Flypay, the market leader in innovative, state-of-the-art mobile technology for the hospitality industry, announced at the Managed Pub Summit that the business will be working with Visa Europe Collab, the innovation development centre of Visa Europe, Fuller’s and Zonal, to reinvent the bar tab in the smartphone age as we know it.
The initiative will make paying in pubs as a group experience significantly more efficient. Currently, pubs keeping cards behind the bar represent a PCI compliance problem for operators, in addition to regular walk-outs. In terms of consumers, forgotten cards are a huge problem, and the lack of visibility over their tab, can leave customers feeling anxious.
The purpose of Visa Europe Collab is to create a pipeline of innovative propositions for Visa Europe and its members. Flypay has worked closely with the innovation hub, to create a proof of concept solution that works for both the operator and consumers, allowing customers to physically order at the bar. The technology will allow them to set up an instant pre-authorised tab through the Flypay app, add others to the tab, see live bill information through a POS integrated approach, and leave at the end of the night without needing to remember to settle their bar bill. Leveraging the existing tab interface means there is almost no retraining requirements for front-of-house teams, or operational changes to the bar.
Dr Steve Perry, former Chief Digital Officer of Visa Europe and now the Founder of Visa Europe Collab, commented: “It has been a pleasure to work with Flypay to bring this ground breaking initiative to such an important industry as hospitality. Our goal is to transform future interactions for consumers with payments, which represents an important first step in this transformation.”
In the pilot stage Flypay and Visa Europe Collab are working with Fuller’s as the industry champion, creating a solution that works for them, for their customers and for the pub industry. Tom Weaver, CEO of Flypay, commented: “We were thrilled to begin working with Fuller’s on this initiative. Their innovative spirit and pragmatic approach helped us swiftly design a solution that works for Fuller’s as an operator and their customers”
Oliver Boardman, IT Operations Manager at Fuller’s, commented: “Although we already have a robust pre-authorisation system in our pubs that means no cards are left behind the bar, at Fuller’s, we are always focused on creating the best experiences for our customers. Paying at the bar, particularly when paying for a group, is an area the whole industry could improve upon. We’ve really enjoyed working with Flypay on shaping this solution.”
The solution is currently exclusive to Zonal EPOS customers. “Zonal has not only worked with us technically to get this solution working through their superb Aztec integration, but has also worked with us to look at the bigger picture to ensure our solution solves the real problems for their customers,” said Weaver.
The working group, also including Lloyds Cardnet representing merchant acquirers, have gone through a design, prototype and development phase over the last two months, and the solution will go to a live beta pilot in two Fuller’s sites in July, as stage one of the project.
Flypay’s technology is currently available in over 100 restaurants and bars across the UK, including Wahaca, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Jamie’s Italian, Cabana and Drake & Morgan.
Britain starts formal countdown in ‘final chapter’ of Libor
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on Friday called a formal end to nearly all Libor rates on December 31 as anticipated, piling pressure on markets to complete their biggest change in decades.
Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate, is being replaced by rates compiled by central banks after lenders were fined billions of dollars for trying to rig what was once dubbed the world’s most important number, used for pricing home loans and credit cards across the world.
“This is an important step towards the end of Libor, and the Bank of England and FCA urge market participants to continue to take the necessary action to ensure they are ready,” the FCA said in a statement.
All sterling, euro, Swiss franc and Japanese yen denominations of Libor will end on Dec. 31, the FCA said. As previously announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve, some dollar denominated versions will continue until mid-2023.
“Today’s announcements mark the final chapter in the process that began in 2017, to remove reliance on unsustainable LIBOR rates and build a more robust foundation for the financial system,” Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said in a statement.
“With limited time remaining, my message to firms is clear – act now and complete your transition by the end of 2021.”
The FCA said that it does not expect any Libor setting to become “unrepresentative” before December, meaning that contracts that use Libor for pricing would have to switch to another rate at short notice.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Rachel Armstrong and Jason Neely)
China’s export growth seen surging in Jan-Feb on low base: Reuters poll
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s exports likely surged to a three-year high and imports also jumped in the first two months of the year, thanks to a low base, as economic activity ground to a halt last year due to draconian COVID-19 control measures, a Reuters poll showed.
Exports are expected to have risen 38.9% in January-February from a year earlier, according to a median forecast in a Reuters poll of 22 economists, up from 18.1% gain in December.
China’s customs began combining January and February data last year to smooth distortions caused by the Lunar New Year, which can fall in either month.
Separately, the head of China state planner said on Friday that China’s exports are estimated to have grown over 50% in the first two months, without specifying whether that was in yuan or dollar terms.
The strong forecasts contrast with official and private manufacturing surveys that have indicated a weakening in external demand for Chinese products.
