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Borderless banking: Meet the mobile-only bank for migrants

whatsapp Katherine Denham Indeed, since fintech firms burst onto the scene a few years back, their popularity has been driven by their ability to make everything easier, cheaper, and faster for consumers, who are fed up with clunky processes associated with the big banks.The unstoppablesThat’s not to say building a bank – particularly a cross-border one – doesn’t come without its challenges. “As a financial services company, you have to take regulation seriously, which means you have to be on the top of your game. Fintechs have to massively overdeliver to be successful, and for us, we are obsessed with customer service. All the challenger banks know this, but I don’t think the old guys know about it yet,” Koppel laughs.Monese is essentially designed to help people who are excluded from financial services, and so it doesn’t surprise me to learn that the typical customer is a migrant – someone who has moved to another country in the hope of creating a better life for themselves.“We were focused on the global mindset, we are building a service for people who want to roam the world and not be held back by anything. They can pick the job and location they want, without being held back by archaic policy and bureaucracy. We call them the unstoppables.”With the tap of a button, users can instantly switch between 10 different languages. Koppel says this makes it a “truly localised product” – you can live in Germany or France and you wouldn’t know that the Monese product is made in Shoreditch.This Brompton bike-riding business owner shows me what he describes as the “really cool part” of the app, which allows users to have multiple bank accounts, each in a different country, with their own balance and debit cards. “It’s not just a multi-currency support and cheaper FX rates, it’s an actual account you can use as your main salary account.”Credit collaborationIf opening a current account is such a struggle for migrant workers, imagine how hard it is to get credit.Koppel tells me that his banking saga continued once he decided to permanently move to the UK, but didn’t qualify for any kind of credit card. “Here I am building a banking service, getting a decent salary, trying to support a family and three kids, and the only credit card I could get was incredibly expensive.”Again, Koppel saw vividly how this problem could be turned into an opportunity by giving users access to better credit products.Collaboration is already on the cards, as Monese, will be partnering with other banks and lenders, which will offer their credit products through the app’s marketplace. “We can see customer transactions, so we know whether we can rely on these people to pay money back. So, provided the user gives us consent, we can share their data with the other banks. This means the bank’s decisions aren’t being made in the dark, and the customer can get a service where they normally wouldn’t.”Koppel recalls how people thought fintechs were going to take over the world, while the big banks would “drop dead and die”.That, of course, hasn’t happened. But the big banks have finally noticed that a fintech revolution is taking place, and now see the value in working with these new players – as the old saying goes “if you can’t beat them, join them”.The rapid increase in globalisation and technology make the problems in the banking system seem archaic, if not ridiculous.Monese is a bank that exists for the now, embracing our borderless world. And so, as is often the case with entrepreneurs, Koppel’s problem-solving cogs started whirring.Fast forward to 2015, and the launch of mobile-only banking app Monese. It now has 500,000 customers in 20 countries around Europe – impressive for a company which has only been running for three years.The selfie eraKoppel is thorough in every answer, leaving no stone unturned. And that’s the perception I get about Monese too – that everything has been considered and planned very carefully.Of course, for security purposes, it’s crucial that financial institutions verify the identity of their customers. But while most banks ask for a proof of address in paper format, the regulations aren’t as rigid as existing banking processes would suggest. “It was very liberating to find that regulators are open to innovation,” says Koppel.“So I thought: how can we improve this process, make it digital, and help more people get access to the banking system?” Borderless banking: Meet the mobile-only bank for migrants Given that international payments would incur costly foreign exchange fees, his employer didn’t want to send his salary to his Estonian bank account either.In the end, Koppel found himself in a weird situation where his salary was being sent to his flatmate (with consent from all parties, of course), who would then pay him his monthly earnings. “It was humiliating,” he tells me. “Everything in my life was going well, but I was being treated like a second-class citizen. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are not getting something which you assume is a basic right, it feels bad.”It took several months before Koppel had the necessary paperwork and some sort of credit score in the UK, but his own experience had exposed a flaw, a problem – something which could be improved, if not fixed.And this wasn’t just Koppel’s problem – nor one that is limited to the UK. In Europe alone, 140m people have very limited access to banking services – that’s every third European. And on a global scale, it’s over two billion people.According to Barclays research, people who don’t have a formal bank account, pay on average £1,000 more annually for financially services than those who do. whatsapp This entrepreneur and his team have done just that, by allowing users to verify their identity by simply taking a selfie and uploading a photo of their passport or national ID card, creating a bank that lets you open an account online in just 120 seconds (which, Koppel points out, is “quicker than boiling an egg”). That doesn’t mean it skimps on the security. You could even argue – as Koppel does – that Monese is more secure.“When customers walk into a bank branch to open an account, they show their passport. While the untrained human eye is not able to differentiate between a real and fraudulent passport, our scanning process is roughly 25 times more accurate than a human’s – so we are providing technology where humans fail.”The tech that underpins Monese might be complex, but the trick is making sure that the app is as simple as possible for the users. Everything in my life was going well, but I was being treated like a second-class citizen Monday 30 July 2018 10:38 am Share   When Norris Koppel came to the UK 18 years ago, he landed a good job and found a flat to rent.But there was a problem: the banks refused to let him open a current account. Koppel had no credit history in the UK, which meant – as far as the banks were concerned – he didn’t exist. 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Beyond Brexit, the EU is circling the drain

