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LIVE IT AND GIVE IT: LOVE IS STILL IN FASHION!

LIVE IT AND GIVE IT: LOVE IS STILL IN FASHION!

Looking to win over your loved one this Valentine’s Day? Try ‘date night’ experiences 

People around the world continue to say “I love you” by investing in experiences over material goods, as new data shows sentimental spending has increased by 6% since 2015, with the number of transactions up by 17% during the Valentine’s Day period.

The annual “Mastercard Love Index”, created by analysing credit, debit and prepaid transactions across the past three Valentine periods (11th-14th February 2015-17), reveals that the most popular way to your lover’s heart is through their stomach, as dining out for ‘date night’ takes top spot with 40% share of spend, and 75% share of transactions in 2017.

Whisking your partner away for an unforgettable travel experience (via air or train) also saw a significant rise as the number of transactions increased by 23% in 2017, accounting for 22% of total spend over the most romantic time of the year. Indulging in a hotel stay remains a firm favourite with 27% share of spend.

The data supports the rise of the ‘experience economy’ as happiness clearly comes from creating lasting memories – worthy of posting on social media – instead of purchasing ‘things’.

Contactless technology – perfect for avoiding those awkward moments when the bill comes – gains momentum as the value of transactions rose by a massive 311%, and a 203% increase in the number of transactions since 2015.In fact, the amount spent via contactless rose across all categories with the highest increase across air and train travel (1064%), jewellery (453%) and flowers (446%).

Conversely, money spent on traditional Valentine’s gifts such as flowers decreased by 3%, although the number of transactions increased by 14%, showing that although flowers remain a symbol of romance, a single stem means more than an elaborate bouquet. Similarly with jewellery, spend decreased by 9% but transactions increased by 10% (vs. 2015).

The study, which looked at shopper behaviour in more than 200 territories around the globe, identified further purchasing trends.

So, are we planners or spontaneous when it comes to matters in love? The data suggests that we are getting ahead of the curve when buying gifts. It’s no longer left until the last minute, as the majority (30%) of Valentine’s purchases are made on the 11th February (48.8 million transactions globally, over the past three years) however, just over a quarter (27%) of all transactions (between 11th – 14th February) were made on Valentine’s Day itself.

The trend for online shopping continues with an enormous 136% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions from Valentine’s Day 2015 to Valentine’s Day 2017.

“Spoiling your loved one on Valentine’s Day shows no signs of slowing down. Our data suggests that while people still purchase traditional gifts, the move towards putting on a great experience trumps all. Contactless payments are convenient and make life that little bit easier, so it’s great to see people embracing the technology around the world. The MasterCard Love Index – now in its 3rd year – highlights global and regional trends to offer priceless insight into consumer buying habits over the romantic period.’ Ann Cairns, President International, MasterCard

Regional summary of consumer spending habits across the globe:

KEY SPENDING PATTERNS PER REGION DURING VALENTINE’S DAY PERIOD
ACROSS 2015 – 2017

United States
  • America saw a 106% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions from Valentine’s Day
Latin America and the Caribbean

 

 

 

  • LAC saw a 327% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions
  • The number of transactions on flowers has increased by 28%.Jewellery also shows a similar trend with spend decreasing by 57% but interestingly transactions increased by 6%
  • Share of spend on hotels has actually decreased by -29%; taking a 18% share of spend and a 8% share of transactions in 2017
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 27% in 2017, accounting for 8% of total spend during the Valentine’s Day period
Europe

 

 

 

  • Sentimental spending increased by 19% since 2015 in Europe, with the overall number of transactions up by 39%
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 38% in 2017, accounting for 31% of total
  • Share of spend on dining out at restaurants has remained stable; taking a 29% share of spend and a 65% share of transactions in 2017
  • Spend on flowers has increased by 29% vs. 2015, and the number of transactions has increased by 48%. Jewellery has seen spend decrease by 5% with transactions increasing by 15% vs. 2015
UK
  • Sentimental spending increased by 11% since 2015 in the UK, with the overall number of transactions up by 23%
  • The amount spent on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 18% in 2017, accounting for 31% of total
  • Share of spend on dining out at restaurants has remained relatively stable; taking a 25% share of spend and a 60% share of transactions in 2017
  • Spend on hotels has increased by 36% vs. 2015, and the number of transactions has increased by 35%. Jewelry has seen spend decrease by 32% with transactions also decreasing by 12% vs. 2015
Middle East

 

 

  • People are planning ahead in MEA with the majority (29%) of Valentine’s purchases happening on the 11th February (620k transactions globally on February 11th over the past 3 years)
  • Share of spend on hotels has also remained stable over the past 3 years; taking a 41% share of spend and a 21% share of transactions in 2017
  • Spend on flowers has increased by 96% vs. 2015 with the number of transactions increasing by 71%
Asia Pacific

