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MONEY20/20 TRENDS: AI, ‘EVERYDAY COMMERCE’ AND SECURITY

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MONEY20/20 TRENDS: AI, ‘EVERYDAY COMMERCE’ AND SECURITY

By Andre Stoorvogel, Director, Product Marketing in the Payments Division at Rambus

The bright lights of Las Vegas have gone out on Money20/20 for another year. As always, the event brought together the biggest names in payments and provided unprecedented insight into the future of financial services.

So, after four days of discussions and demonstrations, what were the three big trends from this year’s installment?

Artificial intelligence: Enabling hyper-personalization

This was the year that artificial intelligence (AI) arguably overtook blockchain as the biggest buzzword in payments and became the latest mega-trend to revolutionize the industry.

AI has the potential to profoundly impact all areas of payments and financial services delivery, and indeed already is in some areas. Consumers can now use smart assistants, such as Alexa, to pay their credit card bills or order groceries, and sophisticated AI chatbots can be deployed to screen and respond to customer enquiries (Source: CU Insight).

But for both banks and (particularly) retailers, perhaps the most immediate and powerful opportunity presented by AI is the ability to get closer to their customers than ever before and deliver hyper-personalized experiences. For example, shopping data can be intelligently deployed, leveraging past and predicted behavior across numerous channels to provide retailers with a more nuanced and accurate consumer profile. This profile can then be applied to deliver smart, unique recommendations or push tailored offers and discounts.

Despite the hype, however, there is still a long way to go for AI. As Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak explained at the show, AI is smart but not yet truly intelligent. But as deployments become increasingly sophisticated and advanced, AI will undoubtedly have a transformative impact on the industry.

Mobile payments: Going beyond in-store to embrace ‘everyday commerce’

Mobile wallets used to be synonymous with in-store contactless NFC transactions, with wallet providers positioning the mobile solely as a like-for-like replacement of plastic cards. As the mobile payment ecosystem has evolved over recent years, however, wallets are diversifying beyond in-store transactions and embracing ‘everyday commerce’, incorporating features such as transport and event ticketing, order ahead, and sending money to friends.

Indeed, Apple confirmed that ‘everyday-commerce’ transactions are growing five times faster than in-store mobile transactions. Deals with Ticketmaster to bring mobile contactless tickets to concerts and sporting events, as well as a partnership with the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority to accept Apple Pay on the New York Subway, are indicative of this shift (Source: iLounge).  Similarly, Amazon announced that users will be able to order takeout from participating restaurants (Source: CNBC).

This move towards everyday mobile commerce will also be supported by broader demographic trends. Accenture identified that Generation Z (or post-millennials) will account for 40% of all US consumers by 2020. As these consumers have only ever lived in a world with Google, Facebook and Amazon, they are far more comfortable with the concept of using mobile to perform a number of financial functions. This creates opportunities for wallet providers to go beyond in-store payments and deliver enhanced experiences across various commerce environments (Source: Accenture).

Security: Adapting to the digital era

Fraud is changing. The success of EMV® at countering fraud at the physical point of sale has seen the threat migrating to the card-not-present environment, with e-commerce merchants seeing a 5.5% increase in fraud and losses rise to nearly $60 billion (Source: PYMNTS).

EMVCo’s Tokenization 2.0 Specification is addressing these challenges by extending support for emerging e-commerce use cases to ensure a secure remote payments environment. This is an extremely positive move for the industry. But on the floor at Money20/20, conversation was also focused on extending tokenization technology beyond payment credentials to other data points implicated in fraudulent activity.

Just consider the overwhelming trend towards bigger and more damaging data breaches, and how their impact could be mitigated by the security, risk management, confidentiality and privacy afforded by dynamic tokens. And as more sensitive services and documents are digitalized, including passports and social security numbers, the argument for universal tokenization looks increasingly compelling.

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OPEC, U.S. oil firms expect subdued shale rebound even as crude prices rise

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OPEC, U.S. oil firms expect subdued shale rebound even as crude prices rise 1

By Alex Lawler and Jennifer Hiller

LONDON/HOUSTON (Reuters) – OPEC and U.S. oil companies see a limited rebound in shale oil supply this year as top U.S. producers freeze output despite rising prices, a decision that would help OPEC and its allies.

