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The Asian Century
After the 19th and 20th centuries ‘belonged’, respectively, to Europe and the U.S., predictions are that the current century will belong to Asia. The region is home to several of the world’s fastest growing economies and houses over half of its population. Experts also point out that by 2040, Asia could account for half of global GDP. Asia’s growing impact, though, goes beyond economics. Its cultural products are also gaining influence across the world. Asian films and TV series are resonating with global audiences, as evidenced by the award winning South Korean film Parasite and the popularity of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix. In literature and music too, exports from the region are creating global fan bases. K-Pop group BTS was the second most streamed group on Spotify in 2018. The European and American centuries were not only characterized by their respective economic might, but also by the export of their cultures across the globe. With Asia’s growing cultural relevance, the 21st century may indeed turn out to be the Asian century.
The emergence of seamless payments
This January, Amazon, ExxonMobil and Fiserv announced that they are introducing voice-enabled in-car payments. Later in 2020, consumers will be able to use Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa to pay for gas with vehicles that have Alexa built-in, have Echo Auto, or contain other Alexa-enabled devices. Although the feature provides consumers with a new payment experience, its convenience is limited since the driver will still have to get out of the car to fill up the tank. Besides, the trio are not the first to introduce in-car payments. Honda and Visa announced a payment partnership back in 2016 and showed their first concept at the 2017 CES. Today, a variety of companies is working on frictionless car payment solutions such as pay-at-the-pump, smart parking, and paying for toll roads. Just like Amazon Go in retail, they are trying to create a seamless payments experience by combining various existing technologies (for instance, license plate recognition, geo-location). With the rollout of 5G and more vehicles being connected to the internet, in the future, vehicles may even be enabled to initiate payments without human intervention.
In a heartbeat
At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show CES, we have seen quite a few companies introducing wearables that can monitor, detect and store rather sophisticated health data such as your heart rhythm. Omron Healthcare, a leader in home blood pressure wants to personalize heart health monitoring and make blood pressure monitors more consumer-friendly devices. Furthermore, Garmin’s latest smartwatch features 24/7 health monitoring for heart rate, and Withings’ Scanwatch detects an irregular heartbeat. Although these wearables are no substitute for medical devices such as continuous ECG monitors, they can be a useful tool to detect usually low or high heart rates and irregular rhythms which might indicate heart conditions such as Atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of strokes, heart failure, and other heart-related diseases. As cardiovascular diseases pre-eminently have a high age-related burden (see visual extracted from research in The Lancet below), todays easy to use, small wearable heart monitors might find their next big audience among tech-savvy elderly.