India bans Chinese apps, new Mercedes, banana slugs

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

India blocked another 118 Chinese apps. The new group of banned apps includes the popular video game PUBG, and was announced days after the most recent border dispute between India and China. Both countries are sending representatives to a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Moscow, but no bilateral talks are on the agenda.

A Hong Kong media tycoon could head to jail. A court is scheduled to deliver a verdict in the case of Jimmy Lai, who was arrested earlier this month under the national security law and whose Apple Daily newsroom was raided by police. Lai faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

The US imposed new restrictions on Chinese diplomats. Visiting college campuses or holding large events will now require state department approval. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the move mirrors the treatment of American diplomats in China.

China’s skies are opening up. Starting today, eight countries, including Thailand, Greece, Sweden, and Canada, will be able to send flights directly to Beijing. The Civil Aviation Administration of China says that the country could reverse the decision if more than three of a flight’s passengers test positive for Covid-19.

Daimler presented the new Mercedes-Benz S-class. The luxury sedan’s debut attempts to prove that the automaker can withstand both a pandemic and an expensive shift towards electric vehicles. The model will be produced at Daimler’s new sustainable factory and is expected to make a big splash in the brand’s most important market, China.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are coming to Netflix. The couple, who stepped down from their official duties as British royals six months ago, has signed a contract to produce and star in what they term “inspirational family programming” that could range from documentary series to children’s shows.

Obsession interlude: Future of Finance

In 2013, India’s central bank issued its first warning about cryptocurrencies, which weren’t particularly popular at the time. By 2017, everything had changed: That year, bitcoin’s value rose from $900 to $20,000, and the possibility of making a quick buck attracted many Indians to crypto.

This rapid rise made the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government jittery. After several warnings, the RBI cracked the whip in 2018, asking all financial institutions not to support trading of cryptocurrencies. The move completely crippled the crypto market; a few exchanges had to shut down, while others shifted out of India.

What followed was a two-year legal saga in India’s top court. The victor? Crypto. In March 2020, India’s Supreme Court nixed RBI’s directive. Uncertainty still looms, but for now, cryptocurrency is booming in India once again.

A chart of the price of bitcoin.

You can be certain, however, that we remained obsessed with the Future of Finance.

Charting VC investment in Africa

Investment in African startups could drop by as much as 40% by the end of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic—but the bigger question for smaller startups is if they will remain alive at all.

A chart showing past, present, and future of African VC investing

But in an effort to help startups stay afloat, Ventures Platform, an Abuja, Nigeria-based early-stage fund, is creating a startup relief program to disburse emergency grants of up to $20,000 to early, high-growth stage startups that may require cash lifelines.

Sign up to keep up with the continent with the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief today:

Quiz: A Wall Street Whodunit

Image for article titled India bans Chinese apps, new Mercedes, banana slugs
Image: Rodrigo Fortes for Quartz

This famous investor could be considered the godfather of today’s retail stock trading boom. Who is it?

  1. George Soros
  2. Larry Fink
  3. Bernie Madoff
  4. Bill Gross

We’ll give you the answer at the end of this email. If you’d like a cheat sheet, check out our field guide to the next bubble.

✦ Here’s a hint: There’s no scheme involved in this special offer. Land yourself a paywall-free experience by joining Quartz for 50% off using code “SUMMERSALE.”

We’re obsessed with climate migration

Image: Giphy

Oh the places we’ll (have to) go! Sea level rise, sweltering temperatures, parching drought, intense wildfires, catastrophic flooding, powerful hurricanes—the effects of climate change are widespread and varied across the globe. Threats to some of the most populous parts of the world could trigger the largest human migration to have ever occurred. In fact, it’s already begun. Will new destinations be ready when the migrants show up? Get a move on with the Quartz Weekly Obsession.

Surprising discoveries

Stonehenge was built to rock... An engineer built a scale model to reveal the structure’s unique acoustic properties.

… And this dog was born to walk. A network of volunteers helped Pipsqueak the dachshund on its 10,000 mile journey to rejoin its owners in Australia.

Banana slugs are fire-proof. The colorful mollusk avoided a wipeout during recent California wildfires by burying themselves up to 9 ft (3 m) underground.

NASA patented a new route to the moon. The novel lunar trajectory isn’t meant for astronauts but could help cut costs for scientific spacecrafts.

There’s a new black hole in town. By “new” we mean the “previously unknown intermediate-mass type” and by “in town” we mean deep space, so don’t fret too much.

Whodunit answer: Bernard L. Madoff ran the world’s largest Ponzi scheme. He was also a key pioneer of payment for order flow, a business model that helps underpin “commission-free” stock brokerage for everyday traders. It has become a critical money maker for brokerages like Robinhood and Charles Schwab (Schwab was an early Madoff customer). Read the story of how the Ponzi mastermind enabled the US retail trading boom in our guide to the next bubble.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, druid dance music, and  wandering weiner dogs to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Susan Howson, Jackie Bischof, Yomi Kazeem, and Max Lockie.