Eq: Tech

(Copenhagen)

The Silicon Valley-driven tech craze has sparked yet another branch—disruption of the church. A new startup based in Denmark, called ChurchDesk, has created a software platform that helps clergy better administer their operations. Both churches and the startups realised that parish priests were wasting too much time on administration and were not spending enough on preaching and reaching new audiences. Both sides felt this was part of the reason that church attendance has dropped globally. Some other startups, like Kaleo, allow clergy to better and more efficiently accept collections, which in many parishes has boosted overall donations by 40%. So far, ChurchDesk has succeeded in signing up 25% of its home market—500 churches—for a flat monthly fee of €149. Interestingly, the founders of ChurchDesk are not Christian themselves, and argue that from their view this is essential, believing that one could only effectively overhaul church operations by truly looking from the outside in.


FINSUM: Religious institutions, in all their forms, were long major drivers of business, but have long since been forgotten as clients in many industries. It looks like the clever tech industry has yet again found a new market.

(San Francisco)

In a lengthy article yesterday, Google announced that like Amazon, it was planning to enter the drone delivery space. The company’s approach would be similar, but different to Amazon’s, and was developed over two years with an MIT professor. The service, codenamed ‘Project Wing”, would deliver packages using a miniature helicopter, and instead of landing, the drone would lower parcels via a kind of fishing line from 150ft above. The project comes as part of a broader push by Google to enter the robotics space, which already includes a serious venture into driverless cars. However, despite the recent frenzy over drone delivery, the US’ FAA has so far taken a dim view of the propositions, and has already turned down one application from a Minnesota company seeking to delivery beer to ice fishermen via drone.


FINSUM: It seems like Google and Amazon are very serious about these projects, and it feels likely that they will ultimately be able to come to some agreement with the FAA. What is worrying, however, is that you do not hear FedEx, UPS, and DHL doing the same thing—they are the ones who are really under threat.

(Budapest)

Unbeknownst to outsiders, Hungary has always been at the vanguard of technology uptake—the country had phone-based mobile internet in 1991—and this story proves that trend is continuing. This week Budapest unveiled its first Bitcoin-based ATM, where customers can upload cash and digitally convert it into Bitcoin. The installation completes a network of 20 Bitcoin ATMs across Europe. Bitcoin ATM founder Barnabas Debreczen says that he understands that right now the product has limited interest, but he believes that one day the currency will be used by everybody, everywhere, from taxi drivers, to policeman, “to my mom”. The Hungarian Central Bank has warned on the risk of digital currencies, but Istvan Varga, a former central bank official, this week endorsed Bitcoin, believing it safe, and saying that it would “become a natural part of our everyday lives”.


FINSUM: Bitcoin is headed in so many directions right now that it is hard to get a handle on where and how it might actually be successful. Despite the recent regulatory rulings, which seemed to diminish it as a payment currency, the retail market has been surprisingly quick in adopting Bitcoin, with several global companies now accepting it.

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