Automation and digital tools are becoming mainstream and making their way into more areas of people’s daily lives. For example, this week there was news that robots have begun doing repetitive tasks in two major casual dining chains. Robots are serving food and beverages and busing tables at 10 Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurants and also serving as fry cooks at one Buffalo Wild Wings location.
“So, that’s kind of interesting. That’s the genuine value.”
ATM vs ABM
This week also saw Walmart announce it is installing bitcoin-enabled ATMs at 200 locations across the U.S. The launch is part of a wider plan to install 8,000 bitcoin ATMs in the country, according to multiple reports.
“It’s pretty cool,” Zimmerman said. “But it was a little bit shocking, right? I guess if bitcoin wasn’t mainstream, it is now. You don’t get more mainstream than Walmart.”
The B in BNPL is For Business
New developments continue to be announced in the buy now, pay later (BNPL) space with Visa, Klarna and a host of other partners coming together to make BNPL more accessible for issuers and consumers at the point of sale, and Affirm inviting consumers to join a waitlist for a debit card that will enable them to pay over time.
“It’s definitely getting traction and I think it points to everybody trying to stretch the dollar and extend their buying power,” Zimmerman said. “You have that both B2C and B2B. B2B takes the form of cash flow and so I think ultimately the concept of buy now, pay later is going to be even bigger in B2B than it is in B2C.”
He noted that in B2C, the jury is still out on BNPL. BNPL drives cart size, but there is a cost to extending payments, and sellers are the ones fronting that bill. In addition, as BNPL becomes more ubiquitous, there will be price pressure on the pure plays in this space.
“I think it will start fairly soon,” Zimmerman said. “It’s going to depend on what actually the data says when the sellers are looking at, ‘Am I getting value from this premium price that I’m paying for these transactions?’”
PayPal Unpins Pinterest
Also in the news this week was PayPal’s statement that it is not pursuing an acquisition of Pinterest “at this time.” This followed nearly a week of market rumors that a merger was potentially in the wings. After the announcement, Webster wrote that she still thinks PayPal’s interest in Pinterest wasn’t such a bad idea.
Zimmerman agreed, saying, “I think I had similar thoughts to you that you could see it being a good fit just from the social commerce perspective. There’s a lot of forecasts out there about how big social commerce is going to be ultimately, just because of the convenience.”
Facebook’s Meta Moment
In other news in the social media space, Facebook announced this week that it was changing its name to Meta, reflecting its investment in the metaverse.
“I think it probably fits based on all the hinting they did about the metaverse and everything else,” Zimmerman said. “Changing the name probably doesn’t change the number of things they have to solve, but I guess it fits.”
Of the metaverse, broadly speaking, he said, “I think it’s a lot of hype.”
Related to the metaverse was GameStop’s posting of job opportunities in its non-fungible token (NFT) platform and Web3 gaming. The company is looking for product marketing directors and software engineers.
“They’re trying to create a platform where these creators can create these assets that are valuable and then GameStop is the marketplace where they’re exchanged,” Zimmerman said.