A year of Zoom calls and virtual interaction, coupled with an uncomfortable proximity to the Grim Reaper, has put life in perspective for many Americans. Government data reveals that about 2.7m Americans age 55 or older are contemplating retirement years earlier than they’d imagined because of the pandemic. The demographic distribution is not uniform, as expected. Those that have accumulated sufficient wealth to make this decision tend to be white, and many cite robust retirement accounts and Covid-19 fatigue for their early exit.
The consequences of this decision making are concerning for the labor market. After all, early retirement can deprive the workforce of productive workers. Today, many in the restaurant industry are unable to fill roles - some even resorting to signing bonuses to recruit talent. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell this week cited a “significant number" of people saying they've retired as one reason companies are reporting labor shortages, although it's unclear if they'll eventually rejoin the job market.
What this might mean for socioeconomic inequality is also concerning. A survey by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) found that about half of Americans are now more concerned about their retirement security in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and are considering the possibility of working longer. Much like how the tech-enabled elite were able to work from home as the shift to digital unfolded a year ago, while those with more modest incomes had to go out and risk their health for the sake of their livelihood – it seems like retirement prospects risk exacerbating the gap further.
Regardless of these dynamics, the “life-is-short” attitude seems to be gaining popularity across age groups and socioeconomic profiles - and the recent stimulus checks have certainly helped those with less of a cushion. Everyone is fed up with sitting at home, vaccines have become widely accessible in the US, and the arrival of summer is quickly approaching. The idea of returning to the grind is not exactly appealing either, so the idea of “Choosing Life” (without the drugs) is catching on!
Affluent Americans rush to retire in new ‘life-is-short’ mindset - About 2.7m Americans age 55 or older are contemplating retirement years earlier than they’d imagined because of the pandemic, government data show. They’re more likely to be White, a group that typically has a larger amount of accumulated wealth, and many cite robust retirement accounts and Covid-19 fatigue for their early exit, according to interviews with wealth managers and federal surveys. Read more
Four ways Covid-19 has changed retirement - A survey by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) found that about half of Americans are now more concerned about their retirement security in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and are considering the possibility of working longer. Read more
Stimulus cheques drive record increase in U.S. personal incomes - U.S. household incomes last month surged by the most on record, boosted by a fiscal stimulus that also drove a sharp increase in spending, laying the groundwork for strong economic growth in the second quarter. Americans have been able to loosen their purse strings thanks in part to two stimulus packages: a $900b deal approved in December and a further $1.9t package enacted last month. Read more
Wall Street banks say time for loan market to ditch the fax - A corner of the debt capital markets known for still sending official notifications via email and even the occasional fax is poised for a modern update. Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan are developing a new platform for the $4t syndicated loan market that would let lenders access data across their portfolio all in one place. Read more
Bank of England report on the UK's use of cash during lockdown - During the Covid-19 pandemic, the way people use cash has changed. Cash was being used less for transactions but the total value of banknotes in circulation increased as people appear to choose to hold more cash. These trends have persisted for a number of years, but have been magnified by the pandemic. Read more
JPMorgan joins Temasek, DBS in blockchain payments platform - The company, which will be named Partior, will leverage blockchain technology and digitize M1 commercial bank money, with the aim of reducing current frictions and latency for cross-border payments, trade and currency settlements, the firms said in a statement. Read more
U.S. watchdog mulls guidance to curb SPAC projections, liability shield - The U.S. securities regulator is considering new guidance to rein in growth projections made by listed blank-check companies, and clarify when they qualify for certain legal protections. The previously unreported measures being weighed by staff at the SEC would escalate its crackdown on the deal frenzy in SPACs, which it worries is putting investors at risk. Read more
Venture firms bask in a surge of blockbuster profits - The venture sector has long been defined by big wins on disruptive tech companies, balanced by far more numerous losing bets. But in recent months, an unusually large number of venture investments have logged multibillion-dollar profits, setting many firms up for their greatest returns since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. Read more
Visa teams with Airbnb to facilitate faster host payments - Airbnb’s use of Visa’s real-time push payments platform — Visa Direct — enables hosts to easily move money from Airbnb to a bank account associated with a Visa debit card. Visa Direct on Airbnb is the latest initiative by Visa to extend assistance to its financial institution customers by providing solutions that can help buyers and sellers tap resources, move money, and solidify operations. Read more
Gemini partners with Mastercard to launch new crypto rewards credit card this summer - Gemini announced details of its first-of-a-kind cryptocurrency rewards credit card, including a partnership with Mastercard and WebBank, a leader in digital lending and the bank issuing the credit card. Since it was first introduced in early 2021, the Gemini Credit Card has amassed more than 140,000 people on its waitlist. Read more
Stripe acquires TaxJar to add cloud-based, automated sales tax tools into its payments platform - Stripe will be integrating TaxJar technology into its revenue platform — where it will sit alongside Stripe Billing (its subscription tools) and Radar (its fraud prevention technology), and potentially build new services using AI and other technology to automate more functions — but businesses can continue to use TaxJar directly, too. Read more
Archegos hit tops $10b after UBS, Nomura losses - UBS said it lost $861m following Archegos’s implosion, a bigger hit than analysts expected. Meantime, Japan’s Nomura, which flagged losses of around $2b last month, upped its total damage tally to $2.85b, leading to its worst quarterly performance since the end of 2008, during the global financial crisis. Altogether, the losses of more than $10b make it one of the worst trading incidents in finance in years and have prompted a flurry of regulatory investigations in the U.S. and abroad. Read more
Abrdn: Standard Life Aberdeen vowel-less rebrand mocked - The firm said its new name "Abrdn" would still be pronounced "Aberdeen", but that the rebrand would make it "modern" and "dynamic". An £11b merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management created Standard Life Aberdeen in 2017. The new firm had six brands and websites until the recent sale of the nearly 200-year-old Standard Life brand to another financial giant, Phoenix. Read more
Google Pay steps up embedded finance, banking tools - After reviving Google Pay in November of last year, Google has recently announced two new features - shopping options and spending insights. To offer new shopping options, Google has partnered with Safeway and Target to help users browse weekly deals on groceries at Safeway and Target locations from within the Google Pay app. Google Pay’s new spending insights tool comes a bit closer to what consumers may expect to see at their traditional bank. Read more
Fintech companies face growth capital and regulatory challenges in the “new normal” - Fintech is booming across Latin America and the Caribbean, but regulation and access to post-seed stage capital remains challenges, say industry specialists. Read more
Goldman Sachs predicts quantum computing 5 years away from use in markets - Quantum computing could be brought to bear on some of the most complex calculations in financial markets within five years, considerably earlier than expected, according to research jointly conducted by Goldman Sachs. Read more
Chinese regulators tell fintech groups to fix ‘problems’ - Chinese officials have told 13 of the country’s biggest tech companies to “rectify prominent problems” on their platforms, a sign that the regulatory pressure on the fintech sector is spreading beyond Jack Ma’s Ant Group. Read more
FinTech Collective Newsletter
Curated News with Context
Delivered every Saturday, the weekly newsletter, produced by our team, provides a tightly edited rundown of global fintech news, along with a bit of our original analysis.