Tuesday, April 28, 2015

MasterCard Inc's (MA.N) strong association with Chinese bank card behemoth UnionPay

MasterCard Inc's (MA.N) strong association with Chinese bank card behemoth UnionPay is expected to help it reap more benefits than larger rival Visa Inc (V.N) as the country opens up its $7 trillion bank card payments market to foreign players.
The world's largest debit and credit card issuers have so far been barred from operating independently in the China bank card market - projected to become the world's biggest by 2020.
But that is set to change.
China's State Council said last week foreign firms would be allowed to apply to the central bank for licenses for bank card clearing businesses from June 1.
The measure is set to end a near-monopoly held by UnionPay.
It will take at least a year for foreign card issuers to start operations in China, but investor expectations are high.
Shares of MasterCard and Visa rose 4 percent in the three days following the announcement.
"It's pretty close ... but MasterCard has a little more leeway than Visa because of its existing relationship with China UnionPay," Wedbush Securities analyst Gil Luria told Reuters.
The U.S. companies currently use UnionPay's network when accepting yuan payments and have to pay network access fees.
MasterCard and UnionPay signed an agreement in 2010 to issue co-branded cards that Chinese people could use when traveling overseas.
The agreement gives MasterCard a strong headstart, as the company has cornered a large chunk of the co-branded cards market in the past few years. (reut.rs/1HzMxVQ)
Chief Executive Ajay Banga said last year that more than 90 percent of new co-branded card deals issued in China went to MasterCard.
Barclays analyst Darrin Peller estimated that a 1 percent shift in purchase volume from UnionPay would boost MasterCard's earnings per share by 3-6 cents, compared with 2-4 cents for Visa.

"Given that MasterCard is starting off at a smaller base, incremental growth in China may be more impactful to MasterCard's economics than Visa's over the next few years," Peller said.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Deutsche Bank's plan to jettison much of its German retail bank

English: Deutsche Bank Towers in Frankfurt am ...
English: Deutsche Bank Towers in Frankfurt am Main, Germany Slovenčina: Mrakodrapy (na obrázku dva mrakodrapy Deutsche Bank AG), utvárajú obraz mesta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Deutsche Bank's plan to jettison much of its German retail bank and withdraw from one in ten countries sees it join a growing list of banks choosing to shrink and simplify to survive.
The benefits of size and reach, for years considered the holy grail of global banking, are now viewed as being outweighed by the cost and complexity of running businesses across dozens of countries.
Many bank bosses have given up on trying to offer everything to everyone. But as unwinding years of expansion proves difficult, pressure for action has intensified, from politicians who show little patience with institutions they consider too big and complex and investors wanting more return on equity (RoE).
"The underlying economics for banks ... means being all things to all people is too big a burden to sustain," said Bill Michael, head of financial services in Europe at consultancy KPMG. He cited low RoEs, high operational risk and hefty potential costs from regulation.
After missing financial targets and racking up a string of regulatory fines and problems, Deutsche Bank said on Monday that it would sell retail arm Postbank, take a knife to its investment bank and exit seven of the 70 countries in which it operates.
On Friday HSBC's bosses responded to investor criticism over misconduct scandals and weak profitability by emphasising how far they have shrunk and streamlined the bank in the past four years. HSBC has already sold or shut 77 businesses and could yet dispose of big operations in Brazil or Turkey.
Credit Suisse's incoming CEO Tidjane Thiam is expected to cut trading operations drastically and pull back from other areas, while Barclays chairman John McFarlane signaled on his first day on Thursday that he will also wield the knife.
The message is clear: bold action is on the cards to create leaner and simpler models, even after big cuts in recent years at Barclays, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland.
"NOT A SCRAP OF EVIDENCE BIGGER IS BETTER"
Pressure for banks to downsize has intensified since the global financial crisis, which was preceded by a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions of the kind that briefly made RBS one of the world's biggest banks.
The Bank of England's chief economist, Andy Haldane, said in 2009 that "there is not a scrap of evidence of economies of scale or scope in banking -- of bigger or broader being better".

