Daily Briefing - 6 February 2017
Rónán Lynch: 6th February 2017 10:29am
Italy's UniCredit has reached an agreement with trade unions that will result in a "generational shift" at the global bank, replacing thousands of older staff with a younger generation. Finextra reports that the bank will achieve this through a voluntary redundancy programme, with the firm committing to hire 1,300 younger workers to implement broad digitalisation programmes. Italy's largest bank had already announced job losses in the region of 14,000 workers, along with plans to close hundreds of branches as part of a drive towards more online and mobile-centric services. "These moves are designed to generate €1.7 billion net annual recurring cost savings from 2019, helping the lender make a €4.7 billion net profit despite weak revenue growth."
Swedish payments business Klarna has acquired Berlin-based BillPay, which was previously owned by British payday lender Wonga. Like Klarna, BillPay offers instalment payments for online purchases. Klarna chief executive Sebastian Siemiatkowski said that e-commerce business BillPay seemed an unusual acquisition for Wonga, which was forced to dispose of some non-core assets as it tries to recover from serious problems over the last couple of years, including major fines in the UK. Sky News reported that Klarna is paying around £60 million for BillPay, which TechCrunch describes as the "PayPal of Germany". The move will consolidate Klarna's strength in the country. In 2013 it acquired payments business Munich-based Sofort. "This acquisition will make Germany Klarna's biggest market. Klarna reportedly has 45 million customers in Europe, and BillPay will give it a combined 27 million customers in the continent's most powerful economy (out of 80 million in that market).
Apple's battle with Australian banks continues, with the tech company, in a submission to the country's competition commission earlier today, accusing the banks of seeking to delay the introduction of the service to Australians. The incumbents want their customers to be able to use the banks' own payment apps on iPhones. Apple does not allow this, forcing users to load their payment cards to the firm's own app, Apple Pay — a classic definition of disintermediation. Apple claims that giving banks access to its Secure Element chip would "undermine the security and simplicity of the system". In the new submission, Apple says: "the banks' core motivation is to avoid paying fees to use Apple Pay, or to discourage their customers from using the technology by charging for the service. The banks, contend Apple, are ultimately asking to be "allowed to continue to free-ride on the significant investments'' made by the American tech giant.
Here are a couple of figures to boggle the mind. The transaction volume of US mobile payments reached $8.71 billion in 2015. The equivalent figure in China for 2015 was $1.45 trillion. Merchants worldwide must now think beyond the days when "updating the point of sale terminal...to accept UnionPay and slapping a UnionPay sticker on the front door was all that was needed to reach the forefront of Chinese payment implementation." Led by Alipay, with a little over half the market, and WeChat, Chinese mobile payments have been sweeping into new markets in partnership with companies such as Ingenico and Concardis. With figures like that, we're looking at a massive shift in the established system.
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