Cashless payments are on the rise. They are fast, easy and convenient. Worldwide, cashless transactions have become the norm. But Germany’s central bank and government are still clinging on to cash. Can they stop the move towards a cashless society? Our documentary shows who is behind the worldwide anti-cash lobby. Banks want to get rid of coins and bills for cost reasons, and politicians think less cash will cut the rug out from under criminals and terrorists. Central bankers want to abolish cash because it would make it easier for them to enforce negative interest rates. And digital payment companies like Paypal or Visa simply want to profit from money transactions and collect as much financial data about consumers as they can. Their aim is to gain complete control over our buying behavior. For example, the “Better than Cash Alliance” in New York is supported by financial corporations such as Visa or Mastercard. They say the more people that are integrated into the international financial system, the more growth and jobs it will promote. But as our financial behavior becomes more and more transparent, states are also using payment data to find out more about us. The ordinary citizen’s view of cash as a store of value, independent of third party interests, is being increasingly ignored. But for them, cash is and will remain a symbol of freedom.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 18th April, 2019) London, Uk – –
Flexible screen broke on several £1,800 tester devices ahead of shipping to the public
The screen at the heart of Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold phone, which literally folds in half, has been failing in testers’ hands within days, prompting concerns about the durability of the £1,800 device.
The company distributed the new category-forming device to publications across the US on Monday ahead of its release to the public on 26 April. But within two days testers were reporting that the all-important central flexible screen started to break under normal use.
Unlike traditional smartphones, which have screens covered in rigid protective glass, the Galaxy Fold has a new flexible plastic protective layer, which can be replaced by Samsung to repair a screen scratch without having to replace the whole display.
Some of the devices failed because journalists testing them peeled off that crucial top layer leaving sensitive components of the new multi-layer screen exposed – but other devices appear to have failed through normal use.
CNBC’s Todd Haselton, who did not peel off the crucial protective film, found half the Galaxy Fold’s screen failed.
The device used by the Verge’s Dieter Bohn failed after a lump formed between the display and the hinge behind it, which is designed to support the articulation of the two halves of the phone.
In a statement, Samsung said: “A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.”
Samsung said the phone was durability tested to withstand at least 200,000 unfoldings, or about 100 times a day for five years.
Other device testers have not reported the screens failing on their Galaxy Folds, but it is unclear how many of the phones have been distributed and therefore the failure rate of the devices.
The Galaxy Fold sold out of preorders in the US within days of going on sale, but will not ship or reach stores until 26 April. The phone, which will also come in a 5G variant, is planned to go on sale in the UK and other parts of Europe on 3 May, with preorders starting on 26 April.
Whether the devices, which Samsung said it expected to produce 1m, shipped to customers will suffer from the same issues as the pre-production versions handed to testers remains to be seen.
Sold as an ultra-premium device costing $1,980 in the US, £1,800 in the UK and €2,000 in Europe, the Galaxy Fold comes with various accessories in the box, including a protective aramid case and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds truly wireless earbuds. But it also comes with an insurance scheme called Samsung Care+, which covers replacement to the device for screen breakages or water damage. Unlike most other top-end smartphones, the Fold is not water-resistant.
Samsung’s last high-profile failure was the Galaxy Note 7, which suffered from battery problems in 2016, causing the phone to explode and leading to two recalls and eventual shelving.
The South Korean firm, which is currently the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer, will be anxious to avoid another extremely costly disaster.
Other firms, including China’s Huawei, are snapping at Samsung’s heels in pursuit of the new category of folding phones, with the Mate X expected to go on sale in the next 6 months.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 17th April 2019) London, Uk – –
A surprise court ruling has revived the possibility of a £14bn lawsuit against credit card firm Mastercard.
The Court of Appeal in London has ruled the Competition Appeal Tribunal must reconsider the class action against the firm which it threw out two years ago.
The claim alleges 46 million people paid higher prices in shops than they should have due to high card fees.
Mastercard said it continued to “disagree fundamentally with the basis of the claim”.
“This decision is not a final ruling and the proposed claim is not approved to move forward; rather, the court has simply said a rehearing on certain issues should happen,” it added.
The financial services firm said it was seeking permission to appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks – who is behind the claim – is trying to bring the class action on behalf of all individuals over 16 who were resident in the UK for at least three months between 1992 and 2008 and who bought an item or service from a UK business which accepted Mastercard.
He alleges that fees which Mastercard charged businesses for accepting payments from consumers, known as interchange fees, led to UK consumers paying higher prices on purchases from businesses that accepted Mastercard.
If the £14bn was awarded and divided between the 46 million eligible people the payout would amount to £300 each.
