later (iOS 14?) – but that’s anyone’s guess, and can take longer.

That is still a worry for many users, as many iOS developers do abandon apps without updates. It’s tough enough to make money on an initial release, tougher still to squeeze any money out of upgrades – and iOS developers are often as small as one-person operations. Sometimes they just go get another job. That may mean for backwards compatibility it even makes sense to hold on to one old iPad and keep it from updating – not only because of this development, but to retain consistent support for a selection of instruments and effects.

But if you’re worried about Audiobus dying in iOS 13 – don’t. Michael explains to CDM what’s going on.

Audiobus 3.

Can you comment on the deprecation of Audiobus and IAA for iOS? It’s safe to say this should mean compatibility at least for the forseeable future, but not much future in OS updates after that, given Apple’s past record?

To be specific, this is a depreciation of IAA rather than Audiobus – Audiobus is a combination of a host app, and a communication technology built into supporting third party apps. The latter is presently based on IAA, but doesn’t have to be.

As for the IAA deprecation, I consider this a very positive move by Apple. The technology that replaces it, Audio Unit v3, is a big step forward in terms of usability and robustness, and focusing their own attention and that of the developer community on AUv3 is a good thing. I doubt IAA is going anywhere any time soon though; deprecations can last many years.

Does this mean the Audiobus app will reach its end of life? Do you have plans for further development in other areas?

Not at all. I’ve got lots of plans for Audiobus, to increase its value as an audio unit host, and possibly to fill the gap left by IAA if it’s ever switched off.

Do we lose anything by shifting to AUv3 versus IAA? (I have to admit I have a slightly tough time wrapping my head round this myself, in that there’s a workflow paradigm shift here, so it’s not so fair to compare the enabling technologies alone…)

AUv3 is actually quite impressive lately, and continues to grow. As you say, they’re pretty different workflows, so it can be tricky to compare. The shortcomings we see I largely put down to developers not fully exploiting the opportunities of the platform – myself included! This will only improve going forward, I suspect.

There is one pretty big downside, which is that implementing AUv3 support in an app is a lot harder than implementing IAA, which itself is harder than implementing Audiobus support. It’s the difference between just a few lines of code, and a whole restructure of an app. Minutes vs days or weeks; worse if there’s file management involved. For apps that want to host audio units (on the receiving end), it’s a lot more work too, as they would need to implement all of the audio unit selection and routing themselves, rather than letting Audiobus do all the work and just receiving the audio at the end.

This is the reason there are still plenty of apps that only do Audiobus or IAA – my own apps Loopy and Samplebot included! If those apps that don’t have AUv3 yet don’t update in time and Apple ever pull the plug on IAA, those will just stop working. And it’s possible we’ll see less adoption of AUv3 for new apps.

But if things do go that way, I’m completely open to the possibility of stepping in to fill the gap left by IAA; there’s no reason Audiobus couldn’t continue to function as it does right now without IAA, as this is how it worked in the beginning. But we’ll wait and see what happens.

AUv3 plug-in format is supported by instruments and effects, like this RM-1 Wave Modulator from Numerical Audio.

Is there some way to re-imagine Audiobus using AUv3?

Audiobus actually already has great AUv3 support built in, and lots of users are already on exclusively AUv3 setups. I’m continuing to add stuff to make the workflow even better, like MIDI learn and MIDI sync – and 2-up split screen coming soon.

Have you heard reaction from other developers?

Not as yet, no.

So you see a justification to Apple going this direction?

Sure, I’d say it’s so we can all focus on the new hotness that is AUv3. IAA was never enormously stable, and felt like a bridging technology until something like AUv3 came along. The resources of the audio team at Apple are just better put towards working on AUv3.

Thanks, Michael. We’ll keep an eye on this one, and if there’s anything CDM can do to pass on useful information to developers interested in adding AUv3 support, I imagine we can do that, too.

https://audiob.us/

The post The future of inter-app sound on iOS: a chat with Audiobus’ creator appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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Sequoia-backed Whole Biome wants to heal your gut with medical-grade probiotics

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Whole Biome has pulled in $35 million in Series B financing from a list of investing titans, including Sequoia, Khosla, True Ventures, the Mayo Foundation and AME Ventues — just to name a few. The goal? To heal what ails you using microscopic bugs.

