Business

Zapp mobile payments to be launched by Vocalink

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More shoppers are now able to make payments with the help of their mobile phones, as Direct Debit scheme has unveiled an initiative to link banks and retailers. Vocalink runs the payment infrastructure in the UK.

On June 24, 2013, the company said that customers will be able to pay at the counter without a credit or debit card, by simply loading a mobile app. They will then need to scan a barcode or tap a reader with their phones. The service is known as the Zapp and is scheduled to launch sometime in mid-2014 at a development cost of £100 million.

Peter Keenan, chief executive of Zapp said, “This is one of those once-in-a-generation propositions – bringing on board acquirers, retailers, banks and customers”. The high-street banks, Vocalink’s owners, have also invested £16 million into Zapp and the organization is now looking for an outside investment in order to fund all the additional costs.

So far, mobile payments have mostly remained a technology of future with banks, start-ups launching rival initiatives and telecom companies. It is still not clear if any banks have committed to Zapp, while some seem to be surprised by the announcement of Vocalink. Zapp is not seeking to cut out acquirers such as Mastercard and Visa.

Business

Delta Virgin Atlantic to start passenger-sharing in July 2013

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US-based Delta Airlines recently said that it has finalized its deal with Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways. The president of Delta Airlines, Ed Bastian announced the deal to the reporters at a press conference on Monday, June 24, 2013.

Bastian said, “We are very excited to announce today that share transaction has been completed and we stand firmly together as partners. This is a strategic investment that will enhance Delta’s network and create a trans-Atlantic joint venture between the U.S. and the U.K., which is going to be a $3 billion entity.” The recent move is not a full merger between the two carriers, but it still gives Delta an important ownership stake, as well as a seat on the board of the second-largest UK carrier.

Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic has described the deal with Delta as truly a crucial turning point in the history of the company. When it comes to passengers, the tie-up is expected to bring pooled flight options and frequent-flier benefits for customers of both fliers.

The most tangible sign of codesharing begins next month, in July 2012, when the airlines will begin selling seats on some of each other’s flights. They have also opened a lounge access to the eligible members of either carrier.

Economy

Unemployment takes charge in South Florida

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In recent times it has been noticed that the unemployment increased in both Palm Beach and Broward counties, especially during May 2013 and it moved up to 5.7 percent in Broward, from 5.6 percent in April 2013. Meanwhile, in Palm Beach it has gone up to 7.0 percent from 6.8 percent in April of this year.

Unemployment in Florida went down to 7.1 percent in May 2013, from 7.2 percent in April 2013. On the other hand, South Florida’s and the state rates are still lower than what they were exactly one year ago – in May 2012 – when the unemployment was 7.4 percent in Broward. When it comes to Palm Beach, it was 8.6 and 8.8 percent across the state, also in May 2012.

Back then, the number of jobs that were added in the state was 122,500 or 1.7 percent, which is ahead of the national job growth rate of 1.6 percent. Most of the jobs were added in retail, hospitality and construction in Broward and the jobs were lost in education and health services sectors.

It was also noticed that there were job gains in Palm Beach country in the field of education, retail and health services. There are about 671,000 unemployed in Florida, out of a labor force of 9.4 million.

Economy

Online shopping and huge discounts increase sales in UK

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It seems like the people of Great Britain have been going crazy during their shopping sprees, spending more money than ever. It was found that the UK customers were spending more in May 2013 than since records began.

The online retail sales have seen an increase in recent times and have suggested some signs of economic recovery, which in turn is giving people more confidence to spend their money. April 2013 was a cold month for online retailers but shoes, clothes and household appliances all saw an increase in sales starting May 2013.

The recent boom in shopping and online retailing showed a boost in the economy. The Chancellor George Osborne claims that Britain’s economy has left intensive care and that economic news have been better in recent months. Even the price war at the supermarkets forced shoppers to spend more on food. The Office for National Statistics said that all store types reported a rebound in sales starting from April of this year, when the country was hit by an unusually cold weather.

On the other hand, when compared to the previous year, the retail sales volume in May of this year was up by 1.9 percent.

Business

Railway delays and high prices leave passengers unsatisfied

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Railway services in London are lacking customer satisfaction as there are constant complaints about delayed journeys and poor ticket value. The passenger satisfaction is dipping every day, as the value for money and how companies are dealing with the delays have become the biggest cause of complain.

On a national level, the percentage of passengers satisfied with their journey overall was 82%, which was compared to 83% in a similar survey conducted in spring 2012 and the figure in autumn 2012 was 85%. The operators, which scored the lowest numbers were Northern and First Capital Connect and both had figures of 76%.

In terms of overall proportion of passengers satisfied with the value for money, when it comes to the price of their ticket, was 42%. Just 38% of passengers in London and southeast England thought that their ticket represented a good and reasonable value for money. However, passengers using services that were run by the Southeastern train company were least satisfied with what they were getting for their money, as 49% said they represented bad or unsatisfactory value for money.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus said that passengers are the main overall funder of the Great Britain’s railways.