Mr Merricks' original claim was thrown out by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) two years ago. But on Tuesday the Court of Appeal said the CAT had applied the wrong legal test in making its decision.
Mr Merricks' claim will now go back to the CAT, which will have to reconsider whether to allow it to proceed.
He said he was “very pleased” by the decision.
“It is nearly 12 years since Mastercard was clearly told that they had broken the law by imposing excessive card transaction charges, damaging consumers over a prolonged period.
“As a result we all had to pay higher prices in the shops than we should have done – while Mastercard have pocketed the profits.
Mr Merricks' solicitor Boris Bronfentrinker, from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, called the decision a “landmark day for all UK consumers that Mr Merricks seeks to represent”.
The proposed claim follows the European Commission's 2007 decision that Mastercard's interchange fees were in breach of competition law.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 16th April 2019) London, Uk – –
Unverified reviews may be being used to artificially boost products, says consumer group
Amazon’s customer review system is being undermined by a flood of “fake” five-star reviews for products from unfamiliar brands, a new investigation claims.
The consumer group Which? analysed the listings of hundreds of popular tech products in 14 online categories including headphones, dashcams, fitness trackers and smartwatches, checking for telltale signs of suspicious reviews.
Its researchers found that top-rated items were dominated by brands with names such as Itshiny, Vogek and Aitalk, which in many cases had thousands of unverified reviews – meaning there was no evidence that the reviewer had even bought or used the item.
Many items also boasted a high number of five-star ratings posted in a short space of time – another indicator suggesting inauthentic reviews.
With headphones, all the products on the first page of results sorted by average customer review were from little-known brands and 87% of more than 12,000 reviews for these products were by unverified purchasers.
Seventy-one per cent of the headphones had perfect five-star ratings, while some included reviews for unrelated products such as soap dispensers. One set of headphones made by the brand Celebrat had 439 reviews. All were five-star, all unverified, and all arrived on the same day.
Which? found similar results when searching for smartwatches, with unverified reviews making up 99% of reviews for the top four products.
“Our research suggests that Amazon is losing the battle against fake reviews, with shoppers bombarded by comments aimed at artificially boosting products from unknown brands,” said Natalie Hitchins, the head of home products at Which?.
“Amazon must do more to purge its websites of unreliable and fake reviews if it is to maintain the trust of its millions of customers. To avoid being misled and possibly buying a dud product, customers should always take reviews with a pinch of salt and look to independent and trustworthy sources when researching a purchase.”
Neither Which? nor the Guardian were able to contact any of the brands cited in the report, or to identify the source of the suspicious reviews.
Amazon said in a statement: “[We] invest significant resources to protect the integrity of reviews in our store because we know customers value the insights and experiences shared by fellow shoppers. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban and take legal action on those who violate our policies.”
A Guardian analysis also recently found that some items on Amazon are bundled together when they share a title, even if they are a different translation of a book or a remake of a film, making it difficult for readers to know which version they are buying.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 15th April 2019) London, UK —
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Prosecutors in the German city of Braunschweig said on Monday they were pressing criminal charges against former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn in connection with the carmaker’s manipulation of diesel emissions testing.
Four other executives are being charged, the prosecutors office said in a statement, without giving their names.
VW was caught using illegal engine control software to cheat U.S. pollution tests in 2015, triggering a global backlash against diesel that and has so far cost it 29 billion euros (£25 billion).
Prosecutors said Winterkorn was accused of a particularly serious case of fraud, breach of trust and breaching competition laws because he had not acted – despite having a special responsibility to do so as the company’s CEO – after it became clear on May 25, 2014, that diesel engines had been manipulated.
He neglected to inform authorities in Europe and the United States as well as customers of the illegal software and he also did not prevent the continued installation of such software, the prosecutors said.
They added that this had resulted in Volkswagen being slapped with much higher fines in Germany and the United States than would have been the case had he acted.
VW said it would not comment because the company was not a party to the proceedings.
About a year ago, the United States filed criminal charges against Winterkorn, accusing him of conspiring to cover up the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating.
Winterkorn remains in Germany, which does not typically extradite its citizens for prosecution in U.S. courts.
In a related case, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Winterkorn last month, saying U.S. investors were informed too late about the German automaker’s diesel emissions scandal, alleging a “massive fraud”.
The Braunschweig prosecutors said people accused of particularly serious fraud could face up to ten years in prison in Germany.
They said investigations into another 36 suspects in the diesel emissions scandal were ongoing and it was unclear when they would be wrapped up.
Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Additional reporting by Tassilo Hummel in Berlin
The Range Rover Sport PHEV successfully completed the Dragon Challenge at Heaven’s Gate, on Tianmen Mountain, China. The challenge consisted of climbing 999 steps at a 45 degrees angle.
It began at the bottom of the Tianmen Mountain Road, which has a stairway and 99 dizzying turns. The hybrid SUV is the first vehicle to climb the stairs. Professional racing driver Ho-Pin Tung was behind the wheel.
To tackle the road the car was set to ‘Dynamic Mode' which sharpens the throttle, changes gears in high revs, and also engages dampeners so the car stays planted. The Range Rover Sport has a 300PS Ingenium petrol engine as well as a 116PS electric motor. Together they produce 404bhp and 500Nm of torque.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was one of the first entrepreneurs to realize the potential of selling products on the internet. This Bloomberg Profile looks into how Bezos built Amazon inside his garage and now has his sights set well beyond online commerce.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 12th April, 2019) London, Uk – –
Entertainment giant to take on Netflix with Disney+ platform, which will also stream The Simpsons in US
Disney has launched its own streaming service with the announcement of new productions, including a Marvel TV series starring Tom Hiddleston as Loki, a new Star Wars series with actors from Rogue One and US streaming rights to The Simpsons.
The entertainment behemoth has been planning its own streaming venture for years as a competitor to Netflix, but on Thursday in California, it announced new TV spin-offs and that it would stream The Simpsons, which Disney acquired when it bought 20th Century Fox last month. Disney already owned Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
The company intends to make any new film releases exclusive to its platform, and has already begun the process of pulling its content from other services like Netflix.
Disney Plus will launch in the US on 12 November, at a cost of US$6.99 a month. The company has not yet released details for any other markets.
On Thursday, Disney announced three original Marvel-based TV shows would be developed for the platform.
One will feature Hiddleston in the role of Loki from the Thor movies, one will follow the characters of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) from the Avengers films, and one will feature the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) from the Captain America franchise.
It will also launch a TV series spin-off of the Star Wars film Rogue One. Titled The Mandalorian, it will be a spy series with Diego Luna reprising his character of Cassian Andor.
All of the original and prequel Star Wars films – as well as The Force Awakens – will be on the service at the launch, as well as the recent Captain Marvel movie.
All new Disney theatrical releases – including the upcoming Marvel and Star Wars movies – will be on the platform, and Disney plans to eventually move all existing Disney films on to the platform, once current deals expire.
10 Rejected Shark Tank Pitches That Made Millions… For that reason… I’m out. Shark tank statement is something no entrepreneur wants to hear on the show Shark Tank. But it does come with regret on the dealing end as well. The Sharks have passed on many deals, but they are some that made it big that didn't need them. The Sharks on Shark Tank are famous for their robust negotiating skills, and that extends to their salaries as well. Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O’Leary but they are human, and they will miss a business opportunity here and there. The show that gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch celebrity investors depicts some business owners walking away with life-changing deals, and some are not so lucky. But for these people they didn't end up too bad.
Livestream shopping in China is a multi-billion dollar industry, with a reported 425 million users as of July 2018. Some hosts feature well known luxury brands, but you can buy just about anything. Alice met up with a top livestream host in China, as well her biggest fan, to learn what makes this experience so addictive. Alice and Sophia also look into how the US is starting to catch on.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 5th April 2019) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – Uber will add an additional pound to the cost of journeys in central London from next week after the city’s transport authority said private hire taxi operators will no longer be exempt from the congestion charge.
Most drivers entering London’s central zone, spanning King’s Cross in the north, the City in the east, the Imperial War Museum in the south and Buckingham Palace in the west, pay 11.50 pounds Monday to Friday during the day.
Private hire firms had been exempt from the charge but regulator Transport for London (TfL) is seeking to cut the number of vehicles on the British capital city’s roads, which has surged partly due to burgeoning taxi apps.
TfL said in December that private hire taxi operators such as Uber and Addison Lee would have to pay the levy from April 8.
“To help ease the impact on driver earnings, Uber trips that start, finish or pass within that Zone will include a 1-pound Central London Fee,” said Uber.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 1st April, 2019) London, Uk – –
Five UK broadband and landline providers will now automatically compensate customers when services do not work.
From Monday, customers who experience delayed repairs, installations or missed engineer appointments will be compensated, without having to ask.
BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet have joined Ofcom's scheme, which is not compulsory.
Hyperoptic, Vodafone, EE and Plusnet have also committed to the plans.
According to industry watchdog Ofcom, there are 7.2 million cases each year where broadband or landline customers suffer delayed repairs, installations or missed appointments.
Previously, only about one in seven broadband or landline customers received compensation from providers for these delays.
