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PayPal and Venmo QR Code checkout is coming to 8,200 CVS stores in Q4

PayPal and Venmo QR Code checkout is coming to 8,200 CVS stores in Q4



PayPal has struck a deal with CVS Pharmacy to offer the ability to check out using PayPal’s payment services, including both PayPal and Venmo, at the register. The company announced this morning CVS will become the first nationwide retailer to allow customer to pay using either their PayPal or Venmo QR code at the register without fees. The payment will pull from funds available in the customer’s existing account balance, bank account, or from their debit or credit card, just as it would online. Venmo users will additionally have the option to pay with their Venmo Rewards.

CVS has committed to rolling out the technology across 8,200 U.S. stores in the fourth quarter of 2020.

PayPal introduced its new QR Code technology for buyers and sellers in 28 markets around the world in May.

The company described the offering as a way to make it safer for buyers and sellers to transact in person amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of having to hand over a payment card to be swiped or read, buyers could complete a transaction by aiming their smartphone camera at a QR Code that was either printed out or presented on the seller’s screen, for a touch-free way to pay.

The CVS deal builds on that existing technology, but scales it to a large, nationwide retailer.

Image Credits: PayPal

The new CVS checkout experience is being made possible through PayPal’s partnership with payments technology provider InComm, which PayPal describes as the “the first of a multi-year agreement” between the two payment technology companies. The agreement allows InComm to distribute PayPal QR Code technology through its cloud-based software updates, which will make the checkout feature available to retailers directly on their point-of-sale terminals.

The nature of PayPal’s relationship with InComm hints at this being a larger deal than just a single retailer. However, PayPal hasn’t officially announced which other retailers are in the pipeline.

Reached for comment, PayPal told TechCrunch that it’s in active conversations with additional merchant partners to enable this touch-free checkout method in their stores, as well.

This is hardly the first time PayPal has tried to bring its payment technology to the register.

Its first brick-and-mortar integration was back in 2012 with Home Depot. Soon after, PayPal expanded to 15 more national retailers, including names like JC Penney, Office Depot, Rooms To Go, Foot Locker, Barnes & Noble, and others, through relationships with half a dozen point-of-sale terminal makers, and partnered with POS software firm AJB. It later rolled out even more partnerships, including those with iPad POS solution provider Revel Systems and hardware maker NCR.

PayPal also launched a program to encourage retailers to switch to PayPal services, in its battle with Square. More recently, PayPal bought iZettle, the “Square of Europe,” to claim its place at point-of-sale.

Despite its advances, PayPal still lost the lead in the in-person mobile payments space to Apple Pay. In November 2019, Apple said its Apple Pay transactions topped 3 billion in its fiscal Q3, surpassing PayPal. Overall, however, Paypal is still ahead of Apple Pay in the digital payments space, but analysts have warned that Apple Pay is one of the “long-term competitive threats” to PayPal’s business.

PayPal, in other words, has to find a stronger foothold at the register. And it sees the pandemic as an ideal time to tout its touch-free payment technology.

“We know that in the current environment, buying and selling goods in a health-conscious, safe and secure way is front of mind for many people around the world. As the coronavirus pandemic has evolved, we have seen a surge in demand for digital payments to transition to include new and safe solutions for in-person environments and situations,” said John Kunze, PayPal Senior Vice President of Branded Experiences, in a statement. “Our rollout of QR codes for buyers and sellers incorporates the safety, security and convenience of using PayPal in person and enables ongoing social distancing requirements and safety preferences for in-person commerce,” he added.

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Watch: COVID Authoritarians Want Forgiveness – Here’s Why They Don’t Deserve It

Watch: COVID Authoritarians Want Forgiveness – Here’s Why They Don’t Deserve It

Do authoritarians deserve a chance to be treated with grace…



Watch: COVID Authoritarians Want Forgiveness – Here's Why They Don't Deserve It

Do authoritarians deserve a chance to be treated with grace and forgiveness?  The question is circulating regularly these days in the wake of the complete failure of covid pandemic response and the victory of the anti-mandate movement.  The answer relies on a series of counter-questions based on logic and predictable outcomes.  It's the kind of discussion that covid cultists don't want to have; they just want everyone to forget because they now have something to lose politically  

Scott Galloway, Professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and member of the World Economic Forum's "Global Leaders Of Tomorrow" list, is one of the cultists that now wants to be given a free pass as he debates the issue on Real Time with Bill Maher.