Saturday, April 25, 2015

26,000 specialty foods online at CanAmShop

CanAmShop online shopping with 26,540 online specialty foods products. CanAmShop.com is not the biggest competitor in online shopping world however it really does have one of the most extensive product selections around in the grocery/gourmet specialty foods website category. Other sites offer their products but CanAmShop’s pricing is extremely competitive and hard to beat. Shipping is not free and sales don’t exist, the best you might see is a $5.00 courtesy coupon saying thanks for shopping here.CanAmShop
Some of CanAmShop’s categories are Allergy Free, Baking Pans, Tools, Bags, Totes, Baking Essentials, Breakfast Foods, Condiments, Drinks, Eco-Home, For Baby, Pets, dog treats, Fruits, Vegetables, Gift, Ideas, Grains, Beans, Sides, Health, Beauty, Meal Ideas, Paper, Disposable, Snacks, Soups, Bouillon, Teas, Vitamins, Supplements, organic, natural products.
CanAmShop for online shopping for organic, natural, green products spanning 775 brands in over 125 product categories totaling 26,450 products for shipping in the US and Canada or worldwide. No order is too small!
All orders for U.S. and Canada are filled from our distribution center on west coast in Seattle, Washington U.S.A.
CanAmShop.com website is easy to navigate and simple in design. A simple search can bring you dozens of results for different versions of the same products and a few related items. Using the advanced search feature, you can go as specific as the publisher, subject, binding type or ISBN number. Browsing the site is just as easy. Simply choose the department you want to shop in and then slim down options until the items you want to purchase come up.
Search and browsing results can be organized by price, best-selling, customer reviews and more. These features make it easy to navigate through the thousands of product listings on the site without getting lost on the way.
Once on the product pages, you can read reviews, product specs, summary, professional reviews, any sales related to the product, and see similar products. On many items, additional pictures and pages from inside the product are available for your review. You can then choose to add the item to your wish list.
When it comes to purchasing, CanAmShop.com makes it easy to evaluate a product and shipping costs along with the condition of the item they are selling. Once items are in the cart, they are easy to delete or save for a later purchase.
After using the site for a while, you will soon start to see personalized recommendations and product suggestions based on items you previously bought and browsed.
CanAmShop.com has really no shipping options available and all priced by weight (dimensional pricing could affect the price). Standard shipping usually takes around a week. Expedited shipments usually arrive within 3 days and one or two day items sold directly from CanAmShop are available on request and almost always arrive within the timeframe seen of the shipping page. International shipping is available on most items for an additional fee. Tracking is available on all items.
CanAmShop.com does not gift wrap your purchases.
The company will accept most credit cards. You can also pay via a direct bank transfer or an e-check and through PayPal.
The secure checkout process makes it easy to pay with a gift card or using a promo code as well.
Payments can be made over the phone or money order.
CanAmShop.com offers excellent customer support and offers phone and email support.
The site’s return policy varies depending on your purchase. In all cases, any defective, undelivered or improperly described products fall under CanAmShop.com A-to-Z Guarantee and can be returned within 30 days.
Items that were purchased and returned for a reason that is not the fault of the seller may be subject to a restocking fee and may have shipping costs deducted from the return.
You can also find CanAmShop products at fine sites CanAmShop GroceryCanAmShop Pets ShopBC and eComBizCenter.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Google Inc on Wednesday launched a new U.S. wireless service

