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STRATACACHE Marketing Technology on Display at The Retail Asia Expo in Hong Kong

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STRATACACHE Marketing Technology on Display at The Retail Asia Expo in Hong Kong

The STRATACACHE family of digital media/marketing technology companies will feature their next generation store environment booth at the Retail Asia Expo.

Multiple customer engagement solutions will be represented throughout the booth — interactive shopper experiences that feature the intersection of intelligent visual display, consumer analytics and actionable shopper data.

Retailers can view these solutions and have discussions with representatives from the STRATACACHE family, including the digital signage provider with the region’s largest footprint, Scala, in booth B01 at the event, being held 12-14 June in Hong Kong.

“This year at Retail Asia Expo, we’re showcasing the full scope of intelligent visual and consumer engagement solutions found throughout the STRATACACHE family of companies,” said Manish Kumar, SVP and Managing Director of Asia-Pacific Operations. “Scala has a long history of success in digital signage networks in this region and now, as part of the STRATACACHE family, retailers will see the next generation of our martech impacting the shopper journey. STRATACACHE’s presence at this event kicks off an era of growth and focus in the emerging Asia-Pacific market, with additional strategic developments on the horizon.”

Walkbase, STRATACACHE’s in-store retail analytics platform, will also be used in the booth to capture and display data gathered from booth visitors’ interactions with the solutions on display.

Highlighted solutions in booth B01 include:

Scala-branded hardware solutions – Combining digital signage system knowledge with decades of experience and best practices, Scala media players, featured in the booth, are designed for performance, stability and compatibility while ensuring the reliable, timely delivery of rich media experiences. Additionally, our Scala Content Accelerator multimedia caching devices ensure reliable, timely delivery of rich media experiences in any retail environment.

Digital menu boards and ordering kiosks – Ordering is fun and convenient with our interactive café solution. Customers use touchscreens to order, sending a selfie along with their selections. When their order is ready, the customer’s own photo appears on large format digital displays.

LIFT upsell activation platform – LIFT’s customer-facing display promotes relevant offers at the point of sale. Personalize the quick-stop shopping experience by utilizing real-time offers based on customer purchase information. LIFT features a streamlined all-in-one form factor, a feature-rich analytics portal and flexible configurations to fit any retail environment.

Shopping mall wayfinder — Showing people how to find their way around a shopping complex is not an easy task. This solution allows guests to use a touchscreen to look up maps and directions leading them to the right places easily and quickly.

Additional STRATACACHE booth experiences include: an interactive fashion solution that invites shoppers to learn more about the brand quality and story by interacting with the apparel, triggering sensors embedded in the clothing; and two interactive electronic solutions that provide shoppers with customized assistance to help navigate the product discovery process.

Learn more about these retail solutions and more at www.stratacache.com and www.scala.com.

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Lebanon judge orders vaccine for elderly man after lawmakers jump queue

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Lebanon judge orders vaccine for elderly man after lawmakers jump queue 1

By Timour Azhari

BEIRUT (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A judge on Wednesday ordered Lebanon’s health ministry to give a COVID-19 vaccination to an 80-year-old man within 48 hours or be fined, saying the department had violated the principle of equal access by allowing lawmakers to jump the queue.

Joseph al-Hajj took legal action after lawmakers caused widespread public anger in Lebanon last week by getting early vaccinations, arguing that he had priority access to the vaccine according to the country’s vaccination plan.

Judge Carla Chawah said the ministry’s decision to vaccinate lawmakers had violated al-Hajj’s right to health and life because he had priority in the national plan being aged over 75 unlike some of the lawmakers.

The World Bank, which is funding part of Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, threatened to suspend finances after a Thomson Reuters Foundation correspondent reported lawmakers were to be vaccinated at the nation’s parliament last week.

The judge, sitting in the urgent matters court, said in a ruling seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the ministry’s decision posed “an imminent threat to the plaintiff” and were “a clear violation” of his “essential rights”.

She said the ministry wold have pay a fine of Lebanon pounds 10 million ($6,500) a day for every day over the 48 hours.

Lebanon’s caretaker health minister Hamad Hassan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lebanon began its COVID-19 inoculation drive on Feb. 14 and has secured enough vaccines for about half its six million population.

Hassan previously defended his decision to vaccinate lawmakers as a “sovereign decision” and said he had done it out of appreciation for their work.

Hassan’s comments and pushback by other politicians added to anger in Lebanon, where decades of state waste and corruption have triggered a financial meltdown.

Two weeks into an inoculation campaign marred by the row over queue-jumping by lawmakers, officials and human rights groups are concerned that some 500,000 migrants in Lebanon could be left out.

