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Daily briefing - 18 September 2019

Walmart, founded by the Waltons (though not the ones who had their own TV show), is an American phenomenon. It's the type of place you can drive out to and buy the whole of Halloween in February. It was supposed to be driven out of existence by Amazon, but these days Walmart.com looks like similar to Amazon.com and even offers next-day delivery. This month Walmart launches a digital-first credit card with Capital One which will sit nicely into the Walmart Pay wallet, and will offer five percent cash back on walmart.com purchases. So it's a clear attempt by Walmart to defend its territory from both Apple and Amazon. Walmart has been acquiring technology know-how in the payments space following its acquisition of Flipkart and has been wrangling with the big players for years. It has remained focused on retail and doesn't yet offer cloud computing or rocket adventures. So don't write Walmart off yet.

The US has been calling for an unconstitutional coup in Ecuador for several years, or "regime change" as they like to call it. News is emerging now that the digital identities of the entire population have been leaked in a hack so comprehensive that the data even included details for Julian Assange, due to his residency in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. "The news has jolted the small South American nation, underlining the risks of rapid digitalization of personal data pursued by its government," writes the New York Times. "This year, Ecuadorean authorities admitted to using Chinese facial recognition technology to reduce crime. Some expressed indignation that a provincial firm founded two years ago with capital of just $3,000 had access to sensitive and extensive government databases." Yes, that is unusual, isn't it, New York Times? Could there possibly be another explanation, considering for instance the company was storing the data on servers in Miami? Or that Novaestrat's website is suddenly offline? The people behind Novaestrat are thought to be connected to the former regime, when the business had government contracts, and the data is likely to have been supplied by civil servants sympathetic to a previous government.

Nigeria's banking sector is deeply tied to the oil industry and is facing the need to diversify, for environmental and political reasons. With Bill Gates literally shouting at everyone to de-carbonise yesterday, the future of big oil has never looked more gloomy. Standard Chartered's Nigerian business is targeting a doubling of its consumer banking business in the years ahead. ""Retail is where we're going to see exponential growth," Lamin Manjang, the chief executive officer for Standard Chartered's Lagos-based subsidiary, said in an interview. "It's just a logical expansion of our portfolio" so the company can be diversified should there be a downturn in other parts of the business, he said. That's an understatement. With the Financial Stability Board recommending that banks begin introducing green risk into their portfolios, this is not going to be an optional extra for much longer.

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