Google Inc on Wednesday launched a new U.S. wireless service that switches between Wi-Fi and cellular networks to curb data use and keep phone bills low.
The service, Google's first entry into the wireless industry, will work only on the company's Nexus 6 phones and be hosted through Sprint Corp and T-Mobile's networks, Google said in a statement.
The service, called Project Fi, will automatically switch between the two networks and more than 1 million open, free Wi-Fi spots, depending on which signal is strongest.
The service will cost $20 a month plus $10 per gigabyte of data used. Customers will get money back for unused data.
Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice president of products, said at a Barcelona conference last month the company was preparing to experiment with a mobile network, but that it did not intend to disrupt the wireless industry.
The service will be available on only one device and has limited carrier coverage, so it will not make Google a major wireless industry player, said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner.
If successful, however, Google's service could pressure wireless providers to further lower prices and better adapt to the rise of tablets and wearable devices, Blau added. Though some carriers, such as T-Mobile and AT&T Inc, allow unused data to roll over, most mobile plans require customers to pay for a set amount of data each month.
But Google first has to "test out features they think are going to differentiate themselves," Blau said, such as being able to transition from network connectivity to Wi-Fi.
If Google is able to provide those features, "it's very possible they could become a major wireless player in the future," Blau said.
Phone numbers will live in the cloud so that consumers can talk and text on any connected tablet, Google said.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Short sellers

English: The old logo of Credit Suisse.
English: The old logo of Credit Suisse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In January 2014, veteran short-seller Bill Fleckenstein said he was readying a new fund to bet on falling stock prices. More than a year later, he's still waiting to launch that fund.
Despite lackluster U.S. economic data, a world grappling with slow growth, concern that Greece and Ukraine could default on their debts, the U.S. stock market has been more than resilient. Even after a selloff on Friday, major indices are less than two percent from all-time highs and volatility measurements have been close to their lowest levels for 2015.
"How are you supposed to actively short stocks in this environment? It has been impossible," Seattle-based Fleckenstein told Reuters.
His frustration is shared by others dedicated to betting on declines, if not for the broader market then for individual stocks that look overvalued. Outside of the hard-hit energy industry, most sectors have performed well over the last several months, and dedicated short funds have been stung.
Equity markets continue to benefit from ultra-low interest rates and other moves by central banks aimed at stimulating demand in major economies.
"It all comes down to free money and that old saw - 'don't fight the Fed,'" said Jeff Matthews, who runs Ram Partners, a Naples, Florida-based hedge fund.
Through the end of March, Credit Suisse's index that measures the performance of short-biased funds is down 4.4 percent, while its market-neutral index - measuring funds that match long and short bets - is off by 1.6 percent. In comparison, CSFB's broad index of all hedge funds is up 2.6 percent.
Since October, long-short equity funds - which take long positions in stocks expected to increase in value and short stocks expected to decrease in value - have been gravitating more to long bets than at any time since August, according to the Credit Suisse data. In particular, they have been pulling back on unprofitable short positions taken earlier in the year.
"It has been unremittingly horrible for someone like me who has been long value, short over-hyped stocks," said Sydney, Australia-based short-seller John Hempton of Bronte Capital. "It would be more fun if I could go back to making money rather than spending my days thinking about risk management."
Investors like Hempton and Fleckenstein are happy to forget 2013 and 2014: the S&P 500 gained 29.6 percent and 11.4 percent in those years, while Credit Suisse's index of hedge funds with a dedicated short bias lost 25 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

online shopping for grocery and gourmet products

CanAmShop Mobile Shopping  

We have 24,540 online shopping for grocery and gourmet products with natural and organic products branching out to provide other assorted choices of quality products. CanAmShop is a distributor of quality organic, natural, and healthy products. From food to gifts, and baking essentials, we have the finest range and quality service. Our distribution center on the West coast in Seattle, Washington U.S.A. Since 2003 eComTechnology has maintained its base of quality products with merchants from around the world.
Allergy Free, Baking Pans, Tools, Bags, Totes, Baking Essentials, Breakfast Foods, Condiments, Drinks, Eco-Home, For Baby, Pets, dog treats, Fruits, Vegetables, Gift, Ideas, Grains, Beans, Sides, Health, Beauty, Meal Ideas, Paper, Disposable, Snacks, Soups, Bouillon, Teas, Vitamins, Supplements, Organic, Natural products, New eBooks!
 suppban1
CanAmShop online shopping distributes wholesale organic and natural products spanning 775 brands in over 125 product categories totalling 24,500 products for shipping in the US and Canada.
No order is too small! Your retail wholesaler!
With over 4000 brands in our electronics catalog, you'll always be able to find what you're looking for. We offer Net 30 Credit Terms for government agencies, schools, and qualified corporate customers. Quick next day delivery for the United States.
CanAmShop is a division of eComTechnology that has distribution agreements with leading companies.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ernst & Young LLP [ERNY.UL] will pay $10 million to settle a New York lawsuit