first_imgI am afraid that to follow Sagan’s advice would end the careers of the lion’s share of EU commentators — often more cheerleaders than analysts — as they seem entirely incapable of looking at “the project” with anything other than rose-tinted glasses.  Beyond Brexit, the EU is circling the drain Opinion The facts are these: of all the continental militaries, only the French can manage full spectrum missions, doing everything from high-end war-fighting to low-end peacekeeping. That’s it. Great European powers Germany, Spain, and Italy — lotus-eaters all — have spent a pittance on defence over the past generation, and it shows. To pretend that any new institutional configuration will change the ingrained habits of pacifist European publics, however wrongheaded they may be, flies in the face of decades of recent history. City A.M.’s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M. Share Finally, there is Brexit itself. A thought experiment suffices to dampen the lunacy of the EU commentariat’s overrated opinion of Brussels. Imagine  if California had successfully petitioned to leave the United States. Would anyone be writing about the US as a superpower in such a scenario? Far from it — reams of headlines would instead be screaming about the fall of America.  A recent case in point was a Zoom call I was on for a leading European think tank. A senior American Democratic Party analyst — pro-EU to the bone — and I were invited to give our opinions and then, as is the custom, we took questions.  As the Brexit talks lumber to their Kafka-esque conclusion, it is important to note the larger political risk alarm bells that are ringing, not least the point that the EU leadership and its fawning commentariat blithely have absolutely no sense of their present declining status.  whatsapp But the real question should be, how have European analysts been allowed to get by with wallowing in their delusions of grandeur for so long?  Since time immemorial, there are three basic indices of power: military prowess, economic wherewithal, and political clout. Looking in a Sagan-esque way at all three, it is impossible to find any logic whatsoever for the EU to be considered a superpower that is not merely a fevered dream.  More From Our Partners Native American Tribe Gets Back Sacred Island Taken 160 Years Agogoodnewsnetwork.orgKansas coach fired for using N-word toward Black playerthegrio.comBrave 7-Year-old Boy Swims an Hour to Rescue His Dad and Little Sistergoodnewsnetwork.orgA ProPublica investigation has caused outrage in the U.S. this weekvaluewalk.comAstounding Fossil Discovery in California After Man Looks Closelygoodnewsnetwork.orgFans call out hypocrisy as Tebow returns to NFL while Kaepernick is still outthegrio.comPolice Capture Elusive Tiger Poacher After 20 Years of Pursuing the Huntergoodnewsnetwork.orgLA news reporter doesn’t seem to recognize actor Mark Currythegrio.comRussell Wilson, AOC among many voicing support for Naomi Osakacbsnews.comMan on bail for murder arrested after pet tiger escapes Houston homethegrio.comFlorida woman allegedly crashes children’s birthday party, rapes teennypost.comPorsha Williams engaged to ex-husband of ‘RHOA’ co-star Falynn Guobadiathegrio.comKiller drone ‘hunted down a human target’ without being told tonypost.comColin Kaepernick to publish book on abolishing the policethegrio.comUK teen died on school trip after teachers allegedly refused her pleasnypost.comFort Bragg soldier accused of killing another servicewoman over exthegrio.comFeds seized 18 devices from Rudy Giuliani and his employees in April raidnypost.comInside Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’ not-so-average farmhouse estatenypost.com Militarily weak, economically sclerotic, politically divided: this is the present reality of the European Union. Rather than worrying about its dreamed-of superpower status, Brussels would do far better to see the world as it is, advance a bold policy programme to tackle all three of these fronts, and safeguard the great power status it does possess.  whatsapp Militarily weak, economically sclerotic, politically divided? Also Read: Beyond Brexit, the EU is circling the drain Along with economic sclerosis, the south is awash in unsustainable debt. The OECD’s worst-case assessment for the end of 2021 finds Greece with an Olympian 229 per cent debt to GDP ratio, Italy at 192 per cent, Portugal and France 152 pe rcent, and Spain 150 per cent.  After speaking at great length about the emerging Sino-American bipolar structure of our new era at the superpower level, a series of plaintive queries came from our mainly European audience. But what about Europe as a superpower? Gently, kindly, as if we were dealing with a slightly dotty uncle, we both said that no, that wasn’t going to happen. Militarily weak, economically sclerotic, politically divided? The seemingly impressive top number is diluted, being split between 27 countries and doled out in smaller tranches until 2026, is hardly the recipe for a quick shot of economic adrenaline for the ailing south, plagued by a year’s worth of lockdowns.  The astronomer and prolific author Carl Sagan put it perfectly about the merits of analytical logic — what I often refer to as my superpower — when he said: “For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is, rather than to persist in delusions, however satisfying and reassuring.”  But new political divisions further diminish even this less-than-meets-the-eye rescue. Poland and Hungary, both enraged by accusations from the other EU members as to their fundamental political illiberalism (here Brussels is on the money), were blocking final passage of the Recovery Fund, and the seven-year, €1.1 trillion EU budget besides. Their issue was with a clause in the budget making “rule of law” criteria a requirement for EU membership in terms of judicial and media freedoms, and gender rights. While this new political logjam has just been resolved, it has slowed down an already glacial process yet further. Even worse, a good portion of the money (€360bn) is only given out in loans, which countries from Italy to Portugal will not touch, as accepting them comes with significant limitations on the political sovereignty of their national governments.  But this is just what has happened to the EU with the loss of the UK as a member. Now, with the EU losing its premier banking and commercial hub and its (along with France) only world-class military, astoundingly not a peep about the bloc’s decline is being mentioned. This is worse than bad analysis; it amounts to living in a parallel universe.   John HulsmanDr John C. Hulsman is senior columnist at City A.M., a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and president of John C. Hulsman Enterprises. He can be reached for corporate speaking and private briefings at www.chartwellspeakers.com. Economically, the pandemic has been hard on low-growth Europe, particularly its southern rim. A Japan-style deflationary spiral seems to be setting in.  Show Comments ▼ Over military matters, ambitious French President Emmanuel Macron has surely missed the obvious in continuing the perpetual argument about whether future European military outlays should be made primarily through the EU or Nato, as is now generally the case. The ultimate point is not about structure. It is about the glaring and painful reality that the continent remains a military Lilliputian, which will continue to be the case whatever organisational flowchart is dreamed up.  Ad Unmute by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeMoneyPailShe Was A Star, Now She Works In ScottsdaleMoneyPailUndoTaco RelishSuspicious Pics That Are Fishier Than The SeaTaco RelishUndoPost FunGreat Songs That Artists Are Now Embarrassed OfPost FunUndoComedyDogs Too Dangerous For Houses, Ranked in OrderComedyUndoBleacherBreaker41 Old Toys That Are Worth More Than Your HouseBleacherBreakerUndoLiver Health1 Bite of This Melts Belly And Arm Fat (Take Before Bed)Liver HealthUndoAtlantic MirrorA Kilimanjaro Discovery Has Proved This About The BibleAtlantic MirrorUndoOne-N-Done | 7-Minute Workout7 Minutes a Day To a Flat Stomach By Using This 1 Easy ExerciseOne-N-Done | 7-Minute WorkoutUndoZen HeraldShe Inspired Three Of The Most Popular Songs EverZen HeraldUndo Nor is the EU as a whole riding to the post-Covid rescue. Which brings us to the EU’s perennial political divisions. For a long while the bloc has been split north-south over economic issues and east-west over migration issues. The hyped-up €750bn European Recovery Fund is just the latest case of Brussels over-promising and under-delivering in policy terms.  Militarily weak, economically sclerotic, politically divided? Also Read: Beyond Brexit, the EU is circling the drain Monday 14 December 2020 4:25 am Perhaps worst of all — and incredibly — none of these countries have proactively put forward a convincing medium-term plan both to stimulate growth and then to manage this avalanche of debt.  Main image credit: Gettylast_img read more

