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Data Sheet—How JPMorgan Banks Detroit’s ‘Unbankable’

September 7, 2017, 1:09 PM UTC

Tech companies frequently talk about their desire to change the world. And many do.

Today, I’d like to draw your attention to a far more prosaic industry, banking, that is doing its level best to make a corner of the universe a little better by doing what it does best, lending money.

As part of Fortune’s annual Change the World list, this morning we are publishing a magnificent, majestic, and frankly monumental feature story about JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to rebuild Detroit. It’s a beautifully crafted yarn by Fortune features editor Matt Heimer that looks at how JPMorgan Chase has found a way to bank the seemingly “unbankable” in that crisis-torn city.

After a legacy of acquisitions JPMorgan Chase found itself with a dominant consumer-banking market share in Detroit, a potentially dubious distinction but one that nonetheless gave it a deep connection to the city. By funneling money through non-profit lenders who can take on riskier loans than the big bank itself, JPMorgan Chase has directed funds toward small businesses and homeowners in Detroit in a meaningful way. Importantly, JPMorgan Chase has profits in sight: A revitalized city would redound to a dominant bank’s bottom line.

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There’s a tech angle here too. JPMorgan Chase used data scientists to build a database with neighborhood information like consumer spending, incomes, schools and other factors that would guide lenders and local nonprofits to the most promising jumping-off points for development projects. The theory is that by focusing on high-potential clusters the bank’s capital would have the most impact. JPMorgan Chase is so optimistic about its early results that it plans to roll out similar efforts soon in other cities, Heimer reports.

With so much to be frightened, depressed or downright angry about, isn’t it nice to start the day by hearing about so many trying to do so much good?

Adam Lashinsky


You Only Live Twice. The rights to make future James Bond flicks are up for bid and wouldn't you know it, Apple and Amazon are among the interested parties, the Hollywood Reporter reported on Wednesday. The tech giants could bring fresh ideas to expand the franchise, such as movies with spinoff characters or theme park rides. Bidding is expected to end up between $2 billion to $5 billion.

Goldfinger. Big city mayors: on your marks, get set, pander. Amazon says it wants to open a second headquarters in a new, as-yet unselected city in North America. The lucky metropolis will get 50,000 Amazon employees and a $5 billion facility. "We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters," CEO Jeff Bezos said. "We’re excited to find a second home."

Live and Let Die. A federal court delivered a big blow to entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai, the self-proclaimed "inventor of email," on Wednesday, ruling that posts by the blog TechDirt calling him a "fake," "phony," and other names were not defamatory. U.S. District Judge Charles Saylor IV observed that terms used in the posts such as "fraud," "rip-off," and "scam" are generally protected under the First Amendment as hyperbolic speech.

The World Is Not Enough. T-Mobile is giving family plan subscribers on its newest unlimited data plans free Netflix. Customers with at least two lines get a "standard" subscription to the world's most popular streaming video service, worth $10 a month.

Quantum of Solace. Google is expanding the way it collects information on wheelchair-accessibility for its popular maps app. Software engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn—who was himself paralyzed by a falling tree branch eight years ago–said Google would ask maps info contributors more questions about accessibility to improve the data in the app.

From Russia With Love. Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos said the company had uncovered $100,000 of ad spending by fake accounts that were likely part of a Russian political influence campaign promoting divisive messages in a two-year-period through May. The ads were "amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum—touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights," Stamos wrote in a blog post. Still, the total was a drop in the bucket compared to the $1 billion spent overall on digital political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign.


Sheryl Sandberg, the first woman to become a social media billionaire, and Ursula Burns, the first black woman to run a Fortune 500 company, are featured in TIME Firsts, a multimedia project featuring candid interviews with 46 groundbreaking women. Hear stories of setbacks and success from pioneering leaders and entrepreneurs at and pre-order the hardcover book at the TIME Shop.


Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Bixby, and Google's Assistant are getting better and better at understanding voice commands, but there's one problem that may have created a huge security flaw in the digital helpers. A team of Chinese researchers at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou discovered that the systems can comprehend and respond to ultrasonic frequencies that humans can't even hear. That means hackers could pretty easily send commands to the assistants surreptitiously from a slightly modified smartphone, the team demonstrated in a paper accepted to the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.

Ame Elliott, design director at the nonprofit SimplySecure, tells the web site Co.Design that the blame rests with the big tech companies that have developed the systems without proper safeguards.

I think Silicon Valley has blind spots in not thinking about how a product may be misused. It’s not as robust a part of the product planning as it should be. Voice systems are clearly hard to secure. And that should raise questions.


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If they ever make a ranking of the most commonly stolen books from bookstores, apparently the beatnik writers of the 1960s would top the charts. A bookstore in Cambridge, Mass. has to keep tomes like Jack Kerouac's On the Road behind the counter. Apparently, the free riding, hitchhiking ethos of the novel is still exerting an undue influence.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.