Ernst & Young LLP [ERNY.UL] will pay $10 million to settle a New York lawsuit accusing the accounting firm of helping Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc [LEHMB.UL] deceive investors in the years leading up to its 2008 collapse, the New York attorney general said on Wednesday.
The 2010 lawsuit claimed Ernst & Young's auditing facilitated a "massive accounting fraud" and sought $150 million in fees that the firm earned from Lehman between 2001 and 2008, plus investor damages and equitable relief.
While the $10 million was much smaller than what the attorney general's office had sought, Ernst & Young agreed to pay $99 million in damages to investors in a class action settlement approved a year ago.
The case was the only action by a law enforcement authority in connection with Lehman's 2008 collapse, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
"If auditors' reports...provide cover for their clients by helping to hide material information, that harms the investing public, our economy and our country," Schneiderman said.
Nearly all the $10 million will go to investors in Lehman securities, the office said.
An Ernst & Young spokesperson said the New York case is the last significant piece of litigation against it over Lehman, but declined to comment on the settlement.
According to the complaint, Ernst approved the "surreptitious" removal of tens of billions of dollars of debt from Lehman's balance sheet to make the investment bank appear less indebted at the close of financial quarters.
The earlier class action settlement relied in part on facts uncovered by the Attorney General's investigation, the attorney general's office said, including more than a dozen depositions its lawyers took.
Lehman filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008, helping to trigger the global financial crisis. Once the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, Lehman held large quantities of risky subprime mortgage securities.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Interactive City Guides

eComTech Interactive Search eBooks, pdfs and emails.

eComTech Publishing not only publishes, but distributes and sells ebooks on the internet at 6 different websites and of course Amazon and eBay too. Centered around the eBook or electronic publication side of the business eComTech does ebooks to City Guides and promotional items for city, hospitality, travel and real estate.  Something a little different that will catch your prospect’s eye!
Promotional informational items including:
  • Book Marketing
  • Business Marketingmontreal21
  • Travel & Hospitality
  • Health & Wellness
  • Technology
  • Economics
  • Promotional items
Inquire about an eBook and get your specific interactive search today!
Interactive Search eBooks can also be created for handouts (ebooks, pdf. files, and emails) — for working professionals to share so their students, seminar, or workshop participants receive expert guidance using search engines to find the best and most relevant content.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Black Duck's new Black Duck Hub open source security solution

Black Duck's new Black Duck Hub open source security solution helps development teams check the security of open source in their code bases.

Black Duck Software, a provider of solutions for managing open source software, has announced Black Duck Hub, a new open source security solution that helps security and development teams find and remediate open source vulnerabilities.
The Black Duck Hub helps users identify open source components used within their code, identify known security vulnerabilities, and triage, schedule, and track remediation.
“Most companies do not have an automated mechanism to identify new open source as it enters a code base,” said Bill Ledingham, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Black Duck Software, in a statement. “Moreover, they are unable to determine the actual risk and impact from vulnerabilities. Without this knowledge, companies have no way to triage and track vulnerability remediation efforts over time. The Black Duck Hub helps security and development teams identify and mitigate open source related risks across an application portfolio. The product’s ability to automatically map industry-identified security vulnerabilities to assess risk, prioritize issues, and track remediation means Black Duck is uniquely positioned in the market to provide the most comprehensive language coverage and dev-tools integration with integrated remediation tracking and management.”
Black Duck said on average, more than 30 percent of software deployed in most enterprises is open source software (OSS). Yet, few organizations have visibility into what open source is used and where. With more than 4,000 new open source vulnerabilities reported each year, understanding what open source is used within an organization is critical, the company said.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Brent crude oil fell below $58 a barrel

