The chief executive of brewing giant Heineken International praised on Wednesday a White House proposal to tax oil companies $10 per barrel to fund green transportation.

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Donald Trump recently defended Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy faces a number of global threats that could derail growth and compel the Fed to slow the pace of future interest rate hikes.

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There’s widespread excitement in the startup community about ‘conversational commerce’ – a new shopping paradigm where we buy things virtually through chat interfaces, probably inside the major chat apps – Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, WeChat, Line etc. Now that traffic to the top four western messaging apps now exceeds traffic to the top four western social networks it is only a matter of time before all the commerce ideas we’ve heard about at Facebook come to messaging apps (not least because two of them are owned by Facebook).

The big question for me in all of this is how service discovery will work. The video above shows how the Uber integration with Facebook Messenger works – users learn that clicking on an address will bring up relevant services, one of which is Uber. Overall I think there are three options:

  • App Stores owned by the messaging company – this is the most obvious, and WeChat in China is already making this work, with over 10 million apps (although they are not apps in the native code sense)
  • Auto suggestion based on parsing what users write
  • ‘Expansion’ buttons which users press when they want relevant services

The worrying thing for me is that in all of these scenarios the messaging platform gets to play kingmaker. Without promotion in the ‘app’ store or being chosen for auto-suggestion or the list behind expansion buttons users won’t find out about services. It seems to me that in this scenario the kingmaker takes the lions share of the upside. Not good for startups.

Some commenters have the view that we will use messaging apps as a sort of command line for our lives, summoning services by writing in code. I get that would be a way around the messaging platform dependency point, but I can’t see it myself. I know that Slack operates a bit like that, but only for some users and I can’t think of a mainstream service that has required people to learn a programming language.

Timing is another question for would be founders in this space. For conversational commerce services to work, not only do the APIs to the messaging services need to be open and the discovery problem solved, payments needs to be licked as well. It would be dangerous to launch a service too long before at least one messaging service has a critical mass of users with payment details.

 



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Mark Hulbert discusses what the economy and the stock market are currently predicting about the 2016 presidential election.

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Steve Conley got the call early on Nov. 5. 

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Talk of the Federal Reserve introducing negative interest rates has left many investors concerned.

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<p>U.S. stock index futures pointed to a sharply higher open on Wednesday after a very volatile week so far, as investors look to the testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for reassurance.</p>

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Another economic force weighing on global oil prices could result from shifting flows.

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<p>The benchmark U.S. crude oil, known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), fell 3.2% in mid-day trading to $28.75.</p>

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Fed Chair Janet Yellen is expected to attempt to balance the Fed's stated goal of raising interest rates against the risks of a weaker global economy.

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<p>The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday that it identified an automated attack on its computer systems aimed at getting information that could be used to steal tax refunds.</p>

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December had the second-highest number of jobs openings on record, while hires and quits also jumped.

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(Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama proposed Tuesday to raise $319 billion over the next decade for transportation and other needs with a $10.25-per-barrel…

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In the wake of a new International Energy Agency report.

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