The question that we need to ask Galloway is:  How forgiving was he when confronted with people who opposed his authoritarianism?  Galloway was rabidly pro-mandate.  He consistently called for harsher punishments for people refusing to comply and he demanded that the unvaccinated be treated as second tier citizens banned from places of business.  As he argued in his blog titled 'Half Of America Has Its Head Up Its Ass. It's Time For A Vaccine Mandate':

“Enough already. Federal law should require any citizen who wants to cash a government check, use public transport, or enter a place of business to show proof of vaccination...”

Galloway cited the ever present inflated CDC data on covid deaths in America as the justification for his authoritarian position.  Of course, data was available not long after the spread of covid indicating that the Infection Fatality Rate of the virus was a tiny 0.23% and that 99.8% of the population (including the unvaccinated) had nothing to fear.  Not only that, but the CDC has recently and quietly published information showing that around 95% of people who died with covid also had one or more comorbidities and 75% had at least four – Meaning, if you did not have multiple comorbidities your chances of dying from covid were incredibly small.   

Do Galloway and those like him deserve a clean slate?  No, they don't, and here's why...

No Apologies

We hear many covid authoritarians talk about forgiveness but very few of them actually apologize for their behavior.  Galloway calls for “grace”, perhaps trying to appeal to the Christian notion of “turning the other cheek.”  He admits he was wrong on the mandates (because the data forces him to), but he doesn't actually apologize for his behavior.  In fact, he excuses his behavior and the behavior of leftist politicians as them doing the best they could do given the imperfect information they had at the time.  This is a common tactic of misdirection.

As noted above, within months of covid becoming active in the US, the data was already available showing that the virus was not a legitimate threat.  So the claim that their information was "the best they had at the time" does not hold water.  There was more than enough evidence to warrant opposition to unconstitutional policies (frankly, even if covid had been more deadly it doesn't justify violations of the Bill of Rights).  Millions of Americans tried to explain the truth to those panicking over covid, and they chose not to listen, calling us “selfish conspiracy theorists.” 

But the greatest trespasses were among those analysts and "influencers" who used covid as an opportunity for political gain, knowing that there was information that debunked government and media spin.  The worst people are those that have no intention of making amends because they plan to try again.  People who do wrong and refuse to give a legitimate apology are the kinds of people that are likely to commit similar offenses in the future.   

Mad With Power

The covidians were primarily from the left side of the political spectrum and wherever leftists were most concentrated is where the most egregious violations of liberty took place.  The political left went absolutely mad with power, with a large number of Democrats supporting Orwellian controls to punish people refusing to submit to the mandates. 

There were calls to fine the unvaccinated, imprison people who question the vaccine, put the vaccinated on home lockdown and even take away their children.  In some states, like New York, there was active legislation put forward to create detention facilities for people that did not comply (covid camps).  That is some serious Stalinist behavior and we are still waiting for it to be addressed and for certain political leaders to be punished.  

As the old saying goes: "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power."  We have now seen the character of the political left.  We have seen the character of people like Galloway, and they have been found untrustworthy.

It Can And Will Happen Again

The covid event was really a litmus test for authoritarian tendencies in the US.  At least half the public failed that test miserably.  We may not see another pandemic agenda in our lifetimes, but that doesn't really matter.  There will be many other opportunities in the future for ignorant people and sociopathic people to act out on their darker impulses.  It is important to make a note of how the individuals around us behave when they think it's safe to be evil, and we must remember who they are.  These are not people that should be given “grace” or trust down the road when the next crisis strikes; they have shown themselves to be unworthy of that.