“China’s exports are facing both positive and negative impacts currently,” analysts with China Minsheng Bank said in a note.
“The exports volume of medical supplies and transferred orders from other countries due to coronavirus-related disruptions to production will decrease, with more countries speeding up work resumption with the rollout of vaccines.”
The bank’s analysts also expected a rebound of overseas demand for Chinese goods with the reopening of global economy.
Chinese factory activity normally goes dormant during the Lunar New Year break as workers return to their home towns. This year, the government appealed to workers to avoid travelling to curb the spread of COVID-19, prompting some economists to forecast a marginal boost to production especially in the country’s coastal export-dominant provinces.
Imports likely rose 15% in the first two months versus a year ago, the poll showed, with some analysts expecting the number to have been lifted by high commodity prices.
China’s trade surplus is expected to have narrowed to $60 billion in the same period from $78.17 billion in December, according to the poll. The data will be released on Sunday.
(Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
U.S. job growth likely regained steam in February
By Lucia Mutikani
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. job growth likely accelerated in February as more services businesses reopened amid falling new COVID-19 cases, quickening vaccination rates and additional pandemic relief money from the government, putting the labor market recovery back on firmer footing and on course for further gains in the months ahead.
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday will, however, also offer a reminder that as the United States enters the second year of the coronavirus pandemic the recovery remains excruciatingly slow, with millions of Americans experiencing long spells of joblessness and permanent unemployment.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday offered an optimistic view of the labor market, but cautioned a return to full employment this year was “highly unlikely.”
“We will probably see more people having gone back on payrolls,” said Sung Won Sohn, a finance and economics professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Many will be related to service jobs, but that will not mean a rapid increase in jobs. It’s a slow progress toward eventual full recovery.”
Nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 182,000 jobs last month after rising only 49,000 in January, according to a Reuters poll of economists. Payrolls declined in December for the first time in eight months.
Economists saw no impact from the mid-February deep freeze in the densely populated South as the winter storms hit after the week during which the government surveyed establishments and businesses for the employment report.
But unseasonably cold weather last month, especially in the Northeast, and production cuts at auto assembly plants because of a global semiconductor chip shortage likely shortened the average workweek.
The labor market has been slow to respond to the drop in daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, which helped fuel a boost in consumer spending in January that prompted economists to sharply upgrade their gross domestic product growth estimates for the first quarter.
Historically, employment lags GDP growth by about a quarter. But economists believe the catching up started in February, a year after the economy fell into recession at the start of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak.
A survey last week showed consumers’ perceptions of the labor market improved in February after deteriorating in January and December. In addition, a measure of manufacturing employment increased to a two-year high in February.
Though millions are unemployed, companies are struggling to find workers, which is contributing to holding back job growth. A survey on Wednesday showed employment growth in the services industry slowed last month, with businesses reporting they were “unable to fill vacant positions with qualified applicants.”
That was underscored by an NFIB survey on Thursday showing 91% of small businesses trying to hire in February reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.
This labor market dichotomy is because the pandemic is keeping some workers at home, fearful of accepting or returning to jobs that could expose them to the virus.
It has also disproportionately affected women who have been forced to drop out of the labor force to look after children as many schools remain closed for in-person learning. According to Census Bureau data, around 10 million mothers living with their own school-age children were not actively working in January, 1.4 million more than during the same month in 2020.
The Fed’s Beige Book report on Wednesday showed there are shortages of workers in both low-skill and skilled trade occupations. The vacancies are mainly in the high-growth industries that have fared well throughout the pandemic, such as information technology, engineering, construction, customer support, manufacturing, and accounting and finance.
“Jobseekers are more hesitant to pursue many of the in-demand roles that are required to be onsite, particularly in industries like manufacturing, which has seen double digit increases in job roles like assemblers and warehouse managers,” said Karen Fichuk, CEO of Randstad North America.
The virus has greatly altered the economic landscape and many of the services industry jobs lost will likely not return.
Though the unemployment rate has dropped below 10%, it has been understated by people misclassifying themselves as being “employed but absent from work.” It is expected to have held steady at 6.3% in February. Just over 4 million Americans had been unemployed for more than six months in January, while 3.5 million were permanently unemployed.
Given the difficulties of retraining, structural unemployment could account for a bigger share of joblessness in the near future.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Economists believe the labor market will gather steam in the spring and through summer, with vaccinations increasing daily, even though the pace of decline in COVID-19 infections has flattened recently.
A boost to hiring is also expected from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion recovery plan, which is under consideration by Congress.
“The labor force will begin a meaningful recovery in mid-2021 as extensive vaccine distribution will push toward herd immunity, reducing health concerns and allowing for a more complete recovery of some hard-hit industries,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Dan Burns and Andrea Ricci)