 

 

 

  • Sentimental spending has increased by 22% since 2015, with the overall number of transactions up by 74%
  • 30% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions
  • People are planning ahead with the majority (28%) of Valentine’s purchases happening on the 11th February (4.6 million transactions)
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 17% in 2017, accounting for 21% of total spend during the Valentine’s Day period
  • The share of contactless transactions has seen an increase of 46%, and the value of these transactions increased by 166%
  • Spend on flowers in APAC increased by 39% vs. 2015 and the number of transactions also increased by 61%. Jewellery has seen overall spend increase by 21% with transactions increasing by 58% vs. 2015
Canada
  • The number of transactions on transportation (air and/or train) increased by 27% in 2017,  accounting for 33% of total spend
  • Canada saw a 216% increase in the number of e-commerce transactions in the period
  • Canadians are planning ahead with the majority (30%) of Valentine’s purchases happening on the 11th February (1.6 million transactions globally)

Finance

The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting

The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting 1

By Mark Billington, Regional Director, Greater China & South-East Asia, ICAEW

The economic consequences of Covid-19 have been unprecedented, affecting activity in nearly every country in the world. Indeed, the latest forecast from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) projects that most economies in South-East Asia (SEA) would fall into recession in the first half of 2020 and Gross Domestic Product will contract by 1.9 percent over the whole year[1]. Across the region, governments have had to bring in various fiscal stimulus measures to protect the economy.

Exceptional times bring tremendous challenges for businesses and requires leaders to have a clear view on the short- and long-term effects of Covid-19 on their businesses, and to respond accordingly. This starts with taking extra care to recognise the impact of Covid-19 in financial reports, especially of events which have occurred between the balance sheet date and the date when the accounts are authorised for issue.

Distinguishing between adjusting or non-adjusting events

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve and more information comes to light about the nature of the virus and its impact, companies with 2020 year-ends need to consider how it has affected their business and how the effects should be reflected in the accounts at the end of their reporting period. This boils down to distinguishing whether Covid-19 should be accounted as an adjusting or non-adjusting event.

In December last year, China alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to several cases of an unusual form of pneumonia in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. But it was only early this year when substantive information on what has now been identified as coronavirus (Covid19) came to light. As a result, for companies with a 31 December 2019 year-end, Covid-19 is generally considered to be a non-adjusting event.

This changes for companies which have early 2020 year-ends, who will need to consider the timelines more carefully to assess the conditions at the end of their relevant reporting period. For companies with 31 March 2020 year-ends, Covid-19 is likely to be considered a current-period event, which means that companies need to assess and record all events and conditions that existed at or before the reporting date. When it is determined to be an adjusting event, a business will need to review all areas of the accounts that might be adversely affected by the COVID-19 virus.

There may be a greater degree of judgement required when identifying the conditions at the end of the reporting period, and a closer assessment needed of whether developments are adjusting or non-adjusting.

Exercising judgement about conditions at the balance sheet date

Companies have to exercise significant judgement to determine the conditions that existed at the balance sheet date. This is heavily dependent on the reporting year end in question, the company’s own individual circumstances and the events which are under consideration.

A number of factors should be considered when making judgements about conditions at the balance sheet date. This includes the timing and impact on stakeholders such as staff, customers, and suppliers, of travel restrictions, quarantines and lockdowns, closure of businesses and schools; and government support initiatives. With each of these events, companies have to determine whether an event shines a brighter light on conditions at the balance sheet date or if conditions changed after the reporting date.

Mark Billington

Mark Billington

This evaluation in financial reporting is important because it affects the forecasting of future income and cash flows, which are based on conditions that existed at the balance sheet date. Estimating recoverable amounts might be very different for the same asset if the calculation was performed for a 2019- or 2020-year end.

Upholding values of corporate transparency and trust

In these times of uncertainty and crisis, it is even more important to be transparent about risks and assumptions used in financial reports, and to make disclosures as specific to the business as possible, to avoid the risk of financial reporting being downplayed. In fact, market regulator Singapore Exchange (SGX) and rating agency Fitch Ratings have recently cautioned companies against using alternative performance measures such as Ebitdac (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation and coronavirus) in their interim financial reports to flatter results, and stressed that “disclosures must be balanced and fair and avoid omission of important unfavourable facts”[2].

More than ever, businesses must continue to diligently uphold values of corporate transparency and trust and continue to disclose transparent and quality information to investors and other stakeholders. In order to do this, directors are tasked with the important responsibility to comply with various reporting standards and understand the circumstances of particular disclosures to provide a fair and balanced assessment of the company’s financial position and performance.