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/30/2023 - 20:40

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DeSantis Warns China ‘Key Player’ Behind Ukraine, Israel Wars

DeSantis Warns China ‘Key Player’ Behind Ukraine, Israel Wars

Authored by Jackson Richman, Eva Fu and Jan Jekielek via The Epoch Times (emphasis…



DeSantis Warns China 'Key Player' Behind Ukraine, Israel Wars

Authored by Jackson Richman, Eva Fu and Jan Jekielek via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis warned on Oct. 27 that China is "the key player" behind the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) during a Q&A with Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek (L) and Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Oct. 27, 2022. (Erin Granzow)

Appearing at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, a  conservative think tank in Washington, in conjunction with The Epoch Times, Mr. DeSantis struck a hawkish tone toward Beijing, calling it a “key player” behind the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza Strip.

"The CCP is keeping both Iran and Russia afloat financially," Mr. DeSantis said in his speech, using the acronym for the Chinese Communist Party. "China's purchasing massive amounts of Iranian oil on the black market, thereby enriching the mullahs and Russia is selling China gas and much, much more. And that is bolstering Russia's war machine."

Mr. DeSantis went on to say that the protracted conflict between Ukraine and Russia since February 2022 "will ultimately benefit China because it will distract America and it will deplete our already dwindling Western weapons and ammunition stockpiles."

And while the United States will support Israel in defending itself, he believes that China “like[s] the Hamas-Israel conflict.”

Clearly the way the world has gone the last two years has benefits to China,” he said. “There’s no question.”

“The threat posed by the CCP requires our primary focus and attention right now. They are the first truly peer competitor that we have dealt with in our lifetimes."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) during a Q&A with Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek (M) and Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts (L) at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Oct. 27, 2022. (Erin Granzow)

The Biden administration has relaxed or failed to enforce sanctions on Iran, which has given drones to Russia and exports oil to China. Mr. DeSantis noted that Russia has been selling China gas and “much, much more.”

He blamed “bad decisions made by America's ruling class” for the economic leverage China now has over the U.S. economy, noting that the United States had given China most-favored-nation trading status and allowed Beijing to be part of the World Trade Organization.

"And China has grand ambitions. They seek to be the dominant power in the entire world and they are marshaling all their society to be able to achieve that objective," he said. "So this is a formidable threat and it requires a whole-of-society approach."

He warned that “a world that's dominated by CCP will see them export their authoritarian vision all across the world.

“This will be a world marked by internet policing, artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and social credit scores. It will end up creating a global dystopia and this is a regime that you do not want to have control or influence over our society,” he said, comparing the China threat to the Soviet Union's effort to spread communism worldwide.

The death toll that the Chinese regime is responsible for over its 70 some years of ruling “may very well be the highest of any government in history and numbers in the 10s of millions,” and the regime’s coverup of the pandemic, he added, has “put the rest of the world in great peril.”

Mr. DeSantis pledged to reorient U.S. foreign policy to prioritize the Indo-Pacific region to defend U.S. national security. Deterring CCP aggression, he said, requires the United States to project strength, which he detailed as bolstering the U.S. military to deny Chinese ambitions toward Taiwan, unleashing “America's full economic potential,” ensuring U.S. technological dominance, and closing border loopholes.

The Florida governor has maintained a tough-on-China record during his tenure, including by restricting Chinese purchases of property in the state and banning the controversial Beijing-funded Confucius Institute program from school campuses. In September, he directed the Florida Department of Education to cut state funding for four schools, citing their “direct ties to the CCP” that he said "constitute an imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare of these school’s students and the public."

During a Q&A with Mr. DeSantis, Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts and Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek asked the governor if the issue of human rights should be tied to U.S. policy on trade with China.

"Traditionally, human rights have been linked to trade or trade has been linked to human rights," noted Mr. Jekielek, also the host of EpochTV's "American Thought Leaders."

"I think human rights is something that's good to stand for. What is the concrete interest? I do think it informs a concrete interest because this is one of the great weaknesses of the CCP," said Mr. DeSantis. "What they're trying to export around the world ultimately, is something that is going to suffocate human freedom. Their vision is a dystopian vision."

Mr. DeSantis' statements came hours before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with President Joe Biden at the White House. The regime's top diplomat is in Washington for meetings with senior Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The administration has framed its relationship with the regime as one of "strategic competition" rather than directly adversarial.

