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  • Empowering payments is all about empowering consumer choice.

    That means enabling people to pay in-store or online via the payment method that is most convenient for them at any given moment.

    While some may find it surprising, cash is still holding strong to its reign as one of those preferred payment methods. It hasn’t taken long to figure out that cash isn’t dying; in fact, it’s thriving in many economies and remains a go-to payment, depending on the market or purchase being made.

    According to the PYMNTS.com Global Cash Index™, a Cardtronics collaboration, Americans spent a total of $2,359 billion in cash in 2015, and cash usage in the U.S. remains higher than in Western European countries.

    In 2015, cash usage in the U.S. represented 13.1 percent of its GDP, and PYMNTS research estimates that cash share will represent 11.7 percent of the U.S. GDP in 2020.

    Now what matters most is providing consumers with choice in how they access cash.

    Through a new partnership, FIS Mobile and Cardtronics are addressing one of the most vulnerable touch points when it comes to accessing cash — non-bank ATMs.

    Doug Brown, SVP and group executive for FIS Mobile, announced exclusively to PYMNTS that it will expand its cardless cash ecosystem to now include Cardtronics non-bank ATMs.

    “We are expanding the value propositions from our product — the speed, convenience and security that avoid skimming risks for users at the largest operator of non-bank ATMs in the U.S.,” Brown explained.

    Many non-bank ATMs are located in places that may not be well monitored, making them an easy target for bad guys to perpetrate skimming scams and drive up ATM fraud. But the new partnership will enable the ATMs to still provide a great experience while improving security from both the user side and the operator side.

    Cash’s New Digital Utility

    The best part is that this is being done in a form factor that people really enjoy using — their mobile devices.

    “Digital has become the primary means by which consumers interact with their banks. This revolution will carry over to a change in how customers transact over the next several years (checks to cards, cards to mobile). One thing that’s clear, however, is the continuing need for cash in the payments ecosystem,” Brad Nolan, EVP of global product and marketing at Cardtronics, explained.

    For this reason, Cardtronics is investing in connecting the mobile banking platform with physical access to cash — making it simple and convenient for consumers to convert digital to cash — and, soon to come, cash to digital, Nolan added.

    After almost four years of researching cash usage around the globe, PYMNTS noted that what people continue to underestimate is the crucial role cash still plays in the spending behaviors of so many consumers. Though the usage of cash may not be as popular as digital payment methods in some parts of the world, as overall spending increases, so does the size of the pie when it comes to cash usage.

    Even if people are using less cash, it’s still being used, and the growth of usage in every economy in the world, specifically the U.S., is increasing.

    This is why giving consumers easy and safe access to cash is important.

    “There’s always going to be merchants out there who will need, prefer and even steer toward cash for a variety of reasons in our estimations, so we do think it’s relevant and useful for consumers to have it,” Brown said.

    Keeping Cash Relevant

    Just because cash has been around for thousands of years, doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from digital advancements.

    Innovators are giving cash a new utility in order to make it easier for people to access cash and even use it for things they may want to buy online.

    Brown confirmed that the cardless cash ecosystem of FIS Mobile won’t just stop with cash withdrawals.

    It’s a two-way street, he explained, noting that the model expands to allow for cash access out as well as cash access in, which will essentially solve a two-way issue with cash.

    Integrations are now kicking off for the cardless cash product that will be available at Cardtronics’ ATMs. Nolan said that the expectation is for a 24-month, phased rollout across the Cardtronics ATM footprint.

    “This is an investment in innovation for Cardtronics that we anticipate will pay long-term benefits of increased traffic at our retail ATM locations and increased transactions at the ATMs,” Nolan added.

  • Photo credit: Pixabay.

    The US$1.4 billion funding of Flipkart, announced today, includes an investment from eBay as well as a merger of eBay India’s business with Flipkart in exchange for equity. This marks an exit of sorts for eBay from India, although eBay.in will continue to function as a part of Flipkart. It also brings the curtain down on a journey that began 13 years ago.

    Long before the arrival of Amazon and Alibaba, or even the launch of Flipkart and Snapdeal, it was eBay that made a foray into Indian ecommerce with the acquisition of Bazee for US$50 million in 2004. “This agreement will allow eBay to expand its global footprint into the nascent but growing Indian market,” an eBay vice-president had then said.

    A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. Flipkart launched in 2007 and Snapdeal in 2010. Backing from large hedge funds Tiger Global and SoftBank sucked them into a race to grab market share with discounts. The entry of Amazon in 2013 ushered in an era of broad-based horizontal marketplaces.