Ofcom consulted on enforcing formal regulations regarding compensation of broadband and landline services in 2017.
However, some service providers then approached the regulator independently and offered to pay compensation to customers.
This led to Ofcom releasing details of its voluntary automatic compensation code of practice in November 2017.
“We think it's unacceptable that people should be kept waiting for a new line, or a fault to be fixed,” said Ofcom's chief executive Sharon White.
She added that the new rules would provide an incentive for service providers to want to avoid problems occurring in the first place.
“But if they fall short, customers must be treated fairly and given money back, without having to ask for it,” she said.
TalkTalk, Sky, Zen Internet and BT all use BT's Openreach network to provide broadband and landline services.
In December, the providers agreed a deal with Openreach that if any delays to repairs or installations occurred, Openreach would compensate the providers.
The providers would then use that money to automatically compensate their customers.
Under the terms of the agreement, if an engineer does not arrive on schedule, or cancels within 24 hours, the compensation will be £25.
If a service stops working and is not fully fixed after two working days, customers will be entitled to £8 a day in compensation.
There will also be £5-per-day offered for new services not starting on time.
Hyperoptic and Vodafone will begin automatic compensation later this year, while EE plans to start paying compensation automatically in 2020.
Plusnet has committed to the scheme, but has not provided a timescale for when it will begin providing automatic compensation.
Asked why Ofcom had chosen not to implement formal regulations for automatic compensation, an Ofcom spokesman told the BBC: “This is the quickest way of putting money back in people's pockets. All the largest firms have committed, with more than 95% of households covered.”
He said that customers with providers not in the scheme from Monday could choose to switch to a new provider if they were unhappy with their current service.
However, Ofcom added that it was keeping “a close eye” on the firms in the scheme.
“If they don't comply, we'll step in and take action,” the spokesman said.
Fender Musical Instruments is one of the world's largest manufacturers of guitars, basses and amplifiers. They revolutionized rock ‘n' roll with their iconic electric guitars such as the Telecaster and the Stratocaster. Bloomberg visits the Corona, California factory to see how a guitar is hand-made, and learn why Fender will never move production out of southern California.
Mariya Nurislamova, founder and CEO of the YC-backed startup, Scentbird. Often described as the “Netflix for Perfume,” Scentbird is employing technology to make smarter recommendations to clients and sell perfume at scale. But that's not all; the company is simultaneously building a beloved beauty brand, which is arguably even harder to do.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 29th March 2019) London, Uk – –
Officials probing the crash in Ethiopia of a Boeing 737 Max have preliminarily concluded that a flight-control feature automatically activated before it crashed, the Wall Street Journal says.
The newspaper, citing unnamed sources, says the findings were relayed on Thursday at a briefing at the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The flight-control feature is meant to help prevent the plane from stalling.
Boeing said it could not comment as the investigation was still underway.
It said all enquiries should be referred to the investigating authorities and the BBC has approached the FAA for a response.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia's Ministry of Transport said: “We have seen the WSJ report. We'll comment shortly.”
Thursday also saw what is thought to be the first lawsuit filed on the crash.
Black box findings
The Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight-control feature was also implicated in a fatal crash by Lion Air flight in Indonesia last year.
Together, the two crashes have claimed 346 lives.
MCAS is software designed to help prevent the 737 Max 8 from stalling.
It reacts when sensors in the nose of the aircraft show the jet is climbing at too steep an angle, which can cause planes to stall.
But an investigation of the Lion Air flight last year suggested the system malfunctioned, and forced the plane's nose down more than 20 times before it crashed into the sea killing all 189 passengers and crew.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says there are similarities between that crash and the Ethiopian accident on 10 March.
Boeing has redesigned the software so that it will disable MCAS if it receives conflicting data from its sensors.
As part of the upgrade, Boeing will install an extra warning system on all 737 Max aircraft, which was previously an optional safety feature.
Neither of the planes, operated by Lion Air in Indonesia and Ethiopian Airlines, that were involved in the fatal crashes carried the alert systems, which are designed to warn pilots when sensors produce contradictory readings.
Earlier this week, Boeing said that the upgrades were not an admission that the system had caused the crashes.
Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the accidents.
A preliminary report from Ethiopian authorities is expected within days.
The report comes a day after a lawsuit was filed in a Chicago federal court by the family of one of the victims of the Ethiopian crash, Jackson Musoni, a citizen of Rwanda.
It alleges that Boeing had defectively designed the automated flight control system
All Boeing 737 Max are currently grounded. It is still not certain when the planes will be allowed to fly.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 27th March 2019) London, Uk – –
Speed limiting technology looks set to become mandatory for all vehicles sold in Europe from 2022, after new rules were provisionally agreed by the EU.