Along with warning about China, other topics Mr. DeSantis highlighted in his major foreign policy speech include the latest Hamas-Israel conflict, which began on Oct. 7 and consisted of the biggest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, and border security amid the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

During his Q&A, Mr. DeSantis noted the trend of leftist governments in Latin America.

"We should have an updated version of the Monroe Doctrine for our own neighborhood in the 21st century," he said, referring to a late 19th-century principle that viewed attempts by Europe to intervene in the Americas as a potentially hostile act against the United States itself.

Mr. DeSantis emphasized the United States is now at “the decisive decade” to “arrest our country's decline” and tackle the challenge from China.

“At the end of the day, China has a lot of liabilities. They have a lot of weaknesses,” he said. “They want to maintain ironclad control over their population indefinitely,” but there are already cracks showing, and increasing, “because they are not doing what needs to be done for individuals to ultimately flourish.”

Tyler Durden Mon, 10/30/2023 - 14:40

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Spread & Containment

Overweight/Underweight in Emerging Markets Debt

Despite the recent headwinds from rising U.S. Treasury yields, we have not changed our constructive medium-term outlook for emerging markets (EM) debt….



Despite the recent headwinds from rising U.S. Treasury yields, we have not changed our constructive medium-term outlook for emerging markets (EM) debt.

Duration performed poorly as policy rates around the world sharply adjusted over the past couple of years. At the same time, yield curves were deeply inverted, leaving longer-dated bonds vulnerable to a correction.

However, over the past six weeks, yield curves have dis-inverted significantly. That, coupled with the increased likelihood that the global monetary tightening cycle is nearly over, lead us to believe that there are attractive opportunities to add to duration and lock in attractive real and nominal yields. So, we are seeking to increase allocation to longer-duration securities.

In the sovereign arena, we see value in high-beta, high-yield credit and are positioned for high-yield/investment-grade spread compression. We prefer countries with easier access to multilateral and bilateral funding.

We’re focused on corporate issuers for whom we believe credit quality is unlikely to implode in the higher-for-longer rate scenario.

In the corporate arena, relative outperformance has reduced the opportunity set, but we continue to find investment opportunities in which fundamentals and attractive spreads coincide. We’re focused on issuers for whom we believe credit quality is unlikely to implode in the higher-for-longer rate scenario. Even as rates have risen and refinancing concerns have moved front and center, many issuers have medium-term, low-rate fixed maturities, allowing them to ride out the current rate volatility without major deterioration to credit quality.

Below we break down our largest active positions by beta bucket, which is how we allocate our risk budget.

A View of the Potential Opportunities: Overweight/Underweight

High-Beta Bucket

In the high-beta bucket, our largest overweight positions are in Angola, Egypt, and Argentina, and our largest underweight positions are in Bolivia, Honduras, and Nigeria.

Angola (overweight): Valuations are attractive in our view, and we believe in authorities’ commitment to fiscal consolidation and broader economic reform. Moreover, the depreciation of the kwanza demonstrates commitment to a flexible exchange rate, in our view. We believe this will serve the economy well over the medium term.

Egypt (overweight): We believe Egypt will meet its external financing needs with support from partners in the Middle East and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We see scope for Egypt to catch up to the broader move in high-yield credits. Also, valuations appear attractive.

Argentina (overweight): Although a shortage of dollars has led to exceptionally challenging macroeconomic conditions, the outlook appears promising. Although the policy mix has deteriorated over the last month, meaning economic imbalances will have to be addressed sooner than later, it appears increasingly likely that a more pragmatic government will assume office in 2024. We also believe Argentina has the means to remain current on its debt next year. However, the next government will face a challenge in the implementation of reforms needed to address imbalances and maintain social stability.

We are concerned about Bolivia’s unsustainable debt dynamics.

Bolivia (underweight): We are concerned about the longer-term trajectory of Bolivia’s economy as fiscal deficits remain too large and the fixed exchange rate is causing unsustainable debt dynamics.

Honduras (underweight): We do not like the valuations of Honduran bonds given fundamental risks. Although Honduras has the capacity to service its debt in the near term, credit fundamentals have been declining. The electricity sector has been particularly mismanaged, in our view, creating additional fiscal challenges. Moreover, the government has threatened repudiation of the country’s debt obligations, which makes us concerned about Honduras’s willingness to pay. Thus, we think there is better value elsewhere.

