Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ganacsgi [BUSINESS]



Facebook’s long-awaited payments feature is finally here.

Mashable — On Tuesday, the social network announced a new feature for Messenger that lets users send and receive money to one another. The feature will roll out to Facebook users in the U.S. across desktop, Android and iOS over the next few months.

Users who add their debit card information in Messenger’s settings section can send payments by striking up a conversation with a friend, selecting the “$” icon that will appear in the row above the software keyboard, and tapping “Pay.” Users who receive money do so by opening up that friend’s message and accepting the payment when prompted. Like bank deposits, payment may take up to three business days to go through.

Facebook users can only add their debit card information for now, a decision the company said was made to minimize fraud and avoid fees. (Popular peer-to-peer payments app Venmo lets users add credit cards but charges a 3% fee on each transaction.)

People already pay each other for various things like paying the rent or splitting the dinner bill, “so why don’t we finish those conversations in the same place we started?” Steve Davis, Facebook’s payments program manager, told Mashable.

Users of Facebook's Messenger app will be able to link their debit cards to the service and use it to message money to each other.
Users of Facebook’s Messenger app will be able to link their debit cards to the service and use it to message money to each other.

With the new payments feature, Facebook is making a play to get users to stay on the social network for longer time periods, plain and simple. Digital marketing firm eMarketer estimated that adults in the U.S. averaged 21 minutes per day on Facebook in 2014 — the equivalent of 6% of their time spent online. Those are some solid stats, given Facebook remains the second-most trafficked site domestically and globally (behind Google), but like any Internet company, the longer people spend using their service, the better.

“It’s really about, ‘how do you keep Facebook sticky?’ How do you get users to play in a different way that’s beyond justcommunications?” explained Forrester Research Vice President Sucharita Mulpuru.

Higher engagement lowers the odds of Facebook users resorting to outside services that may be competition now or in the future. Persuading users to share their payment information with the social network also opens the doors for potential revenue-generating opportunities down the road.

“If Facebook gets a ton of credit card and payment details, and if consumers could complete transactions for physical goods on Facebook, and if Facebook actually chooses to do so in meaningful ways, they would be able to better target buyers, which could raise their advertising rates,” said Mulpuru, conceding those are a lot of ifs. It’s also unclear how much Facebook needs payment data to punch up its advertising, given ad revenues are already on a tear. (Its ads raked in $3.59 billion during the fourth quarter of 2014, up 53% year-over-year.)

The move makes more sense given mobile payments’ fast-growing popularity. Forrester Research estimates mobile payments will nearly triple in volume from $52 billion last year to $142 billion come 2019. Entering the space is a no-brainer for a player like Facebook, which sees 745 million of its users — roughly half its user base — sign on via phone or tablet.

It also could help improve Messenger’s image. The social network ruffled feathers last year when it split off Messenger into its own separate app. For Facebook users who wanted to continue messaging one another, it became a mandatory download. Baking payments into Messenger has the potential to boost the app’s utility for some.

With mobile payments in particular, Facebook is entering a crowded space. There’s Venmo, the PayPal-owned app that is particularly popular with teens and twenty-something adults, and Square Cash. Heck, even Snapchat wants in. The ephemeral photo-sharing service launched Snapcash in November, a partnership that lets Snapchat users pay each other inside the app. It’s unclear yet how Snapcash is doing, exactly, but it’s supposedly popular with a scantily-clad subset of folks who use it to charge for virtual lap dances.

Still, Gartner research director Brian Blau pointed out that none of those services have Facebook’s potential reach.

“Some app providers have offered person-to-person transfers for some time now, but not on the scale of say, Facebook,” said Blau.

Users may have concerns about sharing their banking information with the same network where people post animated GIFS and party pics, but Facebook says they shouldn’t worry. According to Davis, the software and equipment are PCI Compliant — the same security standard applied to credit card transactions — and stored in a secure environment separate from the rest of Facebook. An anti-fraud team will also track payments for potentially fraudulent transactions.

Whether enough Facebook users feel comfortable enough sending and receiving payments on the same platform they share updates with friends and family will be the big question in the months and years to come. But clearly it’s a question Facebook felt worth asking.



Istanbul (AFP) – Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines, which has grown exponentially in the last decade, said Wednesday its net profit more than doubled last year and was targeting 15 percent growth in passenger capacity in 2015.