Brent crude oil fell below $58 a barrel on Tuesday on signs of growing oversupply as Iranian officials visited Beijing to seek more oil sales following the framework nuclear deal that could lead to the lifting of sanctions.
China is Iran's largest trade partner and has bought roughly half of its crude exports since 2012, when sanctions against the Islamic Republic were tightened.
Oil markets were also pressured by a Goldman Sachs report saying prices needed to remain low for months to slow U.S. oil output growth.
Brent LCOc1 was down 70 cents at $57.42 a barrel by 1335 GMT. U.S. crude CLc1 was down 75 cents at $51.39 a barrel.
Representatives of state-run National Iranian Oil Company will meet China's biggest crude buyers including Unipec, the trading arm of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp (0386.HK), and state trader Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, officials told Reuters.
Global oil markets already face a supply glut with producers pumping over 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) more than demand in the first half of this year, analysts say.
"There is a massive oversupply. Stocks are rising and now we have the prospect of more Iranian oil coming onto the market," said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
Goldman said in a research note it expected U.Scrude inventories to top out in April and subsequently be drawn down at 350,000 bpd during the May-September period, when demand for fuel to power cars and air-conditioners is at its greatest.
Still, the bank said it saw little upside for its $40-a-barrel forecast over the next three months, anticipating inventories would rise again by October, pressuring prices into 2016.
"Prices need to remain low in coming months to achieve a sufficient and sustainable slowdown in U.S. production growth," the bank said, adding that the U.S. outlook for 2016 made its forecast for $65-a-barrel oil next year look too high.

On Monday energy information group Genscape said its data showed stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma oil hub rose by the relatively small amount of 169,000 barrels in the week to April 3.

Friday, April 10, 2015

UnionPay debit cards have become the most popular global payment method,

UnionPay debit cards have become the most popular global payment method, generating more transactions than MasterCard and Visa according to The Nilsen Report.
In 2014 there was a 14.2 per cent increase in overall transactions, with brands such as American Express, MasterCard, UnionPay, and Visa generating 195.56 billion payments. The increase in transactions has also increased the volume for goods and services. Last year goods and services grew by 18.3 per cent, producing $2.832 trillion.
UnionPay’s growth in the debit card market is continuing to excel, with the Nilsen Report revealing that they had the highest percentage increase for a debit card, based on purchase volume. Union Pay’s debit and credit card transactions also grew by 52.3 per cent.
UnionPay is attempting to match, and even better its competitors in terms of year-on-year growth. Last year UnionPay’s transactions grew to 6.78 billion, exceeding MasterCard’s 6.17 billion. Visa however, still comes out on top with transactions, increasing to 10.40 billion transactions.
UnionPay still has a long way to go before they can be known as the top debit card company, a title which this year belongs to Visa. Visa debit cards topped the list for the most purchase transactions with a share of 36.79 per cent, followed by Visa credit cards with 20.95 per cent. Union Pay trailed behind Visa and MasterCard, with their debit cards accounting for 5.45 per cent, and their credit cards achieving 4.65 per cent.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

U.S. media company Viacom Inc (VIAB.O) said it will undertake a restructuring

Viacom 18 logo
Viacom 18 logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
U.S. media company Viacom Inc (VIAB.O) said it will undertake a restructuring, including cutting jobs, abandoning some acquired titles and reorganizing three of its domestic network groups into two new organizations, to drive growth.
The owner of movie studio Paramount Pictures and cable networks such as MTV and Comedy Central said it will take a related pre-tax charge of about $785 million in the quarter ended March 31.
Viacom also halted its $20 billion share buyback program due to the restructuring and the spending on acquisitions anticipated in the current fiscal year.
The company's shares fell 1.6 percent after the bell on Monday.
Viacom said the new structure would realign sales, marketing, creative and support functions and increase efficiencies in program and product development.
The company in January reported lower-than-expected first-quarter revenue due to weak advertising spending in the United States.
Analysts on average were expecting the company to post a profit of $428.3 million on revenue of $3.26 billion in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Viacom said on Monday it "reallocating resources to expand its capabilities in critical business areas" such as data analysis, technology development and consumer insights.
The company said it expects to save about $350 million annually, including about $175 million this year, from the restructuring.