The hidden impact of Brexit: Supply chains are failing UK trade and construction firms

first_img whatsapp Show Comments ▼ (AFP via Getty Images) Also Read: The hidden impact of Brexit: Supply chains are failing UK trade and construction firms Tuesday 20 April 2021 10:08 am “We are especially critical of larger firms choosing to stockpile,” Dyer said. “The industry is only as healthy as the workforce within it, and these larger companies rely on much smaller contractors to operate, of whom are being unfairly penalised.” Since the reopening of the construction sector in the summer of 2020, confidence has been sky high, with last month’s the highest on record since 2014. New build residential work has also experienced a major boost, along with domestic renovation, with higher spends in both categories. whatsapp UK falling to the back of the queue In March of last year, the entire UK material supply lines were put on pause for a number of weeks. Share Although it is easy to blame the pandemic for these short-term supply constraints, there is another fly in the ointment, Brexit. Michiel Willems The hidden impact of Brexit: Supply chains are failing UK trade and construction firms Lack of plasterboard and cement (AFP via Getty Images) Also Read: The hidden impact of Brexit: Supply chains are failing UK trade and construction firms This has led to further hurt for SMEs in the trades as larger companies have been able to purchase these products at higher prices, to the detriment of their smaller competitors. (AFP via Getty Images) Also Read: The hidden impact of Brexit: Supply chains are failing UK trade and construction firms One could be excused for forgetting, but the initial Covid lockdown both in the UK and Europe was considerably tougher than the most recent events.center_img (AFP via Getty Images) Also Read: The hidden impact of Brexit: Supply chains are failing UK trade and construction firms Without passing judgement on the decision to leave the EU, Brexit has lengthened the supply lines for a number of core supplies from Europe. A significant majority of materials required by UK trade and construction are manufactured or processed in mainland Europe. “While some of these issues will naturally clear as the threat of Covid and Brexit reduces, the short-term impact on the smaller contractor market threatens to derail these good weeks of growth,” Dyer concluded. As the pandemic swept the continent almost all major countries suffered shortages in stock; now however, manufacturers are refilling the supply chains that are closer to home first, with the UK falling to the back of the queue. While this should ease over time and it is encouraging to see a number of efforts to move material production to the UK, there is no quick fix. As a sign of this growth, builders’ merchants such as Travis Pekins have registered a 6.8 per cent increase in sales in the first three months of the year compared with the first quarter of 2020. However, the industry must tread cautiously, as the current growth projections carry a sting in the tail, potentially punishing small trades companies more harshly than ever before.  by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeBrake For It40 New Features In The 2021 Ford BroncoBrake For ItLivestlyPlugs Have These Two Holes At The End, Here’s WhyLivestlyPast Factory”Waltons” Actress Says Magazine Ended Her CareerPast FactoryAll Things Auto | Search AdsMost Affordable Camper VansAll Things Auto | Search AdsBleacherBreaker41 Old Toys That Are Worth More Than Your HouseBleacherBreakerFactableAluminum Foil Uses You’ll Want to KnowFactableMoneyWise.comMechanics Say You Should Avoid These Cars In 2021  MoneyWise.comDaily Funny40 Brilliant Life Hacks Nobody Told You AboutDaily FunnyDrivepedia30+ Funny Photos Of Car Owners Having A Rough DayDrivepedia “It is incredibly short-sighted of larger firms to use their leverage over smaller ones. Not only does this hurt the economy but will eventually catch up with them due to their reliance on the SME sector for contract staff. We hope this practice, like Covid, can eventually be eliminated,” he added. While headlines were dominated by the lack of toilet paper and pasta, for the trade and construction sector this was plasterboard, cement and many other essential materials. The result of which was that prices of these products shot up rapidly as availability decreased.  Discussing the difficulties that are on the horizon for smaller businesses in the trades, Ben Dyer, CEO of field service manager Powered Now, told City A.M. that “higher demand for construction and trade services has a real-world trickle down to small and medium trade businesses.” Therefore, he is “very worried” about any implications of stress on the UK supply chain, most notably Covid and Brexit. According to figures from IHS Markit/CIPS, the growth of output had grown in line with increased commercial, domestic and civil engineering projects. These works have largely come in the form of restarting delayed projects, critically around office development, leisure and hospitality. (AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images) Also Read: The hidden impact of Brexit: Supply chains are failing UK trade and construction firms Tags: Brexitlast_img read more

