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The Week In Payments: BNPL’s Collaborative Future And EVs’ Future On The Road 

The term “dog days of summer” generally refers to the hottest period of the season, when temperatures are at the highest and humidity levels hit their sultry peak. What most people don’t know is that the dog days of summer describe a specific astronomical event first identified by the ancient Romans, which takes place between mid-July and mid-August each year when Sirius (the dog star) is at its brightest in the night sky.

The term originated from the Roman belief that the increased brightness of the dog star was responsible for the increased heat in late summer days. The science behind it didn’t hold up, but the phrase “dog days of summer” stuck around.

And as we are in the dog days of 2021, Ingo Money CEO Drew Edwards admitted that the big news events of the week as Square acquired Afterpay and bought big into the buy now, later (BNPL) space while the government meanwhile forecast electric vehicles (EVs) would be half the auto market in less than a decade left him feeling as mystified as the ancient Romans once were by summer weather.

“I’m a huge Square fan, and I didn’t see that one coming,” Edwards said. “And I still don’t get the whole buy, now pay later proposition. It’s a different genre and not targeting me.”

But it is clearly the real deal, he added, particularly when it comes to younger consumers.

The Shifting Shape Of The BNPL Race 

In a summer that’s been defined by big moves and shifts in the BNPL space, Square got the world’s attention with its nearly $30 billion acquisition of BNPL giant Afterpay.

Read more: Square Scoops Up Afterpay

For Square, Edwards said, the moves makes undeniable sense in the context of Square’s two-sided ecosystem — Square Cash users with cards in their wallets and merchants down to the smallest players now able to connect with BNPL capability. It’s driving sales to its merchants and expanding the utility of its Cash platform — and pushing the firm ever closer to its super-app goals. In the race, Edwards noted, Square has officially given itself a $30 billion leg up.

But what’s more interesting about the move, Edwards said, is the ways in which it has raised the stakes in the BNPL race. Buy now, pay later is powerful, he noted, but is increasingly looking like something that won’t stand alone, and will fit into a bigger ecosystem of financial services offerings.

“If you’re a standalone buy now, pay later you might be looking for a partner right now. I mean, who else is out there that needs it, which would lead back to the big banks,” he said. “I would guess it would be better to buy versus trying to build it internally.”

And as bigger players like Apple and PayPal are pushing into the space, and even big standalone firms like Afterpay are joining up, the pace of the race is changing, alongside the shapes of the firms that might be running forward.

EV Pushing Into Top Gear With A Federal Push

President Joe Biden this week pledged that electric vehicles should be half of all new auto sales by 2030. The new executive order on the subject  isn’t mandatory but it encourages U.S. automakers and government officials to back legislation and the adoption of EVs, including a target of zero-emission vehicles that use fuel cells and batteries along with plug-in hybrid vehicles with internal combustion engines.

And though the new push comes with industry support from the likes of GM and Ford, Edwards has his doubts. EV car sales are about 3 percent of the market to date, he noted, and getting to half in less than 10 years is an ambitious bordering on insane goal. Edwards said while he is normally an early adopter, he personally isn’t all that excited to move to an electric vehicle. “They’re going to have to really evolve to tap into the parts we love about cars,” he said.

Moreover, EV cars have infrastructure issues around charging — consumers looking to take longer drives than from their home to their office, he said, need to be able to charge up and go as easily as they can gas up and go. EV cars, for all their potential, aren’t quite there yet on an infrastructure basis.

“I still think there’s a technology advancement that’s got to be made on the battery side of things, in addition to the infrastructure side of things,” he said.” And then for me, they’re going to have to make that car be something that gives me goosebumps.”

And while every consumer might not have that goosebump requirement for EVs, consumers do need to be certain EVs can get them where they need to go as well as old-fashioned internal combustion engines do.

“I’ll go on record and say, I don’t think we can make it in eight years,” Edwards said.

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