The Department for Transport said the system would also apply in the UK, despite Brexit.
Campaigners welcomed the move, saying it would save thousands of lives.
Road safety charity Brake called it a “landmark day”, but the AA said “a little speed” helped with overtaking or joining motorways.
Safety measures approved by the European Commission included intelligent speed assistance (ISA), advanced emergency braking and lane-keeping technology.
The EU says the plan could help avoid 140,000 serious injuries by 2038 and aims ultimately to cut road deaths to zero by 2050.
EU Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said: “Every year, 25,000 people lose their lives on our roads. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error.
“With the new advanced safety features that will become mandatory, we can have the same kind of impact as when safety belts were first introduced.”
What is speed limiting technology and how does it work?
Under the ISA system, cars receive information via GPS and a digital map, telling the vehicle what the speed limit is.
This can be combined with a video camera capable of recognising road signs.
he system can be overridden temporarily. If a car is overtaking a lorry on a motorway and enters a lower speed-limit area, the driver can push down hard on the accelerator to complete the manoeuvre.
A full on/off switch for the system is also envisaged, but this would lapse every time the vehicle is restarted.
How soon will it become available?
It's already coming into use. Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault and Volvo already have models available with some of the ISA technology fitted.
However, there is concern over whether current technology is sufficiently advanced for the system to work effectively.
In particular, many cars already have a forward-facing camera, but there is a question mark over whether the sign-recognition technology is up to scratch.
Other approved safety features for European cars, vans, trucks and buses include technology which provides a warning of driver drowsiness and distraction, such as when using a smartphone while driving, and a data recorder in case of an accident.
What does it all mean in practice?
Theo Leggett, business correspondent
The idea that cars will be fitted with speed limiters – or to put it more accurately, “intelligent speed assistance” – is likely to upset a lot of drivers. Many of us are happy to break limits when it suits us and don't like the idea of Big Brother stepping in.
However, the new system as it's currently envisaged will not force drivers to slow down. It is there to encourage them to do so, and to make them aware of what the limit is, but it can be overridden. Much like the cruise control in many current cars will hold a particular speed, or prevent you exceeding it, until you stamp on the accelerator.
So it'll still be a free-for-all for speeding motorists then? Not quite. Under the new rules, cars will also be fitted with compulsory data recorders, or “black boxes”.
So if you have an accident, the police and your insurance company will know whether you've been going too fast. If you've been keeping your foot down and routinely ignoring the car's warnings, they may take a very dim view of your actions.
In fact, it's this “spy on board” which may ultimately have a bigger impact on driver behaviour than any kind of speed limiter. It's easy to get away with reckless driving when there's only a handful of traffic cops around to stop you. Much harder when there's a spy in the cab recording your every move.
All of this may well reduce accidents, but it won't eliminate them. You can force people to slow down, you can watch what they're doing, you can help them with emergency braking – but you can't get rid of basic bad driving.
Unless, of course, you have self-driving cars.
How has the idea been received?
The move was welcomed by the European Transport Safety Council, an independent body which advises Brussels on transport safety matters.
But it said it could be several months before the European Parliament and Council formally approve the measures.
The European Parliament will not be able to consider the provisional rules until after its elections take place in May.
UK statistics show more than 1,700 people are killed on UK roads every year, while Brake says speed is a contributory factor in about a quarter of all fatal crashes.
Brake's campaigns director, Joshua Harris, said: “This is a landmark day for road safety.
“These measures will provide the biggest leap forward for road safety this century.”
The UK's Department for Transport said: “We continuously work with partners across the globe to improve the safety standards of all vehicles. These interventions are expected to deliver a step-change in road safety across Europe, including the UK.”
The Association of British Insurers held out the possibility that premiums could be reduced as a result.
It said: “Motor insurers support measures aimed at improving road safety. Any steps that can be shown to make our roads safer, reducing road crashes and insurance claims, can be reflected in the cost of motor insurance.”
What do critics say?
The AA thinks the system might have the unintended consequence of making drivers more reckless, not less.
AA president Edmund King said there was no doubt that new in-car technology could save lives, adding there was “a good case” for autonomous emergency braking to be fitted in all cars.
“When it comes to intelligent speed adaptation, the case is not so clear,” he said. “The best speed limiter is the driver's right foot.
“The right speed is often below the speed limit – for example, outside a school with children about – but with ISA, there may be a temptation to go at the top speed allowed.”
Mr King added: “Dodgem cars are all fitted with speed limiters, but they still seem to crash.”