Medical science has caught on in the last few years about the importance of gut health using these bugs (also known as probiotics). Now startups are pitching in using venture money to come up with new and novel ideas.

“We’re at a unique point in time as the field of microbiome biology converges with enabling cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatics that will open up a whole new world of innovative health products,” said Colleen Cutcliffe, Whole Biome’s co-founder and chief executive officer.

Cutliffe, who hails from DNA sequencing company Pacific Biosciences, along with her partners Jim Bullard and John Eid, built a platform able to compute information from varying populations and compare microbiome sequencing to get a clear picture of what’s missing in a patient’s flora for overall health.

The next step is to use the raised funds to launch a product for the management of Type 2 Diabetes.

Many of the prescription diabetes medications out on the market today can come with a load of side effects like upset stomach, dizziness, rashes or inability to consume alcohol. However, Whole Biome says their product will not have any side effects.

Slated for release in early 2020, the startup has conducted double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials for a product that releases special probiotics into your gut with the goal of reducing glucose spikes.

“Whole Biome is creating novel, disease-targeting microbiome interventions that have the potential to improve the course of many of the significant health issues facing people today,” said Sequoia partner Roelof Botha. “They have built an integrated approach and a multi-disciplinary team across research, development and commercialization to unlock complex microbiome biology and create products with both clinical efficacy and unparalleled safety.”

To date, Whole Biome has now raised $57 million in funding.

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5 Places to Find Inspiration Outside of Music

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Creativity can mean many things. To write a song that really resonates you’ll have to draw from sources of inspiration that go way beyond music.

We’re still learning a lot about creativity from modern psychology and neuroscience, but a lot of its power is said to lie in divergent thinking.

That means drawing on various key areas of your brain—not just the ones associated with music.

Flexing your creative muscles in different ways will help when you actually sit down to start a song.

But when music is your main medium, knowing where to look for other sources of inspiration can be vague and confusing.

Whether you struggle with writer’s block or just want to try something other than music to get the creative juices flowing, here are a few ideas for stoking the creative flames.

1. Reading

Any form of extended reading can strengthen your vocabulary and improve your lyricism.

Any form of extended reading can strengthen your vocabulary and improve your lyricism.

And it doesn’t have to be dense classic literature.

Even if it’s just reading for pleasure, well-written prose can invoke strong sensations of mood and feeling. The important part is to give yourself an exercise in abstract imagination

According to a study from 2013, reading a novel can also strengthen brain connectivity in regions associated with perspective taking, story comprehension, and language processing.

Interacting with writing in any way can develop those connections.

Writing your own short stories, attending poetry events or pulling entries from your diary are all great ways to bring those skills to your songwriting.

2. Tabletop role-playing games

Tabletop roleplaying games are an exercise in collaborative storytelling. Players assume the roles of characters and roll dice to determine outcomes.

The most recognizable tabletop RPG is undoubtedly Dungeons & Dragons, where players become elves and half-orc dungeoneers who battle necromancers and gelatinous cubes.

It’s an exercise in simple math and imagination—a lot like music if you think about it!

It’s an exercise in simple math and imagination—a lot like music if you think about it!

It’s also a great way to hang out with friends or bandmates while building a story together and doing something creative.

John Dwyer of the garage-punk band Oh Sees remarks, “Dungeons and Dragons was a huge part of my childhood … It was the first taste I had of imagination-based stuff. I still get immense enjoyment out of writing and playing live, because it’s like that magical dopamine kick of creating from nothing.”

Bands like California X or Bolt Thrower even use D&D or games like the closely-related Warhammer 40k as inspiration in songwriting.

There are also music or band-themed tabletop games such as the Bowie-inspired Velvet Generation, a game about intergalactic outlaws and rock and roll.

3. Visual Art

Painting, drawing, visual design and art in general can help you get in the abstract creative zone. It’s relaxing and creative at the same time.

While plenty of musicians claim to have synesthesia, it’s pretty easy for most people to imagine how colours and visual pairings can go hand in hand with music.

For example, the right album artwork can completely change your perspective on a song or piece of music.

The right album artwork can completely change your perspective on a song or piece of music.

If you create your own album cover you can use the artwork in your fliers or promotion materials for a highly original look.

If creating visual art isn’t your strong suit, you can visit a gallery or museum to get thinking about how to channel artistic concepts into your music.