Viacom said the stock buyback halt, aimed to keep the company within its target leverage ratio, would last no later than October.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Online specialty gourmet foods

shophead2
CanAmShop.com is not the biggest competitor in online shopping world however it really does have one of the most extensive product selections around in the grocery/gourmet specialty foods website category. Other sites offer their products but CanAmShop’s pricing is extremely competitive and hard to beat. Shipping is not free and sales don’t exist, the best you might see is a $5.00 courtesy coupon saying thanks for shopping here.
Some of CanAmShop’s categories are Allergy Free, Baking Pans, Tools, Bags, Totes, Baking Essentials, Breakfast Foods, Condiments, Drinks, Eco-Home, For Baby, Pets, dog treats, Fruits, Vegetables, Gift, Ideas, Grains, Beans, Sides, Health, Beauty, Meal Ideas, Paper, Disposable, Snacks, Soups, Bouillon, Teas, Vitamins, Supplements, organic, natural products.
CanAmShop for online shopping for organic, natural, green products spanning 775 brands in over 125 product categories totaling 16,450 products for shipping in the US and Canada or worldwide. No order is too small!
All orders for U.S. and Canada are filled from our distribution center on west coast in Seattle, Washington U.S.A.
CanAmShop.com website is easy to navigate and simple in design. A simple search can bring you dozens of results for different versions of the same products and a few related items. Using the advanced search feature, you can go as specific as the publisher, subject, binding type or ISBN number. Browsing the site is just as easy. Simply choose the department you want to shop in and then slim down options until the items you want to purchase come up.
Search and browsing results can be organized by price, best-selling, customer reviews and more. These features make it easy to navigate through the thousands of product listings on the site without getting lost on the way.
Once on the product pages, you can read reviews, product specs, summary, professional reviews, any sales related to the product, and see similar products. On many items, additional pictures and pages from inside the product are available for your review. You can then choose to add the item to your wish list.
When it comes to purchasing, CanAmShop.com makes it easy to evaluate a product and shipping costs along with the condition of the item they are selling. Once items are in the cart, they are easy to delete or save for a latter purchase.
After using the site for a while, you will soon start to see personalized recommendations and product suggestions based on items you previously bought and browsed.
CanAmShop.com has really no shipping options available and all priced by weight (dimensional pricing could affect the price). Standard shipping usually takes around a week. Expedited shipments usually arrive within 3 days and one or two day items sold directly from CanAmShop are available on request and almost always arrive within the timeframe seen of the shipping page. International shipping is available on most items for an additional fee. Tracking is available on all items.
CanAmShop.com does not gift wrap your purchases.
The company will accept most credit cards. You can also pay via a direct bank transfer or an e-check and through PayPal.
The secure checkout process makes it easy to pay with a gift card or using a promo code as well.
Payments can be made over the phone or money order.
CanAmShop.com offers excellent customer support and offers phone and email support.
The site’s return policy varies depending on your purchase. In all cases, any defective, undelivered or improperly described products fall under CanAmShop.com A-to-Z Guarantee and can be returned within 30 days.
Items that were purchased and returned for a reason that is not the fault of the seller may be subject to a restocking fee and may have shipping costs deducted from the return.
You can also find CanAmShop products at fine sites eCombizBizCenter, ShopBC and eComBizCenter.canshoplogo

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

U.S. initial public offerings by venture-backed companies fell to a two-year low

 U.S. initial public offerings by venture-backed companies fell to a two-year low in the first quarter of 2015, according to data from the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters.
About 17 venture-backed companies raised $1.43 billion in the three months ended March, compared with 37 that raised $3.40 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to the report.
The last time the number fell below 20 was in the first quarter of 2013, when eight venture-backed companies raised $716.9 million.
 