Turkish Airlines said in a statement that its full year net profits in US dollar terms for 2014 were $845 million, up 137 percent from last year’s figure of $357 million.

Total sales rose 12.6 percent to $11 billion from $9.8 billion the year earlier, it added.

It said that in 2014, Turkish Airlines recorded passenger capacity growth of 16.3 percent, significantly above the industry growth rate of 5.6 percent for the same period.

The company indicated that it was planning to carry on its fast growth in 2015, targeting an increase in its passenger capacity by 15 percent.

A string of new destinations are set to include Bogota and San Francisco in the Americas, Manila in Asia, Juba in Africa and Porto in Europe.

The new routes by Turkish Airlines, which flies to more destinations than any other carrier, will bring the total number of destinations to 273 in 2015, it said in a statement.

With the passenger load factor expected to be above 80 percent, the total number of passengers carried is targeted to reach to 63.2 million in 2015.

The airline carried 54.7 million passengers in 2014 which was itself up 13.3 percent and making it the second largest carrier in Europe according to passengers.

Turkish Airlines is now carrying some five times the number of passengers it did just 10 years ago. In 2004 it carried 11.9 million people.

The company has over the last decade become one of Turkey’s success stories with fast expanding growth from its Istanbul hub under the rule of former premier now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The government used to entirely control Turkish Airlines but share offerings over the last decade have reduced its stake to 49 percent.

The airline said in documents published for investors that its current fleet of 261 planes is expected to expand to 293 aircraft in 2015. By 2021, the airline projects having 435 aircraft.

Board chairman Hamdi Topcu said in Istanbul that the company, including subsidiaries, plans capital expenditure of $3.7 billion in 2015.

However he doused speculation that Turkish Airlines may be about to purchase or lease an A380 super jumbo aircraft from Airbus, saying there was no board decision on this issue.

“Turkish Airlines will not be operating an A380 aircraft in 2015,” the company quoted him as saying.

But he added the company “has the talent to include any type of aircraft to its fleet and there are ongoing negotiations for all types of aircraft.”

He confirmed the severe effects of last week’s snowy conditions in Istanbul which resulted in the cancellation of 1,268 flights.

The cost to the company was estimated to be 26 million euros ($29.5 million), he added.

Somali Remitences

Somali Remitences

VOA — Somalis in the United States are now unable to send money back to Somalia. The final American bank that allowed for sending money there has stopped doing so.

The small Merchants Bank of California was the last bank in the United States that worked with Somali-American transfer companies. The Somali-American companies operate in the same way as the worldwide money transfer companies Western Union and MoneyGram. But they permit people to send money to rural areas of Somalia far from cities and towns.

Last week, however, Merchants Bank stopped helping the companies send money to Somalia.

Anti-terror legislation had stopped most American banks from giving people a way to send money to Somalia. Experts say more than a million Somalis cannot feed themselves. Many Somalis depend on the money sent to them by their friends and family members in the United States and other countries to survive.

Sunrise Community Bank in the U.S. and Barclays Bank in Britain have also closed their Somali transfer accounts. They were worried that the transfer companies were either working directly with terrorists or that the money being sent to Somalia was being given to terrorists.

The United Nations and humanitarian workers warn that Merchants Bank’s decision will hurt Somalia. The money-transfer business there is huge. The United Nations and aid groups in Somalia use money transfers to pay their workers and to pay for projects in small villages and towns.

Aid groups such as Oxfam and Adeso, a non-governmental organization, estimate that Somalis living outside the country send more than $1 billion home every year.

Degan Ali leads the aid group Adeso. She says banks should continue to work with the money-transfer companies.

“We need an immediate solution and what we propose is that there be an exception to the case of Somalia because it’s the only country that has experienced two famines in modern history. It’s a country where there’s this active conflict and people are highly food-insecure.”

Somalia’s government collapsed in 1991. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been able to eat only because people living outside the country sent them money.

Oxfam said in a statement that it has warned officials for the past few years about the severe effect on the country of banks refusing to work with the companies. It also said the end of the transfers will worsen Somalia’s humanitarian crisis.

An Oxfam spokesman told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that criminal gangs will now become involved with sending money into Somalia.

Sahal Hassan is a Somali man living in Nairobi, Kenya. He says the U.S. government should help Somalia create a legal financial system.

He says America helps Somalia, so how they can stop our only source of money? He says it is going to have an effect on us. If America has pressured banks to close the accounts of the money transfer services, it should help Somalia create a banking system and reform money wire transfer companies. He says America should not leave us hungry and suffering.