DX Group buys half of Gnewt for £1.75m to expand green services

first_img DX Group buys half of Gnewt for £1.75m to expand green services whatsapp whatsapp Tuesday 9 December 2014 8:32 pm Read This NextRicky Schroder Calls Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl ‘Ignorant Punk’ forThe Wrap’Drake & Josh’ Star Drake Bell Arrested in Ohio on Attempted ChildThe WrapCNN’s Brian Stelter Draws Criticism for Asking Jen Psaki: ‘What Does theThe WrapHarvey Weinstein to Be Extradited to California to Face Sexual AssaultThe WrapDid Donald Trump Wear His Pants Backwards? Kriss Kross Memes Have AlreadyThe Wrap’The View’: Meghan McCain Calls VP Kamala Harris a ‘Moron’ for BorderThe WrapPink Floyd’s Roger Waters Denies Zuckerberg’s Request to Use Song in Ad:The Wrap’Black Widow’ First Reactions: ‘This Is Like the MCU’s Bond Movie’The WrapKatt Williams Explains Why He Believes There ‘Is No Cancel Culture’ inThe Wrap Share Joseph Millis Show Comments ▼ INDEPENDENT postal company DX Group yesterday said it had acquired at 49.8 per cent stake in Gnewt Cargo, an environmentally friendly delivery services company.The Buckinghamshire-headquartered DX will pay approximately £1.75m in cash upon completion of the deal. The founders of London-based Gnewt will retain the remaining stake in the business.Founded in 2009 with the aim of reducing pollution, especially from emissions and congestion, Gnewt operates a fleet of more than 100 electric zero-emission vehicles, including cargo-cycles and minivans. It offers multi-drop “last mile” delivery services in central London.Over the past year, the company has grown by 200 per cent to achieve annualised revenues of approx­imately £3.75m and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of £300,000.“We now look forward to working with the Gnewt team to expand their environmentally friendly ‘last mile’delivery services to other UK cities. We will be combining Gnewt’s technical expertise with DX’s funding support and core volumes to start-up Gnewt locations across the UK,” said DX chief executive Petar Cvetkovic.“I am delighted that Matt and Sam, who both co-founded Gnewt, have chosen to partner with DX.“We use Gnewt’s services ourselves and therefore know just how efficient and customer-focused they are – and, of course, how they help to reduce emissions and make city centres better places to be.” Tags: NULLlast_img read more

New Portlaoise Library moves a step closer

first_img New Portlaoise Library moves a step closer Twitter Tender documents are almost ready for the long-awaited new library in Portlaoise.Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland confirmed the news at the monthly meeting of the council earlier this week.The library will be developed on the former site of Shaws, on Lower Main Street in the town. WhatsApp Facebook Laois County Council create ‘bigger and better’ disability parking spaces to replace ones occupied for outdoor dining The current library is “not fit for purpose,” library employee, Cllr Mary Sweeney told the meeting.Safety“There are health and safety issues and lack of space is an issue,” she said.“It is just not able to accommodate what we are currently doing,” she said of the current building at Lyster Square. Community Facebook Pinterest Previous articleOur guide to What’s On at the WeekendNext articleA unique opportunity as a 190 acres farm up for long-term lease in Laois David PowerA journalist for over 20 years, David has worked for a number of regional titles both as journalist and editor. From Tullamore he also works as a content editor for Independent.ie. His heroes include Shane Lowry, Seamus Darby and Johnny Flaherty Ten Laois based players named on Leinster rugby U-18 girls squad Rugby center_img Twitter Laois County Council team up with top chef for online demonstration on tips for reducing food waste WhatsApp TAGSLaois County CouncilPortlaoise Library “The new library is high priority and every quarter that it is pushed out, the costs will get more expensive. We are now on the point of getting tender documents out for the new library.He gave an undertaken to come back to the council with fixed costs for the project. Council Pinterest By David Power – 8th February 2018 Home News Community New Portlaoise Library moves a step closer NewsCommunity RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR The August meeting of the council in 2017 heard a further €1.5 million in government funding was being sought for the new Portlaoise library, due to soaring costs for the projectThe cost of building the project was estimated at €3 million, that meeting heard, with a futher €1.5 million to be spent on the fit-out of the building.SEE ALSO – Our guide to what’s on at the weekendlast_img read more

