Weekly Reads - August 29, 2022
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The Federal reserve is on track to deliver their instant payment service called FedNow in 2023 with the central bank expecting the new system to enable settlement of U.S payments in seconds. This new system will allow bill payments, paychecks, and other business transfers to be available quickly and around the clock, a shift from the current system which is closed on weekends and can take days before funds are made available. According to the WSJ the old system handled more than 29 billion payments valued close to $73 trillion making the shift to FedNow massive in terms of scope. Rolling out the FedNow system will require upgrading back-office processes and adding the necessary technology to make the system run smoothly. One of FedNow’s objectives is to help Americans living paycheck to paycheck and small businesses with cash flow constraints avoid late payment fees and eliminate the need for services such as payday loans since consumers will not need to wait for their checks to clear. While progress on FedNow looks promising it is now critical that the government push stakeholders (financial institutions, core service providers, software companies, etc.) to devote the time, resources, and capital to support instant payments. With FedNow’s 2023 target date approaching it will be crucial to monitor how stakeholders respond to this new system and how quickly will they update their systems to support instant payments.
Apple is joining Meta in the VR/AR race with the company applying for more trademarks using the “reality” name in various regions. In May, Apple filed for trademarks for “realityOS” which sources believe is the operating system for the company’s AR and VR headset. The company has kept these trademarks hush-hush by registering them to Immersive Health Solutions LLC, a believed Apple shell company that was incorporated earlier this year. While information on the product remains minimal it is expected that Apple is designing a premium device that will focus on being lighter and more comfortable than competing products. The product should feature 4K OLED displays, 15 camera modules and potentially could support eye tracking and hand gestures. Sources believe that Apple headsets could run up to $3,000 making it one of the most expensive headsets in the market. If sources prove to be correct it will be interesting to see how such a premium product fares against current leading headsets such as the Meta Quest and HTC Vive who offer compelling products at much lower price points and have developed a strong ecosystem of content and services for VR users and developers.
First Solar is making a $1.2 billion investment in expanding its factory footprint in the U.S taking advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act which provides billions of dollars in tax incentives to accelerate U.S transition to green energy. As the largest solar manufacture in the U.S First Solar is making a huge bet in the transition to solar energy by expanding its capacity massively hoping to take advantage of stronger future demand for solar energy. Analysts are expecting tax incentives and rising demand to boost operating and financial performance over the next few years. Over the last month First Solar has seen its stock rise roughly 25% as analysts have increased their estimates and industry sentiment has improved. For the U.S government this news is extremely positive as China maintains a stranglehold on solar panel production with more than 70% of the world’s polycrystalline silicon manufactured there. By moving more production local the U.S can reduce their reliance on Chinese production while adding 850 new jobs according to First Solar estimates.