4. Meditation

Meditation is a great way to focus your mind without focusing on anything.

Meditation is a great way to focus your mind without focusing on anything.

It’s an enduring exercise with demonstrated benefits for the mind and body. Focusing on breathing and locking into the “zone” is also an important component of live performance.

Zen and meditation were avid interests for jazz great John Coltrane. The themes and structure for his masterpiece A Love Supreme were inspired directly by an early morning meditation session with his wife.

For some people, going for a walk or simply exercising can be meditative. It gets your blood flowing and puts your mind and body in a better place.

If you haven’t meditated before, there are plenty of meditation centres, books, and apps that can help. But the main idea is to set your head right and give you creative clarity.

Sometimes doing nothing can be an important gateway to starting with a blank canvas.

5. Traveling

Traveling is like superfood for your creativity. It’s fun, relaxing and it feeds your brain with constant new experiences.

Travelling helps you learn more about cultures, languages, customs and different ways of doing things around the world.

Travelling helps you learn more about cultures, languages, customs and different ways of doing things around the world.

It can give you a better understanding of new perspectives and cultures. That can inform your music or lyrics with newfound experiences or restore your focus by getting away from your regular routine.

Even if you’re constantly touring, taking time off to travel for yourself can be important for spending time with your family and friends and replenishing your willpower.

Of course, getting outside of your everyday surroundings can also be inspiring for writing and recording.

There are countless musicians who swap coasts to cut a record, hole up in cabins in the woods with a 4-track, or travel abroad with the express intent of recording verses in Parisian hotel rooms.

Re-creational activities

Creativity is a complicated issue. There’s no easy answer when you’re stuck with writer’s block.

But branching out from music to find creative pursuits elsewhere can refresh your perspective and stimulate new ideas.

Whether it’s reading, painting or D&D, there’s plenty out there to get your creative juices flowing.

Try these non-musical creative exercises the next time you’re in search of inspiration.

The post 5 Places to Find Inspiration Outside of Music appeared first on LANDR Blog.

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Science Confirms That Rich People Think They’re Better Than Everyone Else, And Here’s Why They Do

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New study confirms that rich people think they're better than others, and here's why

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Rich people, for the most part, always seem to come across as if their shit don’t stink, right? They’ve often got an air of pretentiousness about them, where they sit around with their pinky up sipping an overpriced cocktail, while wearing their expensive clothes and riding around in their luxury car. It can be annoying to us “normal people”, because, point blank, it’s pretty obnoxious.

If we’re being honest, though, there’s probably a good amount of jealousy while watching rich people do all that stuff, because having money is what’s believed to drive happiness, even though we all know that’s not necessarily true. It all comes down to your personal values and what you think is most important, money or freedom, but that’s a conversation for another day.

For those who think that rich people comes across as better than everyone else, it’s because, according to a new study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, they do. Yep, to the surprise of no one, those with more wealthy are believed to have an exaggerated belief that they’re better than others, giving them overconfidence in social settings.

What was the purpose of the study? According to its lead author Peter Belmi, a professor at the University of Virginia, it was to squash the misconception that everyone thinks they’re better than the average person.

“Our results suggest that this type of thinking might be more prevalent among the middle and upper classes.”

“Individuals with relatively high social class were more overconfident, which in turn was associated with being perceived as more competent and ultimately more hirable, even though, on average, they were no better at the trivia test than their lower-class counterparts,” Belmi said.

To gather the results for the study, researchers used a series of different experiments, looking at the connection between social class and overconfidence. One experiment looked at more than 150,000 small-business owners in Mexico who were looking for loans, with applicants asked to take a flashcard memory test to determine creditworthiness. After the test, applicants were asked to rate how they did compared to others on a scale of 1-100, with researchers finding that those with more education, higher income, and a higher perceived social class had “an exaggerated belief that they would perform better than others, compared with their lower-class counterparts.”

But why do rich people have this belief? According to researchers, it might come down to how different social classes are raised. Here’s what Belmi had to add to that theory, based off of the research results.

“In the middle class, people are socialized to differentiate themselves from others, to express what they think and feel and to confidently express their ideas and opinions, even when they lack accurate knowledge.”

“Advantages beget advantages. Those who are born in upper-class echelons are likely to remain in the upper class, and high-earning entrepreneurs disproportionately originate from highly educated, well-to-do families.”