Covid-19 also has significant implications for audit reports on company financial statements. Preparing and auditing financial statements poses tough calls in difficult and unclear circumstances for directors and auditors. It is vital that these uncertainties are interpreted appropriately and in the context of the current unprecedented circumstances

As the business impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold and affect economies and the future of many organisations, businesses should continue to consider both their situation but also the wider economic landscape they operate in and reflect that in their financial reports.

[1] ICAEW, “Coronavirus Global Outlook: after the outbreak”, May 2020

[2] SGX warns against use of ‘earnings before coronavirus’ metric, The Business Times, 27 July 2020

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Finance

Akerton Partners

Akerton Partners 2

Akerton Partners S.L. is a Spanish independent mid-market corporate finance advisor founded over a decade ago, in 2008, amid a global financial crisis. A group of professionals with extensive industrial and financial experience, decided to start providing clients with the value added necessary in situations where specialization, experience, commitment and know how make the difference. The firm specializes in providing financial advice to companies, their shareholders, investors, and lenders.

Akerton´s team has an extensive business background, which allows them to understand client´s needs as well as put itself in their shoes to reach the most appropriate solution under all available options in the market. Since one size does not fit all, Akerton tries not only try to find a good solution but ensure that it is the best one by performing a deep analysis of the company and its financial situation. Each case needs to be considered independently and from a variety of angles in order to identify and execute original and feasible solutions. A simple or single solution is not Akerton’s aim. Their independence and motivation for establishing long-term relationships with clients, allow them to always place their interests before their own, something that eliminates barriers and creates lasting relationships.

Currently, Akerton offers its services through the below business units:

Financing services to borrowers, investors, and creditors, on the design, structuring, negotiation, follow up, and control of long and short-term financing, including raising, refinancing, and renegotiating debt:

  • Debt refinancing and restructuring.
  • Finding and obtaining financing via debt or equity (corporate, leveraged, subordinated, mezzanine, direct lending, sale and lease back option, amongst others), Public incentives.
  • IBR’s and NPL’s portfolios analysis
  • Debt acquisition

Financing department represents 170 closed deals, 6 transactions under management and more than 2.272 M€ of debt amount.

Corporate finance, to corporates, private equity, family offices, and family businesses on all aspects of buy-side and sell-side, as well as the rendering of services related to financial strategy, business plan elaboration, business valuation and interim management in connection with budget and business plan compliance:

  • Mergers and acquisitions (M&A): acquisition of company or asset, partners search, divestments of company, strategic alliances…
  • Valuation: assessment of businesses or companies, earn outs and deferred payments schemes under a traditional process, valuation of companies in the framework of a debt portfolio acquisition process.
  • Strategy: management continuity plans, strategic and business plans, management support to reach goals.

Corporate finance line represents 38 closed deals, 11 transactions under management and more than 570 M€ value.

Expert Advice and Due Diligence on processes and transactions requiring the verification and ratification of economic, financial, and accounting information including Financial Due Diligence in sale or purchase transactions (provided Akerton Partners is not the advisor of one of the parties to avoid a conflict of interest); as well as the elaboration of expert and economic reports in order to support law-suits and disputes:

  • Financial due diligence for M&A transactions.
  • Counselling for the defense and analysis of opposing expert reports, and elaboration of adversary expert reports.
  • Economic reports for disputes and arbitrations and their ratification.
  • Reports: validate CAPEX, economic ratios, PPA process, Impairment Test.

This line represents 196 closed deals and 9 transactions under management.

Real Estate and Infrastructures, for companies, investment funds, SOCIMIs and Family Offices to evaluate Real Estate assets by analyzing their portfolios and investment alternatives, granting differential and extra elements that add extra values:

  • Analysis of Real Estate portfolios, projects and its development.
  • Infrastructures:
    • Demand due diligence
    • Market studies
    • Operating and strategic planning and feasibility analysis

This business line represents 49 close deals, 4 transactions under management, 0,6M certified parking spaces and more than 1.2B€ revenue amount.

Public incentives, in the form of non-refundable grants, reduced or zero interest rate loans, as well as the application of deductions and exemptions in the Corporate Income Tax for R&D&I activities, transference of know-how or investments in assets, including those with an environmental improvement component.

  • Grants/ subsidies
  • Fiscal deductions
  • Transfer of know-how: identification and quantification of R&D&I costs and design and implementation of transfer processes.

Team values are applied in every job, taking the best expertise of each individual to obtain a final global output. Counting on a multidisciplinary team enables to provide a global solution throughout the entire operation. Akerton’s professionals have developed a strong reputation based on experience, dedication and integrity, and its in-depth knowledge and longstanding experience in the industrial field allows them to have a rapid understanding of any client’s issues.

