Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Canada emerges from slump with 2.3% growth; Zuckerberg to give away 99% of shares; Apple and people-to-people payments

1 Canada emerges from slump with 2.3% growth (Gulf News) Canada’s economy grew for the first time in three quarters with gains in automotive exports and consumer spending overtaking the damage from lower oil prices. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.3 per cent annualised pace from July to September, Statistics Canada said, matching the median of a Bloomberg economist survey with 26 responses.

Canada’s “two-speed” economy — defined by low oil prices and momentum outside of the energy sector — needs until the middle of 2017 to get back to full capacity, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz predicts.

Poloz cut interest rates in January and July to counteract the oil price shock, which led to a depreciation of the country’s currency and is providing a boon to automakers and other goods makers. The pace of growth was slowed by a 3 per cent decline in business investment, the third drop in a row. Government expenditures also declined by 1.6 per cent.

Third-quarter growth almost matches the Bank of Canada’s most recent forecast for a 2.5 per cent increase. The central bank also said output growth would slow to a 1.5 per cent pace between October and December before picking up to a rate of 2.7 per cent in the second half of next year.

The drop in Canada’s prices for exported crude oil and other commodities shrank the economy in the first half of the year, with most economists saying the declines of less than 1 per cent were too small to be considered a true recession.

2 Zuckerberg to give away 99% of shares (BBC) Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan say they will give away 99% of their shares in the company to good causes as they announce the birth of their daughter Max. Mr Zuckerberg made the announcement in a letter to Max on his Facebook page.

He said they are donating their fortune to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative because they want to make the world a better place for Max to grow up in. Mr Zuckerberg said the donation currently amounts to $45bn (£30bn).

Max was born last week, but the couple only made the news of her birth public on Tuesday. In his letter Mr Zuckerberg said the aim of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is "to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation".

Its initial areas of focus will be personalised learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities. "Your mother and I don't yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future," Mr Zuckerberg said at the start of his letter to Max. "You've already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in," it added.

3 Apple and people-to-people payments (Olga Kharif in Sydney Morning Herald) Silicon Valley is obsessed with a particular part of the finance business that involves sending cash to friends using an app. That's led to a flurry of options that often aren't profitable because they charge little to no transaction fees. PayPal and its subsidiary, Venmo, are among the most popular, though they face a growing list of competitors, including Google, Facebook, and Square.

Now Apple plans to get in on the action, too. If Apple hopes to compete, it will also need to make its service free to use with debit cards, according to analysts. Person-to-person payment services aren't cheap to operate, and Apple may lose money on many transactions, said research firm Crone Consulting. Companies don't generate much revenue from payments users make to friends, said Will Stofega, an analyst at researcher IDC.

Apple isn't likely to find a way to profit directly from the feature. Instead, the company will probably use it to increase adoption of Apple Pay in stores. The mobile tap-to-pay option hasn't taken off as quickly as expected since it debuted about a year ago.

Meanwhile, PayPal said Venmo processed $2.1 billion in transactions last quarter as people used the app to split the bill at restaurants, pay roommates for rent, or reimburse friends for movie tickets. "We think of it as an engagement play; there's a monetisation aspect that comes second," said Jo Lambert, a vice president at PayPal.

While there's no shortage of apps in the $7.5 billion US market for sending money to friends using a phone, analysts are bullish on Apple's prospects - so much so that some anticipate fallout for credit card providers and ATM makers. Money-transfer apps could reduce the need to hit the cash machine.
If iPhone users start connecting Apple Pay to their bank accounts, they could bypass credit cards entirely when sending money to friends and potentially for in-store payments, cutting out middlemen. 

It's almost impossible to predict how long such a shift would take. But Talie Baker, an analyst at researcher Aite Group who relies on Chase QuickPay to exchange money with friends at least once a week, sees a cashless future as inevitable: "I can't wait for the day when it's just a lipstick and a phone in your pocket, and that's all you need."

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