Belmi added: “Our research suggests that social class shapes the attitudes that people hold about their abilities and that, in turn, has important implications for how class hierarchies perpetuate from one generation to the next.”

Since working-class people are often taught to embrace humility and know their place in a social hierarchy, rich people often have more confidence because of the encouragement of individualism. It’s all pretty fascinating stuff.

Of course, being rich is a mindset, not something that is necessarily determined by how much a person earns every month or year. In some cases, people who make $65,000/year feel rich, while others think that a six-figure salary’s necessary to be in the upper-class. So, yeah, it all comes down to how you live that can determine your outlook on things.

(H/T Business Insider)

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GM and Michelin will bring airless tires to passenger cars by 2024

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Airless tires for everyday cars might soon be far more practical. GM and Michelin have unveiled a prototype of Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System), a Michelin-made tire intended for passenger cars. It looks like Tweel and other air-free concepts of years past, but its mix of composite rubber and resin embedded fiberglass lets it operate at highway speeds — earlier options tend to work only when you’re slowly putting around. It’s not as visually appealing as conventional tires, but Michelin claims it’s just as comfortable.

More importantly, there’s a tangible roadmap. GM will start testing the Uptis in Michigan later in 2019 on a fleet of Chevy Bolts, and expects the finished version to reach production cars as soon as 2024. The automaker hasn’t named specific car models that will use the new tires.

Michelin Uptis airless tires on a Chevy Bolt EV

The Uptis should have immediate financial and safety benefits. While it won’t be completely invulnerable, blowouts, flat tires and irregular wear would be things of the past. However, GM and Michelin see this as particularly important for a future where electric and self-driving cars are commonplace. Airless tech reduces the need for environmentally harmful tire production, and eliminates the need for a spare tire that adds weight and shrinks fuel economy. They’d also help autonomous vehicles drive around the clock without fear that a stray nail will ruin a trip. Don’t be shocked if this becomes the norm, if just because the expectations for cars themselves will have changed.

Via: Autoblog

Source: GM, Michelin

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These light painting celebrity portraits were created in a single take

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These light painting celebrity portraits were created in a single take

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Light painting gives you plenty of possibilities to create colorful and trippy images. The team behind Wango Tango Music Festival wanted photos like this for its performers, so they invited Jason D. Page to help them turn their idea into reality. They had to work fast and managed to take 50 celebrity light painting portraits – each of them in a single take! Jason has shared some of these photos with us, along with the backstory of how they were made.

It all started when Jason was invited to create some portraits of the main stage artist at the iHeart Radio’s Wango Tango Music Festival. Jason teamed up with Jason Rinehart (previously), Efren Herrera and Melissa Meyer and they flew to L.A. on Friday, 31 May.

The festival was organized by iHeart Radio, and Jason tells us they were great to work with. They provided the light painting team with a large, fully blacked out booth to work in. The event was set to begin on Saturday, so photographers only had Friday to set up and come up with concepts for each of the artist that they expected to see in the booth. With Melissa as their model, photographers designed images around the latest content the artists had released. It tookthem about eight hours to design and test the shots.

On Saturday, Jason and his team were all excited and a little nervous knowing it was going to be a fast-paced event. There were so many artists to photograph, yet so little time:

 In the early afternoon we created Light Painting Portraits of a few of the VIP’s which gave us a good warm up for the main show. Around 4:30 we created our first Celebrity Light Painting Portrait of Madison Beer, her reaction to the image was great. It was such a good feeling to see how she was blown away by the image we created with her. It was a very high pressure event, we only got 1-2 minutes with each artist and we only had one take before they were ushered off to other backstage obligations before preforming.

Madison Beer

Jason and the team used light painting tools are from LightPaintingBrushes.com and Fractal Filters. Overall, they took about 50 light painting portraits over a six-hour period between VIP’s, Radio Contest Winners, and the Musicians. Some of the photographed celebrities include Ally Brooke, Zedd, Ava Max, The Jonas Brothers, and Halsey. Jason tells us that they were really pleased with how it all worked out, especially considering the fact that they only had one go to nail each shot.

Here are a few more photos from this fast-paced shoot. I believe that light painting and music combine well, so both this idea and execution turned out fantastic.

Jonas Brothers

Halsey

Fletcher

CNCO

Ava Max

Ally Brooke

Zedd

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