One of the main values Akerton owns is that its independence allows the company to put its clients’ interests first, above all other considerations, which let them remove any barrier and create continuous relationships with them. There are no restrictions, conflict of interest or other constraints to identify the best opportunity during the process in a closely and congruent way, in accordance with client’s objectives and until achievement of financial close (turnkey contract).

Routine is not an option at Akerton. Commitment is other of its main values that is important to highlight. The firm builds a differential relationship of closeness and trust with its clients, able to maximize process achievement. And success as advisors is closely linked to client success.

As previously stated, Akerton was born during a financial crisis and it is important to mention that the company is living a second one, despite its short life, as a consequence of Covid-19. Nonetheless, the firm has rapidly adapted to this new environment, implementing all necessary measures to avoid business interruption such as working remotely and supporting its clients through different alternatives such as measuring financial impact of Covid, analyzing short term liquidity, providing mitigating factors or identifying all available financing tools such as managing and requesting “ICO loans”.

Once more, and additionally to the above features of the firm, Akerton shows its strong spirit as a corporate finance company, able to successfully overcome financial crises and add value to clients.

In order to find out further details of Akerton Partners, the following website can be visited: www.akerton.com.

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Finance

SCA Deadline is Nearing: is the Market Prepared?

SCA Deadline is Nearing: is the Market Prepared? 3

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) – the latest security standard in the EU’s payments regulation – has been keeping market players on their toes. Business readiness to support it is becoming an increasingly pressing matter due to the rapidly approaching enforcement deadline, as well as rising levels in e-commerce fraud. 

August 5th, 2020. Strong Customer Authentication, or SCA, has officially gone into effect on the 14th of September, 2019. However, with the market being unprepared to roll out the necessary changes till the priorly set date, the European Banking Authority has pushed the final deadline to 31st of December, 2020, with a few exceptions for an even later time in 2021. As the cut-off time approaches, so is the moment of truth: has the extended period enabled market players to adapt to the new regulation?

For those out of the loop, the SCA law states mandatory two-factor authentication for all online transactions and contactless payments made within the EU. Given the fact that, globally, e-commerce scams have been rising – the pandemic has played its part in the matter – the new reform is expected to provide an extra layer of security for customers.

In April 2020, the fraud attempt rate based on transaction value rose by 13%, compared to the same timeframe in 2019, emphasizing the favorable timeliness of the regulation. However, without proper preparation on both ends of the transaction, the enforced requirements are likely to result in increased friction, rather than weeding out scammers.

Marius Galdikas, CTO at ConnectPay, notes that there are still many questioning why and how exactly will this affect them. “Businesses and PSPs were not ready to handle the high volume traffic alongside setting up the new safeguards, hence the EBA’s permitted delay. A number of them, mostly SMBs, are still unaware of the SCA’s true impact on their activities,” he stated.

To reduce the number of confused shoppers, declined payments, and abandoned shopping carts, Mr. Galdikas advised getting on the path of SCA compliance should be the north star of every vendor’s current roadmap to prevent losing a great deal of sales. “What should not be overlooked is that SCA encompasses not just 2FA, but much more, including dynamic linking and proper messaging to the customer about operations being authorized.”

Although SCA compliance should be at the top of everyone’s mind, it is overshadowed by the current global landscape. Vendors are still wrestling with the consequences of the pandemic, trying to raise profits after months of imposed lockdown, and, with the deadline closing in, some described this European Commission’s law as “kicking retailers while they’re down”.

That said, in April the global e-commerce retail sales reached 209 percent year-over-year revenue growth. According to Mr. Galdikas, despite the adverse circumstances, implementing SCA-related changes is imperative in terms of avoiding the precipitous levels of fraud, rising alongside increasing profits.

And yet, there are a few moments the policy failed to observe, for example, making bulk payments – transactions to multiple beneficiaries from a single bank account – and the intricacies concerning their approval. “Each payment order has a unique ID and requires distinct PIN codes to verify them. However, generating many PINs – and fast – becomes tricky, especially for banks still running on legacy systems, which are not up to speed to SCA requirements.”

Mr. Galdikas noted the urge to move SCA up the list of priorities for merchants and PSPs to prevent transactional errors, mentioning ConnectPay has already done so in early May. It released an App, which covers multi-factor authentication and one-tap approvals for payments, and is also the basis for numerous innovations to come.

The new SCA requirements may still be a head-scratcher for businesses, banks and consumers alike, hence the importance to give it the necessary attention – to avoid vital steps being lost in translation.

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