Box Inc (BOX.N), an online data storage provider, had the biggest IPO in the latest quarter, raising $201.2 million. It began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 22.
Life sciences companies dominated the IPO market, with 13 of the 17 offerings coming from the sector.
The average amount raised was $84.3 million, down from $92 million in the first quarter of 2014.

Among venture-backed mergers and acquisitions, only 16 of the 86 during the quarter reported deal size. The average deal size was $128.1 million, compared with $245.8 million a year earlier.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The brand new Payments Systems Regulator launched today in the UK

The brand new Payments Systems Regulator launched today in the UK – and its first targets are the money transfer systems controlled by high street banks.
Created to oversee the country’s £75 trillion-a-year payments sector, the regulator will aim to open up competition and access in all areas of payments, including the underlying infrastructure.
At present, set-up costs for new challenger banks and other entrepreneurs seeking to make financial transactions cheaper and faster are often hamstringed by high set up costs – something that the Payments Systems Regulator wants to change. This means that banks, which currently act as the gatekeepers to many of the core technologies used by payments innovators, may be forced to loosen their hold.
“We want to break open the control of payment systems, so it’s not just the big banks that control them who can use them,” Hannah Nixon, the watchdog’s managing director, told the Financial Times“We need to make sure all those who use them or need access can have a real voice in the way these things are controlled — whether it’s a challenger bank, or a payment innovator.”
High street banks such Lloyds and HSB will be pushed to make their systems, including Faster Payments, more open to newcomers, with the regulator asking them to sign a clearly defined code of conduct. If they fail to improve, the regulator will be able to step in.
The watchdog’s powers do not currently reach as far as non-banking giants such as PayPal, but Nixon believes that its influence will “create the conditions” for new payments solutions to emerge.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Strong coalition built to keep fighting for full LGBT

While Indiana Measure Limits Damage, LGBT Hoosiers Deserve Better
Strong coalition built to keep fighting for full LGBT non-discrimination protections that cannot be undermined
WASHINGTON - Facing tremendous economic damage and mounting public pressure, particularly from leading businesses both in and outside of the state, Indiana lawmakers today moved to limit the scope and application of the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in important ways. However, the proposal fails to explicitly ensure that the RFRA won’t be used to undermine the full scope of Indiana existing non-discrimination laws. The proposal also falls far short of adding non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers to the state’s civil rights laws, and future legislative sessions have an obligation to return to fix both the RFRA and this glaring hole in Indiana’s laws protecting their own citizens.
Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the measure with the following statement:
"After a historic week where hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers and countless more leaders from Silicon Valley to the Brickyard 400 all spoke up to condemn S.B. 101, one thing is clear: the people of Indiana will never allow their state to be a home to discrimination. Though this legislation is certainly a step back from the cliff, this fight is not over until every person in Indiana is fully equal under the law. At the federal level and in all 50 states, the time has come in this country for comprehensive legal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people that cannot be undermined."
From the CEOs of some of the largest corporations in the world to small business owners in places like Evansville who declared they were "open for all," from four Indy PFLAG moms who gathered nearly 3,000 people on the steps of the Capitol last Saturday to the unprecedented full front page editorial from the Indy Star, to the nearly 80,000 emails sent to the Governor from people across the nation, the outcry of fair-minded Americans could not be ignored.
Major businesses – including Salesforce, Eli Lilly and Company, Alcoa, Cummins, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the NCAA, and more – played a lead role in negotiating the new measure that clarifies that the new law cannot be used to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public accommodations, employment, and housing.
Statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers still do not exist, meaning discrimination is still legal in most of the state. Businesses in Indiana have made it clear that the state must pass a statewide non-discrimination law that protects all Hoosiers from discrimination and ensures that Indiana is seen as a welcoming place to visit and do business.
Yesterday, in response to a host of anti-LGBT bills pending or signed into law in states around the country like the new law in Indiana, tech industry leaders signed an unprecedented joint statement calling for the addition of non-discrimination protections for LGBT people to state and federal civil rights laws.
HRC is a founding member of the Freedom Indiana coalition—a campaign of state and national organizations who worked to try to stop the anti-LGBT bill from becoming law.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Friday, April 03, 2015