Millennial investors scarred by financial crisis

first_imgJames Langton New research from UBS Wealth Management Americas finds that young investors appear to be spooked by the financial crisis, creating the most fiscally conservative generation since the Great Depression. Based on an online survey of U.S. investors, the firm reports that, while millennials (age 21-36) describe their risk tolerance as either conservative or somewhat conservative, their average asset allocation is extremely conservative, with the average portfolio 52% in cash, compared to 23% cash for other investors. The struggle really is real for young investors Share this article and your comments with peers on social media Which campaign promises will make it into the federal budget? Facebook LinkedIn Twittercenter_img More than half of U.S. millennials actively contribute to retirement accounts: survey Related news “Millennials seem to be permanently-scarred by the 2008 financial crisis,” said Emily Pachuta, head of investor insights at UBS Wealth Management Americas. “They have a Depression Era mindset largely because they experienced market volatility and job security issues very early in their careers, or watched their parents experience them, and it has had a significant impact on their attitudes and behaviors.” The firm reports that millennials are emerging as a generation of savers who are skeptical about long-term investing and markets. It says that only 12% of millennials say that they would invest found money in the market, and only 28% see long-term investing as a pathway to success. The research also found that millennials are worried about their parents after seeing their retirement and investing plans seriously disrupted by unprecedented market volatility. Additionally, it notes that, within the millennial group, a large majority believe the road to success requires hard work (69%), saving and living frugally (45%), and a good education (37%). It notes financial freedom is the single most important factor of success (48%) to these investors; and, that they say a household income of $220,000 defines success. “Conventional wisdom has categorized millennials as ‘entitled’ and ‘lazy’ because they have more than their parents and grandparents did. But this study counters that hypothesis,” says Pachuta. “Having witnessed both the technology boom and the collapse of global markets, it has made millennials concerned, but resilient, and optimistic for the future. They’re conservative, similar to the WWII generation coming out of the Great Depression, not resting on their laurels, but rather working hard for their wealth and success, making sacrifices because they believe their goals are achievable.” The survey was carried out between December 31, 2013 and January 7, 2014 online by an outside research firm. 4,165 U.S. investors responded to the survey, including 1,169 millennials. Keywords Millennials last_img read more

Locals invited to COVID memorial event Monday

first_imgHomeLifeHealthCovid-19Locals invited to COVID memorial event Monday Feb. 27, 2021 at 6:00 amCovid-19FeaturedHealthLifeNewsLocals invited to COVID memorial event MondayBrennon Dixson3 months agoCOVID DeathsCOVID-19memorialpandemic COVID-19 has touched the lives of Americans from coast to coast since the first casualty was recorded last March. To honor those who have lost their life or a loved one from COVID, community members have planned a COVID Memorial Day event at Bergamot Station Monday afternoon.The local event occurring at the Building Bridges Art Exchange from noon to 3 p.m. is part of a larger grassroots effort that began with the organization #MarkedByCovid, which was co-founded by Arizona resident Kristin Urquiza after her father died from COVID.“She created this organization with all of these volunteers who work on different causes relating to government and community action,” Santa Monica resident Carolyn Freyer-Jones said. “And now, she’s leading up a charge to create a national COVID Memorial Day.”After losing her father from COVID last July and starting a similar effort of her own named #thefridayminute shortly after, Freyer-Jones said there was no doubt in her mind she wanted to get involved in Monday’s efforts when she learned about them.“Every Friday, we have people from all over the world gather virtually with me online and we do a minute of silence for anyone who’s dealing with COVID in any way. And, since I’m on social media so much… I found this floral artist in New York, whose name is Christina Libby; and she started laying out these floral wreaths in locations all over New York for anybody who is grieving from COVID to come and just put pictures of their loved ones,” she said.“And then locally, we have artist Marcos Lutyens and the Rose River Memorial art project where people handmake felt roses for every single person who’s passed from COVID and he intends to have every person represented,” Freyer-Jones added as she detailed how Girl Scouts, Kiwanis, and even her own daughter are making roses to send to Lutyens.“There are rose memorial projects in a few California cities but there’s one really close to us at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, so the effort on Monday will be there and everybody in the 100 different cities will use their events, wherever they’ll be, as a time to come together,” Freyer-Jones said, stating, “I think it’s important to be a part of this grassroots effort because we should be creating memorials around the country to send the message of ‘these deaths matter.’”As she discussed how many around the country have been denied the ability to hold a service for their loved ones and the different ways the pandemic has impacted her family, Freyer-Jones said she knows she is not alone so she invited everybody to come feel the love Monday.“This is the work of a number of grassroots efforts all over the United States so you know you’ll leave feeling part of something bigger,” Freyer-Jones said. “We’ll have a floral wreath and it will be really stunning and moving; I’m excited.”[email protected] :COVID DeathsCOVID-19memorialpandemicshare on Facebookshare on Twitteradd a commentEditorial: Thoughts on school openingResidents beg L.A. city services to remove burnt out RV ‘drug den’ on Rose AveYou Might Also LikeFeaturedNewsBobadilla rejects Santa Monica City Manager positionMatthew Hall5 hours agoEntertainmentLifeNoteworthyTales of Two DaughtersCharles Andrews11 hours agoNewsCouncil picks new City ManagerBrennon Dixson16 hours agoFeaturedNewsProtesting parents and Snapchat remain in disagreement over child protection policiesClara Harter16 hours agoFeaturedNewsDowntown grocery to become mixed use developmenteditor16 hours agoNewsBruised but unbowed, meme stock investors are back for moreAssociated Press16 hours agolast_img read more