OPEC this month cut its 2021 forecast for U.S. tight crude, another term for shale, and expects production to decline by 140,000 barrels per day to 7.16 million bpd. The U.S. government expects shale output in March to fall about 78,000 bpd to 7.5 million bpd. [OPEC/M]

The OPEC forecast preceded the freezing weather in Texas, home to 40% of U.S. output, that has shut wells and curbed demand by regional oil refineries. The lack of a shale rebound could make it easier for OPEC and its allies to manage the market, according to OPEC sources.

“This should be the case,” said one of the OPEC sources, who declined to be identified. “But I don’t think this factor will be permanent.”

While some U.S. energy firms have increased drilling, production is expected to remain under pressure as companies cut spending to reduce debt and boost shareholder returns. Shale producers also are wary that increased drilling would quickly be met by OPEC returning more oil to the market.

‘MORE DISCIPLINE’

“In this new era, (shale) requires a different mindset,” Doug Lawler, chief executive of shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy Corp, said in an interview this month. “It requires more discipline and responsibility with respect to generating cash for our stakeholders and shareholders.”

That sentiment would be a welcome development for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, for which a 2014-2016 price slide and global glut caused partly by rising shale output was an uncomfortable experience. This led to the creation of OPEC+, which began cutting output in 2017.

OPEC+ is in the process of slowly unwinding record output curbs made last year as prices and demand collapsed due to the pandemic. Alliance members will meet on March 4 to review demand. For now, it is not seeing history repeat itself.

“U.S. shale is the key non-OPEC supply in the past 10 years or more,” said another OPEC delegate. “If such limitation of growth is now expected, I don’t foresee any concerns as producers elsewhere can meet any demand growth.”

Still, OPEC is no rush to open the taps. Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Feb. 17 oil producers must remain “extremely cautious.”

$60 OIL HELPS

Shale output usually responds rapidly to price signals and U.S. crude has this month hit its highest level since January 2020, topping $60 a barrel.

While shale companies have added more rigs in recent weeks, a tepid demand recovery and investor pressure to reduce debt has kept them from rushing to complete new wells.

“At this price point, any oil production is profitable, especially the relatively high-cost U.S. shale patch,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM Oil Associates.

“Yet despite these positive growth signals, U.S. tight oil production is far from recovering its pre-COVID mojo.”

The chief executive of shale producer Pioneer Natural Resources Co, Scott Sheffield, recently said he expects small companies to increase output but in the aggregate U.S. output will remain flat to 1% higher even at $60 per barrel.

PRODUCTION FREEZE

Last week’s severe cold will wreak havoc on oil and gas production as companies deal with frozen equipment and a lack of power to run operations. The largest U.S. independent producer, ConocoPhillips, on Thursday said the majority of its Texas production remained offline.

But J.P. Morgan analysts said in a Feb. 18 report rising oil prices might prompt a quicker shale revival.

“As long as operators have sufficient drilled but unfracked well inventory to complete, they should be able to easily grow production while keeping capex in check,” the bank said, using a term for drilling spending.

Forecasts for 2022 such as from the U.S. Energy Information Administration are for more U.S. supply growth [EIA/M], although perhaps not enough to cause problems for OPEC+ for now.

“U.S. oil output will not go back to pre-COVID levels any time soon,” said PVM’s Brennock. “But that is not to say that U.S. shale will not one day return as a thorn in OPEC’s side.”

(By Alex Lawler in London and Jennifer Hiller in Houston; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Matthew Lewis)

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Boeing recommends airlines suspend use of some 777s after United incident

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Boeing recommends airlines suspend use of some 777s after United incident 2

By Jamie Freed and David Shepardson

(Reuters) – Boeing Co said it recommended suspending the use of 777 jets with the same type of engine that shed debris over Denver at the weekend after U.S. regulators announced extra inspections and Japan suspended their use while considering further action.