tourist numbers is driving down shop rentals in Hong Kong

A drop in Chinese tourist numbers is driving down shop rentals in Hong Kong, with vacancies increasing in the same prime areas that just three years ago pipped New York's Fifth Avenue to become the world's most expensive retail real estate.
Spooked by months of cross-border tensions and pro-democracy protests, tour groups visiting Hong Kong from China plunged about 80 percent this month, dealing a blow to the retailers that had built their businesses around these mainland visitors' once insatiable demand.
A Chinese government crackdown on lavish spending which shows no signs of letting up has also encouraged tourists to shop further away from home, just as a drop in the yen and the won make Japan and South Korea more attractive destinations.
That has further dimmed the appeal of Hong Kong's Causeway Bay, where renting a 500-square foot space (46 square meters) - the size of a school classroom - can cost HK$500,000 ($64,000) a month.
"If they don't cut the rent, I will leave," said the head of a consumer goods chain that also has a shop in Causeway Bay. Revenues have fallen 30 percent over the past year as the number of mainland visitors fell by half, he said.
"We can't bear the costs," he added, declining to be named as he did not want to highlight his company's financial situation.
Hong Kong retail sales in January fell to their lowest level since 2003, a factor property agents said prompted more retailers to negotiate lower leases, or just move out.
The decline in sales also coincides with plans by several luxury retailers, including Chanel and Compagnie Financiere Richemont SA's Cartier, to cut prices in Asia to counter the sharp decline in the euro.
"Their businesses aren't doing so well, so they decided to essentially hand the keys back to landlord," said Tom Gaffney, head of retail at property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.

Property consultancy Savills says average prime street shop rentals fell 8.5 percent year-on-year in 2014, as the number of Chinese tourists began to fall.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Top European and U.S. banks axed 59,000 jobs last year

English:
English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Top European and U.S. banks axed 59,000 jobs last year as they restructured and cut costs, with headcount expected to shrink further in Europe as bosses strive to improve profitability that has been hit hard by tougher regulation.
Lenders have also sold or shut businesses to narrow their focus to avoid falling foul of regulators concerned that some have become too big and complex.
Analysts said that European banks, especially those in the euro zone, are likely to wield the knife again because they remain the most unprofitable in the world.
"The screws will stay tight on headcount," said Aymen Saleh, managing director at Boston Consulting Group in London.
"A handful of banks globally have really looked at structural change and taken a big cut from their cost base. The majority have done some tactical and convenient belt-tightening to take out costs, but without really fundamentally changing how they operate or their business model."
Eighteen of Europe's biggest banks cut a combined 21,500 jobs last year, but that was less than half of the 56,100 jobs cut by the same banks in 2013, according to data compiled by Reuters.
Six of the biggest U.S. banks cut a total of 37,500 jobs last year, having shed 45,700 in 2013.
That means more than 160,000 jobs have been cut across the 24 banks in the past two years. The six U.S. banks shed 7.3 percent of staff in the period, against 4.1 percent for the Europeans, the data shows.
Boston Consulting's Saleh said that the majority of banks that have not restructured much could have to cut more jobs, though those that moved early could be in a position to add staff in selected areas.

An IMF study last year of 300 large banks showed that only about 30 percent of euro zonelenders had a structure that was able to make a reasonable rate of return over time, compared with 80 percent of U.S. banks.

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