    The eBay model, which originally connected buyers and sellers in auctions, got pushed to the periphery with the broader range of categories on Amazon and Flipkart as well as the discounts. eBay India’s revenue growth actually slowed down in the boom years of 2014 and 2015, even as the main ecommerce players had their revenues rocketing, along with mounting losses bankrolled by hedge funds.

    In an effort to remain a significant player in Indian ecommerce, after the entry of Amazon, eBay chose to invest substantially in Snapdeal. But a US$5 billion infusion by Amazon into its Indian arm put paid to that bet. Last year, Snapdeal saw its market share sinking and now it is under pressure from its main investor SoftBank to merge with Flipkart at a fifth of its peak valuation.

    See: Snapdeal sale to Flipkart closer, but not a done deal yet: the real story

    eBay HQ

    Photo credit: Wikipedia.

    Too little, too late

    Late last year, eBay fired its product and tech team at its development center in Bangalore, in a sign it was winding down its India operations. “We are shifting work to other global centers around the world,” eBay’s official spokesperson said, claiming that it remains committed to India.

    It was part of a restructuring of eBay’s business after a split from PayPal which it had acquired for US$1.5 billion in 2002. This led to layoffs of 350 people in 2015 across eBay India’s marketplace and PayPal, which has development centers in Bangalore and Chennai. Last year’s layoffs were a continuation of that process.

    eBay has been trying to rethink its ecommerce model to serve small retailers and millennial shoppers, but the Indian market already has three huge players in Flipkart-Snapdeal, Amazon, and Alibaba-Paytm. The cash-rich Alibaba’s US$200 million investment to take the lead position in Paytm’s ecommerce arm makes it a hands-on player this year, after biding its time studying the market through its investments in Paytm and Snapdeal earlier. That put eBay in a distant spot in the pecking order.

    See: How the latest $1.4b Flipkart funding changes the ecommerce game in India

    It’s too late in the day for eBay to adapt its model to India even if it wished to emulate Amazon. Jeff Bezos made no secret of his commitment to the long-term potential of the Indian market, and made several visits to India to get Amazon India’s act together. He had no hesitation in getting into a bruising war of discounts, even if it impacted Amazon’s bottomline in the short term.

    eBay’s commitment to India was modest in comparison, and its platform model of connecting buyers and sellers was no match for the various initiatives Amazon and Flipkart took to onboard sellers and shift customers to online retail. Parking eBay.in in Flipkart was the only face-saver left for the first global ecommerce player to set foot in India.

    This post Opinion: It’s curtains for India’s oldest ecommerce player, eBay appeared first on Tech in Asia.

  • China Duty Free Group (CDFG) and Lagardère Travel Retail have reacted with delight to their joint venture’s success in winning the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) duty-free liquor & tobacco concession.

    As revealed exclusively by Jing Daily content partner The Moodie Davitt Report, the joint venture – CDF-Lagardère Company Limited – was awarded the contract ahead of four other strong contenders: King Power Group (HK), Gebr Heinemann, Sky Connection and Lotte Duty Free.

    CDF-Lagardère Company will operate the concession from late 2017, replacing incumbent DFS Group (which did not bid on liquor & tobacco and failed to secure perfumes & cosmetics).

    CDFG President Charles Chen stated: “It is such a distinguished honor to be awarded the liquor and tobacco concession at HKIA. This is a significant milestone for CDFG to grow globally.

    “We genuinely appreciate the trust and confidence the AA has placed in us. CDFG in partnership with Lagardère Travel Retail shall deliver world-class duty-free shopping experiences at HKIA.”

    Lagardère Travel Retail Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dag Rasmussen added: “The award of the liquor and tobacco license at HKIA to Lagardère Travel Retail’s joint venture with CDFG is a recognition of our mutual category leadership and respective operational expertise.

    “We are grateful for the trust placed in us by the AA and look forward to growing our long-standing partnership with one of the world’s finest airports. Our teams across the world are excited by the opportunity of working in close collaboration with our brand partners to bring to life a new benchmark for quality and engagement in travel retail.”

    CDFG and Lagardère Travel Retail are familiar names in the global travel retail industry. CDFG is China’s leading duty-free retailer, operating 248 duty-free stores across Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. It operates the world’s largest single duty-free shop – the extraordinary Sanya International Duty Free Shopping Complex – while its parent company, China National Travel Service Group, is China’s largest tourism group following the strategic merger of CTS Group and CITS Group in 2016.

    Lagardère Travel Retail has a presence in 31 countries, 220 airports and 700 train stations in EMEA, North America, and Asia-Pacific, qualifying it as a leading travel retail operator with a global reach.

    Lagardère Asia Pacific Chief Operating Officer Emmanuel De Place commented: “At HKIA, destinations in China and Southeast Asia are the key part of the mix, complemented by a wide coverage of European and American gateways.