Ms. Ali of Adeso says Somalia should be given more time to improve its financial system.

“For now, the immediate temporary solution, let’s give Somalia an exception to these rules so that the banks feel more comfortable as we strengthen the, the central banks in Somalia.”

The Somali government has been busy fighting the militant group al-Shabab and dealing with fighting among political parties. Experts say the government must also work to strengthen the Somali banking system, rebuild the economy, and help end suffering in one of the most corrupt and poorest countries on Earth.

somali air travel
somali air travel
Daallo Airlines staff usher in passengers from Jeddah after their airline, Daallo Airlines operated by Air Mediterranee, arrived at the Aden Abdule International Airport in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, February 17, 2015.

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Regional carriers Daallo Airlines and Jubba Airways profited independently for years in one of the world’s toughest markets, competing on routes to war-torn Somalia that most avoided.

Yet as the guns fall silent, the rivals face a new battle that has pushed them to merge: competition from big international carriers such as Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and flydubai, muscling into Somali airspace.

“The odds are against us, but that is the reason we are making a merger,” Mohamed Yassin, chief executive officer of Daallo, told Reuters. “We are not sitting back. We are trying to put our forces together … to face the new challenges.”

Hardy entrepreneurs running airlines, money transfer firms and mobile phone companies innovated and thrived in Somalia for more than two decades, keeping Somalis connected to the world as the state was torn apart by warlords and Islamist militants.

Now Mogadishu’s Western-backed federal government is slowly extending its control and imposing a semblance of political order, which is also changing the commercial landscape for firms such as Daallo and Jubba that once had the market to themselves.

Turkish Airlines now offers a daily service to Mogadishu, while Ethiopian Airlines flies to Hargeisa in the self-declared state of Somaliland in the north, a destination flydubai plans to serve from March. Kenya-based African Express also serves Mogadishu and other Somali cities.

Turkish Airlines said it had increased flights to Mogadishu in January to seven a week from four but said it had “no near future plans” to add other destinations in Somalia.

Daallo and Jubba, which offer domestic flights within Somalia but face more competition on international routes, will on Thursday launch African Airways Alliance, a merged entity owned equally by founders of the former rivals.

“We are trying to attract other carriers to join the alliance to scale the business, to help growth and sustainability,” said Yassin in an interview in Nairobi with one-time rival and now partner, Jubba Chairman Said Qailie.

He said the two airlines would still use their Jubba and Daallo brands after the merger.


Together, Daallo and Jubba carried about 250,000 passengers in 2014 and generated revenues of more than $75 million, the airlines said in a statement. By comparison, Turkish Airlines carried 54.7 million passengers in 2014.

Daallo is the privately owned national carrier of Djibouti, north of Somalia, while Jubba is registered in next door Kenya to the south. There is no official Somali flag carrier after Somali Airlines halted services in 1991 when war flared up.

Yassin described Somalia as a “home market” for both airlines after they acted as a “lifeline” in the war.

But he said the Somali authorities had offered little support for Daallo and Jubba on issues such as flight frequencies or capacity of planes used by new entrants, topics typically negotiated in air agreements between two territories.

“They sympathise with us, because we were the lifeline for Somalis in the last 20 years,” said 62-year-old Yassin. But he said they were not in a position to dictate terms: “If anybody comes to them, they cannot reject (them).”

Yassin said this put the regional carriers at a disadvantage to bigger international players with larger fleets and access to cheaper financing. “There should be fair competition,” he said.

Former Finance Minister Hussein Halane, who left his post when a new cabinet was sworn in this month, said Daallo and Jubba were viewed as Somali airlines that deserved help but the government had limited capacity to deal with the demands it faced and Somalia needed major carriers to boost international links.

After the merger, the airlines will operate two newly leased Airbus A321-111s and a Boeing 737-300, a statement said. In addition, the firm will use a BAe 146-200, which it owns, for charter services. By mid-2015, two new turboprop ATR aircraft will be introduced for domestic flights.

In 2015, the merged airline plans to increase the number of destinations to 21 from 13 now. Existing destinations include Nairobi, Dubai and Jeddah. Planned destinations include Addis Ababa, Yemeni airports, Kampala and European cities.

(Additional reporting by Drazen Jorgic in Nairobi and Ceyda Caglayan in Istanbul; editing by David Clarke)

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