Monday, December 5, 2016

New 'global wallet' from Singapore; Italy as the sick man of Europe; Behind the persecution of Myanmar's Rohingya

1 New global wallet from Singapore (Straits Times) A fast-growing e-commerce and digital payments company listed on the Singapore Exchange has launched a new electronic payment "wallet". YuuZoo Corporation said the "YuuWallet'' is designed for global use, in both developed markets and countries where many people do not have credit cards.

It said, "YuuZoo's YuuWallet enables fast, easy and secure payments without credit cards. In addition to use for payments, YuuWallet also can be used for sending, receiving and withdrawing money payments and money transactions, from large amounts to micro, for example digital content payments."

YuuZoo has rapidly emerged as a leading social e-commerce and payments firm. The huge gaming market is a big part of its business. The company added: "With franchisees and partners covering consumers, YuuZoo reaches a huge global audience through smartphones, computers and TV sets, and through its recent investment into one of the world's largest independent movie studios Relativity Media soon also through the movie screen."

Mr Yoav Elgrichi, chief executive of YuuZoo's fully owned payment subsidiary YuuPay said in the satement: "While e-commerce is booming globally, many countries still lack convenient payment solution that can be used by the entire population and not only those holding credit cards."

2 Italy as the sick man of Europe (Larry Elliott in The Guardian) On New Year’s Day in 2002, Italians gathered in Rome to throw their lire into the Trevi fountain. There were celebrations as Italians took possession of the new euro notes and coins that became legal tender as the clocks struck midnight.

But hopes that the advent of the single currency would provide a fresh start for Italy’s economy were misplaced. The growth performance of the eurozone as a whole has been poor, but Italy’s has been dismal.

National output per head in Italy is only 4% higher than it was 15 years ago. The economy is still smaller than it was in 2008. Unemployment is at 11.6%, labour market participation is low, and its birthrate in 2014 was the lowest since the modern Italian state was founded in 1861. If there was a contest for the unwanted title of the sick man of Europe in the 21st century, Italy would walk it.

The eurozone’s third biggest economy has one central problem: the goods and services it produces are more expensive than those of its rivals. This lack of competitiveness means that it has suffered the biggest drop in export market share of any developed country.

There are three reasons for this. Firstly, Italy’s manufacturing sector has traditionally been dominated by small companies, many of them family-owned. These businesses have been reluctant to invest, poor at innovation, and were slow to take advantage of the new information technology when it came on stream in the 1990s. Productivity has increased less rapidly than in Germany or France.

Secondly, Italy has tended to specialise in low-cost manufactured goods, a segment of the global economy that has been dominated by China since it gained membership of the World Trade Organisation in 2001.

Italy’s competitiveness problem is not new. But up until it joined the euro, Italy was able to restore competitiveness by devaluing the lire, which made exports cheaper. With that option no longer available, Matteo Renzi has been trying a different approach: structural reforms of Italy’s labour market. These, though, have proved unpopular, and explain why Renzi’s constitutional changes were heavily defeated in the referendum.

3 Behind the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya (San Francisco Chronicle) Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority face discrimination and violence from the Buddhist majority in the Southeast Asian country. Their plight generally goes unnoticed by the world at large, even though some rights activists say their persecution amounts to ethnic cleansing. Here are several things to know about the group:

Although Rohingya — a Muslim ethnic minority of about 1 million among Myanmar's predominantly Buddhist 52 million people — have lived in Myanmar for generations, most people in the country view them as foreign intruders from neighboring Bangladesh.

"The Rohingya are probably the most friendless people in the world. They just have no one advocating for them at all," Kitty McKinsey, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in 2009.

Almost all Rohingya live in western Myanmar's Rakhine state, where the military has stepped up operations since November, when nine police officers were killed in attacks on posts along the border with Bangladesh. The identity of the perpetrators remains unclear.

In 2012, violence between Rohingya and the Buddhist community killed hundreds and forced about 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — to flee their homes to camps for the internally displaced. About 100,000 remain in the squalid camps and dependent on charity.

There has been great disappointment that Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose political party took power in Myanmar this year after decades of military rule, has failed to ease the plight of Rohingya despite her reputation as a fighter for human rights. Speaking out for Rohingya rights is an unpopular political position in Myanmar.

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