    “These are passengers we know well thanks to our global footprint. East meets West in Hong Kong where Lagardère Travel Retail’s alliance with CDFG will build on the respective strengths of the partners to bring a new type of duty-free shopping experience to customers at HKIA.

    “At Lagardère Travel Retail we strive to be recognized as a leader in merchandising, customer service and innovation.”

    The liquor & tobacco tender covered eight stores, with a total operating size of around 3,400sq m. CDFG Chief Operating Officer Lee Charn Cheng (CC) commented: “We aim to set a new benchmark in duty-free through an exciting and engaging customer experience journey as they enter the stores.

    “We will introduce customer interactive zones that include a showcasing of the various products’ manufacturing process, VR shopping, and tasting bars.

    “Leveraging the combined strength of CDFG and Lagardère Travel Retail, our merchandise offer will be exciting and unique, including the world’s largest Chinese liquor and tobacco corner, a House of Single Malt plus an exclusive Asian Liquor concept store and a dedicated Hong Kong Gourmet section.

    “To build our customer service promise program, we are dedicating customer service desks as well as an in-store VIP lounge.

    “Over the next seven months, CDFG and Lagardère Travel Retail will work together with our business partners, i.e. suppliers, designers and the AA, to deliver this world-class store.”

    Chen concluded: “We are committed to the AA, through our close collaboration, to deliver this exciting dream come true.”

    Rasmussen added: “We will work with world leading liquor, tobacco and local fine food brands to bring a remarkable shopping experience to customers.”

    CDFG noted: “As one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Hong Kong is an amazing city that welcomes change. We believe that the future new airport liquor and tobacco stores will leave a page in HKIA travel retail history.

    “As an international and regional aviation hub, HKIA is connecting more than 190 destinations in the world, including 40 cities in Mainland China. HKIA achieved a record high of 70.5 million passenger throughput in 2016.

    “Being one of the world’s busiest passenger airports, HKIA’s liquor & tobacco business carries a huge weight in the world’s duty-free industry.”

     


    This article was originally published on The Moodie Davitt Report, a Jing Daily content partner.
    .

    The post China Duty Free Group and Lagardère Travel Retail Welcome Hong Kong International Airport Duty-Free Liquor & Tobacco Win appeared first on Jing Daily.

  • In her controversial commentary, fashion critic Suzy Menkes once questioned the professionalism and contributions of fashion bloggers in the era of smartphones and social media. Menkes, however, was being exceptionally encouraging when it came to Chinese fashion bloggers, where before the digital age there was little possibility of learning about opinions from China.

    To fashion business operators, Chinese social media, especially WeChat and Weibo, is becoming increasingly important for understanding trends and promoting themselves in the Chinese market. But the sheer scale of fashion blogging on these platforms might intimidate even the cognoscenti of the industry. To help guide brands through the sea of Chinese social media, we’ve identified five Chinese fashion bloggers that are having major influence in the luxury sector.

    1. Thomas YE Si
    Weibo: @gogoboi
    WeChat: @realgogoboi

    And it’s a wrap! I finally get to go home to be with my Nicole, Reese and Shailene. 🍻

    A post shared by Thomas Ye (@gogoboi) on Apr 2, 2017 at 10:13pm PDT

    The name probably does not sound familiar to professionals in the fashion world, but that’s because it’s his nickname, “Gogoboi”, that everyone knows. With more than 7 million followers on Weibo and more than 100,000 views per article on average on his WeChat, Ye is undoubtedly one of the most influential luxury fashion bloggers in China. Ye started off as a junior fashion editor at Gazia China and has been curating his personal commentary and social media style for more than six years. Ye stands out because of his uniquely acerbic and snarky critiques on celebrities and their outfits.

    Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Dior, and Furla have all commissioned Ye to promote their products or publish comments on celebrities wearing their collections on his social media channels. During Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015, luxury brand Louis Vuitton even partnered with Ye by giving him full access to the brand’s official Weibo account to tweet about the fashion event. In 2016, Ye moved beyond fashion blogging and set up his own channel on Youku, China’s Youtube-like platform, where he interviews both Chinese and international celebrities such as TFboys, Karlie Kloss, Cate Blanchett, and Tim Burton.

    2. Li Beika/Becky’s Fantasy
    WeChat: @Miss_shopping_li

    In this screenshot from her WeChat account Li Beika is showing off her style, listing brands she's wearing below the photo.

    In this screenshot from her WeChat account Li Beika is showing off her style, listing brands she’s wearing below the photo.

