The rise of the QR code and how it has forever changed China’s social habits

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Thanks to QR code’s rapidly increasing usage at off-line shops, the amount of mobile payments on the mainland is now 50 times greater than that of the US. Mobile payments in the US totalled US$112 billion in 2016, according to Forrester Research.

To consumer behaviour researcher Chen Yiwen, we are witnessing the dawn of “codeconomy”.

“China has started the transition to a cash-free economy faster than anyone could have imagined, largely because of the viral spread of two-dimensional barcode,” said Chen, a professor and researcher with the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. “It creates a new economy based on scannable codes.”

From big cities to remote villages, the codeconomy is already changing Chinese social behaviour, according to Chen.

Some restaurants have pinned barcode tags to the chests of waiters, waitresses and even chefs. Customers can scan the code to leave a tip if they are satisfied with service.

This App Helps Refugees Get Bank Accounts By Giving Them A Digital Identity

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If you move to Berlin, you need a bank account to rent an apartment, sign a contract for a mobile phone, or deposit a paycheck. But for refugees and asylum seekers–who typically don’t have the ID cards that most banks require–it can be nearly impossible to get an account.

A new startup called Taqanu is designing an alternative. Instead of asking for standard identification, it uses something that almost all refugees do have: a smartphone. An app installed on a phone can track someone’s digital data, including social networking, to prove their identity. Users will also create a “reputation network,” asking friends and family to vouch that someone is who they say they are. The app also asks refugees to upload photos of any documents they have, such as papers from a refugee camp in Greece. As the app is used, it continues to collect more evidence of someone’s identity.

Innovation in the Middle East: 48 things I learned while designing a new bank in Dubai

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One woman we met carried a photo of her signature on her smartphone, so she could copy it exactly every time she signed a cheque. Signatures on paper cheques are still a huge part of doing business in Dubai.

Dubai’s homogenous climate and modern road system make it an easier target for driverless cars than many places — one reason why Sheikh Mohammed has set a target of 25% of journeys driverless by 2030. [Will Oremus]

All drones have to be licensed in Dubai [Govt of Dubai], but the Prime Minister’s office also runs an annual Drones for Good competition with a $1m prize.

Some Emirati bachelors have three different phones. Family & friends, work and play.

People we met often had multiple smartphones for different activities and different social groups; “That’s for my photos, that’s for my Syrian friends”

We met people who used the transfer tools in Dubai ATMs just like we’d use online banking. One woman chose her bank because it allowed her to pay her son’s school fees through the ATM.