(Reporting by Timour Azhari @timourazhari; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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Hong Kong dropped from Economic Freedom Index as policies ‘controlled from Beijing’

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Hong Kong dropped from Economic Freedom Index as policies 'controlled from Beijing' 2

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong has been excluded from the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom because its economic policies are controlled from Beijing, the Washington-based think tank said, removing Hong Kong from a list it topped for 25 years up to 2019.

The title of the world’s freest economy for 2021 was retained by Singapore for the second year, the Heritage Foundation said, with Hong Kong’s investment freedom hurt by political and social unrest dating back to 2019.

In the 2021 index published on Thursday, the foundation said Hong Kong and Macau, both special administrative regions of China, were no longer included because even though citizens enjoy more economic freedom than the average resident of China, “developments in recent years have demonstrated unambiguously that those policies are ultimately controlled from Beijing”.

Developments in Hong Kong or Macau that are relevant to economic freedom would be considered in the context of China’s evaluation in the index, it added. China slipped to 107 from 103, among the list of 178 countries.

The U.S. suspended Hong Kong’s preferential tariff rates for exports to the country last year in response to China’s imposition of a national security law on the former British colony, saying it undermined the city’s high autonomy.

Critics of the law say it is aimed at crushing dissent, while authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong say it was necessary to restore stability after anti-government and anti-China unrest.

Earlier this week, London-based non-governmental organisation Hong Kong Watch said in a report that “red capital” – money originating from mainland China – had fundamentally shaped Hong Kong’s politics, media and the city’s status as a business hub.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Kenneth Maxwell)

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Health policies a shot in the arm for west European insurers hit by COVID-19

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Health policies a shot in the arm for west European insurers hit by COVID-19 3

By Inti Landauro and Sergio Goncalves

MADRID (Reuters) – When six-year-old Ainara Fuertes was in pain with an ear infection late last year, her parents wanted to take her to an emergency room at their local public hospital in the Madrid suburb of Valdeolmos-Alalpardo.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the hospital was only seeing non-COVID patients two days a week, so they had to make do with a remote consultation.

Ainara has since recovered, but her parents Diana and Javier decided, like hundreds of thousands of people across western Europe, to sign up for private health insurance to complement state coverage.

“The hospital we depend on is overwhelmed with COVID patients and we want to have more options,” said Diana, 40.

In Spain alone, almost 470,000 people signed up to health policies last year, a 47% increase from 2019.

In neighbouring Portugal, Pedro Leitao, 44, has taken out private health insurance for his 84-year-old mother, who suffered internal bleeding last November and was taken to a crammed non-COVID emergency room at a public hospital in Lisbon.

“Public hospitals are overcrowded … and the risk of infection in the emergency room is enormous,” he said. “I’d be irresponsible if I didn’t buy health insurance for my mother.”

Frank Calderon, head of the health division at Spain’s largest insurer Mapfre, whose policy the Fuertes family picked, said most new clients were families with small children.

“People are looking for flexibility and choice,” he said.

In France, where industry-wide data for 2020 are not available yet, the insurer AXA said last week that its revenue from health insurance rose 6%, while overall sales fell 4%.

And in Germany, the number of private health insurance policies rose 1.8% to 36 million last year, helping to boost premium income by 3.8% to 42.6 billion euros.

PANDEMIC PAIN

In fact, health insurance has been one of the few silver linings from the pandemic for Europe’s insurers.

Overall premium income has slumped along with customers’ earnings, while claims related to the pandemic, as well as a huge crop of natural disasters, have soared into the hundreds of billions of euros, with more to come.

In Portugal, total premium income fell 18.7% to 9.9 billion euros in 2020, with life insurance premiums down 50% – but health insurance income rose 8.3% to a record 949 million euros, according to the ASF insurance supervisory authority.

In Spain, health insurance premiums rose 5.1% even as overall premiums fell 8.3%, dragged down by the life, automotive and corporate sectors, the industry group UNESPA said.

“Private hospitals complement the needs of part of the population, especially in times of crisis when demand is putting great pressure on public hospitals,” said Pedro Carvalho, chief executive officer at Tranquilidade, Portugal’s second-largest insurer by premiums and a unit of Italy’s Generali. Even as the pandemic recedes thanks to vaccination, insurers see more health business coming their way, not least because public hospitals will have a huge backlog of treatments and operations that were postponed because of the pandemic.

“There is nothing to suggest that the current growth situation won’t continue, at least in the coming years,” ASF said.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and by Sergio Goncalves in Lisbon and Tom Sims in Frankfurt; editing by Andrei Khalip and Kevin Liffey)

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