The moves involving Pratt & Whitney 4000 engines came after a United Airlines 777 landed safely at Denver International Airport on Saturday local time after its right engine failed.

United said the next day it would voluntarily and temporarily remove its 24 active planes, hours before Boeing’s announcement.

Boeing said 69 of the planes were in service and 59 were in storage, at a time when airlines have grounded planes due to a plunge in demand associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The manufacturer recommended airlines suspend operations until U.S. regulators identified the appropriate inspection protocol.

The 777-200s and 777-300s affected are older and less fuel efficient than newer models and most operators are phasing them out of their fleets.

Images posted by police in Broomfield, Colorado showed significant plane debris on the ground, including an engine cowling scattered outside a home and what appeared to be other parts in a field.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said its initial examination of the plane indicated most of the damage was confined to the right engine, with only minor damage to the airplane.

It said the inlet and casing separated from the engine and two fan blades were fractured, while the remainder of the fan blades exhibited damage.

Japan’s transport ministry ordered Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) and ANA Holdings Inc to suspend the use of 777s with P&W4000 engines while it considered whether to take additional measures.

The ministry said that on Dec. 4, 2020, a JAL flight from Naha Airport to Tokyo International Airport returned to the airport due to a malfunction in the left engine about 100 kilometres north of Naha Airport.

That plane was the same age as the 26-year-old United Airlines plane involved in the latest incident.

United is the only U.S. operator of the planes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The other airlines using them are in Japan and South Korea, the U.S. agency said.

“We reviewed all available safety data,” the FAA said in a statement. “Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes.”

Japan said ANA operated 19 of the type and JAL operated 13 of them, though the airlines said their use had been reduced during the pandemic. JAL said its fleet was due for retirement by March 2022.

Pratt & Whitney, owned by Raytheon Technologies Corp, was not available immediately for comment.

A spokeswoman for South Korea’s transport ministry, speaking before Boeing recommended suspending operations, said it was monitoring the situation but had not yet taken any action.

Korean Air Lines Co Ltd said it had 16 of the planes, 10 of them stored, and it would consult with the manufacturer and regulators and stop flying them to Japan for now.

In February 2018, a 777 of the same age operated by United and bound for Honolulu suffered an engine failure when a cowling fell off about 30 minutes before the plane landed safely. The NTSB determined that incident was the result of a full-length fan blade fracture.

Because of that 2018 incident, Pratt & Whitney reviewed inspection records for all previously inspected PW4000 fan blades, the NTSB said. The FAA in March 2019 issued a directive requiring initial and recurring inspections of the fan blades on the PW4000 engines. (This story corrects number of Korean Air 777s in service and stored in paragraph 18)

(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney and David Shepardson in Washington; additional reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu and Maki Shiraki in Tokyo, Joyce Lee in Seoul and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Sam Holmes and Christopher Cushing)

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Oil gains as U.S. production slowly returns after freeze

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Oil gains as U.S. production slowly returns after freeze 3

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Monday as the slow return of U.S. crude output that was cut by frigid conditions raised concerns about supply just as demand is coming back from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brent crude was up 76 cents, or 1.2%, at $61.67 a barrel by 0104 GMT, after gaining nearly 1% last week. U.S. oil rose 74 cents, or 1.3%, to $59.98 a barrel, having fallen 0.4% last week.

Abnormally cold weather in Texas and the Plains states forced the shut down of up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production along with 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas output, analysts estimated.

Oilfield crews will likely take several days to de-ice valves, restart systems and begin oil and gas output. U.S. Gulf Coast refiners are assessing damage to facilities and may take up to three weeks to restore most of their operations, analysts said, with low water pressure, gas and power losses hampering restarts.

“With three quarters of fracking crews standing down, the likelihood of a fast resumption is low,” ANZ Research said in a note.

“Longer term, the fall in capital expenditure at U.S. shale oil companies this year will keep drilling activity subdued, leading to output remaining below pre-pandemic levels,” ANZ said.

For the first time since November, U.S. drilling companies cut the number of oil rigs operating due to the cold and snow enveloping Texas, New Mexico and other energy producing centres. [RIG/U]

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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