Newlywed Mullinax leads Puerto Rico Open

first_imgRIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – Five days after getting married, Trey Mullinax ran off nine birdies and saved par with a 15-foot putt on his last hole for a 9-under 63 to take the lead at the Puerto Rico Open. The first round Thursday was suspended when showers turned into heavy rain at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club and the course was too wet to continue. Mullinax was coming off consecutive missed cuts in Florida when he got married Saturday to Abi Essman, whom he has dated since high school. Several of his Alabama teammates were at the wedding in Birmingham, Alabama, including Justin Thomas. And then it was off to Puerto Rico, and Mullinax posted his best round of the year. He had a one-shot lead over D.A. Points. ”Obviously, to shoot the score I shot today you have to putt well,” Mullinax said. ”But it was nice to hit the ball like I feel I’ve been playing. I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball well, just haven’t been scoring. But today I hit the ball nice and it was a good result.” Points finished his round of 64 with a 9-iron that he holed from the ninth fairway for an eagle. ”Today was the calmest day I’ve ever seen here, so it was pretty much a perfect 9-iron,” he said. ”I knew I had a little backstop and I could hit it as hard as I want, and I threw it 149 yards and it spun back and went right in.” It was an important start for Points, who has a low priority this year on the PGA Tour and has had trouble getting into tournaments. He last played seven weeks ago at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2011 with Bill Murray as his amateur partner. Points has tried Monday qualifying for some PGA Tour events. ”I’m proud of myself for not just sitting on my butt and not doing anything,” he said. ”I’ve been playing and practicing and trying to stay sharp and I think that paid off today.” Former Las Vegas winner Bill Lunde, playing for the first time in five months, and Xander Schauffele were at 65. The group at 66 included Harold Varner III, David Hearn of Canada and Jonathan Randolph, who still had three holes remaining. The first round was to resume Friday morning. Former Puerto Rico Open winner Scott Brown was at 67. San Juan native Rafa Campos was at 5 under with four holes remaining when the rain arrived. A year ago, Campos opened with a 64 and eventually tied for eighth. The Puerto Rico Open is opposite the World Golf Championships event in Texas this week, meaning a winner does not earn an automatic spot in the Masters. Wesley Bryan would need to win to have any chance of moving into the top 50 in the world ranking and qualifying for Augusta National. Bryan opened with a 63.last_img read more

