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💵 How would a digital dollar work?

The Hustle

“The One,” a Bel Air mansion that originally listed for $295m, recently sold for $141m, including fees. Among 105k square-feet, it’s got 21 bedrooms, a nightclub, a 40-person theater, a bowling alley, and 5 pools. What, they couldn’t afford 6?

In today’s email:

  • Digital dollar: The pros and cons of digital currency.
  • Chart: Crypto donations pour into Ukraine.
  • Digits: Metaverse taxes, a McFlurry mess, and other wild digits.
  • Around the web: Lost Wikipedia articles, a fancy color palette generator, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear about how NFTs are helping Ukraine, Netflix’s gaming strategy, McDonald’s McFlurry fury, taxes in the metaverse, and more.

The big idea
digital dollar

The federal government is mulling a digital dollar. Why?

If you’re the type to misplace your wallet, we’ve got good news for you.

Per NPR, the Federal Reserve recently released a paper laying out the pros and cons of a digital currency, meant as a primer to kick off discussions about actually launching one.

How would it work?

While details aren’t fully fleshed out, the options include a digital cash offering or a central bank digital currency (CBDC), which would be stored in a wallet app on smartphones.

Other than “digital dollar” having a nice ring to it, a digital currency serves several purposes:

  • Cuts out middlemen: Namely, financial institutions, which logged $110B in transaction fees in 2020.
  • Helps the unbanked: 5%+ of American households are unbanked with no way of using digital payments.
  • Simplifies government benefits: A digital currency would make it easier for the government to distribute benefits (e.g., pandemic relief checks)

But there are 2 sides to every coin…

… Even digital ones. Among the biggest concerns are:

  • Privacy: The government would have visibility to a wealth of personal transaction data.
  • Cybersecurity: The US would likely need to overhaul much of its financial infrastructure to safeguard from hacks.

Another challenge is something any PM or Growth Marketer knows all too well: getting people to download the app.

In China, the government built integrations with WeChat and Alipay to increase adoption of the digital yuan.

How close is this to becoming a reality?

Not very. It’s still in the “market research” phase, and experts estimate it’ll take 5-10 years to launch.

So unless you’re already using contactless payments, you’ll have to keep ol’ reliable in your back pocket for the time being.

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REI’s new lifetime membership is back with new benefits, including free standard shipping, discounts, and curated brand collaborations. It hopes to hit 50m subscribers by 2030. #ecommerce-retail

An environmental dilemma: Solar energy advocates are finding resistance from conservationists, who fret over replacing fields with panels. #clean-energy

Gecko Robotics raised $73m to build robots that inspect industrial infrastructure, like pipelines, ships, and tanks. #emerging-tech

Stop hacking yourself: Researchers found a workaround to get Amazon Echos to hack themselves, issuing commands to open doors, buy stuff, and more. #privacy

PayPal paused its services in Russia, as have Visa and Mastercard. One expert says it’s “basically impossible” to send money to anyone in Russia now. #fintech-crypto

Twitter banned 100+ spam accounts using the hashtag #IStandWithPutin for “inauthentic amplification.” The tweets had few followers, stock images for avatars, and yet still went viral. #big-tech

crypto donations chart

Selina Lee

People are sending crypto and NFTs to Ukraine

Ukraine has received $57m+ in cryptocurrency donations since Feb. 24, per Elliptic, a blockchain analysis company.

This includes transfers to the Ukrainian government and Come Back Alive, an NGO providing aid to Ukraine’s military. Ukraine has spent $15m of the donations on military supplies thus far, according to Alex Bornyakov, deputy minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.

Some contributions were huge:

  • Polkadot founder Gavin Wood donated $5m+
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and digital artist Pak donated nearly $1.9m, using a portion of funds raised from their NFT sale earlier this month
  • Chain CEO Deepak Thapliyal, who paid $23m for a CryptoPunk NFT, donated ~$290k

People are also donating NFTs, including a CryptoPunk worth $200k+. A Russian national living in the US recorded herself as she burned her passport, and will donate sales from an auction of the NFT video.

And Holy Water, a Ukrainian gaming startup, launched a gallery of NFTs by Ukrainian artists to benefit the nation. As of Sunday morning, it had raised $33k+ in sales.

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Free Resource

30 refined follow-up email templates

Speaking from experience, emails can take up too much of the workday.

So we’re dropping another resource worth saving, curated by HubSpot.

Email experts eliminated the guesswork from a ton of potentially awkward communications, like after interviews, events, and sales meetings. Here are 30 follow-up email narratives to stash wherever you keep useful things.

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30 easy email templates →

Even in the metaverse, you can’t escape sales tax. (Source: Linden Lab)

By the numbers: Metaverse taxes, a McFlurry mess, and more.

1) Being overworked is a problem, but being underworked is, too. It’s partly why hourly workers at fast food restaurants are now quitting after just 1.8 months on average, 55% faster than before the pandemic.

2) The set of “Lupin,” a hit Netflix show about gentleman thief Assane Diop, was (ironically) robbed of ~$330k in equipment during a heist involving fireworks. The set of “The Crown” was robbed of $200k in props just a day earlier.

3) McFlurry fury: Kytch is suing McDonald’s for $900m after McDonald’s reportedly told franchisees to stop using Kytch’s troubleshooting device for McFlurry machines. (FYI: You can check the live stats on broken McFlurry machines across America here.)

4) “Second Life,” a metaverse game that (underratedly) launched in 2003 and generates $600m in annual economic activity, says users will have to pay sales tax on purchases thanks to a 2018 Supreme Court ruling. Guess you can’t escape taxes in the metaverse, huh?

5) In February, PwC Canada was reportedly fined $900k+ by regulators after they found 1.1k+ auditors at the Big Four accounting firm were involved in exam cheating practices. Sometimes even the auditors need auditors, eh?

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☎️ On this day: In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone. He would make the 1st ever call to partner Thomas Watson a few days later.

🔍 Cure boredom: contains 91k+ articles that have been deleted from Wikipedia.

🍯 That’s cool: The New York TimesWirecutter recently featured 10 of its staff favorites from Black-owned businesses, including games, candles, honey, and more.

🎨 Useful: Huemint is a color palette generator for when you need a color scheme on the fly.

🐱 Aww: And now, would you like to see the baby?

Meme of the day
wallet meme

Can digital wallets fix this? (Source: Memes Monkey)

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How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

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