Nigeria (underweight): Nigeria’s valuations are tight relative to peers. After strong performance in the immediate aftermath of the elections, we are waiting for signs of more cohesive policies and full implementation of reforms announced earlier this year. 

Medium-Beta Bucket

In the medium-beta bucket, our largest overweight positions are in Guatemala, Mexico, and Ivory Coast, and our largest underweight positions are in Morocco, Jordan, and Oman.

Guatemala (overweight): Valuations are attractive and macroeconomic conditions are strong, in our opinion. Political noise has increased following President Bernardo Arevalo’s win in the August elections, as some branches of government have taken an aggressive stance toward Arevalo’s Semilla party, raising some concerns about the stability of the transition period. We still believe President Arevalo will assume office in January and that the electoral process will be respected, but we acknowledge the potential for some additional noise along the way.

Mexico (overweight): Our overweight is primarily via the state-owned energy company, Pemex, which offers one of the largest spreads over sovereign bonds. We believe it could benefit from government support, which appears likely. We also hold several positions in financials and retail, which we believe are poised to benefit from supportive sovereign trends.

Ivory Coast (overweight): We find valuations of U.S.-dollar-hedged, euro-denominated, long-dated bonds attractive, and we believe credit fundamentals are relatively supportive.

We believe Pemex could benefit from government support.

Morocco (underweight): We believe the economy is likely to face fundamental headwinds despite strong official support.

Jordan (underweight): We find valuations unappealing. Jordan has performed well recently given its successful program with the IMF, which is helping reduce the fiscal deficit. However, we believe this progress is now fully priced in, yet there remain significant risks around the pace of fiscal reform. These risks could leave Jordan more vulnerable to a negative shift in risk sentiment given its high level of government debt.

Oman (underweight): Oman has enjoyed a strong fiscal reform story over the past couple of years. However, we believe this story is now priced in and the country still has a high dependency on the oil sector, where prices remain vulnerable to slowing global growth. However, we believe there is the potential for the positive reform momentum to stall if oil prices fall below the fiscal breakeven.

Low-Beta Bucket

In the low-beta bucket, our largest overweight positions are in Bermuda, Hungary, and Paraguay, and our largest underweight positions are in UAE, Philippines, and Uruguay.

Bermuda (overweight): We prefer valuations and fundamentals in Bermuda to those of other low-beta sovereigns such as Peru and Chile. Bermuda has similar valuations but a stronger fundamental trajectory with less institutional uncertainty.

Hungary (overweight): Hungary appears inexpensive within the low-beta opportunity set, particularly now that the latest issuance is behind us. Expectations for economic growth are improving as the central bank continues to ease monetary policy. Moreover, there remains the potential for Hungary to unlock funding from Europe if an agreement with the European Union is reached.

Paraguay (overweight): Valuations have improved and we believe the economy remains in solid shape, and we have increased our exposure to medium-tenor instruments as the shape of the curve has flattened.

Hungary appears inexpensive within the low-beta opportunity set.

UAE (underweight): We remain underweight in UAE because of unappealing valuations. Bonds in weaker credits, such as Sharjah and Dubai, have rallied to the point where we believe valuations are no longer attractive relative to fundamentals. We prefer to own positions in real estate issuers at more attractive valuations. Moreover, within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, we continue to prefer Saudi Arabia to UAE; reflecting this, we hold a relative overweight spread duration position in Saudi Arabia. This overweight is driven by the more positive reform momentum story in Saudi Arabia.

Philippines (underweight): Credit fundamentals are weak relative to other low-beta sovereigns, and valuations are unappealing. Technical conditions are also unfavorable as we believe the country is likely to issue new sukuk bonds before the end of the year.

Uruguay (underweight): We find valuations poor. Credit fundamentals in Uruguay remain strong, but bond prices have compressed materially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and we believe this results in limited scope for additional spread tightening.

Marco Ruijer, CFA, is a portfolio manager on William Blair’s emerging markets debt team.

Want more insights on the economy and investment landscape? Subscribe to our blog.

The post Overweight/Underweight in Emerging Markets Debt appeared first on William Blair.

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