Rory’s repertoire receives boost from refreshed attitude

first_imgMEXICO CITY – In a lighthearted moment following his opening round at the WGC-Mexico Championship, a reporter referred to Rory McIlroy as a four-time major champion. “That was a long time ago,” he laughed. The moment of hyperbole quickly passed, but for the 29-year-old, the 2014 PGA Championship, his last pull from the Grand Slam, certainly feels like a long time ago. This wasn’t false modesty; that wouldn’t be Rory’s style. He was simply acknowledging what everyone else has been whispering about since that PGA at Valhalla. It’s the price one pays when you win four majors in four years.  What makes McIlroy’s fate so compelling isn’t that a player who once appeared invincible has now become an enigma. No, he leaves that type of instant analysis to social media. What’s truly compelling is how at ease he is with his fate and how steadfast he is that he’s on the right path. In other sports they’d call it a process, the methodical approach singular athletes take to perfect their craft. For McIlroy, it’s “the little things.” “Winning is a byproduct of doing all the little things well and I feel like I’m on a really good journey of doing that. I think it’s just a matter of time,” he said Thursday at Chapultepec Golf Club. “I can’t put pressure on myself, I can’t push it.” Full-field scores from the WGC-Mexico Championship WGC-Mexico Championship: Articles, photos and videos It would be easy to dismiss McIlroy’s measured assessment of his game following an 8-under 63, which was just one shot off of the course record. But Rory has been preaching patience, in good times and bad. Just last week at the frigid slog that was the Genesis Open, McIlroy was on a similar trajectory. When he chipped in from a bunker on the 70th hole on Sunday he was just two strokes off the lead with the par-5 17th hole looming. But he made par at the 17th hole and bogeyed the 18th to finish in a tie for fourth place. Players of McIlroy’s ilk don’t have much interest in moral victories and would consider their finish at Riviera Country Club a missed opportunity at best. Not McIlroy. “I’m happy enough. I just sort of keep preaching patience, and I didn’t have my best stuff this week,” he shrugged on Sunday. “So I managed my game well this week. I didn’t have it all, but it’s another top-5 and a step in the right direction.” The Northern Irishman took solace in an iron game that was less than his best and the notion that his putting, which has been his primary concern in recent years, showed serious signs of life in Los Angeles. It really should have been no surprise that his upward movement would spill over to this week’s World Golf Championship gathering. McIlroy is 3-for-3 in top-5 finishes this season on the PGA Tour with fourth-place showings at the Genesis Open and Sentry Tournament of Champions to go along with a tie for fifth place at the Farmers Insurance Open. He’ll talk of areas of concern, like last week’s iron play, but for McIlroy, this is really as simple as keeping things in perspective. Players of Rory’s ability and talents have a tendency to inflate expectations – you know the deal, four majors are nice but five would be better. But this version is content to keep making progress. “I love where my attitude’s at,” he said. “My attitude on the golf course is fantastic and my putting is good. If I’m excited about anything with my game, it’s my putting and my attitude have been probably the best they’ve been in a long time.” On Thursday, that attitude added up to a one-stroke lead over Dustin Johnson. It was textbook Rory. After playing a flawless opening nine (he started on No. 10) and turning at 4 under he launched a 2-iron high into the thin Mexican air at the 305-yard first hole that rolled out to 6 feet for an eagle. When McIlroy is in full flight, it’s those kinds of shots that make a good player great. Your browser does not support iframes. “I didn’t land the ball exactly where I wanted to. It landed on the fringe and trundled up there,” he said. “I was trying to sort of land it maybe 3 or 4 feet on the green. But I got away with it.” So, a 2-iron from 305 yards that missed its mark by two paces? If we could all be so reckless. He wasn’t perfect on Day 1, but even his miscues produced a mischievous smile. Like at the par-5 sixth hole when he pulled his drive left of the fairway and into a row of trees. McIlroy’s second shot was a bold attempt through the trees that caught a branch and led to his only bogey. “It’s really like hitting through this tree here, right?” smiled McIlroy as he waved his arms above his head. “It looks pretty thin and you know you’re going to miss this big limb on the bottom and you’ve got a nice window, and it just kind of hit that sort of medium size branch and it just hit it straight on. The one branch it could not hit, it hit.” It was the definition of patience that a potentially round-ending miscue produced little more than a shrug. McIlroy has always been a five-tool player when he’s at his best, but this version has added a new club to his bag – a refreshing attitude.last_img read more