    If you ask around which WeChat public accounts Chinese consumers follow to seek fashion and shopping tips, they’ll probably mention “Becky’s Fantasy”. The person maintaining this account, who amassed more than 700,000 followers by mid 2016, is Fang Yimin, now better known as “Li Beika/Becky” to many of her fans. Her blog features outfits and products ranging from mainstream luxury brands to little-known high-quality independent labels. Unlike many other bloggers in China who either have training or work experience in this field, Li is a journalist-turned-fashion-blogger who used to cover politics and current affairs. This seemingly unrelated experience has equipped Li with a sharpened ability to identify what is trending, what readers do and don’t like, and what writing styles attract most views in the world of fashion. The targeted audience of her WeChat public account is women of middle-to-upper income class, and the content Li shares on a daily basis is directly about where and how consumers should spend their money.

    Li’s ability to spot fashion trends and actually know where to get them have earned her the nickname “My God”, in which “My” sounds similar to the Chinese word “Buy” (mai). Once, Li recommended an Italian handbag brand which was known to few and only has one store in Chongqing in southwest China, and before long, the brand saw skyrocketing sales growth. So far, Li has worked with brands like Gucci, Chanel, Jo Malone and many others.

    3. Shi Liu Po Report
    Weibo: @石榴婆报告
    WeChat: @love16po 

    The “Shi Liu Po Report”, a WeChat public account launched in early 2013 and run by former Shanghai-based journalist Cheng Yan, covers Hollywood gossip and information about film and television, street style, and fashion trends of foreign celebrities. Today, the “Shi Liu Po Report” has more than 100,000 views per article on average and a rising CPS (Cost Per Sale).

    It stands out from many other fashion blogs for its clear focus on European and American fashion trends, ranging from English model Rosie Whiteley’s spaghetti strap dress and American actress Brie Larson’s Gabriela Hearst handbag, to Fashion Director of Vogue Ukraine Julie Pelipas’s latest style collections. As China is becoming more global, its consumers are seeking more first-hand knowledge and real-time updates of the international fashion world (and, sometimes, gossip). Cheng revealed that most of her readers are based in first-tier cities in China and a fair amount are overseas students in Britain and North America. Cheng herself has been invited to the Dior 2016 Spring Show, London Collections: Men, Cannes International Film Festival, and many other events.

    4. Mr. Bags
    Weibo: @Bags包先生
    WeChat: @bagsbaoxiansheng

    Beautiful afternoon with bagfans and @rogervivier 😘✌️️

    A post shared by @mrbagss on Apr 9, 2017 at 8:02pm PDT

    “Mr. Bags”, whose real name is Tao Liang, writes about luxury bag trends, filling a niche in China’s chaotic fashion blogging world. Compared to the above-mentioned bloggers whose primary audiences are female, Mr. Bags has also catered to men’s fashion, even working with brands like Strathberry to provide design consulting for a spring line of men’s totes.

    In a recent Exane BNP Paribas report, “Mr. Bags” is ranked third on the list of Top 10 Fashion Bloggers in China based on his more than 2.7 million followers on Weibo. On WeChat, each article has achieved more than 100,000 views since February 2016, with his 2016 Valentine’s Day post amassing nearly 1 million views. In 2017, Givenchy worked with Mr. Bags to design special Valentine’s Day edition “Mini Horizon” handbags, giving his WeChat followers exclusive access to purchase the bags. He sold out of 80 handbags within 12 minutes. Within the past year, Liang has been commissioned by Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Celine, Gucci, Stella McCartney, Valentino, and many others to promote products to the Chinese market.

    Luxury retailers are already taking note of his influence—Farfetch, for instance, once created a “Mr. Bags’ Picks” page to boost sales.

    5. Dipsy
    Weibo: @Dipsy迪西
    WeChat: @realDipsy

    Screenshots from Dipsy's WeChat account.

    Screenshots from Dipsy’s WeChat account.

    Dipsy, whose Chinese name is Di Xi, is from Chongqing in southwest China. Despite having  more than 4.7 million followers on Weibo, Dipsy hasn’t received as much media coverage as the above-mentioned Chinese fashion bloggers. In 2016, Dipsy was awarded as having the “Best Fashion Commentary” by We-Media.

    Key opinion leaders (KOLs) attract audiences partly because of their unique personality and specific writing style, and Dipsy, quite contrary to Gogoboi, is embraced by followers for his fair, mild, and objective comments on celebrities’ fashion taste. A majority of his writing is commentary on the latest fashion shows of luxury brands like Versace, Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton.

    The post From Gogoboi to Mr. Bags: These Are the Fashion Bloggers Shaping China’s Luxury Industry (Part 1) appeared first on Jing Daily.

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