Today I learned – 8th January 2020

I came across this video about technology in Taiwan and it was enlightning. I didn’t know much about TSMC and the marvellous autonomous factory that it runs. Such a magnificent feat of engineering!

I also knew little about Gogoro. Admittedly, I think I heard briefly about it in passing, but the clip touched upon the startup even more, bringing my interest in Gogoro to a new height. It made me wonder how such a concept could be applied in Saigon, the biggest city in Vietnam and where I am from. Saigon is helplessly overcrowded. The streets built decades ago are poorly equipped to handle over 10 million citizens. The toll on people’s health is a serious threat. A concept like Gogoro could benefit the city as a whole.

Lastly, I found it interesting the presenter used the word “disgusting” in the clip. I am not a native speaker, but I do think there are many better alternatives than the used adjective. Scooters are a part of life in Asia. What’s so disgusting about it? And why?

Today I learned – 1st Jan 2020

US lags behind the world in tap-to-pay

The latest annual report by Visa wrote:

Contactless payments—or when a consumer taps to pay at checkout with a contactless card or mobile phone—continues to see strong adoption around the world. In 2019, excluding the United States (“U.S.”), tap to pay had surpassed 50 percent of face-to-face transactions that ran over the Visa network. This is up from less than 30 percent just two years ago. There are now more than 50 countries where tapping to pay represents at least a third of all domestic face-to-face transactions processed on our network, up from 35 countries at the end of last fiscal year.

The U.S. is starting to catch up to this global adoption rate. In 2019, U.S. financial institutions began issuing contactless cards to customers nationwide. There are now more than 100 million Visa contactless cards in the U.S., and we expect that number to grow to 300 million by the end of 2020

Contactless payments can also open up new payment experiences, such as transit. Transit continues to be an important use case for introducing consumers to the benefits of tapping to pay. In 2019, Visa helped launch contactless transit solutions in cities around the world, including Belarus, Edinburgh, Florence, Manchester, Miami, Milan, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, São Paulo and more—making it easier for people to get around while reducing operating costs for private and public transport operators.

Visa’s 2019 Annual Report

In July, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the following in its earnings call

In the United States, in addition to a successful integration into Portland’s transit system in May, we’re beginning to rollout of New York City transit and will launch in Chicago later this year. In China, Apple Pay launched the payment card for Didi the world’s largest ride hailing provider.

As I’ve said before, transit integration is a major driver of a broader digital wallet adoption, and we’re going to keep up this push to help users leave their wallet at home in more and more instances.

Source: Seeking Alpha

While iPhone and Apple devices are wildly popular in the US, a recent study reported a low adoption rate of 9% of Apple Pay among Apple-device owners. It’ll be interesting to see how transit helps with the adoption of Apple Pay and, as a result, contactless payment in the US. In Omaha, to the best of my knowledge, there is no contactless payment at Walmart. Adoption at such a chain that attracts traffic like Walmart will definitely increase the use of tap-to-pay.

US seemed to have a bigger cash transaction on credit card than the rest of the world

While studying the reports from Visa and Mastercard, I noticed something quite interesting. The US seems to withdraw more cash from credit card each time than the rest of the world. The figures from Visa and Mastercard are pretty similar, signaling a true pattern. The following data is from Visa and Mastercard in the quarter ended Jun 30, 2019.

 Cash Volume ($ billions)Cash Transactions (millions)Average Cash Ticket
Source: Visa
 Cash Volume ($ billions)Cash Transactions (millions)Average Cash Ticket
Source: Mastercard

Today I learned – 29th December 2019

I was reading the annual reports of Walmart and a couple of things stood out that I didn’t know before

Walmart’s increasing focus on eCommerce, Technology and Supply Chain in the US

Walmart’s CAPEX in eCommerce, Technology & Supply Chain stood at $3.9, $4.1, $4.9 and $5.2 billion in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. To put it in perspective, compared to the overal CAPEX in the US, the investment in eCommerce, Technology and Supply Chain made up 46%, 57%, 60% and 68% approximately in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. The increase highlighted Walmart’s focus on those areas in order to be competitive in a highly competed industry.

Source: Walmart’s annual reports

Member’s Mark revenue

In April 2017, Walmart re-introduced Member’s Mark, which is its private label umbrella brand at Sam’s Club. In 2018 and 2019, Member’s Mark’s revenue exceeded $10 and $12 billion respectively. The private label made up approximately 18% and 23% of Sam’s Club without-fuel revenue in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Today I learned – 25th December 2019

Microsoft’s key metrics in graphs

Apparently, there is a page on Microsoft’s Investor Relations page that shows several key metrics in nice graphs. I didn’t know about this until today. It’s a nice resource to look at metrics over periods of time such as Azure growth (see below)

Source: Microsoft’s key metrics

Office Consumer revenue

In the latest annual report, Microsoft wrote

Fiscal Year 2019 Compared with Fiscal Year 2018

Office Consumer revenue increased $286 million or 7%, driven by Office 365 Consumer, due to recurring subscription revenue and transactional strength in Japan.

Source: Microsoft

Let’s do some maths. An increase of $286 million or 7% means that in Fiscal Year 2018, Office Consumer brought in about $4,086 million or a bit more than $4 billion. Add $286 to that sum and we have a revenue of $4,372 million or $4.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2019.

In Q1 2020, Microsoft reported the following:

Three Months Ended September 30, 2019 Compared with Three Months Ended September 30, 2018

Office Consumer revenue increased $51 million or 5%, driven by Office 365 Consumer, due to recurring subscription revenue, and transactional strength in Japan.

Source: Microsoft

Do the same maths as above and we arrive at approximately $1.07 billion for Q1 2020, pretty in line with the sum from Fiscal Year 2019.

Although we have the number of subscribers, due to how revenue is booked, we can’t divide the revenue by the number of subscribers to arrive at Average Revenue Per User

Disclosure: I own Microsoft stocks in my personal portfolio

Today I learned – 21st December 2019

OTA’s advertising business has a $1 billion annual run rate

We know Online Travel Agents (OTA) such as or Expedia as travel agents or websites where we make reservations. Taking advantage of listings’ desire for exposure, these OTAs charge the listings fees to gain premium positions on their search results, the same way as Google Search Ads works. In 2018, both and Expedia recorded more than $1 billion in revenue each from their respective advertising business. It’s nice to have a side business that big, considering that it is not much smaller than what Pinterest and Snap, which make money through ads, generate.

The following chart features advertising revenue from a few select companies in 2018 with a few exceptions:

  • Hulu’s revenue is from 2019 annual report
  • Pinterest’s figure is the high end of their estimate for this year
  • Spotify’s figure is the approximate number for 524 euros
Source: Companies’ filings