Indie game pricing is in a familiar death spiral | Opinion

first_imgIndie game pricing is in a familiar death spiral | OpinionData suggests a race to the bottom in PC indie game pricing, and Apple Arcade is a reminder of where this process leadsRob FaheyContributing EditorWednesday 18th September 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareWay back in the mid ’60s, Marshall McLuhan wrote about an idea — and coined a catchy phrase — that’s proved startlingly insightful and prophetic ever since. “The medium is the message” is a term you’ve likely heard before; the point McLuhan was making was that the nature of a medium itself, not just the content it carried, had a powerful impact on society. Whether it was a novel or a newspaper, a movie or a TV show, a billboard or a shop sign or — had he only had a decent crystal ball to hand — a website or a tweet, the functioning of the medium changed people’s perceptions and thoughts in ways more subtle but yet far more fundamental than the content that actually flowed over that medium. McLuhan thought of media in a broad sense, but focused often on movies; no doubt, though, he would have felt fairly vindicated by the 21st century experience of how little time it’s taken for social media to warp entire national discourses into new and alarming shapes.”Telling studios to charge more is probably a case of King Canute trying to politely persuade the tide not to come in” We can, a little clumsily, take McLuhan’s insight and think about it in business or economic terms as well. The medium — the platform, the channel, the storefront, or whatever you choose to call it — plays a central role in forming and shaping the expectations and desires of consumers. We focus on the content carried by the medium; games themselves are discussed and reviewed at great length, dissected in media studies courses and laid bare in dissertation theses. The medium underneath, however, largely escapes notice except in the broadest of strokes. We talk about technological shift in terms of the new content it enabled, from graphics chips allowing games to move into 3D to disc-based consoles introducing FMV-led extravaganzas, to the online gaming revolution of the late ’90s creating entire new genres. Yet underneath all this, as McLuhan would have expected, the changing medium — the consoles, the platforms, the storefronts — have wrought even deeper changes on how consumers think about and interact with games (and indeed with many aspects of society far beyond games themselves).The most impactful of those changes, economically, lies in value perception; the private calculation people make, generally without even being aware of it, before deciding whether something is worth paying money for. It often feels like a gut reaction, but it’s really a calculation based on experience and expectation, a constantly updated Bayesian model of your own notion of what constitutes “value for money,” or indeed the value of money, running away unconsciously over some mesh of neurons in your brain. The medium has a powerful impact on those perceptions; how much you’ve paid in the past, how many other products are competing for your attention, how they’re presented, whether there’s a physical item involved, or a physical transfer of cash, how and when you pay… It all sums up to a ton of information that consumers process without even thinking about it.”The indie space is now clearly circling the same drain that mobile games did many years ago” Marshall McLuhan came to mind this week on two separate occasions. The first time was reading Mike Rose’s insightful report into conditions for indie or mid-range titles on Steam, which appear to be deteriorating very rapidly. The most striking thing, to me at least, wasn’t that the average revenue for a game in his sample is now well below providing an income for a solo creator, though that’s a pretty important benchmark in itself. Rather, it was the evidence suggesting a race to the bottom; not the overall drop in revenue so much as the inexorable decline in price tags. Rose suggests that studios should be charging more, and while I think his diagnosis is spot on, I also think this prescription is probably a case of King Canute trying to politely persuade the tide not to come in. Not least because we’ve seen all this play out before, albeit in fast forward, over the course of the first few years of smartphone gaming. Digital storefronts on PCs have been slower to follow this curve than smartphones’ meteoric plunge towards the zero price point, but the curve is still describing largely the same arc. The PC market benefited from greater starting velocity; there was a history of high-priced AAA titles meaning that lots of consumers had a pretty healthy starting point for cost/value calculations, so even as the medium changed there was a strong degree of inertia in people’s cost perceptions. That created a bit of breathing room, and a false sense of security; a somewhat naïve belief that you could replace physical products sold in bricks and mortar stores with downloads from a digital storefront without fundamentally rewiring the perceptions and evaluations of consumers in the process. Apple Arcade exists to create a viable alternative to the dominance of free-to-play on mobileThe indie space, however, is now clearly circling the same drain that mobile games did many years ago. There’s a growing mass of consumers who basically feel like games should be free up front; not in an entitled, piratical sort of way, but in a “this is how my other favourite games work, why should other games expect me to pay before I play” sort of way. On mobile, which like Steam and its ilk was a hugely competitive and open platform environment, this drove us in a matter of a few years to a point where zero was the only price point consumers were willing to consider. There is little evidence to suggest that the process will play out significantly differently on other digital storefronts. The medium is the message; the platform defines perception. Developers aren’t skidding along a downward pricing spiral, racing to an inevitable bottom because they’re greedy and trying to make a fast buck; they’re doing it because it’s the only way to actually compete, and soon the options will close up even more tightly and any price at all will be far too much for a critical mass of consumers.”This is a hard spiral to break out of, as evidenced by the fact that nobody has really managed to do it yet on mobile” McLuhan came back to mind as Apple unveiled its Arcade service — properly this time — and announced pricing and a pretty solid looking game line up. The timing of this alongside Rose’s report is striking, since Apple Arcade represents a point much further along the evolutionary cycle from the rough spot in which indie games find themselves; an attempt to pull back an industry where the free price point reigns supreme into some kind of balance where other business models can function. A lot of what Arcade is offering is clearly pitched at the kind of users who actually do play games but really don’t get along with free-to-play mechanisms, but I think it’s also clear that there’s a family-oriented pitch here too. Once the service gets its feet underneath it I really wouldn’t be surprised if turning off free-to-play transactions for your account entirely becomes an up-front option for Arcade subscribers, essentially making this a safe option for parents. More than anything else, though, it’s an attempt to offer something outside the dominant paradigm of mobile gaming, the same paradigm that a big chunk of the PC gaming market is now starting to approach.Ultimately, if the cost of distribution is zero, there are no walls of any consequence around the garden, and major market players are starting to push a $0 price tag, consumers’ value perceptions will naturally undergo a major shift — making it an economic inevitability that up-front pricing will drop to zero and new revenue streams will have to be found.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games I don’t think a lot of the players who currently fork out for indie games will like that, and I suspect many creators will look for alternative ways to make money rather than embracing free-to-play as quickly as mobile did, but that doesn’t change the slowly tolling funeral bells for the mid-range price-point indie games have enjoyed thus far. Free games supported by Patreon, or ads, or sponsorships, or merchandise sales, are far more likely to be the shape of this sector in the future than a continuation of any kind of decent sized market for $10 games, let alone $15 or $20 games. This is a hard spiral to break out of, as evidenced by the fact that nobody has really managed to do it yet on mobile — and it’s not for want of trying. Even Apple’s effort with Arcade is likely doomed to a niche existence through the simple reality of how games work, which lends itself far less readily to the subscription library approach than music or movies do. On PC, where companies that can actually build a walled garden all of their own don’t really exist, this task will be harder still. We should never have expected that the move from physical to digital would allow old business models and long-standing consumer habits to continue unmolested. Inertia has given us a few good years, but we’re rapidly approaching the point where developers will need to adapt to the new reality or face commercial extinction.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 2 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 3 hours agoLatest comments (1)Eyal Teler Programmer 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. A year ago When it comes to indie game prices, I think that the main reason behind the dropping prices is simple supply and demand. It’s easier to create and distribute a game these days than in the past, and so more people are doing it. This leads to developers trying to catch gamers’ attention, and participating in sales, bundles and free promotions is a way to do that. And certainly it’s a downward spiral.A service such as Apple Arcade isn’t necessarily a boon for indie devs. A curated service is another way to catch gamers attention, and it might make more money for devs whose games get into the service, but it does little for those indie devs not in it. And since the source of the problem is the large number of devs competing for attention, it not only doesn’t solve the problem for the majority, but also gives a lot of power for the service over the devs.Subscription services are a nice tool for publishers such as Ubisoft or EA. For indie devs, I doubt they’d end up saving the day. I think that the Patreon way is more likely to succeed.last_img read more